Ammon News, Panorama

Airline travel trend shifts toward last-minute bookings, domestic trips: Skyscanner

[9/22/2020 2:24:42 PM]

AMMONNEWS - The air travel market has shifted toward last-minute bookings, one-way flights and more domestic trips as consumers grapple with fast-moving changes due to the coronavirus pandemic, a report from online search and booking site Skyscanner shows. The new trend will be an advantage for low-cost carriers that are able to offer competitive pricing amid an uncertain future for business travel, which was previously a major profit driver for full-service airlines, the report said. For more coronavirus news, visit our dedicated page. “I think generally we have seen if you look at the market prices are much keener than you would expect,” Skyscanner Vice President Commercial and Flights Hugh Aitken told Reuters in a phone interview. “That just reflects that airlines have capacity and need to fill that capacity.” Visits to the Skyscanner website, owned by Group Ltd, are down by 60 percent to 70 percent due to the pandemic’s impact on travel demand, Aitken said. For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app Searches to travel within a week have been trending upward since June, around the time that lockdowns ended in many countries, according to Skyscanner’s data. Globally, these searches are up about 20 prcent from a year earlier. “When you see restrictions being lifted there is a frenzy,” Aitken said, using the example of when Britain stopped requiring quarantines on return for many countries. “But equally when we see the potential that a restriction will be added there is a big lift because that is just people ... scrambling on how to get home again,” he said. Read more: Coronavirus: Dubai resumes flights of foreign airlines as it welcomes back tourists Domestic travel searches are higher globally, mainly in Asia, though there has been a slight improvement in international searches in recent months, according to the Skyscanner report on Tuesday. Searches for longer-dated trips are becoming more popular as travelers bet on future border openings, including examples such as from the United Kingdom to Orlando and New York for next year, Skyscanner said. Air Arabia gets green light for Abu Dhabi-Tashkent flights from Uzbek authorities *Reuters

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December Nobel peace prize award ceremony to be scaled down because of coronavirus

[9/22/2020 2:23:04 PM]

AMMONNEWS - The award ceremony for the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize, traditionally held at the Oslo city hall on Dec. 10, will instead be held in scaled-down form at the city’s university because of the coronavirus outbreak. “It is a strange and challenging year in many ways. We experience the same thing as many others, namely that things must be done in a new way,” Olav Njoelstad, the director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, the body that oversees the Nobel Peace Prize, told Norway broadcaster NRK on Tuesday. For more coronavirus news, visit our dedicated page. Ceremonies for the other prizes — physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine and literature as well as the economic prize — will be awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, on the same day. Organizers also have scheduled smaller ceremonies because of the pandemic. For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app Since 1901, the prizes have been presented at ceremonies on the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death. The peace award has been handed out in Oslo — according to Nobel’s will — while the rest have been handed out in Stockholm. From 1947 to 1990, the setting for the peace prize was the auditorium of the University of Oslo. Thirty years ago, the event moved to the city hall that could seat roughly 1,000 guests, among them Norwegian royals. This year, 100 guests are planned. The name of the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize winner will be revealed on October 9, while the other prizes will be announced between October 5 and October 12. There are 318 nominations for the 2020 peace prize — 211 are individuals and 107 are organizations and groups. The Nobel institution does not publish the names of the nominees for 50 years. However, those who nominate — a select group of people and organizations, including national lawmakers, heads of state and certain international institutions — can publicly announce their nominations. Among this year’s nominees is Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg. There is some uncertainty about whether winners will be able to travel to Sweden because of the pandemic, and a digital award ceremony is being considered. “As the infection situation is now, I think it is most likely that the prize winner or winners cannot be physically present. That is what we are planning for,” Njoelstad told NRK. “We are looking into the possibility of having a video link to a meeting room in the award winner’s home country. It may also be relevant to have a representative of the Nobel Committee present there to present the Peace Prize.” The traditional banquet and concert held after the Nobel peace award ceremony have been canceled, Njoelstad said. The musical tribute to the Nobel laureate was first held in 1994. It has drawn big names from the entertainment industry. Lionel Richie, Bon Jovi, Aretha Franklin and Mary J. Blige are among the performers who have hosted the event. *AP

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In Lebanon, blasted Beirut windows turned into traditional glassware

[9/22/2020 2:21:46 PM]

