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Cities seek creative ways to prevent car or van attacks

Sat, 19 Aug 2017 00:08:27 UT

PARIS (AP) — From Barcelona to Times Square and beyond, extremists have used vehicles as deadly weapons with alarming frequency in recent years, whether to promote jihad, get attention or express despair. In response, ugly concrete blocks as well as more aesthetic deterrents are sprouting up in front of landmarks and ordinary public places around the world. Security experts say such barriers would have minimized the fatal damage wreaked on Spain this week — yet warn that as long as motor vehicles exist, some risks will always remain. While cars and trucks have been used for scattered violence for generations, the last 13 months have seen nearly a dozen vehicle-ramming attacks in Europe and the U.S.

Judges approve of dune projects, but residents still angry

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 22:34:13 UT

MARGATE, N.J. (AP) — Republican Gov. Chris Christie's administration's plan for storm protection along the entire 127 miles (204 kilometers) of New Jersey's coast was endorsed by two courts this week, but residents of some beach towns still aren't happy. A state judge on Wednesday ruled against the attempt by homeowners in Bay Head, Mantoloking and Point Pleasant Beach to opt out of the protective sand dune plan in an area devastated by Superstorm Sandy. The dune project resumed in Margate last weekend after a federal judge overruled a state judge's decision to stop it. On Tuesday, a federal appeals court refused to halt the project in Margate.

Grand Teton park to escape Yellowstone's shadow for eclipse

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 16:36:00 UT

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Its jagged, soaring peaks rise high over northwest Wyoming, but Grand Teton National Park is always in the shadow of its world-renowned neighbor, Yellowstone National Park. But thanks to the total solar eclipse Monday, Grand Teton is expected to outshine, and overshadow, one of the nation's most popular parks — at least for the day. Grand Teton is directly in the path of the eclipse — where the sun is completely blocked by the moon. "We anticipate it to be the busiest day in the history of the park," Grand Teton spokeswoman Denise Germann said. "We're trying to create realistic expectations for visitors as well as our staff that there's going to be congestion, there's going to be traffic gridlock.

Driver forced to gun engine and jump rising drawbridge

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 13:48:33 UT

LOWER TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) — A driver was forced to gun his engine and jump a drawbridge that began rising as he crossed it with his family. Terence Naphys, of West Deptford Township, had paid the toll to cross the Middle Thorofare Bridge with three family members in his vehicle on Aug. 1. The bridge links Cape May with the Wildwoods near the Jersey shore. As he was crossing the steel grate, it began to rise 3 to 6 feet (0.9 to 1.8 meters) because a vessel was trying to cross, police said. "My wife said, 'I think the bridge is opening,'" Terence Naphys told KYW-TV in Philadelphia. "He accelerated, and of course then we landed with a big impact on the concrete on the side," said Jackie Naphys.

FAA changes San Francisco landing rules after close call

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 21:59:14 UT

Federal officials have issued new rules for nighttime landings and control-tower staffing at San Francisco International Airport after an Air Canada jet nearly struck planes on the ground last month. The new procedures will apply when a runway parallel to a plane's designated runway is closed, as it was on July 7, possibly contributing to the Air Canada pilots' confusion. When an adjacent runway is shut down at night, air traffic controllers will no longer let pilots make so-called visual approaches to land. Instead, they must use instrument landing systems or satellite-based systems to line up for the correct runway.

Las Ramblas: A top Barcelona site for tourists to stroll

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 21:12:16 UT

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — The lengthy Las Ramblas promenade where a van plowed into pedestrians Thursday is a tree-lined walkway that starts in a huge plaza and ends near Barcelona's harbor. It's filled with cafes, restaurants, stalls selling everything from souvenirs to flowers, the city's famed opera house and a baroque palace. It stretches 1.2 kilometers (0.7 miles), with a pedestrian-only walkway in the center of the avenue and vehicle traffic allowed on both sides. Las Ramblas is one of Barcelona's top tourist draws, a place to stroll and soak in the city's historic charm while doing some serious people-watching.

