China to develop tourism in Tibet
BEIJING — China will invest $63.5 million to develop tourism in southeastern Tibet by building 22 model villages, the official Xinhua News Agency said Saturday.
Xinhua said China plans to make Nyingchi county, 200 miles southeast of the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, into an international tourist destination. It is nestled in a region known for its forests, snow-covered mountains, valleys and rivers.
Beijing has for decades tried to expand the Tibetan economy in hopes of winning over ethnic residents, but its heavy-handed rule has drawn criticism. Many Tibetans accuse the government of religious persecution and cultural assimilation — sometimes under the pretext of economic development.
Xinhua said authorities will spend $15.9 million over three years in Nyingchi to build 22 model villages where residents can make money by providing family hotel services.
Airlines to restore restroom oxygen
NEW YORK — Federal aviation officials will order airlines to put oxygen systems back in jet restrooms, reversing a decision last year to remove them because of fears that terrorists could use them to start a fire during flight.
The Federal Aviation Administration said Monday that restoring the oxygen systems over the next three years will “eliminate a hazard that could jeopardize flight safety.” The new equipment is supposed to be harder to tamper with, although federal officials haven’t yet approved any designs.
The rule covers about 5,500 planes and will cost airlines $44.2 million to comply, the FAA estimates.
Supplemental oxygen systems on planes often use chemical reactions to produce oxygen for masks that passengers can use to breathe if the plane loses cabin pressure.
2012 National Folk Festival canceled
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The National Folk Festival is canceling its events this year after financial problems stemming from funding shortfalls at last year’s festival in Nashville.
According to a news release from the festival, the crowds were enthusiastic, but stifling heat followed by tropical downpours kept many people away.
Typically, the festival takes place in the same location three years in a row. A festival is still planned for next year in Nashville.
The National Council for Traditional Arts has produced the festival almost continuously since 1934.
The festival showcases traditional arts of many nations, races and cultural groups. The 2011 festival over Labor Day weekend included performances of bluegrass music, Hawaiian hula, Mexican mariachi and East African rumba.
Youth admission to be free at Newseum
WASHINGTON — The Newseum its waiving its admission fee for youth visitors ages 18 and under during the summer months.
The museum about journalism and the First Amendment announced Monday that it will offer free admission beginning for youth today through Labor Day on Sept. 3. That’s a savings of $12.95 per child.
WTOP Radio is sponsoring the summer deal to provide free admission for youth.
Vegas airport aims to increase traffic
LAS VEGAS — With the arrival of an overnight flight from London this week, Las Vegas will mark the opening of a $2.4 billion airport terminal that officials say could help lift the southern Nevada economy from the depths of the Great Recession.
Some are crediting McCarran International Airport planners with foresight for giving a go-ahead in 2008 for a project that airport chief Randall Walker now calls crucial to serving tourists from the U.S. and Britain, plus places like Panama, South Korea, the Philippines, Amsterdam and Berlin.
“What they’ve done is good, solid planning,” said Michael Boyd, an aviation analyst based in Evergreen, Colo. “When Air China wants to come in, AirIndia or Turkish Air, they’re going to want a gate right away. This is a good move for Las Vegas. It keeps them ahead of the curve.”
Group looks to bridge gap between trails
WEYBRIDGE, Vt. — The longest hiking trail in the United States stops 40 miles short of its most famous cousin, but a group is trying to bridge that gap.
The North Country National Scenic Trail runs 4,600 miles from North Dakota to New York’s eastern border. From there, it’s about 40 miles across Vermont fields and mountains to the Appalachian Trail, the famous 2,170-mile hiking trail that runs from Georgia to Maine.
Bringing them together now are a push from the organization that runs the North Country Trail; a changed attitude from officials in Vermont, where the connection was blocked decades ago; and a growing movement to connect the nation’s longest hiking trails.
“This 40-mile gap is a gap in the system,” said Bruce Matthews, executive director of the Michigan-based North Country Trail Association, which is working with the National Park Service, Vermont’s Green Mountain Club and others to build the new connecting trail. “There’s no logical reason for it.”