Category Archive: Disaster

CDC begins airport health screenings due to 2019 nCoV virus

CDC begins enhanced health screenings at LAX, SFO & JFK to detect ill travelers on flts direct from / through Wuhan, China due to new coronavirus. See email.

 

Supplemental Info:

 

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.


WUHAN CHINA NOVEL CORONAVIRUS


On 31 December 2019, WHO was informed of a cluster of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. Since that date, at least 41 new cases have been identified, as well as one death. Chinese investigators conducted gene sequencing of the virus and have ruled out SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, influenza, avian influenza, adenovirus and other common respiratory pathogens (i.e. a possible new type of coronavirus).


Although the virus was initially thought to be transmitted by animals, the WHO says there is now evidence of human-to-human transmission.


On 13 Jan, the Thai Health Ministry in Bangkok reported that a 61-year-old Chinese woman who had traveled from Wuhan has been been quarantined with the mystery strain, the first time it has been detected outside China.

 

On 14 Jan, the World Health Organization began warning hospitals worldwide of the possible spread the novel SARS-like China coronavirus.

 

On 16 Jan, Japan’s health ministry reported their first confirmed case of the coronavirus in a man who had visited Wuhan.


CHINESE NEW YEAR

 

A major concern for public health officials worldwide is the upcoming Chinese New Year celebrations, during which the largest annual human migration takes place as Chinese people head home to celebrate the Lunar New Year Spring Festival with their families.


The first day of Chinese New Year starts with the new moon, which for 2020 falls on 25 January.


While the legal holiday lasts 7 days (from the Lunar New Year’s Eve to the sixth day of the first lunar month), many companies and public institutions enjoy a longer holiday up to 10 days or more. It is also a public holiday in countries such as Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, North Korea, Singapore, South Korea, and Vietnam.
During last year’s celebrations, it is estimated that 2.2 BILLION trips were made by automobile, 400 MILLION by rail, and 73 MILLION by air to and from points around the globe.

 

According to the Chinese travel services company Ctrip, the top five overseas destinations for Chinese New Year tourists are Thailand, Japan, the United States, Singapore and Australia.

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Public Health Screening to Begin at 3 U.S. Airports
for 2019 Novel Coronavirus (“2019-nCoV”)


Press Release

January 17, 2020


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will implement enhanced health screenings to detect ill travelers traveling to the United States on direct or connecting flights from Wuhan, China. This activity is in response to an outbreak in China caused by a novel (new) coronavirus (2019 nCoV), with exported cases to Thailand and Japan.


Starting January 17, 2020, travelers from Wuhan to the United States will undergo entry screening for symptoms associated with 2019-nCoV at three U.S. airports that receive most of the travelers from Wuhan, China: San Francisco (SFO), New York (JFK), and Los Angeles (LAX) airports.


“To further protect the health of the American public during the emergence of this novel coronavirus, CDC is beginning entry screening at three ports of entry. Investigations into this novel coronavirus are ongoing and we are monitoring and responding to this evolving situation,” said Martin Cetron, M.D., Director of CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine.


Based on current information, the risk from 2019-nCoV to the American public is currently deemed to be low. Nevertheless, CDC is taking proactive preparedness precautions.


Entry screening is part of a layered approach used with other public health measures already in place to detect arriving travelers who are sick (such as detection and reporting of ill travelers by airlines during travel and referral of ill travelers arriving at a US port of entry by CBP) to slow and reduce the spread of any disease into the United States.


CDC is deploying about 100 additional staff to the three airports (SFO, JFK, and LAX) to supplement existing staff at CDC quarantine stations located at those airports.


CDC is actively monitoring this situation for pertinent information about the source of outbreak, and risk for further spread through person-to-person or animal-to-person transmission. CDC may adjust screening procedures and other response activities as this outbreak investigation continues and more is learned about the newly emerging virus. Entry screening alone is not a guarantee against the possible importation of this new virus but is an important public health tool during periods of uncertainty and part of a multilayered government response strategy. As new information emerges, CDC will reassess entry screening measures and could scale activities up or down accordingly.


On Jan. 11, 2020, CDC updated a
Level 1 Travel Health Notice (“practice usual precautions”) for travelers to Wuhan City and an updated Health Alert to health care professionals and public health partners with new and updated guidance is forthcoming.


China health officials report that most of the patients infected with 2019-nCoV have had exposure to a large market where live animals were present, suggesting this is a novel virus that has jumped the species barrier to infect people. Chinese authorities additionally report that several hundred health care workers caring for outbreak patients are being monitored and no spread of this virus from patients to health care workers has been seen. They report no sustained spread of this virus in the community, however there are indications that some limited person-to-person spread may have occurred. CDC is responding to this outbreak out of an abundance of caution, ready to detect people infected with 2019-CoV.


For the latest information on the outbreak, visit CDC’s
Novel Coronavirus 2019 website.

 

https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2020/p0117-coronavirus-screening.html

 

Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.

 

via: Alerts USA


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WHO warns hospitals re novel SARS-like China coronavirus

WHO warning hospitals worldwide of poss spreading of novel SARS-like China coronavirus. Chinese New Year approaching. Links to clinical guidance via email.

Supplemental Info:

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

WUHAN CHINA NOVEL CORONAVIRUS

On 31 December 2019, WHO was informed of a cluster of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. Since that date, at least 41 new cases have been identified, as well as one death. Chinese investigators conducted gene sequencing of the virus and have ruled out SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, influenza, avian influenza, adenovirus and other common respiratory pathogens (i.e. a possible new type of coronavirus).
Although the virus was initially thought to be transmitted by animals, the WHO says there is now evidence of human-to-human transmission.
On 13 Jan, the Thai Health Ministry in Bangkok reported that a 61-year-old Chinese woman who had traveled from Wuhan has been been quarantined with the mystery strain, the first time it has been detected outside China.

