Difference between revisions of "Travel news"
Revision as of 09:03, 2 December 2010
This is Wikitravel's Travel news section, about issues affecting travelers, both positively and negatively. For more general news, see Wikinews.
The news items in this section refer to future events and have not been displayed on the Main Page yet. They should be copied there when the date approaches and then shifted to the monthly archives below.
Kyushu Shinkansen segment opens in Japan
12 March 2011
Today Japan's popular and reliable "Shinkansen" bullet train network opens a 130 km segment between Fukuoka and Yatsushiro, completing the Kyushu Shinkansen Kagoshima Route and linking it to the rest of the Shinkansen network. Six new bullet train stations will open in Tosu, Kurume, Kumamoto and other cities.
The opening of the new segment will slash one hour from the travel time between Fukuoka and Kagoshima to 1 hour 20 minutes. Through services will also commence, linking the Kyushu Shinkansen with the San'yo Shinkansen: Osaka to Kumamoto will be reduced to three hours, and Osaka to Kagoshima will be reduced to 3 hours 45 minutes.
From Tokyo, it will be possible to reach Kagoshima in as little as 6 1/2 hours on two trains.
Final Space Shuttle Launch Today
26 February 2011
The final launch of a space shuttle by the US will occur in Florida, unless delayed by adverse weather or technical problems. Expect large crowds as space shuttle Endeavour takes off for a rendezvous with the International Space Station. The space shuttle has been an icon of the US space program since the first launch in 1981. Following the disintegration of the space shuttle Columbia in 2003, the US decided to end the program and design a new vehicle for space travel. The next manned US space flights will not occur until the replacement vehicle is ready around 2014.
Seoul-Incheon Airport Link opens
29 December 2010
The second phase of the A'REX  link from Incheon International Airport to Seoul Station has opened. Express trains take 43 minutes and charge 13,300 won, while normal ones will take 10 minutes longer for a fare of 5,300 won. Both are faster and cheaper than the current buses, and all trains also stop at Gimpo Airport along the way.
Tohoku Shinkansen extension opens in Japan
4 December 2010
Japan's popular and reliable bullet train network known as the Shinkansen gets a little bigger today with the opening of an 81.8 km section between Hachinohe and Shin-Aomori. The new Tohoku Shinkansen extension will reduce travel times to destinations in northern Honshu and Hokkaido. Overall travel times between Tokyo and Aomori will be reduced by about 20 minutes to 3 hours 40 minutes, and journeys from Tokyo to Hakodate in Hokkaido will be cut by about 15 minutes to 5 hours 45 minutes. Travel times will be reduced further in March 2011 when new "Hayabusa" trains enter service.
This is one of two bullet train routes scheduled to open in Japan within the next four months. In March 2011 a 130 km stretch between Fukuoka and Shin-Yatsushiro in Kyushu will be opened, completing the Kyushu Shinkansen Kagoshima Route.
Edinburgh and Gatwick airport closed due to freezing conditions
2 December 2010
The Edinburg and London's Gatwick airport closed the 1st December due to snow falls and freezing conditions. They will stay closed at least until the 3rd of December. A lot of delays are observed in train and bus traffic. .
Current and past
Tokyo's Haneda Airport Goes International
1 November 2010
After the completion of Narita Airport, Haneda had been left for many years as Tokyo's primary domestic airport, although it remained one of the busiest airports in the world. After the addition of new terminals, Haneda is now open once again for international flights. You can now come and go from a variety of cities in Asia, as well as Paris, Honolulu, and San Francisco. Flights to/from Detroit, New York City, Vancouver, London, and Kuching are scheduled to begin in 2011.
Ferrari World Opens in Abu Dhabi
27 October 2010
Motor sports have always been popular in the United Arab Emirates, so when considering where to construct the theme park, Abu Dhabi seemed like the perfect spot. It is the largest indoor theme park in the world, contains the fastest roller coaster in the world (240kmph in less than 5 seconds), and contains the largest Ferrari logo in the world. The rides are meant to toy with the senses, with a 4-D theater and the V12, which allows riders to experience the G-Force of an actual Ferrari. 
