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London Zoo names okapi 'Meghan' to celebrate royal wedding

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 18:00:16 UT

LONDON (AP) — London Zoo has honored Prince Harry's fiancee by naming its newborn okapi after her. The zoo said Wednesday the animal born in early December was named Meghan to celebrate the upcoming wedding of Harry and American actress Meghan Markle. The okapi (oh-COP-ee) have striped hindquarters like zebras but are related to giraffes. Native to the Democratic Republic of Congo, they sometimes are called a forest giraffe or zebra giraffe. Zoo officials say the young mammal is doing well and that Meghan's mother, Oni, watches over her while she sleeps. Zookeeper Gemma Metcalf said the birth is "a great opportunity to draw attention to the okapi, which is an extremely endangered species.

France to loan Britain famed 11th-century Bayeux Tapestry

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 16:50:31 UT

PARIS (AP) — French officials plan to loan the historic Bayeux Tapestry to Britain, allowing the 11th-century artwork depicting the conquest of England to leave France for the first time in centuries. The mayor of the Normandy town of Bayeux, Patrick Gomont, said Wednesday that the loan is about five years away because restoration work is required to ensure the fragile 70-meter (230-foot) cloth isn't damaged in transit. It currently resides in a museum in the town. The Times of London newspaper reported that French President Emmanuel Macron will announce the loan of the artwork on Thursday when he meets British Prime Minister Theresa May for talks on Brexit, security and border issues.

Got unused vacation days? Plan for Vacation Day is Jan. 30

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 14:37:22 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — Stop making excuses. Start making plans. That's the message behind the second annual National Plan for Vacation Day. It's an effort by the travel industry to persuade Americans to use Jan. 30 as a day to schedule their vacations for the year and take advantage of any paid time off they are entitled to from their jobs. Destinations, tourism agencies and others in the travel industry are expected to offer promotions in conjunction with the effort. It will be promoted on social media with a #PlanForVacation hashtag. Alamo, for example, will publicize vacation-planning tips and offer a 10 percent discount on base rates for weekly car rentals (bookable Jan. 23-Feb. 6, for travel March 1-Aug. 30).

Panama Hotel votes to drop Trump — but his company won't go

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 01:16:23 UT

WASHINGTON (AP) — The owners of a Trump-branded hotel in Panama sued President Donald Trump's family-owned company in federal court Tuesday, alleging that the namesake business committed mismanagement and fraud. The lawsuit includes previously confidential arbitration filings before the International Chamber of Commerce. It alleges that Trump Hotels tried to "bully, intimidate and harass" its way out of a $15 million arbitration claim. The owners, led by investment firm Ithaca Capital Management, are seeking to fire Trump's company and abandon the Trump brand. The lawsuit, filed in U.S.

FAA investigates after storm snarled flights at NYC's JFK

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 00:07:48 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — The Federal Aviation Administration said Tuesday it is investigating the actions of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey after a winter snowstorm caused major disruptions at Kennedy Airport earlier this month. Its probe is focusing on a requirement regarding "prompt and timely removal of snow from all aircraft movement areas." The snowstorm created days of cancellations and delays at the airport on Jan. 4 and several days after. A burst pipe at the primary terminal for international flights on Jan. 7 also caused major headaches for air travelers.

US travel industry launches plan to reverse tourism decline

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 23:33:43 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — Travel industry representatives sounded an alarm Tuesday over a long-term decline in international tourism to the U.S. and said they want to work with the Trump administration to reverse the trend. Organizers of the new Visit U.S. Coalition said the decline started in 2015 and repeatedly said they are not blaming President Donald Trump, who has been criticized by some in the travel industry for spurring a "Trump slump" with anti-foreigner rhetoric and policies. Instead, the new coalition blamed the tourism downturn on factors like the strong U.S. dollar, complex visa requirements and low-cost air travel that boosts travel elsewhere.

