NYC weighs an outdoor smoking ban. What's your take?
We've been tracking the spread of smoking bans around the world, often to places that were once notorious for having a culture that loves to light up: Paris, Fort Worth, Dublin, London, the nation of Turkey, and many more.
Now New York City is going a step further. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has voiced his support to expand the city's 2003 ban on smoking in restaurants and bars to now include parks, beaches, marinas, boardwalks, and pedestrian plazas as well. That would most likely mean that fines would be enforced in areas like the Coney Island boardwalk, the Times Square pedestrian plaza, and throughout Central Park.
Last week's news release listed many reasons for the proposed ban, including that "a person sitting within three feet of a smoker outside can be exposed to levels of secondhand smoke similar to those experienced indoors," and also that "research shows that 65 percent of New Yorkers favor banning smoking at outdoor recreational places such as parks, ball fields and playgrounds."
But a smokers' rights group, called NYC Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment, strongly disagrees with these claims of support. The AP quoted founder Audrey Silk as arguing that smoke dissipates quickly outdoors where "there's room for everybody and nobody will be affected."
Similarly, in California, a state typically known for its progressive laws, a measure failed earlier this year which would have banned smoking in state beaches and parks (it was vetoed by the state's Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is a cigar aficionado himself).
The New York City ban still faces a series of public hearings and approval from City Council before becoming law. So what's your take: Do you consider the proposed smoking ban an infringement on New Yorkers' rights, or a welcome change for some of the Big Apple's most iconic landmarks?
Pizza Party! Delta Buys Pies for Rerouted Passengers
Fact: Pizza makes everything better. Even flight delays. On Wednesday, passengers on Delta flight 802 from Atlanta to NYC's LaGuardia airport got a tasty surprise when their flight was rerouted due to bad weather: boxes upon boxes of pizza pies and bottled water waiting for them when they de-planed in Syracuse, New York. Watch the video, reported by the Weather Channel, here. This isn't the first time Delta Air Lines has bought pizza for its passengers. Back in May, the airline's crews placed orders when weather delayed more than 650 flights. Same with storms in Atlanta this past November—flight attendants passed out slices from the aisle. Delta's dough-licious behavior can be traced back several years. In 2013, station managers arranged for a cop car to pull up and deliver 60 pizzas to a plane stuck on the tarmac for hours in Boston. Not too long before that, 160 pizzas were delivered to a Delta plane delayed in Savannah. Back then, a Delta spokesman told USA TODAY, "Delta can't control the weather, but we can control how we respond to weather delays and irregular operations. In situations like these, Delta people have the decision-making power to take care of our customers — even having pizza delivered plane-side."
Liverpool: John Lennon remembered with series of cultural events
Liverpool is an essential stop on any Beatles-inspired journey, and the birthplace of the band is offering the perfect excuse to make the trip across the pond now—especially if John is your fave of the Fab Four. Earlier this month, Liverpool launched a two-month-long cultural program honoring the life of former Beatle John Lennon through a series of live music, film, poetry, and art events. Dubbed John Lennon Tribute Season, the celebration kicked off October 9—what would have been Lennon's 70th birthday—and runs through December 9, the day after the 30th anniversary of his assassination. Leading things off on October 9, Lennon's first wife, Cynthia, and their son, Julian, unveiled the city's newest Beatles-related artifact: an 18-foot peace monument, Peace and Harmony, dedicated to Lennon and now on permanent display in Chavasse Park, a five-acre green space in the city center. Commissioned by the Global Peace Initiative as part of a program to put a peace monument on every continent, the metal sculpture incorporates themes of music and peace, along with a white feather (a symbol of personal significance to the musician). Other noteworthy tribute events include: "Astrid Kirchherr: A Retrospective," an exhibit of photography by Kirchherr, an early Beatles photographer and the girlfriend of original band member Stuart Sutcliffe, at the University of Liverpool's Victoria Gallery & Museum through January 2011 (free), and Lennon by Bob Eaton, a musical biography playing through November 13 at the Royal Court Liverpool (from $16). Bed-In at the Bluecoat commemorates Lennon's activist side, with a daily re-creation of Lennon and Yoko Ono's 1969 peace protest at the Bluecoat creative arts center; each day, a different set of performers, artists, and organizations will promote peace, tolerance, and nonviolent protest in a new way from, of course, a bed (free). Capping off the tribute season is a memorial concert, Lennon Remembered, on December 9 at Echo Arena Liverpool. The show will highlight nine stages of Lennon's life, with performances by people who knew and worked with him, including members of his first band, the Quarrymen, and Plastic Ono Band drummer Alan White, who played on "Instant Karma" and "Imagine" and later joined the band Yes (from $31). Go here for a full list of John Lennon Tribute Season events. For more info about what to do in Liverpool, visit the city's tourism site. Where to stay: There's nowhere more appropriate than the Hard Days Night Hotel. The penthouse Lennon Suite, inspired by "Imagine" and decked out in a dominant white color palette with a white baby grand piano, might be a bit out of your price range ($1,185 a night!), but there's more than enough Beatles memorabilia to enjoy throughout the rest of the hotel—even if you don't stay there, it's definitely worth a visit. Getting there: Liverpool is just over two hours from London by train (Virgin Trains, from $17.50 each way).
