Wieder Einbrecher im Ammertal: Bedienungsgeldbeutel mit 500 Euro gestohlen

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Wieder Einbrecher im Ammertal: Bedienungsgeldbeutel mit 500 …

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Lebende Werkstatt in Oberammergau: Verwaltung prüft Auszug

Oberammergau – Wenn zwei Gemeinderäte etwas zum Thema machen, über das sie eigentlich nicht sprechen dürfen, geschieht so etwas dann aus Versehen? In Oberammergau haben Karl-Heinz Götz (Freie Wähler) und Dominikus Zwink (Engagierte Bürger) unter dem Sitzungs-Punkt „Sonstiges“ die Lebende Werkstatt im Pilatushaus angesprochen. Dass sie es nicht für gut heißen, wenn sich für die Institution etwas ändern sollte. „Ich kann nur davor warnen, sie anzufassen“, stellte Zwink klar.

Ein Vorgehen, dass Bürgermeister Arno Nunn (parteifrei) scharf kritisierte. Zum einen wegen des rechtlichen Verstoßes, Interna aus nicht-öffentlichen Sitzungen bekannt zu machen. Zum anderen kreidete er an, dass Götz und Zwink eigentlich nichts anderes als „politische Stimmungsmache“ im Sinn haben. „Schön“, lautete sein bissig-sarkastischer Kommentar. Statt sich alle Wege offen zu halten und Lösungsvorschläge parat zu haben, sei das Thema nun mitunter schon „tot“.

Wie er auf Anfrage erklärte, wurde vom Gemeinderat hinter geschlossenen Türen entschieden, die Sachlage zu prüfen. Demnach brauche die Verwaltung weiteren Platz im Pilatushaus, um das Ordnungsamt vom Kleinen Theater, bei dem es keine Barrierefreiheit gibt, dorthin zu verlegen. „Und die Verwaltung zusammenzuführen.“ Davon wissen die betroffenen Gruppen im Pilatushaus bereits vom Hörensagen. Neben der Hinterglas-Ausstellung des Museums sind dort die Handwerker der Lebenden Werkstatt beim Arbeiten zu sehen, präsentiert werden auch Werke von den Holzschnitzern des Lukas-Vereins. Wie berichtet, wurde am 3. Oktober das 40-jährige Bestehen der Werkstatt mit einem Aktionstag gefeiert. Da sei man mit den Besuchern – zu denen Götz und Zwink nach eigenen Worten gehörten – ins Plaudern gekommen.

Nunn wollte von Verwaltungsseite erst an die Betroffenen herantreten, wenn man ihnen ein Angebot machen könnte. „Aber so weit sind wir ja gar nicht gekommen.“

In der Tat haben gar keine Gespräche stattgefunden – auch nicht nach der Gemeinderatssitzung, weil Geschäftsführer Christian Ostler, der mit dem Thema betraut war, Nunn zufolge im Krankenstand ist. „Uns hat noch niemand etwas von offizieller Seite gesagt“, erklärt auch Lukas-Verein-Vorsitzender Tobias Haseidl wenig erfreut. Er erinnert daran, was für ein Publikumsmagnet das Angebot im vorderen Teil des Pilatushauses ist und wie sich der Platz dafür eignet.

„Das ist alles extra so gemacht worden“, sagt Sabine Maas von der Lebenden Werkstatt. Ihr Arbeitsplatz befindet sich im ersten Stock des Pilatushauses. Genauso wie die Verwaltung. Warum es niemand schafft, durch die Glastür zu gehen, und über den Stand der Dinge zu informieren – „das verstehe ich nicht. Man erfährt alles hintenrum“. Und das, was sie weiß, macht sie alles andere als glücklich. „Die sollen sich ein Rathaus bauen“, sagt Maas zu den Erweiterungsplänen der Verwaltung.

Zugleich stellt sie mit deutlichen Worten klar, dass sie alles dafür tun wird, die Lebende Werkstatt im Pilatushaus zu erhalten. Und wenn ein Bürgerbegehren initiiert werden muss. „Da gibt es keine Diskussionen.“

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A Jewish look at Christianity | The Jewish Standard

When he was in rabbinical school at the Jewish Theological Seminary in the late 1990s, Rabbi David J. Fine developed a particular interest in Christianity.