Mentawai earthquake and tsunami
25 October 2010
A tsunami that pounded several of the Mentawai Islands in West Sumatra killed at least 108 people left more than 500 people missing, Mentawai Legislative Council Speaker Hendri Dori said Tuesday. At least 80 bodies had been recovered as of 8 p.m. on Tuesday, West Sumatra Disaster Management Agency said. A magnitude-7.2 earthquake triggered the 3-meter wave that washed hundreds of homes into the sea late on Monday. On Tuesday, rescuers were having a hard time reaching the areas closest to the epicenter because of strong winds and rough seas. However, reports of damage and injuries were steadily climbing.
Roman Colosseum Opens Gladiator 'Dungeons' For the First Time
18 October 2010
This week, for the first time ever, visitors to Rome's famous Colosseum will be able to enter the gladiator tunnels where the gladiators waited and the animals were kept. The area is being opened in hopes of relieving crowding in the other areas, which have fallen into disrepair over the years because of weathering and tourists. There are also hopes that this will draw in even more tourists than the millions it already receives, particularly those who have already visited. 
Toxic spill in Hungary threatens Danube and Black Sea
4 October 2010
After an aluminum processing factory's sludge reservoir accidentally bursts in Veszprém county in Western Hungary, highly toxic 'red sludge' containing heavy metals, and which leads to chemical burns on skin, flooded two nearby villages.  Spill immediately ended all aquatic life in Marcal River, and efforts are now concentrated on keeping the sludge from entering Danube, one of the key rivers in Europe, which originates in Germany and flows through several Central European and Balkan countries into Black Sea.  As of October 8, Hungarian officials say alkaline levels in Danube remains normal so far, although spill claimed its seventh victim. 
Bloggers invited to compete for prizes in Thailand’s Medical Tourism Blog Contest
1 October 2010
The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Medical Tourism Blog Contest kicks off with cash and prizes worth nearly US$20,000 up for grabs, including a seven-day all-inclusive medical tour of Thailand for 12 finalists. Submissions are welcome until October 31, 2010. Check out www.MedBlogContest.com
Bacolod invites everyone to Masskara!
1-19 October 2010
The festival which Bacolod City is famous for is inviting you this October to celebrate with it its Charter day anniversary as well as the festival of smile in the city of smiles. The 3 week long celebration from sun up to sun down the city never sleeps, the streets of the city are filled with tourists and vendors and it is held through beauty pageants to street dancing to competitions. Visit  for more information.
Ecuadorean Police Attack President, Chaos in the Streets
30 September 2010
Ecuador's police force doused their nation's president, Rafael Correa, with tear gas and "roughed him up" over a new law that would cut some of their benefits. The president has been hospitalized, nearly dying from asphyxiation. The military was called in to take care of the police siege. The police barracaded roads to Quito. With the police force turned against the state, looting has become rampant in supermarkets, businesses, and even banks in Quito and Guayaquil. Airports have been shut down and both Peru and Colombia have cut off all access to Ecuador until the situation is under control.
World's largest airline cleared for takeoff
18 September 2010
The merger between the United States' third and fourth largest airlines (Chicago's United and Houston's Continental, respectively) to form the world's largest airline has been finalized. Between now and the end of 2011, Continental's ticketing and reservations systems, workforce, airport terminals, and aircraft fleet will be integrated into United's.
A massive earthquake strikes Christchurch
4 September 2010
Like the Haiti earthquake, it measured 7.1 on the Richter scale and occurred at a shallow depth. Fortunately, nobody was killed due to the time of the quake and New Zealand's strict building codes. Nevertheless, the infrastructure including buildings, roads, water supply and the sewage system have been heavily damaged causing about 4 billion New Zealand dollars worth of damage. The earthquake has also changed some of the surrounding landscape, even changing the course of two rivers. A state of emergency has been declared and hundreds of aftershocks are continuing to rock the region.
Mount Sinabung Erupts After 400 Years of Dormancy
30 August 2010
Traveler's Checks Now Available in Chinese Yuan
24 August 2010
As of this week, American Express nows offers travelers checks in Chinese yuan. They are currently only available in 500 yuan and can be cashed at any Bank of China. 
Henley On Todd Regatta Takes Off
21 August 2010
The Henley on Todd is the Northern Territory of Australia's longest running event. It is based on the famous Henley on Thames, but the major difference is that the Todd River which runs through Alice Springs very rarely has water in it! Its a great spectacle, and well worth it if you plan your trip to be in The Alice when its on!
