Fake news: How to spot fake photos of Mars

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Earlier this week, Nasa shared an amazing video of its Perseverance rover landing on Mars.

The rover touched down on the Red Planet on 19 February, and engineers added seven cameras to the rover to record not only what it’s like on the Red Planet, but its journey to the planet too.

But while everyone down on Earth was getting excited, photos were being shared widely across social media which claimed to have been taken from Mars, but are actually fake.

So how do you spot fake images? We’ve got it covered below.

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People identified in rediscovered Alaska photos from 60 years ago

(CNN) — It was an ordinary Friday for Susanna Stevens-Johnson. She woke up in snowy Mountain Village, on the Yukon Delta in Alaska, and checked her Facebook account.

An old school friend had posted a link to a just-published CNN Travel article showcasing beautiful color photos from mid-20th century Alaska under the headline: “Do you know the mystery behind these Alaska travel photos?”

A Yup’ik Alaskan who grew up in and around Mountain Village, Stevens-Johnson was intrigued. She clicked the link and read how German creative director Jennifer Skupin found a box of slides at a Dutch flea market back in 2008, digitized them, and discovered stunning shots taken across the then-newly inaugurated US state.

Skupin tried to identify people in the photos at the time, but had no luck. Over a decade later, she’d rediscovered the slides languishing in her closet.

After a quick glance through the gallery, Stevens-Johnson moved her attention to a sewing project, lining a down jacket with velveteen for her granddaughter.

It was only later, when her husband Peter came home and she told him about the article, that curiosity prompted her to take another look.

Stevens-Johnson clicked through the images, marveling as she recognized landscapes, old classmates, neighbors and friends. Many of the people in the photos are Yup’ik, part of Alaska’s indigenous community.

Then she saw it. Her sister Marcia, instantly recognizable. Stevens-Johnson took a sharp intake of breath.

“I said, ‘Well if she’s in the picture, I’ve got to be in there somewhere.'”

She continued clicking through. Sure enough, two photos later, there she was — pictured alongside Marcia, two other childhood friends, Irene Moses and Augusta Alstrom-Lang, and an older family friend called Agnes Eirvak-Devlin.

“I practically jumped off the couch and I exclaimed to Peter, ‘This is me!’ And I showed him the photo and he said, ‘Yeah, that is you.’ So, I was really excited.”

Clicking back to the previous image, Stevens-Johnson realized she was also in that first photo with Marcia. Her head is bowed, so she’s less immediately identifiable.

“I’m probably playing with the tip of my scarf because I was very shy then and I didn’t like being photographed.”

Stevens-Johnson, a graduate of the University of Alaska who taught elementary school for over three decades, was around 10 years old when these two photos were taken. She’ll be 71 this year.

She sent the photo to her family and to Augusta Alstrom-Lang’s daughter, and then spent hours combing through the Google Drive, adding comments and relishing this unexpected trip through time.

That Sunday marked the one-year anniversary of Stevens-Johnsons’ mother’s death, but the discovery of the photographs helped her through the day.

“It just kind of made the whole weekend real happy.”

Capturing a moment


Susanna Stevens-Johnson, pictured center today, recognized herself and her sister Marcia Pete in the rediscovered photos.

Susanna Stevens-Johnson/Jennifer Skupin

Jennifer Skupin’s Google Drive was inundated with messages within hours of the CNN story publishing.

“I believe that’s my aunt,” read one comment. “That’s my grandmother,” said another.

Walkie Charles, an associate professor of Yup’ik, the language of the Yup’ik people, at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, stumbled across the photos on Facebook.

The 63-year-old is pictured in the collection aged 3, wearing a check jacket, alongside his sister, Mary Keyes.

The location of the photo, scrawled on the back of the slide, is pinpointed as Kwiguk, a village that Charles says was relocated downriver in 1964 due to threat of erosion, becoming Emmonak.

Clicking through the Google Drive was an emotional experience for Charles, as he saw faces of people who have since passed away.

“We don’t have any photos of my brother when he was little, or even when he was older,” says Charles. “And so that captured our hearts so, so dearly.”

Charles was speaking to CNN Travel from his office at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Also on the video call was Jennifer Skupin, finder of the photos.

“Jennifer, it was meant to be that you found this,” says Charles. “Little did you know that that story that was contained in these slides would be so emotionally charged, they would shake a part of the world that you have never even heard of.”

The photos, says Charles, offer the younger generation of Yup’ik people a glimpse of their communities in days past. Color photography was rare in the 1950s and 60s and the photographs are high quality.

“You could almost touch these people,” says Charles.

Alaska became a state in 1959. The photos in the collection were taken on the cusp of, and just after, statehood.

