What It Feels Like on Guam, Caught Between Trump and North Korea

What It Feels Like on Guam, Caught Between Trump and North Korea

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On Tuesday, President Trump warned that the United States would unload
fire and
fury

on North Korea if it continued to threaten the U.S., an apparent
response to North Korea’s recent intercontinental-ballistic-missile
tests, and possibly to North Korea’s reported development of a
miniaturized nuclear
warhead
.
This morning, the state media in North Korea reported that a plan to
fire missiles at the U.S. territory of Guam could be ready in
days
. Guam, four thousand
miles west of Hawaii and about two thousand miles southeast of
Pyongyang, is home to two U.S. military bases.

Ken Leon-Guerrero, sixty-two, has spent much of his life on Guam. After
years as a sales and operations consultant in Hawaii, California,
Nevada, and Georgia, he is now “semi-retired” there. He’s a community
advocate at a nonprofit called Guam Citizens for Public
Accountability
, and from his back yard, on a
hill, he keeps an eye on U.S. military installations. On Thursday, while
taking a break from yard work, he spoke by phone about the atmosphere on
the island. His account has been edited and condensed.

“My father, who was from Guam, was in the military, like a very high
portion of Guam’s population. Because our island was invaded and held by
the Japanese during World War II, we have a very strong sense of
patriotism. So I was a military brat and grew up all over the United
States. Okinawa. Africa. We settled here on Guam when I was fourteen. I
left Guam when I was twenty-eight and came back when I was fifty-three.

“The media hasn’t been able to get any information on Guam right. Fox
News had a news slide showing that ‘thirty-one hundred Americans are affected.’ Well,
there’s a hundred and sixty thousand residents here. We’re all U.S.
citizens—but not if you hear Fox talk about it!” [Fox News has since
corrected the graphic.]

“I live in Santa Rita, located between the naval magazine, a
weapons-storage area for the U.S. Navy, and just a couple of miles away
from the main naval base. What I tell people is that we’re on the
western edge of Western civilization. We’re closer to Asia than we are
to America. I love the small-town feel here. Everybody is into
everybody’s business. It’s also a tropical paradise.

“Until recently, none of us felt concerned about the volatility with
North Korea. I mean, there have been incidents and everything like that.
But it used to be handled a lot differently. Now, instead of using
diplomacy, we’re relying on Twitter! That’s concerning.

“Then we get vague assurances from the Secretary of State while he’s
refuelling on Guam on his way back to the United States. I thought it
was just a piece of bad P.R.: he lands here on Guam with no advance
notice, issues a couple of press statements, and then jumps on his plane
and takes off before anyone on Guam even knew he was here. And the first
we find out he’s here is we start reading these press statements issued
in other media? It really wasn’t the reassuring presence it could have
been, you know.

“On a scale of one to ten, my fear level is 0.5. I’m not rushing down to
the store for emergency supplies. We live in typhoon alley—we’re used to
preparing for natural disasters. Also, the military is very, very
protective of their assets. That’s why we have two anti-missile
batteries between us and North Korea, plus we have the naval ships and
the military assets. And I’m sure they’ve got all kinds of things
they’re not telling us about.

“So, from my perspective, and the perspective of my friends, we think
it’s all bluster. We wish the media would get off this and onto
something more important, like the final season of ‘Game of Thrones.’ ”

“I hear the North Korea news at the top of the hour, on the radio, and I
figure, O.K., a two-minute story at the top of the hour, I can handle
that. The rest of my time is spent doing stuff that matters, like
watering my tomatoes, walking my dogs. The whole time I’m doing that,
I’m looking down at the military base and I don’t see any sense of
heightened activity. No alerts, you know. No frenzied preparations
taking place.

“You have to understand, when my father was in the Air Force, he was in
Strategic Air Command. I was raised with a certain level of fatalism and
paranoia. We knew that if the Russians tried to do anything, their first
move would be to try to take out the bases, to knock out as many bombers
on the ground as they could. So we learned to see the signs in the
activity on the base. From where I sit—I’ve got a pretty good view—I
don’t see any signs of the type of activity that the military thinks
this is a serious threat, either.

“I’m at my house right now. You can hear my son mowing the lawn. Shows
you where our priorities are. Gotta get these lawns done! Screw North
Korea!

