Travel

Texting While Driving, Now Legal in Colorado

The electronic signs above Colorado highways offer a warning to drivers who reach for their cellphones: “New texting law fines increased to $300.” What it doesn’t mention: Texting while driving is now legal in Colorado as long as it isn’t done in “a careless or imprudent manner.” The little-noticed provision softening the state’s standard is part of a new law that increased the penalties for a texting while driving carelessly citation from $50 to $300 and from one to four points on a driver’s license. Before now, any text messaging or manual data entry by a motorist was prohibited. “The simple fact is that if you are texting while driving but not being careless, it’s no longer illegal,” said Tim Lane at the Colorado District Attorneys’ Council.

While we certainly don’t recommend texting while driving, we applaud this reduction of the big brother environment that has been created over texting.  To read the rest of this article, click on the text above.

Cuba deal rollback: Trump says he’s nixing Obama’s ‘one-sided’ pact

President Trump, speaking at a Miami theater associated with Cuban exiles, announced Friday he is nixing his predecessor’s “one-sided deal” with the Communist nation – moving to restrict individual travel to the island, crack down on the flow of U.S. cash to the Cuban military and demand key reforms in Havana. While stopping short of a full reversal, Trump said he would challenge Cuba to come back to the table with a new agreement. “Effective immediately, I am canceling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba,” Trump told a cheering crowd. Trump cast his announcement Friday as the fulfillment of a campaign pledge to turn back former President Barack Obama’s diplomatic outreach to the country. “I keep my promises,” Trump said. “And now that I am your president, America will expose the crimes of the Castro regime.” A cornerstone of the new policy is to ensure Americans traveling to Cuba only support private businesses and services, banning financial transactions with the dozens of enterprises run by the military-linked corporation GAESA. The Trump administration also says it will strictly enforce the 12 authorized categories allowing American citizens to travel to Cuba – banning one particular type of travel, known as individual “people-to-people” trips, seen as ripe for abuse by would-be tourists. Most U.S. travelers to Cuba will again be required to visit the island as part of organized tour groups run by American companies. Obama eliminated the tour requirement, allowing tens of thousands of Americans to book solo trips and spend their money with individual bed-and-breakfast owners, restaurants and taxi drivers. The rules also require a daylong schedule of activities designed to expose the travelers to ordinary Cubans. Trump focused his speech Friday on the crimes and misdeeds of the Castro government, saying his administration would not “hide from it.” He accused the regime of harboring “cop killers, hijackers and terrorists” while casting the policy changes as meant to encourage a free Cuba. “With God’s help, a free Cuba is what we will soon achieve,” Trump said. Critics of the United States’ decades-long freeze – and embargo – with Cuba say it failed to spur such changes, and had welcomed Obama’s outreach as a fresh approach. But many Cuban-American lawmakers recoiled. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a Cuban-American lawmaker who helped craft the new policy, spoke before the president in Miami on Friday and took a shot at Trump’s predecessor for his visit to Cuba last March. “A year and a half ago … an American president landed in Havana to outstretch his hand to a regime. Today, a new president lands in Miami to reach out his hand to the people of Cuba,” Rubio said.

Exactly!!  This is great news for the good people of Cuba who have been brutalized by the communist dictator Castro brothers for over half a century.  Outstanding!!   🙂

Worst airports for summer flight delays

Even without the snow and inclimate weather, summertime is no picnic for busy travelers. Some delays are inevitable but it turns out several airports perform a lot worse than others during this busy travel season. MileCards.com recently analyzed on-time arrival data from the U.S. Department of Transportation for the past 10 years dating back to 2007, uncovering the best and worst airports for summer flight delays. Three of the four worst airports for on-time summer arrivals are located in or around New York: Newark Liberty International (66.5 percent), LaGuardia (66.9 percent) and John F. Kennedy International (69.2 percent) ranked first, second and fourth in worst on-time arrival percentage between 2007 and 2016, respectively. San Francisco International and Boston’s Logan International round out the top five worst airports for on-time arrivals in the summer, according to MileCards.com’s 2017 Summer Flight Delay Study. While undoubtedly better, Chicago’s O’Hare, Philadelphia International, Miami International, Ronald Reagan Washington National and John Glenn Columbus International Airport also cracked the list of the top 10 worst for summer travel with average on-time arrival percentages ranging from 72.3 percent to 73.9 percent. Hawaii dominates the list of the best airports for on-time arrivals during the summer. Kahului Airport and Honolulu International Airport rank Nos. 1 and 2 at 88 percent and 86.5 percent, respectively. The West also reigns supreme when it comes to the top-performing airports in the mainland U.S. Salt Lake City International, Orange County’s John Wayne Airport, Phoenix Sky Harbor International, Portland International, Seattle-Tacoma International, San Jose International, Minneapolis-St. Paul International and Las Vegas’ McCarran International are among the best U.S. airports for summer travel, boasting an on-time percentage of 79.5 percent or better. MileCards.com’s research also found that 40 percent of the top 50 U.S. airports have more summer than winter delays and that June is the worst month for summer delays—with more than three-quarters of the 50 busiest airports experiencing more frequent delays in June compared to July or August. The website declared that Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport is the best United Airlines hub for on-time summer arrivals while Phoenix is the top-performing American Airlines hub this time of year. Delta Air Lines’ best hub for summer travel is Salt Lake City. To combat summer flight delays, MileCards.com recommends air travelers check for waived change fees before they check in, take advantage of in-flight Wi-Fi to rebook on their way to their destination and choose their airports and departure times carefully.

