U.S. Travel Advisory: Five Mexican States as Dangerous as Syria

Street view in Mexico CityAccording to a U.S. State Department’s “do not travel” advisory, tourists planning to travel to Mexico should avoid five crime-ridden Mexican states which are now considered as risky as Syria.

The advisory represents the highest level of U.S. government’s revamped four-level travel advisory system. Tourists are advised to stay away from the states of Tamaulipas, Colima, Guerrero, Sinaloa, and Michoacan as they are ridden with crime.

The federal government has warned against some parts of the five Mexican states, but it is the first time the states are put on the list entirely. The new rating matches that given to other high-risk countries like Syria, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Yemen.

“Violent crime, such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery is widespread,”

the State Department warns about the Mexican states.

The advisory also reads that the U.S. government does not offer enough emergency services to travelers in those states as government workers had been barred from traveling to those areas.

Some Mexican States Are Very Risky Travel Destinations

Travelers who insist on visiting the states are advised to use toll roads and not drive at night. Travelers should be extra careful when using banks or ATMs or visiting local bars.

Tourists are also asked not to flaunt their possessions like expensive jewelry or watches.

Mexico, which has 31 states, has just a two-level rating which means that U.S. travelers are only asked to “exercise increased caution” when visiting the southern neighbor. Eleven states, however, have a three-level warning, which means that tourists are advised to “reconsider travel”.

In December, Mexican Secretary of Tourism Enrique de la Madrid Cordero said that there is no risk for American tourists visiting the country. Yet, a State Department shows that 264 American tourists died in Mexico in 2016, of whom 75 were killed.
Image Source: Wikimedia

Google owned Jetpac, what’s next?

Google is planning to buy Jetpac which gives real pictures of places a person should check out. The company has not provided more details yet it only stated that it will design social travel application which would be revealed on Google.

jetpac-googleAs stated in a report of Jetpac shortly the company will confiscate Jetpac’s application from the apps store.

Jetpac is a San Francisco based company that formed a mobile application that generate a city map with the help of the pictures available on different social networking sites.

Lately, Google purchased Nest Labs Inc. at the cost of $3.2 billion, which was one of the biggest deals in the history of Google. Nest labs manufacture sensor- driven, Wifi-enable, thermostat and smoke detectors.

However, the company did not make any commentary  on this announcement.

Ecuadorean Airline Stops Flights to Venezuela

Tame, an airline from Ecuador, suspended is once-daily flight to and from the country of Venezuela on Thursday until the government of the cash-strapped country pays the $43 million it is owed for its ticket sales.

The air carrier was the first airline to halt its flights into and out of Venezuela, whose left wing government now owes a group of carriers more than $3.3 billion, according to the airline association of Venezuela.

The airlines have become victims of the rigid currency policy controls Venezuela has installed, which prevent the airlines from repatriating their proceeds from sales of tickets in the South American oil-rich country.

Adding to the airlines’ difficulties, the Venezuelan bolivar has plummeted in value to one tenth of its official value in the country’s black market, which makes tickets, purchased inside Venezuela some of the least expensive around the world as far as in dollar terms.

Recently airline representatives have had meetings with government officials to discuss the proposal of the government to pay off the monies owed to the airlines with bonds, cash and fuel.

However, the talks have yet to produce an agreement and Tame along with several other airlines started to lose patience.

Globovision, a TV station in Venezuela reported Thursday that Air Canada stopped the sale of tickets in Venezuela. There was no answer at the offices of the Canadian airline in Caracas when a call was made to confirm the rumor.

However, an operator at a call center said she was given instructions to suspend all reservations and future sales. The media office for the airline in Canada did not answer an email requesting a comment.

Fernando Guerrero the General Manager for Tame told the media in Quito on Wednesday that Venezuela had not made any payments to the airline since sometime in March of last year, which was the month Hugo Chavez, the longtime president of Venezuela died.

Guerrero said the cost per month for Tame is $5 million to keep the Caracas to Quito route in operating. Venezuela owes even larger airlines such as Avianca from Colombia tens of millions of dollars.

On Thursday, Avianca’s stock plummeted over 4% after the government of Venezuela announced that people in Venezuela traveling aboard could no longer buy tickets at the rate of 6.3 bolivars per U.S. dollar.

Wife Begs for Husbands Release from North Korea

An American who is 85 years of age is being held inside North Korea. His wife and son have called for his release saying they want him returned to their home for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Merrill Newman who is from Palo Alto, California was detained in Pyongyang and taken off his flight and has been held since then. Lee, his wife, said she wanted to let North Korean authorities know that Newman has been now held for more than 30 days.

She asked for his return on CNN saying he needed to be returned to their home immediately. Asked what she was say to her husband, she said we miss you and want you home with the family.

There are no diplomatic relations between the U.S. and North Korea. The U.S. has worked through Sweden, which is its protecting power inside North Korea, to obtain any information about the U.S. citizen.

The Newman family said it has spoken a number of times with the State Department since their father was detained. The family said they were confident the State Department was doing all it could the secure the elder Newman’s release. However, at the current time, there has not been official feedback from the North Koreans.

Newman’s son Jeff said the first place information would come back to is the Swedish consulate, but they said no contact has been made. They want to also make sure he is being well treated and getting all his medications.

Newman, said family members, has a heart condition and had just enough medication for his trip. Packages of medication have been sent by the family but they are unaware if he received them.