New Air Travel Information Website "Airlikes" Launches
17 August 2010
airlikes.com is a new air travel information and reviews website. With more than 1,400 airlines and over 4,000 airports in its database, airlikes.com allows its visitors to find information and share their experiences of their flights or experiences at airports. Visitors can easily write their opinions of the airline on which they traveled or the airport from where they took off.
Japan Bus Pass Offers Affordable Distance Travel
13 August 2010
Foreigners have taken advantage of the Japan Rail Pass for years however, recently Japan has begun selling the Japan Bus Pass. You can purchase them for 3 or 5 days of travel on highway buses that you can use whenever you wish up to 2 months after purchase. Outsiders as well as Japanese citizens may use the pass, but it must be purchased outside of Japan. The buses are more cost-effective than the Rail Pass and can be used to go as far north as Aomori and Akita, west to Matsue, Hiroshima, and Okayama, as well as Matsuyama in Shikoku and the cities of Fukuoka, Kumamoto, and Kagoshima in Kyushu. You can purchase the pass online. 
WHO Declares Swine Flu Alert Over
10 August 2010
While most people stopped worrying about H1N1 months ago (if they even worried at all), the World Health Organization has officially declared an end to the alert, believing that the virus is now in its post-pandemic state. There are still new cases in New Zealand and India however, it is said to be just like any other flu. 
Major Mexican Airline Files for Bankruptcy Protection, Cancels Flights
10 August 2010
Mexican airline Mexicana has cancelled flights from London, Madrid, Montreal, Chicago and South and Central America days after filing for bankruptcy protection. The company does not know how long they will continue to honour tickets already purchased. A list of flights affected can be found on Mexicana's website.  BBC report here. 
Flooding in Pakistan causes humanitarian crisis
04 August 2010
Flooding in Pakistan has killed 1400 and displaced up to a million people amid fears of a cholera epidemic and a shortage of food, clean water and medicine. Around 1.8 million will be in need of food aid. 
21 Sites Added to UNESCO World Heritage List
3 August 2010
The 34th session met in Brasilia over the past week to discuss potential World Heritage Sites and adding twenty-one to the list. UNESCO welcomed its first-ever World Heritage Sites from the nations of Tajikistan, Marshall Islands, and Kiribati. Some of the newly added sites include Hawaii's Papahanaumokuakea, France's Albi, the historical bazaar of Tabriz, Iran, India's Jantar Mantar, and the convict sites of Australia. Although the meeting also addressed the need for more consideration of sites outside of Europe, only one South American site and no African sites were added during this session. 
China is Facing its Worst Flooding in More Than a Decade
30 July 2010
In Kouqian town in Jilin province, residents were trapped when a reservoir and two rivers overflowed following torrential rain. In Jilin city itself, containers of explosive fluid from a chemical plant were washed into the Songhua river. China is facing its worst flooding in more than a decade. Weeks of heavy rain have swollen rivers and caused damage, landslides and bridge collapses across a swathe of the country. According to state media, 928 people have died because of the seasonal bad weather and another 477 are missing. 
Smog and heat over Moscow
28 July 2010
The Russian capital currently experiences the hottest summer ever with temperatures of nearly 40°C. Additionally the dry and hot weather has sparked numerous terrain fires in the areas around the city causing the smog levels to rise to ten times over the safe limits. The locals are advised to wear masks and if possible, to stay indoors.  
No survivors as Pakistan plane crash kills 152
28 July 2010
An Airblue airliner has crashed near Islamabad, killing all 152 on board 
2010 Medellin Flower Festival will be best yet
25 July 2010
Total Solar Eclipse Today
11 July 2010
A total solar eclipse will be visible across the South Pacific Ocean and extreme southern South America. The next total solar eclipse will not occur until 2012.
Luxury cruise ship to sail Colombia's Pacific coast
10 July 2010
Travelers to Colombia will have the opportunity to visit the Latin nation's isolated and largely unexplored Pacific coast when the luxury cruise ship "Sea Voyager" sets out on its maiden voyage from Panama to Buenaventura on August 3. The cruise is perfect for diving enthusiasts and whale watchers 
World's Largest Tent Opens, Complete With a Beach For Those -40C Winter Days!
