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Woman in the skies who saved teen a heroine after years

Flight attendant's 2011 deed comes to light; and an airport check reveals parents' love

HEROINE IN THE SKIES, THEN AND NOW

A flight attendant's heroic deed in 2011 is making waves only now on social media after it was revealed last week by several United States media outlets.

According to media reports, Alaska Airlines attendant Shelia Frederick, now 49, noticed "something wasn't right" with a 14-year-old dishevelled female passenger who would not look at her or respond to questions.

Instead, the older well-dressed man who accompanied her on the flight from Seattle to San Francisco answered all the questions for her.

Sensing something was amiss, she left a note on the bathroom mirror and persuaded the girl to go there.

The young girl went to the bathroom and wrote on the same note that she needed help. Ms Frederick realised the teenager could be a victim of human trafficking and notified the pilot who alerted the police.

When the plane landed, the man was arrested and the girl was saved from a lifetime of sex slavery.


Ms Frederick, who managed to spot and save a human-trafficking victim, has kept in touch with the teenager who is now in college. PHOTO: REDDIT

"I've been a flight attendant for 10 years and... (if I go) all the way back to when I was in training... I could have seen these young girls and young boys and didn't even know," Ms Frederick told Florida-based 10News.

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The hashtag #SheliaFrederick, #HumanTrafficking and #Hero trended on Twitter, while her quick thinking prompted a discussion which was among the top most popular threads on Reddit.

The much-publicised incident is timely given the recent Super Bowl final held in Houston, Texas.

Many observers believe human trafficking picks up during major events because tourists are drawn to the area.

Demand for prostitution goes up during such events, and pimps will bring in a steady supply of sex workers to meet demand.

The Washington Post reports that an estimated 50,000 women and girls are trafficked into the US for prostitution each year.

There have been increased efforts since 2009 to train flight attendants to spot signs of human trafficking.

This includes someone who refuses to answer questions or make eye contact.

"If you see something, say something," Ms Frederick said.

She added that she has kept in contact with the victim over the years, and the teenager is now attending college.

THE WORLD'S MOST EXPENSIVE SNACK

How much would you pay for a Harambe-shaped snack?

Harambe was a Western lowland gorilla which was killed by a zoo worker last May after a three-year-old child fell into his enclosure in Cincinnati.

The video of the killing went viral and the gorilla became one of the most widespread memes last year.

The fascination with Harambe is so extreme that an eBay user apparently stumped up US$99,900 (S$ 142,000) for a single corn puff snack (Cheetos, if you must know) ostensibly shaped like the gorilla.

The bid was put out on Jan 28 and ended last Tuesday.

Seller valuestampsinc claimed the single puff was "one of a kind" and measures about an inch in length.

He added: "This item up for bid is only for this unique Cheetos, bag not included. This makes a great collectible for anyone who appreciates rare items!"

The bulk of the 132 bids for the extremely useless item began after a photo of it went viral on twitter.

The seller confirmed to the BBC that the item has been sold, but refused to say more.

Many other eBay users have since jumped onto the bandwagon, and are now hawking their own versions of Harambe-looking snacks.

One user is even selling an image - a screenshot of the ridiculous listing -  for US$10,000. It has already attracted one bid.

MAN'S LUGGAGE WAS FULL OF LOVE


Mr Chen’s parents had packed 15kg worth of homemade pancakes and pickles in his suitcase for him as a parting gift. PHOTO: CHEN YOUZI/TENCENT

One of the top stories on China-based Tencent last week was about flight passenger Chen Youzi who was stopped at the Nanjing Lukou International Airport for his overweight luggage.

Upon closer inspection, officials found that his parents had packed 15kg worth of homemade pancakes and pickles as a parting gift for their son who was returning to another city for work.

Touched by the gesture, the airline allowed him to board the plane with the extra weight.

Mr Chen, now dubbed "Pancake Uncle" on the platform, was a top trend, and many other users started relating their own tales of parental love.

"Chinese parents love giving food!" became a popular caption, and #LuggageFilledWithLove was a trending hashtag, with users posting photos of refrigerators filled with more than 300 dumplings and fruits, and preserved food that might last for months.

On Weibo, user Zhugeli_SS posted a video of her luggage, which included deep-fried fish, bread, pears, pickles, spring onions and hundreds of meatballs.

FACEBOOK'S PLANS FOR ORIGINAL CONTENT

Facebook has plans to develop original TV shows for the world's largest social media network.

Bloomberg reported that the tech giant has hired MTV executive Mina Lefevre as the head of development.

In a post last week, Ms Lefevre said she was excited to embark on a new adventure.

She is hoping to bring thought-provoking, moving, relatable and entertaining shows to the platform.

Videos have increasingly been a priority for Facebook as more and more users consume such content on their smartphones.

It is the latest salvo in an escalating battle for user's attention, and marks Facebook's intentions to go up against major video streamers such as Netflix, YouTube and Snapchat.

Last week, The Wall Street Journal also reported that Facebook was developing an app for set-top boxes that would allow users to watch videos from the social network on their television screens.

While observers voiced concern that Facebook's aggressive video strategy would only cement its position as one of the top content producers in the world given its large user base, the move was largely welcomed by users, who would only stand to gain from increasing competition.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 12, 2017, with the headline 'Woman in the skies who saved teen a heroine after years'. Print Edition | Subscribe