Current Events and Blog

15May 2018

GDPR And Lessons From The Credit Card Chip Rollout – AdExchanger


Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Ryan Eney, director, legal, at OpenX.

In 2016, the retail and finance ecosystem was shaken up with the US introduction of EMV, the global credit card chip technology retailers were required to use when consumers made in-store purchases.

In years leading up to 2016, highly visible credit card fraud schemes surged. Privacy and fraud were top of mind for everyone in the supply chain, from retailers and payment providers that facilitated the transactions to the consumers who ultimately suffered the most. The industry recognized that substantial changes and a standardized approach were needed for greater consumer protections, and EMV – named after Europay, MasterCard and Visa, which created the standard – was rolled out.

While it was a big step forward for consumer protection, it also had a large impact on retailers that were forced to revamp their payment infrastructure. New systems were rolled out across the country, and banks and credit card providers issued hundreds of millions of new cards, allowing the EMV chip to become the norm in less than 24 months.

Like the EMV requirement rollout, the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) makes progress toward protecting consumers’ privacy, and the businesses affected must complete significant upfront work to comply. Ahead of the fast-approaching May deadline, the successes and failures of the EMV rollout can serve as a useful example.

EMV was one of the largest changes to payments in decades, and the first step toward compliance was to understand its scope.

With EMV, retailers became responsible for any fraud that occurred with their credit card processors, a liability that was previously carried by credit card companies. Similarly, advertisers and publishers face serious financial implications if they fail to comply with GDPR – up to 20 million euros in fines, or 4% of revenue.

Overcommunicate

Ahead of GDPR, advertisers and publishers should overcommunicate. During the EMV rollout, consumers were justifiably confused and frustrated. The chip insertion process is much slower than the traditional credit card swipe, and consumers directed their frustration at retailers. But had they known that the chip is more secure than the swipe, they likely would have been more open to the change.

For GDPR, an analogous issue will arise when publishers ask for consumers’ consent to use their data. Under the new regulation, publishers must clearly ask consumers to give consent for the use of their data rather than relying on obscure terms and conditions. They should clearly remind customers that it’s designed to protect their privacy to circumvent any pushback and confusion as the regulation goes into effect.

Consumers may be confused or alarmed by the sudden ask from brands, perceiving that their information is less secure if publishers are communicating more thoroughly about their process.

Watch partnerships

With the EMV rollout, retailers needed payment processors that could accept EMV payments and ensure a seamless process that was consistent from retailer to retailer. If they didn’t pick the right partners, they risked missing the deadline and, even worse, taking the blame for the poor user experience.

With GDPR, liability is also shared among all partners. A publisher could be compliant, but if it works with a single partner that is not compliant, then the publisher isn’t compliant either.

Think beyond May 25

The EMV rollout forced retailers to overhaul credit card terminals. It was costly and time-consuming, but smart retailers viewed it as an opportunity rather than a challenge. Retailers update credit card processors infrequently, which made the EMV rollout an ideal time for retailers to consider new payment options, such as Apple Pay.

Similarly, advertisers should view GDPR as a catalyst for positive change. Quality is the No. 1 issue in digital media and advertising. Protecting consumer privacy is important, but that’s only one element of the quality discussion. We should use GDPR’s privacy discussions as a time to also address fraud and subpar advertising experiences.

While there was short-term pain for retailers and consumers during the EMV rollout, the regulation was a positive development for the industry. GDPR will likely do the same. As EMV showed us, change can be a good thing.

Follow OpenX (@OpenX) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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15May 2018

The best new way to earn frequent flyer points – Travel Weekly – Travel Weekly


Travel Agents

Big Fat Agent Wrap

by Vanessa Bussoletti

It doesn’t get more jam-packed than this, readers. Unless you count our jam sandwich because that’s overflowing all over our desk.

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Tourism

“We’re all getting robbed”: Vic tourism hit by scam

by Hannah Edensor

At least nine Victorian tourist attractions have been hit by a credit card scam. We too were busted for buying clothes under our boss’s name but only to avoid buyers shame in the office.

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Hotels

What can you actually take from hotel rooms?

We could tell you this was an exclusive insight into what you can get away with stealing from hotels, but we’d be lying. We nicked it off an online forum.

