Category Archives for "In the news"

Franc’enstein: Swiss currency jumps 17% after central bank stops pegging to Euro

Reaction to the Swiss currency exchange rate

The Reaction to the Swiss currency exchange rate

For those of you traveling to Switzerland, you just woke up and found your money will buy you 17% less. In an announcement that completely surprised the financial markets and business community, the Swiss National Bank announced a “decision to abandon the franc’s cap against the euro, two days after an official reaffirmed it would remain a pillar of policy”. [Good to see that a banker’s word is his bond unless it is a few days later]

The franc appreciated 17 percent to 1.02569 per euro at 8:37 a.m. New York time after earlier jumping 41 percent to 85.17 centimes, the strongest since the euro’s 1999 debut. The Swiss currency gained 16 percent to 87.66 centimes per dollar, after touching 74.06 centimes, the strongest since August 2011.

This is an incredible move in an exchange rate where a 1% move in daily exchange rate is regarded as a big move.

The Euro was also impacted by this news where it dropped a further 1.8% on the news where it is ~1.16. Some financial pundits are predicting Euro will be parity with the dollar in 2015.

We say 2015 will be a good time for Americans to visit Europe. If you don’t mind the odd riot or two.

Travel spots : Dangers of Measles

On Jan 9th, it was 19. Jan 12th, it is 26.

I refer to the recent measles outbreak that has been linked to visiting Disneyland during Dec 15 to 20th.

The first six cases showed a correlation to not being vaccinated: 3 were children old enough to have a vaccine but did not, the other 3 were adults with 1 was not being vaccinated, another partially vaccinated and the other was just unlucky.

More infections are expected as measles in so easily transmitted: “Ninety percent of people without immunity who are exposed to the disease will catch it – even if they visit a room two hours after the infected person has left”. [Forbes]

The safest protection is the vaccine.

Back in 2000, Measles was officially eradicated in the US. Now with the hysteria of Vaccines being linked to autism, more parents are not  getting it for their kids. This has led to a re-occurrence of this preventable illness in the US -see the graph – as there is now more opportunities to catch it. To stop measles outbreaks, more than 95 percent of people need to be fully immunized.

The problem with measles is not the spots. It is the other complications. From the CDC website on measles:-

Common Complications of Measles.

Common measles complications include ear infections and diarrhea.

  • Ear infections occur in about one out of every 10 children with measles and can result in permanent hearing loss.
  • Diarrhea is reported in less than one out of 10 people with measles.

Severe Complications

Some people may suffer from severe complications, such as pneumonia (infection of the lungs) and encephalitis (swelling of the brain). They may need to be hospitalized and could die.

  • As many as one out of every 20 children with measles gets pneumonia, the most common cause of death from measles in young children.
  • About one child out of every 1,000 who get measles will develop encephalitis (swelling of the brain) that can lead to convulsions and can leave the child deaf or mentally retarded.
  • For every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die from it.

Long-term Complications

Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) is a very rare, but fatal disease of the central nervous system that results from a measles virus infection acquired earlier in life. SSPE generally develops 7 to 10 years after a person has measles, even though the person seems to have fully recovered from the illness. Since measles was eliminated in 2000, SSPE is rarely reported in the United States.

Among people who contracted measles during the resurgence in the United States in 1989 to 1991, 4 to 11 out of every 100,000 were estimated to be at risk for developing SSPE. The risk of developing SSPE may be higher for a person who gets measles before they are two years of age.

Tara Haelle in her blog on Forbes raises some good points about Measles and tourist magnets like Disneyland. The first is the amount of young children below 12 months who may go to places like Disneyland but are too young to have their first vaccine. The second is that the resorts attract a large number of children with weakened immunity systems. Disney grants 7,000 wishes to 14,000 applications.

California also seems to a hotbed of parents not getting their kids vaccinated so this may be a factor here.

This is not just a US phenomenon. In 2014, the Philippines experienced a large measles outbreak. Many of the cases in the U.S. in 2014 were associated with cases brought in from the Philippines. The UK back in 2013, saw similar upticks due to parents not getting vaccines.

The measles uptick is the past few years is something to note and take action on.

