News: Salalah Rotana Resort completes expansion ahead of 2018 season
The five-star water front Salalah Rotana Resort has added an additional 22 rooms to its existing 400 key inventory, as a response to the continuous increase in guests arrival
The development allows the hotel to maintain its title as the largest free-standing hotel in the Sultanate of Oman, based on inventory.
Following its cluster building system, a new building housing the rooms, features two new room categories.
Both offer ample space and an array of in room amenities for guests comfort.
The highlight being the premium room which directly overlooks the Indian Ocean, offers guests majestic views of the Ocean.
Speaking on the new addition, Hossam Kamal, general manager at Salalah Rotana Resort, asserted: “We have watched Salalah grow as a tourist destination over the years.
“Notably the increase in guests to the resort, resulting in our decision to investment in the additional inventory at our five-star resort.
“We pride ourselves in the quality of service offered to our diverse guests.”
Only 20 kilometres from Salalah Airport and along the Arabian coast, Salalah Rotana Resort is ideally located in the close to the beach.
The waterfront resort’s 422 rooms and suites are built around waterways, whisking guests away to a coastal utopia.
The resort prides itself on providing five-star opulence synonymous with the Rotana brand, infused with traditional Omani hospitality.
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December 31, 2017 at 04:48PM
A Look Inside Cézanne’s Studio, Through the Eyes of Joel Meyerowitz
In 1839, the word “photography” entered the English language, to describe a newfangled invention. Its literal meaning, derived from Greek roots, is “drawing with light.” Five years later, in 1844, William Henry Fox Talbot, the British pioneer of the negative-positive process, published a book of camera-made pictures, titled “The Pencil of Nature.” In other words, despite photography’s grounding in science, it was seen from its inception as a new form of art. Painters were among its early muses. In the mid-eighteen-fifties, the French photographer Gaspard-Félix Tournachon, better known as Nadar, took portraits of the Romantic painters Jean-François Millet and Eugène Delacroix, among others.
Fast-forward a century. Photography was embraced as an artistic medium, with one major hitch: when it was color, it was déclassé. One of the lensmen who helped change minds on the subject was Joel Meyerowitz, who had the advantage of being self-taught, and thus unschooled in artistic pretensions. His career behind the camera began in 1962, when he quit his job as an adman (after watching the great Robert Frank shoot a clothing campaign) and took to the street. He became one of the greats of the genre—he quite literally wrote the book on the subject, “Bystander: A History of Street Photography,” published in 1994.
When not on the streets of his native New York (and of other cities), Meyerowitz was chasing the light on Cape Cod—or chasing redheads, as he did in one series, for a book that is now a cult classic. He has also worked in the trenches, photographing lower Manhattan in the aftermath of 9/11. So it may come as something of a surprise to learn that Meyerowitz recently headed indoors, to chase the ghost of another master of color and light, the French post-Impressionist Paul Cézanne. For the pictures in his new book, “Cézanne’s Objects,” Meyerowitz had the run of the artist’s studio, in Aix-en-Provence. (A previous publication took the same approach to the Bologna studio of the Italian painter Giorgio Morandi.) Training a lens on Cézanne’s bottles, pitchers, and bowls is a fitting homage to man who once wrote, “Painting is first and foremost an optical affair. The stuff of our art is there, in what our eyes are thinking.”
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December 31, 2017 at 04:15PM
TPG Staff Picks: The Best Places We Traveled in 2017
In 2017, TPG staffers traveled near and far for everything from airline mileage runs to hotel reviews to exciting vacations. And as the year comes to an end, we’re taking a moment to think back on the best places we visited this year. With some exciting new destinations and a few classics thrown in, here are the spots that stood out in 2017.
Likoma Island, Malawi
“This year I visited Likoma Island, Malawi and I enjoyed every second of my trip, from the breathtaking scenery to the friendly and welcoming locals. Now I see why Malawi was considered one of best places to visit in 2017.” — Brian Kelly, The Points Guy
San Francisco, CA
“I finally had the chance to visit San Francisco this year and I absolutely loved it. I was lucky enough to hang out with my best friend who lives there, and also take an amazing flight on United Polaris with some of the TPG team. The best part was the burritos I ate — lots and lots of burritos.” — Samantha Rosen, Social Media Editor
“Bali was definitely the most luxurious place I visited in 2017 — and I got to leave with a story I’ll never forget. I visited the island for the PeaceJam conference with TPG and I was pleasantly surprised by the gorgeous weather, picturesque beaches and relaxing stay at the Ritz Carlton Bali. At the end of the trip, however, my flight was canceled because of the Bali volcano eruption. Beside my hectic two-day evacuation, my trip was great.” — Becca Denenberg, Marketing & Events Manager
“Although I visited New Zealand before, we really blew it out in 2017, exploring much of both islands and going on some incredible hikes. I especially like the South Island, but there’s plenty to see in the north as well, especially if you’re a Lord of the Rings fan. If you’re torn between Australia and New Zealand, I’d say NZ all the way.” — Zach Honig, Editor-at-Large
“Since living on the road, I’ve visited 19 countries in 2017. But there’s one place I’d go back in a heartbeat: Japan. I love the country and culture: the fast, efficient transportation, excellent food, wonderful shrines and temples, and a unique culture that emphasis excellence in all tasks.” — JT Genter, Points and Miles Writer
Los Angeles, CA