AMMONNEWS - In the aftermath of the Beirut port explosion, armies of volunteers and activists have been working around the clock to clear the wreckage from their devastated neighborhoods, including an estimated 5,000 tons of window glass destroyed by the force of the massive blasts. One initiative has sought to make sure all this glass doesn’t end up in Lebanon’s already overflowing landfills in the country with notoriously poor waste management infrastructure that just five years ago suffered a garbage crisis. The Green Glass Recycling Initiative Lebanon (GGRIL) has been working together with glass factories in the northern city of Tripoli and with the Khalifeh Brothers’ factory in Sarafand south of Beirut, to create new ranges of traditional Lebanese glassware, turning these remnants of shock and horror into something beautiful and nostalgic. Read more: One month after the deadly Beirut port explosion, how is Lebanon coping? GGRIL has provided artisanal glassblowers with cleaned glass recovered from damaged and the craftsmen have remolded the shards into handcrafted water jugs, carafes and cups to commemorate the blast, as well as bottles for local businesses, using traditional methods that go back millennia. Ziad Abi Chaker, the CEO of Cedar Environmental LLC – one of the founding institutions of GGRIL – said the project was a collective effort. “I’m working with some of the NGOs on the ground that mobilized after the blast and I had arranged to meet with the glass factories in Tripoli as well, to see what kind of shattered glass they can work with,” Abi Chaker told Al Arabiya English. So far, around 80 tons of shattered glass has been recycled. Unfortunately, much of the material is simply too contaminated to be used. “The glass that fell on the streets got mixed with debris and stones and sand, and it has become too difficult to clean, so we are using all the glass that fell inside,” said Abi Chaker. Traditional glassblowing is something of a dying art in Lebanon. The Khalifeh family, long time partners of Abi Chaker, claim to be among the last traditional glassblowers in the country, and one of few keeping the craft alive in the region. Read more: Decades of stained glass artist’s work obliterated in Beirut blast “This is a Phoenician tradition,” said Abi Chaker. “They perfected the glassblowing technique, and it was done in this land thousands of years ago. [The Khalifehs] can trace their glassblowing ancestry to 250 years.” The area now known as Lebanon first appeared in recorded history around 4,000 BC as a group of coastal cities inhabited by a Semitic people whom the ancient Greeks called “Phoenicians” because of the purple (phoinikies) dyes they sold. During the 2006 war with Israel, Lebanon’s only green glass manufacturing and recycling plant was completely destroyed by bombing, and was never been rebuilt. Since then, over 70 million glass bottles a year have been sent to landfills or uncontrolled dumps, an issue that GGRIL was originally founded to address back in 2012. “It had two objectives,” explained Abi Chaker. “One part was to divert the green glass from the landfills, but the second, equal part was to create more work opportunities for the last glassblowers of the country. “Now, we widened the scope to take all the shattered glass of the windows. It is a kind of glass that would go into their ovens and they would be able to work with it, no problems.” Waste management is an ongoing problem Waste management has been a serious issue in Lebanon for decades now, most famously peaking in 2015 when waste company Sukleen suspended collection following the closure of the controversial Naameh landfill, resulting in piles of rubbish filling the streets and sparking massive demonstrations and the “You Stink” movement. The Naameh landfill was originally set to receive 2 million tons of waste before it was scheduled to close in 2004, but the date was repeatedly postponed by successive governments. By the time it was finally closed, the site had taken over 15 million tons of waste. “We have a waste crisis on our hands. It’s an endemic problem due to corruption, political cronyism – you name it,” said Abi Chaker. “It’s basically linked to all of the other major issues that Lebanon suffers from – like power [and] telecommunications – where politicians want to monopolize the sector.” Lebanon is going ‘to hell’ if government is not formed: President Aoun While efforts like those of Cedar Environmental and GGRIL provide much-needed alternatives to keep the ongoing crisis at bay, more needs to be done. While 85 percent of Lebanon’s waste goes to landfills, researchers from the American University of Beirut have found that only around 12 percent of that waste cannot be composted or recycled and needs to be landfilled. “We are in a political deadlock now,” said Abi Chaker. “We’ll see what happens after the blast, and what political changes will be ushered onto the scene.” *Al Arabiya

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Lionel Messi says he will stay at the ‘club of my life,’ Barcelona

[9/4/2020 1:07:48 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Lionel Messi has walked back his demand for a move away from Barcelona after “brutal drama” ensued his announcement that he would leave the Camp Nou, he said in an interview published Friday. “When I communicated my wish to leave to my wife and children, it was a brutal drama,” Messi told Goal. Arguably one of the greatest footballers to ever play the game, the Argentine Messi said he wanted to move to compete for a Champions League title and a desire to “compete at the highest level.” “At least compete for it and let us not fall apart in Rome, Liverpool, Lisbon. All that led me to think about that decision that I wanted to carry out,” he said. Messi, 33, is a six-time world player of the year. Jorge Messi, the Barcelona star’s father and agent, recently traveled to Barcelona to hash out differences with the club over Barcelona’s claims that he was not free to leave. “I thought and was sure that I was free to leave, the president always said that at the end of the season I could decide if I stayed or not,” Lionel Messi said. But Barcelona’s management says there is a buyout clause close to $850 million. For his part, Messi said that he could have taken Barcelona to court but he would “never go to court against Barca because it is the club that I love, which gave me everything since I arrived. It is the club of my life, I have made my life here.” *AFP

