TIME Canada

Jet Skids Off Halifax Runway, Sending 25 to Hospital

Air Canada
Andrew Vaughan—AP Air Canada flight 624 rests off the runway after landing at Stanfield International Airport in Halifax, Canada on, March. 29, 2015.

After a "hard landing" in Nova Scotia

An Air Canada passenger jet skidded off the runway after a “hard landing” at the Halifax airport in Nova Scotia, authorities said, sending 25 people to the hospital.

The airline said that Air Canada Flight 624 from Toronto — an Airbus A320 — “exited the runway” upon landing. It said a preliminary count showed 133 passengers and five crew were on board when the incident took place just after midnight local time.

Halifax Stanfield International Airport said its airfield was closed and 25 people were taken to the hospital. The airline said later that 18 had been treated and released.

“We are thankful no serious…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

MONEY Travel

How to Make the Most of the Strong Dollar on Your Summer Vacation

Rock of Cashel, Cashel County, Tipperary, Ireland
Patrick Swan—age fotostock Rock of Cashel, Cashel County, Tipperary, Ireland

Your money will go further in Europe, Canada—even Japan. Here's how to take full advantage of today's Superdollar.

Jane McManus can hardly believe her luck. The New York-based sportswriter for ESPN.com is planning a summer vacation with her family in Ireland.

Following the strength of the U.S. dollar, McManus upgraded their travel plans, reserving a swankier hotel room in Dublin and booking a couple of days at an actual 13th-century castle. The overall cost will be about 30% less than last summer’s vacation to Italy when the dollar was much weaker, McManus estimates.

“Wow, it’s so different,” she marvels.

With the Superdollar near parity with the euro, airfares to Paris are down 14% from a year ago, according to popular travel site Orbitz. Hotel rates have sunk 10% from last year.

London, Rome, and Barcelona are among other popular locales with cheaper hotels and airfares than last year, according to Orbitz data. Travel expert Brian Kelly, known as The Points Guy, also singles out Japan, thanks to the weak yen; Finland, the only Scandinavian country to use the euro; and South Africa, whose currency has sunk by almost half over the last few years.

You do not have to leave North America to feel the impact. Next-door neighbor Canada’s currency has slumped to around 80¢ on the dollar.

As a result, travel trends are already shifting: International air traffic for U.S. citizens in January was up 7.2% over the previous year, according to the National Travel & Tourism Office.

Of course, it is still only March. Currency markets are famously volatile and could turn at any moment. That is why some travelers are wondering how to lock in these favorable exchange rates, and make sure that they are able to see Europe or Canada or Mexico on the cheap.

Your Best Currency Moves

One easy move is to prepay at current rates—not just buying your flights as soon as possible, but hotel rooms and excursions as well.

“Hotels that used to be $160 a night in U.S. dollars are now $130,” says Carl O’Donnell, 23, a New York-based reporter for Mergermarket who is planning a summer jaunt with his girlfriend to historic French-Canadian Quebec City. He is thinking about locking in some prices now.

O’Donnell is tacking on additional days to their trip, and adding pricey excursions like boat rides through fjords in the Quebec countryside. “It feels great to be getting a big discount,” he says.

You can even hedge your cash needs with a foreign-currency bank account. Florida-based EverBank offers a variety, ranging from the Indian rupee to the Chinese renminbi, that you buy at today’s rates to hold and spend later.

“Usually, most of our clients are investors,” says Chris Gaffney, president of world markets for EverBank. “But recently, with the euro hitting multi-year lows, we have seen more people coming to us to lock in travel-related expenses.”

EverBank’s foreign-currency deposit accounts do not charge monthly fees, but do require a $2,500 minimum. Before you depart, Gaffney suggests buying a bank draft, or having the money wired overseas, so you do not have to convert cash back and forth (and get hit with fees both ways).