CHINESE NEW YEAR

A major concern for public health officials worldwide is the upcoming Chinese New Year celebrations, during which the largest annual human migration takes place as Chinese people head home to celebrate the Lunar New Year Spring Festival with their families.

The first day of Chinese New Year starts with the new moon, which for 2020 falls on 25 January.
While the legal holiday lasts 7 days (from the Lunar New Year’s Eve to the sixth day of the first lunar month), many companies and public institutions enjoy a longer holiday up to 10 days or more. It is also a public holiday in countries such as Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, North Korea, Singapore, South Korea, and Vietnam.

During last year’s celebrations, it is estimated that 2.2 BILLION trips were made by automobile, 400 MILLION by rail, and 73 MILLION by air to and from points around the globe.

WHO GUIDANCE FOR HOSPITALS

Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, acting head of WHO’s emerging diseases unit, told a Geneva news briefing earlier today that the agency had given guidance to hospitals worldwide about infection control in case of spread, including by a “super-spreading” event in a health care setting. “This is something on our radar, it is possible, we need to prepare ourselves,” she said.

[ As this virus is so new, some of the guidance below appears to be re-purposed from past related outbreaks. ]

Case Definitions

https://www.who.int/publications-detail/surveillance-case-definitions-for-human-infection-with-novel-coronavirus-(ncov)

Laboratory Guidance (PDF)

https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/330374/WHO-2019-nCoV-laboratory-2020.1-eng.pdf

Clinical Management for Suspected Novel Coronavirus

https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/clinical-management-of-novel-cov.pdf

Infection Prevention and Control (PDF)

https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/330375/WHO-2019-nCoV-IPC-v2020.1-eng.pdf

Risk Communications

https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/330377/WHO-2019-nCoV-RCCE-v2020.1-eng.pdf

Readiness Checklist

https://www.who.int/publications-detail/national-capacities-review-tool-for-a-novel-coronavirus-(ncov)

Disease Commodity Package

https://www.who.int/publications-detail/disease-commodity-package-for-novel-coronavirus

Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.

via: Alerts USA


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Do you have a backup generator or Social Security? Think about both.

The news headlines read, “Deadly 6.4 Magnitude Earthquake Plunges Puerto Rico into Darkness”; and “Powerful Puerto Rico Earthquake Knocks Out Entire Island’s Power.”

It was enough to prompt a friends mother to call, four times, to make sure he was OK.

There’s been a string of fairly strong earthquakes lately in Puerto Rico… which is incredibly unusual for this part of the world. It’s been more than a century since the island was rocked by anything of this magnitude.

But as he explained to his parents that the press had blown things out of proportion as usual. They were running video footage that made it seem as if the island had been blasted back into the Stone Age.

It’s true that there were some displaced families and property damage near the epicenter.

But most of the island was not substantially affected. None of the major news organizations bothered to show footage of busy shopping malls, crowded restaurants, and packed movie theaters teeming with consumers.

It’s also true that the electrical grid went down: the island was without power for some time. In his community, the power came back on after 2 days. Some people had it on after a day, some after 3 or 4 days.

But here’s what people don’t realize– the electricity problems in Puerto Rico have a lot less to do with the seismic activity, and a lot more to do with the island’s decade-long economic depression.

Puerto Rico’s economy has been in the dumps since at least 2006. The government is bankrupt and defaulted on many of its debts as far back as 2015. And Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority (PREPA) is bankrupt as well, having defaulted on billions of dollars worth of bond obligations.

All of this financial insolvency means that neither the government nor PREPA has the resources to invest in the electrical grid.

And most of PREPA’s electrical production assets are in desperate need of replacement.

The largest power plant in Puerto Rico is the 820 MW Costa Sur facility, and according to PREPA, it was built in the 1950s!

This makes Costa Sur more than twice as old as the average power plant in the US.

They simply don’t have the money to modernize or upgrade their facilities. And people who live here understand this reality: the electrical grid in Puerto Rico is incredibly weak.

I’m serious. Power outages are commonplace here. The power at my house goes out at least 2-3 times a month, usually for a couple of hours.

That’s because every time a mouse farts on this island, something goes haywire at the electrical plants and the power goes out.

But again, Puerto Ricans know this. They have little confidence in their government, and even less confidence in the electrical grid.

So everyone who has the means in Puerto Rico owns a generator. It’s their Plan B. The power goes out, the generator comes on, and everything is OK.

My friends house is equipped with a huge generator… plus a backup cistern in case the water company goes down too.

This isn’t some wild conspiracy theory. In Puerto Rico, there’s nearly a 100% certainty that the system is going to fail… so having a backup generator is a perfectly sensible precaution to take.

And people who take this precaution are well-protected in the event that disaster strikes.

This way of thinking can obviously be applied to a lot of things… like retirement planning.

It’s no secret that government pension funds around the world are woefully underfunded.

University studies, non-profit research groups, mainstream financial press, and even government agencies themselves have reached the same conclusion: national, state, and local pension funds are trillions of dollars in the hole.

They simply do not have enough cash, nor will they have enough cash in the future, to pay the retirement benefits they owe.

Social Security in the United States is a great example.

Social Security’s Board of Trustees, which includes the United States Secretary of the Treasury, states quite plainly in their annual reports that Social Security’s primary trust funds will run out of money in 15 years.

Specifically, on page 5 of the 2019 Social Security Trustees Report, they state:

“Trust Fund asset reserves become depleted and unable to pay scheduled benefits in full on a timely basis in 2035.”

This isn’t some crazy conspiracy theory either. This is the US Treasury Secretary stating that in just 15 years, Social Security’s trust funds will be out of money and unable to pay the benefits that they’ve been promising people for decades.

This is just like Puerto Rico’s electrical issue: you know there’s nearly a 100% certainty that the program is going to run out of money.

