There's still no sign of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 — the Boeing 777 with 239 people aboard that disappeared early Saturday while on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Tuesday's news about the flight and the search for clues to its disappearance includes:
— Stolen Passports. There's word that Malaysian authorities believe the two passengers on board who had stolen passports "were Iranians who authorities believe were trying to migrate to Europe," as the Los Angeles Times writes.
One of the men, NPR's Frank Langfitt reports from Shanghai, has been identified as 19-year-old Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad. Frank tells our Newscast Desk that the young man was apparently "flying from Kuala Lumpur, through Beijing and Amsterdam, to Frankfurt; where his mother was waiting for him."
Malaysia's inspector general of police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, said Tuesday that "we believe he is not likely to be a member of any terrorist group and we believe he [was] trying to migrate to Germany."
"The other man traveling on a stolen passport was not named," the Times adds, but authorities believe he too was an Iranian trying to to immigrate to Europe.
The news that at least two people on board had stolen passports led to speculation about the possibility they were connected to a terrorist organization. But as NPR's Brian Naylor reported on Morning Edition, stolen passports and other fraudulent travel papers are a growing problem around the world and are used for a wide variety of reasons.
— Expanded Search. Malaysian authorities, as well as "search teams from Australia, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, Philippines, New Zealand and the United States of America" are now looking for signs of the jet on "both sides" of the Malay peninsula, Malaysian civil aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said Tuesday.
The airline said Tuesday that searchers are also looking "on land in between" — that is, on the Malay peninsula between the South China Sea and the Malacca Strait. According to the airline, "the authorities are looking at a possibility of an attempt made by MH370 to turn back to Subang," an airport on the peninsula.
— Four Focuses. It likely won't be until the plane is found that investigators can start to figure out exactly what happened and whether some sort of catastrophic mechanical failure was responsible for its disappearance. But as the investigation continues, police in Malaysia are also concerned about four possibilities, the inspector general said Tuesday: "hijacking, sabotage, personal problems among the crew and passengers and psychological problems among the crew and passengers."
— No Missing Passengers. Also Tuesday, Malaysia Airlines sought to correct earlier reports about five passengers who allegedly checked in, had bags put on the flight, but then did not board the plane. Those earlier reports indicated that the bags supposedly put on board were removed before the plane took off. But the airline now says that "there were four (4) passengers who had valid booking to travel on flight MH370, 8 March 2014, but did not show up to check-in for the flight." Since they had not checked in, those four did not have any baggage that needed to be removed from the jet, the airline says.
Listen. It's a command that Maud Casey's quick to utter, and it's one she repeats often in her new novel. With good reason: If you're listening closely enough, you might just hear her pull off a feat as graceful as it is clever. Out of the clanging of church bells, the ticking of watches, the snatches of overheard phrases, even the two clashing voices at the heart of her book — out of this hectic mess of sounds, she manages to create a delicate harmony.
In music, there's a name for this kind of thing, this weaving of a handful of melodies into something entirely new: fugue. But for poor Albert, the subject of The Man Who Walked Away, the word "fugue" has a very different meaning. It's the name of his mental disorder, and he's the first in the world to be diagnosed with it. Quite simply, Albert walks. He's compelled to walk, in fact, often overtaken by some relentless urge that makes him walk hundreds of miles and adopt new identities along the way. When this urge ebbs, he's left with no memory of what just happened. He awakens a stranger in a distant town.
Inspired by a real-life case in 19th century France, Albert's story is a tough one to tell. In clumsier hands, this book might have come out sappy or plain boring — after all, histories of Victorian-era speed walkers aren't typically my thing. But Casey handles the story expertly. Without inventing a past that Albert can't remember himself, she cherry-picks moments to color in careful detail — then immediately drops them to pick up others, sometimes miles or years away. If, as Albert observes once, "every sound is a jewel to be weighed and considered," Casey treats every moment of his travels the same way, considering each individual jewel closely and ditching the strand that would tie them together.
In doing so, she effectively shoves us into Albert's well-worn shoes. He's deeply troubled and awfully curious-looking, but Casey never lets him become a curiosity. She keeps us too close to find him strange. Just as Albert tries to talk himself into embracing the inevitable — "Fascinating? Magnificent? Yet another escapade?" — I so easily shared his fright and astonishment that at times I wanted to hug the poor guy, if only he'd stand still long enough.
Albert isn't alone, though. He splits the book's center stage with his doctor — a man named, helpfully, the Doctor. If Albert is a wanderer, always lost, the Doctor on the other hand is very much a man of his era. He's the type of man who, when alone, will recite to himself the names of bones, the type to relish the whispered "click-clickety-click" of his bicycle — that same beautiful machine for which Albert has no use. The Doctor believes in systems; he knows the value of "giving the ethereal if a solid spine."
Between these two voices, with such different personalities, Casey alternates her chapters. She was smart to do so. For, as lovable as these two men are — and, yes, I did come to love them — they're both best served in small doses. The space between Albert's big ears can get a bit stifling, because so much of it is taken up by his condition. Anchorless, Albert resorts to repetition for comfort, turning a phrase over and over obsessively. And the Doctor's own set of compulsions and insecurities stray sometimes into monotony. There were points amid these repetitions, I'll admit, when I was relieved to leave Albert for the Doctor, or vice versa.
But because Casey pairs these sections, they play instead like a duet: In Albert, the question that doesn't quite know what it's asking; in the Doctor, the answer that can't claim to solve anything. Back and forth they banter, and for all this, Casey never lets the conversation get too grim. The other inmates of the asylum interrupt them, their own disorders a source of humor and pain — in particular the asylum's director, just a hair's breadth from being an inmate himself, who strictly forbids his patients from eating pudding, as he's sure it helped cause the last war.
Above these interruptions, and around the clamor of a dozen different towns, the voices of Albert and the Doctor continue their conversation. With sure hands, Casey nudges them toward one another, bit by bit, until all these different sounds share the same song. She rescues Albert from his fugue by making him part of, well, a lovelier kind of fugue. And I'm glad that she invited me to listen.