“I’ve had a couple cool trips this year (including our awesome trip to SFO and NorCal for United Family Day), but my favorite was actually a different trip to California. A good friend and I jetted out to Los Angeles on Virgin America to visit another friend living out there. We spent the days roaming the beach towns, biking up the Strand, cruising around the city and, of course, relaxing in Malibu. In the future, I’ll avoid going to LA in June (June Gloom is real!), but I loved my visit, and will no doubt be back soon. A certain rapper is emphatic about having no more parties in LA …. I, on the other hand, beg to differ.” — Wallace Cotton, Community Manager
“This year I checked Mexico off my bucket list and I went to Cozumel to celebrate my birthday. It was the final stop on my cruise. The island is surrounded by clear, warm water and dreamy white sand. The waterfront near the ship dock was surrounded by restaurant souvenir shops and of course the best tequila bars, which I enjoyed.” — Alexa Noel, Editorial Intern
“There are so many places I visited this year but the best for me was Ireland. Not only was it beautiful, but the people were so nice and helpful. I would highly suggest this amazing country to anyone who wants a quick, easy (and relatively cheap) European vacation.” — Jeff Preis, Editorial Intern
“Every time I’ve visited Scandinavia, I’ve fallen more in love with the region. This January, I ventured up to Lapland, with the highlight being a stay at the Icehotel. Along the way, I made stops in Stockholm and Copenhagen and loved every minute of the trip. Even in the Arctic temperatures, there’s so much to love about the region — especially if you get to see the Northern Lights.” — Emily McNutt, Associate Editor
Jalisco, Guadalajara & Mexico City
“Earlier this year, I went to Jalisco (the birthplace of tequila) as well as Guadalajara and Mexico City — all of which made the case for non-beachy reasons to explore Mexico. The murals, the tamales, the Batanga … go go go!” — Cindy Augustine, Lifestyle Editor
“I visited Paris for the first time this summer, and I’ve got to say, drinking rosè in the sun by the Seine is not too shabby. The best meal was the giant roasted cauliflower at Miznon in Le Marais and the best antiques shopping spot at Vanves Market.” — Isabelle Raphael, Photo Editor
Bergamasque Alps, Italy
“My father and I live 3,500 miles apart, but we make sure to set aside time every year for a hiking trip together. This year, we spent a few days in Italy’s Bergamasque Alps with friends. It was a wonderful re-discovery of our backyard mountains. They’re easy to reach from Milan yet off the beaten path, and exceptionally wild for something so close to a major city.” — Alberto Riva, Managing Editor
Grand Junction, CO
“The highlight of my travels for 2017, hands down, was a visit to Grand Junction, Colorado. Sure, Denver and Boulder are great, but head west to find the real heart of the state. From hiking the Colorado National Monument which is Grand Canyon-level incredible, to biking your way around the wineries in Palisade, there’s no shortage of things to do — one of which has to be a stop at chef Josh Niernberg’s restaurant Bin 707, where there’s not a sub-par dish (or drink) on the menu.” — Jane Frye, Nights & Weekends Editor
“The best place I went this year was Cleveland, Ohio to visit my family. I just started my travel journey and I’m looking forward to all the places I will go in 2018.” — Jessica Rovniak, Video Editor
Featured Image by DeAgostini/Getty Images
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December 31, 2017 at 04:15PM
12 World Travelers Share Their New Year’s Resolutions for 2018
But before the door closes on 2017, there’s one last thing to do: make your New Year’s resolution.The odds are, you (and millions of others) have set great plans for 2018 — whether it’s to lose weight, get more points, eat healthier or travel more. To help you out, we’ve asked these eclectic group of travel influencers and globetrotters what they’re resolving to do in 2018. You may recognize some of these jet-setting globetrotters, solo travelers and AvGeeks, so be sure to follow this influential dozen on their journey into 2018.
1. J.R. and Kit, Orange is Optimism
Home Base: J.R. and Kit have been on the road full-time for five years now, living in their ‘76 VW bus named Sunshine.
New Year’s Resolution: “To spend time doing nothing every day. Since we’re constantly on the move, and the landscape outside our door is always changing, J.R. and I decided that 2018 will be our year of purposeful idleness. We are committing at least 15 minutes a day to doing nothing at all, no matter how many miles we traveled, no matter who we meet out on the backroads. Idleness has been a goal of ours for years now, since we hit the road back in 2012. We believe that time spent doing nothing is crucial to a life well lived. Next year, we’ll take our own advice and commit to a daily ritual of idleness. We’ve gotta balance all the movement somehow!”
Travel stats: J.R. and Kit have traveled through 45 states, up into Canada, down into Mexico, traveling over 100,000 miles total and coast to coast 8 times.
2. Jacintha Verdegaal, Urbanpixxels
Homebase: The Netherlands
New years Resolution: “My new year’s travel resolution is to continue traveling the world, exploring interesting destinations I haven’t been to before. But apart from planning where I want to go, my resolution is also to plan less for when I’m there. Opening myself up more for spontaneous experiences instead of already knowing what I will be doing and where I’ll be eating before I leave. As a travel blogger, you always feel that pressure of getting the most out of your time in a certain destination, but it’s important to remember that the reason I love travel and love sharing my travel stories is because of those experiences that you didn’t know before and weren’t expecting.”
Travel stats: Jacintha visited 12 countries in 2017 and 45 countries in total so far.
3. Gloria Atanomo, The Blog Abroad
Home base: New York City
New Year’s Resolution: “I want to be the dumbest person in the room so that I’m always soaking in the knowledge, culture, and wisdom of others. I want 2018 to be an acceleration year for my travels, my brand, my community and my education. I want to dive back into books, new languages, and unfamiliar territory to really test my limits and challenge the world. I’d like to reach my 80th country and more than anything, find ways to bring my readers along for the ride!”
Travel stats: Glo has traveled across 60 countries and 6 continents so far.