“The development of the synagogue occurred at the same time as that of the church,” he said, noting that his interest in Christianity dates back to his studies of ancient Judaism, “particularly the influences that go back and forth between the rabbis and the early church fathers. A lot of newer scholarship points more to mutual cross-fertilization between the two.

“We need to understand Christianity as an outgrowth of Judaism, and rabbinic Judaism as an outgrowth of the same core culture,” he said. In addition, “I don’t think you can understand the origins of Christianity without understanding Judaism — though sometimes the Jewish origins of Christianity are not as well known to the Christian population.”

To spread that understanding, beginning on October 19 Rabbi Fine — who is the religious leader of Ridgewood’s Temple Israel and Jewish Community Center — will offer a series of six lectures on “Judaism and Christianity: The History of a Challenging Relationship” for the CSI Scholar Fund of the JCC of Fort Lee. (See box.)

This is not the first time that Rabbi Fine, who holds a doctorate in modern European history, has brought his interest in religious interchange into the public arena. In 2010, he attended the Oberammergau Passion Play in Germany as part of an American Jewish Committee effort to engage in interreligious dialogue. (Passion plays show the last hours of Jesus, and frequently include anti-Semitic tropes.) Led by Rabbi Noam Marans of Teaneck, AJC’s Director of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations, the trip included a meeting with the play’s directors, among others.

“My reaction was positive,” Rabbi Fine said, adding that he was favorably impressed by the “significant changes” from previous passion plays. “This was not Mel Gibson’s movie,” he said. The most significant change from past versions, he said, was stressing that Jesus and his followers were Jewish. “He’s constantly referred to as ‘rabbi,’ and he says brachot at the Last Supper,” Rabbi Fine said.

The play, he continued, “had Jesus and the disciples wearing tallesim.” That is not the traditional iconography. That reminded the rabbi of a comment by a JTS professor that Jesus was the first historical rabbi, or at least the first person in literature to be called rabbi. “The New Testament is older than the Mishnah,” Rabbi Fine said. “It’s the oldest source where someone is referred to as a rabbi.”

Acknowledging that more changes must be made to the play, Rabbi Fine said they necessarily will be incremental. “It’s an inherited story,” he said. “It has to end up the way the New Testament tells the story.” The problem remains “how to deal with legacies of Christian stories where Jews are on the negative side.”

Closer to home, Rabbi Fine has been the president of Ridgewood’s Interfaith Religious Council for five years. Last Sunday, he spoke at the town’s St. Elizabeth Episcopal Church. That was the second time he gave a guest sermon there. “It’s important to talk about Judaism at a church,” he said. “Talking about our common heritage is important.”

For his upcoming lecture series, Rabbi Fine “will focus on those areas I find more interesting “ — for example, “the ways the rabbis in the Mishnah deal with Christianity. Some passages that exist are fascinating because they were all censored out,” something Rabbi Fine learned from researching older manuscripts. “They were all excised.” In addition, “sometimes you have to read between the lines, or look for code words.”

Rabbi Fine said that Jews should know about Christianity because, especially in the current political atmosphere, “It’s important to understand that the ties that bind us are greater than the differences.

“We tend to focus on differences. They’re not unimportant, but especially in this day and age, with the polarity in politics, if we can focus on what ties us together, that’s critically important in terms of our broader society.”

Also, he continued, “It helps us understand the early development of Judaism and the long and complicated relationship” with other groups. “Anti-Semitism is not quite the same as anti-Judaism in the medieval period,” he said. In earlier days, “they loved to convert Jews.” Modern anti-Semites condemn people with Jewish blood. “There’s a big difference there,” Rabbi Fine said. “Sometimes we don’t focus on that important differentiation.”

The medieval experience is complicated, he said. “Part of church doctrine was that Jews should be allowed to exist,” albeit as second-class citizens. “They had a right to be there.” He added that the church often protected Jews against popular uprisings. For example, during the First Crusade, Jews were attacked in the archbishop’s palace. “He was trying to protect them. The mob surrounded them. They didn’t respect sanctuary.”