I mean, seriously, the people in charge of program are telling you that it’s going to run out of money. It couldn’t be any more clear than that.

So it seems fairly sensible to have a backup generator for your retirement.

Everyone has a different situation– but there are plenty of options.

In the US, for example, tax deferred structures like a SEP IRA or Solo 401(k) can help you put away $50,000+ each year for your retirement in a really tax efficient way.

It’s even possible to use these structures combined with a side business like selling products on Amazon, renting out Airbnb units, etc. This means that you can channel income from your side business into your retirement account, helping you accumulate the savings you need to be comfortable in the future.

And, hey, even if Social Security is magically bailed out by benevolent space aliens, or some other crazy scenario, it’s not like you’ll be worse off having more retirement savings.

This is definitely worth considering and speaking to your tax adviser about.

Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.


via:  SovereignMan.com


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How to Skin and Prepare a Rattlesnake for the Table

It’s best to leave them alone, but if you do get a fresh rattlesnake, you might as well eat it.

I’m a realist. I know that venomous snakes and small kids, or pets, or livestock just don’t mix.  While I might not kill a rattlesnake unless I have no other option, I’ll dang sure eat one if I get the opportunity.

Rattlesnake meat is white, tender, and tastes like a cross between frog legs and turtle. While there are a lot of rib bones, a big rattlesnake will have a backstrap like muscle that runs the entire length of the backbone. Once cooked, that muscle will peel out easily, giving the diner a boneless bite of goodness.

Think you might want to try one in the future? Here’s how to process a rattlesnake for the table, T2T style. Save the skin for a hat band, a nifty wall display, or do like Joe and use it as a decorative backing for a self-bow.

1. Always remove the head before handling a rattlesnake

Always remove the head before handling a rattlesnake

Step 1. Remove the head. Dead rattlesnakes can still bite. It’s a nervous system deal, similar to a turkey gobbler that flops around for a few minutes after a fatal shot. I can’t stress this enough, don’t mess with the head. Don’t take any chances. If the head wasn’t removed by a shotgun blast, use a long-handled hoe or a machete to remove it from a distance. Use a long-handled shovel to pick it up and dispose of it safely, away from curious pets or kids. If you can’t remove the head from a safe distance, just don’t mess with it at all. While rattlesnake meat is great to eat, it isn’t worth receiving a bite. Just like wild mushrooms, you might only get one chance to mess this up. If you aren’t confident in your ability to do it safely, find someone that is. We are not responsible for any injuries incurred in this step. Besides safety concerns, it’s important to always check your state and local regulations when it comes to killing or possessing a rattlesnake. They are a protected species in many areas. If you plan on gifting a rattlesnake to a friend in another state or area, check the regs in both places. Transporting a rattlesnake across state lines where they might be protected can result in federal wildlife violations.

 

2. Where gloves to protect from salmonella.

Gloves will protect against salmonella when processing a rattlesnake.

Step 2. Don a pair of latex gloves. Snakes, like raw chicken or turtle, can carry salmonella. Since you probably aren’t next to a sink and soap while you are cleaning them, gloves offer protection. Just like chicken or turtle, rattlesnake meat should be cooked to at least 165 degrees internal temperature for safety.

 

3. Use a pair of scissors to open the snake’s belly.

Use a pair of scissors to open the snake

Step 3. Use a pair of scissors to open the snake’s belly starting where the head USED TO BE (before you SAFELY removed it), down to the tip of the tail.

 

4. Use a sharp blade to start removing the skin at both the head and tail ends.

Use a sharp blade to start removing the skin at both the head and tail ends.

Step 4. Use a sharp knife to loosen the skin around the neck area of the snake to start separating it from the meat. Move down to the tail and loosen the skin in front of the rattles the same way so that it doesn’t tear when you get down to that part in the skinning process.

 

5. Peel the skin away from the meat over the full length of the rattlesnake.

Peel the skin away from the meat

Step 5. Grasp the rattlesnake in your left hand and get a grip on the skin at the neck with either your right hand or a pair of pliers. Peel the skin downward, just like peeling a banana. Roll the skin and place in the freezer, or stretch it, scales down, on a long board and apply salt or Borax liberally, covering every square inch of skin.

 

6. Remove the entrails from the body cavity.

Remove the entrails from the body cavity.

Step 6. Remove the entrails from the body cavity. They should pull out in one long piece, leaving the cavity clean.

 

7. Cut the snake into cross sections for cooking and serving.

Cut the rattlesnake into cross sections for easy cooking and serving

Step 7. Cut the rattlesnake in cross sections, about 2 to 3 inches in length. I leave the narrow sections of the neck and tail longer, since there isn’t as much meat on those. The thicker sections from the center of the body get cut into shorter lengths so that everything cooks in the same amount of time.

Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.

 

via:  realtree

 


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Inside the dystopian nightmare of an internet shutdown

Government internet shutdowns around the world are insidious, isolating and on the rise.

On Oct. 1, the Iraqi government pulled the plug on the country’s internet. With no warning, out it went like a light. Ever since, the internet, messaging services and social networks have flickered on and off like faulty bulbs.

This is far from the first internet shutdown Iraq has suffered. But according to Hayder Hamzoz, CEO and founder of the Iraqi Network for Social Media, not since 2003 and the regime of Saddam Hussein has internet censorship been so severe.

In this age of reliance on internet connectivity, the idea of suddenly flicking connectivity off like a switch sounds dystopian. But for many people around the world, it’s increasingly becoming a reality. They might not even realize it’s happening until too late.

First the signal disappears from your phone, so you restart it, take the SIM card out and put it back in again. No joy, so you try the Wi-Fi, but that doesn’t work either. Maybe it’s a power outage, you think, but your other appliances are working so that can’t be right. You read a news story in the paper about a political protest that’s taking place, and it suddenly becomes apparent that it’s not just you. The government, worried about the protest, has decided to turn off the internet.

