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Atlanta loses ‘busiest airport’ ranking due to COVID-19, report finds

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Atlanta no longer has the world’s busiest airport.

Hartsfield-Jackson International had made that boast for 22 years, but due to a plunge in air travel due to the coronavirus pandemic, the honor has gone to an airport in China, according to a new report.

Earlier this week, Airports Council International (ACI) released its world airport traffic rankings for 2020. 

According to the trade group’s report, Hartsfield-Jackson dropped to second place, with Guangzhou Baiyun International boasting the most passengers, up from No. 11 in 2019. 

“The impact of the COVID-19 on global passenger traffic pandemic brought aviation to a virtual standstill in 2020, and we continue to face an existential threat,” Luis Felipe de Oliveira, ACI’s world director general, said in a statement. “The data published today reveals the challenge airports continue to face and it remains imperative that the industry is supported through direct support and sensible policy decisions from governments to ensure that aviation can endure, rebuild connectivity, and fuel a global economic recovery.”

Overall, airports around the world saw huge declines in passenger traffic last year. According to ACI, airports around the world had 64.6% fewer passengers last year.

The Atlanta airport saw a 61.2% decrease from 2019 — when there were more than 110 million passengers — to 2020 — when only 42.9 million passengers were reported. 

Meanwhile, the Guangzhou airport saw only a 40.4% drop. In 2019, the airport had 73.3 million passengers and in 2020, it had 43.7 million passengers.

Before last year, the Atlanta airport had been the world’s busiest airport since 1998, according to reports. 

Seven of the top 10 airports in terms of passenger traffic are now in China, while only three are in the U.S. 

Passengers depart Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., November 23, 2020.
Passengers depart Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Atlanta, Georgia, US, November 23, 2020.
Reuters

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Former President Obama’s dog Bo dies

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Former President Obama's dog Bo dies

Former President Obama’s dog Bo died Saturday, the ex-commander in chief revealed in a Twitter thread.

The cause of death was cancer. He was 12 years old.

“Today our family lost a true friend and loyal companion. For more than a decade, Bo was a constant, gentle presence in our lives — happy to see us on our good days, our bad days, and everyday in between,” Obama wrote.

“He tolerated all the fuss that came with being in the White House, had a big bark but no bite, loved to jump in the pool in the summer, was unflappable with children, lived for scraps around the dinner table, and had great hair,” Obama continued. “He was exactly what we needed and more than we ever expected. We will miss him dearly.”

Bo, a Portuguese Water Dog, moved into the White House shortly after Obama took office, and was colloquially known as the first dog. He was joined by a second canine of the same breed named Sunny in 2013.

The former president’s post swiftly went viral on Twitter, where it was met with an outpouring of sympathy from Bo fans.

“It always made the day incalculably better to see Bo wandering around the west wing,” said former Obama administration Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes.

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New Zealand trying to eradicate hedgehog ‘killing machines’

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New Zealand trying to eradicate hedgehog 'killing machines'

Everyone loves the hedgehog – except for New Zealand.

The creature that inspired Beatrix Potter’s “Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle” and the popular video game character Sonic was introduced to the country decades ago when New Zealand was still a British colony to remind the colonizers of their gardens at home. But with no natural predators on the island nation, the hedgehog population soared and is now a scourge of “killing machines.”

“Unchecked by the food chain, they meander blissfully through forests and gardens, hoovering up an astonishing number of native creatures,” the Guardian reports.

 “It’s increasingly coming to light how much damage they can do,” Nick Foster, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Otago who is researching hedgehogs, told the paper. A single, dedicated hedgehog will consume numerous native lizards, bird eggs, and wētā – a kind of large flightless cricket found only in New Zealand. One study found 283 wētā legs in a single hedgehog stomach. “That means in a 24-hour period this hedgehog has guzzled up 60 or so animals,” Foster said. “It’s a banquet.”

New Zealand is now trying to eradicate the animals by 2050, by way of trapping, hunting, and poisoning them — a plan that is despised by some locals due to the “cuteness” of the animals.

Foster told the Guardian there is “a bit of a psychological barrier” when it comes to hedgehog eradication. “It has been proposed to ship them all back to the UK. European hedgehogs aren’t doing so well in Europe. Still in good numbers, but they are declining.”

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Melting glacier reveals ‘open-air museum’ of World War I relics

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Adamello White War Museum, Temu, Valle Camonica, Lombardy. Image shot 08/2014. Exact date unknown.

Thawing ice has revealed a treasure trove of previously hidden World War I artifacts in the Italian Alps. 

Last month, a team from the Stelvio National Park White’s War Museum excavated a cave shelter, built by Austrian soldiers, atop Mount Scorluzzo and acquired 300 “exciting” artifacts, ranging from coins to corpses, helmets and weapons. 

No one had been inside the space, which was hidden and closed off by ice, in nearly 100 years. But as a result of rising temperatures, a glacier preventing access to the shelter had sufficiently melted in 2017 to allow researchers into what they’ve discovered to be a goldmine of items.

As the ice melted, relics — including bodies — have continued to appear in the area summer after summer. 

“A corpse is found every two or three years, usually in places where there was fighting on the glacier,” museum staffer Marco Ghizzoni told The Guardian.

“The findings in the cave on Mount Scorluzzo give us, after over a hundred years, a slice of life at over 3,000 meters above sea level, where the time stopped on November 3, 1918 when the last Austrian soldier closed the door and rushed downhill,” according to a museum press release, CNN reported. 

Inside, a world last accessed close to a century ago has offered researchers an abundance of antiques from a bygone era. Some of the recovered artifacts will be part of a collection set to open at the museum next year.

“It’s a sort of open-air museum,” historian Stefano Morosini told CNN of the northern Italy cave, where 20 servicemen lived their “very poor daily” lives while fighting Italian troops during the war. “Soldiers had to fight against the extreme environment, fight against the snow or the avalanches, but also fight against the enemy,” he went on. “The artifacts are a representation, like a time machine, of … the extreme conditions of life during the First World War.”

Italy’s White War Museum.

Alamy Stock Photo

Adamello White War Museum, Temu, Valle Camonica, Lombardy. Image shot 08/2014. Exact date unknown.

An upcoming exhibit here will display some of the findings from the cave expeditions.

Alamy Stock Photo

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