You may be tagging your own bags soon
This month, Boston's Logan airport will be the first in the nation to ask passengers to tag their own bags. On some flights on American Airlines and Air Canada, passengers will be encouraged to use kiosks to print their own luggage routing tags. Delta plans to test the same service, but it hasn't yet announced at which airport. Here's how it will work: You'll go to a kiosk and print your boarding pass and luggage tag at the same time. Then you'll go to a counter agent, who will check your ID, scan the tag to confirm it's legit, and place your bag on a conveyor belt. X-ray screening then takes place behind the scenes. You still have to see an official, so it's not clear to me how this saves time for fliers. In Europe and Canada, do-it-yourself passenger bag tagging is already common. At some airports, kiosks can even scan passports to authenticate IDs, making counter agents unnecessary. Passenger bag tagging should shorten the line for checking in. The airlines usually don't have enough staff to handle the traffic at peak times as it is. No word yet on whether airlines will soon start charging a $10 tagging fee unless you screen your bags yourself and then load them into the plane's hold. 'Tag your own' luggage plans [Boston Herald] Airlines may test do-it-yourself traveler bag tagging [USA Today] MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL Confessions Of… A Baggage Handler Breeze Through Security With TSA-Friendly Fragrance Products Winners of the Ultimate Packing Smackdown
UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage List—Good for Flamenco, But Where's America?!
Most avid travelers know a thing or two about UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites. If you've spent any time traveling, you've probably seen the phrase "UNESCO World Heritage Site" in guidebooks and tourism brochures, on plaques, or even in the news. For over 30 years, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has celebrated locations like cities, buildings, monuments, or natural wonders that have been deemed culturally or physically significant. As of 2010, the list includes 911 iconic spots like the Grand Canyon, Stonehenge, the Statue of Liberty, and the Great Wall of China. Sure, buildings can be culturally significant, but what about "intangible" aspects of culture like performing arts, festivals, customs, rituals, or crafts? You may not have known this, but UNESCO has them covered too! Since 2008, UNESCO has been inscribing such items on a Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (see the complete list here). As the name suggests, this list celebrates everything from folk dances to distinct regional cuisines, handicrafts to opera, martial arts to oral epic poetry. This November, during a convention in Nairobi, UNESCO released the list for 2010. It runs the gamut from the classic (Spanish flamenco, French gastronomy, and Chinese opera) to the obscure (a hopping procession from the Luxembourg town of Echternach, Azerbaijani carpet weaving, and northern Croatian gingerbread making). I scoured the list and was disappointed to see that the United States has never been represented! So I decided to make a decidedly unofficial list of my own: -Baseball -Pacific Northwest totem poles -The Halloween tradition—trick-or-treating and pumpkin carving -Jazz and/or blues music -The Thanksgiving feast—turkey and all the fixings -Break dancing -Amish barn raising -Outlandish Christmas light displays -Cowboy poetry -Cajun cuisine Which intangible aspects of American culture would you add to the list? MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL Check out the world's newest natural wonders The world's most beautiful castles The world's most beautiful lakes