From the discovery of ancient mummies in a 3,500-year-old Egyptian tomb to where to donate to help victims of hurricanes Irma, Harvey and the Mexico earthquake—here are the stories that have people talking this week.
The iconic Trans-Siberian railway could be set for a modern upgrade if plans to extend the railroad go ahead. The proposed railroad would cover some 8,400 miles and would link London to the existing Trans-Siberian railway (via Eurostar and Paris) to the Japanese island of Hokkaido, just four hours from Tokyo by bullet train.
The plan was first suggested in October 2016, but Russia have this week returned to the discussions with a more ambitious plan, while the Japanese government are interested in boosting tourism and trade via the railway. What happens next will depend on an agreement between the two countries to construct a 28-mile bridge that will allow trains to cross the East Sea, from the Russian island of Sakhalin and into Japan.
A magnitude 8.1 earthquake hit Mexico’s southern coast late last week, leaving at least 96 people dead. Two of the poorest areas of Mexico, Chiapas and Oaxaca, were closest to the epicenter of the quake when it struck. It was felt by an estimated 50 million people—from Mexico City to Guatemala City—while Hurricane Katia lashed the east of the country. The current travel advice for Mexico is to exercise a high degree of caution. You can help victims of the earthquake and Hurricane Katia by donating through Global Giving.
You’d have to have been living under an enormous, Wi-Fi-free rock to have not heard about the damage wreaked by Hurricane Irma—the largest storm ever seen in the Atlantic—across the Caribbean and parts of the US, primarily Florida, this week. With 37 reported dead in the Caribbean and the widespread devastation of homes, up to 37 million people are estimated to have been impacted. And now they need our help.
Donations to Global Giving’s campaign are being divided up and spread out between all those affected by Irma in the US and the Caribbean. You can help Antigua and Barbuda directly by donating through the local Red Cross. Virgin’s Unite charity are taking donations to help the British Virgin Islands and a local non-profit is one of the best places to donate if you want to help Puerto Rico. Countries not mentioned above are best supported via the already-mentioned Global Giving campaign. There are also numerous grassroots GoFundMe campaigns that have sprung up in the wake of the storm; donations can be made to the wider relief effort or towards helping individual families.
To help Hurricane Harvey victims, you can donate via a designated Global Giving campaign or the many GoFundMe options. Tens of thousands of pets are also estimated to have been displaced by the storms—you can help them via the ASPCA.
If you’re still unsure of where best or how to donate, website Charity Navigator has a regularly-updated list of highly-rated organizations contributing to the relief effort.
The legendary ‘monkey selfie’ debacle that left traveler David Slater locked in a battle with an animal rights group has come to an end. The photo in question was snapped by Naruto the macaque monkey, who grabbed Slater’s camera and took the photo of himself in the Indonesian jungle in 2011. The hilarious snap sparked a debate around copyright protection, with PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) arguing that the monkey should benefit from any commercial/financial gain Slater made from the photo.
This week though, a US judge ruled that traditional copyright protection cannot be applied to the monkey, and Slater has agreed to donate 25% of any future revenue made from the photo to relevant causes. The case “raises important, cutting-edge issues about expanding legal rights for non-human animals,” said Slater and PETA in a joint statement.
Icelandair this week celebrated its 80th birthday by treating passengers to an immersive, 11-hour in-flight theatre performance. Taking place on a flight from London to New York (via Reykjavik), the show told the story of the evolution of Icelandair—and its passengers—through the ages, and was acted out by a cast of professional actors. ‘Ahead of Time’, as the immersive show was dubbed, included in-flight musical performances and characters ‘planted’ everywhere from the check-in queue to the flights themselves. For now, the show will remain a one-off, though there’s potential for future runs if this round garners enough positive feedback.
A major discovery has been made in Egypt this week, with several mummies, 10 wooden sarcophagi (coffins), and 100 funerary statues found in a 3,500-year-old tomb, reports National Geographic. Discovered in Luxor, the haul is believed to have belonged to an ancient Egyptian magistrate by the name of Usherat. The tomb, near the Valley of the Kings, was known to local archaeologists but they had never been inside before. The excavation will continue over the coming weeks.
Elsewhere, Atlas Obscura pondered what it’s like to ride Japan’s cat café train, Dubai is building its own version of Venice (as well as a ‘snowing island’), the Titanic Hotel has opened in Belfast on the spot where its namesake ship was built, and rock climber Adam Ondra detailed how he climbed the ‘world’s hardest cliff’.