This is exactly what happened to Berhan Taye the first time she experienced an internet shutdown, while visiting family in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 2016. Since then, she says, it has become “definitely something that I’ve experienced one too many times.”

Taye leads the nonprofit Access Now’s Keep It On campaign, advocating against internet shutdowns around the world. Around 200 partner organizations work with the campaign to prevent intentional shutdowns of the internet by governments around the globe, a form of repression that the United Nations unequivocally condemned in 2016 as a violation of human rights.

imagegettyimages-1179043013

Iraq has seen mass civilian protests over the past year, leading to internet shutdowns.

Picture Alliance/Getty

Authoritarian governments have long sought control over their subject populations, and internet shutdowns can be seen as a digital extension of traditional censorship and repression, notes Taye.

This is very much the case in Iraq, where anti-corruption protests that sparked the shutdown are also being combatted with curfews and violence from security forces. Over WhatsApp, Hamzoz described the violence he had witnessed in Iraq during blackouts — tear gas, hot-water cannons, live bullets and snipers.

“It sounds terrifying,” I said. “Very terrifying,” he agreed.

India: Disconnected

In 2018 there were 196 documented internet shutdowns across 25 countries, primarily in Asia and Africa, according to a report released by the Keep It On coalition. Since the Arab Spring of 2011, when censorship ran rife across North Africa and the Middle East, internet shutdowns have been widely associated with authoritarian regimes.

But the country leading the way isn’t authoritarian, or even semi-authoritarian. In fact, it’s the world’s largest democracy. Of those 196 shutdowns that happened last year, 134 took place in India. The primary target is the state of Jammu and Kashmir, a politically unstable region on the border with Pakistan.

In August, the Indian government approved changes revoking the autonomy of the Muslim-majority region, stripping it of its constitution and imposing “security measures” that prevent freedom of movement, public assembly and protest. The region will be split into two territories governed by individual leaders who will report to the Hindu-led government in New Delhi, it was announced Wednesday.

Kashmir has been without internet since the constitutional changes in August, with phone signals also dropping out intermittently.

“This blackout has pushed the entire [8 million] population of Kashmir into a black hole, where the world is unable to know what is happening inside a cage and vice-versa,” said Aakash Hassan, Kashmir correspondent at CNN-News18.

imagegettyimages-1178978738

The contested region of Kashmir has been on lockdown since early August. Internet has been shut down for much of that time.

Ahmad Al-Rubaye/Getty

The situation for journalists “couldn’t be worse,” Hassan told me. Everything from sourcing to fact-checking to filing stories often grinds to a halt. He knows of reporters trying to operate in these conditions who have been questioned, injured or detained by the authorities, while also being prevented from speaking out about what’s happening to them.

But Hassan also knows first hand of the toll internet shutdowns can take on people’s personal lives and relationships. During the recent shutdown his grandmother passed away. It took him 14 hours to learn of her ill health, by which point he had missed his chance to say goodbye.

“I was just one hour away from my home,” he said. “But due to the communication blackout, I couldn’t see her face for the last time.”

Most of India’s internet shutdowns are ordered at the regional government level, although it’s often hard to tell where the orders come from. Legally, it’s hard to fight shutdowns, although there are often attempts to do so. For a start, governments rarely acknowledge that internet shutdowns have taken place. When they do, they often give ambiguous reasons for their actions.

For the public good?

The Keep It On campaign tries to map the justifications governments give for shutting the internet down against the actual causes. The most frequently used reason is “public safety,” but in reality this is a broad church that can mean anything from public protest to communal violence to elections.

Jan Rydzak, a research scholar at the Stanford Global Digital Policy Incubator, has been monitoring shutdowns in Kashmir for some years. If public safety is the real priority, he says, shutting down the internet is unlikely to make much difference. In February 2019, Rydzak published a paper demonstrating that shutdowns didn’t discourage or prevent violent protests from taking place.

“Public safety is always a convenient excuse,” he said, “because in the vast majority of the cases it is written into the law of a given country that in situations of public emergency or public safety concerns, the government has special powers to, for example, cut off communication.”

Public safety is indeed the excuse that has been used in this most recent shutdown in Kashmir, which Rydzak describes as a “digital siege.” This excuse is plausible in line with the levels of violence the long-contested region has witnessed, but according to Rydzak, there are ulterior motives.

“They’re looking basically for something that would extend their control over the territory to the greatest extent possible,” he said. The Indian government doesn’t know what will work, he explained, which has led to it “crudely cutting off all contact with the outside world.”

imagegettyimages-1166905415

Attempting to use the internet in Kashmir has been fruitless for much of the last three months.

SOPA

There are many reasons why they shouldn’t, starting with Rydzak’s own research in India, which shows empirically that shutting off internet access does not reduce violent protests, and sometimes even perpetuates them.

As an ascendant power, Rydzak adds, the frequency with which India is shutting down the internet is setting a bad example for other countries. Seeing shutdowns as another tool in their arsenal for tackling outbreaks of violence or protests, more and more countries are experimenting with shutting off the internet just to see how it goes, he said.

This is echoed by Keep It On’s research, which shows an escalation in the number of new countries opting to use shutdowns for the first time, according to Taye. Often they do so around the time of elections — a trend that has increased over the past year, starting with Bangladesh at the end of 2018, followed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Benin.

“From 2018 I can list 10 countries that did not shut down the internet, but this year they are the frequent culprits of shutdowns,” she said. “Benin is a fairly democratic country. I never would have assumed they would have shut down the internet, but they did.”

Now aware that elections might result in shutdowns, the Keep It On campaign is keeping a particularly close eye on countries where elections are imminent to monitor for disruption.