4. Mike and Anne Howard, HoneyTrek.com
Home base: The couple has lived out of their suitcase since 2012.
New Year’s Resolution: “Our resolution is to travel slower. Over the past eight months, we’ve road-tripped over 20,000 miles to 38 US states, three Canadian provinces, and three Mexican states. We travel in a vintage RV that rarely crosses 55mph so going fast is relative — but we want to park it for longer so that we can take more hikes, meet more locals, and go beyond the highways and highlights. We always strive for this style of slow immersive travel but, as nomads, it’s hard to resist the urge to move. The plan for 2018 is to build in more time and make deeper connections with every stop.”
Travel stats: The HoneyTrek duo have been nomadic since January 2012, traveling to 7 continents, 53 countries and over 500 regions during this time.
5. Kristen Bor, Bear Foot Theory
Home base: Salt Lake City, Utah
New years resolution: “In 2018, I’m planning to take a seven-month road trip in my Sprinter Van around the US. I’m going to start in the Southwest in May, make my way up California for the July 4th High Sierra Music Festival, and then head east, including stops in Montana, the Boundary Waters, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and New England. I have a tendency to constantly be on the go, so this upcoming year, I want to travel a bit slower. I want to fully experience the places I visit, getting to know the locals and all the cool spots you won’t find in the travel guides.”
Travel stats: While a majority of her blogging-based travels have been focused on the US, Kristen’s travels have also taken her to 9 countries: Tanzania, New Zealand, Guatemala, Belize, Mexico, Nepal, Canada, Indonesia and the Netherlands.
6. Brian Kelly, The Points Guy
Home base: New York City
New Years Resolution: “This year I resolve to visit Israel — I can’t believe I’ve never been! And, of course, the perennial work-out-more-when-I-travel resolution too.”
Travel stats: TPG flew around the world 9+ times in 2017. His longest milage run was 7,989 miles from (CAN) to (JFK) and his shortest leg was 212 miles from (EWR) to (IAD) — for a total of 234,722 miles this year.
7. Kate McCulley, Adventurous Kate
Home base: New York City
New year’s Resolutions: “I have two major travel resolutions for 2018: to visit my final continent, Antarctica and to visit my final European country: Cyprus. I already have Antarctica booked for March, complete with kayaking and crossing the Antarctic Circle. I find myself in Europe a few times a year, and will be in the Netherlands in late May, so I think I could easily hop over to Cyprus from there! But as soon as you add Cyprus, it becomes easy to add on a side trip to Lebanon. And another side trip to Bologna to visit friends. And perhaps this could be the summer when I finally visit the Caucasus … the more places you visit, the more you inevitably add to your list!”
Travel stats: Kate has traveled to 74 of 195 countries, 6 of 7 continent and 25 of 50 US states.
8. Steph Korey, Away
Homebase: New York City
New Years Resolution: “When it comes to travel in 2018, I’d like to be a bit more spontaneous! Being flexible and open to last-minute trips, even if it’s just for a quick getaway, is tough as the CEO of a quickly growing company, but I’d like to make a more deliberate effort to take advantage of those rare moments when I can.”
Travel stats: Steph has visited over 25 countries so far.
9. Jen Rubio, Away
Homebase: New York City
New Years Resolution: “Next year, I want to diversify on my loyalty programs, especially with airlines. That means status matching, doing more research (yes, on TPG), and being more strategic about where and how I fly, but it’ll be totally worth it when I have status on a preferred carrier on whatever route my travels take me.”
Travel stats: To date, Jen has traveled to more than 70 countries.
10. Cindy Ko, Emirates
New Year’s Resolution: “In 2018, I’m excited to dive with whale sharks in the Red Sea of Djibouti, climb Mount Kilimanjaro and finally learn to ski! I’m a California girl, so I’ve only dabbled in snowboarding. My first trip this January will be hitting the slopes in Yinchuan, China. I’m longing for the most fascinating experiences in 2018! And to be captivated by the adventure of nature, both above and below the sea.”
Travel stats: So far, Cindy has traveled to 83 countries and is currently based in Dubai.
11. Simeon Lüthi, @AvGeek
Home base: Zurich, Switzerland
New Year’s Resolution: “As I’m only a student (well, actually I just applied for pilots training at SWISS), I don’t really fly too much compared to the avid trip reporters, but I still managed to fly 26 legs in 2017 and I became Star Alliance silver with Aegean. My goal for 2018 is to achieve gold status, so I’ll try to find a good deal with a partner airline that lets you earn a lot of miles. But for the time being, I just want to enjoy the perks of being able to go to lounges in 2018 — this is completely new to me.”
Travel stats: Luthi traveled extensively throughout the US and Europe.
12. Christine Kaaloa, GRRRLTRAVELER
Home base: Honolulu, Hawaii
New Year’s Resolution: “I’m hoping to do more responsible traveling and tourism in 2018. My goal is to work with companies that practice ethical tourism focused on eco-friendly habit that won’t endanger or manipulate the environment. Being that I am currently based in Hawaii, I am passionate about preserving the marine and animal life.”
Travel Stats: Christine has traveled to 100+ countries but stopped counting.
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December 31, 2017 at 03:05PM
Passenger Deadline Extended for New Driver’s License Requirements on U.S. Domestic Flights
Passengers go through a U.S. Transportation Security Administration checkpoint on July 6, 2014. Rpavich / Flickr
— Dennis Schaal
If you’re worried about whether your driver’s license is compliant with new REAL ID requirements for domestic air travel, you can relax for now.