And during the Holocaust? “We’ll never get a complete answer because of the nature of the material,” Rabbi Fine said. “Certainly it was the case that there was more that the pope could have said, and that church leaders could have said, but we have to understand that in that context, nobody understood quite what they were up against. “ With many Jews, themselves, blind to the extreme danger, “we can’t blame others as well for not seeing the handwriting on the wall.”

As for the church’s decision to try to influence the Nazi’s “behind the scenes, it’s hard to say whether at the time that was the right decision.” Still, he pointed out, “Many brave pastors spoke out and were arrested and put in camps.” Of course, “there could have been more. We do know that when the church spoke out against euthanizing people with disabilities, the government pulled back.” Perhaps, had they spoken out more for the Jews, more lives could have been saved, he said.

“We’re still looking for resolution because the wounds are still there,” Rabbi Fine said. “We want to find bad guys and the church is still around.”

Rabbi Fine would characterize Jewish-Christian relations today as strong, though “there are still things we have to work on.” Israel is another complication, because “we have more of a natural relationship with mainstream churches,” and many of them endorse the BDS movement. “In terms of Jewish-Christian relations, that is not helpful,” he said.

“We have wonderful work happening on the national level, but I’ve always felt that we needed more on the local level, to get these issues into the pew,” he added. “We’ve always been involved in interfaith efforts locally, but we have to move beyond planning a joint Thanksgiving service and have real dialogue, focusing not on finding a common denominator with platitudes but being able to appreciate each other’s unique traditions.”


Who: Rabbi David Fine

What: Judaism and Christianity: The History of a Challenging Relationship

When: On Thursdays, Oct. 19, Nov. 2, 9, 16, and 30, and Dec. 7 . Refreshments will be served at 12:30 p.m., the lectures will follow at 12:45.

Where: JCC of Fort Lee/Congregation Gesher Shalom, 1449 Anderson Ave., Fort Lee

Information: Call 201-947-1735 or go to geshershalom.org

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Freie Wähler im freien Fall?







Turbulenzen nach Parteiwechsel:
Freie Wähler im Landtag kämpfen ums politische Überleben


Die Fraktion der Freien Wähler im Bayerischen Landtag schrumpft. Im Juli bereits hat der unterfränkische Abgeordnete Günther Felbinger seinen Austritt erklärt – wegen mutmaßlicher Scheinabrechnungen gegenüber dem Landtag mit Schaden von mehr als 50.000 Euro. Waren die Freien Wähler nicht einmal angetreten als eine Art bessere CSU – ohne deren Affären?

“Nein, ich glaube nicht, dass unserer Ansatz ist, dass wir keuscher sind als die anderen, sondern, dass wir unabhängiger sind als die CSU, die von Lobbyeinflüssen abhängt.”

Hubert Aiwanger

Kritik am Parteichef


Alexander Muthmann

Hubert Aiwanger, Bundes-, Landes- und Fraktionsvorsitzender der Freien Wähler ist das Gesicht der Partei – und Hauptgrund dafür, warum noch ein weiterer aus der Landtagsfraktion seinen Hut genommen hat: Alexander Muthmann aus dem Bayerischen Wald ist zur FDP gewechselt. Er warf Aiwanger vor, die CSU in der Flüchtlingsfrage rechts überholen zu wollen.

“Was gerade in dieser Flüchtlingsdebatte so wichtig ist: Das sachlich, und vor allem ohne Ängste zu schüren, zu führen. Und da habe ich mich dann häufig und sehr geärgert über so manche Formulierungen.”

Alexander Muthmann

Wenn Seehofer eine Obergrenze von 200.000 forderte, und Aiwanger ihn kurz darauf mit 100.000 zu übertrumpfen versuchte – das irritierte einige bei den Freien Wählern. Und bei der Bundestagswahl profitierte von der Obergrenzen-Diskussion am Ende doch die AfD.


Florian Streibl

Florian Streibl aus Oberammergau, parlamentarischer Geschäftsführer der Freien Wähler, will seinen Mehrfach-Vorsitzenden Aiwanger nicht kritisieren. Er macht aber klar, dass er sich nicht rechts anbiedern will.

“Wir sehen unser Potenzial nicht auf dieser Seite, sondern klar in der bürgerlichen Mitte – konservativ-bürgerlich, aber nicht am rechten Rand. Wenn man Dinge zuspitzt, das ist legitim. Aber man muss dann auch immer schauen, wie setzt man dann Dinge um.”

