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The Latest: US lawmaker says UK bomb showed 'sophistication'

Thu, 25 May 2017 04:46:29 UT

A U.S. congressman says the bomb used in the deadly Manchester Arena attack in England suggests a "level of sophistication" that might indicate its maker had foreign training. Texas Republican Mike McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the bomb that killed 22 people and the alleged attacker was "a classic explosive device used by terrorists." McCaul said the device used the explosive TATP, the same one used in the deadly November 2015 attacks in Paris and the March 2016 attack in Brussels carried out by Islamic State extremists. A British broadcaster has obtained security camera footage that it says police believe shows the suspect in the Manchester Arena bombing wearing a backpack that was used in the attack. [...] the broadcaster reported that police think the man is alleged bomber Salman Albedi and the backpack played a role in Monday's attack after an Ariana Grande concert. A Libyan anti-terror force that arrested the brother of the alleged Manchester bomber says he had links to the Islamic State extremist group and was aware of his brother's plans. The Special Deterrent anti-terror force said in a statement on its Facebook page that the arrest took place in Tripoli as Hashim Abedi was receiving cash transferred from his brother, Salman. The force's statement says: "The brother was aware of all the details of the terrorist attack." The British government says a national minute of silence will be observed on Thursday to remember those who died or were affected by Monday's bombing at a Manchester arena. Britain's political parties say they plan to resume campaigning Friday for the June 8 general election after putting campaign events on hold to show respect to bombing victims. The bombing suspect's father and two of his brothers have been arrested in England and Libya in connection with the attack, which killed 22 and injured dozens others.



Fire 50 percent contained at Washington state tourism spot

Thu, 25 May 2017 01:01:31 UT

(AP) — A wildfire that started at an old log-storage site and prompted evacuation orders for 168 homes and cabins at a popular Washington state hiking and skiing destination was 50 percent contained Wednesday afternoon, officials said. Deputy State Fire Marshal Melissa Gannie said the fire was threatening homes, timber and electrical infrastructure away from the downtown area, modeled in Bavarian village style. Ross Frank, owner of Red-Tail Canyon Farm, said the fire was burning about a quarter mile (.40 kilometers) from his farm with draft horses and forest where weddings, barbeques and sleigh rides are held. Cowan said Wednesday that hundreds of firefighters and other responders were able to make progress on the initial fire and two related spot fires, allowing for the reduction of the number of people in homes and cabins needing to evacuate immediately.



The Latest: Fire about 50 percent contained at tourism spot

Thu, 25 May 2017 00:22:02 UT

The blaze just north of Leavenworth started Tuesday and intensified, but Northwest Incident Management Team spokesman Brendan Cowan said Wednesday that hundreds of firefighters and other responders have been able to make progress on the initial fire and two related spot fires. Officials say the fire hasn't grown in size since Tuesday night and was still burning on about 40 acres (161,900 square meters). Officials have made changes to wildfire evacuation orders near a Washington state hiking and skiing destination, reducing the number of people in homes and cabins needing to leave immediately. Officials say a wildfire has prompted evacuation orders for 168 homes and cabins at a popular Washington state hiking and skiing destination. Deputy State Fire Marshal Melissa Gannie says the fire is threatening homes, timber and electrical infrastructure away from the downtown area, modeled in Bavarian village style.



Travel industry worried proposed budget will cut Brand USA

Wed, 24 May 2017 18:51:15 UT

The U.S. travel industry is expressing concern about the proposed elimination of funding for Brand USA in President Donald Trump's budget plan. Several travel industry organizations, including the American Hotel & Lodging Association and the U.S. Travel Association, also said Brand USA provides critical marketing for the U.S. tourism industry. The budget proposal would redirect that money to the Customs and Border Protection account that handles those online applications.



Governor says no road sign for monument? Fans hang 1 instead

Wed, 24 May 2017 14:53:17 UT

BENEDICTA, Maine (AP) — Maine's governor is refusing to allow road signs to be installed for a new national monument, so supporters of the park are taking matters into their own hands. A governor's spokesman says it would be "imprudent and premature" to install signs before completion of a 120-day review period ordered by President Donald Trump last month.