A grace period for meeting the new rules is set to expire Jan. 22. But licenses from 27 states plus Washington, D.C., are already compliant with federal REAL ID standards, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Another 23 states have been granted extensions for meeting the new rules, according to DHS. That means you can continue to use noncompliant licenses from those states for domestic air travel for now.
Three of those states that received extensions have approvals pending for being certified as fully compliant with REAL ID requirements: Louisiana, New York and Michigan.
The federal government will stop accepting noncompliant licenses as ID for domestic flights on Oct. 1, 2020. The REAL ID licenses are designed to be counterfeit-resistant with secure features such as holograms.
Of course, U.S. passports and passport cards remain acceptable alternative documents for use instead of a driver’s license for air travel. Several other types of government-issued ID are also acceptable, such as Global Entry and other “trusted traveler cards.”
According to DHS, the Transportation Safety Administration “does not require children under 18 to provide identification when traveling with a companion within the United States,” though their companion needs acceptable ID.
LICENSE OPTIONS AND TIMING
Some states are now offering more than one type of noncommercial driver’s license. In New York, for example, three options are offered: a standard driver’s license that cannot be used as ID for air travel or border crossings; a REAL ID-compliant license for use on domestic flights; or an Enhanced license, which is acceptable for land or sea entry to the U.S. when crossing borders from Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean, as well as on domestic flights.
Some states do not yet offer REAL ID licenses. Minnesota, for example, expects to offer them later in 2018.
If your current license is not REAL ID-compliant and it is not due for renewal until after the Oct. 1, 2020 deadline, you may want to get one that meets the new rules ahead of your renewal date. Check your state government’s website for the latest information on renewal procedures and options.
Details on REAL ID: http://ift.tt/2t54Ik1
Copyright (2017) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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December 31, 2017 at 02:32PM
Virgin America, JetBlue Operating Less Than 70% of Flights On Time in 2017
Believe it or not, the most-hated and worst-ranked airline in the US isn’t the worst performing airline in the US. Instead, Virgin America and JetBlue’s on-time percentages are making Spirit Airlines’ 75.5% on-time percentage look pretty good.
Based on statistics from January through October 2017 — which is the most recently released data — both Virgin America and JetBlue have less than a 70% on-time percentage.
|Airline||On-Time||% Late||% Cancelled||% Diverted|
Data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics year-to-date through October 2017. Percentages for on-time and delayed flights are rounded.
We were wondering if this poor performance could be due to JetBlue’s significant operations at New York’s JFK — which underwent a lengthy runway re-construction project through 2017 — and Virgin America’s heavy presence in delay-prone Los Angeles (LAX). However, based on October 2017 data, these airlines are underperforming even at their home bases:
There’s a bit of a trick to these stats though — the three large US carriers utilize regional carriers, such as SkyWest, ExpressJet and about a dozen other smaller airlines. When there are weather or air traffic issues, the mainline carriers will force their regional partners to take delays in order to allow the mainline carriers to operate closer to schedule.
Then when it comes to reporting delays, the mainline airlines are able to tout their better performance, while conveniently, many of the regional partners are too small to require detailed performance reporting (and those that do report their operations operate as regional carriers for multiple legacy carriers). This makes it impossible to re-weight the results to include the regional carriers with the mainline operations.
Another bit of trickery: schedule padding. Many airlines will schedule flights for longer than the flight should take, which allows a little wiggle room to make up for delays and still have an on-time arrival. In fact, when Bloomberg spoke with JetBlue about their poor on-time performance, the airline explained that it padded its schedule less than its competitors.
Featured image by Justin Sullivan / Getty Images.
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December 31, 2017 at 02:15PM
How a Fictional Racist Plot Made the Headlines and Revealed an American Truth
In 1968, the African-American novelist John A. Williams published his
third novel, “The Man Who Cried I Am,” a bitter, beautiful, and feverish
depiction of the failed promises of the civil-rights era. The novel,
which was a best-seller and went through six printings, narrates the
lives of two writers, one of whom, Max Reddick, is a journalist whose
career path resembled Williams’s own. Like Max, who had served in the
Army during the Second World War, Williams had enlisted in the Navy, where he
was almost killed—not by the enemy but by a gang of white American
sailors. Both men later worked as beat reporters for New York magazines.
Their shared suspicion of the subtle, yet omnipresent, racism of the
white creative class and the black integrationists who mimicked its
liberal politics led both of them abroad—first to Europe, then to Africa
at the height of the Black Power movement.
The novel’s other central character, Harry Ames, is a celebrated black
American writer of social-protest fiction who so closely resembled
Richard Wright that the lawyers at Little, Brown expressed some concern
that the author’s estate would sue. And yet there are elements of
Williams’s own story in Harry’s, too. Like Harry, Williams had been
nominated for a prestigious writing prize—the American Academy in Rome’s
Rome Prize Fellowship—only to have it withdrawn without explanation. As
Williams recalled, he had lost the fellowship after a racially charged
interview with the academy’s director, an incident that seemed proof to
him that most of the “good, white moderate people of the North and
South” were privately “anti-Negro,” for to be so publically was “no
longer fashionable.” “The vast silence—the awful, condoning silence that
surrounded the affair fits a groove worn,” he reflected. “The rejection
confirms my suspicions, not ever really dead and makes my ‘paranoia’
real and therefore not ‘paranoia’ at all,” he wrote in an article in
Nugget. “That is the sad thing, for I always work to lose it.”
