Category Archives: travel

US Eases Travel Restrictions to Cuba

The White House is easing up on travel restrictions to Cuba. The plan has been the works for a while. However, not every on is board the Administration  decision. From The Miami Hearld:

The Obama administration Friday said it will allow for more U.S. travel to Cuba, making it easier for schools, churches and cultural groups to visit the island.

A senior Obama official told The Miami Herald the much-expected move to expand cultural, religious and educational travel to Cuba is part of the administration’s continuing “effort to support the Cuban people’s desire to freely determine their own future.

President Barack Obama is also restoring the amount of money ($2,000) that can be sent to nonfamily members to the level they were at during part of the Clinton and Bush administrations. There will be a quarterly limit on the amount that any American can send: $500 per quarter to “support private economic activity.”

The administration also will restore the broader “people-to-people” category of travel, which allows “purposeful” visits to increase contacts between U.S. and Cuban citizens.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, the new chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, assailed the revision, saying they “will not help foster a pro-democracy environment in Cuba.

“These changes will not aid in ushering in respect for human rights,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “And they certainly will not help the Cuban people free themselves from the tyranny that engulfs them. These changes undermine U.S. foreign policy and security objectives and will bring economic benefits to the Cuban regime.”

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December 2010 Blizzard Caught NYC Off Guard

It’s been Five Days since New York City and the North East US was Slammed by a powerful Nor’easter which left 2 feet of snow. Side streets are very slowly cleaned up. Planes are barely leaving the areas three major airports John F. Kennedy, La Guardia and Newark/Liberty International. First Responders stranded and unable to get to treat the sick, injured, and newly born. Everyone is blaming Mayor Michael H. Bloomberg.

Follow the news sites for the latest:

AP via My News

WNBC-TV/HD “News 4 New York”

WNYW-TV/HD Fox 5 News

New York Daily News

WCBS-TV/HD CBS 2 News

The Deep South is Snowbound, Storm Heads to Northeast

The storm which slammed California with torrential rain and high winds aided by a strong pineapple express  and caused floods, mudslides, avalanche conditions. The storm left blizzard conditions to the Great Plains and the Midwest brought Snow to the south is projected to become a powerful nor’easter. From AP Via Yahoo News:

A winter storm that brought a rare white Christmas to parts of the South was barreling up the East Coast early Sunday, with forecasters predicting 6 to 10 inches of snow for Washington and blizzard conditions for New York City and New England.

Airlines canceled hundreds of Sunday flights in the Northeast corridor, with more likely to come as the storm intensifies.

Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina declared states of emergency early Sunday or Saturday night. As North Carolina road crews tried to clear snowy and icy highways, Mid-Atlantic officials spent Christmas Day preparing for up to a foot of snow, plunging temperatures and high winds.

“Our concern is tomorrow it’s going to get significantly colder,” Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell told The Weather Channel on Saturday evening. “Winds with gusts up to 45 miles per hour will cause blowing snow and that’s going to cause the worst of it … and we’re urging extreme caution in travel. Try to get home early and if you don’t have to travel don’t go.”

Continental Airlines canceled 250 Sunday departures from Newark Liberty International Airport outside New York City. United Airlines announced late Saturday that it had canceled dozens of Sunday departures from Newark, Philadelphia, New York’s LaGuardia and JFK, Boston and other airports. AirTran also canceled flights, as did Southwest Airlines, mostly in or out of Washington Dulles, Baltimore and Newark.

Early Sunday, winter storm warnings covered northern Georgia, the Carolinas, Washington, Delaware, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and the eastern sections of Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York. Winter weather advisories were in effect for eastern Tennessee and Kentucky, West Virginia and northwest Virginia.

The system gave the Carolinas its first white Christmas in decades. Columbia, S.C., had its first significant Christmas snow since weather records were first kept in 1887.

In Asheville, N.C., the Weather Service said about an inch of snow was falling an hour Saturday. As much as 10 inches could fall by Sunday morning, which would break the previous Christmas Day record of 5.4 inches set in 1969.

Lance Cpl. Bill Rhyne, the Upstate spokesman for the South Carolina Highway Patrol, said late Saturday that snow was starting to cover roads but that there were fewer accidents than there would be on a normal night.

“Everybody’s at home,” he said. “It’s Christmas. They’re heeding the warnings and staying off the roads.”

In Nashville, some travelers who expected a smooth trip on Christmas got a rude surprise.

“We were hoping this was going to be a good day to travel,” said Heather Bansmer, 36, of Bellingham, Wash.

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Al Qaeda Plans an Attack on US and Europe During Christmas

Prisoners in Iraq made an a startling statement by saying Al Qaeda in Iraq plans terrorist attack on the US and West during the Christmas Holiday. From AP via CBS News:

Iraqi authorities have obtained confessions from captured insurgents who claim al Qaeda is planning suicide attacks in the United States and Europe during the Christmas season, two senior officials said Wednesday.

