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1988: Obama helped stranded traveler in Miami





handfleisch
OK, my last post in politics for a while. Here is a translation from a story currently in the Norwegian press about an incident in the Miami airport involving Barack Obama in 1988.
---------------------------------------
http://www.vg.no/nyheter/utenriks/presidentvalg-2008/artikkel.php?artid=527005
http://www.gjengangeren.no/article/20081004/NYHETER/316360703
translation from here http://leishacamden.blogspot.com/2008/10/not-that-it-matters.html
Quote:
ÅSGÅRDSTRAND (VG): Mary was a newlywed and ready to move to Norway, but was stopped at the airport because she didn't have enough money for the trip. Then a stranger turned up and paid for her.

Mary Menth Andersen was 31 years old at the time and had just married Norwegian Dag Andersen. She was looking forward to starting a new life in Åsgårdstrand in Vestfold with him. But first she had to get all of her belongings across to Norway. The date was November 2nd, 1988.

At the airport in Miami things were hectic as usual, with long lines at the check-in counters. When it was finally Mary's turn and she had placed her luggage on the baggage line, she got the message that would crush her bubbling feeling of happiness.

You'll have to pay a 103 dollar surcharge if you want to bring both those suitcases to Norway, the man behind the counter said.

Mary had no money. Her new husband had travelled ahead of her to Norway, and she had no one else to call.
"I was completely desperate and tried to think which of my things I could manage without. But I had already made such a careful selection of my most prized possessions," says Mary.


Although she explained the situation to the man behind the counter, he showed no signs of mercy.
"I started to cry, tears were pouring down my face and I had no idea what to do. Then I heard a gentle and friendly voice behind me saying, That's OK, I'll pay for her."

Mary turned around to see a tall man whom she had never seen before.

"He had a gentle and kind voice that was still firm and decisive. The first thing I thought was, Who is this man?"
Although this happened 20 years ago, Mary still remembers the authority that radiated from the man.
"He was nicely dressed, fashionably dressed with brown leather shoes, a cotton shirt open at the throat and khaki pants, says Mary."

She was thrilled to be able to bring both her suitcases to Norway and assured the stranger that he would get his money back. The man wrote his name and address on a piece of paper that he gave to Mary. She thanked him repeatedly. When she finally walked off towards the security checkpoint, he waved goodbye to her.

The piece of paper said 'Barack Obama' and his address in Kansas, which is the state where his mother comes from. Mary carried the slip of paper around in her wallet for years, before it was thrown out.
-"He was my knight in shining armor," says Mary, smiling.

She paid the 103 dollars back to Obama the day after she arrived in Norway. At that time he had just finished his job as a poorly paid community worker* in Chicago, and had started his law studies at prestigious Harvard university.

In the spring of 2006 Mary's parents had heard that Obama was considering a run for president, but that he had still not decided. They chose to write a letter in which they told him that he would receive their votes. At the same time, they thanked Obama for helping their daughter 18 years earlier.

In a letter to Mary's parents dated May 4th, 2006 and stamped 'United States Senate, Washington DC', Barack Obama writes,

'I want to thank you for the lovely things you wrote about me and for reminding me of what happened at Miami airport. I'm happy I could help back then, and I'm delighted to hear that your daughter is happy in Norway. Please send her my best wishes. Sincerely, Barack Obama, United States senator'.

The parents sent the letter on to Mary.


BEVISET: Her holder Mary Menth Andersen (51) frem brevet fra Barack Obama, mannen som hjalp henne til Norge. Ved siden av henne står ektemannen Dag Andersen (53). Foto: Roger Neumann
davideyoung
Something does not ring true about this story - although the newspapers clearly believes Mary's story, without verifying it with any airline.

As an American who remembers 1988, let me tell you about that time:

There was no Homeland Security Department. Airlines were doing very well. Gas was under $1 a gallon. Reagan was in his final successful year as president. You could wait for your loved ones AT THE EXIT of the planes inside the terminals. Baggage surcharges on 3 or less baggages DID NOT EXIST.

That is right - no airline in the United States had a surcharge on baggage in the numbers she claims. There was no limit to the amount of baggage you could check except for the size of the bags, and they allowed much bigger then than they do now. You were limited to 2-3 carry-ons, depending on the airline, also only limited by size.

Baggage surcharges for less than 3 bags were FIRST introduced in the USA in 2002. Today, nearing 2009, the average surcharge is $10 to $30. This surcharge we now have with some airlines today is to pay for the high price of fuel with a major loss in ridership with the economic downturn since the attacks in 2001, and to pay for the new Homeland Security Department presence and rules the airlines must now abide by. None of that was foreseen in 1988 by any airline.