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Aviation

At last, Qantas inflight Wi-Fi takes off

by Hannah Edensor

As 56% of travellers get stoked about Qantas’ inflight Wi-Fi, our concern lies with the other 44% who clearly hate looking at cats on YouTube.

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Destinations

Travel warnings for Gallipoli after terror threats

by Hannah Edensor

New updates on Smart Traveller have upgraded warnings for Turkey with news Anzac Day commemorations could be a target of terror attacks.

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Travel Agents

Flavour of the Week

Find out who won new roles & who fell on their swords in this week’s Flavour of the Week. Yes, we added that sword bit for effect.

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Cruise

Cruising for young travellers is finally here

This first of its kind cruise brand had us at ‘Wine & Paint Classes’ because it combines two of our favourite things. Well, one, we hate painting.

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Technology

52% of travellers swayed by Facebook photos: study

All of our Facebook friends’ photos inspired us to travel. And by ‘friends’ we mean the public profiles we stalk because we only have 4 friends.

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Tourism

Is your boss the Executive of the Year?

We tried to nominate ourselves for this award, but apparently ignoring the boss and pretending to be your own boss doesn’t actually make you CEO.

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Travel Agents

Final week of LAX agent incentive kicks off

We’re re-running this again from Monday (minus the typos). You get déjà vu & we do less work. A win-win, we say.

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Destinations

A world of special Sunshine Coast Deals

by Vanessa Bussoletti

Visit Sunshine Coast has partnered with Escape Travel to launch a major new campaign offering a wide range of activities […]

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Hotels

Big Fat Hotel Wrap

by Vanessa Bussoletti

If you read one thing today make sure it’s Travel Weekly’s hotel wrap. Actually, your medication instructions and train timetable probably take priority.

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14May 2018

In a pinch, Nick Williams earning some rewards with Phillies – Bucks Local News


PHILADELPHIA >> Nick Williams may never be happy as a role-playing, sometimes-starting, pinch-hitting outfielder. The difference is: He is less likely to make that known than he was a month ago.

“The last couple of days, and maybe even more, he’s matured,” Gabe Kapler said Sunday. “His attitude at the ballpark has been tremendous. His work ethic has been outstanding.”

Williams clubbed a sixth-inning Paul Sewald slider deep into the right field seats Sunday for a three-run, pinch-hit homer that helped the Phillies defeat the New York Mets, 4-2.

Earlier this season, Williams was found displeased with what he’d perceived as “computers” determining an outfield rotation that often keeps him out of the starting lineup. After quickly walking back that attitude, Williams has mellowed. Sunday, he provided his second pinch home run of the season.

“Man, what a tremendous job off the bench,” Kapler said. “What a difficult thing to do, to come off the bench and lay the fat part of the bat on the ball and get the ball out of the ballpark. That was a really impressive at-bat and it’s a big reward for him.”

Williams has seven pinch hits, tied with Chase Utley for the second most in baseball behind only Tommy La Stella of the Cubs, who has eight. Though hitting just .229, Williams is 7-for-15 as a pinch-hitter.

“I think this has matured me a lot,” he said. “It’s a situation I’ve never been in. I think it’s helped me in general grow as a player and a person. I think I am learning the game a lot better. The chances I do get I feel are helping me be a complete hitter.”

With that, he has been less likely to complain about the Phillies’ technology, or the manager that has all of its passwords.

“He’s the skip,” Williams said. “He’s the man in charge. It’s always nice to hear some good words. And I hope to keep this momentum going.”

Maybe Kapler’s computer is functioning properly.

“It’s a reminder that you don’t have to start a baseball game to win a baseball game for your team,” Kapler said. “He did that today and I’m really proud of him.”

***

After Hector Neris blew a save Friday night, Kapler used Edubray Ramos in the ninth Sunday.

Naturally, he attempted to make it sound as if the decision was no reflection on Neris.

“We’ve said that we’re going to use the best option, given what’s up in that spot,” the manager said. “Sometimes, that’s going to be Hector. Sometimes, it’s going to be Ramos. Sometimes, it’s going to be others.

“Hector is going to be given opportunities to close out games this season. But we’re going to be creative, and we’re going to match up effectively. We owe that to the Philadelphia Phillies, to protect our team with the best possible matchups.”