Weekend derailment is latest black eye for DC subway system

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 23:12:30 UT

WASHINGTON (AP) — A derailment over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend is only the latest problem for the dysfunctional D.C. subway system that Washingtonians love to hate. Metro's problems are familiar to subway riders in New York and other big cities: smoke-filled tunnels, technical failures, delays and more. But Washington isn't just any American city. The Metro, once a jewel of the city, is critical for making the nation's capital work. Washington City Councilman Jack Evans, who serves as chairman of the Metro board, cites studies showing 42 percent of federal government workers take public transit regularly. Metro's odd funding structure makes it harder to fix the system.

Even the eyelashes freeze: Russia sees minus 88.6 degrees F

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 19:44:17 UT

MOSCOW (AP) — Even thermometers can't keep up with the plunging temperatures in Russia's remote Yakutia region, which hit minus 67 degrees Celsius (minus 88.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in some areas Tuesday. In Yakutia — a region of 1 million people about 3,300 miles (5,300 kilometers) east of Moscow — students routinely go to school even in minus 40 degrees. But school was canceled Tuesday throughout the region and police ordered parents to keep their children inside. In the village of Oymyakon, one of the coldest inhabited places on earth, state-owned Russian television showed the mercury falling to the bottom of a thermometer that was only set up to measure down to minus 50 degrees.

World War I painting on loan from UK coming to Kansas City

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 19:35:33 UT

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City is preparing to display a John Singer Sargent painting depicting British soldiers blinded by a gas attack on the Western Front. The American artist's 8-by20-foot (2.4-by-6.1-meter) oil on canvas titled "Gassed" is so large the museum had to build a new exhibit space, called the Wylie Gallery. The exhibit opens Feb. 23 and lasts through June 3, The Kansas City Star reports. Sargent's 1919 painting, which shows soldiers being guided to a medical station, is on loan from the Imperial War Museum in London. It has been on tour while its home exhibit space is being renovated. Kansas City is the only stop in the Midwest.

Niche tours of hidden Tokyo reveal grit and history

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 16:48:41 UT

TOKYO (AP) — I've always resisted the idea of taking a guided tour on my annual visits to Japan. My interests are pretty niche and I know Tokyo well enough that friends there have trouble suggesting new things to see. This year I decided to try two guides offering personalized tours. One, Lee Chapman , is a photographer who specializes in older neighborhoods. The other, Mark Hobold, writes a history blog called Japan This ! that is sometimes too geeky even for me. Chapman says he takes guests to "an interesting, slightly grittier side of Tokyo that you never see in the media or guidebooks.

San Francisco's Chinatown: Night scenes from Grant Avenue

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 16:47:14 UT

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Red lanterns sway in the wind. Streetlamps from the 1930s cast a yellow-green glare onto century-old buildings. Neon glows from a pair of dive bars. Figures are silhouetted waiting outside a restaurant, and a lone woman makes dragon beard candy in a tiny storefront window. All are nighttime scenes along Grant Avenue in San Francisco's Chinatown. The avenue, which runs north and south, is one of the oldest streets in the city. In the late 1800s, it became home to Chinese immigrants who were fleeing unrest at home, seeking opportunity here or following the Gold Rush. Many of the neighborhood's buildings today can be traced to reconstruction efforts after the 1906 earthquake.

A Holocaust museum in Brooklyn focuses on faith, survival

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 15:45:02 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — Faith and survival, not the machinery of death, are the central themes at an atypical Holocaust museum in Brooklyn. The three-year-old Amud Aish Memorial Museum, located far from the tourist crowds at near the very edge of the borough, focuses on the experiences of Orthodox Jews during and after the Holocaust. Its collection includes letters, diaries, photos and religious items, like a frayed prayer shawl worn secretly by a prisoner at Auschwitz. Many were donated by Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jews who had stashed the artifacts in basements and attics would not have given them to another museum, Amud Aish staffers said.