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Kosovars fume at new delay in accessing EU visa-free travel | News


PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — The European Union’s delay in allowing visa-free travel for the people of Kosovo has spread dismay and resentment in the continent’s newest state, and one Pristina businessman has retaliated by hitting EU officials where it hurts — the stomach.

Mama’s restaurant owner Shpetim Pevqeli, 50, who has catered for more than a decade to employees at the EU’s rule of law mission headquarters across the road, put up a sign Tuesday reading: “Protest, no entry, for EU citizens without visa.”

While that may seem no more than a stunt, frustration among Kosovars over the delay in getting into the 27-nation bloc’s so-called Schengen visa-free travel area is real. As things are, they have to wait for hours to apply for a visa to the EU, where many have family members living.

“I have an official invitation from Austria. But I have been waiting and waiting and waiting. What can I do next?” said an angry Faik Ibriqi, 60, queueing at the Swiss diplomatic representation office where many Kosovars apply for the Schengen visa.

Last week Kosovars had hoped that EU leaders meeting to discuss, among other things, their country’s accession prospects would rule on the matter. But it was not discussed.

In July 2018 Kosovo fulfilled all required visa liberalization benchmarks. Both the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, and the European Parliament have called for it to join the visa-free regime.

It doesn’t help that five EU member countries have not even recognized Kosovo as a country. Pristina declared independence in 2008, following its de facto secession from Serbia after a war in 1998-1999.

When they still lived in a province in the former Yugoslavia Kosovars, who are mostly ethnic Albanians, were free to move everywhere. Now some of them turn to neighboring Albania — which has Schengen access — to get a passport.

“Someone wants to go to his aunt, or his brother (in the EU) and when we learnt (there was no EU decision) again we were desperate, humiliated and that’s where the idea came from” for the ban on EU employees, said Pevqeli, the restaurant owner.

“We need to do something, a protest because (the visa situation) is not right and the protest will show our rancor, our despair,” he added.

Last week a disillusioned Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani said peace and stability in Europe were inconceivable without integrating Western Balkan nations.

“Kosovo people want more possibilities and progress. They want a no-visa regime to see, feel and live in Europe,” she said, adding that Kosovo citizens “remain isolated at the heart of the continent where they live.”

Kosovo lost more than 13,000 people, mostly ethnic Albanians, during the 1998-1999 fight to break away from Serbia. It ended after a 78-day NATO bombing campaign forced Serbia to pull its troops out and cede control to the United Nations and NATO.

Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008. The United States and most of the West recognize Kosovo’s independence, but Serbia — supported by allies Russia and China — does not.

Pevqeli said he was confident no EU officials would be coming to eat. “They will understand the sign is for them and they do respect that,” he said.

Semini reported from Tirana, Albania.



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Pilots in line for big raises amid global travel disruptions | News


DALLAS (AP) — The largest pilots union has approved a contract that would boost the pay of pilots at United Airlines by more than 14% over the next 18 months, potentially clearing the way for similar wage hikes throughout the industry.

The deal reflects the leverage currently held by unions, with the industry facing a pilot shortage that has resulted in cancellations worldwide and fewer flights.

The Air Line Pilots Association said Friday that the council overseeing relations with United approved a tentative two-year agreement that covers about 14,000 of the airline’s pilots.

The contract would need to be ratified by rank-and-file pilots to take effect. Voting will run through July 15.

United CEO Scott Kirby called the deal an industry-leading contract that would help both the union and the airline.

United, based in Chicago, is the first major U.S. airline to reach an agreement with its pilots since negotiations across the industry were put on hold because of the pandemic. Union groups at other big airlines have been watching the United contract talks closely as a potential guide in their own negotiations.

Federal law creates a long and difficult process before airline workers can legally go on strike, but pilots at the big airlines have picketed airports and other locations to pressure management into bigger pay hikes. Pilots have complained that thinly staffed airlines are asking them to work too many flights, with more pilots reporting fatigue.

The United contract, which the union valued at $1.3 billion over two years, would be retroactive to the start of 2022 and give three pay raises totaling more than 14.5% through the end of next year. The union said it includes better overtime and premium pay, a new retirement plan, a new 8-week paid maternity leave benefit and improved scheduling provisions.

The deal is likely to raise concern on Wall Street about rising expenses. Airlines have already seen their costs per seat rise more sharply as travel has rebounded from the worst of the pandemic.

JPMorgan airline analyst Jamie Baker said the deal probably exceeds United’s previous expectations for rising costs. He said pilots at Alaska, American, Delta and Southwest will use the United tentative agreement in their negotiations, and that other work groups at United will seek similar increases to those of the pilots.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.