6 July 2010
The world's largest tent—the transparent 150m (490ft) tall Khan Shatyr Entertainment Center—opens today in Astana, Kazakhstan, becoming the city's tallest structure and the latest modern addition to the credit of President Nazarbayev. The $260million structure has two transparent EFTE layers to create a 140 000 square meter respite from the city's -40C winters, with temperatures of 15C in the outer shell and up to 25C in the inter shell! The giant tent houses a shopping and entertainment center, including a waterpark, amusement rides, a tropical atrium, a running track encircling the upper floor, a cinema, theater, and hundreds of shops large and small. The tent even boasts a multi-station monorail! The opening celebration, which coincide with the city's 13th and the president's 70th birthdays, will feature three days of circuses, theater, ballet, concerts, and fireworks at a cost of $10 million and will be attended by eight heads of state, the king of Jordan, & former British PM Tony Blair. 
Oil Spreads to Florida's Pensacola Beach
23 June 2010
The oil leaking out of the Gulf of Mexico has already devastated coastal areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Today oil was found on Florida's Pensacola Beach spanning nine miles and more is expected as relief efforts remain slow. 
Quake Shakes Canada, No Major Damage
23 June 2010
A 5.0 magnitude earthquake shook Ontario near the Quebec border, just above the nation's capital of Ottawa. Tremors were felt as far away as Chicago and Pittsburgh however, the earthquake does not appear to have caused any great damage. 
Muggles Enter Wizarding World
18 June 2010
Scores Killed, Thousands Flee as Ethnic Violence Spreads in Kyrgyzstan
13 June 2010
Ethnic violence in southern Kyrgyzstan has left at least 100 dead and has led an estimated 75,000 Uzbeks to flee to nearby Uzbekistan. It is unknown who/what instigated the violence, which erupted Thursday, but since Thursday gangs of armed Kyrgyz and Uzbeks have roamed the city of Osh (later spreading to Jalal-Abad and small communities in the region) in what appears to be a wide outbreak of ethnic violence. Uzbeks have been the primary targets, with Uzbek homes and businesses burnt, although many Kyrgyz claim they have been targeted. The weak, transitional government has been unable to establish authority, although there are reports that they are recalling reservists up to age 50 and have given troops "shoot-to-kill" orders to quell the violence. While the northern part of the country remains stable, travelers are highly discouraged from travelling to the southern region of Kyrgyzstan in the next few weeks and should stay abreast of the news and head the advise of their embassies prior to travel to the region in the coming months.
UPDATE: Curfew lifted in Bangkok and 23 provinces, FCO cancels travel warnings put in effect due to unrest
29 May 2010 - 1 June 2010
The curfew on Bangkok, Chiang Mai and 23 Thai provinces has been lifted as Prime Minister Vejjajiva has declared the situation 'under control'  The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office has adjusted its level of advice  and no longer advises against travel to Bangkok or the affected provinces although On 30 May an explosive device was detonated on the ‘walking street’ market in central Chiang Mai; there were no injuries reported. Warnings against travel to Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla and Preah Vihear are still in force, but these are long-standing and are not related to the recent unrest. States of emergency are still in force in Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Nakhon Pathom, Ayutthaya, Chon Buri, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lampang, Nakhon Sawan, Nan, Khon Kaen, Udon Thani, Chaiyaphum, Nakhom Ratchasima, Si Saket, Ubon Ratchathani, Nong Bua Lumphu, Mahasarakham, Roi Et, Sakhon Nakhon, Kalasin, Muk Da Han and Samutprakarn. Travel might be restricted in these areas.
2010 FIFA World Cup Kicks Off in South Africa
11 June 2010 - 11 July 2010
The 2010 FIFA World Cup begins today in South Africa featuring South Africa versus Mexico and Uruguay versus France. It is the first World Cup to be held on the African continent with 32 teams competing. It lasts exactly one month, ending on July 11.
May 26, 2010 - US Travel Warning issued for Sri Lanka cancelled
May 26, 2010
Department of State has cancelled the Travel Warning for Sri Lanka due to improvements in safety and security conditions throughout the country. The Government of Sri Lanka declared victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on May 18, 2009. Since the war's declared end, the LTTE has not mounted any attacks in Colombo or elsewhere in Sri Lanka. 