From shutdowns to slowdowns

Measuring shutdowns is important to know where the rights are being violated, but keeping track isn’t always easy. Telecoms infrastructure is poor in many countries where shutdowns take place, so a steady internet connection isn’t something that can be relied on at the best of times.

“It’s very difficult for a lot of people to figure out if it’s an intentional shutdown, or if it’s just a fiber cut, or if your internet is just having a bad day,” said Taye.

This is further confused by the fact that many governments use less obvious, more insidious tactics in hyperlocal shutdowns or slowdowns. Often they’ll target specific social media services for throttling, or slowing down the bandwidth. WhatsApp, widely used in developing countries due to its low data costs, and Facebook are regular targets.

Either governments can make the services unavailable altogether, or can make them painfully slow to use. Some of these slowdowns are designed specifically to stop people being able to send pictures and videos, which would be more likely to inflame tensions or serve as evidence.

“We are deeply concerned by the trend in some regions and countries towards shutting down, throttling, or otherwise disrupting access to the open internet,” said a spokeswoman for Facebook. The company offers training to governments and law enforcement to help them address emerging situations by maintaining their own online presence and combating the spread of misinformation with appropriate counter speech.

Another justification used by governments to shut down internet access is to stop the spread of misinformation. Following the Easter bombings that took place in Sri Lanka earlier this year, for instance, some Western media were quick to praise the government’s decision to block access to social media to prevent the spread of false information.

image

The Easter bombings in Sri Lanka led to the government blocking social media for the purpose of curbing the spread of misinformation.

Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/Getty


But it did no such thing. Just as shutdowns in Kashmir didn’t stop political violence, misinformation ran rife and even ended up in the coverage of major international news outlets. A Brown University student was at one point falsely identified as the attacker.

Blocking social media doesn’t prevent the spread of false information, according to Keep It On. It simply delays it. Taye gives an example, again from Ethiopia, where in July this year the government shut down the internet for a week following a series of assassinations of important political figures.

“When they turned on the internet, all of the conspiracy theories, all of the craziness that was happening in the offline space did not stop,” she said. It was all still there, just pending, waiting for people to be reconnected so it could continue to spread.

In the meantime, the last information put out before a shutdown often becomes the dominant narrative — whether or not it’s accurate.

As for the social media blockage in Sri Lanka, it wasn’t only unsuccessful at preventing the spread of fake news, Yudhanjaya Wijeratne of the LIRNEasia think tank wrote in a Slate op-ed following the bombing. It also prevented people from getting in touch with one another to report their safety, and it hid the inability of the police to control violent protests — which were partially caused due to the spread of misinformation.

Living in the dark

As if the lack of evidence to support the effectiveness of blackouts wasn’t enough to dissuade countries from deploying them, the economic toll of shutting off the internet can also run to millions of dollars per day.

According to a study conducted by Deloitte for Facebook in 2016, shutdowns can cost high-connectivity countries up to 1.9% of their GDP per day. Shutdowns in India are estimated to have cost the country over $3 billion since 2012, according to a report published by the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations last year.

But they also have a trickle-down effect that takes a huge toll on the livelihoods of individuals who over the past 10 years have come to rely on the internet for their income. “Behind every figure like that are dozens of businesses that went out of business,” said Rydzak.

In Iraq, Hamzoz said, tech startups and local Uber rivals providing taxi-hailing services are losing out daily without steady access to the internet for themselves or their customers. Startups are going out of business. Women who rely on taxi-hailing apps for safety reasons must either stay home or risk their safety.

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The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s government is one of many to employ internet shutdowns for the first time in the past 12 months.

Federico Scoppa/Stringer

Similarly in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, internet access has allowed the informal economy, which women and other marginalized groups rely on for an income, to thrive. When people live in remote places or don’t have access to physical premises, business is often conducted through WhatsApp or Facebook groups and relies on digital payments.

According to Ashnah Kalemera, programs officer at Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa, this extends to all manner of casual work, including the buying and selling of food, laundry and hairdressing services.

“Many women are running businesses in this informal economy set up to ensure financial security,” she said. “Let’s not forget that African women are still largely excluded from the funds afforded to their male counterparts for formal tech startups.”

If the internet goes down, income streams are abruptly interrupted. For some women this means suddenly not being able to afford to feed their families, to send their children to school and to access other basic necessities.

Enterprising people have found ways to get around shutdowns — the use of VPNs to access social media is widespread. In a total blackout, however, these are also often rendered ineffective. In Iraq, Hamzoz told me, some people use international SIM cards, but they are expensive and the signal is often weak.

As we spoke over the course of October, when protests over corruption and poor living standards in Iraq raged on, Hamzoz reported the ongoing flickering status of his country’s internet and social media outages. On Oct. 16 he said mobile internet was partially restored. Then on Oct. 25, when mass protests broke out, it went down again. At the time of publishing, Iraq has largely been without internet for almost an entire month. Hamzoz said he expected blackouts and slowdowns to continue until the political issues in the country are addressed.

For Iraq, just like Kashmir, Jammu, Ethiopia and many other places around the world, that means internet shutdowns are likely to be a fact of life for the foreseeable future.


Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.

via:  cnet


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Millions of Californians could be without power for a week

PG&E may shut off power due to fire risk.

 

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) announced Monday it may shut off power this week in nearly 30 northern California counties in response to strong and dry winds posing a fire threat.

“We would encourage residents and businesses to prepare for being without power for potentially as long as seven days,” San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said in a press conference Monday night.

Nearly 2 million people could be affected if there is a shutdown Wednesday, Liccardo said, as well as about 67 schools.

The public safety power shutoff would span across northern, central, coastal and Bay Area counties, the utility company said. PG&E has previously said it’s “probable” that its equipment started the 2018 Camp Fire — California’s deadliest and most destructive blaze — when a power line touched nearby trees.