“I listen to talk radio here,
K57.com. You can listen to it
online. Half the people are attacking the governor, who issued a press
response
assuring
everybody that nothing is happening. So they’re attacking him for, ‘How
would he know? He’s the governor of Guam! How would he know what’s going
on inside the mind of the dictator of North Korea?’ And then the other
half of the people who call in are attacking Trump for being provocative
and poking sticks. Some people are frustrated over the fact that, of all
the things going on in the world right now, this is the lead, main, and
all-day story. And I tend to agree with them on that one. So does my
family. My son, mowing the yard, is tired of it. My wife, she’s working
on a beading project she’s really excited about.

“Our property is heavily overgrown—it’s about fifty-two acres. A family
compound with twenty houses on it. I’ll see if I can find a break in the
jungle. O.K., yes, I see the gap in the jungle now. And I see the ships
at anchor. I can see two of the three most critical military
installations on the island and no heightened activity, tension, or
unusual levels of alertness. And, believe me, we know it if we see it.
I’m a military brat. I’m not hearing sirens or radios blaring down at
the naval dock. None of that.

“They’re talking about medicinal marijuana on the radio now. They’ve
moved on. Our lives here haven’t changed. One of the callers, someone
from the admiral’s office here, said it best. He likened the state of
readiness here to T.C.C.O.R.”—Tropical Cyclone Conditions of
Readiness
—“4.
That’s where we could have a tropical storm in five days’ time. Well,
we’re always in T.C.C.O.R. 4.”

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August 10, 2017 at 08:09PM

The Way Out of Trump’s Ad-lib War with North Korea

The Way Out of Trump’s Ad-lib War with North Korea

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In October, 2000, during the final weeks of the Clinton Administration,
I accompanied Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to North Korea. The
trip was the first high-level U.S. diplomatic mission to Pyongyang since
the Korean War ended, in 1953, and no other has taken place since.
Albright’s goal was to broker a moratorium on North Korea’s missile
program and to set up a summit between President Clinton and Supreme
Leader Kim Jong-il, the father of the county’s current leader, Kim
Jong-un. Albright carried a letter from Clinton outlining “the
expectation of further developing relations.” Kim put on a flashy
spectacle for her: a hundred thousand dancers, musicians, gymnasts,
children, and soldiers performed at a ceremony in a Pyongyang stadium, complete with fireworks and a
synchronized sequence in which tens of thousands of people flashed
color-coded cards to depict Communist symbols and nationalist
images—including a missile.

Albright and Kim held two days of intensive talks at a government
guesthouse decorated with crystal chandeliers, lime-green carpet, pink
and white orchids, and caged parakeets. Outside, the country was
struggling to recover from a famine. The United Nations had recently
estimated that two-thirds of the population had suffered chronic
malnutrition. Albright visited a kindergarten where humanitarian aid,
much of it from the United States, provided children’s meals. She
presented Kim with a basketball autographed by Michael Jordan, his athlete hero. He wanted to dribble it, only to find that it was attached to a display box. The two leaders
discussed movies and Kim said that he didn’t think he could watch “Titanic” a second time. He asked for Albright’s e-mail address.

“There is great distance between our two lands, but we are starting to
discover, to our benefit, that there is no barrier to improving ties,”
Albright said in a toast at a working dinner. She called for “new avenues of
communication, commerce and contacts.”

The diplomacy collapsed over the next three years, for several reasons.
As his Presidency was ending, Clinton had to choose between two
last-ditch diplomatic initiatives—North Korea rapprochement or
Palestinian-Israeli peace. Clinton opted to focus on the Middle East, in
part because he thought that the Palestinian President, Yasser Arafat, was
ready to make a final deal with Israel. In the end, Arafat wasn’t.
Clinton left office without making progress on either front. During the
Georg W. Bush Administration, North Korea was discovered to be secretly
enriching uranium, which can fuel a nuclear weapon. The complicated
Agreed Framework that Washington and Pyongyang signed in 1994 collapsed
in 2003. Among other things, the agreement had curtailed the
construction of North Korean reactors capable of producing plutonium.
The United States, in turn, could not use or threaten to use nuclear
weapons against the North.

