Banning pigeons from Venice, and other news

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Here's what we found especially worth reading this week:

World Hum: Venice says "No!" to pigeons--or to the feeding of pigeons, at least. The city birds are pecking their way into the marble in St. Mark's Square, prompting officials to ban birdseed. (The International Herald Tribune also has coverage.)

FrugalTravelGuy: In the U.S., Marriott and Hilton hotels are running a special for their rewards programs this year. Marriott Rewards offers new members 1,000 extra bonus points for each of their first five stays in the remainder of 2008. "The Hilton Honors program gives you 1000 points after your second stay in 2008." [For more on loyalty programs, see Erik Torkells' recent post.]

Consumerist: So much for Fourth Amendment guarantees against unlawful search and seizure. A federal court has ruled that, when you re-enter the U.S., officers from Homeland Security can review the data on all of your computers, cell phones, and data devices without cause, and "that all collected data may be stored indefinitely."

Upgrade: Travel Better: In Europe, Hertz has begun to offer half-day car rentals, which can be a more affordable way to take day trips. (For example, you can spare overnight parking costs.)

Hotel Chatter: Someday, free hotel WiFi will be as common as those little bottles of shampoo. Until then, Hotel Chatter has a list of best and worst international hotels to get your Internet fix.

Globespotters: Take a quick tour of London's recently opened Eurostar terminal (with Chunnel trains to Paris). In the lounge, waiting passengers can check out a database of 100 paintings from the National Gallery, projected on one of six wall screens.

Gadling: How "walkable" is your 'hood? Fewer than 6 percent of all trips are done on foot. Eek. Plug in your address here to see how your neighborhood stacks up.

Oz Traveller: Skype faces a hot new competitor when it comes to talking on the telephone via the Internet. It's called Gizmo.

PingMag: This blogger calls it "product poetry." In Japan, visitors will find small texts, almost like poems, written on many products, from groceries to electronics. One of the many examples shown are: "We send you the lovely flavour of the wind in the meadows."

Family Travel: Celebrating its 20th anniversary: SeaWorld San Antonio.

MORE Check out our ongoing series on Affordable Europe.

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