Charles says another important detail regarding the photos’ context is the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, which took a deadly toll on Alaska’s rural villages.

“My generation are the children of the survivors,” says Charles. His own grandparents, on both sides, died during the outbreak.

The community was also impacted by Tuberculosis in the mid-20th century. Some of the photos appear to show a drive for TB testing and vaccinations.

Walkie Charles found a photo of him and his sister in the collection.

Walkie Charles found a photo of him and his sister in the collection.

JR Anchetta, University of Alaska Fairbanks/Jennifer Skupin

“These photos present the resilience of the survivors and the hope for the new generation to move forward with a new vision, new sense of life, and a lust for challenge,” says Charles.

“Most of the stories/histories were taken away by the pandemic and TB epidemic, but these photos show the beginning of a new story.”

In Yup’ik culture, when someone in the community dies, their soul is passed on to a recently born baby. This newborn also takes the name of the deceased elder.

This adds another layer of meaning to the photographs for many, says Charles.

“For this generation, to see those older photos of older people and say, ‘I’m named after this person, I have never had a photo, I’ve never seen a photo of this person.’ It’s finally connecting.”

Charles says he recognizes some 100 people in the slides, around half of whom have since died. He’s commented on many of the photos on Skupin’s Google Drive with names, information and locations.

The mid-1970s were a turning point in Alaska’s recognition of its indigenous people, language and culture, says Charles.

During his career, Charles worked as a teacher, elementary education curriculum writer and now works at the University of Alaska, where he received his PhD.

“I head the Yup’ik Eskimo program,” he says. “It’s the only bachelor’s degree program in the world in an indigenous language.”

“And it all started in Kwiguk. It all started in in Emmonak. And it all started from those photos.”

Delightful discovery


Abby Augustine is in the photos, alongside her mother and sisters. In the center she’s pictured with her sister Emily Crane today.

Abby Augustine/Jennifer Skupin

Abby Augustine, who was just a baby in the early 1960s, is pictured in two photos in the collection. She’s being held by her mother, surrounded by her three sisters, Mary Richmond, Agnes Hoffman and Emily Crane. Like Walkie Charles, Augustine was born in Kwiguk and grew up in Emmonak.

Discovering the photos was a delight, Augustine tells CNN Travel. Her mother has since passed away, and seeing the photo was “like she visited us.”

“My daughter is super delighted to see a baby picture of me as we barely had any,” she adds.

“They’re all in black and white or a little bit tattered. And to see this in color, and in such, crisp clearness compared to the ones we have. It’s like an eye opener.”

Augustine also stumbled across the CNN Travel story on Facebook.

“I didn’t expect much while I was scrolling through the pictures, and then I started recognizing a few pictures from our area. And I was like, ‘Oh, how nice.’ And then kept scrolling. And then I ran across our photo.”

Augustine was in shock. She was sure it was her family, but she didn’t want to get ahead of herself — what if she was wrong?

She sent the first photo to her sister Mary, who is also in the picture, and was a little older at the time.

“Is this us?” asked Abby Augustine.

“I think so,” Mary said.

But, just to be sure, they also sent it to Agnes, their oldest sister, who is dressed in pink in the photo.

Agnes agreed. It was their family.

There are two versions of the photo in the collection; one is a little more close-up, with baby Abby smiling.

The photo, Augustine says, looks like it was taken in the summer. She reckons her father and brothers were out fishing for king salmon, and that’s why they’re not present.

Another photo in the collection might be Augustine’s uncle, Evan Nanuq Benedict. She’s not sure, but it definitely looks like him.

Augustine is pleased to see photographs in the collection celebrating the Yup’ik culture and traditions, from ice fishing to traditional dances.

“We still practice Eskimo dancing, by the way, traditional Eskimo dancing, so that was beautiful to see,” she says.

Like Charles and Stevens-Johnson, Augustine worked as an educator. She’s passionate about maintaining the Yup’ik language.

Reading the original CNN Travel story, Augustine was intrigued by the mystery surrounding the photographer’s identity.

“I got real curious,” she says.

A teacher friend of Augustine’s got in touch with her when the photos went live. This friend’s father traveled a lot and was a keen photographer, so the friend wondered if her dad might have taken the photos. This family were based in Alaska, but later moved to the Netherlands.

As for Walkie Charles, he’s unsure who the photographer was.

“It was only outsiders who, back then, had photos, or cameras, and so it was very rare for us to capture those special moments,” he says.

But Stevens-Johnson, who was 10 years old at the time, says she recalls the photographer, who would’ve stood out as an unexpected visitor to rural Alaska.

“If he was walking around the village taking photos, of course, we children in the village, we would follow anyone who came to the village.”

