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Mayor of Denver apologizes for holiday travel after advising residents to stay put

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock (D) apologized Wednesday following backlash for his holiday travel to Mississippi after he advised his residents to stay put due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

a view of a city with a mountain in the background: Mayor of Denver apologizes for holiday travel after advising residents to stay put

© Getty
Mayor of Denver apologizes for holiday travel after advising residents to stay put

Hancock released a statement saying he acknowledges he instructed people to “stay home and avoid unnecessary travel.” He said he publicly announced how his family canceled its usual “multi-household Thanksgiving” but should have shared that his wife and daughter have been in Mississippi after his daughter took a new job.

“As the holiday approached, I decided it would be safer for me to travel to see them than to have two family members travel back to Denver,” he said in the statement.

“I recognize that my decision has disappointed many who believe it would have been better to spend Thanksgiving alone,” he added. “As a public official, whose conduct is rightly scrutinized for the message it sends to others, I apologize to the residents of Denver who see my decision as conflicting with the guidance to stay at home for all but essential travel.”

“I made my decision as a husband and father, and for those who are angry and disappointed, I humbly ask you to forgive decisions that are borne of my heart and not my head,” he concluded.

The mayor received criticism after it was reported that he flew to Mississippi hours after tweeting out recommendations for people to “avoid travel, if you can” this year for Thanksgiving as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations surge across the country.

Earlier Wednesday, Mike Strott, a spokesperson for Hancock, told The Denver Post in a statement that there was not a contradiction between the mayor’s instructions and his flight as his family changed its plans from its tradition of gathering up to 50 people.

“[Hancock] has told people to rethink their Thanksgiving plans. He has also said that if you do travel to follow health and safety guidelines and the mayor will still follow health and safety guidelines upon his return,” Strott told the newspaper.

Similar to leaders across the country, Hancock cautioned against large gatherings for the holidays throughout November saying “we’re not going to sit here and tell you that Thanksgiving is canceled in Denver,” but people should “think differently” about holiday gatherings.

He is not the only government official to be accused of hypocrisy after California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) faced condemnation for attending a 12-person party after urging people to avoid such gatherings. The governor later apologized for his attendance.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) altered his in-person Thanksgiving plans after he received backlash for saying his 89-year-old mother and two daughters were traveling to Albany to celebrate the holiday.

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Planning on Thanksgiving holiday travel? Many in the D.C. area are staying put.

The Washington region is in the midst of a Thanksgiving travel season like no other.


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Amid an alarming spike in new coronavirus cases, governors and local health officials are urging people to stay home. Health experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have “strongly recommended” people avoid traveling during the holiday.

Most seem to be heeding that advice.

“It’s been a long outbreak — almost 11 months now — and people are tired. We understand that,” said Erin Sauber-Schatz, head of the CDC’s Community Intervention and Critical Population Task Force. “People want to see their relatives, their friends and [celebrate] the way they’ve always done it, but this year, particularly, we’re asking people to be as safe as possible and limit their travel.”

Even before the CDC issued its updated recommendations, surveys by AAA Mid-Atlantic showed many people already had decided not to travel.

About 83 percent of D.C. residents said they planned to stay home this Thanksgiving holiday. When asked why they had decided not to travel, 65 percent cited the coronavirus pandemic. A similar number of Virginia residents, 84 percent, said they would be staying put.

In Maryland, where Gov. Larry Hogan (R) on Monday urged residents not to let their guard down and to remain vigilant about wearing masks and social distancing, 89 percent of those surveyed said they would not be traveling. The Maryland Department of Transportation on Monday asked residents to avoid nonessential travel.

[Hogan announces targeted enforcement of coronavirus restrictions in bars and restaurants]

It’s a significant shift from previous years, when the Thanksgiving exodus would begin a week earlier as people plotted how to avoid the inevitable crush of holiday traffic. Regular commuters were warned to leave their offices early on Wednesday to avoid getting caught in holiday getaway traffic. The Capital Beltway became a sea of brake lights.

This will be the first Thanksgiving in more than a decade that fewer people plan to travel for the holiday when compared to the previous year, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.

But not everyone is staying home. Roadways and airports might be more crowded than in previous months, but the volume will be a far cry from previous years, officials said.

The Transportation Security Administration reported it screened more than 1 million passengers Friday and again Sunday — something that has happened only three times since the pandemic began in March.

“We’re seeing more people on a daily basis than we have in the last few months,” said Christina Saull, spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which manages Dulles International and Reagan National airports.

Even so, Saull said passenger volumes are down about 60 percent compared to 2019, when trade group Airlines for America projected 30.6 million people would travel over a 12-day period around Thanksgiving.

Saull said travelers are largely following requirements to wear masks and practice social distancing. She said free masks are available at airport information desks. Many airlines also are making masks available.