This week, as tensions between Washington and Pyongyang flared, I spoke
to Wendy Sherman, who was the State Department’s policy coördinator on
North Korea under Clinton and was also on Albright’s trip. Later, under
President Obama, she was the State Department’s lead negotiator on the
more successful Iran nuclear deal, in 2015. I asked her about whether
diplomacy was still an option—given past U.S. experience—and whether Kim
Jong-un, who has been in power since 2011, could ever be trusted.

“The North Koreans are not crazy in the sense that we use the word in
the vernacular,” she told me. “They have a paradigm under which they
operate. It’s regime survival. They believe if they don’t have nuclear
weapons they won’t survive. They’ve seen leaders deposed or killed
because they didn’t have a deterrent against the powerful United
States.”

Diplomacy is still an option, she insisted. “Whether it can work now
that they have nukes and are well on their way to a system to deliver
them—it’s much, much, much, much harder,” she said. “But the Agreed
Framework, as imperfect and ultimately doomed as it was, worked. For the
eight years it was in place, North Korea did not get one ounce of
plutonium. It did not get a nuclear weapon. And it did not get an
intercontinental ballistic missile. So diplomacy is worth one more try.
The consequences are so huge, and war is such a horrible option.”

Hyperbolic American rhetoric has escalated the tensions this week.
President Trump’s ad-lib warning to North Korea—that it faced “fire and fury like the world has never seen”—was followed by Defense Secretary
James Mattis, a former Marine general who is well aware of the
complexities of military action against North Korea, staking out a
tougher position than he has in the past. Pyongyang “should cease any
consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and
the destruction of its people,” Mattis said in a statement on Wednesday.
He noted that the United States was “making every effort” at a
diplomatic resolution, but warned that North Korea “would lose any arms
race or conflict it initiates.”

North Korea countered by threatening to fire four ballistic missiles over Japan toward Guam, the small Pacific island where the United States has some seven thousand troops stationed on two military bases.
Guam is about two thousand miles southeast of Pyongyang and just less than four thousand miles from
Hawaii. According to the state-run Korean Central News Agency, North Korea is considering a plan for “an enveloping fire” around Guam “to signal a crucial warning to the U.S.” Pyongyang also dismissed President Trump’s threat as a
“load of nonsense.” “Sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason,” the head of North Korea’s strategic forces said in a statement. “Only absolute force can work on him.”

On Wednesday, I asked Michael Hayden, a former four-star general who has
served as the director of both the C.I.A. and the National Security
Agency, how the crisis could be defused. There is no military option
short of a potentially costly and deadly war that would result in many
thousands of military and civilian casualties, he said. Covert action
might slow North Korea’s nuclear program, and thus relieve some of the
tensions, but it couldn’t halt the country’s program. Trying to shoot
down missiles in flight would be more palatable—except for the danger
that it might fail. U.S. technology is not there yet. In Hayden’s view,
diplomacy is still the best way out. “Yet any deal will have to, in one
way or another, concede North Korea’s nuclear status,” he said. “No
other deal is possible.”

James Winnefeld, a retired Navy admiral and a former vice-chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff, offered a more sanguine prognosis. “Grin and
bear it,” he told me. “Let them stew in their own juices.” Negotiations
are worth a try, but “we could end up negotiating with ourselves as they
cross their arms and stick to their position. The North Koreans will
never give up their program. This is an impoverished, authoritarian
country, and this is their insurance policy. At same time, they will
never use it. They know it will be the end. And they’re not suicidal.”

The United States, he said, can fortify its deterrent capabilities—for
instance, by strengthening its missile defenses. It can exert greater
economic and diplomatic pressure on the regime, or mobilize allies in
joint actions. “But it’s a fool’s errand to expect China to solve this
for us,” he noted. If North Korea shows signs of proliferating—that is,
trying to export—its nuclear technology, the U.S. should be prepared to
impose a blockade, complete with search and seizure of ships, to inspect
everything that goes in or out of the country. “We Americans tend to
want closure, an endgame,” Winnefeld said. “But it’s not going to
happen with North Korea. So you should put yourself in the best possible
position—and go on living.”

