Cockburn has fallen for his fair share of fake Nigerian prince scams over the years. But even this gullible old hack is surprised at the credulousness of the city of Newark, New Jersey.
Back in January, the city announced a cultural trade agreement with the Hindu nation of Kailasa. The mayor hosted a signing ceremony at City Hall, and issued a statement heralding the win-win deal as something that could improve the lives of the people of Newark and Kailasa. Everyone seemed to be very excited about a new age of comity between a great nation and a thriving metropolis.
Except the city has now been forced to admit that it has been duped. There is no Hindu nation of Kailasa. It is a fiction dreamt up by by a scam artist called Swami Nithyananda, who since 2019 has been a fugitive from India, where he faces rape charges.
Cockburn doesn’t expect everyone to possess his industry-leading investigative skills, but the words of Newark resident Shakee Merritt sum up the situation nicely. In an interview with CBS News, she asked the obvious question: “Whose job was it to do a simple Google search? No one in City Hall, not one person did a Google search, so maybe we need a transformation of City Hall ’cause not one person said, let me go and Google and figure out this was a fake city.”
For those worried that the Kailasa SNAFU might usher in a new age of insularity and hate in Northern New Jersey, fear not. In a statement, Newark City Hall said, “Although this was a regrettable incident, the city of Newark remains committed to partnering with people from diverse cultures in order to enrich each other with connectivity, support and mutual respect.”
Cockburn looks forward to the city of Newark putting this embarrassing episode behind it — and wishes City Hall luck in its forthcoming negotiations with Wakanda.