In a briefing

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Hong Kong and Singapore put their planned travel bubble on hold.

The governments of Hong Kong and Singapore have temporarily scrapped a plan for a travel bubble, as Hong Kong grapples with a spike in coronavirus infections. The delay underscores the challenges of reopening international travel routes as efforts to control the virus remain unstable across the world.

The arrangement between the two Asian financial centers, which would allow travelers to bypass quarantine, was set to begin on Sunday. But Edward Yau, Hong Kong’s secretary of commerce, said on Saturday that the two cities were pushing back the plan for two weeks because of a “recent upsurge in local cases” in Hong Kong.

“For any scheme to be successful, it must fulfill the condition of securing public health and also making sure that both sides would be comfortable and feel safe about the scheme,” Mr. Yau said, describing the delay as a “responsible” decision. Further announcements about the plan will be made by early December, he added.

The travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore would have allowed one designated daily flight into each city, carrying up to 200 passengers who tested negative for the virus.

After a period of relatively few infections, Hong Kong recorded 43 new cases and was verifying more possible ones on Saturday, the city’s health authorities said, up from 26 new cases on Friday. Singapore on Saturday recorded five infections, and said that all of them had been brought in from abroad.

Hong Kong has also further tightened its social distancing rules, banning live performances and dancing at bars and nightclubs, and banning room rentals for private parties.

In other news from around the world:

  • A day after Japan reported a record 2,427 new cases, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Saturday that the country would scale back a subsidy program for domestic tourism in places where infection rates are high. The roughly $16 billion “Go to Travel” program was meant to stimulate the economy, but many questioned its wisdom. Mr. Suga told the Japanese parliament on Friday that about 40 million trips had been taken through the program so far, and that 176 of the tourists had contracted the virus. Toshio Nakagawa, the head of the Japan Medical Association, has said that while there is no concrete evidence linking the program to the country’s recent surge in infections, “there is no mistaking that it acted as a catalyst.”

  • Portugal’s prime minister, Antonio Costa, said on Saturday that domestic travel would be banned and schools closed around

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Trump International Hotel Washington DC sale put on indefinite hold

  • The Trump Organization’s efforts to sell the Trump International Hotel Washington DC have been put on indefinite hold, casting doubts on the future of one of the President’s biggest financial bets, according to industry executives.
  • The Trump Organization hired Jones Lang LaSalle to shop the hotel to potential buyers last fall hoping for a price of about $500 million.
  • People familiar with the deal talks said none of the bids came close to the asking price, and several were for less than $250 million.

a large clock mounted to the side of a building: The Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.

© Provided by CNBC
The Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.

The Trump Organization’s efforts to sell the Trump International Hotel Washington DC have been put on indefinite hold, casting doubts on the future of one of the President’s biggest financial bets, according to industry executives.


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The Trump Organization hired Jones Lang LaSalle to shop the hotel to potential buyers last fall hoping for a price of about $500 million. People familiar with the deal talks said none of the bids came close to the asking price, and several were for less than $250 million. Jones Lang LaSalle confirmed to CNBC that efforts to sell the hotel are on “indefinite hold.”

The hotel, which became the glittering social hub of President Donald Trump’s Washington and a crown jewel of Trump’s business empire, now faces the added pressures of the coronavirus pandemic and the president’s post-election future.

Faced with a $100 million loan from Deutsche Bank on the property and continued losses, the Trump Organization may end up either having to subsidize the business for years to come, or default on the loan and hand back the property, according to industry executives.

“At this point, they could either just turn over the keys, or keep it and make it part of whatever media company the President decides to create,” said Brian Friedman of Friedman Capital, which bid on the hotel and owns several hotels and properties in the DC area. “I just don’t think they’re going to get the price they expected.”

The Trump Organization didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Gathering spot for GOP

The Trump International Hotel in DC celebrated its grand opening in October, 2016, right before the election, and quickly became the favorite gathering spot for companies, politicians and lobbyists eager to build relations with the new White House. The property took in $40.5 million in revenues in 2019, the latest period available, according to disclosures filed to the the Office of Government Ethics.

According to election filings, campaign committees tied to the president or the the GOP spent about $3 million at the hotel since Trump became president. With business strong, the Trump Organization started shopping around the hotel to potential buyers last October.

After the widespread lockdowns and travel restrictions in March, the sales efforts were halted. Even longtime longtime pillars of the Washington hotel business, like the St. Regis and The Hay-Adams, continue to struggle to fill rooms and amidst the drop in travel and tourism.

But even

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Thai Hotel That Put American in Jail Gets New Label on Tripadvisor

BANGKOK — The resort hotel in Thailand got its public apology. The unhappy American guest who spent two nights in jail for criticizing the hotel online got his criminal charges dropped. But it was Tripadvisor, the giant online travel review platform, that got the last word.