I find it convenient there is no mention of any specific airline by Mary to verify that such a surcharge existed. I did, however, speak with Miami airport, where it supposedly happened. Here is what they told me:

"Unfortunately, two of the airlines who provided travel to Norway at that time are out of business, so we can not check with their direct records. Of the other providers, none ever placed that kind of surcharge on baggage. It would be extremely fishy for any airline in 1988 to have placed any surcharge on anything less than five bags, and even then, a surcharge of more that $100 would have been unheard of and very strange. We believe this story can not possibly be true."

I hated the sick and disgusting lies being told about Obama when he was a candidate, and I equally hate when someone lies about him on the other side of the spectrum to gain fame using his name. A man should be able to stand on the truth of his real character without having people lie and try to tear him down or build him up with untruth.
ocalhoun
handfleisch wrote:


Uh, yeah, there's "ton of info" available from the Moonie Times, or World Nut Daily, Clownhall or the talk shows like Michael Savage that Obama is all at once an inexperienced terrorist socialist communist Muslim with Christian preacher problems. Laughable, but some people will believe anything.


Now who has bad sources?
handfleisch
Let me get this straight... you're saying that these people, and this newspaper, fabricated this story, even before Obama ever announced his candidacy? And this photo faked? All in Norway?

You consider the mainstream paper in Norway to be a bad source?

Why would they do all this, may I ask?

Or maybe conspiracy theorists don't need a reason. Obama=Satan is good enough.

Personally, I am still high on the victory, so I think I will stopped replying to the loonier provocations from now on.
davideyoung
The article, if you look at the date of it, was written exactly one month before the election. I do not say the papers fabricated the story. In fact, I have been in touch with them, and the story was not fabricated by them. The lady they believed did.

I did not post these facts to provoke either side of the recent election into arguing politics. I do not believe this particular lie had anything to do with Obama or the election, unless someone paid the lady to lie. I have no evidence that suggests any such thing happening though. I did not post this for any political preference. I hated the bad lies that were going around as much as I hate this "good" one. I have nothing against Obama. I am politically neither in favor or against him. I voted for Independent Alan Keyes. I simply don't like the spread of lies, be they in favor or against a person.

This was fabricated by the lady the story was about, and the reporters did not do any follow-through work to verify the story before printing it. This does happen in mainstream media sometimes. Dan Rather was forced into retirement over the same mistake (not checking and verifying the information and looking into sources before reporting a story).

It is just bad reporting, because the story IS simply a fabrication.

Further evidence of this is that in the story, he is said to have given the lady an address in Kansas "where his mother lived" according to the article. After the divorce, Obama's mother returned to Hawaii in 1972 for several years, and then in 1977 went back to Indonesia, where she worked as an anthropological field worker. She stayed there most of the rest of her life, returning to Hawaii in 1994. She died of ovarian cancer in 1995- in Hawaii. In 1988, Obama lived in Chicago.

Kansas?

As for the photo, no, neither photo (there are two - one in each of the paper who printed the article) was faked. They were both shot by newspaper photographers a couple days before the article was written in October. That paper in her hand was faked though, and of course the reporters took it at face value, not verifying that the signature was Obama's or that it came from the US Senate.

The story is indeed a fabrication - but not by the newspapers. It is just the reporter did not verify the story or check sources thoroughly enough. The lady who made the claim is a liar. Whether she did so just to gain her own notoriety or whether she was paid to remains to be seen. Either way, the story is simply untrue.
handfleisch
?

The lady is a liar, and so are her parents, and they willingly posed for photos with a fraudulent letter?

http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/barackobama/a/random_act.htm

Quote:
A reporter for the Santa Rosa, California Press Democrat confirmed the details of the story with Andersen's mother and father, Peter and Mary Menth, in an article published Oct. 26, 2008.


I am not saying it's impossible that it's a hoax, but so far, the story is sound.
davideyoung
Here is the Press Democrat Article:

http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_action=doc&p_docid=1241B63F325F4B50&p_docnum=1&s_dlid=DL0108111415005015686&s_ecproduct=SUB-FREE&s_ecprodtype=INSTANT&s_trackval=&s_siteloc=&s_referrer=&s_subterm=Subscription%20until%3A%2012%2F14%2F2015%2011%3A59%20PM&s_subexpires=12%2F14%2F2015%2011%3A59%20PM&s_username=santarosa&s_accountid=AC0105061516020614723&s_upgradeable=no

As you can see, the reporter did not check any sources except to ask the parents if they believed her.