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August 10, 2017 at 07:33PM

Uber Operations Boss Ryan Graves to Step Down as Management Shakeup Heats Up

Uber Operations Boss Ryan Graves to Step Down as Management Shakeup Heats Up

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Skift Take: Ryan Graves was a key personality in the early days when Uber was trying to get its act together. Oh, wait, Uber is still trying to get its act together but Graves helped make Uber a global brand.

— Dennis Schaal

Ryan Graves, an integral figure in the early days of Uber Technologies Inc., is stepping down from his management role after a tumultuous year.

Graves served on the executive leadership team that’s been tasked with running the company in the absence of a chief executive officer. In a staff email, Graves said he’ll remain on the board as the ride-hailing company searches for a CEO to replace co-founder Travis Kalanick, who was ousted in June. Uber declined to comment.

As an early leader at Uber, Graves helped the company lay the groundwork in its hometown of San Francisco as officials grappled with the implications the mobile service would have on transportation. Graves has taken on various roles in management during the last seven years since joining the company shortly after it was formed in 2009.

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

This article was written by Olivia Zaleski from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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August 10, 2017 at 07:08PM

Airplane Food Has A Startling Number of Calories

Airplane Food Has A Startling Number of Calories

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Gastrophysics: The New Science of Eating, is a newly released book finds that not only does airplane food taste worse than food consumed on the ground, it’s also worse for you from a health perspective.

The book’s author, Professor Charles Spence explains to The Telegraph, “The lower cabin air pressure, dry cabin air and the loud engine noise all contribute to our inability to taste and smell food and drink.

[Therefore] the food we consume needs 20-30 per cent more sugar and salt to make it taste like it would on the ground.”

Professor Spence goes on to say that there are other elements that conspire to make you consume more food. Due to boredom and lack of anything else to do, food becomes a welcome distraction, especially because it is offered for free. The other culprit is watching TV or a movie.  According to Professor Spence, people consume as much as a third more food when the screen is on.

All of this, Professor Spence says, means that the average Briton consumes as many as 3,400 calories between checking in at the airport and arriving at their destination. And while indulging at the airport could account for some of it, most of the problem takes place on board the plane.

Airlines have tried different means of making their in-flight meals taste better, including using spices like curry. But most airlines still rely on extra salt and sugar to add flavor. Even celebrity chef endorsed meals don’t seem to help travelers feel more satisfied, according to Professor Spence.

Celebrity Chef Gordon Ramsay was the named chef at Singapore Airlines for a decade but recently revealed in an interview that he never eats on planes because he knows first-hand where the food has been, where it goes, and how long it takes to get to the plane.

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August 10, 2017 at 07:03PM

Eighties Action Movies I’ve Never Seen: “Sudden Impact,” the Fourth of the Dirty Harry Films

Eighties Action Movies I’ve Never Seen: “Sudden Impact,” the Fourth of the Dirty Harry Films

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For the second film in my series about nineteen-eighties action movies
that I’d missed the first time around, I picked Clint Eastwood’s “Sudden
Impact,” from 1983, the fourth of the five Dirty Harry films, the one
that launched the iconic line “Make my day,” and the only one of the
five that Eastwood himself directed. In choosing this film, I had a
slight ulterior motive: because I think highly of many of Eastwood’s
films, I wanted to find out if it stood up alongside the best of his
work, and, if so, what distinguishes it from last week’s film, “Die Hard,” not merely in subject but in artistry. And I think that the film
offers an answer or two—but they’re not at all of the sort that I’d
anticipated.

Watching “Die Hard,” I was struck by the drama’s contempt for
conventional authority, for administration, bureaucracy, and, for that
matter, for government at large. But nothing in its satire of
police-procedure-as-usual matches Eastwood’s rage at the system, his
view of a judicial order that exists to defend violent criminals from
the law rather than to bring them to justice. The movie begins with a
courtroom scene in which a judge (Lois De Banzie) reproaches the
uninhibited San Francisco police inspector Harry Callahan (Eastwood) for
conducting an illegal search on an accused criminal (or, rather, on
someone whom Callahan knows to be a criminal). She throws out the
evidence, reproaches Harry for his record of taking the law into his own
hands, and sends the defendant back to the streets—and, first, to the
elevator, where he and his cronies taunt Harry, who grabs him by the
throat and promises to catch him and deal with him as he deserves.