UPDATE: Thailand curfew extended to 31st May. FCO eases travel warning for Bangkok
26 May 2010 - 31 May 2010
The curfew on Bangkok, Chiang Mai and 24 Thai provinces has been extended until Sunday 31 May 2010. It will last from midnight on each day to 04:00 the same morning. The FCO has eased its travel advice and now advises against all but essential travel to Bangkok and Chiang Mai. The FCO also advises against all travel to the Preah Vihar temple area, but this is unrelated to the Bangkok unrest.  
UPDATE: Thailand curfew extended to 24 provinces for another two nights. FCO still advises against all travel to Bangkok
23 May 2010 - 25 May 2010
The curfew on Thailand and other Thai provinces has been extended for two more nights for 'security reasons' according to British newspaper The Times. The FCO still advises against all travel to Bangkok and all but essential travel to Chiang Mai.  
UPDATE: Curfew in Bangkok and 23 other Thai provinces due to violent political unrest. FCO Advises against all travel to Bangkok
19 May 2010 - Ongoing
An ongoing protest by the Red Shirt demonstrators in Bangkok has escalated as more than fifty people have been confirmed dead and large parts of the city centre are destroyed by fire and ordnance, including Bangkok's largest shopping mall. Thai authorities have declared a state of emergency and a curfew between the hours of 8pm and 6am. Police and army personnel have been ordered to shoot to kill in some zones, in what academic Charnvit Kasetsiri has described as the "most widespread and most uncontrollable" political violence Thailand has ever seen'. Although most of Bangkok and almost all of Thailand is safe, care should be taken by visitors not to be caught in the crossfire. UPDATE: The FCO (UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office)  now advise against all travel to Bangkok and all but essential travel to Chiang Mai.  
Sterling falls in wake of inconclusive general election
7 May 2010
As a result of the inconclusive General Election in the United Kingdom, Sterling has fallen against the US Dollar and Euro by up to two percent in what is now a one-year low. Performance against other currencies has broadly matched this movement. 
Riots in Athens
4 May 2010
Riots in Athens leave three dead - three private sector workers confirmed dead due to a flame bomb in a bank. All political parties condemned the act. Things have settled down since. Strikes, pickets and demonstrations likely. Visitors are adviced to avoid the Syntagma Square, center of Athens, where the Parlament sits. The rest of the City and Country is considered safe.
Continental-United merger OK'd
2 May 2010
A merger between Continental Airlines and United Airlines, both members of Star Alliance, has been approved. The combined carrier will be the world's largest and will keep the United name but take the Continental logo.
General Strike in Nepal
1 May 2010
The Nepal is paralyzed by a indefinite general strike called by the Maoists. The strike shuts down most transport and businesses since the 1st May.
World Expo Begins in Shanghai
1 May 2010 - 30 October 2010
Shroud of Turin on Display
10 April - 23 May 2010
The Shroud of Turin is believed by many to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ and the image of a face and body can be seen on the cloth. While there is much debate over the date of the cloth's origins, its last showing brought over 1 million people to come and see it for themselves. Showings of the shroud are rare and irregular. Anyone may come to view the shroud, but those with reservations will be able to see it more closely.
Eyjafjallajökull eruption closes airspace in Northern Europe
15 April 2010
The Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull erupts for the second time in a month. Ash from the volcano has spread east across the Atlantic towards Scandinavia and UK. Flights to and from several airports in Northern Europe has therefore been canceled until further notice. In Iceland the eruption has caused floods and the population near the volcano has been evacuated.  
Violent Coup Ousts Kyrgyzstan President
7 April 2010
Dozens are reported to have been killed in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek during a massive, surprise riot which, by the end of the day, overtook the presidential administration building forcing the Prime Minister to resign while President Bakiyev fled the country. Several opposition leaders were arrested in the northwest city of Talas Tuesday, where small riots broke out against the regional government. Violence in both cities Wednesday saw thousands of unorganized protesters pelting riot police with stones, the overtaking of state-owned tv and radio channels, and the overtaking of government buildings in Talas & Bishkek. Protestors are largely angry about rising energy costs and pervasive corruption in the government. 
Hands Off Our Tuna! Tokyo's Tsukiji Market Bans Tourists Again
7 April 2010
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has once again banned tourists from attending the tuna auction's observation area at Tsukiji Market in Tokyo. Officials have cited an "increasing number of visitors affecting the market's operations" and "foreign visitors' bad manners, such as touching fish" as the reasons for the ban. The restrictions will be in place from April 8, with the observation re-opening to tourists on May 10. Of course the rest of the market will be open to the public as usual.