Ramos was ready for the moment, though he did walk Brandon Nimmo with two outs, bringing Asdrubal Cabrera up as the potential tying run. Cabrera lined to Rhys Hoskins in left to end the game.

“I truly believe we have a really good bullpen,” said Ramos, after his first career save. “I think we are all ready for any situation in any inning. I trust the guys. We have good trust in one another and I feel the manager is the same way.”

***

Carlos Santana hit his fifth home run in his last eight games, inflating a lead to 4-2 in the eighth. The first baseman has 16 RBIs in his last eight games.

“I’m feeling more relaxed and not trying too much,” Santana said. “I’m trying to make good contact. Before, I tried too much. I’m just thinking, ‘Play my game, help my team, play good defense, run hard,’ and right now, everything is positive.”

***

NOTES >> Odubel Herrera was 1-for-3 and has reached base in 41 consecutive games dating to last season. … Yoenis Cespedes, who homered in the sixth, has six home runs in his last seven Citizens Bank Park games. … The Phillies are off Monday and will begin a two-game series in Baltimore Tuesday night at 7:05. Nick Pivetta (2-2, 4.15 ERA) will face righthander Andrew Cashner (1-4, 4.84). … In 11 May games, Phillies starting pitchers have 67 strikeouts and a 1.99 ERA.

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14May 2018

The worst times to travel on Memorial Day weekend – CNBC


If you plan to travel this Memorial Day weekend, you will have plenty of company.

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A record number of Americans — more than 41.5 million — are expected to take to the roads, tarmacs and water on the weekend that kicks off the official start of summer, according to travel organization AAA.

That is the highest number of travelers in more than 12 years and about a 5 percent increase from last year, according to AAA’s research.

Gas prices, which averaged $2.72 in April, are also poised to be the highest for the holiday weekend since 2014.

“When people are planning these trips, they do so months in advance,” AAA spokeswoman Tamra Johnson said. While gas prices have risen since then, that doesn’t usually deter people once they’ve made plans, she said.

The good news for travellers is that airfares have fallen 7 percent from last Memorial Day to an average of $168 for a round-trip flight for popular domestic routes.

A daily car rental will cost an average of $59, 11 percent cheaper than last year and the lowest rate in the past four years.

The busiest days for travel over the holiday weekend are expected to be Thursday, May 24, and Friday, May 25.

Here are the worst days and times to travel, according to global analytics company INRIX, which partnered with AAA for the study.

The report also looked at the top Memorial Day destinations based on advance travel bookings made through AAA.

Here’s the cities that will get more crowded over the four-day weekend.

The popularity of Seattle and Anchorage as destinations point to the popularity of Alaskan cruises, Johnson said.

More from Personal Finance:
How to make sure your summer vacation won’t wreck your finances
Your credit score may have just jumped. Here’s why
Find out whether you’re prepared to handle this hurricane season

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14May 2018

Barred From Travel, Najib Faces Malaysia Wrath Over 1MDB Secrets – Bloomberg


As Malaysia’s most powerful man, Najib Razak worked hard to keep the public from accessing information about a multi-billion dollar scandal at state fund 1MDB. Now they just might find out all the juicy details.

Only three days after 92-year-old Mahathir Mohamad secured a shocking election win, he barred Najib from leaving Malaysia and said he’d reopen a graft probe targeting the fund. He also said he was replacing the attorney-general who cleared Najib and instructed the auditor-general to declassify a 1MDB report that was protected by the Official Secrets Act.

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Najib Razak

Photographer: Ore Huiying/Bloomberg

It’s a stunning turn of events for Najib, who has long denied any wrongdoing and aggressively hit back at detractors after 2015 revelations that around $700 million — alleged to be 1MDB funds — appeared in his personal accounts before the prior election in 2013. Najib had fired his top prosecutor, expelled four cabinet ministers who defied him, filed defamation lawsuits and blocked websites of critical news outlets.

A revitalized probe would reverberate around the world, with investigations ongoing in a number of countries. The U.S. has alleged the fund’s officials laundered more than $4.5 billion through a complex web of opaque transactions and fraudulent shell companies located from Switzerland to Singapore to the U.S. — a scheme U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in December called “kleptocracy at its worst.”

Shedding light on 1MDB is only one part of Mahathir’s move to root out corruption after a scandal that even Najib admitted hurt Malaysia’s international reputation. Mahathir is investigating government agencies and barring all civil servants from receiving material gifts and donations.

