Criticized Or Applauded, Presidential Travel Is One Great Job Perk

presidential travel
ep_jhu/Flickr

This week, President Obama and family fly to Africa for what has been described as both “frivolous spending” and a trip that brings “a great bang for our buck.” The estimated $60 – $100 million trip comes at a time when Americans face a decidedly different flying experience caused by government furloughs and cutbacks. Approve or not, presidential travel and moving the first family around the world is in no way inexpensive.

Traveling to sub-Sahara Africa from June 26 to July 3, the Obamas will be accompanied by hundreds of Secret Service agents and staff, adding to the cost of transportation and accommodations. Still, this is the leader of the free world and protecting him, his family and staff is not going to be a cheap road trip no matter how they do it. When President Clinton visited Africa the price tag was said to be $42.7 million plus the cost of Secret Service protection.

As the trip to South Africa, Senegal and Tanzania gets underway, a reported 56 vehicles ranging from limousines to trucks full of supplies will be flown in via military cargo planes. When the Obamas are on the ground in Africa, U.S. fighter jets will be ever-present in the airspace directly above them. That’s in addition to the cost of operating the President’s ride, Air Force One, estimated to be slightly less than $200,000 per hour.
“It is no secret that we need to rein in government spending, and the Obama administration has regularly and repeatedly shown a lack of judgment for when and where to make cuts. The American people have had enough of the frivolous and careless spending,” Rep. George Holding (R-N.C.) said in a RT.com article.

But the cost could have been higher. The Obama’s original plan called for a Tanzania safari, which would have required a team of sharpshooters to protect them from wild animals. But President Obama, the first sitting president to visit Cambodia and Myanmar, is visiting African countries that reportedly need attention.

“Frankly, there will be a great bang for our buck for being in Africa, because when you travel to regions like Africa that don’t get a lot of presidential attention, you can have very long-standing and long-running impact from the visit,” Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told The Hill, reports RT.com.

Still, let’s keep these numbers in perspective. The expense of flowers for the White House alone run up a tab estimated to be $252,000 per year. The Presidential limousine is a $300,000 Cadillac that is clad with 5 inches of armor, has its own oxygen supply, a blood bank of the president’s type and can shoot tear gas and smoke grenades.

10 Interesting Facts About Air Force One

Irish Gaelic, Rapa Nui And More Endangered Languages From Around The World

Mariano Kamp, Flickr

There are nearly 7,000 languages spoken throughout the world today, the majority of which are predicted to become extinct by the end of this century. Half the world’s population speaks the top 20 world languages – with Mandarin, Spanish and English leading the charge, in that order – and most linguists point to globalization as the main cause for the rapid pace languages are falling off the map.

The problem is, when a language dies so does much of the knowledge and traditions that were passed won using it. So when Mental Floss used data from the Alliance for Linguistic Diversity to post a list of several at-risk languages, we here at Gadling were saddened by the disappearing native tongues and decided to use data from the Alliance for Linguistic Diversity to highlight some in our own list.

Irish Gaelic: Despite the fact that the government requires Irish students to learn this language and it currently has an estimated 40,000 native speakers, it is still classified as vulnerable.

Rapa Nui: The mother tongue of Chile’s famous Easter Island has fewer than 4,000 native speakers, and is quickly being taken over by Spanish.

Seneca: Only approximately 100 people in three Native American reservation communities in the United States speak this language, with the youngest speaker in his 50s.Yaw: Most young people living in the Gangaw District of Burma understand but do not speak this critically endangered language that has less than 10,000 native speakers.

Kariyarra: Although there are many people who have a passive understanding of this aboriginal language, only two fluent Kariyarra speakers are left in Western Australia.

Francoprovençal: There are only about 130,000 native speakers of this language, mostly in secluded towns in east-central France, western Switzerland and the Italian Aosta Valley.

Yagan: This indigenous language of Chile purportedly has only one remaining native speaker. Others are familiar with the language, but it will likely disappear soon.

Patuá: Derived from Malay, Sinhalese, Cantonese and Portuguese, less than 50 people in Macau, China and their diaspora speak this language. It is now the object of folkloric interest amongst those who still speak it.

Photo Of The Day: Colonial Architecture In Burma

When we think of Southeast Asian architecture we often think of old temples and ancient statues, but the influence of colonial times on this area of the world has had just as much of an influence on the local infrastructure and design.

Flickr member R A L F captured this beautiful building facade in Yangon, Burma (Myanmar). The city, also known as Rangoon, has the largest number of colonial buildings in the region.

Have your own travel photos featured on “Photo Of The Day” by submitting your photos to the Gadling Flickr pool or via Instagram by tagging your photos with #gadling and mentioning us @gadlingtravel.

[Photo Credit: R A L F]

Video Of The Day: Virtual Myanmar

Visualtraveling – Myanmar” from Patrik Wallner on Vimeo.

A few months ago, President Obama became the first US president to visit the Asian country of Myanmar. Although tourism has opened up in recent years and the country held elections for the first time in 2010, it remains a tightly controlled country that many Americans feel they don’t want to support with their travel dollars. No matter how you feel about visiting the former Burma, you can enjoy this stunning video by Patrik Wallner. With gorgeous portraits of the people and landscapes of Myanmar, it feels like a National Geographic photo shoot come to life.

See a video worthy of being featured as the Video of the Day? Leave a link in the comments below.

Photo Of The Day: Swezigon Pagoda, Southern Approach

Photo of the Day

This Photo of the Day is titled “Swezigon Pagoda” and comes from Gadling Flickr pool member American Jon and was captured with a Canon EOS 5D.

Swezigon Pagoda, the most sacred Buddhist pagoda for the Burmese, with relics of the past four Buddhas enshrined within, is an exact replica of Shwedagon Pagoda in the new capital of Burma, Naypyidaw.

Upload your best shots to the Gadling Group Pool on Flickr. Several times a week we choose our favorite images from the pool as a Photo of the Day.

[Photo Credit: Gadling Flickr pool member American Jon]