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The 22 Tour de France team rosters, as we get them


The startlist for the 2022 Tour de France is slowly solidifying, one team at a time. We’re expecting quite a few late finalizations this year as teams wait until the last possible moment due to potential COVID-forced changes.

Thus far, we’ve made a few educated guesses based on previous long-list announcements and our own analysis (we’re pretty sure Pogačar will be there, for example). As teams confirm their eight-man rosters this week, we’ll update those lists and drop a little ✅ next to the team name.

AG2R Citroën (France)

  • Benoit Cosnefroy (FRA)
  • Ben O’Connor (AUS)
  • Aurelien Paret-Peintre (FRA)

Alpecin-Fenix (Belgium)

  • Mathieu van der Poel (NED)
  • Jasper Philipsen (BEL)
  • Xandro Mourisse (BEL)

Arkéa-Samsic (France)

  • Nairo Quintana (COL)
  • Connor Swift (GBR)
  • Warren Barguil (FRA)

Astana Qazaqstan (Qazaqstan)

  • Alexey Lutsenko (KAZ)
  • Gianni Moscon (ITA)

Bahrain Victorious (Bahrain)

  • Jack Haig (AUS)
  • Gino Mäder (SWI)

B & B Hotels-KTM (France)

BikeExchange Jayco (Australia)

  • Dylan Groenewegen (NED)
  • Michael Matthews (AUS)
  • Simon Yates (GBR)
  • Luka Mezgec (SLO)

Bora-Hansgrohe (Germany)

  • Sam Bennett (IRL)
  • Nils Politt (GER)

Cofidis (France)

  • Guillaume Martin (FRA)
  • Bryan Coquard (FRA)
  • Simon Geschke (GER)

DSM (Netherlands)

  • Cees Bol (NED)
  • Romain Bardet (FRA)
  • Søren Kragh Andersen (DEN)

EF Education-EasyPost (United States)

  • Rigoberto Uran (COL)
  • Esteban Chaves (COL)
  • Magnus Cort (DEN)

Groupama-FDJ (France)

  • Thibaut Pinot (FRA)
  • Stefan Küng (SWI)
  • David Gaudu (FRA)

Ineos Grenadiers (Great Britain)

  • Geraint Thomas (GBR)
  • Filippo Ganna (ITA)
  • Michal Kwiatkowski (POL)
  • Daniel Martinez (COL)

Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux (Belgium)

  • Taco van der Hoorn (NED)
  • Alexander Kristoff (NOR)
  • Quinten Hermens (BEL)
  • Louis Meintjes (SA)

Israel-Premier Tech (Israel)

  • Jakob Fuglsang (DEN)
  • Michael Woods (CAN)

Jumbo-Visma (Netherlands)

  • Tiesj Benoot (BEL)
  • Steven Kruijswijk (NED)
  • Sepp Kuss (USA)
  • Christophe Laporte (FRA)
  • Primoz Roglic (SLO)
  • Wout Van Aert (BEL)
  • Nathan Van Hooydonck (NED)
  • Jonas Vingegaard (DAN).

Lotto-Soudal (Belgium)

  • Caleb Ewan (AUS)
  • Philippe Gilbert (BEL)

Movistar (Spain)

  • Enric Mas (SPA)
  • Matteo Jorgenson (USA)
  • Imanol Erviti (SPA)

Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl (Belgium)

  • Michael Mørkøv (DEN)
  • Fabio Jakobsen (NED)
  • Kasper Asgreen (DEN)

TotalEnergies (France)

  • Peter Sagan (SVK)
  • Pierre Latour (FRA)
  • Alexis Vuillermoz (FRA)
  • Anthony Turgis (FRA)

Trek-Segafredo (United States)

  • Mads Pedersen (DEN)
  • Jasper Stuyven (BEL)

UAE Emirates (United Arab Emirates)

  • Tadej Pogačar (SLO)
  • Rafal Majka (POL)
  • George Bennett (NZ)
  • Matteo Trentin (ITA)
  • Brandon McNulty (USA)
  • Marc Hirschi (SWI)



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Idaho summer travel outlook – Local News 8


IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) – Travel experts at Idaho’s AAA say despite high gas prices, this could be one of the busiest Fourth of July travel weekends ever.

While Independence Day is traditionally a popular holiday for road trips, this year more than 48 million Americans and 285,000 Idahoans are willing to pay the price at the pump.

Experts believe people are more willing to sacrifice for a number of reasons. Partially to make up for lost time during the pandemic.

“56% of Americans told us in the lead up to the summer driving season that they wouldn’t change their travel plans and it didn’t matter what gas prices did. So that tells you that there’s already more than half of the people who had already made plans that we’re going to follow through on those plans no matter what,” AAA Idaho public affairs director Matthew Conde said.