QuickTake: Malaysia’s 1MDB Spurs Voter Backlash, Global Probes

The Department of Justice has sought to seize about $1.7 billion in assets it says were illegally acquired with 1MDB cash, including art, real estate, a luxury yacht and proceeds from Hollywood movie “The Wolf of Wall Street." Meanwhile Singapore and Switzerland reprimanded banks such as UBS Group AG and JPMorgan Chase & Co. for anti-money laundering lapses.

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Malaysian police block the road leading to Razak’s residence in Kuala Lumpur on May 13.

Photographer: Roslan Rahman/AFP via Getty Images

“If there are any fresh transactions uncovered, this could trigger off related money laundering criminal and civil investigations worldwide,” said Nizam Ismail, head of regulatory practice at RHTLaw Taylor Wessing LLP in Singapore.

Investor Caution

Investors were cautious after Malaysia’s financial markets reopened on Monday. The FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI Index traded little changed as of 9:33 a.m. in Kuala Lumpur, after plunging as much as 2.7 percent earlier, while the ringgit was down 0.9 percent against the dollar — the most in 18 months.

The government will formulate an economic policy that restores investor confidence in Malaysia after the 1MDB scandal, Lim Guan Eng, who was named finance minister, said in a briefing on Sunday in Penang.

The latest drama unfolded on Saturday after reports emerged that Najib planned to fly to Indonesia with his wife in a private jet, prompting an angry crowd to gather at a local airport. Hours later, the immigration department said it blacklisted Najib, and Mahathir confirmed he personally placed travel restrictions on his former protege.

‘Very Complex’

Najib said he’d respect the order, and apologized “for any shortcomings and mistakes.” By nightfall, he had quit his position as leader of the United Malays National Organisation, which until last week had run the country since independence in 1957.

Mahathir has said his predecessor “will have to face the consequences” for any wrongdoing with 1MDB, which was first set up in 2009 to fund infrastructure projects with Najib as chairman of its advisory board. On Saturday, Mahathir said he wanted a new probe concluded “as quickly as possible.”

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Mahathir Mohamad

Photographer: Ore Huiying/Bloomberg

“It is a very complex thing because it involves a lot of people, it involves a lot of decisions made, and the money you know has to be investigated as to the money laundering,” he said. “We have to contact America, Switzerland, Singapore.”

While assets seized by other governments could be returned quickly, it would take more time to hunt down missing funds, said Lim Chee Wee, a Malaysia lawyer and former member of the anti-corruption agency’s operations review panel from 2014 to 2016.

“I am confident that through extensive and persistent investigation, it should be recoverable — albeit through the passage of time,” he said.

‘Genuine Donation’

Under that scenario, Malaysia’s police, anti-corruption agency and central bank would reopen investigations and submit reports to the new attorney general, who would decide whether to bring charges against Najib. Mahathir over the weekend didn’t name a candidate for the role.

In 2016, the then-attorney general cleared Najib after saying the money in his account was a “personal donation” from a Saudi royal family member, and most of it was returned. Saudi Arabia said it was a “genuine donation,” without explaining the purpose of the funds.

“It’s been cleared, there’s been no wrongdoing — I stand by it,’’ Najib said in an interview last month. “You cannot just accuse somebody of being a thief or anything unless there is evidence.’’

Now Najib must wait to see if any new evidence is uncovered. While he can appeal the travel ban, authorities have broad powers to keep it in place for an extended period if they can show the cases are proceeding without unreasonable delays.

The new attorney-general would have to show there was bad faith or malfeasance in the initial decision to clear Najib in order to bring charges, according to Eugene Tan, an associate professor of law at the Singapore Management University.

His advice for Najib: “To expect that earlier exonerations would be revoked, and that he can expect criminal charges and civil suits.”

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    13May 2018

    Share Checked Luggage With Your Travel Companion in Case a Bag Gets Lost – Lifehacker


    Image: Pexels

    I travel a good bit, so I’ve started to reach a point where not too many travel “hacks” surprise me. However, this week a friend of mine made a suggestion I was surprised I hadn’t thought of before: splitting your checked items across two suitcases with a friend.