Parents get a Vaccine for your kids. Adults get a booster.

If you have kids younger that are 12 months or younger, do NOT take them to any of the incubation places which attract hordes of kids or exposes them on international travel. Wait until they are older and are vaccinated.


2014 was Annus Horribulus for flying

Flight at sunsetOur thoughts are with the 137 people aboard AirAsia QZ8501 : Requiescat in pace.

Today they announced that debris had been found. We had hoped for more positive news.

The one consolidation to the families is that there is resolution to the event unlike the poor families of MH370.

2014 was  an ‘Annus horribilis‘ for air travel. The worst since 2005.

We pray that 2015 is a better one.

A visit from St.Humbug: Tale of the passenger refusing to be merry at christmas

An unknown passenger on AA's do not fly list.

An unknown passenger on AA’s do not fly list.

In honor of the passenger who was booted off the America flight from La Guardia to Dallas after freaking out about being greeted Merry Christmas too many times, Ladies and Gentlemen, I present an abridged reading of ‘a Visit from St. Humbug’:

‘Twas the flight before Christmas, when all through the plane
Not a passenger was stirring, except one not named
The peanuts were handed out properly with care,
In hopes that Heather Cho would not be there.
The flyers were settled on a flight to Dallas
While greeting were given for a merry christmas
To bubba in his T-shirt, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,
When out on the deck there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my seat to see what was the matter.
Away to the ailse seat I flew like a sword,
Tore open my iphone and started to record,
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
but a passenger complaining about the christmas cheer
With a little old curmudgeon so whiney and quick,
I knew in a moment he must be a prick.
More rapid than eagles his hectoring they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
“Not everyone celebrates christmas you know”.
“Now get on with this flight, for now we must go”.
The flight attendants were not so happy,
with the conduct of this miserable chappy,
They sprang to to cockpit, to tell the captain of the plane
about the irate nutter who was quite insane.
But I heard the captain exclaim, ere he walked out of sight—
“Happy Christmas to all, now get off my flight!”
He was escorted off the plane as they burst into applause
That’ll teach him to grouch and diss Santa Claus.

Bill of Wrongs : Mayor of NYC delays a flight in order to get a personal late boarding

Not featuring Bill DeBlassio

Dahlings, if you believe the gossip (like I sometimes do) then it looks like Bill Blassio, Mayor of New York, invoked Royal privilege where after running late for a flight to Puerto Rico, he phoned ahead and had Jet Blue delay the flight for him.


Notoriously late Mayor Bill de Blasio kept more than 100 people waiting at the gate to board a JetBlue flight from JFK Airport to Puerto Rico last month because he was running late and had the plane held for him, DNAinfo New York has learned.

The passengers — including state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and numerous other lawmakers as well as vacationers — were forced to cool their heels for roughly 20 minutes on Nov. 6 as they waited to board JetBlue Flight #703 for San Juan, where the Somos El Futuro Fall 2014 Conference was being held.

“We started to make our way over to the gate, about a half-hour before the flight was due to board,” a passenger recalled.

“There was a long line, but there was no boarding call and no one knew why. We were saying, ‘Why are we just standing here? The plane is here. We are here. So what’s the holdup?’”

Planes generally begin boarding 30 minutes before scheduled departure. After waiting roughly 20 minutes — nearly 10 minutes before they were due to leave — activity near the security entrance caught their attention.

It was de Blasio and a small entourage of aides, mostly NYPD bodyguards, walking briskly toward them.

“We finally understood why. It was the mayor that was holding us up, of course, and a few people could be heard joking, ‘Late again,’” the passenger said.

“He was walking quite fast, with four or five people, probably security people, and he went straight past everyone onto the plane.”

It is unclear why the mayor was late for the plane, but his NYPD security personnel had to radio the airline security to hold it for him, sources said.

The witness said the mayor and his security personnel were seated first, and then the rest of the passengers were allowed to board the plane.

NYPost add some more details

A JetBlue spokesman denied that the airline held the flight and its more than 100 passengers at the behest of City Hall. “It’s not our policy to hold a flight specifically for a dignitary or VIP,” said the spokesman, Morgan Johnston.

