U.S. State Department to tell Americans abroad: Return immediately, or shelter in place

Americans abroad must return to US or prepare to shelter in place

Airlines want $50 Billion federal bailout for coronavirus

Major U.S. passenger and cargo airlines say they need more than $50 billion in federal bailout money as the coronavirus pandemic closes businesses and dramatically slows down air travel.

A lobbying group that represents 10 U.S. passenger and cargo airlines said Monday that in a worst-case scenario, the airlines will “run out of money completely sometime between June 30 and the end of the year.”

More from CNBC:

The aid, if received, would be the industry’s first broad bailout since the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. It is also the clearest sign yet of the financial damage coronavirus and the draconian measures governments are taking to stop it are having on American businesses.

Airlines for America, which represents carriers including Delta, United, American, and Southwest, recommended passenger carriers immediately receive up to $25 billion in grants to compensate for reduced liquidity and in the medium-term $25 billion in low- or zero-interest loans.

More: US airlines seek more than $50 billion in government assistance as coronavirus roils business Read the rest

CDC may ground flights if airlines fail to collect data on coronavirus-prone flyers

Penalties include fines as high as $500,000 as well as jail time of up to a year.

My life on the road: Marrakesh

In my experience, the beds in Morocco are generally hard. Bounce a coin on one and you’ll lose a fucking eye. They are also cool and pleasant to sleep on. It was still dark when I first heard it: a single voice assuring observant Muslims that prayer is better than sleep. Other men soon joined the call to the first prayers of the day. I felt a smile fall on my face as I strained to make out individual voices. In under a minute, so many mu’azzin had joined the call that what once could be made out became a melodic din.

It was not a message meant for me. I drifted back into the black as the undulating prompt to pray continued.

After being awake for close to 24 hours the day before, we slept in until 10am, our internal clocks synced, through misadventure, with Moroccan time. As we stumbled downstairs, our host made us breakfast. The features of the meal were ones that we’d come to know well over the next three weeks: A single scrambled egg, served with fresh-squeezed orange juice, an an assortment local breads and a pastry. Using my questionable Canadian French, our host Basal’s Belgian-accented French, and a smattering of assistance from Google Translate, we hash out some pleasant conversation about the surrounding area. When asked where we could find a local SIM card and where the nearest bank could be had, Basal threw on his shoes and offered to show us the way himself. Read the rest

Screener at Los Angeles airport tests positive for coronavirus, federal officials say

Federal officials say a medical screener at Los Angeles International Airport has tested positive for coronavirus. Read the rest

My life on the road: Morocco

This past September, I discovered that I had a heart condition that could have dropped me dead at any time. An 80% blockage of some fairly important plumbing and, as an added bonus, heart disease caused by shitty genetics and aggravated by the anxiety and frequent panic attacks I get down with thanks to my PTSD. My cardiologists told me that I was lucky: normally, this was the sort of thing that folks typically don’t find out about until after they’ve suffered a heart attack. My medical team got invasive. They plopped a stent in me.

Finally, a piece of metal in my body that I actually want there.

I was awake and hopped up on fentanyl during the procedure. During the course of the angioplasty, the surgeon bumped up against the inside of my heart: it caused the first angina pain that I had ever experienced. I was filled with fear of not having more time with my partner; that I hadn’t finished my novel; I had not traveled far enough to understand the world in a satisfactory manner. I had always wanted to step foot in the Sahara. Angina pain removed from the equation, I found my heart absolutely aching for it. After they got me settled into the hospital’s CCU for the night and leaned on my groin for 30 minutes to stop an arterial bleed that was definitely trying to kill me, I told my wife that I wanted to go to Morocco.

“Why?” She asked.

“The desert. Read the rest

Korean Air crew member who flew to Los Angeles has coronavirus: Reports

A Korean Air flight attendant has tested positive for coronavirus, and they worked on flights between Seoul and Los Angeles, South Korean media outlets reported on Wednesday afternoon U.S. time. Read the rest

Iran says the official who mocked coronavirus fears while coughing and sweating is now infected with coronavirus

The head of Iran's coronavirus government task force who urged the public not to freak out about the epidemic while coughing and sweating profusely has tested positive for the illness himself, authorities said Tuesday. New cases of COVID-19 originating in Iran are now rapidly popping up across the Middle East.