I will speak with that reporter and see what he/she has to say later today, and I will let you know who it is and what they say.
ocalhoun
handfleisch wrote:
?

The lady is a liar, and

so are her parents,

and they willingly posed for photos with a fraudulent letter?

yes
no, probably lied to by their daughter
yes, why not? Refusing would make the story less credible.
handfleisch
Quote:
Here is the Press Democrat Article:
...
As you can see, the reporter did not check any sources except to ask the parents if they believed her.

I will speak with that reporter and see what he/she has to say later today, and I will let you know who it is and what they say.


You're wrong on your facts about the parents. It's not just whether they believe their daughter -- they are essential players in the events. They are an integral part of the story, having sent a letter to Obama and received a response.

Could I ask where you are coming from -- are you a journalist, blogger, etc? Because at this point we are supposed to believe that you are making all these phone calls, doing first hand fact-checking, and producing original quotes from unnamed sources at Miami airport, under your new and usually-pseudonymous member name, in order to post about it on a smallish website chatroom. It's an honest question with no disrespect meant. As I have said, the story could be a hoax, but no one but you seems to have any evidence of this.

Again, for me (and most of the world), the story still holds water. It strains credulity to think these this woman, her husband and the parents of the woman -- that's four people so far -- made up the story, faked a letter, posed with the letter for the paper in Norway (though people sometimes do crazy things for little to no good reason).

To look into it is fair enough, but it's a bit funny to go to extremes to debunk it (especially since it didn't make much of a splash in the first place). It's not that important to me either way, just interesting.

PS get a tinyurl for that link! It's destroying the margins
davideyoung
Google my username. If, as your username implies, you are adolescent, you will find I have been online longer than you have been alive.

First, for anyone who does not believe me, I recommend you make the same calls yourself and check other sources yourself. If you can fine evidence of this story apart from the word of this one family, go for it!

Second, what brought me to this website was NOT an effort to debunk this story. I have debunked more than a hundred stories about Obama (and hundreds of others not related to Obama) from chain mails at people's requests, and this story was no different. Although I must admit, I hoped this one was true. But, as all chain mails I have received so far, both positive and negative, this turned out at first to be implausible, and as I did more research, to be full of things that contradict the facts of the times and locations claimed. Not one thing, but several. As for posting here, I had never heard of this "smallish website" as you put it until I was doing this research by request. This website provided one of the only two direct English translations from the articles, and the email version was slightly different, replacing "Kansas" with "Chicago" (probably to make it more believable). I always like to see the source, as often chain mails change things. When I then saw the comments following this article on this website, I decided simply to post the truth from the research I had done.

Third, I am not a journalist. I once worked as a news copy editor and researcher for a major network news station in the United States, but that is unrelated to the researching I do now when I am asked to. I am not a blogger, and do not often waste time with internet blogs. Most of the time, my responses are only to the person or organization asking me if a forwarded email is true or not.

The research I do is simple, and anyone who puts in a little bit of effort can do it. So again, if ANYONE does not believe me, feel free to find any evidence that contradicts what I found. So far, the only evidence in favor of this particular story is a family with an unverified paper and a story that contradicts the airline policies of the time and the facts about where the people they name lived at the time (Obama and his mother).

So if you (or anyone) can verify anything with any source named in the story other than those telling it, go for it! I would love to say that this story is true. So far, all the evidence says otherwise.
ocalhoun
davideyoung wrote:

First, for anyone who does not believe me, I recommend you make the same calls yourself and check other sources yourself. If you can fine evidence of this story apart from the word of this one family, go for it!

He won't do that. He would never check the validity of a source he agreed with.
liljp617
Does this really matter either way? Could someone let me know the significance of it being true or false...? It's a story that holds no power or meaning regardless of its validity, big deal.
handfleisch
ocalhoun wrote:
davideyoung wrote:

First, for anyone who does not believe me, I recommend you make the same calls yourself and check other sources yourself. If you can fine evidence of this story apart from the word of this one family, go for it!

He won't do that. He would never check the validity of a source he agreed with.


Dude, you're becoming a troll, personally attacking my posts whether they have anything to do with you or not. Contribute to the topic or g.a.l.
handfleisch
davideyoung wrote:
Google my username. If, as your username implies, you are adolescent, you will find I have been online longer than you have been alive.

First, for anyone who does not believe me, I recommend you make the same calls yourself and check other sources yourself. If you can fine evidence of this story apart from the word of this one family, go for it!

