In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
Santa may travel in relativity cloud
All Santa skeptics be advised that Dr. Larry Silverberg, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at North Carolina State University, and his graduate students have determined that Santa can travel around the world in one night to deliver presents.
“Santa is a brilliant physicist, engineer and much, much more,” Silverberg said in a telephone interview. Silverberg is an expert in unified field theory, which is the means of tying together all known phenomena to explain the nature and behavior of all matter and energy in existence. He presented the Santa findings to the North Carolina Science Teachers Association during their annual meeting.
The professor and his students concluded that centuries ago Santa and the elves moved to the North Pole from a small Norwegian village because crime was widespread. The hardship of the extreme weather at the North Pole brought them closer together. They built elaborate underground dwellings. They have had at least 500 uninterrupted years to become highly evolved and more technologically advanced than us.
First 11 months of 2011 were safest for air travel on record
If you suffer from a fear of flying, here’s something that might calm your nerves: The first 11 months of 2011 were the safest period for commercial air travel on record.
The global accident rate for January through November was 22% better than the same time last year and marked the safest period since a United Nations aviation agency began collecting data in 1945, according to the International Air Transport Assn., an airline trade group that issued a report based on the U.N. data.
Globally, there were 486 passenger and crew fatalities in the first 11 months of the year, down from 784 fatalities in the same period last year, according to the trade group. In the first 11 months of 2011, the accident rate was 2.16 per million passenger takeoffs, down from 2.78 per million in the same period last year.
The most common accidents this year were “runway excursions,” which occur when airplanes veer off or overrun the runway. Such incidents represented 23% of all accidents in that period, according to the report.
Spanish village happy to be left feeling blue by Smurfs
It was meant to be a short-lived publicity stunt for a film that became a box-office smash despite withering reviews. But for the 221 inhabitants of Juzcar in southern Spain, The Smurfs in 3D has brought them an unexpected lifeline in tough economic times – and yesterday they voted overwhelmingly to keep it.
The tiny pueblo of white-washed buildings near Malaga in Andalucía was selected by the filmmakers this summer to be painted entirely in that unique hue, Smurf blue.
While Sony had promised to return the village to its former glory after filming and publicity, the residents have found that being blue is not so bad at all, and yesterday in a referendum voted 141 in favour and just 33 against to remain the world’s only Smurf village.
Holidaymakers warned about using social media, could increase risk of burglary
Holidaymakers are being warned to keep their travel plans off social networking sites to reduce the risk of burglary over the festive season.
Insurance Council of Australia chief executive Rob Whelan says people should not post personal travel information on websites such as Facebook and Twitter.
“These days, many of us feel comfortable sharing personal information with friends and colleagues, but not everyone using social media has a positive motive,” he said.
Paris bans beggars from most popular shopping and tourist hotspots
Mail and Guardian online
The glittering Christmas window displays in Paris’s luxury stores are often offset by a shivering person begging for coins nearby, huddled behind a cardboard sign saying “hungry”.
With the French economy in crisis and the looming spectre of another recession, Paris’s poor and homeless people are more present than ever in doorways and metro entrances. Campaigners have demanded action on the country’s housing crisis. Instead President Nicolas Sarkozy has launched a war on beggars, setting himself against Paris’s popular mayor.
Sarkozy’s interior minister and long-time right-hand man, Claude Guéant, has issued a series of decrees banning begging around Paris’s most popular Christmas shopping and tourist spots. He says arresting and fining beggars is crucial to stop foreign visitors being pestered by begging “delinquents” run by organised mafia gangs.
The Champs Elysées was first on his list with a begging ban from September to January, which has been extended to next summer. Now two more Christmas begging no-go zones have been created: around the famous Galeries Lafayette and Printemps department stores, as well as the Louvre and the Tuileries Gardens.
Critics call it the latest round in Sarkozy’s campaign against Roma and Gypsies. Guéant claimed that the anti-begging decrees were part of a “merciless fight” against “Romanian criminality”.