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New York (AirGuide - Travel Health Watch) Jun 16, 2013

Frank Lautenberg Dies: New Jersey Senator Banned Smoking on Domestic Flights Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) died on May 30 of viral pneumonia. The 89-year-old five-term senator was well known by travelers as the public advocate that banned smoking on domestic flights. Lautenberg told the Senate in 1989, when the ban was passed, OWith this legislation, nonsmokers, including children and infants, will be free from secondhand smoke. Working flight attendants will avoid a hazard that has jeopardized their health and their jobs.O Lautenberg was also a frequent and fierce advocate for Amtrak. U.S. Department of Transportation, Ray LaHood paid tribute to Lautenberg and his legecy in transportation by saying: "Today, the people of New Jersey and the nation as a whole lost a true champion with the passing of Senator Frank Lautenberg. FrankOs tireless advocacy for transportation safety saved many lives [ETH] he truly was the Safety Senator. His commitment to public transit also helped provide millions of working Americans with affordable transportation options in their communities, evident in the success of NJ Transit, Amtrak and many of the ways that people move around America today. As a friend, colleague, and leader, he will be missed." Lautenberg was also remembered by The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA), which said in a statement: OOur hearts are heavy as we mourn the loss of a great leader who has been instrumental in bettering the lives of all Americans through his lifetime of dedicated service. For nearly thirty years as an elected leader, Senator Lautenberg has been a champion of numerous Flight Attendant issues that have had tremendous impact on our profession." OIn 1989, AFA worked closely with the Senator to pass legislation that banned smoking on all domestic flights. His foresight and leadership were invaluable in pioneering the trend of smoke-free workplaces, and safer skies for passengers and crews. AFAOs long history on working together with the Senator on vital issues continued recently when last week, Senator Lautenberg co-sponsored legislation to OKeep Knives Out of Our Skies.O Senator LautenbergOs contributions to our industry have been innumerable. OOur condolences go out to the entire Lautenberg family. We are so grateful to his loved ones for their generosity in sharing such a great leader with New Jersey and our entire country. It has been an incredible honor to work alongside such an inspirational figure for three decades. We are grateful for the opportunity to have Senator Lautenberg as a key ally and will keep his spirit of service with us always.O Jun 15, 2013

5 steps serious companies should take on climate Eco-initiatives such as changing light bulbs or promoting carpooling are missing the point, write Michael Toffel and Auden Schendler. The planet is facing a climate catastrophe, so companies that really care should lobby the government for tough action to reduce carbon emissions; anything less, they argue, is greenwashing. Jun 15, 2013

Is Wal-Mart's green halo slipping? Wal-Mart has agreed to pay more than $81 million in penalties relating to dumping hazardous waste in California and Missouri -- an admission that could tarnish the company's efforts to present itself as an eco-champion. The company "wants to be seen to be acting quickly and decisively to quell any concerns about environmental abuse. But the retailer still has a target on its back," writes Barry Silverstein. Jun 15, 2013

Delta forecasts strong Q2 as fuel prices drop Delta Air Lines forecast a healthy profit in the second quarter due to lower fuel costs. "June is shaping up to be a strong quarter," Delta President Edward Bastian. He predicted an operating margin for the quarter of 9% to 11%. Jun 14, 2013