“The Man Who Cried I Am” is a novel about the kind of paranoia that
proves to be entirely justified, a theme that culminates in its
penultimate chapter, in which Harry, living in self-imposed exile in
Paris, dies under suspicious circumstances. Before his death, we learn,
he had recently discovered a briefcase containing “the King Alfred
Plan”: a series of leaked documents outlining the measures that the U.S.
government would adopt if the racial unrest and discord of the
mid-nineteen-sixties turned into civil war—an “Emergency” that would
involve “all 22 million members of the Minority.” “The Minority has
adopted an almost military posture to gain its objectives, which are not
clear to most Americans,” the plan read. “It is expected, therefore,
that, when those objectives are denied the Minority, racial war must be
considered inevitable.” The plan, which was named after the first
Anglo-Saxon king of England, detailed how the government would
“terminate, once and for all, the Minority threat to the whole American
society, and indeed, the Free World.”
In the first draft of the novel, Williams unveiled the King Alfred Plan
in what his editor, Harry Sions, described as a “James Bondish note”
that Harry Ames had written to Max, and which Sions deemed “not quite
convincing.” “The reader must feel that it damn well could be true and
indeed well may come true,” Sions added, encouraging Williams to
revise the end of the novel to resemble “one of a number of contingency
plans which I’m sure our government must have in certain events, and
which would be put in motion under specific circumstances, like an
overall war.” In response to Sion’s notes, Williams designed six pages
to imitate classified government documents, which included a memo from
the National Security Council rationalizing the plan, a crude map from
the Department of the Interior highlighting the regions where the
“Minority” would be detained, and a bullet-pointed timetable from the
Secretary of Defense outlining how the “Minority” would be subject to
“vaporization techniques” or deported to Africa. In the novel’s final
chapter, Max reads the plan over the telephone to a black nationalist
named Minister Q (a stand-in for Malcom X), urging him to revolt against
the state. Max’s discovery, Williams writes in the final pages of the
novel, gave “form and face and projection” to American racism. His worst
suspicions were finally confirmed.
Jacksonville, Ferguson, Beavercreek, Waller County, Baltimore, and
Staten Island are not named on the maps or timetables of Williams’s
pages—but the themes of “The Man Who Cried I Am,” today a largely
forgotten novel, continue to resound. There is something contemporary,
too, in the way that Williams’s fictional King Alfred Plan took hold of
the public imagination upon its publication, in 1967. That year, there
were uprisings in Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit, Newark, Milwaukee, and
Tampa, in which black men and women were assaulted by the police. The
federal government was known to be surveilling black leaders, and,
according to Williams, many activists were already convinced that the
F.B.I., C.I.A., and local law-enforcement agencies were conspiring to
neutralize the Black Panther Party and other radical organizations. As
Williams’s agent, Carl D. Brandt, observed, the plan, when combined with
the novel’s fictional but accurate portraits of Wright, Williams, Martin
Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X, as well as its faithful reporting on
the Kennedy White House’s half-hearted desegregation initiatives and the
rise of the Black Power movement, appeared “entirely credible in the
light of current events as well as within the terms of necessity for the
plot of the novel.”
Williams, who had worked for a time in P.R., had an innate sense of what
might today be termed viral marketing. The summer before the book’s
publication, Little, Brown sent promotional materials—an excerpt of the
King Alfred Plan alongside details of the book’s publication, all in a
manila folder labelled “CLASSIFICATION: TOP SECRET”—to two thousand
booksellers and jobbers. Williams thought that the King Alfred Plan
could make more of an impact if presented without the references to the
novel, and urged his publishers to take out a one-page ad in the Times to publish the plan without any reference to what it was or where it was
from. Williams was “enormously distressed” when he learned that his
publishers had balked, both because it seemed to him a missed
opportunity to make a splash and because he sensed that the mere act of
speculating about the plan’s authenticity had an almost revolutionary
potential. For Williams, the documents weren’t fake news but a conduit
to a deeper truth. “I don’t believe it is cheap publicity,” he wrote.
“The concentration camps do exist. I have since learned that the Federal
government does have such a contingency plan. We know that the Army and
National Guard as well as the local police are undergoing riot training.
What in the hell is cheap about the truth?”
In a schedule that he put together for his sales manager, Patrick
McCaleb, Williams suggested that Little, Brown “get the plan in its CIA
folder, perhaps, to representatives of the Soviet bloc nations, either
press or diplomats.” He wanted copies to go “the embassies of every
nation mentioned in the plan” and to “make sure the Germans got a copy.”
He also wanted “copies to go in some mysterious fashion to Dick Gregory,
James Meredith, Claude McKissick, and Stokely Carmichael,” the black
activists who Williams believed would “make the most noise.” The plan
had to look like it had no point of origin. “Secrecy can be power, and
there is power in secrecy,” Williams wrote to Sions.
In mid-October, Williams asked Little, Brown for a hundred copies of the
plan—ones that made no mention of his novel—and began leaving them in
subway cars in Manhattan. According to Williams’s friend, the journalist
Herbert Boyd, “The ploy worked so well that soon after black folks all
over New York City were talking about ‘the plan’—a fictitious plot that
many thought was true.” As photocopies circulated, readers themselves
edited the plan’s visual presentation to enhance its authentic
appearance and reproduced their versions of the plan in oppositional
black newspapers. Portions of the plan were redacted; the map was
enhanced to include color-coördinated keys and city names where the
concentration camps were located; patterned code names such as “REX-84,”
short for “Readiness Exercise 84,” were affixed to the documents. The
plan migrated north to Boston and west to Chicago, where members of
activist groups, unsure whether it was real or fictional, read it at
meetings, sometimes aloud, and interpreted how its designs reflected the
history of black oppression in America. According to the Black
Topographical Society of Chicago, the plan was key to understanding
everything from racist hiring practices to how superhighways were
“always routed through black ghettoes to facilitate eventual military
operations against those communities.”