Newman is a veteran of the Korean War and a retired consultant. He was last seen on his flight to Beijing from Pyongyang. Just minutes prior to departure, he was taken from the plane by authorities from North Korea.

His family said he was part of a private tour of 10-days in North Korea. For the phone calls he made and postcards he sent, the trip went well and no indication of any problem was present said his son.

Newman is now one of two citizens from the U.S. being held by North Korean authorities. The other is Kenneth Bae, who authorities arrested in November of 2012 and sentenced to 15 years in May to hard labor.

The government of North Korea said he had been found guilty of different hostile acts and attempted to topple their government.

No one in the North Korea government has said publically why Newman is being held. Amongst the possibilities is his service in the military.

Plane Crash Kills Dozens in Russia

A plane carrying 50 people crashed at an airport in Kazan, a city in Russia. All of the people on board were killed.

The plane, a Boeing 737, had left Moscow and was attempting to make a landing in Kazan when it exploded upon impact at 7:20 p.m.

The Emergencies Ministry announced that 44 people were passengers with 6 crew on the Tatarstan Airlines aircraft.

Investigators will now try to determine if the crashed was caused by crew error or a technical problem.

Vladimir Markin an official with the Investigative committee said that experts had been checking into whether fuel of poor quality and weather conditions played a part in the crash, as it was raining when the aircraft attempted to land.

Amongst those who died was the President of the Republic of Tatarstan’s son Irek Minnikhanov, according to the passenger manifest released.

In addition, Aleksander Antonov, the head of the Federal Security Service in Tatarstan lost his life.

The Foreign Office from the UK confirmed that one of the dead has been a British national. The official statement said that the Office had been in touch with the local authorities and was assisting those affected. Also killed in the crash were two children.

Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia expresses his condolences to the families and friends of the victims. A commission from the government was set up for the investigation of the cause of the accident.

Preliminary reports said that Rustem Salikhov, the pilot, who was 47, had attempted to land on several occasions prior to crashing.

The crew said they were not prepared to land because of some technical problems, reported news agencies across Russia.

One journalist, who flew the same aircraft to Moscow from Kazan earlier the same day, told a television channel in Russia that there had been a strong vibration at the landing in Moscow.

The plane was in service since 1990 said Russian officials. The Kazan airport in the capital of Tatarstan was closed after the accident and is not scheduled to open again until sometime Monday afternoon.

Kazan is about 450 miles east of the Russian capital of Moscow.

Killer Bacteria Infects 31

Vibrio Vulnifcus is an infection caused by bacteria found in salt water that is warm.

The bacterium is in the same family as the one that causes cholera. Thus far, in 2013, there have been 31 confirmed cases of the infection in Florida, by the strain that is the severest vibrio, and 10 people have died.

Health officials in Florida said a person could contract the disease in two ways: tainted raw shellfish most commonly oysters or when a person who has an open wound comes into contact with seawater that has the bacterium.

In Alabama this week, officials from the state health department said two males were diagnosed recently with vibrio vulnifuicus. One of the two died last month and the other is currently hospitalized.

Both of the men were working with crab traps in warm saltwater.

While these occurrences could be a concern to health officials in states with miles and miles of coastlines and tourism dependent economies, experts said the bacterium is not something most people should be concerned with.

The bacteria usually exist in salt water and for the most part affect only those with immune systems that are compromised. Symptoms of the bacteria include diarrhea, vomiting as well as pain in the abdomen. If the bacterium enters the bloodstream it provokes symptoms that include chills, fever, blistering wounds on the skin and decreased blood pressure.

Health officials said they believe the Gulf of Mexico is as safe to see as it was 10 years ago.

In other Gulf States, reports of other illnesses that are waterborne have been in the news, but they too are very rare. In fresh water, the amoeba Naegleria fowleri usually lives off bacteria from the sediment in rivers and lakes.

However, if it goes up a person’s nose high enough, it is able to get inside the brain and kill the person. Fatalities from this have been reported in Arkansas, Florida and Louisiana this year.

Driver runs down Pedestrians on Venice Boardwalk

On Saturday evening, witnesses said the driver of a car methodically and purposely plowed into groups of people on the Boardwalk in Venice, California. The driver’s action killed one person and injured at least 14.

Two of the injured were in serious condition, two were listed as critical and 10 others had varying degrees of injuries. In all, 10 people were transported to the hospital, including the one who died in route.

Authorities said the accident took place on Saturday after 6 p.m. local time. Police were told by witnesses that the car’s driver looked as if he was in control of his vehicle and was deliberately attempting to hit the people on the boardwalk.

One witness was enjoying the late afternoon sun when the incident took place and said the scene was gruesome and very bloody. She said blocks and blocks of people were tossed about on the sidewalk.

The driver was able to flee the scene of the incident. About one hour later, just when police were starting to circulate world about a black Dodge, a man entered a police station in Santa Monica, a neighboring city.

The man told officers he had been involved with an incident on the boardwalk. A car was later located close by that police believe was the one use by the man.

The man was still being questioned hours later and police were trying to determine if he had been the driver. No names were given of the person killed or of the person of interest.

The security video and accounts from witnesses indicate the man was wearing a baseball cap, white pants, gray shirt and was parked near the Cadillac Hotel.

The video showed him twice leaving his car and entering the pedestrian area, before returning to the Dodge Avenger making his way around the yellow safety poles that are supposed to prevent vehicles from the pedestrian only area.