BBC presenter spots UFO near Stansted airport

UFO
A BBC sports presenter claims to have seen a UFO near Stansted Airport early this morning, the BBC reports.

Radio 5 presenter Mike Sewell says he was driving early this morning about 15 miles from Stansted Airport in Hertfordshire, England, when a bright light descended towards the road before banking to the left and then circling over a field. It was disc shaped with several lights flashing around the edge. During the interview, UFO expert Timothy Good said he “knew for a fact” that experimental spacecraft have been developed with the help of aliens, and that this might be one of them.

Sewell doesn’t mention taking any photographs with his mobile phone, and of course Good doesn’t give any hard evidence to back up his claim. So could this be a hoax? I doubt Sewell would stick his professional neck out by lying to reporters from his own news agency. Perhaps he hallucinated? Perhaps it was some strange electrical phenomenon?

The proximity to Stansted raises the possibility that it was indeed some sort of experimental aircraft, but we don’t have to go so far as Good does and spin tales about aliens. I met a reporter who once saw what he was convinced was a UFO flying over the New Mexico desert. He described it as a black triangle unlike any aircraft he had ever seen. He became a UFO believer until the first photos of the Stealth bomber were released, and then he knew what he had seen.

Have you ever had a strange encounter near an airport? Tell us what you saw in the comments section!

[Photo of “unusual atmospheric occurrence observed over Sri Lanka” courtesy UK Ministry of Defence. This is not the object Sewell claims to have seen.]

BBC World Service receives millions to increase Arabic broadcasts, save Hindi broadcasts

BBC World ServiceThe BBC World Service is getting a funding increase to the tune of £2.2 million ($3.6 million) per year over the next three years.

This comes after the government broadcaster’s funds were slashed last year, forcing it to announce the cancellation of 5 of its 32 language broadcasts and reduced service on others.

The money will go to boost the Arabic language programs. An additional £9 million ($14.6 million) is being reallocated to save the Hindi shortwave service, which was slated to be shut down.

The Arabic language service is getting more attention both from the UK government and people in the region because of the ongoing unrest there. The Hindi service also has a huge number of listeners.

The BBC World Service broadcasts on TV, mobile, and online, but in many regions its shortwave broadcasts are still crucial. While listening to shortwave may seem old fashioned, in many Middle Eastern countries the Internet is censored or gets shut off completely during times of unrest. Also, many people in the developing world have a shortwave radio, but little access to the Internet.

Gallery: More travel sketches from BBC’s Tim Baynes

travel sketches
We wrote yesterday about Tim Baynes’ delightful travel sketches from around the world on BBC and liked them so much we came back for more. You can (and should!) get lost for hours looking at his drawings on Flickr with fun anecdotes and scribbles bringing depth and humor to his slice-of-life artwork.

Check out some of our favorites in the gallery below, from a look inside the BBC Starbucks to the madness of Dubai immigration during the ash cloud to a quiet barbershop in Tripoli.

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See more of Tim Baynes’ work on the BBC, his personal Flickr stream, or order a copy of his book Doors to Automatic and Cross Check, direct from the artist.



All photos courtesy of Tim Baynes.

Travel sketches from BBC’s Tim Baynes draw on a lifetime of travel

travel sketches
One of our favorite new travel blogs this year is from none other than the venerable news organization, the BBC. One of BBC The Passport‘s regular features is “Drawing from Experience” with sketches from Tim Baynes. Baynes’ drawings are an assortment of postcard-perfect scenes, witty observations, and random sketches from his travels around the world and commuting in London. Like many other famous travelers, his medium of choice is the Moleskine notebook, but he often involves other media such as airline ticket stubs as in the New York City skyline drawing above.

Enjoy more of Tim Baynes’ work on the BBC, his personal Flickr stream, or order a copy of his book Doors to Automatic and Cross Check, direct from the artist.

Photo courtesy Tim Baynes’ Flickr page.

Ode to the expat newspaper

expat newspaperOne of my favorite things about traveling, in addition to foreign supermarkets, oddball museums, and miniature toiletries, is the local English-language expat newspaper. When I’m home in New York, I tend to get all my news online, either directly from news websites through specific searches or curated from friends’ links on social media (one of the best sources for news from US newspapers is Canadian NY1 anchorman and New Yorker favorite Pat Kiernan‘s site Pat’s Papers). Sorry US newspapers, I know I’m part of the problem. But while I’m traveling, I love to grab the local newspaper over hotel breakfast or in a coffeeshop and learn about local issues, news, and phenomena.Last month in Malaysia while reading the New Straits Times, I learned about how competitive the Chinese are at a kite flying festival and how southeast Asian children have to be taught to detect sour milk. The travel section reviewed a new hotel in Penang with a first impression of “adequate” and the Niexter insert written by Malaysian teenagers taught me all about malapropisms. A couple at our hotel told me they came to Penang after reading an article on the Hotel Penaga’s renovation from the paper in Kuala Lumpur.

It was from Istanbul’s Today’s Zaman that I learned about the excellent expat community and online forum I’ve become a part of in the last year, and I now have friends who have worked at Zaman and their competitor the Hurriyet Daily News. When I first visited Turkey in 2008, I recall reading an interesting editorial in one of the papers about how stealing things from airplanes like safety cards can cause delays, as the plane can’t take off without enough for everyone. The torn out article is long-gone, but I’ve retained the factoid and it keeps me honest on airplanes (though I’ve been tempted to take a souvenir from some eastern European airlines). When the Hurriyet turned 50 this year, writer Jennifer Hattam wrote a great piece on the particular challenges of not only translating the language of news, but the cultural specifics and background as well.

Expat news doesn’t only come in print form. I tweeted about expat news sources and read how writer Lisa Bergren relies on the BBC for news as well as comfort, and CJGuest recommends Al Jazeera from the Arabic world, the German Deutsche Welle, NHK from Japan, and Russia Today from the Russian Federation. Gadling’s own Grant Martin likes the South China Morning Post and the more western Sydney Morning Herald.The local English-language paper doesn’t always have the freshest content, the most stellar writing, or the coolest layout, but it provides an invaluable look into regional and national issues. Expat news can also provide a lens through which to see world news through local perspectives, and help us keep in touch with the sentiments and opinions in our home countries and cultures.

Gadling readers, do you have any favorite news sources abroad? Please feel free to share in the comments.

Photo courtesy Flickr user Ed Yourdon