Legalized marijuana turns Colorado resort town into homeless magnet

From his sidewalk vantage point in front of an outdoor equipment store in downtown Durango, Colo., Matthew Marinseck has seen a transformation in this mountain resort town. The picturesque town near the New Mexico border, once a vibrant, upscale community dotted with luxury hotels, is being overrun by panhandlers – thanks, in part, to the legalization of marijuana. The town suddenly became a haven for recreational pot users, drawing in transients, panhandlers and a large number of homeless drug addicts, according to officials and business owners. Many are coming from New Mexico, Arizona and even New York. “Legalized marijuana has drawn a lot of kids here from other states and the impact has not all been good,” said Marinseck, 58, while holding a cardboard sign asking for “help.” Several people holding cardboard signs could be seen along the streets of Durango now. Some just ask for marijuana, or imply that’s what they want with a photo of a green pot leaf. But it’s not just pot users being drawn to Durango. “[The] city really started freaking out when they started seeing needles in the streets” said Marinseck, a self-avowed former hippie. Caleb Preston, a store manager in a gift shop and a former “street entertainer,” said the homeless and panhandling issue in Durango has gotten out of hand since the state legalized marijuana. “Just this year there has been a major influx of people between 20 to 30 who are just hanging out on the streets,” Preston said. “The problem is while many are pretty mellow, there are many more who are violent.” Preston said he’s become accustomed to kicking out vagrants who perch themselves in front of his store. “Most of the kids here are from out of state, and I would say it has a lot to do with the legalized pot,” said Preston. He said he’s also noticed an uptick in crime in the area. Shoplifting, he said, has become a major problem in Durango and business owners are becoming fed up. The city’s Business Improvement District held a meeting May 12 to review the results of a survey completed by local businesses on how to address the panhandling issue, which has become an urgent matter as the city enters its busy summer tourist season. Among the suggestions were stricter laws for panhandling and loitering, strategic placement of obstacles such as bistro tables and flower boxes to discourage sitting and lying on sidewalks. They also proposed launching a campaign discouraging tourists to give money to the pan handlers. A rudimentary effort is already in place with handwritten signs encouraging donations be made to charities that help the homeless rather than handing panhandlers’ money directly. Tim Walsworth, executive director of Durango Business Improvement District, said he is frustrated. He said he has to walk a tightrope between the civil liberties of the homeless population and the reputation and attractiveness of the downtown area, which for years has been a hot tourist destination. “We’re hoping to discourage the transient and professional panhandlers that are impacting the perceived safety and cleanliness of our downtown, as well as help those who are truly in need,” Walsworth said in a statement. Conspicuously absent from the busy downtown: The presence of police patrols. Durango Police Chief Kamran Afzal said he has only been on the job for a month and is still assessing where the needs are in the town. With a department of 50 officers and only five per shift who cover 20 square miles, the challenge is daunting, he said. He said the property crime rate is 12 percent higher than the national average. “At this point, since I’m new here, I can’t definitively say this number is related to our homeless population,” Afzal said.