According to AAA, we can still expect parks to be at capacity in Idaho even after Yellowstone reopens.

“Certainly, the secret’s out on Idaho. Everybody knows that this is the place to be. We know that Yellowstone, with what they had to deal with, that complicates things tremendously. You can expect probably some overload in Grand Teton Some of the state and national parks are going to be at peak capacity,” Conde said.

As more people travel by car this summer, experts believe there’s little chance of gas prices falling anytime soon. In fact, it’s more likely that they’ll continue to rise as more drivers take to the road.

“We think that there’s certainly the potential for gas prices to continue to rise at this point. It wouldn’t be unlikely to say that there’s another 20 or $0.30 worth of demand out there. Hopefully, things ease up at some point. But what you’re more likely to see is a plateauing, when you get past the 4th of July,” Conde said.



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Behold the Lionfish, as Transfixing as It Is Destructive


The silence underwater is overwhelming. Time passes quickly. Having spotted my target, I focus on it intensely, knowing that if I miss, and the animal gets away, it may learn from the encounter and be harder to hunt in the future.

As I approach, armed with my spear, I watch as the fish spreads its wide pectoral fins, displaying its venomous spines. (Slow and easy to spot, it relies on this intimidating display to deter would-be predators.) I take aim, pull back on my spear’s spring-loaded handle and let the weapon fly.

I learned to free-dive and hunt underwater as a child, but spearfishing is no longer thrilling to me. As an adult I took up interests in marine biology and underwater photography, ultimately trading the spear gun of my childhood for my first professional underwater camera. Not long afterward, I completed a master’s degree in marine biology. For the last 10 years I’ve lived on the small Caribbean island of Bonaire, where I work as a marine conservationist photographer.

My overarching goal is to document the efforts of the local community — scientists, professional divers and volunteers — to preserve the reefs of Bonaire. And here, a significant part of the collective preservation effort is focused on a particular target: the lionfish (Pterois miles and Pterois volitans).

Lionfish are native to the Pacific and Indian oceans. But in the past few decades, the animal has established itself in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, where its invasive presence poses a serious threat to tropical Atlantic reefs and their associated habitats.

The effects are staggering. One study by scientists from Oregon State University found that, in only five weeks, a single lionfish reduced the juvenile fish in its feeding zone by 80 percent. And their reproductive output is remarkably high: Females can release around 25,000 eggs every few days. In some places, including the Bahamas, the density of lionfish may well be causing the most significant change to biodiversity of reef habitats since the dawn of industrialized fishing.

Communities throughout the Caribbean have employed a number of strategies to stem the growth of lionfish populations. Bonaire relies on volunteer lionfish hunters; on partnerships with Stichting Nationale Parken Bonaire, or STINAPA, a nonprofit foundation that manages Bonaire’s nature parks; and on help from local dive shops.

Divers offer a precise form of population management, since underwater hunting results in little collateral damage. But divers are limited by the depth to which they can comfortably descend — often around 60 feet. In places where lionfish are found at greater depths, traps can also be employed.

Because spearfishing is prohibited on Bonaire, and to help prevent injury, special tools were developed and distributed to help divers with their hunts. The ELF tools — “ELF” stands for “eradicate lionfish” — also help prevent damage that traditional spear guns and nets inflict on reefs.

While catching a lionfish is relatively easy, it can be difficult — and dangerous — to remove the fish from the spear tip of an ELF and tow the animal without being injured by its venomous spines. Thus, lionfish hunters also began using a device called a “zookeeper” — essentially a piece of PVC pipe that’s closed at one end and has a modified plastic funnel at the other end. Once the lionfish is speared on the ELF, the fish (and spear tip) are inserted into the zookeeper; when the spear is withdrawn, the fish is trapped inside the pipe by the funnel.

When I first arrived on Bonaire, I was introduced to the conservation project aimed at eradicating the lionfish. Because of my experience as a spear fisher, I was immediately asked to get involved. I agreed to participate — though my true interest was in documenting the community’s efforts.

Since then, I’ve become fascinated by the destructive capabilities of the transfixing creature.

It feels cruel to kill something so hypnotically beautiful — even though I understand, rationally, that the act is ecologically beneficial. The lionfish, after all, isn’t to blame; it likely ended up here, scientists theorize, when aquarium owners dumped unwanted specimens off the coast of Florida, possibly because they were eating their way through the other fish sharing their tanks.

And yet killing the fish, one by one, is perhaps the best way to slow the havoc they’re wreaking on the Caribbean reefs.



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