Second, what brought me to this website was NOT an effort to debunk this story. I have debunked more than a hundred stories about Obama (and hundreds of others not related to Obama) from chain mails at people's requests, and this story was no different. Although I must admit, I hoped this one was true. But, as all chain mails I have received so far, both positive and negative, this turned out at first to be implausible, and as I did more research, to be full of things that contradict the facts of the times and locations claimed. Not one thing, but several.
...
Third, I am not a journalist. I once worked as a news copy editor and researcher for a major network news station in the United States, but that is unrelated to the researching I do now when I am asked to. I am not a blogger, and do not often waste time with internet blogs. Most of the time, my responses are only to the person or organization asking me if a forwarded email is true or not.

The research I do is simple, and anyone who puts in a little bit of effort can do it. So again, if ANYONE does not believe me, feel free to find any evidence that contradicts what I found. So far, the only evidence in favor of this particular story is a family with an unverified paper and a story that contradicts the airline policies of the time and the facts about where the people they name lived at the time (Obama and his mother).

So if you (or anyone) can verify anything with any source named in the story other than those telling it, go for it! I would love to say that this story is true. So far, all the evidence says otherwise.


So I found your website, you are David E Young, farmlaborer and part-time urban legend debunker, and you have debunked a 100+ stories just about about Obama alone. Is that right? Are you volunteer or pro? Does this debunking ever end up anywhere in the public domain? Who (in general) are the people and organizations you debunk for, how do they know you as a fact-checker? When you quote officials, why don't you name them, as in the airport authority? Do you use a tape recorder to get such long quotes?

Just a reminder, you didn't clear up that one discrepancy in your fact-checking, about the parents. Also:

Quote:
Baggage surcharges for less than 3 bags were FIRST introduced in the USA in 2002. Today, nearing 2009, the average surcharge is $10 to $30. This surcharge we now have with some airlines today is to pay for the high price of fuel with a major loss in ridership with the economic downturn since the attacks in 2001, and to pay for the new Homeland Security Department presence and rules the airlines must now abide by. None of that was foreseen in 1988 by any airline.


I flew to Europe with some heavy musical equipment in the mid-1990s, and received a hefty surcharge from the airline. It's possible that the surcharge on this woman was due to weight, not number. After 20 years, maybe the details got fuzzy. I think for you to call this woman a liar due to this hairsplitting is unconscionable.

Quote:
I will speak with that reporter and see what he/she has to say later today, and I will let you know who it is and what they say.


See, if I wanted to impugn your character, I could charge you with saying that you would do this on Friday, Nov 14, and since you didn't report on it in your message of Saturday, Nov 15, I would call you a liar, etc. That would be pretty silly, wouldn't it? And so is calling this woman a liar due to little discrepancies about baggage amounts in her story 20 years later. It reminds me of the lapel pin or Obama birth certificate ridiculousness.

In your intrepid efforts, why don't you call the Obama campaign and ask if he sent that letter? That would clear it up a bit.
davideyoung
I put a call in to the paper, and the reporter was off on Friday. Feel free to ask them if I did so, as everything I do is indeed verifyable.

And as promised, I will post what the reporter says in response.
isranet
cent believe he is president

not because he is black//

because he seems to me very stupid
liljp617
isranet wrote:
cent believe he is president

not because he is black//

because he seems to me very stupid


Yeah most people who come up from using food stamps to graduating from Harvard are stupid -.-

Speak out against his lack of experience, whether or not you trust him, how he ran his campaign, his policies etc. But honestly, if you still think he's unintelligent at this point your opinion is really fairly useless and baseless.

You don't win a year long Presidential race (especially when people completely wrote his chances off at the start) by being stupid. (Bring up Bush, but honestly he is intelligent...he's just more stubborn than an ox with ADD).
handfleisch
davideyoung wrote:
I put a call in to the paper, and the reporter was off on Friday. Feel free to ask them if I did so, as everything I do is indeed verifyable.

And as promised, I will post what the reporter says in response.


you're not answering my other questions?
jmi256
liljp617 wrote:
Does this really matter either way? Could someone let me know the significance of it being true or false...? It's a story that holds no power or meaning regardless of its validity, big deal.


I tend to agree. It seems like a softball article meant to suggest that Obama is a "nice guy." The sarcastic part of me would say all it means is that Obama would make a good travel agent or concierge.
handfleisch
So an innocuous, obscure article about a good deed by Obama gets the full-power Kerners Are Go treatment (www.sadlyno.com/archives/9745.html), with charges of lying, fabricating and conspiracy by an inconsistent hit-and-run poster, all to no end.

The internet is weird.
mathiaus
I think I can safely close this Razz

-close-
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