Florian Streibl

Nicht mehr Mehrheitsbeschaffer

Eine Partei der Mitte also – die sehr gerne zusammen mit der CSU regieren würde. Aiwanger betont das immer wieder.

“Ich bin überzeugt, dass wir in Form einer Regierungsbeteiligung – wir drängen uns nicht auf -, aber in Form einer Regierungsbeteiligung mehr erreichen können, als wenn eine geschwächte CSU mit den Grünen regieren würde.”

Hubert Aiwanger

Nur: Als Mehrheitsbeschaffer für die CSU bietet sich jetzt auch die FDP wieder an, die nach ihrem guten Abschneiden auf Bundesebene auch in Bayern wieder realistisch hoffen kann, in den Landtag einzuziehen. Und “Politik der Mitte”: Taugt das wirklich als Alleinstellungsmerkmal?

Hoffnung durch Kommunalpolitiker?

Der oberfränkische Freie Wähler-Abgeordnete Thorsten Glauber hofft, dass die vielen erfolgreichen Kommunalpolitiker seine Partei retten können.

“Wir werden diesen Schulterschluss mit unserer Basis, mit der kommunalen Verwurzelung suchen. Da sind wir stärker als alle Gruppierungen, die jetzt auf der Bundesebene gewählt wurden – stärker als eine FDP und AfD. Und mit diesem kommunalen Schulterschluss können wir eine Schlagkraft zeigen, die andere nicht haben.”

Thorsten Glauber

Als ihre wichtigsten Themen nennen die Freien Wähler den ländlichen Raum, kostenlose Kinderbetreuung, mehr Wohnungen. Wird das am Ende reichen? Wenn statt heute vier bei der nächsten Landtagswahl sechs Parteien die Chance haben, über fünf Prozent zu kommen und die Stimmen sich daher stärker aufteilen?

“Wir Freien Wähler stehen – glaube ich – besser da, als es nach außen erscheint. Das Bundestagsergebnis mit drei Prozent in Bayern ist vergleichbar mit dem Bundestagsergebnis von 2013. Davon kann man ableiten, dass wir bei Landtagswahlen auf alle Fälle über fünf Prozent sein werden. Also – das braucht uns kein Kopfzerbrechen zu machen.”

Hubert Aiwanger

Abgerechnet wird im Herbst 2018.

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Weekend a Oberammergau, il borgo bavarese della Passione

A chi non piacerebbe anche solo per una volta, trovarsi in un paese con immagini fatate, paesaggi che sembrano uscire dal pennello di un pittore, arricchito da opere d’arte, il tutto in una natura composta da foreste che profumano di legno sapientemente intagliato? Se rimane qualche dubbio visitando Oberammergau comprenderete quanto questa cittadina nel sud della Germania che conta circa 5.000 abitanti abbia da offrire a chi decide di conoscerla.

Poco distante dal castello di Linderhof e dall’abbazia benedettina di Ettal, impreziosita da chalet alpini e fattorie, Oberammergau è una ridente cittadina di Baviera, lungo la Strada delle Alpi. Grazie alla grande disponibilità di legname – il territorio boschivo è stato una delle maggiori risorse della città – vanta sculture in legno di artigiani di grande fama. Questa tradizione, iniziata intorno al Cinquecento, trovò la sua massima estensione nell’Ottocento con la fondazione di una scuola specializzata frequentata da moltissimi artisti del legno. In questa guida andremo alla scoperta di questo borgo, in un tour di due giorni tra il piccolo centro storico e i suoi dintorni.

Primo giorno – Il borgo e le sue attrazioni
Dedicate la prima giornata della visita di Oberammergau percorrendo a piedi, in totale libertà, il suo centro storico: noterete la meraviglia degli affreschi che decorano le case; prevalentemente si tratta di soggetti e temi religiosi, ma non solo. Alcuni richiamano anche favole e fiabe celebri come la Casa di Hansel e Gretel che si trova in Ettaler Strabe 3; alcune vedono rappresentate scene di caccia.