Another way to hedge your bets is to secure some traveler’s checks now, or load some money onto a prepaid card like the Travelex Cash Passport. (That does come, though, with a card-purchase fee and foreign ATM withdrawal fees at about $2.50 a pop.)

You can even buy a few euros at your local bank to spend later, although you have no consumer protections if that cash gets lost or stolen.

Superdollar savings can be significant. If you had planned a summer trip to Europe that was going to set you back 7,500 euros, and the euro drops from nearly $1.40 to $1.07 (as it has in the past 12 months), you are talking about more than $2,000 in your pocket.

Do not blow any exchange-rate windfall by using the wrong credit card, though.

With every $100 trinket you buy, you might be getting knocked another $2 or $3 for foreign transaction fees without even realizing it. One card Matt Schulz, senior industry analyst for CreditCards.com., likes: Barclay’s Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard, which has no foreign transaction fees.

TIME Environment

Arctic Sea Ice Levels Are at the Lowest Ever Recorded

Ship among icebergs
M. Santini—De Agostini/Getty Images Ship among the icebergs that have broken off the Sermeq Kujalleq ice sheet, Ilulissat, Qaasuitsup, Greenland.

Ice levels also began to retreat early this year

Arctic sea ice levels last winter recorded their lowest peak since satellite monitoring began in 1979, U.S. scientists said Thursday.

According to the University of Colorado’s Snow and Ice Data Center, Arctic ice levels crowned on Feb. 25 with a maximum extent of 14.54 million sq. km — 130,000 sq. km less than the previous record low set in 2011, and 1.1 million sq. km lower than the 1981-2010 recorded average.

The drop was also widespread, with below-average ice levels recorded everywhere except for the Labrador Sea between Greenland and Canada and the Davis Strait slightly further north.

The data center did say that a late season surge in ice growth is still conceivable, but unlikely to match the winter’s high-point. Meaning this year’s Feb. 25 peak date was two weeks earlier than the average. The earliest ice-level maximum was in 1996, reaching its ceiling only one day earlier on Feb. 24.

Recent weather patterns were partly to blame for the melting ice, with an unusual jet stream bringing unseasonably warm temperatures to the Pacific side of the Arctic.

 

TIME Italy

Italian Politician Looks to Highlight Gay Rights by Getting Married in Canada

Nicola Vendola attends the 'Che Tempo Che Fa' Italian TV Show on March 18, 2013, in Milan, Italy.
Stefania D'Alessandro—Getty Images Nicola Vendola attends the Che Tempo Che Fa Italian TV Show on March 18, 2013, in Milan

“From their elevated social rung they don’t really understand what it means to live in a country where homophobia kills"

Nicola Vendola, one of the first openly gay politicians in Italy, has announced his plan to marry his Canadian partner in Canada, as Italy has no current plan to legalize gay marriage.

The 56-year-old LGBT activist, who is also the left-wing representative for the traditionally conservative southern region of Puglia, is giving serious thoughts on starting a family and having children, Agence France-Presse reports.

“Everything is going to change, I’m going to marry Ed,” Vendola said about his partner Eddy Testa.

Although Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has announced plans to allow same-sex civil partnerships, the influential Catholic Church vehemently opposes extending this to nuptials.

Vendola also clashed with Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, Italy’s influential gay fashion-designer duo, who recently drew the wrath of pop legend Elton John by describing children born to gay parents via IVF as “synthetic babies.”

“From their elevated social rung they don’t really understand what it means to live in a country where homophobia kills and the lack of basic rights weighs heavily on many people’s lives,” said Vendola.

[AFP]

TIME animals

Canadian Tourist Fatally Injured by Jumping Whale in Mexico

A gray whale during its travel by the Pacific ocean coasts, Mexico March 5, 2008
Alejandro Zepeda—EPA A gray whale during its travel by the Pacific ocean coasts, Mexico March 5, 2008

Two other injured tourists were taken to hospital

(CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico) — A Canadian woman died from injuries sustained when a gray whale crashed into a tourist boat as it returned from a short excursion out of the resort city of Cabo San Lucas in Mexico.

