- - - - - - + From the Gay Financial News Weekly
It seems almost inconceivable that a promotion for a free seven-night stay at a luxurious resort in Jamaica or the Bahamas could be controversial. But this week Expedia posted a vacation offer with the following restriction: "Sandals Luxury Resorts policies require male/female couples only." Within six hours, after heavy criticism, the Sandals offer was replaced with a United Airlines vacation package to Park City, Utah. "We had no idea about the language on Sandals or the promotion," said a spokesman for Microsoft, Expedia's parent company. "Rest assured we do not support companies that discriminate." Microsoft has reportedly pulled the links to Sandals and is in the process of reviewing its relationship with the resort company.
- - - - - - + From MSNBC
It may be Israel's most interesting bridge to the past yet. On Monday, Israel's National Parks Authority gave the go-ahead for the construction of a bridge on the spot where Jesus walked on water. The semi-floating bridge, which will be 13 feet wide and 28 feet long, will be two inches below the water at Capernaum, in the Sea of Galilee. This is just one of many projects Israel is developing for the millennium, when the country expects about 4 million visitors.
- - - - - - + From the Trip.com
With consumer complaints on the rise, Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and John McCain, R-Ariz., have written a bill that will take on the airline industry's less than exemplary service record. If passed, the bill will allow passengers to cancel nonrefundable tickets 48 hours prior to departure and require airlines to explain why flights are delayed. "The real point is to make sure that the airlines bring some of their creativity and extraordinary entrepreneurial skill into making sure that the passengers who use their service get through without feeling like a dish rag," said Wyden. But not everybody thinks the proposed legislation is a good idea, including the Air Travelers Association, whose president said it might upset the low fares currently being offered.
- - - - - - + From the New York Times
While the concept may seem antiquated -- being attacked by armed raiders while sailing the high seas -- the number of fatal pirate attacks increased substantially in 1998. The International Maritime Bureau announced Wednesday that 67 people were killed by marauding pirates in 1998, up 16 from the previous year. Most pirate attacks -- and ship hijacks -- occur in the waters off of the Philippines, India, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Somalia, Ecuador, Brazil and Indonesia.
- - - - - - + From CNN
Despite the $6.8 billion surplus in the aviation trust fund, a Federal Aviation Administration bill introduced Wednesday included a proposal to increase the cost of stopping at airports from $3 to $5 per ticket. The money generated from the tax would go toward airport improvements. While most of the cost is expected to affect the airlines, there could be a trickle-down affect for passengers.
- - - - - - + From the International Herald Tribune
In an effort to thwart future attacks on American embassies, the State Department is pouring resources into counterterrorism -- including installing protective guards over windows in case bombs explode and send flying shards. The FAA is also buying CAT scan equipment for airports to use in searching luggage for explosives, and intelligence agencies are reportedly planning on spending part of their $350 million on eavesdropping and communications equipment. Last summer, bombs destroyed two embassies, one in Nairobi and the other in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
- - - - - - + From the London Times
When Punxsutawney Phil didn't see his shadow this year, to many, it meant that spring would arrive early. But to others -- namely the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals -- it signified another year of abusive treatment for the underground-dwelling furry creature. The group wants to have the Groundhog Day rite canceled, and has even tried without success to recruit Bill Murray, star of a film about the century-old event. "Someone's got to speak up for the groundhogs," said a spokesman for the group. "This poor creature is dragged into the daylight with people screaming at him. You only have to look into his eyes to see how bewildered he is."