Entrate nella sua chiesa parrocchiale dedicata ai santi Pietro e Paolo. Questa struttura religiosa, in stile rococò, presenta stucchi e affreschi pregiati. Non perdete l’Oberammergau Museum dove un presepe in legno racconta la storia della popolazione locale attraverso le sue sculture. E andate alla ricerca della Pilatushaus che secondo il parere di molti è la casa più bella di Oberammergau, oggi sede dell’associazione dell’artigianato locale.

Se vi trovate a Oberammergau d’estate, potete decidere di trascorrere il resto della giornata lungo i sentieri per escursionisti; tante le possibilità, anche per i meno esperti. Per quelli che visitano le montagne di Baviera d’inverno, Oberammergau offre stabilimenti sciistici con una discesa di 783 metri e 9 skilift dove snowboarder. Sciatori provetti ma anche principianti in un paesaggio innevato godranno di un paesaggio innevato che neanche a dirlo sembrerà da favola.

Secondo giorno – Tour dei dintorni di Oberamerrergau
Il secondo giorno dedicatevi alla scoperta dei dintorni di Oberammergau. Ci sono molti luoghi che meritano di essere visitati: A pochi chilometri c’è Ettai un villaggio diventato meta di pellegrinaggi per la presenza di un’abbazia benedettina del XIV secolo che contiene al suo interno un magnifico affresco e sfarzosi altari, qui i monaci si dedicano alla produzione della birra. Proseguite oltre e a 13 chilometri da Oberammergau, nella splendida cornice delle montagne di Baviera, fermatevi presso il famoso castello di Linderhof, reggia di re Ludwing con un enorme parco.

Un percorso alternativo nei dintorni di Oberammergau, lungo la Romantische Strasse, a circa 25 chilometri dalla cittadina, vi porterà alla chiesa di Wies dichiarata dall’Unesco bene culturale di interesse mondiale. L’origine di questa chiesa risale al 1730 ed è legata alla presenza di una scultura del Cristo flagellato realizzata da due monaci in occasione del Venerdì Santo. Ogni anno moltissimi fedeli si recano in questo luogo per venerare e ammirare questa scultura; l’interno del santuario è inoltre ricco di decorazioni rococò, affreschi e stucchi.

Oberammergau – Occasioni speciali
Negli ultimi mesi dell’anno, i turisti in visita a Oberammergau  possono approfittare dei mercatini per acquistare gli ultimi regali di Natale. In questo periodo dell’anno il borgo è molto suggestivo: ogni prima domenica di Avvento le strade sono rallegrate da un quartetto di flauti che regala melodie dolcissime, mentre bancarelle espongono dolciumi e tazze di vin brulè.

Evento da non perdere a Oberammergau è la Passionsspiele, la rievocazione della Passione di Cristo che si svolge ogni 10 anni. Diventato ormai un evento internazionale che coinvolge numerose persone tra artisti e tecnici, se ne contano addirittura 2.000, nasce da un voto che gli abitanti di Oberammergau fecero nel 1634 per ricordare il Signore e ringraziarlo per la fine di un’epidemia di peste che procurò sofferenza e morte.

La Passionsspiele è una manifestazione che amalgama il culto religioso popolare alla modernità e si svolge nel Teatro della Passione costruito nel 1930. Per l’occasione il teatro è sempre tutto esaurito, tanto che per assistere a questa rappresentazione diventa necessario prenotare addirittura anni in anticipo. Dal mese di maggio a settembre gli attori recitano per ben sei ore al giorno mettendo in scena toccanti passi della Passione in uno spettacolo che è diventato memorabile.

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Oberammergau: Abnehmer fürs Alex’nhaus gesucht

Wie alt es ist, weiß keiner so genau. Genauso wenig, wie es mit dem Alex’nhaus in Oberammergau weitergehen könnte. Deshalb soll es nun verkauft werden.

Oberammergau – Schon vor zehn Jahren stand in Oberammergau die Frage im Raum, was die Gemeinde mit ihrem Gebäude am Mühlbach 1, genannt Alex’nhaus, machen soll. Verkauf? Sanierung? Damals gab es keine Antwort auf diese Fragen. Nun stand im Gemeinderat erneut eine Grundsatz-Entscheidung an – diesmal mit eindeutigen Mehrheits-Ergebnis (15:4 Stimmen): Das geschichts–trächtige Anwesen soll verkauft werden.