Mystery photographer

In one of the photographs of Stevens-Johnson — the one she didn’t immediately recognize, where her head is bent down — there’s a KLM bag in the corner of the image.

Jacques Condor, 91, who lived in Anchorage in the late ’50s and early 1960s, thinks this is the key to the story.

“These photos are not a mystery to me,” he says.

Condor, who is half Native American and half French Canadian, was assistant director of Greater Anchorage Incorporated in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

In the late 1950s, Alaska became, “the air crossroads of the world” as Condor puts it.

He points to the opening shot in the collection, of Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and recalls “airlines from Italy, France, Netherlands, Germany, Japan stopping over between London and Asia by way of Anchorage.”

Condor and his colleagues befriended many of the airline crews.

“They would stay with us and we’d go salmon fishing.”

He met his flight attendant wife, who was Japanese, during this period.

He produced the Fur Rendezvous, an annual winter festival held in Anchorage, and the Miss Alaska pageant.

One year, Condor asked major airlines to nominate an employee to represent their country in one of his pageants and says Dutch carrier KLM sent a chief flight attendant called Marie Louise Crefcoeur, who he thinks may have been the photographer.

“She traveled all over the state as far, as she could go, along with other members of the KLM crew that she enthusiastically encouraged to travel,” he tells.

Condor befriended Crefcouer, hosting her at his house and joining some of excursions around Alaska. She was a keen photographer, he recalls.

Condor also thinks recognizes Crefcouer in a few of the pictures, including one of a woman crouching in snow, holding what appears to be a blue, white-rimmed KLM bag. Crefcouer gave him such a bag, says Condor.

“To the best of my memory of people, faces and places from events that happened 60-plus years ago, that is Marie Louise,” he says.

KLM told CNN it was unable to confirm the claim.

While the photographer’s identity remains unknown, for Jennifer Skupin, her project has been a success.

“It’s become quite secondary, who the photographer is, although it’s still very interesting to find out,” she tells CNN Travel.

“I think I feel now more connected to the people who recognize themselves.”

Almost a month after the article was first published, the Google Drive continues to get new comments, with individuals recognizing loved ones for the first time.

For the people in the photos, the rediscovered collection has even greater importance in present circumstances.

“It’s brought people together. Especially during this time where we cannot see each other,” says Charles. His voice cracks, and he takes a moment to compose himself.

“I haven’t seen my family since the pandemic began. This is bringing family together, bringing community together in ways that we otherwise would not be able to.”

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Sen. Ted Cruz comes under fire after photos purportedly show him traveling to Cancún as Texans freeze

WASHINGTON — Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is facing backlash after photos went viral that purportedly show him and his family traveling to Cancún, Mexico, as his state’s residents suffer without heat, water and power because of the state’s historic winter storm.

The images, which began circulating on social media Wednesday night, show Cruz with his family waiting at an airport gate with luggage and boarding a plane. NBC News verified several of the photos, which seemed to show the senator traveling to Mexico, though the reasons for the visit are not known.

Cruz’s Senate office did not respond to NBC News’ repeated requests for comment.

The Houston Police Department confirmed to NBC that Cruz’s staff contacted them on Wednesday afternoon to assist him in his arrival and movements through Houston’s international airport.

“They reached out to us, let us know that he was going to be arriving and could we assist, so upon his arrival to the Houston airport we monitored his movements,” a police department spokesperson told NBC.

The reports come as millions of people across Texas have been struggling without power and heat and suffered water system disruptions for several days amid record-low temperatures.

The state Democratic Party has called on Cruz to resign from Congress because of the situation, tweeting, “Texans are dying and you’re on a flight to Cancun. #TedCruzRESIGN.”

Robert Mann, who served as communications director to Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco during Hurricane Katrina, told NBC News he can’t think of anyone as prominent as Cruz who left his own state after a disaster struck.

“This is usually the time that elected officials want to show their constituents how much they are committed to helping them,” said Mann, now a journalism professor at Louisiana State University. “It defies all common and political sense to leave the state for anywhere at a time like this, much less take a vacation to a toasty warm spot like Cancún. It’s among the dumbest, most callous things I’ve ever seen a politician do.”

State Rep. Gene Wu tweeted late Wednesday, “Guess which US Senator from Texas flew to Cancun while the state was freezing to death and having to boil water?” and showed an image of Cruz walking down the aisle of a plane he was boarding.

Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., tweeted Thursday, “It must be easy not to believe in climate change if you can just leave millions of Texans suffering without power or water to sit on a beach in Cancún.”

The last thing tweeted from Cruz’s Senate account was about how he and eight other GOP lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee were calling for an investigation into New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s handling of the reporting on nursing home deaths due to Covid-19.

