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Globe Trotting: Irish passport cards debut in July

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    The water might be near freezing, but that made for a refreshing dip for Anori the polar bear, enjoying the outdoor pool at the Wuppertal Zoo in Wuppertal, Germany, on Thursday.

Irish passport cards debut in July

DUBLIN »Ireland is launching a new plastic passport for travel in Europe — and Irish citizens can provide their own selfies as the ID photo.

The credit card-style passports make their debut in July and, according to Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan, can be used to travel throughout the 28-nation European Union as well as Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.

The cards are similar to the passport cards that U.S. residents have used since 2008 to travel to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, but those IDs work only for land and sea links, not air travel.

Applying by smartphone app, Irish citizens will be able to submit mug shots taken by the same phone. Security features include turning that photo into an embedded holographic image.

Change eases flying for musicians

DETROIT » It is not entirely sweet music, but new Department of Transportation regulations going into effect in March should make it easier to transport a musical instrument on an airplane.

Starting March 6, a person traveling with an instrument that can fit in an overhead bin must be allowed to store it there if space is available, and the instrument cannot be removed to make space for other people’s luggage.

The act also requires that if a traveler buys an extra seat for an instrument, the seat cannot cost more than a regular passenger seat.

Carriers also will not be able to charge extra for checked instruments beyond what is normally charged for bags of the same weight and size.

New York event honors designers

NEW YORK » New York will host hundreds of events in May to celebrate designers and their contributions to the city’s economy.

The 12-day NYCxDESIGN celebration runs May 8-19 with activities across the city.

The city’s marketing and tourism arm, NYC & Company, says it’s intended to lift the city’s profile as a global hub of design. The city has 40,000 practicing designers, 3,900 design firms and 10 design and architecture schools.

The third annual event will showcase designers from around the world through exhibitions, installations, trade shows and open studios.

Eighteen hotels, recognized for their designs, are listed as the event’s "official" hotels.

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