    The idea behind this is this if one of you lose your suitcase, you both will still have the things you need to get by until the MIA suitcase makes its way to your destination.

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    Pack Your Carry-On As If the Airline Would Lose Your Checked Luggage

    If there’s one thing that’s more frustrating than ridiculously long security lines at the airport,…

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    Personally, I try to avoid checking a bag whenever possible, but sometimes doing so is pretty unavoidable. When you’re traveling for a week or more, especially to a colder climate that calls for bulkier clothes, then you probably need to go for that larger bag.

    If you’re traveling with a partner or friend, rather than carrying your own individual suitcases, split the load between each of you. For instance, when my boyfriend and I travel to France later this year I might put half my outfits in his bag and half of his in mine. If he’s traveling with two warm sweaters, I’ll take one and he can take the other. It goes without saying, but does this swap together so you know what’s inside your bag if an airport employee asks.

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    Yes, both of our bags could wind up lost since we’re on the same itinerary, but this sort of hedges your bets a bit so you have a better chance of making it to your destination with half your stuff rather than nothing.

    And obviously, even when you split stuff makes sure you’re carrying on essentials like your house keys and important documents and medications. While your checked luggage will probably make it (in the over 100+ flights I’ve checked a bag they’ve only lost mine once), you’re still better safe than sorry.

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    13May 2018

    Chili's reports data breach may affect some customers credit card information – KGO-TV


    Chili’s restaurants have reported that a data breach may have affected some customers’ credit and debit card information.

    According to a news release, On May 11, the chain learned that some of their customer’s payment information was compromised at a “certain Chili’s restaurant.”

    The company says the data breach was limited between March and April 2018, but they are continuing to assess the incident.

    The release stated that they were working with third party forensic experts to conduct an investigation to determine what led to the breach.

    The company says they believe that malware was used to gather payment card information including credit or debit card numbers, as well as, cardholder names from their payment systems.

    Chili’s said customers personal information such as social security numbers, full dates of birth, and federal identification numbers were not compromised.

    Out of caution, they say that anyone who used a payment card at a Chili’s Restaurant during March and April should contact all three national credit reporting agencies as soon as possible to place a fraud alert on their record.

    (Copyright ©2018 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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    12May 2018

    Macy's Star Rewards loyalty program now open to all customers – TCPalm


    CLOSE

    This video from retailer Macy's shows the new Mobile Checkout demonstrates how consumers will be able to use its mobile app to pay for items. The feature is scheduled to be in all of its full-line stores by the end of this year.
    Video via Macy's Inc.

    You no longer need a Macy’s credit card to join its Star Rewards Program.

    The retailer has opened up the loyalty program to all customers, regardless of how they pay for purchases.

    “Since the relaunch of Star Rewards last fall, our customers have responded with tremendous enthusiasm for enhanced benefits and rewards they received as part of the program,” said Rich Lennox, Macy’s chief marketing officer in a news release. “With the addition of the Bronze level, we’ve made earning rewards simple for everyone.”

    In February, Macy’s officials credited the rewards program that launched last October for helping boost company profits.

    Similar to Kohl’s and J.C. Penney’s loyalty programs, credit cardholders often get extra perks and can earn rewards on purchases faster than non-cardholders.

    Macy’s cardholders are automatically enrolled in the program and are placed in three levels — silver, gold or platinum — based on how much they spend annually.

    Macy’s officials announced there also are new benefits for all members including “Star Money Days,” extra savings and a birthday surprise.

    With Star Money Days customers can earn bonus points toward “Star Money,” which can be used on all merchandise with no exclusions. For every 1,000 points, members get a $10 Star Money reward.

    According to the program’s fine print, the value of a member’s birthday surprise may vary and a purchase at Macy’s or the website is required.

    Non-credit cardholders can enroll for the new bronze level in stores, online at www.macys.com/StarRewards or through the Macy’s smartphone app.

    Star Rewards for all

    Here are the levels and the perks of the upgraded program:

    • Bronze: All customers are eligible for Star Money Days, Perks & Offers and a Birthday Surprise.
    • Silver: Macy’s credit card customers spending up to $499 annually with their credit card get any day 25 percent off  Star Pass coupons in addition to bronze benefits.
    • Gold: Customers who spend $500 to $1,199 annually on a Macy’s card receive all the bronze and silver benefits plus get free shipping on all Macy’s purchases when they use the store credit card.
    • Platinum: Spending $1,200 or more, customers get all the other benefits, plus get free shipping on all Macy’s purchases and earn 5 percent back in rewards on all Macy’s merchandise purchases in-store and online with no exclusions when they use a Macy’s credit card.