The coughing and heavily sweating Iraj Harirchi told journalists at a televised news conference in Tehran only one day ago that “the situation is almost stable in the country.” Read the rest

Switzerland confirms first case of coronavirus

In Switzerland today, a 70-year old man tested positive for the coronavirus in the southern canton of Ticino, right next to the border with Italy, say Swiss health authorities. This is the first case of COVID-19 in Switzerland, and authorities say the man was likely exposed in Italy. Read the rest

Woman drunkenly threatened to ‘stab everyone’ on flight to D.C., say prosecutors

A woman who was heavily intoxicated was arrested on a Saturday flight from Frankfurt to Washington, D.C., after she tried to smoke a cigarette in the plane bathroom, and blurted out that her whole family was recently killed in a car accident, none of which was true, say federal prosecutors. Read the rest

TripAdvisor reviews for a hole in a wall

Thanks to TripAdvisor reviews for a hole in a wall, the architectural feature has become the fourth-most popular tourist destination in Ilkeston, a town in Derbyshire, England.

The hole reassures users of a nearby NatWest bank ATM that no-one is hiding behind the wall to rob them, but its absurdity and questionable utility resulted in dozens of spoof write-ups on the site, which has temporarily suspended reviews for what one visitor described as a 'national treasure.'

Tongue-in-cheek comments for the "NatWest hole" first started appearing in December 2018. By awarding the wall top marks, users were able to propel it above well-known locations in and around Ilkeston, including Bennerley Viaduct. Among 40 new comments added this weekend, one said: "Made my sixth visit to this attraction last week, always worth the nine-hour drive, every time has felt like the first."

Read the rest

MGM Resorts data breach exposes 10.6M+ guests' info, Jack Dorsey included, home addresses and birthdates

Personal information for more than 10 million former guests of MGM resorts has been posted on a hacking forum. Among the notable data breach victims: Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey. The leaked data includes home addresses, and is said to only affect guests who stayed at the hotel chain's properties before 2018. Read the rest

SpaceX and Space Adventures offer tourist trips to orbit

SpaceX and Space Adventures have partnered to offer space tourists a trip to orbit on the SpaceX Crew Dragon space capsule. They expect the first flight to launch in late 2021 or early 2022. Around $50 million will get you a seat. From Spaceflight Now:

The mission would not dock with the space station, but would instead fly into an orbit above the station’s altitude of about 260 miles (420 kilometers) above Earth, according to Space Adventures, the Virginia-based company that arranged flights of seven wealthy space tourists on Russian Soyuz capsules between 2001 and 2009...

Responding to a question on Twitter about a possible price tag of $52 million per seat, (Space Adventures chairman Eric) Anderson tweeted: “Per seat price for a full group of four not quite that much (not dramatically less, but significant enough to note). Definitive pricing confidential, and dependent on client specific requests, etc.”

Anderson tweeted that the training regimen for the Crew Dragon flight will be “significantly less than the few months required for previous missions or ISS missions.”

“Dragon in this profile allows up to 5 days,” Anderson tweeted. “3 days is probably ideal, 40-50 orbits or so.”

image: SpaceX Crew Dragon (NASA, public domain) Read the rest

The yeti is no longer Nepal's official tourist mascot because it didn't look like a yeti

A couple weeks back, I posted about the the Nepal government's new tourism campaign featuring 100 huge yeti statues designed by Ang Tsherin Sherpa to be painted by various artists and placed around Nepal and elsewhere. A delightful idea but as you can see in the video above from January 29, many people were unhappy with how their beloved yeti was depicted. As a result, the government has removed the existing statues and ended the yeti campaign. From Daijiworld:

Some people complained that the mascot looked like a Japanese sumo wrestler and others believed that the statues represented Hindu and Buddhist deities.

Some people even started praying in front of the statues that had religious pictures or symbols painted onto them. Pictures of women and children worshiping the mascot went viral on social media.

The statue placed at the Basantapur Durbar Square had an image of goddess Kumari painted on its forehead and back. The deity is worshiped by Hindus as well as Buddhists.

"The yeti is a mystical beast (and) this (the statues) has damaged the religious feelings of the people," Ganapati Lal Shrestha, a heritage activist, told Efe news.

(image: Visit Nepal 2020 news release) Read the rest

New York state sues Trump admin for Global Entry ban against NYers

NY lawsuit vs. Trump to challenge federal ban on New Yorkers from enrolling in programs that allow travelers to skip ahead at airport security lines

BREAKING NEWS: Don't fuck with New York.

New York is suing the Trump Administration because Trump just blocked state residents from enrolling in the Global Entry. Read the rest

About 350 more Wuhan coronavirus evacuees land at California military base from China

More Americans fleeing the coronavirus outbreak are being evacuated from Wuhan, China, to the U.S. On Wednesday, 2 State Department-chartered jetliners carried an estimated 350 U.S. citizens from Wuhan, China, to a U.S. military base in California. Read the rest

Turkey: Plane skids off Istanbul runway and breaks up, 120 injured

Breaking News: There's been an air disaster in Turkey. No deaths reported.

A Pegasus Airlines plane that was heading into Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen airport for landing skidded off the end of a wet runway, and broke into three pieces after landing on Wednesday. Read the rest

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