That’s just the prelude to the incident that sparks the main plot. In a
secluded spot beside the bay, a man and a woman grapple romantically in
the front seat of a car—until the woman takes out a gun, shoots the man
in the genitals and in the head, and flees. Flashbacks reveal that the
woman, Jennifer Spencer (Sondra Locke), and her sister Elizabeth (Lisa
Britt), had, a decade earlier, been gang-raped in another secluded spot,
near a small-town carnival. Elizabeth was left catatonic and is living
in a mental institution; Jennifer has become a successful artist. None
of the rapists was ever caught or punished, even though Jennifer knows
exactly who they are. (For that matter, the drama ultimately reveals the
complicity of local law enforcement in protecting the culprits.) That’s
why she’s putting into action a plot for revenge, systematically
tracking down the men who raped her and her sister (and the one woman
who helped plan the attack). And when Harry is sent to investigate the
killing of the first rapist, additional victims, killed in the same way,
start turning up; thus, Harry will ultimately find himself in the
position of turning up evidence against, and having to arrest, Jennifer.

Speaking to a fellow-officer, Harry vociferously decries the state of
society in a rant that sounds like the cinema according to Archie
Bunker: “The shootings, the knifings, the beatings. Old ladies being
bashed in the head for their Social Security checks. Teachers thrown
from fourth-floor windows because they don’t give A’s.” He complains
that their job involves “having to wade through the scum of this city.
Being swept away by bigger and bigger waves of corruption, apathy, and
red tape. . . . Having our fingers in the holes while the entire dike
crumbles around us.” But Harry has a problem, which the movie presents
as society’s problem: he himself seems to be something of a magnet for
it. As his captain tells him, “You are a walking frigging combat zone.
People have a nasty habit of getting dead around you.”

That’s where “Make my day” comes in. Harry drops into a diner for a cup
of coffee and discovers that there’s a robbery in progress: four black
men, pretending to be ordinary customers, pull guns on the patrons and
demand their valuables. Harry comes in the back way and calls the gunmen
“you boys” while ordering them to put their weapons down. I was ready to
vomit when I heard the slur, and was just as disgusted by Eastwood’s
depiction of an integrated clientele as a Trojan horse for black
predators. (The fact that Harry’s best friend and fellow-officer,
Horace, played by Albert Popwell, is black does little to mitigate the
stereotype that the diner scene embodies and perpetuates.) When three of
the robbers turn their guns at him, Harry shoots them down with a line
of sick, cheesy bravado; when the fourth grabs a woman and puts a gun to
her head to hold her hostage, that’s when Harry tells him, “Go
ahead—make my day.” What surprised me about the moment is the utter lack
of conviction with which Harry utters it. The line falls with far
more—or, rather, far less—than the usual laconic Eastwood
plainspokenness. Rather, it drops, spoken as if under a sort of
constraint—an odd thing for a director-star with his own production
company to evoke. To put it plainly, Eastwood seems embarrassed.

The course of the action as it continues from that scene suggests the
contradictions and self-contradictions that make the film an absorbing
experience—that make “Sudden Impact” far better than the repellent
premises on which it’s based. In watching the movie and being drawn into
Eastwood’s view of a society rendered dysfunctional by its misplaced
sympathies, I found myself seeing something else at the same time: a
view of a society and the very idea of what society means. Even though
Eastwood sketches an us-against-them struggle between those who defend
that idea of society and those who turn that idea against itself, he
also draws together, with a brisk and light touch, tight bonds of
interconnection, of community, that define a place and a time.

Eastwood takes painfully seriously the theme of rape ignored by the law
and unpunished. Later in the movie, when Harry travels to the small town
of San Paulo, where the rapes of Jennifer and her sister occurred, his
disgust for the muck of its daily deceptions and benighted clannishness
is reflected in his view of its casual smirking rapists circulating in
plain sight and continuously protected by what passes in that town for
grandees. Eastwood has no sympathy for the male code of silence any more
than for the street harassment that male louts are seen subjecting women
to; the rapists may have been young when they committed their crime, but
Eastwood has no truck with the idea of mere youthful indiscretions. His
sense of the social bonds that hold a community together overlap with
his vision of the code of silence that protects monsters from facing the
consequences of their crimes.

