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TSA Introduces Less-Revealing Body Scanners

Washington Post |  Those blurry but revealing airport body scanner images that caused a public uproar last year are being replaced by a gray, cookie-cutter image of the human form.

After six months of testing at three airports, including Reagan National, the Transportation Security Administration said Wednesday that the new software would be installed on 241 units at 41 airports that use millimeter wave technology.

Software for an equal number of units that use backscatter technology is still being developed, the TSA said. Both work by bouncing X-rays or radio waves off skin or concealed objects.

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Highest and Lowest Tourist Tax Burdened Cities in US

eTurbo News |  A list of the top five 2011 U.S. cities with the lowest and highest tourism taxes is out, showing cost differences in as much as 56% on average, according to an annual study by the Global Business Travel Association Foundation.

Listed as the five lowest tax burdened cities out of 50 destinations, three Florida cities topped the list with Fort Lauderdale in first, Fort Myers in second, and West Palm Beach in third.

All are in both general sales tax and travel-related services such as car rental, hotel and meals.
Following in fourth was Detroit, and Portland, Oregon, in fifth.

The five highest-tax imposing cities on travelers….

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Sneak Peek: JFK's New Terminal 4, Coming in 2013

If you've ever had to leave from or change planes at New York's JFK International Airport, you know that it is a mishmash of terminals always in some state of repair (or disrepair). But coming in 2013, Delta Airline's $1.2 billion renovated and expanded Terminal 4 will introduce an airy, modern, state-of-the-art space that may even bring back some of the long-lost glamour that once accompanied air travel. Check out the airline's recently posted video that gives a peek into JFK's future T4.

Smart Traveler Mark Orwoll is the International Editor of Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter.

Hotel Snore Controls Aim To Banish Sleepless Nights

Reuters Life! |  Guests at an international hotel chain may sleep more soundly after the introduction of "snore patrols" and "snore absorption rooms" at a number of sites worldwide.

Crowne Plaza is trialing the first "snore absorption" rooms at 10 hotels in Europe and the Middle East, whilst six branches in Britain have implemented "snore patrols" this month in a bid to combat noisy sleepers.

"Snore monitors" patrol corridors in the designated quiet zones of Crowne Plaza hotels in the cities of London, Leeds and Manchester. Their job is to listen out for offensive noises and knock on the door of guests who snore too loudly.

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Heat Wave Fosters Toxic Algae in Touristy Lakes

Associated Press |  A prolonged heat wave in the central U.S. has fostered the growth of a dangerous form of algae in lakes and ponds, threatening swimmers and livestock and scaring away tourists during the busy summer season.

Blue-green algae are actually bacteria that produce toxins harmful to humans and livestock. It flourishes in warm, stagnant, sunlit water, and this year's heat wave combined with Oklahoma's worst drought since the Dust Bowl have created what one water official called a "perfect storm" for its growth.

Officials have issued a series of warnings, telling boaters and swimmers at lakes in northeast Oklahoma, southern Kansas and Nebraska to avoid contact with the toxic gunk. The issue attracted national attention earlier this month when Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe blamed a respiratory illness on a swim in Grand Lake in Ketchum Hollow.

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24 Small Towns May Lose Air Service

New York Times |  Rural America, already struggling to recover from the recession and the flight of its young people, is about to take another blow: the loss of its airline service.

That was underscored last week when Delta Air Lines announced that it “can no longer afford” to continue service at 24 small airports. The carrier says it is losing a total of $14 million a year on flights from places like Thief River Falls, a city of 8,600 in northwest Minnesota that fills only 12 percent of the seats, or Pierre, the capital of South Dakota, where Delta’s two daily flights are on average less than half full.

Nationally, all major airlines have been reducing and sometimes eliminating flights altogether in small cities, as the industry concentrates much of its service in 29 major hubs, which now account for 70 percent of all passenger traffic, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

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Carmageddon Brings Hotel Discounts

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Because so many big media outlets are based in New York and Los Angeles, the rest of the world gets to hear the minutiae of our local news (Blackouts! Blizzards! Brushfires!) as though it’s their own.  Thus, this weekend’s closing of the 405 freeway in Los Angeles—dubbed Carmageddon—is internationally known, if only locally dreaded.

A few Southern California hotels have offers for those Angelenos hoping to bypass the panic of Carmageddon with a weekend escape.

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New Report: World's Most Expensive Cities

CNNMoney |  If you think New York is expensive, try Luanda, Angola where you'd pay $28 for a CD and about $20 for a club sandwich and a soda, according to an annual survey on the cost of living around the globe by consulting firm Mercer.

Costs are so high in Luanda for Americans that Mercer deemed it the most expensive city in the world for the second year in a row.

The biggest trend to emerge in this year's survey—which compares the cost of housing, coffee, food, clothing and transportation for expatriates in 214 cities across five continents—was that American and European cities slipped in the rankings, while African and Asian cities climbed.

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Qantas, JAL to Launch Low-Cost Domestic Carrier in Japan

eTurbo News |  The Qantas Group and Japan Airlines are believed to be in advanced talks about starting a low-cost domestic carrier in Japan.

A decision is expected this year, although both sides say the proposal has yet to be finalised. JAL says its investigations have been wider than a tie-up with Qantas subsidiary Jetstar.

The talks were put under the spotlight yesterday after the Japanese business paper Nikkei said the venture would be capitalised at between Y=10 billion ($116 million) and Y=20bn and would start next year.

JAL and Jetstar would each hold a 30 per cent stake.

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All-Female Tourist Police to Protect Visitors in Acapulco

eTurbo News |  A help-wanted ad in the Mexican Pacific state of Guerrero is drawing rebuke from some women's rights groups.

In effect, the ad says: Wanted: Women ages 18-26, who are at least 5-foot-5 and whose weight is proportional to that height. Must have good physical and mental health. Knowledge of English is a plus.

The job? A new, all-female tourist police force proposed for Guerrero's most popular visitor destinations, including Acapulco.

"The idea is to have a police force comprised of only women, preferably beautiful ones," said Ramon Almonte Borja, head of the state's public security secretariat.

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