Princess

Let's here it for Princess Cruise Lines, which has been in the global media crosshairs following the coronavirus outbreak on its Diamond Princess ship, which led to the quarantine of passengers and crew at a dock in Yokohama.

Jan Swartz, PCL president, has sent a letter to the more than 1,000-member crew saying the company is “deeply grateful and incredibly proud” of them.

She informed them that they are in line for two months paid time off. “You deserve and will need a break," she said in the understatement of the year.

The crew will receive salary and the average gratuities that they normally would have received during their leave. PCL, which is part of Carnival Corp., also will pay for flights home.

At least 15 crew members were stricken with coronavirus on board the ship.

PCL is refunding the full cruise fare for passengers, including air travel, hotel, ground transportation, pre-paid shore excursions and other items. 

Passengers also will receive a future cruise credit equal to the fare paid the voyage that was supposed to end Feb. 4.

My hunch: Diamond Princess passengers will opt for a road trip on their next vacation

Donald Trump and his Democratic challengers are out-of-touch with the American public when it comes to their promises of winding down US military involvement in the Middle East.

In his State of the Union address, the president promised that his administration is “working to end America’s wars in the Middle East.”

Elizabeth Warren said, “We need to get our combat troops out.” Joe Biden wants to keep a “small number of troops” to confront the Islamic State. Amy Klobuchar would keep some troops in the Middle East.

The public begs to differ. A survey conducted by the Chicago Council of Global Affairs found that a majority of people believes the US military presence in the Middle East should be maintained (45 percent) or increased (29 percent). Less than a quarter of respondents (24 percent) want to reduce the American footprint.

More than half (55 percent) of respondents support long-term military bases in Iraq. That’s up from 41 percent in 2014.

Despite the public’s willingness to “stick it out” in Iraq, the CCGA poll found that people agree with Bernie Sanders’ contention that “the Iraq War was the worst foreign policy blunder in the modern history of this country.”

The survey found that sixty-seven percent say the Iraq War was not worth fighting. That’s up from 27 percent in 2003 at the onset of the conflict. Only 30 percent say the Iraq war was worth it.

Despite the negative view of the Iraq War, sixty-one percent of Americans consider the Middle East as the region most important to US security interests. That tops Europe (15 percent), Asia (12 percent) and Latin America (seven percent).