Eastwood’s vision of social bonds is essentially tragic, and he infuses
the movie with a harrowing, hectically subjective tone to match. The
movie’s frenzies of jagged light and of murky darkness, the streams of
blood and the tight closeups—as well as Jennifer’s own harrowing,
fragmented recollections of the attack—suggest a world out of whack.
Eastwood may not be the most overtly cinephilic, homage-bound director,
but “Sudden Impact” resounds with some conspicuously Hitchcockian
elements (specifically, hints of “Vertigo,” “Marnie,” “The Birds,” and
“Strangers on a Train”). I think that the allusions are no
accidents—that there’s an essential element of Hitchcockian guilt woven
into the fabric of “Sudden Impact.” In Eastwood’s film, all sympathies
are potentially misguided; all actions, even ones done in pursuit of his
own clear sense of justice, risk devastating results. (For instance,
Harry ultimately, if indirectly, gets his best friend killed.) The
ending of the film—featuring a return of the “make my day” line—offers
mighty ambiguities in the guise of Harry’s decisive heroism. It’s a
virtually deus-ex-machina-like ending, when men are again holding a
woman, this time Jennifer, hostage—and this time, Harry shows up after
having virtually come back from the dead and morphed into a living myth,
in a return that’s more symbolic than it is dramatic. This time he says
the line with force and conviction.

President Ronald Reagan, in March, 1985—a little more than a year after
the release of “Sudden Impact”—used the line “Go ahead—make my
day
” in a political speech
about taxes. I have a little theory: I’ll bet that Eastwood didn’t like
it. He may have admired Reagan, but he saw his own bravado of violence
tossed about as more than a meme—as a signifier of op-ed crosstalk, of
office politics as usual. He saw himself turning into a mascot for the
suits—and for Eastwood, this was a particular problem, because his very
subject, from the start of his career, with “Play Misty for Me,” was the
danger of demagogy, the abuse of a public image. The quasi-angelic,
nearly supernatural apparition of Harry at the end of “Sudden Impact”
suggests that he had already envisioned himself as his own next hero,
the one of “Pale Rider,” a ghost of himself. He’d continue with the
irony of “Heartbreak Ridge,” the tragedy of “Bird,” the self-scourging
of “White Hunter Black Heart.” In “Sudden Impact,” Eastwood seems to
have administered to himself a powerful, painful cure for self-righteous
swagger. The impressive unity of “Die Hard” is a mark of professional
craft; the frenzied disunity of “Sudden Impact” is a mark of art.

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August 10, 2017 at 05:39PM

Earn 3 SkyMiles per Dollar Spent on Airbnb Stays for a Limited Time

Earn 3 SkyMiles per Dollar Spent on Airbnb Stays for a Limited Time

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Delta and Airbnb have a partnership through which SkyMiles members can earn 1 mile per dollar spent on Airbnb stays after you register and book through a special portal. And, a few months ago, the two companies offered a promotion where members could earn 3 SkyMiles per dollar spent on stays. Now, they’re offering this elevated promo once again when you book through the portal. Just like before, however, this will only be valid for a limited time.

This time around, you have to book your stay by October 31, 2017 and complete your stay by October 31, 2018. As an added bonus, if you’re a new Airbnb guest, you’ll get $25 off your first stay of at least $75 as well as 2,000 bonus SkyMiles for your first stay of at least $150.

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 11.02.11 AM

The bonus SkyMiles offer for new Airbnb hosts is still valid during this promotion. As a reminder, if you’re a SkyMiles member and qualify to be a new Airbnb host, you could earn up to 25,000 bonus SkyMiles according to the earning structure below:

  • 2,500 bonus miles after your first $250 in Host Earnings
  • 7,500 bonus miles after a total of $1,000 in Host Earnings
  • 15,000 bonus miles after a total of $2,500 in Host Earnings

While earning 1 SkyMile per dollar spent isn’t typically a great value, this limited-time bonus can be pretty lucrative if you’re planning to stay in Airbnb properties soon. The homeshare giant also has partnerships with Virgin America and Qantas which allow you to earn miles or points with each airline for your stays.