Something special in the air over the Dakotas
6 April 2010
Sudan Begins First General Elections Since 1986
5 April 2010
The fifth general elections since independence, the first since 1986, will begin today in Sudan and last through the 12th, with results expected later in the month. The elections are a major milestone in the peace process following decades of civil war. Expect security around the country to be tight and Sudanese visas will likely be difficult to acquire for/during the month of April. A second major election, a referendum on the independence of southern Sudan, will be held next year. 
American abandoning St. Louis hub
5 April 2010
American Airlines is abandoning its hub at St. Louis International Airport, which it acquired through its purchase of Trans World Airlines in 2000. Flights from St. Louis to destinations other than American's other hubs (Dallas, Chicago, etc.) will be moved to Chicago O'Hare International Airport.
Senegal Inaugurates Massive, Controversial Statue
3 April 2010
A massive statue was inaugurated today in Dakar, Senegal to mark the 50th anniversary of its independence. Taller than the Statue of Liberty (at 49m/160ft), the Monument of African Renaissance was built by North Korean workers at a cost of $27 million. Several controversies have arisen and thousands took to the streets to protest in the hours prior to the inaugural ceremony. Most notably that the woman in the statue is wearing a loincloth and has exposed legs, a taboo sight in predominantly Muslim Senegal (local immams have issued a fatwa and urged the devout to spend the day praying for forgiveness). Many also feel the cost was too much for this impoverished African nation to spend during a recession and President Wade has been heavily criticized for suggesting he receive 35% of revenue generated by the statue, which he claims was his idea. The inaugural ceremony was attended by 19 African heads of state, North Korean diplomats, and a delegation of African-Americans. 
Philippine Airlines restarts flights to Riyadh
28 March 2010
Philippine Airlines reconnects its hub Manila to Riyadh again after rising demands from the Filipino community, the airline restarts its service after an absence of 4 years in the Middle East region. The flag carrier will fly from Manila to Riyadh, four times a week.
Volcano erupts in Iceland
21 March 2010
All flights to and from Iceland were canceled for 6-12 hours for safety. The eruption is harmful only to those who who hike for 5 hours in the wilderness and step into the molten lava.
Medellin's touristic calendar for the South American Games
16 March 2010
The city of Medellín will be putting on a variety of sport, cultural, recreational and artistic events between March 19 and 30, during the celebration of the South American games. Of special interest will be the inauguration (a spectacle of acrobatics, dance and pyrotechnics by the Cirque-du-Soleil-trained Dragone) and closing with a grand street parade. 
Fire Destroys Part of Jeddah's Old City
3 March 2010
Fire burnt down at least seven ancient buildings and destroyed a few more in the historic "old city" in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The mid-afternoon inferno may be the result of poor infrastructure or arson. Authorities have been trying for years to rehabilitate the old city and get it on the UNESCO World Heritage list, but lack of funds and unwillingness of property owners to fix their buildings has kept the old city in very poor shape. 
Topeka, KS renamed "Google, KS"
1 March 2010
The mayor of Topeka, Kansas, has proclaimed that the city should be referred to during the month of March as "Google, Kansas," in an attempt to get Google to choose the city as a test site for its new broadband Internet services.
Powerful earthquake hits Chile; causes Pacific tsunami alerts
27 February 2010
A magnitude 8.8 earthquake struck Southern Chile this morning, destroying tower blocks, bridges and roads in the capital city of Santiago. Large portions of the country are cut off and many coastal towns have been inundated by resulting tsunamis. A Pacific-wide tsunami alert, the first since 1994, has put Pacific islands like Hawaii and Easter Island, as well coastal towns in Australia and New Zealand on red alert.
Thailand Braces for Protests With Thaksin Verdict This Week
21 February 2010
The sentencing of Thaksin Shinawatra, former PM deposed in a 2006 coup, is expected this week. Thaksin, who is living in exile, may have a portion of his $2.2 billion in assets seized. His supporters have vowed to protest, non-violently, any verdict against him, which may result in tens of thousands of red-shirted protesters filling streets in Bangkok and pro-Thaksin regions. 
