2. CAIRO, EGYPT — On Sunday, a bomb ripped through a tourist bus in the resort town of Taba, killing at least three foreign tourists and the Egyptian bus driver. Taba is located in Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula on the border with Israel, a region as well known for its beautiful beaches and amazing coral as it is for its smuggling routes, rebellious residents, and homegrown terrorist groups.

    Egypt’s violent spiral is only getting worse


  3. Last week, Mr. and Mrs. Shawn Carter celebrated their fifth anniversary by visiting Cuba, along with their mothers and a small entourage of bodyguards. The power couple better known as Beyoncé and Jay-Z did what you’d expect of tourists to the historic capital of a tropical island: Walked around Old Havana in summer clothes, taking pictures (her) and smoking cigars (him); dined out in restaurants (even though, less typically, police had to be called to keep crowds of fans at bay) and on rooftop terraces; and danced to some of Cuba’s famous music.

    But tourism, of course, is prohibited under America’s 50-year-old trade embargo against communist Cuba. And living it up on “Cuba or, as the informed refer to it, ‘the island prison,’” makes Beyoncé and Jay-Z “useful idiots extraordinaire,” says A.J. Delgado at Mediaite. “While dining, partying, and enjoying the best Havana has to offer, Beyoncé and Jay-Z not only legitimize and support the repressive regime, with both their presence and their cash, but turn a blind eye, cruelly, to the perils and languishing of the Cuban people.” This is especially galling because they are “proud African-Americans,” and Cuba is “notorious for relegating its black population to second-class status, or worse.”

    How were Beyoncé and Jay-Z able to visit Cuba?


  4. Pedestrians cross the flooded St. Mark’s Square on Nov. 20, 1952 (top) — just as they will 60 years later (bottom). 

    Venice is notoriously prone to flooding, particularly in autumn. But after this week’s heavy rains, nearly three-quarters of the canal-laden city was submerged, with the tidal mark reaching its sixth-highest level since 1872. Nonetheless, Italians and light-hearted tourists carry on, utilizing makeshift bridges, donning swimsuits, and lounging in the veritable pool that is St. Mark’s Square. More images of Italy’s flooded wonderland throughout history.


  5. Photo of the day: A tourist sits outside a cafe in flooded St. Mark’s Square in Venice. High tides have topped more than 1 meter above sea level in the low-lying, canal-carved city, and on Oct. 15, as much as 9 percent of Venice’s surface was underwater. 

    PHOTO: AP Photo/Luigi Costantini


  6. This week, America launched its first-ever tourism ad campaign in Japan, Canada, and Britain, and is planning on expanding the feel-good media blitz in the coming months to Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, and South Korea.

    In one ad, a guitar-strumming Roseanne Cash, backed by an almost-too-diverse-to-be-believed band of musicians, beckons tourists to “come and find your land of dreams” over burnished shots of vintage Cadillacs, elderly dominoes players, and wedding celebrations — largely in lieu of classically tourist-friendly activities. 

    So, does this video make you want to visit America? 


  7. Friday book recommendations!

    Anne Trubek, author of “A Skeptic’s Guide to Writer’s Houses,” has highlighted books that draw visitors to their authors’ home towns. Here’s a sampling of the reads she recommends:

    The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain (Signet, $8). Twain’s novel about Americans traveling through Europe and the Holy Land mocks Americans’ penchant for tacky tourism: “We find a piece of the true cross in every old church we go into… And as for the bones of St. Denis, I feel certain we have seen enough of them to duplicate him if necessary.” What would he make of the Twain-land erected in his hometown of Hannibal, Mo.?

    Martin Eden by Jack London (Penguin, $16). At the end of his life, London, a best-selling author, was sick of writing, but he kept at it to pay bills. In Sonoma County, Calif., he bought a ranch and built a glorious house that burned to the ground the day he was to move in. Martin Eden is about a young writer who becomes disillusioned once famous. Both the novel and the burned remains of London’s house display the folly of foresight.

    Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman (Bantam, $6). “If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles,” Whitman writes. At his house museum in Camden, N.J., visitors go to see Whitman’s boot soles, to see his stuff. Whitman’s poetry tries to bridge the divide between the material and spiritual worlds. Writers’ houses, monuments to the imagination, do the same.

    Read the full list here. And happy Friday!