Featured image courtesy of Airbnb.

H/T: Reddit

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August 10, 2017 at 05:16PM

Examining The Evolving Diversity of Modern Luxury Travel

Examining The Evolving Diversity of Modern Luxury Travel

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Skift Take: High-end travel and hospitality brands must adapt to evolving luxury consumer psychographics to provide personalized experiences aligned with the whims of today’s upscale travelers.

— Dawn Rzeznikiewicz

Today, SkiftX is launching an upcoming webinar with L.E.K. Consulting to discuss key insights and trends from a recent study of more than 2,000 travelers on global luxury travel. Join the webinar on August 29, 2017 at 11 a.m.—to register, click the button below. 

The definition of “luxury” has evolved and the global luxury consumer segment is more bifurcated than ever before. Today, the modern luxury travel marketplace encompasses true elite luxury travelers in the traditional mold, aspirational luxury travelers who embrace high-end experiences with a degree of cautious spending, and selective luxury travelers who dip their toes occasionally. Attentive, anticipatory service and high-end amenities are still in demand and in vogue for all levels.

That said, opulence has been disavowed by many consumers across the globe. The classic luxury of yesterday, celebrating over-indulgence and obsequious service and ostentatious environments, is unlikely to resonate across next-generation travelers.

There are nuances differentiating the new luxury segments. Elites tend to be more escapist and experience-oriented, while aspirationals are more pampered/service-oriented. However, the demand for comfort and seamless user experience are the new luxury imperatives for all groups.

Personalization is another new constant for everyone, where luxury travelers can customize their end-to-end travel journey based on their specific motivations for each individual trip. Continually delivering on that is proving to be the primary challenge for luxury brands moving into 2018.

According to the L.E.K. 2017 Luxury Travel Study, a survey of more than 2,000 U.S. travelers, luxury for many consumers is less about the highest level of service and more about a particular type of experience. What constitutes that experience depends on the individual. But one thing seems clear: consumers are willing to spend generously on those aspects of luxury that matter to them the most.

Join Dan McKone and Alan Lewis, Managing Directors at L.E.K. Consulting as they share key insights from this new study. Highlights include:

● The meaning of modern luxury travel is increasingly personal
● Understanding the bifurcated luxury consumer segment
● Modern luxury travel is accessible
● Brands are still important, but what they signal is shifting

The new consumer perception of luxury travel is unlocking tremendous opportunities for brands not traditionally associated with across-the-board “luxury,” while creating the potential for disruption of established luxury travel brands.

REGISTER NOW

This content was created collaboratively by L.E.K. Consulting and Skift’s branded content studio, SkiftX.

Travel

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August 10, 2017 at 04:04PM

New Choice Hotels CEO Is Starting Earlier Than He Thought

New Choice Hotels CEO Is Starting Earlier Than He Thought

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Choice Hotels International

Pat Pacious will become the new CEO of Choice Hotels on September 12. Choice Hotels International

Skift Take: Well, that happened quickly. But given the fact that Pacious has been with Choice for more than a decade and was already planning on becoming CEO by year’s end, the timing of this doesn’t seem like it’ll be a big deal for the company.

— Deanna Ting

Last month, Choice Hotels announced that current Chief Operating Officer and President Pat Pacious would be assuming the CEO role at the beginning of 2018, but now that date has been moved up to September 12.

That’s because current Choice Hotels CEO Steve Joyce will be leaving the Rockville, Maryland hotel company to become the CEO of DineEquity, Inc., the company behind restaurant brands Applebee’s and IHOP. His new role begins on Sept. 12.

DineEquity, based in in Glendale, California, has not had a CEO for a few months, and Joyce has a history with the company: He has served on the board for more than five years.

Originally, Joyce, who joined Choice as its CEO in 2008, was supposed to become vice chairman of Choice Hotels’ board of directors once Pacious became CEO on January 1, 2018. However, with his new role at DineEquity, he will no longer have a role on the Choice Hotels board of directors, and Pacious is joining instead.

A Choice Hotels spokesperson told Skift: “Steve is in the prime of his career and it is not surprising that he found his next career opportunity after deciding to transition to Pat’s leadership at Choice. Steve has served on the DineEquity board for more than five years. He knows the company well, and they have been without a CEO for several months now. It is a wonderful opportunity for Steve and we wish him the best in his new endeavor.”