Das Thema kam laut Bürgermeister Arno Nunn (parteifrei) auf die Tagesordnung, „nachdem derzeit wieder ein Interessent an die Gemeinde herangetreten ist“. Schon mehrfach habe es Verkaufs-Verhandlungen gegeben. Diese seien aus unterschiedlichen Gründen gescheitert. Zum Beispiel an den Preisvorstellungen. Dazu erklärte Bauamtsleiter Johannes Lang, dass das Grundstück in puncto Bodenrichtwert in Zone 2 mit einem Quadratmeterbetrag von 420 Euro liegen würde.

Wichtiger Punkt: Das Gebäude steht unter Denkmalschutz. Das Alter lasse sich nur schwer festlegen, bei einem Türpfosten haben Untersuchungen jedoch gezeigt, dass er aus dem Jahr 1541 stammt. Das Landesamt für Denkmalpflege legt Nunn zufolge die Sanierung „dringend nahe“. Und fordert dafür ein Gutachten. Das würde rund 20 000 Euro kosten, das Haus in einen intakten Zustand zu versetzen schätze der Bürgermeister auf rund 500 000 Euro. Grundsätzlich bestünde die Möglichkeit, dass Alex’nhaus zu erweitern. Auch mit einem modernen Bau. Allerdings muss in diesem Punkt geklärt werden, wie die Abstandsflächen zu den Nachbarn eingehalten werden können.

Den Zustand des Hauses bezeichnete Florian Schwarzfischer (BIO) als „beschämend“ für die Gemeinde. Ein derart altes Haus sei ein Kulturgut. „Und wir müssen uns dieser Verantwortung stellen.“ Am liebsten wäre es ihm deshalb, die Kommune würde selbst sanieren und sich um das Gebäude kümmern.

Die Frage der Finanzierung stand dabei aber genauso im Raum wie eine künftige öffentliche Nutzung. Konkrete Ideen für die Gemeinde hatte keiner der Lokalpolitiker. Ludwig Utschneider (Freie Wähler) fände es gut, wenn auch potenzielle Käufer darlegen, was ihnen vorschwebt. „Die Zeit für das Haus läuft ab“, sagte Utschneider. „Es ist an der Zeit, weitere Schritte zu gehen.“ Über das Wie gab es zunächst einige Diskussionen im Gremium. Genauso über die Frage, ob man sich mit einem Grundsatz-Entschluss einen Weg versperrt.

Bauamts-Chef Lang gab zu Bedenken, dass man das Haus samt Grund wegen der Nähe zum Ammergauer Haus und dessen weiterer Nutzung nicht isoliert betrachten kann. Wolfgang Proksch (Mit Augenmaß) schlug als Verkaufs-Alternative einen Erbpacht-Vertrag vor. Dann seien die Kosten für den Grund geringer, einem künftigen Besitzer bliebe mehr Geld für die Sanierung. Und das sei Proksch zufolge ja das vorrangige Ziel: „den Zustand des Hauses zu verbessern“.

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The most popular trick pickpockets use and how to avoid it

Pickpocketing is a global problem, and one that could have a disastrous effect on your holiday, especially if the crooks manage to steal your wallet or passport. But, you can outsmart the thieves and deter them from making you a target by knowing their go-to trick.

While there are many methods pickpockets use to pull a swiftie on you, the most popular trick is the simple art of distraction.

A common scenario is a person may approach you and ask you for directions. They’ll show you a map on their phone and while you’re looking at the phone screen, they’ll reach in to your handbag and take whatever they can.

Another common trick using distraction is when a pickpocket will bump into you, one of your shoulders for example, and while you’re distracted trying to figure out what just knocked you, they’ll turn to your other shoulder, which has your handbag on it, or perhaps one of your pockets and reach into it.

Read more: New holiday scam targets tourists in hotel rooms

Some pickpockets work in groups, which makes it even easier to distract an unsuspecting victim. One person simply has to capture the attention of a tourist while the other robs them.

To avoid pickpockets, have in the back of your mind the tricks they use. If someone approaches you and asks you for directions, make sure your items are secure upon your person and your bag is zipped up.

They can appear in any kind of scenario, from a helpless fellow traveller, and overly pushy salesperson or even charity collectors with clipboards.