But he conceded planes are sometimes held at the pilot’s discretion.

“Our crew members are trusted to recognize extenuating circumstances, though, and are empowered to bring those to the team for review of potential operation impact,” Johnston added.

“It’s not unheard of for us to take a delay for connecting customers, groups, or simply a customer running late for the last flight of the day.”
Johnston refused to confirm that the mayor’s security detail or his office asked for the delay.

Me thinks that NYPost does not think too highly of King Bill. In the article the mention a previous incident where mayor was late for a Flight 587 memorial (which went down in 20010 and apparently had asked for the service time to be delayed. The NYPOST have even given Bill a nickname : Hizzoner, a corruption of “his Honor”.

You can always rely on a tabloid paper to come up with a solution to a problem so what the Post do?

“The Post gave the mayor a West Elm alarm clock without a snooze button to thoughtfully match the $65,000 in furniture the Brooklyn company provided at no charge to decorate Gracie Mansion”.

Ciao for now, Cleo.

PS: I wonder if Jet Blue will extend such extended check in to Emperors of Roam?


“Knock me down with a feather, Terror Heather.” : Song list for Heather Cho

Nero's Spotify playlist for Heather ChoCleopatra has taken great delight in writing about the rise and stratospheric fall of Heather Cho, ex-Senior VP of Korean Air Lines. The more story she told, the more songs came into my head.

Well, Boppety bop. Ringy ding ding. Kerrang !

Here are my songs (+Youtube) that communicate to me, the attributes of the Heather Cho story.

  1. Sorry seems to  be the hardest word by Elton John.
  2. RESPECT by Aretha Franklin: This link is to the Blues Brothers version ! Fantastic film, fantastic songs.
  3. You’re so vain by Carly Simon : This probably should be #1 song to summarize Heather. 
  4. Satisfaction by a (very young) Rolling Stones: I can’t get Cho, Satisfaction...
  5. Evil Woman by ELO.  btw, Jeff fantastic gig in Hyde Park Continue reading..

Seoul and Fire (d) : Korean Airline Fires Senior VP over Nutrage abuse

Dahlings, as I watched the sad public apology by Heather ChoEx senior VP of Korea Air Line – who resigned in shame, and was now speaking so quietly there was one thing that I wanted to say to her.

“SPEAK UP ! I CAN”T FLIPPING HEAR YOU”.  After all, it is not as if she is she has never shouted at someone in public before.

Pappa Cho Yang-ho- head of Korean Air – had previously apologized earlier on the same day “as a father and head of Korean Air”.

He called his daughter’s conduct “foolish”, and added: “I beg the people to blame me for the current situation, because everything is my fault… I failed to properly educate my daughter.”

I’m with you on Heather’s education Daddy-0. It seems that instead of doing that Executive MBA from USC and studying under the likes of professor Gregory H. Patton, Heather would have been better off studying history where she may have learned from another Patton – General George S. Patton, ‘Old blood and Guts’ himself – who in 1944, had got himself in the newspapers for slapping soldiers in hospital accusing them of cowardice and had to do a few public apologies.

It seems the Cho family are pretty big on public apologies. Pops had to do some apologizing back in 2000 when he was convicted of tax evasion along with his brother and father for receiving rebates on purchased airplanes.

And would you believe it that Heather’s brother and sister– Walter and Emily – are Vice presidents of Korea Air Lines where Walter is a bad boy wanna be. In 2005, Walt was investigated by the popo for “..pushing an elderly woman who had confronted him about his reckless driving”.

Which leaves us with Emily who we could find no scandal. Nada. Nowt. Not a peep.

Shesh, there’s always one white sheep in the family.

Ciao for now, Cleo

London stalling : Flights around South England in Chaos after computer failure

BBC news is reporting that flights around London are grounded due to a computer failure at UK control center.

Nats confirmed a “technical problem” at its Swanwick control centre in Hampshire and said airspace remained opened but restricted.

It said “every possible action” was being taken to resolve the issue.

Heathrow reported delays and Gatwick said all its departing flights had been grounded. Other UK airports reported knock-on effects.