Two other passengers were injured in the accident, which took place close to the beach around 11am on Wednesday, according to a statement released by tour company Cabo Adventures.

“The captain had to make a movement to avoid a whale that surfaced just in front of the boat,” the statement said. “The whale hit one side of the boat, leaving two people injured and another passenger hurt who, unfortunately, later died in hospital.”

Port director Vicente Martínez said the woman was 45 years old. Some reports said she was 10 years younger. The collision happened on the Pacific coast side of the Baja California Peninsula. One reported version said the whale jumped out of the water and landed on the boat filled with 24 people, including the crew.

The confusingly worded statement from the tour company appeared to suggest that the victim fell into the water during the collision. Once she was pulled back into the boat, it said, she immediately received mouth to mouth resuscitation from another tourist who happened to be a qualified nurse before naval rescue paramedics arrived and took her to the hospital.

Two other injured tourists were also taken to hospital – one was later discharged and the other’s life was not in danger, the statement said.

Cabo San Lucas promotes whale watching among its major attractions, promising tourists safe and awe-inspiring encounters with the huge docile mammals that every winter migrate thousands of miles from Arctic waters to warm shallow lagoons off the Mexican coast where they breed.

The fatality happened on the same day that Mexican authorities announced a particularly high number of gray whales had gathered in the area during this year’s season, which runs from mid-December to the end of April.

The National Commission for Natural Protected Areas said its census indicated a 10% increase on last season, making it one of the highest migrations registered during the last two decades.

Read next: Wild Beaver Colony in England to Be Set Free After Being Cleared of Disease

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Canada

Canada Town to Fine Residents for Spitting in Public

Residents will also face fines for shouting and swearing

A Canadian town adopted a measure in late February that would fine residents for unseemly behavior, according to a report.

Residents of Taber, Alberta can now be fined 75 Canadian dollars [$59] for spitting in public or on someone else’s private property, the Lethbridge Herald reports. Shouting and cursing in public could prompt a ticket of 150 Canadian dollars [$119].

Many residents are concerned about another section of the new bylaw, which says that a gathering of three or more people could be fined 250 Canadian dollars [$198] if an officer determines that the group intends to disturb the peace.

Despite controversy, Taber’s mayor, Henk De Vlieger, said he still supports the measure.

“I’m not saying this thing is perfect, but I think we should give it a chance and try it out, and let the police work with it,” he said, according to the Lethbridge Herald. “After a period of time, we might make some adjustments, but let’s see how it works.”

[Lethbridge Herald]

TIME celebrities

No, It’s Not a Crime to Make the Face on a Canadian $5 Bill Look Like Spock

Nimoy poses at the party for the release of the Blu-Ray DVD of "Star Trek Into Darkness" at the California Science Center in Los Angeles
Mario Anzuoni—Reuters Leonard Nimoy poses at a party celebrating the DVD release of "Star Trek Into Darkness" at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, California on Sept. 10, 2013

However, officials said defacing banknotes was “inappropriate"

Canadians honoring the memory of Leonard Nimoy by altering older versions of the country’s $5 bill to look like Star Trek’s Spock are not breaking the law, according to officials.

Canucks have long been touching up Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s features with black ink to make the country’s seventh Prime Minister resemble the famed Vulcan.

But following Nimoy’s death last week, Canadians have been posting images of their own revamped $5 notes online en masse, sparking fears that an untold number were breaking the law.

On Monday, the Bank of Canada dispelled rumors that it’s illegal to deface or even “mutilate” the country’s currency, according to a report in the Canadian Press.

However, the country’s fiscal authorities pointed out that marring the national currency could be deemed disrespectful.

“The Bank of Canada feels that writing and markings on banknotes are inappropriate as they are a symbol of our country and a source of national pride,” Josianne Menard, a spokesperson from the Bank of Canada, told the Canadian Press.