In 1970, Clive DePatten, a nineteen-year-old from Des Moines who had
joined the Black Panther Party following a violent altercation with the
police, appeared in front of the House Internal Security Committee to
testify to the existence of a plan to exterminate blacks that he had
encountered in an activist publication. According to an account in the
Hartford Courant, the congressmen let DePatten finish his testimony
before informing him that the F.B.I. had already investigated the King
Alfred Plan, in 1969, and had “found it to be lifted from a novel, ‘The
Man Who Cried I Am,’ by John A. Williams, a black himself.” DePatten
nevertheless insisted on its truth. “Even if it actually is fictional,
events in the black community are paralleling those set out in the King
Alfred Plan,” he said. The urban-renewal projects of the
nineteen-fifties and sixties had corralled black Americans “into the
ghettoes,” he argued, where they were as vulnerable to state brutality
as interned Japanese-Americans during the Second World War or Jewish prisoners
in Nazi concentration camps. “It is a plan of fear,” the Republican
congressman William J. Scherle said at DePatten’s testimony. “If you
want to believe it, sure, it will scare the hell out of you.”
Through the early nineteen-seventies, many other people and
organizations testified to the truth of the plan before the government:
ex-Army spies, who claimed that it was an open secret; the A.C.L.U.,
which claimed that the Reverend Jesse Jackson was under surveillance by
the government. The government was dismissive of all their concerns.
Just as Williams had found the American Academy in Rome’s silence proof
enough of their racism, they found in this response all they needed to
confirm their sense that Williams’s fictional documents bespoke an
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December 31, 2017 at 02:08PM
The Year of Love Jihad in India
In 2011, when Akhila Ashokan was eighteen, she left her home in T. V.
Puram, a village in Kerala, for college in Salem, a busy town seven
hours to the east. Her father, K. M. Ashokan, was an ex-military man;
her mother, Ponnamma, a practicing Hindu. In Salem, Akhila studied
homeopathy, boarding with five women, including two Muslim sisters,
Jaseena and Faseena, with whom she studied, cooked, and talked. Akhila
watched them pray. Soon after—it is unclear when, exactly—Akhila started
to read books and watch videos that helped her understand Islam. Feeling
the stirrings of a new faith, she began to pray. In 2015, she decided to
call herself Aasiya.
To her father, Akhila seemed a changed person in November, 2015, when
she returned home for a funeral. She was quiet and reserved, reluctant
to join in the rituals. After the funeral, Aasiya resolved to declare
her new faith, and returned to school wearing a hijab. Her mother, when
she heard of the conversion, told Aasiya that her father had broken his
leg and asked her to come home to see him. But Aasiya, wise to the
extravagant emotional blackmail of Indian parents, refused. She began a
residential program for new converts at Sathya Sarani, a religious
institute in Kerala; took yet another name, Hadiya; and registered a
profile on waytonikah.com, a Muslim matrimonial site, where she noticed
a man, bearded and lean, who worked at a pharmacy in Muscat, Oman.
Shafin Jahan played goalkeeper for the F.C. Kerala soccer team, had a
sweet smile, quoted Shakespeare, and hashtagged all his posts on
Instagram. She met him, and then his family. Jahan’s Instagram went from
pictures of food and football to photos of open skies and sunsets.
Even before Hadiya and Jahan got married, last December, Ashokan had
taken his concerns to court, arguing that the people behind his
daughter’s conversion had “unlimited resources in finances as well as
manpower” and were enabling “illegal and forceful conversions.” His
counsel argued that Hadiya, then twenty-four, was in “a vulnerable
position from which she is necessary [sic] to be rescued and handed
over to the petitioner.” Ashokan was convinced that Jahan, who had ties
to the radical-Muslim Popular Front of India political party, was sent
to disappear his daughter, and was backed by a shadowy organization with
links to the Islamic State. (“I can’t have a terrorist in my family,” he
said.) The judgment from the Kerala High Court, which came in the last
week of May this year, sided with Ashokan. “In the first place, it is
not normal for a young girl in her early 20s, pursuing a professional
course, to abandon her studies and to set out in pursuit of learning an
alien faith and religion,” the judges wrote. They were clearly
unimpressed by Hadiya, a “gullible” and “ordinary girl of moderate
intellectual capacity,” who had “apparently memorized” Arabic verses.
Hadiya’s five-month marriage to Jahan was annulled; Hadiya was put in
the care of her parents.
This past August, I looked up at a mute television tuned to the news and
read the headline “Kerala girl denies forced conversion.” Onscreen, a
policewoman stood beside a young woman wearing a red floral-print
headscarf at the doorway of a home with beige walls and bars on the
windows. The young woman seemed to be venting to another, older
woman—her mother, I realized—who looked as frustrated as her daughter
looked distraught. By that time, Hadiya had been kept at her parents’
house for three months, and was not allowed to leave.
When a charged video clip drops into the lap of India’s cash-strapped
news channels, its echo is heard for days. In short order, Hadiya became
India’s top story: everyone wanted to save a woman who showed no signs
of wanting to be saved. In August, the National Investigation Agency,
the Indian government’s top antiterrorism organization, began investigating Hadiya’s
conversion and marriage. One news channel, Republic, said that more than
twenty-five thousand tweets had shared a link to an investigation it had
conducted into “love jihad,” and the same phrase
Fears around “love jihad,” a supposed form of religious warfare by which
Muslim men lure Hindu women away from the faith, have circulated in one
form or another in India for more than a century. According to Charu
Gupta, a history professor at Delhi University who has written
extensively about Hindu-Muslim marriages in India, Muslim rulers were
frequently portrayed as decadent manipulators in the popular literature
of the late nineteenth century. “In the nineteen-twenties, it went from
rulers to all Muslims,” she told me. “They were called abductions then.