Eerie ‘Land of Oz’ theme park in North Carolina finally opening up for tours

In 1970, people from around the country flocked to Beech Mountain, North Carolina to check out the new “Land of Oz” theme park. Its popularity was short-lived — the attraction shut down in 1980 after its owner passed away and a fire took down the site’s Emerald City. It hasn’t been left completely abandoned, though. In 1991, the park was opened for one day to curious visitors. And as we’ve previously reported, locals have taken it upon themselves to keep the amusement park in relative working order to open for the annual “Autumn in Oz” event. But this year, as they did last year, they’re opening it up on Fridays in June for visitors to come and enjoy an entirely different kind of Oz. The tours on June 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 will last for 45–60 minutes, and will introduce visitors to Dorothy as she guides you around her country home on the Yellow Brick Road. During your visit to the Land of Oz, you’ll meet Dorothy and accompany her on a tour of her country home — just before a cyclone whisks you away to the yellow brick road. This massive winding trail reaches all the way around the top of Beech Mountain, and is made of 44,000 actual yellow bricks. Tickets for the scheduled tours are on sale now for $25.

Fun!!  For more, click on the text above….and “follow the yellow brick road.”    🙂

Simon the giant rabbit, destined to be world’s biggest, dies on United Airlines flight

Scandal-hit United Airlines is facing a new PR disaster — after a valuable giant rabbit died mysteriously on one of its planes. Three-foot Simon, destined to be the world’s biggest bunny, died in the cargo section of a Boeing 767 after flying out of Heathrow to a new celebrity owner in the US. Breeder Annette Edwards, of Stoulton, Worcs, said: “He was fit as a fiddle. I’ve sent rabbits round the world, nothing like this happened.” United’s reputation is at rock bottom after film of a doctor being dragged from a jet went viral. Edwards, 65, said 3ft Simon, expected to grow to be the world’s biggest rabbit, and was healthy when placed in the cargo hold. But Simon, heading to a new celebrity owner in the US, was found dead after the Boeing 767-300 landed at O’Hare — the airport where a doctor was violently dragged off a UA plane. Annette said: “Simon had a vet’s check-up three hours before the flight and was fit as a fiddle. “Something very strange has happened and I want to know what. I’ve sent rabbits all around the world and nothing like this has happened before.” Annette, of Stoulton, Worcs, added: “The client who bought Simon is very famous. He’s upset.”

As many of you know, we tend to avoid human interest stories here at The Daily Buzz, as there are so many other outlets for that sorta thing.  But, this latest “PR disaster” for United was worth sharing.  To be fair, there is an investigation into the mysterious demise of this giant rabbit.  So, we don’t know if United did anything that might have contributed to it’s death.  BUT, talk about bad timing!  Wow..  To read the rest of this story, and see a photo of this critter, click on the text above.

Jeff Bezos reveals ‘sneak peak’ of Blue Origin’s space tourism capsule

Want to take a trip to space? Billionaire Jeff Bezos’ private spaceflight company, Blue Origin, released new images March 29 of the interior of its New Shepard passenger capsule, which the company says will be used to send paying customers on brief trips into space. The images show sleek black seats, tilted back so passengers are facing up when the rocket takes off. But the real fun will come when the spacecraft reaches suborbital space and passengers will be able to get out of their seats and experience weightlessness in the roomy cabin. Passengers can also look out the spacecraft’s windows, which will be “the largest windows ever in space,” the company said. As recently as October 2016 , Bezos said the company was on track to make its first human test flights by the end of 2017, with the first customer flights taking place in 2018. The New Shepard vehicle can reach suborbital altitudes, meaning not high enough to completely loop around the planet. (The Blue Origin customer flights will last about 11 minutes.) Besides its tourism function, the vehicle could serve as a microgravity laboratory, the company has said. “Our New Shepard flight-test program is focused on demonstrating the performance and robustness of the system,” Bezos said in a mass email update (these emails go out sporadically to people who subscribe on the company’s website). “In parallel, we’ve been designing the capsule interior with an eye toward precision engineering, safety and comfort.” Blue Origin has made multiple successful test launches of its New Shepard vehicle, and these missions have included landing the spacecraft’s reusable rocket booster. The company said it has also relaunched some of those used boosters . Reusable rocket boosters could help bring down the cost of spaceflight, Bezos and other spaceflight industry experts have said. Space tourism isn’t unique to Blue Origin. Virgin Galactic has already started selling tickets for a trip to space aboard one of the company’s space planes . (Blue Origin is not yet selling tickets or revealing pricing information, but the company’s website does let people sign up to receive early updates when those things become available). The private company World View is offering tourism trips aboard high-altitude balloons. Last year, Bezos said Blue Origin would also like to eventually offer tourism trips to higher altitudes than New Shepard can reach. This would happen aboard the company’s New Glenn orbital rocket, which is currently in production. Bezos said the company planned to give first access on those orbital space trips to customers who had already purchased suborbital trips on New Shepard.

Very cool!!  To see photos, click on the text above.