Flooding Wreaks Havoc on Portugal's Madeira Island, Kills 32
20 February 2010
The worst flooding in decades along with mudslides on the Portuguese island of Madeira have caused 32 deaths and closed the island's airport. The hardest-hit area appears to be around the main city, Funchal, although the Nuns Valley has been isolated and damage there is not apparent. 
UNESCO World Heritage-Listed Minaret Collapses, Kills 41
19 February 2010
A minaret collapsed during Friday prayers killing 41. The minaret was part of a mosque in Meknes which is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. King Mohammad has ordered an inquiry to assess the integrity of the hundreds of old mosques in Morocco. 
Military Coup in Niger
18 February 2010
Following a cabinet meeting Thursday, government soldiers launched a coup capturing president Tandja and his cabinet members following a brief exchange of gunfire in the capital Niamey. 
Libya Stops Issuing Visas to Most Europeans
16 February 2010
In a sudden and unexpected move, Libya stopped issuing visas to the European countries in the Shengen area Monday as part of a row with Switzerland. Arriving Europeans who expected to get a visa on arrival in Tripoli were detained and forced to take the next flight home.
Casino and Universal Studios in Singapore
14 February 2010
2010 Winter Olympics Commence in Vancouver
12 February 2010
Somali Islamists Prepare to Storm Mogadishu
11 February 2010
Somalia's Islamist faction, al Shababb, has begun to flood the country's capital Mogadishu with hundreds of fighters along with weapons and artillery for a showdown with the country's UN-backed government, which controls only a small portion of the city. Panic filled the city's population and thousands have evacuated, fearing a massive showdown that would likely result in heavy civilian casualties.
Greek Public Sector Strikes, Leaves Travellers Stranded
10 February 2010
Upset over plans to freeze pay and increase pension eligibility age, public sector workers in Greece went on strike Wednesday, leaving trains stopped, airports closed, and hospitals open for emergencies only. Their is no indication if and for how long this will continue.
Final Night Launch For Space Shuttle
7 February 2010
The Space Shuttle Endeavor will lift off into space February 7 at 4:14 in the morning in the space shuttle program's final night-time launch, following a scrubbed Sunday morning launch. While all shuttle launches are spectacular, night-time launches which light the surrounding cities as if it were day are considered the most spectacular. Launches always draw large crowds, including a wide array of foreign tourists. The shuttle lifts off less than two weeks after the US budget for FY2011 eliminates funding for the shuttle program's replacement—the Constellation program—meaning this could be the final manned flight the US makes for the foreseeable future.
"Snowpocalypse" Hits Washington
5 February 2010
The second major snowstorm this winter in what is now the snowiest winter in D.C.'s recorded history began on Friday around the Washington, D.C.–Baltimore area, and has been followed up by yet another huge storm, blanketing cities from Richmond to New York. Hundreds of flights, trains, buses throughout the Mid-Atlantic, as well as nearly all events and operations of the federal government in D.C., have ground to an icy halt. In Washington, just a couple inches are enough to cause havoc, but the roughly 40 inches accumulated during the past week would be enough cripple even the hardiest of the nation's cities.
US Funds Construction of High-Speed Rail
28 January 2010
The US president announced over $8 billion in funding for several high speed rail projects with the hope that this is only the beginning of a nation-wide network of high-speed trains. Only one of these lines will surpass the 150mph (250km/h) threshold commonly considered for high-speed rail, the others operating between 90-130mph (150-210km/h) which is much faster than most rail lines in the US. California received the biggest amount of funding for the beginning of an 800 mile Sacramento-San Francisco-Los Angeles-San Diego system to be completed by 2026 and reach speeds of 220mph. Florida will begin work on a Tampa-Orlando line capable of reaching 130mph and to be completed by 2014-2015, with a future leg to Miami. Chicago-Saint Louis, Madison-Milwaukee, Seattle-Portland, & Charlotte-Raleigh lines will be upgraded to operate from 90-110mph. The president also promised $5billion a year to be spent on high-speed rail. The problem with building high-speed rail lines in the US is the lack of densely-populated areas and the ease of driving compared with Europe, Japan, or China.