    More: Macy’s buoyed by brisk sales, popular new loyalty program

    Kelly Tyko is a consumer columnist and retail reporter for Treasure Coast Newspapers and TCPalm.com, part of the USA TODAY NETWORK. Read her Bargainista tips at TCPalm.com/Bargainista and follow her on Twitter @KellyTyko. Sign up for her weekly newsletter at www.tcpalm.com/featured-newsletter/bargainistabest.

    Read or Share this story: https://www.tcpalm.com/story/money/business/bargainista/2018/05/10/macys-now-rewarding-all-customers-star-rewards-program/600367002/

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    12May 2018

    'Starlight Tourism Destination' Earns World Travel Nomination – Space.com



    Miguel Claro is a professional photographer, author and science communicator based in Lisbon, Portugal, who creates spectacular images of the night sky. As a European Southern Observatory photo ambassador, a member of The World At Night and the official astrophotographer of the Dark Sky Alqueva Reserve, he specializes in astronomical skyscapes that connect Earth and the night sky. 

    Portugal's Dark Sky Alqueva Reserve, the world's first "starlight tourism destination," has been nominated for the World Travel Awards in the category Europe's Leading Tourist Attraction. The reserve is the only "astrotourism" nominee in the category. 

    The World Travel Awards are known as the "Oscars of tourism" and recognize every sector of the tourism industry. Voting for the 2018 World Travel Awards ends before May 20. 

    Dark Sky Alqueva is a nongovernmental and nonprofit organization and a first-time nominee. The stargazing destination, which features some of the darkest and clearest skies on Earth thanks to a lack of light pollution, will compete against famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Colosseum in Rome, the Acropolis in Athens, the Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona and London's Buckingham Palace.

    Even if you've never visited Dark Sky Alqueva, you can still take a virtual tour and see some of the celestial sights it has to offer in this video. You'll see stars, meteors, planets and the Milky Way light up the sky over historic buildings and serene landscapes. [Light Pollution Is a Big Problem, But You Can Help] 

    Dark Sky Alqueva was the first Starlight Tourism Destination in the world, receiving certification from Starlight Foundation in 2011. The reserve covers an area of 3,900 square miles (10,000 square kilometers) around Lake Alqueva. It includes both sides of the border between Portugal and Spain, making it the first cross-border Starlight Destination in the world, too. With the quality of the sky already certified by the Starlight Foundation in nine Portuguese municipalities in the reserve — Alandroal, Barrancos, Moura, Mourão, Reguengos de Monsaraz, Portel, Évora, Mértola and Serpa — Dark Sky Alqueva offers a diversity of daytime and nighttime activities.

    The official Dark Sky Observatory in Cumeada, the headquarters of the reserve, is located in a small village near Reguengos de Monsaraz. The recovered building is an old primary school rehabilitated by the Municipality of Reguengos to make a home for the observatory. All the public lights from the entire village were replaced with LED lights in 2016 pointed toward the ground to reduce light pollution. This effort to respect the night sky is a partnership among the main power supplier operating in Portugal (EDP), the municipality and Dark Sky Alqueva. 

    Whenever the observatory is operating, the light flux from the entire village can be reduced by 90 percent using a smartphone app (which is only available to local officials). With the street lights glowing at 10 percent of their usual brightness, skywatchers can clearly make out the Milky Way, without making the roads and surrounding areas too dark, so residents remain safe. 

    The wide-open spaces around Alqueva make possible a variety of activities to supplement observing and photographing the pristine night sky. All images were captured by astrophotographer Miguel Claro

    The wide-open spaces around Alqueva make possible a variety of activities to supplement observing and photographing the pristine night sky. All images were captured by astrophotographer Miguel Claro

    Credit: Miguel Claro

    The observatory is equipped with cutting-edge telescopes for solar and astronomical observations. Using these instruments, visitors can observe the planets, look at the craters on the moon, and move on to the deeper sky for a cosmic journey among nebulas and galaxies and the swarms of stars in one of the finest skies in the world. 