Wesley Barnes, the American traveler who was arrested after being charged with criminal defamation for posting critical reviews of the Sea View resort on the island of Koh Chang, quietly left Thailand this week.

With Mr. Barnes safely out of the country, Tripadvisor took punitive action on Wednesday against the resort, posting a one-of-a-kind notice on the Sea View’s page warning travelers that the hotel was behind the jailing of a guest for his harsh reviews.

“This hotel or individuals associated with this hotel filed criminal charges against a Tripadvisor user in relation to the traveler writing and posting online reviews,” the warning reads. “The reviewer spent time in jail as a result.”

The dispute between the resort and its guest began over a $15 corkage fee, but turned into a clash between American principles of free speech and Thailand’s far-reaching laws that limit expression and are used to stifle criticism of businesses, the government and the monarchy.

Tripadvisor’s business model is based on the idea that everyone has “the right to write,” said Bradford Young, vice president and associate legal counsel. “This is the first case we are aware of where a Tripadvisor member spent time in jail as a result of a review they posted to our website.”

While Thailand is seen as one of the world’s most tourist-friendly places, its anti-speech arsenal includes laws against criminal defamation, improper online content, sedition, contempt of court and insulting the monarchy. That law, known as lèse-majesté, can bring a 15-year prison sentence.

“Thailand’s use of criminal defamation is really off the charts,” said Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch. “It seems like the Asian notion of ‘saving face’ has really been taken to heart by Thais who don’t hesitate to head to court over the smallest perceived slight or insult. If Thailand would simply decriminalize defamation, making it a purely civil law matter, this would create a major change in Thai society overnight.”

In recent weeks, thousands of protesters have defied restrictions on free speech and street protests to stage huge demonstrations in Bangkok, Thailand’s capital, demanding the resignation of the prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, the dissolution of Parliament and changes to the Constitution.

In a rare challenge to the monarchy, they have also called for the king, Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, to come under the Constitution’s authority and return control of the crown assets, worth tens of billions of dollars.

Many protest leaders have been arrested, several of them more than once.

In the case of Mr. Barnes, he began writing wide-ranging, critical reviews of the hotel in June after the corkage fee dispute.

The Sea View, located in the Gulf of Thailand, an hour’s flight from Bangkok, said it

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Who put greeting card writers in charge of decorating vacation homes? | Feature Story

While enjoying time away from home, the vacationer may experience brief moments of spatial disorientation when rising from peaceful slumber. Those moments are great because they allow one to relive a certain “I don’t have to go to work today” euphoria.

It’s getting harder to experience that sweet little reminder. Decorators of vacation homes have begun scattering cute little words and phrases all around so that when the eyes open, your location is spelled out.

“Beach” might be the most displayed word in coastal vacation spots these days. Just in case you might have fallen under the misapprehension that you’re someplace else.

I have not researched it, but I’m guessing that “Lake” has become a popular word to hang at properties bordering lakes. “River” likewise.

I’m at one of my favorite coastal locations, Florida’s Anna Maria Island. It’s slightly larger than quaint but is small enough to share a warm connection with locals. Chain restaurants are not allowed on the island — a rule that actually contributes as much as anything else to Anna Maria’s identity as a unique and wonderful place.

We were introduced to Anna Maria by some dear friends who read my column in the Sarasota and Bradenton newspapers. Married 65 years, John and Dot Ann passed away about three months apart in 2012. They lived most of their lives in nearby Bradenton and took us to Anna Maria during a visit in 2007.

During the first few vacation trips to the island, I would also spend time with John and Dot Ann. Each year when I come back, I still see them everywhere. The restaurants where we ate. The hardware store where John and I shopped for light bulbs. The beach where we sat under an umbrella discussing the treasures of life.

Everyone in my extended family has adopted Anna Maria as a home away from home. One of my sisters tries to rent the same house every time she comes with her family. Our family has never stayed in the same house twice. We like to experience new quarters each time, and we’ve never been disappointed.

I’m here this week with my mother and brother. We’re in one of the great little ranch houses that are part of the oldest neighborhoods on the island. I have no complaints about the house, just the decorative words.

I don’t need cute words and phrases like “The ocean is calling your name” or “I need some vitamin sea” to remind me that I’m on vacation. So on the second day, I gathered them all up and stuck them in a remote corner of the house.

Several days later, I still know exactly where I am and why I’m here.

Using words to decorate is not unique to vacation spots. I’ve been in homes where the word “Kitchen” was displayed in a room where a stove, refrigerator, sink and food also just happened to be.

Words on walls is a decorating trend that will soon be erased, I feel

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