An investigation by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection found the company responsible for the fire, which killed 85 people and destroyed thousands of structures.

The National Weather Service issued a Fire Weather Watch for Wednesday through Thursday across northern portions of California, warning of “potential of rapid spread of fire” and reporting “potentially strong, damaging” winds and relatively low humidity.

“This has the potential to be the strongest offshore wind event of the year,” the weather service said. “The time to prepare is now.”

The city of San Jose had been preparing for a similar event since June, the mayor said.

“Some of what we need to do to get ready will in fact take years,” he said. “That is ensuring we have sufficient backup power generation, establishing microgrids where we can do so, things of that nature.”

In the meantime, he urged residents to shelter in place, as street lights and signals will not be working in the event of a power shutoff. He also encouraged households to create emergency plans and kits which include food and water for all family members and pets.

 

Late last month, PG&E shut off power to more than 48,000 northern California customers in precaution following dry and windy conditions. It was the second consecutive public safety power shutoff in that week, after the company had previously left about 24,000 customers across three northern California counties in the dark.

On September 13, the utility giant announced it had reached an $11 billion settlement with insurance companies for claims stemming from the devastating 2017 wildfires across northern California and the 2018 Camp Fire.

And in June, PG&E paid $1 billion in damages to local governments for blazes linked to its power lines and other equipment.

 

Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.

via:  cnn.com, keyt.com


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Weekly National Situation Update 7-28-19

From AlertsUSA


WEEKLY THREAT AND ALERT ROUNDUP


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DHS Warns Terror Threat Remains Terrorists Continue to Target Aviation Sector

Airlines Cancel Flights to Cairo Over Security Concerns


July 27, 2019


On July 20, the following related Flash SMS messages
were sent to
AlertsUSA subscriber mobile devices:

7/20 – UK Foreign Office warns of a heightened risk of terrorism against aviation in Egypt. Add’l security measures implemented for flights between Egypt and the UK.

7/20 – Unspecified security concerns prompt British Airways to suspend all flights to Cairo, Egypt for at least 7 days. AlertsUSA monitoring..

What You Need To Know

Shortly after publishing last week’s update, the Department of Homeland Security issued a new National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin, reminding American citizens of the continuing threat of terrorism to the U.S. homeland.

Quoting from the bulletin:

The U.S. continues to face one of the most challenging threat environments since 9/11, as foreign terrorist organizations exploit the Internet to inspire, enable, or direct individuals already here in the homeland to commit terrorist acts. Homegrown terror suspects increasingly rely on technology, such as end-to-end encrypted social media applications, to avoid detection.

Terrorist groups are urging recruits to adopt easy-to-use tools to target public places and events. Specific attack tactics have included the use of vehicle ramming, to include the use of rental vehicles, small arms, straight-edged blades or knives, homemade explosives, and poisons or toxins.

Some terrorist groups overseas are using battlefield experiences to pursue new technologies and tactics, such as unmanned aerial systems and chemical agents that could be used outside the conflict zones. Many of these technologies are readily available. Additionally, terrorists continue to target commercial aviation and air cargo, including with concealed explosives.

Violent extremist media encourages individuals worldwide to launch attacks using all means possible. Continued U.S. and partner successes in disrupting and defeating terrorists on the battlefield may encourage homegrown terrorists to carry out acts of violence in the homeland instead of attempting to travel overseas to fight, or in retaliation for apparent losses.

Additionally, foreign terrorist fighters who have acquired training and battle-tested terrorism experience may flee from terrorist-controlled territories with a desire to conduct attacks elsewhere, including the United States.

DHS and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) continue to provide guidance to state, local, tribal and territorial partners related to the current threat environment. DHS continues to support the private sector to provide risk assessments and to coordinating security measures with business owners and operators. As such, the public may continue to observe law enforcement and security activity in and around public places and events.

British Airways Cancels All Cairo Flights

So as to highlight the relevance of the DHS bulletin, this past Saturday afternoon, AlertsUSA subscribers were notified that British Airways had canceled all flight service to and from Cairo, Egypt due to unspecified security concerns. This was followed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office issuing a travel warning for Egypt citing a “heightened risk of terrorism against aviation.” Lufthansa later followed the British Airways move, but flights from both airlines have now resumed following reviews of security protocols and procedures. Few details have been provided about the specific threat prompting the flight cancellations.

The airline’s concerns are not unwarranted. Readers are reminded that on October 31st, 2015, Metrojet Flight 9268 flying from Sharm El Sheikh International Airport in Egypt to Saint Petersburg, Russia was destroyed by a bomb above the northern Sinai, killing all 224 passengers and crew who were on board. Shortly after the crash, the Islamic State’s Sinai Branch claimed responsibility for the incident in a written statement and on video, both of which were distributed globally via social media. The group also published photographs of what it said was the bomb in their online magazine known as Dabiq. That device was contained within a can of Schweppes Gold pineapple soda.

Photo of the "Schweppes Bomb" believed to have taken down Metrojet Flight 9268 over the Sinai Peninsula in October, 2015. - ALLOW IMAGES

AlertsUSA continues to monitor the domestic and international threat environment around the clock and will immediately notify service subscribers, via SMS messages to their mobile devices, of new alerts, warnings and advisories or any developments which signal a change the overall threat picture for American citizens as events warrant.


AlertsUSA.com

OTHER SMS ALERTS FROM THIS WEEK
NOT DETAILED IN THIS NEWSLETTER ISSUE

7/27 – AlertsUSA monitoring heavily armed police presence, Tower One, University of Central Florida (Orlando). Shelter in place order given. Add’l alerts as warranted.

7/26 – AlertsUSA monitoring heavily armed police presence, Tower One, University of Central Florida (Orlando). Shelter in place order given. Add’l alerts as warranted.