    The wide-open spaces around Alqueva also offer daytime activities; visitors can relax at sunset with a cocktail or taking part in a blind wine-tasting under starlight. Outdoors, visitors can go walking in the surrounding nature, take horseback rides under the moonlight, or participate in astrophotography workshops for both beginners and those who are more experienced.

    Dark Sky Alqueva also has a network of partners, such as the Alqueva Dark Sky Route, which oversees the accommodations and tourist activities in the area. These include nighttime canoeing, boat excursions on the lake, hot-air balloon rides, paddle boarding, yoga and sports.

    There is a range of places to stay in the Alentejan countryside where the reserve is located, along with a variety of restaurants.

    To see more of Claro's amazing astrophotography, visit his website, www.miguelclaro.com. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.

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    12May 2018

    The 3 Best Credit Cards for American Airlines Flyers – Forbes


    Forbes has partnered with The Points Guy for our coverage of credit card products. Forbes and The Points Guy receive a commission from Citi.

    American Airline’s passengers have plenty of credit card options to choose from. Unlike Delta and United which each have exclusive card agreements with a single bank (Amex and Chase respectively), American Airlines cards are issues by both Citi and Barclays. Today I’ll take a look at the best options available to AA fliers, whether you’re looking to chase elite status, boost your mileage balance, or simply enjoy some premium perks.

    Photo by Shutterstock.com

    Many of the Citi AAdvantage cards offer perks free checked bags, priority boarding and a discount for in-flight purchases.

    Citi

    Citi is the main issuer of AA credit cards, currently offering one personal card, one business card, and one premium card. Here’s a quick overview of the different Citi cards:

    Card Sign-up Bonus Annual Fee Bonus Categories First checked Bag Free
    Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard 60,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months $99 (waived first year) 2x on AA purchases, restaurants, gas stations 4 companions
    CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard 70,000 miles after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months $95 (waived first year) 2x on AA purchases, telecom, rental cars, gas stations  4 companions
    Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard 50,000 miles after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months $450 2x on AA purchases  8 companions

    In addition, all 3 Citi AA cards also come with priority boarding and no foreign transaction fees. So which card is right for you?

    Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard

    One of the most popular AA cards, the Citi Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard just got a very consumer friendly upgrade. The card now has an elevated sign-up bonus of 60,000 miles after spending $3,000 in 3 months, which I value at ~$840. With a much lower annual fee than the Executive card and perks like priority boarding and a free checked bag, this card is perfect for casual AA fliers who aren’t concerned with elite status.

    CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard

    Although the business version of the Platinum Select card has a higher minimum spending requirement, you’ll get an extra 10,000 miles (~$140) for completing it. The additional bonus categories of telecom purchases and rental cars are especially business friendly, but this card is also good for business owners looking to get/stay under Chase’s “5/24” rule. While the inquiry will show up on your personal credit report, the account itself won’t, meaning it won’t take up one of your 5 valuable slots with Chase.

    Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard

    It’s disappointing that the most expensive card in Citi’s AA portfolio has both the lowest sign-up bonus and the highest minimum spend requirement. While the $450 annual fee is tough to swallow, there are several compelling reasons to consider this card. Executive cardholders receive an Admirals Club membership, granting you access no matter what airline you’re flying or what cabin you’re traveling in. Authorized users get membership as well, and you can even bring two guests for free. If you’re chasing elite status, this card also offers 10,000 EQMs after spending $40,000 in a calendar year.

    Which Card To Pick

    In order to pick which of these cards is right for you, you first need to figure out what you’re looking for. Casual travelers would be best served by the Citi Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard. This card is also great to keep long term, as it offer a 10% rebate on AA mileage redemptions up to 10,000 miles a year (per AAdvantage account, so this can’t be stacked across multiple cards). In my mind this easily justifies the $99 annual fee.

    While I am intrigued by the idea of earning EQMs and EQDs towards status, there are other cards I’d rather put that heavy spending on. That being said, if you fly a lot with AA and are feeling burned by the recent addition of revenue requirements to qualify for status, the Aviator Red or Silver cards from Barclays can help you reach your goal faster.

    This content is not provided by Citi. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed here are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Citi.

    Learn more about the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard

    Learn more about the CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard

    Learn more about the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard

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