Technology elevates new theme park experiences in Orlando

Wed, 24 May 2017 13:17:03 UT

(AP) — For more than a moment, you feel the way "Avatar" hero Jake Sully felt plunging down the side of a floating mountain and coming just close enough to a giant wave to feel the mist on your face — all while on the back of a flying banshee that then swoons and soars high above the land of Pandora. Flight of Passage, the new signature ride of Disney World's $500 million Pandora-World of Avatar experience, has been designed to make riders feel like they are in an alien land. Easily the most powerful and immersive experience is Disney's Flight of Passage, where riders are thrust into the land of gigantic Na'vi aliens with the use of state of the art 3-D simulated technology. Visitors to Universal's new water park Volcano Bay will get an experience they've never had in a packed amusement park: Universal closed the nearly-40-year-old Wet 'n Wild water park to make way for the more intensely-themed Volcano Bay, whose story line is that visitors are entering a Pacific island belonging to the Waturi people. The opening of the water park in May marks the debut of the TapuTapu wearable wristband which can pay for food, open lockers, trigger special effects, set spending limits on the kids and eliminate waiting in lines by sending alerts when it's your turn for a ride. The ride is pioneering the use of virtual lines, which allows visitors to watch live entertainment or hang out in a lounge instead of waiting in line. Visitors wanting the virtual reality experience can choose to wear a virtual-reality headset that make them think they're going on a deep-sea mission alongside sea creatures.



Orlando's not the only hot spot: theme park fun around US

Wed, 24 May 2017 13:03:31 UT

SeaWorld, which has weathered criticism and declining attendance related to its orca programs, is launching new attractions in San Diego, replacing a theatrical-style whale show with a more educational experience called Orca Encounter. SeaWorld San Diego also opens Electric Ocean on park pathways after dark, with light displays of glowing sea creatures and live performers. H2OBX, a $46 million water park, is expected to open on North Carolina's Outer Banks in June with more than 20 water slides, pools and attractions, including Deep Six Adventure Lagoon with climbing walls, an obstacle course and balance pads. Battle for Metropolis, an immersive action dark ride, has guests joining forces with superheroes at Six Flags Over Georgia in Austell; Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California; and Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey. The colorful display, accompanied by music, will illuminate Hogwarts' four houses, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin, at Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Portside Plunge offers inner tube rides, first in an enclosed area, then down hills before hitting a pool. [...] in Sandusky, the Kalahari Resort water park debuts five attractions this summer: the Stingray raft slide, Sahara Sidewinder slide, Tornado Alley funnels, Serengeti Spinner body slide and Extreme Rush, which drops riders into a loop and then a pool. At the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Shockwave offers motorcycle-style seats around a spinning disc on a curling track, and Typhoon swings riders upside-down on two spinning arms over the boardwalk. The Wedge, a family raft ride, and Shore Break with six water slides, including chambers that launch riders into a near-vertical drop through curves, loops, a flume and tube slides.



Same sex couple says Southwest discriminated against them

Wed, 24 May 2017 13:02:10 UT

(AP) — A Florida man says a Southwest Airlines employee refused to let him board a flight as a family with his husband, their three children and a grandparent. Grant Morse tells USA Today (https://usat.ly/2qTGTgk ) he was in the family boarding area at the gate at the Buffalo, New York, airport on Saturday when a gate agent told them the area is for family boarding.