Even elopements were seen as abductions.” These abductions effectively
provided “one of the glues for Hindu unity” in a country divided by
caste. Such fears have increased since 2009, with the emergence of Hindu
nationalists as a dominant political force in India. In 2014, the
Bharatiya Janata Party, led by Narendra Modi, came to power promising
development and freedom from corruption. In the past year, there have
been selective bans—on films that are deemed to be sacrilegious, and on
eating beef—while extremist mobs run wild. Modi has used Twitter to
respond quickly to tragedies in other parts of the
so rarely talks about the religious eruptions in the country he governs,
such as the lynchings of Muslims in B.J.P.-ruled states, that his merely
acknowledging them makes news.
It was during this year of the almost cheerful dismantling of law and
order that the story of Hadiya became the soap opera we all watched.
After the High Court’s ruling, one headline read, “ISIS Recruitment?
Kerala HC Cancels Marriage Between Hindu Girl, Muslim Man.” The Times
of India ran with “Kerala HC Cancels Marriage Due to Bride’s Alleged IS
Links,” above a picture of a masked ISIS fighter. The reports, which
rarely mentioned Hadiya’s version of events, left the reader with the
vivid image of a father protecting his daughter from the Islamic State.
Lawyers I spoke to thought that the whole thing was nuts. “This should
have been thrown out of court,” Amba Salelkar, a legal researcher, told
me. “People are allowed the dignity of risk.” Newspapers reporting the
story referred to it as the “Hadiya love-jihad case” without irony or
quotation marks. After the judgment, Hadiya became a celebrity, the
media’s hunger fuelled by the difficulty of catching a glimpse of her.
Her appearances on television were furtive and fleeting: unauthorized
recordings, glimpses through a phalanx of policemen hurrying her along.
The video clip I saw, of Hadiya and her mother arguing, was filmed by a
Hindu activist named Rahul Easwar, who was dismayed by her treatment.
Jahan wrote Hadiya letters, but they were returned to him by Ashokan.
Outside the family’s home, constables ordered by the Court to protect
Hadiya and her family watched CCTV monitors and asked neighbors to alert
them to visitors.
Days after the High Court ordered Hadiya to return to her parents’ home,
Jahan contacted a young Supreme Court lawyer named Haris Beeran, and
asked him to appeal the ruling. The case excited Beeran. “I thought it
would be a challenge, judicially,” he told me. Navigating India’s
justice system is its own unique brand of punishment, and for months,
while Hadiya stayed with her parents, Jahan’s case wound through its
endless plumbing. In the last week of November, both sides argued over
whether Hadiya should be heard at all. “Their case was that Hadiya was
so indoctrinated that she would have a ready set of answers,” Beeran
recalled later. I followed live accounts from the New Delhi court on
legal blogs and on Twitter. Hadiya stood listening for two hours before
the judges turned to her. It was the first time in months that someone
who mattered asked her what she wanted. And yet her presence in the
courts was also a terrifying reminder that she was being asked to prove
that she was worthy of freedom.
Later, everyone I spoke to was struck by her calm, and her lack of
interest in lamenting her months of being held against her will. “I need
the freedom to meet the person I love,” she said. “I am asking for
fundamental rights.” She spoke about how her parents had tried to
convert her back to Hinduism. She wanted to complete her education and
leave all this behind. Finally, the judges agreed with Jahan’s lawyers
that Hadiya didn’t sound brainwashed. They ruled that Hadiya could
return to school and could once again make her own decisions. Even so,
the Court decided to continue hearings over Jahan’s association with the
Popular Front of India into January, 2018. This month, Hadiya and Jahan
met for the first time in six months. The room in which they met was
wired with closed-circuit cameras.
The court moved on, but the Hadiya story had reached a vast audience. “So many people who hadn’t believed in
it before now do,” Gupta told me, of love jihad. The idea has a way of
prying open hidden prejudices through multiple means, like so many keys,
one of which might just turn the lock. In Rajasthan, schoolteachers
attend fairs to learn about love
In Kolkata, Hindu men are encouraged to fall in love with Muslim
women as a form of counteroffensive. One key turned. The day after the couple’s meeting, a video surfaced
that abruptly replaced Hadiya in the national mind. I watched it after
spending days bracing myself, and then, too, only in a corner at home
late one night. In the footage I saw, a Muslim laborer, later identified
as Mohammad Afrazul, apparently unaware that he is being filmed, strolls
under a tree, while another man, holding a pickaxe, jogs up behind him,
takes aim, and lodges it in his upper back. Afrazul turns around,
uncomprehending. “What did I do, sir?” he manages to shout. His
attacker, later identified as Shambhulal Regar, from a town north of
Udaipur, stumbles between blows, preparing to strike again. The camera
follows, at a distance. “I am dead, I am dead,” Afrazul cries. Finally,
he lies motionless where he has fallen. Regar speaks to the camera.
“Jihadis,” he says, breathing deeply. “This is what will happen to you
if you spread love jihad in our country.” Then he sets Afrazul on fire.