Hong Kong-Taiwan launch joint cruise promotion The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) and the Taiwan Tourism Bureau, Ministry of Transportation and Communications (Taiwan Tourism Bureau) jointly organised a press conference, including a signing ceremony, today (5 June) to announce that they will step up their collaboration to promote cruise tourism in Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as the region at large. It was also announced that the two organisations have reached an agreement with Royal Caribbean International to schedule two deployments of cruise liner Mariner of the Seas to Hong Kong and Taiwan on 29 October and 2 November this year. Hong Kong will be the home port of the ship for both deployments. HKTB Chairman Dr Peter Lam said: OWhen Kai Tak Cruise Terminal begins service this month, Hong Kong will offer a wider range of cruise facilities for the worldOs cruise liners. But in addition to world-class hardware and software, regional co-operation is crucial to the promotion of cruise tourism. This collaboration between the HKTB and the Taiwan Tourism Bureau is a model of such co-operation. The HKTB looks forward to working closely with Taiwan and other neighbouring ports to promote the development of regional cruise tourism and to attract more cruise companies to design itineraries featuring Hong Kong, in order to consolidate Hong KongOs position as AsiaOs Cruise Hub.O Dr Wayne Liu, Deputy Director General of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau, said: OThe rapid growth of the Asian tourism market has caused intense competition among countries and cities in the region. But to foster the healthy development of this market, it is vital for these competitors to achieve synergy by promoting the regionOs tourism together, leveraging their unique tourism strengths. The joint cruise promotion between the HKTB and the Taiwan Tourism Bureau serves as an important collaborative model, as Hong Kong and Taiwan partner to tap the cruise potential of the region. We believe there will be ample collaborative opportunities for the two destinations to bring the regionOs tourism to the next level.O The collaboration between Hong Kong and Taiwan includes an agreement with Royal Caribbean International to add two deployments of the companyOs cruise ship Mariner of the Seas to Hong Kong and Taiwan, on 29 October and 2 November respectively. Hong Kong will be the home port of the ship for both deployments. On 29 October, the cruise vessel will embark from Hong Kong to Kaohsiung and Keelung on a five-night, four-day itinerary. The ship will sail from Hong Kong to Kaohsiung once again on 2 November and return to Kai Tak Cruise Terminal on 5 November. Jun 13, 2013

House panel rejects base closures, adds $5B to DOD The House Armed Services Committee has created a bill that turns aside Pentagon plans to close bases, to raise the cost of military health care benefits and to shrink pay raises for service members, and instead adds another $5 billion to the Defense Department's 2014 budget. The added money would help pay costs of the war in Afghanistan. Jun 13, 2013

Dutch cannabis cafes stage open revolt by selling dope to tourists Authorities in the Dutch drug tourism hub of Maastricht are striking back after cannabis cafes staged an open revolt by selling marijuana to foreigners in defiance of a controversial ban. The battle has been fought on the streets, in the courtroom and in the media as authorities struggle to enforce a law aimed at ridding the streets of stoned tourists, with foreigners previously accounting for two-thirds of the coffee shops' clientele. Coffee shops in Maastricht, a Roman city of 120 000 conveniently wedged between the borders of Belgium and Germany, were emboldened following a court ruling on April 25 that city authorities should not have ordered the closure of one of its best-known hangouts for getting high. The Easy Going was ordered shut last year after it was caught selling to tourists. Members of the Maastricht Coffee Shop Association (VOCM) comprising 13 of the city's 14 coffee shops resumed selling to tourists in May. But police raids, seizures, closure orders and prosecutions followed, and after the latest police bust at four coffee shops last weekend, all 13 VOCM member have now shut up shop. At the root of the chaos is a controversial law introduced in May 2012 requiring coffee shops to cater only for Dutch residents in the hope of addressing the downsides of drug tourism -- traffic jams, street dealing and rowdy late-night partying. But a new, more left-wing government said in November that individual city authorities could decide whether to apply the law affecting some 650 establishments nationwide, according to their economic or social priorities. Most Dutch cities, including those in Amsterdam, said they did not want to apply the law, while Maastricht and other southern cities said they would do so. "Following a recent judgement, the incorrect idea has spread that coffee shops can once more sell to foreigners," the Maastricht public prosecutor said in a statement. Eight coffee shop owners and employees are due in court on June 12 for having sold drugs to non-residents, with more prosecutions expected to follow. Maastricht's coffee shops are waiting impatiently for the outcome of those cases, hoping for a clear legal precedent. Last Friday, police busted four clubs -- Maxcy's, the Missouri, Club 69 and Lucky Time -- and arrested four staff members as well as confiscating their merchandise, Dutch news agency ANP reported. A 14th coffee shop, which is not part of the VOCM, remained open. Before being shut down, the VOCM had said it did not want to "discriminate" and indeed would lose too much business by complying with the law, since foreigners account for 65% of their clientele. "This business of closures is a big joke, they're playing the victim," Maastricht city council spokesperson Gertjan Bos told AFP. "The coffee shops are clever." But VOCM head Marc Josemans said: "If governments in neighbouring countries took responsibility in terms of soft drugs, none of this would be necessary." He declined to discuss the matter further. "Good weed"...

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