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Coronavirus: Robert Pattinson tests positive for COVID-19, ‘The Batman’ suspended

[9/4/2020 1:03:49 PM]

AMMONNEWS - British actor Robert Pattinson has tested positive for COVID-19, causing production in Britain on the set of his film “The Batman” to pause, Vanity Fair and the Hollywood Reporter reported on Thursday. Warner Bros., the Hollywood studio behind the movie, said in a statement that “a member of ‘The Batman’ production” had tested positive for the coronavirus, but did not give a name. “Filming is temporarily paused,” the Warner Bros. statement added. Vanity Fair and the Hollywood Reporter cited unnamed sources as saying the person who tested positive was Pattinson, the film's star. Warner Bros. and Pattinson's representatives did not immediately return calls seeking comment on the reports. Filming of “The Batman” had resumed in Leavesden north of London only three days ago after being shut down in mid-March, along with dozens of other movies and TV shows around the world due to the pandemic. The movie, in which the Pattinson, 34, stars as the comic book hero, has about three months of material left to shoot, according to Hollywood trade outlets. Its release was pushed back earlier this year from June 2021 to October 2021. Hollywood has only resumed production of movies and TV shows in the past few weeks after struggling to accommodate complex safety procedures, testing, and social distancing on film sets that employ dozens of crew, makeup artists, actors, extras and other production staff. Pattinson is best known for his breakout role in the young adult vampire movie series “Twilight,” which turned him into a heartthrob. *Reuters

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Flying cars? Japanese firm says they are almost a reality

[9/4/2020 1:02:05 PM]

AMMONNEWS - It might seem like a flight of fancy, but a Japanese firm says it is one step closer to making flying cars a reality after testing a drone-like prototype. Video from engineering company SkyDrive shows its manned compact vehicle using eight propellers to hover into the air and make its way – with a few wobbles – around a test field. But while the clip may excite fans of “Blade Runner” and “Back to the Future,” the test run leaves mankind far from a future of airborne vehicles whizzing into the sky to avoid traffic. The company hailed “the first public demonstration of a flying car in Japan” and said the aircraft, around the size of two parked cars, had circled the testing field for four minutes. “We want to realize a society where flying cars are an accessible and convenient means of transportation in the skies,” SkyDrive CEO Tomohiro Fukuzawa said in a statement Friday. The firm said it wanted the vehicle to be available to buy in Japan by 2023, with reports suggesting it could cost upwards of $300,000. The car is not the first step humans have taken towards a brave new world of airborne vehicles. A German company tested a flying taxi in Singapore in October, saying it hoped its invention – also shaped like a big drone – would revolutionize travel in traffic-choked cities. Volocopter had already tested its battery-operated, two-seater taxi elsewhere around the globe but the Singapore trial was the first in the heart of a city. Several other companies are working on similar projects, including Boeing, Airbus, Toyota and Hyundai. *AFP

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Beirut port explosion ‘disaster selfies’ on Instagram spark controversy

[9/2/2020 7:29:08 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Social media users have come under fire for posing in front of the site of the devastating Beirut blast as critics call out the latest example of “disaster tourism.” The August 4 Beirut explosion killed as many as 220 people, injured 7,000 others, and destroyed 10,000 buildings. Yet recent posts on Instagram show people posing in front of the site of the explosion, which is a crime scene as authorities investigate the cause of the blast. The posts have prompted criticism online, with Twitter user Rami Chakroun suggesting that taking a selfie in front of the port is the “last thing” visitors to Beirut should be thinking about. Another user pointed out that social media users had been posting selfies in front of the ruined site at a time at which people were still missing from the blast, potentially trapped under the wreckage. However, others took a different approach, with a local professor highlighting the selfie as a creative form of mourning. “The Lebanese people realized that the explosion was so powerful, it shattered even time: before and after. Even if few only immortalize themselves on the bloody divide by a selfie or a photograph, many passed by silently bidding farewell to a Lebanon that, despite its self destructive tendencies, always exhibited an immortal, joyful and victorious spirit,” said Nadim Mohsen, Philosophy and Cultural Studies Professor at the Lebanese American University. “Some choose to even smile while taking a selfie with the background of death and chaos. Mourning oneself could be surprisingly creative,” he told Al Arabiya English. *Al Arabiya

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