(I later discovered that I had watched an edited version of even more
Hours after the video appeared, the Rajasthan state police brought Regar
before a group of reporters. One journalist asked if he felt regret. “I
am a regular man,” he replied from under a hood. By then, support for
his actions had swelled. “Brother, we should chop up each and every one
of these Muslims,” one person wrote in the comments section below the
video online. Dozens of others offered their support. A fund drive for
Regar’s wife raised more than three hundred thousand rupees (equivalent to nearly five
thousand U.S. dollars). To prevent rallies from forming in support of
Regar, as well as those calling for his death, the nearby city of
Udaipur did what worried officials everywhere in India do these days:
they banned gatherings of more than four people and turned off the
Internet. Even so, on December 14th, as the light dimmed in the city, a
man in a saffron-orange shirt climbed the newly inaugurated gate of the
local court building and vigorously waved a flag dyed a luminous
orange—a declaration of Hindu supremacy over the police and the courts.
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December 31, 2017 at 12:15PM
Romantic Comedy Endings Reimagined for 2018
“Love Actually Just Kidding It’s My Penis”
Mark knocks on the door of a peaceful-looking home. Juliet answers, and,
seeing Mark, seems both surprised and uncomfortable. From inside, her
husband asks who’s at the door. Mark holds his index finger to his lips
and pulls out a giant note card that says, “Say it’s carol singers. I
want to show you my penis.”
Juliet slams the door in his face and calls the police. Mark realizes he
needs to make a big change to his life, so he runs for local office.
“Notting Hill Also Here’s My Penis”
William Thacker stands up in the middle of his quaint bookstore and
drops his pants. He looks directly into Anna Scott’s eyes and says, “I’m
just a man, standing in front of a woman, showing her my penis.” The
audience realizes that he is, indeed, showing Anna Scott his penis.
Anna reports the incident and William Thacker’s bookstore shuts down.
A month later, he’s elected governor.
“10 Things I Hate About You and Your Penis”
Kat Stratford stands up in front of her high-school English class and
reads a heartfelt poem declaring her love for Patrick Verona. Vulnerable
and overcome with emotion, Kat runs from the room, crying.
Patrick finds her in the school parking lot and tells her that he liked
the poem. Then he drops his pants and pulls out his penis.
Patrick is suspended from school.
He later decides to major in political science and lands a prestigious
internship at the White House.
“Pretty Woman and the Penis”
Vivian decides to go back to school and get her life on track. Just as
she’s about to leave, she hears honking outside her window. She looks
out and sees Edward in a white limousine.
Edward gets out of the limo, climbs up her fire escape, and pulls out
Vivian pushes him off the fire escape, and the ghost of Edward decides
to run for state senator. He wins.
“You’ve Got Mail, and It’s My Penis”
Kathleen Kelly, a.k.a. “Shopgirl,” blocks the Fox Books C.E.O., Joe Fox,
a.k.a. “NY152,” after he sends her unsolicited photos of his genitalia.
She then reads in the Post that Joe Fox stepped down as the C.E.O. of
Fox Books after he was caught e-mailing pictures of his penis to every
woman he worked with.
A year later, he runs for President.
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December 31, 2017 at 10:07AM
Sunday Reading: Women of the Year
Among the most important developments of 2017 was #MeToo: the renewed
determination of women to stand up to sexual harassment, and the new
willingness of (some) institutions and corporations to take action.
Although the movement itself started several years ago, it has gained a
new urgency since October, when the New York Times and The New
Yorker reported on appalling allegations against the film producer
Harvey Weinstein; since then, the wave of repercussions has grown, and
it has yet to crest. This week, we’re bringing you stories about the
women whose voices are making this change possible. In “From Aggressive
Overtures to Sexual Assault: Harvey Weinstein’s Accusers Tell Their
Stories,” Ronan Farrow hears the accounts of women in the entertainment
industry; in “Listening to What Trump’s Accusers Have Told Us,” Jia
Tolentino takes stock of the allegations against the President. Sheelah
Kolhatkar reports on gender discrimination in Silicon Valley; Anna
Wiener takes a close look at Uber, where the coder and whistle-blower
Susan Fowler has taken on her former bosses. Margaret Talbot introduces
us to Carrie Goldberg, an attorney who specializes in fighting so-called
revenge porn. Finally, Jelani Cobb gets to know Alicia Garza, who is
addressing injustice of a different kind as a co-founder of the Black
Lives Matter movement. We hope you enjoy meeting some of the women who
shaped 2017—and who, undoubtedly, will shape the year to come.
“Harvey Weinstein’s Accusers Tell Their Stories,” by Ronan Farrow
“In the course of a ten-month investigation, I was told by thirteen
women that, between the nineteen-nineties and 2015, Weinstein sexually
harassed or assaulted them.” Read
“Listening to What Trump’s Accusers Have Told Us,” by Jia Tolentino
“It seems almost cruel to wish, at this point, that these women would
keep speaking. They already did. They told the public that Trump grabbed
them and groped them.” Read
“The Disrupters,” by Sheelah Kolhatkar
“In 2015, a group of female tech investors and executives conducted a
survey of two hundred senior-level women in Silicon Valley. Titled ‘The
Elephant in the Valley,’ the study demonstrated how intertwined, and how
pervasive, types of gender discrimination are.” Read
“A Perfect Storm at Uber,” by Anna Wiener
“When Susan Fowler, a writer and engineer who until recently worked for
Uber, published a blog post on her personal Web site, the piece, which
detailed a pattern of gender discrimination at the car-hailing company,
quickly went viral.” Read
“Taking Trolls to Court,” by Margaret Talbot
“Carrie Goldberg is a thirty-nine-year-old Brooklyn attorney with a
practice specializing in sexual privacy, a new field of law that has
emerged, in large part, to confront some of the grosser indulgences of
the Internet.” Read
“The Matter of Black Lives,” by Jelani Cobb
“The phrase ‘black lives matter’ was born in July of 2013, in a Facebook
post by Alicia Garza, called ‘a love letter to black people.’ ” Read
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December 31, 2017 at 10:07AM