Even prior to Thursday’s news, it was clear that Choice’s leadership was confident in its decision for Pacious to succeed Joyce as CEO. During last week’s second quarter earnings call, Joyce had Pacious lead the majority of the conversation. Pacious has also been working at Choice Hotels since 2005, even longer than Joyce.

“Pat’s appointment as president and CEO is really the culmination of a thoughtful, deliberate, long-term succession planning process, focused on maintaining leadership continuity and direction,” Joyce said. “The board selected Pat because the directors, including myself, are confident in his ability to deliver on the company’s current business objectives, while driving new ideas that result in positive business growth now and into the future. Pat has exceptional vision and has spearheaded a lot of the innovations that have cemented our position as an industry leader and we are both committed to a seamless and smooth transition. He has been my partner for the last 10 years and has done an exceptional job for the company, so this is well deserved.”

Travel

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August 10, 2017 at 04:04PM

Great Deal: Earn 50 United Miles Per Dollar With MileagePlus Shopping

Great Deal: Earn 50 United Miles Per Dollar With MileagePlus Shopping

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We occasionally see offers for 50 miles per dollar spent on magazine subscriptions… but clothing you might actually want to own? This might be a first.

Currently, a company called Stitch Fix is making a huge push on United’s MileagePlus Shopping portal, offering customers an outrageous 50 miles per dollar spent on men’s and women’s clothing.

Based on TPG’s valuations, United miles are worth 1.5 cents each, so that’s a whopping 75% return — but I usually manage to get far more value out of them than that, such as on this Thai first class flight from Sydney to Bangkok, where I scored 6.62 cents per mile (a ~330% return with this Stitch Fix offer). So this has the potential to be an unbeatable deal.

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 6.10.39 AM

Now, normally I wouldn’t even bother looking at a site like Stitch Fix, unless it were offering an incredible deal. And, well, wouldn’t you know! 50 miles per dollar spent is just the offer I’m looking for.

Based on a sampling of TPG employees (and the promo I see when I’m not logged into my account), it seems that this 50 miles/dollar offer is available exclusively for United co-branded cardholders. I have both the United MileagePlus Explorer Card and the United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card, so it makes sense that I’m seeing the higher bonus (compared to 30 miles/dollar for non-cardholders).

If you manage to spend $600 (either through Stitch Fix or a combination of other retailers), you’ll score an extra 3,000 miles. If you spent exactly $600, you’ll end up with 33,000 miles, conservatively worth $495.

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 6.13.55 AM

But Stitch Fix isn’t your typical clothing store — you can’t see prices upfront (though you can offer guidelines) or select specific items to order. Here’s how MileagePlus Shopping describes this site:

Stitch Fix is the online personal styling service (for women & men) tailored to your taste, budget and lifestyle. Fill out a Style Profile, & one of Stitch Fix’s expert stylists will hand-select five apparel, footwear and accessory items just for you. Only pay for what you keep & return the rest in a prepaid return envelope. You can receive Fixes on various cadences, or on a date that meets your needs – no subscription required.

Meanwhile, the only terms and conditions state:

Only eligible on new customer Stitch Fix orders. Not eligible on purchases made with coupon or discount codes that are not found on this site. Not eligible on gift cards, gift certificates or any other similar cash equivalents.

So, if you’ve ordered through Stitch Fix before, you’re probably out of luck. Also, be sure to avoid adding any coupon or discount codes — I can’t imagine they’ll offer a better return than the 50 miles per dollar you’re getting here.

Bottom Line

So how many miles will I earn? Honestly, I haven’t a clue. I filled out my preferences (clothing styles, sizes and so on), provided my billing and shipping info and was told to expect a delivery on August 19. So someone’s going to decide which outfits I might like, and I’ll pay for what I keep. I imagine I’ll earn 50 miles per dollar on the items I don’t send back, so I’ll certainly be more inclined to hold on to the goods this time around. This isn’t a great opportunity to “buy” miles at a cheap rate, though.

Will you be earning a huge return on your Stitch Fix order?

Travel

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August 10, 2017 at 03:15PM