It appears incoming flights can land but some maybe diverted.

Even when things are running, fridays are horrible at London airports so I can only imagine how miserable this is making fellow Roamans as this is going to back up everything. Urgh.

For those stuck at Heathrow terminal 5, well at least your luggage is staying with you even if it is going nowhere quickly. The other positive is that this didn’t happen over the peak holiday time which starts next weekend.



Underneath the Mango plane me honey

Mango Airlines

Dahlings, As I was waiting for thanksgiving dinner around Augustus’ house, I heard some tittle tattle from some fellow guests about a passenger on South African’ Mango Airline who caused some watery trouble during take off.

Later on and being bored with the guests who were now talking about some talentless Tart wishing to destroy the internet, I made some excuse to leave and research to Mango story. You see, curiosity had the better of me and I HAD to find out if it was Gérard Depardieu up to his old antics again. [Déjà Depardieu vu time? see  In the event of a water landing..]

However, I was shocked to find out it wasn’t a story about our Gallic Gerry, even though the headline and sub-lines sound just like him.

According to the Daily Mail:

Drunken passenger pulls down trousers and urinates in front of passengers on flight… and is made to clean up mess by cabin crew

  • Indecent act occurred on flight from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg
  • Man urinated in aircraft galley after asking to use toilet during take-off
  • He was told to wait but decided to relieve himself next to cabin crew
  • Man was forced to return to his seat after swearing at crew
  • Passenger was detained by authorities when the plane landed

The article suggested that the flight was delayed by 2 hours in Port Elizabeth, which may/may not have been a factor (but there I go again, expecting news papers to give facts).

Another internet source had a statement by Mango spokesperson Hein Kaiser.

“When the commander of a flight advises travellers to fasten their seatbelts, it is for good reason and is standard operating procedure on airlines the world over,” said Kaiser.

He said all the man had to do, if he was desperate to pee, was ask.

“In rare instances, when a traveller’s need for the lavatory is immediate and the urgency occurs during turbulent conditions, the captain may permit use of the ablution facilities.”

What the heck is “ablution factilities”?

I have not heard this word in this manner before. I always thought ablution was the act of washing oneself in a religious context. It turns our that in Urban dictionaries, ablutions’ is Army slang for ‘washing facilities’ or ‘toilets’.

Ah Ha ! Perhaps it was all a simple misunderstanding of vocabulary.

My old friends George and Ira had a song that fits this situation:

You say Tomayto and I say Tomato.
You say toilet and I say ablution facility.
Ablution facility
Ablution facility
Lets call the whole thing off. [and call in security..]

By now, after reading everything , my glass of Champagne (that was really Cava but don’t tell Augustus I knew) does not look so appealing.

Hey ho, time for  a Gin and Tonic.

Ciao for now, Cleo.

Giving their regards to Broadway : Hotel fines guests for leaving ‘stinking hovel’ review on Yelp

Basil, Patron Saint of Hoteliers

Across the Atlantic to Blackpool in North England, where the Broadway Hotel has apparently charged £100 to the credit card of a  couple who left a terrible review on Yelp. [Telegraph].

What a way to get PR where they called it a ‘stinking hovel. Alas there are other reviewers on Yelp that are not to positive about their experiences. For example:

When we arrived at the hotel , you could see the dirt on the carpet all through the hotel, but I thought well I’m not sleeping on the floor so just ignored it, we went into the tiny room x unpacked our cases…… Went out x about, came back around 10pm x went for a sleep it had been a long day. Fire alarm went off so had to get up x see wat was going on, nothing, nobody to be seen, so went back to bed, first thing around 7. Ish, fire alarm again , went off x on again , 4. Times, I went to top of stairs to shout to reception that there was no hot water, the man told me the fire alarm was going off because of steam from Had to laugh coz the hot water was not working, he said the boiler went out during the night… I will fix it he said…half a hour later,,, still no hot water, so no shower for me…

If this sounds similar, it is : see our post “Yelp me if you can, I’m feeling down” about a NY State B&B that tried this. Except previously the Yanks tried a $500 fine. Good to see competition and prices for bad reviews coming down.