Start of major construction on new NYC train hall announced

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 19:34:21 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced the start of major construction for a new light-filled train hall across from the cramped and dark Penn Station. The Democratic governor said Thursday that the planned Moynihan Train Hall was "for many years too difficult to achieve." He said construction is underway because "New Yorkers don't give up." The planned transit hub in the landmark Farley Post Office building is named after U.S. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a Democrat who championed the project and died in 2003. A concourse linking the Farley building to the existing Penn Station across the street opened in June. The $1.6 billion project is scheduled to be completed in 2020.

Turkey bones may help trace fate of ancient cliff dwellers

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 16:15:33 UT

DENVER (AP) — Researchers say they have found a new clue into the mysterious exodus of ancient cliff-dwelling people from the Mesa Verde area of Colorado more than 700 years ago: DNA from the bones of domesticated turkeys. The DNA shows the Mesa Verde people raised turkeys that had telltale similarities to turkeys kept by ancient people in the Rio Grande Valley of northern New Mexico — and that those birds became more common in New Mexico about the same time the Mesa Verde people were leaving their cliff dwellings, according to a paper published last month in the journal PLoS One.

Louisiana city to erect monument of novelist at park

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 12:42:18 UT

COVINGTON, La. (AP) — A Louisiana city will place a statue of novelist Walker Percy in a park. The Covington City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to put the bronze statue of Percy at Bogue Falaya Park. Times-Picayune reports the 9-foot (2.7 meter) sculpture entitled "Walker Percy Gateway" pays homage to the prize-winning writer who lived in Covington from 1948 until his death in 1990. It depicts him leaning in a doorway, a metaphoric gateway into the author's world. The statue is the work of Covington sculptor Bill Binnings. Mayor Mike Cooper says it will be erected this fall near the front of the pavilion. Walker was born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1916.

Baby dolphin dies after being crowded around on Spain beach

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 12:09:07 UT

MADRID (AP) — A Spanish environmental group has called on beachgoers to refrain from crowding around, touching or taking photos of stray sea animals following the death of a baby dolphin last week. Images on Spanish media and social networks showed adults and children touching the small, female dolphin in the sea in the southeastern town of Mojacar. Equinac, a nonprofit organization that works to protect marine animals in the southern province of Almeria, said that the dolphin died on Aug. 11 before its experts could try to save it. The group said on its Facebook account that cetaceans were very susceptible to stress and crowding around them to take photographs or touch them can cause great shock and may lead to death.

ICC orders Mali extremist to pay $3.2 million in reparations

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 10:58:35 UT

BRUSSELS (AP) — The International Criminal court ruled Thursday that a Muslim radical found guilty of destroying World Heritage cultural sites in the Malian city of Timbuktu must pay 2.7 million euros ($3.2 million) in reparations. The court in the Netherlands found that Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi had intentionally directed attacks against nine mausoleums and a mosque door in 2012, and ordered him to pay for damage to the buildings, economic losses and moral harm to victims — primarily the people of Timbuktu, who depend on tourism. At previous hearings, Al Mahdi pleaded guilty and expressed remorse for his role in leading the destruction, urged Muslims around the world not to commit similar acts and was sentenced to nine years in prison.

National Park Service ends ban on disposable water bottles

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 04:36:21 UT

PHOENIX (AP) — The federal government announced Wednesday it will eliminate a policy that allowed national parks like the Grand Canyon to ban the sale of bottled water in an effort to curb litter. The National Park Service said in a statement it made the decision to "expand hydration options for recreationalists, hikers, and other visitors to national parks." The rules were first put in place in 2011 after it became clear discarded water bottles were becoming a big litter problem in national parks. The policy did not stop the sale of bottled sweetened drinks. Officials say 23 of the 417 National Park Service sites have implemented the policy since it was enacted.