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45th Albuquerque balloon fiesta set for weekend launch

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 22:27:21 UT

Other events include the Balloon Glows, Special Shape Rodeo and Music Fiesta. How and when the balloons launch depends on the weather and pilots will have to take into consideration wind patterns to avoid landing on American Indian land. In addition to flying events, Thursday and Friday will showcase special shape balloons launching each morning and glows in the evening. THE SCENE Besides balloons in the air, there will be plenty of things to do on the ground.

Consumer demand for Alaska cruises growing again

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 21:54:09 UT

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A growing consumer demand for Alaska cruises has put the state back in the million-passenger club as it rebounds after a leaner stretch. "With continued interest by cruise companies including Alaska itineraries and bringing bigger ships to Alaska ports, we expect the growth to continue next summer," Leonard said Friday in an email to The Associated Press. The drop in passenger numbers also has been blamed on other factors, including the national recession that ate into discretionary income. Around the same time, state funding was increased for travel industry marketing. The southeast Alaska town of Sitka is among communities enjoying the growth spurt that's been building since completion of a deep water dock in 2012.

Iceland raises aviation alert due to Katla volcano activity

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 20:04:13 UT

REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) — Iceland's Meteorological Office has raised the aviation alert level around the Katla volcano because of seismic activity. The activity, which began Thursday and continued Friday, prompted officials to raise the alert level to yellow, which signifies volcanic activity above background levels.

Visitors to Hawaii hit record for August, top 780,000 people

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 19:24:29 UT

HONOLULU (AP) — The number of tourists visiting Hawaii hit a record for the month of August by topping 780,000 people. CEO George Szigeti says perpetuating Hawaiian culture and preserving Hawaii's natural resources are key to maintaining the state's record of success.

United fails to renew liquor license; 2 dry days at Newark

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 19:04:52 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — Airlines often frustrate road warriors with delays and cancellations. The Chicago-based airline has spent the last year trying to win back once-loyal business travelers who abandoned the airline over frequent delays. A renewal package for the liquor license was sent to United Airlines in May but it was never returned, according to Marjorie Harris, press secretary for the City of Newark. Passengers who pay for expensive international business class tickets or premium cabin tickets on transcontinental flights are also allowed into the club. The airline has to pay two separate fees to obtain a liquor license: one to New Jersey state government and one to Newark's Alcoholic Beverage Control Division.

US cities increasingly dealing with messy goose poop problem

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 18:43:10 UT

"Geese and their waste ruin youth sports and picnics, make it unpleasant for the elderly who like to walk in the parks, and the waste gets all over dogs' paws," said Annissa Essaibi George, a Boston city councilor who this week introduced a measure to drive the messy pests from the city's parks, playgrounds, ballfields, golf courses and waterways. Communities large and small across the nation are dealing with the goose problem, said Paul Curtis, an associate professor of wildlife science and management at Cornell University. Two years ago, after plastic coyotes didn't do the trick, frustrated officials in Columbus, Ohio, used laser beams and explosives in efforts to keep geese from fouling the banks of the Olentangy River. The geese that force people to keep their eyes on the ground and dance around little cylinders of poop are called resident geese.

American hopes IT switch doesn't snag flights this weekend

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 18:18:38 UT

American has tried to make the job easier by conducting the technology switchover on a Saturday in early fall, when fewer people are traveling, and by pruning about 200 flights from its schedule from Friday night through early Sunday. The flight-operating system includes more than 500 applications that cover functions ranging from crew schedules to flight plans and the weight-and-balance calculations that are needed before a plane can take off. American's vice president of flight operations, Kimball Stone, said that the single system should improve scheduling of pilots and reduce cancelations that occur when a crew hits its legal limit on working hours and backup pilots aren't available.

Correction: Yellowstone-Ringing Phones story

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 16:45:39 UT

(AP) — In a story Sept. 29 about cell phones in national parks, The Associated Press reported erroneously how a bill in the U.S. House would affect rental fees on telecommunications facilities. In the popularity contest between Yellowstone's natural wonders and on-demand phone service, park administrators appear to have lost ground on a 2009 pledge to minimize cellphone access in backcountry areas. Signal coverage maps for two of Yellowstone's five cellphone towers show calls can now be received in large swaths of Yellowstone's interior, such as the picturesque Lamar Valley and other areas until just recently out of reach. The maps were obtained by a Washington, DC-based advocacy group, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), which has for years fought against new telecommunications infrastructure in the first national park in the U.S. Ken Sinay, who operates the Yellowstone Safari tour company and has been running nature tours in the park's backcountry for two decades, said phone signals became far more prevalent in many parts of the park over the past several years. Yellowstone technology chief Bret De Young acknowledged the occurrence of "spillover" cellphone signals into backcountry areas, but suggested the coverage maps — released by the park to Ruch's group under a public records request — exaggerated the quality of coverage in parts of the park. PEER executive director Jeff Ruch said the park had failed to meet those goals and instead ceded its telecommunications program to companies that wanted to offer blanket coverage.

World's deepest underwater cave found in the Czech Republic

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 16:26:15 UT

Starnawski, 48, determined Tuesday that the flooded limestone Hranicka Propast, or Hranice Abyss, which divers, including him, have explored for decades in its upper parts, was at least 404 meters deep. Speaking on the phone from his home in Krakow, southern Poland, Starnawski said Tuesday's discovery makes Hranice Abyss the world's deepest known underwater cavity, beating the previous record-holder, a flooded sinkhole in Italy called Pozzo del Merro, by 12 meters (39 feet). Diving in the cave is a challenge, because of its muddy areas and a water temperature of 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit).

Birthright Israel: 'A gift from 1 generation to another'

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 14:46:33 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — For some young Jews, it's almost become a rite of passage: taking a free trip through Birthright Israel. Since the organization launched 16 years ago, it's brought 500,000 Jews to Israel. The only requirement is that participants be 18 to 26 years old, with at least one Jewish parent (or one Jewish grandparent if they're from the former Soviet Union). Today funding comes from the Israeli government, Jewish nonprofits and individual donors, including the conservative billionaire Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam. Birthright Israel CEO Gidi Mark calls the free trips "a gift from one generation to another." The Associated Press interviewed Mark in New York about the organization's goals and how it has evolved. The real gift we give young people is the ability to think. Brandeis University has done research that shows Birthright increases feelings of attachment to the state of Israel by 40 percent. How do you handle controversy over Israeli politics? How do you keep Birthright Israel trips safe? Each and every one of the groups has an emergency button that goes directly to the national emergency room and every group is monitored 24/7. First of all we diversified the offerings. Groups for people who have Asperger's or Crohn's disease or are disabled or LGBT or film writers.

New York City's iconic Carnegie Deli to close Dec. 31

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 14:41:04 UT

Carnegie will still have locations in Las Vegas; Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; New York's Madison Square Garden; and at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in Queens. The popular tourist destination is a few blocks from Carnegie Hall and is known for its massive pastrami sandwiches and pop culture cameos.

Prague's toilet museum moves to the capital's Old Town

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 13:41:36 UT

What started with a discovery of Gothic and Baroque toilets during a reconstruction of a 13th-century building near Prague has become an unusual pastime of collecting historical chamber pots and toilets. Among some 2,000 pieces on display — with the oldest dating to the 15th century — is a chamber spot acquired for the Lincoln Bedroom of the White House in 1892, which could have served up to 17 American presidents.