7/22 – 22 of 23 states in Venezuela without electrical power. More than 90% of the country’s telecommunications infrastructure offline. AlertsUSA monitoring..

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* Threat Info Direct to Your Mobile Device
* Get Away Early, Give Your Family Extra Safety.
* In Wide Use By Gov, 1st Responders, Travelers.
* 24/7/365 Monitoring. No Hype. Just the Bad Stuff.
* Issued Hours and Days before the MSM.
* On your Cell Phone, Tablet or Email.
* We Give The Clear Truth, Unlike the MSM.
* 15 Years in Operation!

We are NOT part of the government.
In fact, they are our customers!




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July 27, 2019


Radicalization of Kids: A Global Threat

Radicalization is now easy for the extremists, thanks to technology, the new weapon being brandished by Islamist terrorists in accordance with the mandate of the Muslim Brotherhood to “weaken the West from within”. Kids today, as early as three years old, are on YouTube watching videos. Unfortunately, it has never been easier for extremists — from white supremacists to radical Islamists — to target vulnerable children and penetrate a child’s consciousness.

~ READ MORE HERE ~

How the U.S. Could Lose a War With China

If a war broke out between the United States and China, the clash between two of the world’s most powerful militaries would be horrific. And the United States could very well lose. That’s a concern among current and former defense officials and military analysts, one of whom told Breaking Defense earlier this year that in war games simulating great-power conflict in which the United States fights Russia and China, the United States “gets its ass handed to it.”

~ READ MORE HERE ~

From Daesh to Diaspora:
Tracing the Women and Minors of Islamic State

The self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) has been described as a hybrid terrorist organization and conventional army, a religious, millenarian group, an insurgency, and a pseudo-state, amongst others. It produced and disseminated propaganda at an unprecedented rate, and reached a wider global audience than any past terrorist organization in history. As it increasingly seized territory and resources, at its peak in late 2014 it was believed the group controlled over 100,000 km² of land and the 11 million residents therein. IS and those inspired by the group have thus far carried out over 4,300 attacks across at least 29 countries, demonstrating the group remains a significant and shared global concern.

~ READ MORE HERE ~



Fleet and Marine Tracker Map as of July 22, 2019  - ALLOW IMAGES

USNI Fleet and Marine Tracker


July 27, 2019


These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of July 22, 2019based on Navy and public data provided by the U.S. Naval Institute. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship.


AmRRON - A Nationwide Emergency Communications Network for Preppers & Patriots - ALLOW IMAGES


Soldiers fire a M120 120mm mortar system at Fort Drum, N.Y., July 22, 2019. The crews became the first in the state to qualify using the digital Mortar Fire Control System. - ALLOW IMAGES

World News Roundup


July 27, 2019


Other Developments We Are Following


AMERICAS

Report: Serious Violence on Rise in Nation’s Public Schools
Mark Esper sworn in as new secretary of defense
Senate confirms Milley as chairman of the Joint Chiefs
16 US Marines arrested for alleged human smuggling and drug offenses
Pompeo says he’d go to Iran if needed as he asks allies to join maritime force
Puerto Ricans celebrate after governor says he will resign
B-21 Raider Stealth Bomber Scheduled To Make Its First Flight In Late 2021
Two-thirds of Canadians reject closer China ties, want Huawei banned from 5G
Homicides surged in Mexico during the first half of 2019
CENTCOM: U.S. may have downed more than one Iranian drone
Widespread blackout hits Venezuela, gov blames ‘electromagnetic attack’
US denounces Venezuela aircraft’s ‘unsafe approach’

EUROPE

In a naval confrontation with Iran, Britain can find neither ships nor friends
France plans to boost its self-defense posture in space
Ukraine seizes Russian tanker that helped Moscow win a 2018 naval skirmish
Britain wins early European support for Hormuz naval mission
The Royal Navy rushed to stop Iran seizing British tanker but was 10 min late
EU Calls For Release of Ukrainian Convicted By Russia of Promoting Terrorism
Money laundering and terrorism financing: Commission to boost security
How Controversial Is Britain’s Counterterrorism Strategy?

MIDDLE EAST / AFRICA

China: US ‘in pursuit of absolute military superiority’
Iran Test-Fires Medium Range Missile, US Says
More than 100 killed in Syria air raids in past 10 days, UN says
Russia and Syria step up airstrikes against civilians in Idlib
Syria’s Assad Is Deliberately Starving Thousands of Refugees
Iran observes all U.S. ships in Gulf region: Iran navy chief
Israeli minister boasts his country has been ‘killing Iranians’
Trump says it is getting harder for him to want to negotiate with Iran
Iranian Documentary Reveals How CIA Recruited Agents
Iran claims to have arrested 17 CIA spies

ASIA

China Outlines Space War Plans
US Navy sails warship through contested waterway as Beijing warns Taiwan
North Korea fires ‘new short-range missile’ into sea, S Korea says
China-Russia joint exercise sends a message to Washington
Russia, South Korea trade conflicting claims over alleged airspace intrusion
China issues white paper on national defense in new era
Pakistan’s Imran Khan says to meet Taliban in peace push
Cambodia denies deal to allow armed Chinese forces at its naval base
Kim inspects new submarine, wants NKorean military bolstered
Warplanes from four countries face off in Asian confrontation
S. Korea fires warning shots at Russian military plane in its airspace
British Airways cancels all flights to Cairo due to security “precautions”



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Homeland Security

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Since 2015, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has used the National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin to highlight the continuing terror threat to the U.S. Homeland.

CURRENTLY ACTIVE NTAS BULLETIN

PDF (1 pg, 186 KB)
Web Version



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Travel Security

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The U.S. Dept. of State Travel Website is the authoritative federal source for information on the security situation at travel destinations worldwide. With tensions rapidly increasing in most regions, readers planning international travel, even to such common destinations as Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean Islands, are strongly encouraged to do a little research on the security situation at your destination well prior to departure.