Cruz tweeted a video clip of a CNN segment in early December about how Democratic officials were caught not following their own guidelines when it came to Covid-19. Cruz called them, “Hypocrites. Complete and utter hypocrites.”

He said in his tweet not to forget that Austin Mayor Steve Adler “who took a private jet with eight people to Cabo and WHILE IN CABO recorded a video telling Austinites to ‘stay home if you can … this is not the time to relax.'”

Julie Tsirkin, Caroline Radnofsky, Sara Mhaidli and Matthew Mulligan contributed.

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Police need tips to ID drivers wanted in 3 deadly hit-and-run crashes in Detroit [PHOTOS] – WWJ Newsradio 950

Police need tips to ID drivers wanted in 3 deadly hit-and-run crashes in Detroit [PHOTOS]  WWJ Newsradio 950

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7 Tips to Take Better Photos, Video on Your Smartphone

Jinx cat laying down


Natural light and a little delay from the phone camera’s timer make details of every hair on Jinx’s body stand out.

4. Use this timer trick

If you’re not trying to capture something that will move quickly, try a time delay.

“Your smartphone’s timer can be your best friend,” Graham says. A 3- or 10-second countdown, which are the usual options, is ideal for a couple of reasons:

  • You get time to reposition everyone until the shot is perfect, such as trying to fit seven family members into a selfie.
  • And you don’t need to have a finger free to tap the shutter button, which can shake the camera slightly, resulting in a blurry shot.

5. Stabilize your video

Graham’s top tip for shooting video: Hold the camera as steady as possible. Many phones have optical image stabilization, which could help steady your shot. But you also can do your part to reduce the odds of a blur.

Put both hands on the phone or use your surroundings, for example, by carefully resting the phone on a railing outside or propping it against some books when conducting a video interview inside with a loved one.

“If you can, also pick up an inexpensive selfie stick or tripod,” he says. “It can be a great tool in your arsenal and go a long way to steadying your shots. As much as you try, it’s difficult to stop your hands from shaking after a few seconds of holding the phone.”

6. Position properly

Instead of placing your subjects in the center of the frame all the time, move them to the left or right to make your photos instantly more powerful. Better yet, go in at an angle to add some extra energy to the shot.

To get people to smile naturally, Graham suggests asking them to laugh out loud and do it with them.

“A natural smile will emerge,” he says. “And you’ll have fun, too.”

Don’t always take photos of people posing for the camera. Their expressions can look forced and unnatural. Candid shots are great, but be sure to get your subject’s permission before uploading the photo or video to social media.

7. Don’t delete so fast

One last tip, an easy one: Take a ton of photos and videos — because you can.

Unlike film cameras and early digital cameras with limited memory cards, today’s smartphones have a ton of storage. The more photos you take, the better chance you have of finding a winner. That’s just in case you realize that someone is blinking or little Billy is giving his grandma rabbit ears.

Don’t delete the duds immediately either. You might see that you’ve taken a great shot after all when you look at it on a larger screen. You’ll waste your phone’s precious battery power by deleting when the device is away from its charger. And you might miss an amazing moment while you have your head down.

You can delete later. Concentrate on taking great pictures now.

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iOS 14 pro tip: One setting change for better photos

Having a new kitten about means that I’m taking a lot more photos. But trying to get a good photo of something that continually moves and squirms (even when sleeping) is tricky.

And it was made all the harder because Apple hid a handy Camera app feature.

Must read: Ninja Cookie: This browser extension is the ultimate productivity hack

Prior to iOS 14, if you held down the shutter button in the Camera app, the iPhone would go into “burst mode,” taking a bunch of photos that allowed me to go back and find the best one.

But now in iOS 14, pressing and holding down the shutter button switches to video recording mode. That itself is a nice feature, but I want the old “burst mode” feature back.

It’s there, but again it’s hidden. And it’s also changed how it works.

Head over to Settings > Camera and you’ll see a setting called Use Volume Up for Burst.

Here's the setting you are looking for: Use Volume Up for Burst

Here’s the setting you are looking for: Use Volume Up for Burst

Now, rather than holding down the shutter button, I have to remember to hold down the volume up button.

But it’s nice to be able to quickly choose between shooting a burst of photos or shooting a quick video.

It’s a nice change. And I really like having a physical button to press on. It’s easier to find and gives me proper tactile feedback, unlike a button on a screen.

UPDATE: A reader sent me a note via Twitter (thanks, Wolfgang!) to point out that there’s another way to access “burst mode,” and that’s by pressing and holding down while simultaneously sliding the button to the left if in portrait mode or down if in landscape. 

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