TIME North Korea

Canadian Pastor Feared Detained in North Korea

Reverend Hyeon Soo Lim had previously traveled to North Korea on many occasions without incident

Fears are growing for a Canadian pastor currently in North Korea who has not been heard from since Jan. 31 when he was invited by officials to the capital Pyongyang, according to a well-known South Korean activist.

Reverend Hyeon Soo Lim, of the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Toronto, has been to North Korea “hundreds of times,” a fellow church member in Canada said, but has never been out of communication for this long before, the AFP reports.

Initially, friends thought the 60-year-old’s lack of communication was due to the 21-day quarantine imposed on foreign visitors due to the Ebola virus, but that time period has now expired.

“As far as I know, he was asked by officials to come to Pyongyang on Jan. 31 before he went incommunicado,” Reverend Chun Ki-Won, a personal acquaintance of Hyeon’s, told AFP.

It is now feared that his disappearance is connected to some of the food-related humanitarian efforts he was involved in, as these projects had been tied to associates of Jang Song-Thaek, national leader Kim Jong Un’s late uncle, who was arrested and executed in 2012.

Religious freedom is severely restricted in North Korea, and foreign missionaries are often treated with strong suspicion. A few have been allowed in to help humanitarian efforts, but those caught proselytizing or participating in unauthorized activities are immediately arrested.

The Canadian government has not yet confirmed Hyeon’s disappearance.

[AFP]

MONEY Odd Spending

‘Spocking': The Weird Way to Ruin Money and Pay Tribute to Leonard Nimoy

To honor Leonard Nimoy and the iconic character he played on Star Trek, all you need is a $5 Canadian banknote and a black marker.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier was a prime minister in Canada from 1896 to 1911, and his face is featured on the Canadian $5 bill. Apparently, some feel his face also resembles Leonard Nimoy, the instantly recognizable actor who served as Star Trek‘s Spock, and who died last week.

Starting a few years back, someone thought it would be funny to take older versions of Canada’s $5 banknotes and artfully add some black ink to the profile of Laurier—darkening and extending the eyebrow, sharpening up the tip of the ear, scratching in a dark bowl-shaped helmet full of hair—so that the resulting image looked like Spock. (Another version of this game turned Laurier’s mug into Severus Snape from the Harry Potter series.)

Now that Nimoy has passed away, fans of the actor and the highly logical Vulcan he played on TV and the movies are being encouraged to “Spock” their Canadian $5 bills in tribute. The “Spock Your Fives” Facebook page—yes, there is such as thing, founded in 2008—has heralded the “revival” of Spocking Fives. As you’d guess, word of this curious activity has spread on social media, like so:

The parody Twitter account @PMLaurier—yes, there is such a thing—recently wished “Adieu to the great Leonard Nimoy” in a Tweet that showed one of the manipulated bills, noting that he was “Honoured so many Canadians thought we looked alike and would ‘Spock’ their $5 bills.”

As for where and how, exactly, the idea of “Spocking” currency first began, the “Spock Your Fives” Facebook page only has this to say: “The origins of this mysterious tradition are shrouded in secrecy, although it is widely believed to be totally awesome.”

TIME Canada

Canadian City To Overturn Ban on Sledding

Hamilton lawmakers say they will legalize tobogganing

A city in Canada that banned sledding after it was sued more than three decades ago plans to scrap the ban and take its chances.

“You can’t take the fun out of winter,” said Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger, CBC reports. “In a perfect world, I would love it if people didn’t sue the city, but we can’t stop anyone from suing us for whatever reason. We can’t shut down our entire city.”

The City Council voted Wednesday to look into establishing designated tobogganing areas as well as other options to legalize the pastime, according to CBC.

Currently, violators are liable to face up to a $1,600 fine thanks to a bylaw first established in the 1970s after someone sued the city following a tobogganing accident. Another suit forced the city to pay more than $700,000 in 2004.

[CBC]

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