Unfortunately, pickpockets are often children as well, so be cautious but not unfriendly with them.

Read more: How to avoid being hit by an accommodation scam

The best thing to do is keep your belongings secure and close to your body, and maintain a good awareness of your surroundings.

Tips for avoiding pickpockets

  • Always travel with a bag that can be zipped up
  • Never keep valuable items in exterior pockets of your handbag or backpack
  • Put locks on your zippers
  • Keep your bag on the front of your body while in busy areas and on public transport
  • Be aware pickpockets are sometimes children and people who are well dressed (in order to blend in).
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The world’s most exclusive passport revealed

When we hear of exclusive passports we think of people like spies and leading political figures, but the holders of the world’s most exclusive and perhaps most mysterious passport is none of these. If you liked the Da Vinci Code, read on.

The Sovereign Military Order of Malta, based in Rome, is the only soverign body where only three permanent passports are issued at any given time. They’re issued to the grand master, deputy grand master and the chancellor.

The enigmatic order is a Catholic group started by the 11th century Knights of Malta, known then as the ‘Knights Hospitaller,’ who established a hospital in Jerusalem to care for pilgrims. 

Read more: The passport rule that could ruin your holiday

Today, those who are a part of the order are still called knights and dames, organised into three classes. The first class is made up of people with titles such as ‘Knights and Dames of Honour and Devotion in Obedience’, whereas the third class is comprised of ‘Magistral Chaplains’ and ‘Donats of Devotion’. 

The order carries out the original knight’s work today by caring for the sick and vulnerable, running medical, social and humanitarian projects in 120 countries. Some modern knights and dames still observe canon law – law laid down by the Roman Catholic Church.

To become a member, you have to be invited by the order to join and have to have acquired merit over the years through Catholic morality and practice. 

Read more: The surprising reason why you should get a second passport

The current leader of the order is the lieutenant of the grand master, Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto, who holds the same power as the grand master.

While only three people are issued a permanent passport at any one time, 12 other people hold temporary versions.

Despite how exclusive the passport is, it’s not the most powerful. The passport is not recognised as legitimate in some countries, including the UK, US and New Zealand, but European nations generally do recognise it due to their closer connection. 

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Flight attendant’s handwritten note goes viral

A private encounter between a flight attendant and a mourning mother has gone viral after a handwritten note was shared on Facebook.

Tricia Belstra was on a Southwest Airlines flight on the way to bury her recently deceased son. Not feeling well and wedged between two strangers on the flight, Belstra asked for a diet coke and a water when one of the flight attendants passed through the cabin during drink service.

“I sat in my seat between two strangers holding a barf bag down low between my legs,” Belstra posted onto Facebook.

“Then this young man came by; I wish I would have gotten his name.”

Read more: The drink order that annoys flight attendants the most

“He leaned in and asked if I was okay. I told him I was flying back to bury my son. He said he was so sorry and brought me a can of water, a glass of ice and my diet coke.”

That wasn’t the last Belstra had seen of the flight attendant, who handed the grieving mother a napkin as she disembarked the plane at the end of the flight.

“I said thank you and walked out,” she said, not knowing what she held in her hand.

It was a heartfelt letter expressing understanding, support and a lot of love to Belstra, a complete stranger.

“In 2004, my family lost my older brother,” the note said. “As traumatic as it still is for me, I can’t even pretend to truly know the pain you feel as a mother. I did, however, watch my mother’s grieving process (a process that will never end).

“My mum struggled desperately chasing a far away goal of somehow lessening the pain. As she has realised now, the pain hardly lessens.

“Don’t expend your energy trying to chase this. Instead, go all out finding opportunities to experience joy. Visit family, get closer to those you’ve lost touch with, travel.”

Since the story was posted on Facebook on Friday, there have been more than 27,000 likes and more than 600 comments, including others who have shared their own heartbreak after losing a loved one.

“In Feb 2015, my son died in an accident,” shared Kimberly Lewis Orr. “The next day we flew to where he was living. I cried the entire trip. The airline personnel were so kind and loving!

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“They let the pilot know that we were on the plane and what we were going through. The pilot instructed everyone on the aircraft to stay in their seats when we landed so that my husband and I could quickly exit the aircraft. 

“Prayers for peace and comfort for you and your family. It DOES get better.”

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