About 2000 Tourists Stranded in Machu Picchu
26 January 2009
Hundreds of tourists got trapped in the historic Peruvian city of Machu Picchu, after three days of heavy rains and mudslides blocked the roads. The government has declared a state of emergency in Machu Picchu and the surrounding areas. An airlift rescue operation has been started, involving 10 helicopters to pick up the stranded people. 60 tourists have already been airlifted to Cusco, with priority given to the elderly, pregnant women and children.
10% more foreigners visited Colombia in 2009
23 January 2009
The Colombian president Alvaro Uribe announced that throughout the whole last year 1.324 million people visited Colombia, 10.4% more than in 2008 . In a separate report, the city of Medellín said that tourism to the city grew 12% in 2009 . This is significant since tourism worldwide had dropped between 4-10 %, according to figures by the UN World Tourism Organization and other sources.
Yemen Stops Issuing Visas at Airport
21 January 2009
Massive Earthquake Strikes Haiti
12 January 2010
A powerful earthquake struck Haiti Tuesday evening just 10 miles from the capital Port-au-Prince and at a very shallow depth. Early reports indicate that the quake, the most powerful in the region since 1751, has caused catastrophic damage to the capital, home to over 3 million people. A long list of government buildings are reported to have collapsed, including parts of the presidential palace, several government ministries, the Supreme Court building, and a major hospital. The UN headquarters in the city are reported to have either collapsed or received extensive damage. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, is high on the "failed state" index, and is no stranger to natural disasters, usually in the form of heavy rain causing flooding and landslides. Hurricanes Francis & Jeanne caused roughly 10,000 deaths in 2004 and the death toll from this earthquake is expected to be very high.
Africa Cup of Nations Kicks Off With Excitement and Tragedy
10 January 2010
Today the Africa Cup of Nations began, but much of the excitement was overshadowed by an attack on the Togo team envoy on Friday killing three people. The team was travelling through Cabinda, near the border of Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo when gunmen opened fire. The gunmen have been confirmed to be from FLEC, a group who has been fighting for independence in Cabinda up until a ceasefire was agreed in 2006. Many had questioned Angola's choice to hold some of the games in the region, but the nation had assured safety. The Togolese team officially withdrew from the competition, as their government called for them to return home. They wished good luck to Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Cote D'Ivoire, the other teams in their division who will compete in Cabinda. Many are disappointed, as the cup was meant to show African unity and bring nations closer together. 
'Festival in the Desert' Moved Over Security Concerns
8 January 2010
Mali's world-famous 'Festival in the Desert' is being moved for the first time in its history to the outskirts of Timbuktu. The renowned Tuareg festival which draws music acts from around West Africa has been hosted each January since 2000 in the town of Essekane, about 70km north of Timbuktu. However, the security situation in Mali has deteriorated with several people kidnapped in the past year, including one Briton departing a similar festival in Anderamboukane who was later beheaded. Due to this possibility, officials have moved the festival to the outskirts of Timbuktu to better protect visitors and eliminate their exposure to bandits on the 70km drive across the desert to Essekane.
Record Cold, Heavy Snow Hits US Southeast
6 January 2010
An extended streak of cold weather has affected the US southeast for the past week, with even colder air currently moving in. Hardest hit has been Florida, where dozens of record lows and record low maximums have been set this week in addition to records for duration of the cold. Heavy snow is moving from the Plains into the Southeast Friday and Saturday, with heavy snow down through central Mississippi, Alabama, & Georgia. The normally balmy peninsula of Florida could see the first widespread snowfall since 1977. Long-term forecasts predict colder than average temperatures in the Eastern US for the rest of this winter and winter 2009-2010 may turn out to be the coldest in over two decades.
World's Tallest Skyscraper Open in Dubai
4 January 2010
With financial aid from neighboring Abu Dhabi, the city of Dubai was able to complete the skyscraper, reaching 2717 feet (828 meters). To show their appreciation, they have named the building Burj Khalifa after the current sheik of Abu Dhabi. Prior to the name change, it was going to be called Burj Dubai ("burj" simply means "tower" in Arabic). 
Nara Celebrates the 1300th Anniversary of Heijo Palace
1 January - 31 December 2010
Festivities will be held throughout the year to commemorate 1300 years since the Nara Period, when Nara was the capital of Japan. The Heijo Palace Site is the main area for commemorative events, with the opening of the Former Imperial Audience Hall and special exhibitions in the museums at the site. From mid to late August, illuminations will be lit around the entire park and large parades and festivals will occur during October.