Iraqi Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani told The Associated Press that the botched bombing in central Stockholm last weekend was among the alleged plots the insurgents revealed. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, in a telephone interview from New York, called the claims “a critical threat.”

Both al-Bolani and Zebari said Iraq has informed Interpol of the alleged plots, and alerted authorities in the U.S. and European countries of the possible danger. Neither official specified which country or countries in Europe are alleged targets.

US officials have not verified the claims.  The announcement come nearly a year ago,  a Nigerian Man Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to blow himself up on a transatlantic flight Last Christmas from Amsterdam to Detroit:

There was no way to verify the insurgents’ claims. But Western counterterrorism officials generally are on high alert during the holiday season, especially since last year’s failed attack by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the so-called underwear bomber, who tried to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day.

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Im Back. Bay Area Road Trip is Something Else

I had computer problems on Tuesday. Came home on Monday from a Business trip to San Francisco.

Going out of Town no Posting Until Sunday

I’ll heading out-of-town this weekend; Therefore  no posting  this weekend. See you Sunday or Monday.

Thanks

Bye!

October Surprise:Bomb found Plane in Dubai was Headed for Chicago

Breaking News: Two packages that were heading for Chicago were bombs to detonate when it arrive at its destination were discovered by airport security in Sa’na, Yemen  and Nottingham, England on Friday. The packages were found on UPS jet and at a FedEx facility.

President Barack Obama notified overnight Friday. The president orders Pentagon US Navy Jet  escorts joined by Canadian Forces Jets planes heading for Boston, Philadelphia and New York City.

At a press conference President Obama said the threat was very credible From The Washington Post:

Two packages mailed from Yemen and addressed to synagogues in Chicago contained explosive material and represented a “credible terrorist threat,” President Obama said Friday, as authorities focused their investigation on an increasingly lethal affiliate of al-Qaeda.

It’s believed its Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula that is behind foiled attack:

U.S. counterterrorism officials suspect that the packages, which were intercepted in Britain and Dubai, were sent by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which had already demonstrated a flair for sophisticated bombmaking in an attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day.

Obama did not specify any new security measures that would be taken or say that the nation’s terrorist alert level had been raised. But he described the threat as serious and pointed once again to Yemen as the source of a terrorist plot, saying his top terrorism adviser, John O. Brennan, had been in touch with that country’s president.

The two packages were intercepted at separate locations, one on a UPS plane at East Midlands Airport near Nottingham, England, and the other at a FedEx facility in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. Officials provided no details on the kind of explosives found, but they said they were looking at the possibility that the substance used was PETN, the same explosive used in the Christmas Day plot.

A U.S. official said the search for the devices was triggered by a “tip from a very close ally of the United States.” The tip was relayed to U.S. authorities Thursday and contained “very specific information” about devices in packages being shipped to the United States from Yemen, the official said.

Brennan, in a statement, said the United States was “grateful to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for their assistance in developing information that helped underscore the imminence of the threat emanating from Yemen.”

“We were looking for packages that were of concern,” Brennan said. He said he briefed Obama before the first package was found in Britain about 3:30 a.m. Friday local time.

No bombs were found on  planes  in Newark,NJ and Philadelphia and Kennedy Airport in New York. AP via Yahoo News:

U.S. authorities conducted searches of aircraft in Philadelphia, Newark, N.J., and New York City.

Since the failed Christmas bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner, Yemen has been a focus for U.S. counterterrorism officials. Before that attack, the U.S. regarded al-Qaida’s branch in Yemen as primarily a threat in the region, not to the United States.

Homeland Security ordered all packages from Yemen on a 72 hour hold.

In Chicago police and homeland Security on high alert. Security is tight at O’Hare International Airport and synagogues warned of packages from Yemen. From CBS Chicago(WBBM-AM Newsradio 780/CBS 2 News WBBM-TV/HD):

In Chicago, cargo terminals for both UPS and FedEx at O’Hare International Airport were immediately swept with bomb-sniffing dogs, and security around them was tightened as well.

There was no evidence found that any explosives reached Chicago or that they could have caused any damage if they did.

The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago was notified of the situation at 10:30 a.m. Friday, and officials there are “taking proper precautions,” said associate vice president Linda Haase.

The organization is also advising local synagogues to take precautions, Haase said.

A law enforcement source tells CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine the word is out to synagogues in Chicago not to accept UPS packages from east of New York. The are asked to call Chicago Police if any delivery is attempted.

FBI spokesman Ross Rice added that while there are no identifiable or specific threats to the Chicago area, all churches, synagogues and mosques in the area are being warned to be vigilant for unsolicited or unexpected packages, especially those originating from overseas locations.

The events unfolded four days before national elections in which discussion of terrorism has played almost no role.

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