Active USGOV Travel Notices

Worldwide Caution


Active USGOV Travel Advisories

Alphabetical Country List

Dynamic Map


Other USGOV Travel Resources

Traveler’s Checklist

Smart Traveler Enrollment Prog (STEP)

Travelers with Special Considerations

Travel to High-Risk Areas

Faith-Based Travel Information

Information for Women Travelers

Cruise Ship Passengers

Students Abroad

Your Health Abroad

Driving and Road Safety Abroad


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The Department of State’s Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) provides a variety of resources to enhance the safety and security of the U.S. private sector businesses and organizations operating abroad.

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website is the authoritative federal source for information on current health issues related to specific destinations worldwide. These issues may arise from disease outbreaks, special events or gatherings, natural disasters, or other conditions that may affect travelers’ health.

Foreign Sources of Travel Guidance

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Global Affairs Canada


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Australia Dept. of Foreign Affairs


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UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office


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Via: threatjournal


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WHO declares Ebola global health emergency

WHO makes formal declaration of a global health emergency for Ebola outbreak in Congo due to a “concerning geographical expansion of the virus.” More via email.

Supplemental Info:

The WHO declaration of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) is extremely rare. The four previous instances of a

PHEIC declaration were 2016 (Zika), 2014 (Ebola), 2014 (Polio), and 2009 (Swine Flu).

A PHEIC is defined by WHO as “an extraordinary event which is determined to constitute a public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease and to potentially require a coordinated international response”. This definition implies a situation that is:

  • serious, sudden, unusual or unexpected;
  • carries implications for public health beyond the affected State’s national border; and
  • may require immediate international action.

We are awaiting information on the DHS / CDC response to the declaration, including possible travel restrictions, increased surveillance at last points of departure to the U.S., as well as ports of entry…

Read the formal WHO Press Release Here:

https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/17-07-2019-ebola-outbreak-in-the-democratic-republic-of-the-congo-declared-a-public-health-emergency-of-international-concern

Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.

From AlertsUSA


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US and Canadian gov bans operation of Boeing 737 Max 8 & Max 9 aircraft

Canadian gov bans operation of Boeing 737 Max 8 & Max 9 aircraft in Canada and Canadian airspace. Air Canada confirms immediate compliance w notice. 

Supplemental Info:

Yesterday, due to the crash of two Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets within the last 6 months (with both incidents showing similar characteristics), 34 countries and nearly 30 airlines have suspended operation of the fuel-efficient long-haul aircraft in the last two days. At the time of that warning, U.S. and Canadian aviation authorities were still allowing the aircraft to operate in N. America.

A short time ago, Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau issued a statement indicating a safety notice was forthcoming to ban Max 8 & Max 9 aircraft flying into, out of, or across Canada.

Garneau says today’s action is based on satellite tracking data his officials just saw that suggested ‘some similarities’ between what happened Sunday in Ethiopia, killing 157 people, and the October Lion Air crash that took 189 lives in Indonesia. They compared vertical fluctuations and found a ‘similar profile.’ This is not conclusive, he warns, but it is something that points to a similar crash cause.

As of 1:15 PM EASTERN on 3/13/2019:

  • The FAA still allows the aircraft to operate in the U.S..
  • At least 47 countries have banned operation of the aircraft.
  • Dozens of airlines have voluntarily grounded the aircraft.

According to the FAA, there are ~350 MAX series aircraft in operation worldwide across 59 operators, all of which account for ~8500 flights weekly.

American Airlines, United Airlines and Southwest Airlines use the jet in domestic and international flight operations.
AlertsUSA subscribers who are traveling should be in touch with their airlines to determine aircraft type on their flights, as well as to assess possible impact should the aircraft be grounded in N. America.

There will, for sure, be domestic and international flight interruptions.

Sites such as FlightStats.com or SeatGuru.com, can help you determine the type of aircraft you are booked on.

 

Update 2:55 PM

USGOV issuing emergency order grounding all Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 aircraft.

 

Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.


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Grounding of Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets spreading

34 nations incl all of EU + ~30 carriers ground Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets flwg 2 crashes. AA, UA & SW cont domestic use. Beware of poss travel impact. See email.

Supplemental Info:

Two Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets have crashed within the last 6 months, with the most recent Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 which crashed on Sunday, claiming 157 lives.

34 countries and nearly 30 airlines have suspended operation of the fuel-efficient long-haul aircraft in the last two days. U.S. and Canadian aviation authorities are still allowing the aircraft to operate in N. America until more information is available from the FAA.
According to the FAA, there are 350 MAX series aircraft in operation worldwide across 59 operators, all of which account for ~8500 flights weekly.

American Airlines, United Airlines and Southwest Airlines use the jet in domestic and international flight operations.

Any who are traveling should be in touch with their airlines to determine aircraft type on their flights, as well as to assess possible impact should the aircraft be grounded in N. America.
The jet is currently grounded in the following countries:
European Union (28 countries)
Australia
China
Indonesia
Malaysia
Singapore
India
The jet is currently grounded by the following airlines:
China Southern Airlines
Air China
Shanghai Airlines
Hainan Airlines
Xiamen Airlines
Lion Air
GOL Airlines
Shandong Airlines
Aerolineas Argentinas
China Eastern Airlines
Ethiopian Airlines
Lucky Air
Cayman Airways
Fuzhou Airlines
Kumming Airlines
Okay Airways
Eastar Jet
Royal Air Maroc
9 Air
Comair
MIAT Mongolian Airlines
Garuda Indonesia
Norwegian Air Shuttle
Turkish Airlines
Iceland Air
Aeromexico
Cayman Airways
Jet Airways
LOT Polish Airlines

 

 

Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.


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