Landslide on California highway part of $1 billion in damage

Wed, 24 May 2017 02:25:11 UT

A massive landslide that went into the Pacific Ocean is the latest natural disaster to hit a California community that relies heavily on an iconic coastal highway and tourism to survive, and it adds to a record $1 billion in highway damage from one of the state's wettest winters in decades. The weekend slide in Big Sur buried a portion of Highway 1 under a 40-foot layer of rock and dirt and changed the coastline below to include what now looks like a rounded skirt hem, Susana Cruz, a spokeswoman with the California Department of Transportation, said Tuesday. Even before the weekend slide, storms across California have caused just over $1 billion in highway damage to more than 400 sites during the fiscal year that ends in June, Mark Dinger, also a spokesman for the state transportation agency, said Tuesday. Big Sur is one of the state's biggest tourist draws in a normal year, attracting visitors to serene groves of redwoods, beaches and the dramatic ocean scenery along narrow, winding Highway 1. Repeated landslides and floods have taken out bridges and highways, closed campgrounds, and forced some resorts to shut down temporarily or use helicopters to fly in guests and supplies. "There's no question if you live and own a business in Big Sur, you live in a very dramatic landscape and we know historically, whether it's fire or a mudslide or a landslide from one year to the next it's not very predictable," said Gafill, whose restaurant is serving two to three dozen local diners a day rather than the 600 to 1,000 typical for this time of year.



Christie lays out train deal, Cuomo set for 'summer of hell'

Wed, 24 May 2017 01:02:30 UT

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday unveiled a plan to limit the impact on New Jersey commuters during an emergency track repair project at Penn Station, while New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo cautioned commuters in his state to prepare for a "summer of hell." The New Jersey Republican bashed Amtrak as dishonest during a statehouse news conference, but he said the agency had promised daily track repair updates to New Jersey Transit and the chance to review all rail work. Cuomo, a Democrat, said Tuesday that a task force would be established to come up with short-term measures, but he called the delays that the repairs will cause for riders a "looming emergency." [...] the budget proposed by President Donald Trump Tuesday would cut the funding program that the so-called Gateway project was set to use. Trump's budget proposal includes a promise to launch a $1 trillion infrastructure plan, but it does not lay out specifics on what it will fund.



Experts: Traveler should have drawn scrutiny before flight

Wed, 24 May 2017 00:11:33 UT

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A man acted strangely long before he caused a disturbance on a plane that prompted fighter jets to accompany it to Hawaii, but a lack of communication and an airline's hesitancy to be caught on video booting a passenger could have played a role in allowing him to fly, experts say. Anil Uskanli, 25, of Turkey, had purchased a ticket at an airline counter in the middle of the night with no luggage and had been arrested after opening a door to a restricted airfield at Los Angeles International Airport. After bizarre behavior on board Friday, including trying to get to the front of the jet, he was arrested by FBI agents and charged with interfering with a flight crew. The first alarm should have been Uskanli buying his ticket around midnight with no bags other than a laptop, a phone and items in his pocket, said Doron Pely, a director at TAL Global, an international security consulting firm focusing on aviation security. Airline employees may have been worried about preventing Uskanli from flying because of recent viral videos of flight crews ejecting passengers and may have been more tolerant of his behavior because they didn't know about his airport arrest, he said. Jeffrey Price, an aviation security professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver, said the recent spate of online videos showing airlines mistreating customers may have played a role, making airline employees less likely to confront a passenger or eject Uskanli from the plane.



Losing their kicks? Funds for Route 66 towns may be at risk

Tue, 23 May 2017 23:09:37 UT

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Route 66, the historic American roadway that linked Chicago to the West Coast, soon may be dropped from a National Park Service preservation program, which would end years of efforts aimed at reviving old tourist spots in struggling towns. A federal law authorizing the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program is set to expire in two years, and some lawmakers are working to save the program or get Congress to designate Route 66 as a National Historic Trail. The deadline, first reported by The Herald-News in Joliet, Illinois, also has Route 66 enthusiasts and preservation advocates scrambling to make sure the program or an alternative is maintained for the "Mother Road." Development of the interstate highway system after World War II diverted motorists away from Route 66 and economically hurt communities along the road. Preservationists fear that small towns along Route 66's 2,500-mile (4,020 kilometer) path will miss out in much-needed investment if the funding program is not extended or if the route does not get the historic trail designation, said Frank Butterfield, director of the nonprofit group Landmarks Illinois.