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Excitement and emotion aboard a flight from London to New York as travel resumes

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November 8, 2021

By Carlos Barria

ABOARD AA 101 (Reuters) – In row 22 of a full American Airlines flight from London to New York on Monday morning, Christopher and Zoe Perrotton fastened their seat belts.

AA 101 was preparing to take off from London’s Heathrow Airport, heading to New York after the United States on Monday lifted https://www.reuters.com/world/us/international-travellers-head-united-states-flights-reopen-2021-11-08 travel restrictions slapped on much of the world as the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020.

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The Perrottons, both British human resources executives, were married last August, but had not been able to celebrate yet. Just over eight hours later, they touched down at John F. Kennedy International Airport on a sunny New York day.

“This is a bit of a mini honeymoon,” said Christopher, 36, as they landed. “America said they were going to open up, and we thought on the off-chance we booked some flights to New York.”

Their plan for six nights in the Big Apple? “Eating and drinking as much we can,” Christopher said with a smile at baggage claim.

The travel ban https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-braces-surge-vaccinated-international-travelers-2021-11-07, first imposed in early 2020, had barred access to most non-U.S. citizens travelling from 33 countries – including China, India and much of Europe – and had also restricted overland entry from Mexico and Canada.

The United States lagged many other countries in its decision to finally lift the travel curbs, made possible by the rollout of coronavirus vaccines and critical to reviving tourism around the globe.

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Months of pent-up demand triggered a major spike in bookings on Monday, with travelers required to show official proof of vaccination and a recent, negative viral test.

Brad, a 34-year-old American who lives in England, was waiting for his British partner Kelly, 33, to join him, after he’d flown to the United States earlier to visit his parents. Both gave only their first names.

Kelly, who had not travelled to the United States during the pandemic at all, chided Brad about her flight experience.

“It was very busy,” she told him at arrivals. “I kept hearing how your flights were always empty!”

The flight was smooth, said British couple Jill and Stephen Brownbill, who had crossed the Atlantic to meet their 9-week-old grandson.

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“We’ve waited so long for this,” Stephen said after kissing the little boy at arrivals as Jill held him. “Technology is an amazing thing, but this – there’s no comparison.”

(Writing by Alexandra Ulmer, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

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Germany’s Free Democrats back coalition agreement

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December 5, 2021

BERLIN (Reuters) – Members of Germany’s pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) voted on Sunday by a large majority to back a coalition agreement with the Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens, paving the way for the three-way alliance to form a new government next week.

The coalition, the first at federal level between the environmentalist Greens, the FDP and Olaf Scholz’s centre-left SPD, will end 16 years of conservative governments led by Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The SPD approved the agreement on Saturday and the Greens are due to announce the outcome of a member survey on the deal on Monday. The three parties hope the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, will vote Scholz in as chancellor on Wednesday.

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The “traffic light” alliance, named after the parties’respective colours, will usher in a new era of relations with Europe, and plans to speed up digitalisation of the continent’sbiggest economy and put a focus on fighting climate change.

(Reporting by Alexander Ratz; Writing by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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Gambian President Barrow on course for resounding election win

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December 5, 2021

By Bate Felix

BANJUL (Reuters) – Gambia’s incumbent president, Adama Barrow, was on course for a resounding election win on Sunday, partial results indicated, that could help to draw a line under recent political turmoil.

Saturday’s vote was the first in 27 years without disgraced former president Yahya Jammeh, who lives in exile in Equatorial Guinea after refusing to accept defeat to Barrow in 2016.

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Jammeh, whose 22-year rule over the tiny nation of 2.5 million people was characterised by killings and torture of political opponents, had tried to persuade supporters to vote for an opposition coalition in telephoned speeches that were relayed to campaign rallies.

But his lingering influence was not enough to dent Barrow’s showing. The president, who only needs to win more votes than the second-placed candidate, won 36 of the first 41 constituencies announced, taking 315,547 votes.

His nearest rival, political veteran Ousainou Darboe, had 133,177 votes, with four other candidates far behind.

Only 12 constituencies remained to be announced.

The election was seen as a test of Gambia’s democratic progress and its ability to leave the Jammeh era behind.

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Barrow’s first term was marked by the coronavirus pandemic, which damaged an economy that relies heavily on tourism, as well as exports of peanuts and fish.

(Writing by Edward McAllister; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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S.Africans protest against Shell oil exploration in pristine coastal area

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December 5, 2021

By Siyabonga Sishi

PORT EDWARD, South Africa (Reuters) – South Africans took to their beaches on Sunday to protest against plans by Royal Dutch Shell to do seimsic oil exploration they say will threaten marine wildlife such as whales, dolphins, seals and penguins on a pristine coastal stretch.

A South African court on Friday struck down https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/shell-wins-court-case-start-seismic-surveys-offshore-south-africa-2021-12-03 an application brought by environmentalists to stop the oil major exploring in the eastern seaboard’s Wild Coast, rejecting as unproven their argument that it would cause “irreparable harm” to the marine environment, especially migrating hump-back whales.

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The Wild Coast is home of some of the country’s most undisturbed wildlife refuges, and it’s stunning coastal wildernesses are also a major tourist draw.

At least 1,000 demonstrators gathered on a beach near Port Edward, a Reuters TV correspondent saw.

“It’s just absolutely horrendous that they are even considering this. Look around you?” said demonstrator Kas Wilson, indicating an unspoilt stretch of beach. “It’s unacceptable and … we will stop it.”

Shell officials were not immediately available for comment, but the company said on Friday that its planned exploration has regulatory approval, and it will significantly contribute to South Africa’s energy security if resources are found.

But local people fear the seismic blasting conducted over 6,000 square kilometres will kill or scare away the fish they depend on to live.

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“I don’t want them to operate here because if they do we won’t be able to catch fish,” said 62-year-old free dive fisherwoman Toloza Mzobe, after pulling a wild lobster from the ground. “What are we going to eat?”

Environmentalists are urging Shell and other oil companies to stop prospecting for oil, arguing that the world has no chance of reaching net zero carbon by 2050 if existing oil deposits are burned, let alone if new ones are found.

Earlier this year, a Dutch court ordered Shell to reduce its planet warming carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 from 2019 levels, a decision it plans to appeal.

South Africa’s environment ministry referred Reuters to a statement late last month that “the Minister responsible for environmental affairs is … not mandated to consider the application or to make a decision on the authorisation of the seismic survey.”

(Writing by Tim Cocks;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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