Regional News - North America.

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New York (AirGuide - Regional News North America) Jan 15, 2012 01/16/2012

Airlines waived fees for passengers who want to change their flying dates Several big airlines waived fees for passengers who want to change their flying dates to avoid potentially serious winter storms in the East, including New York. So-called weather waivers were issued on Thursday by Delta, United, Continental, US Airways, and AirTran. Passengers who change their tickets, however, must rebook on flights within the next few days. The waivers from Continental, United, and US Airways apply to flights through Sunday. United said its waivers apply to tickets for travel passing through Washington, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia on United, United Express or United code-share flights. Travelers who change their ticket have to keep the same origin and destination, and rescheduled travel must take place within seven days of original travel date. Customers with canceled flights are eligible for a full refund. The policy covers flights to and from New York's LaGuardia; Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Allentown and Harrisburg, Pa.; Atlantic City, N.J.; Baltimore-Washington; and Reagan National, Dulles, Newport News and Richmond airports in Virginia. Jan 14, 2012

FAA proposes plan for navigation in NextGen environment By 2020, all IFR traffic will rely on satellites for navigation under an FAA proposal now open to comment. A 50% reduction to the existing VOR network, part of the transition to NextGen, is planned by 2020, with a scaled-down VOR network retained as a backup to GPS. Jan 13, 2012

Seattle TSA agents detect two guns in two days In the past two days, Transportation Security Administration agents at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington state detected two guns in checked bags. One of the guns was loaded. Both travelers were arrested and may face civil penalties of up to USD11,000. "Oftentimes, people say that they forget that their gun is in their bag, but the No. 1 rule of firearm safety is know where your firearm is at all times," said Lori Dankers, of the TSA's Northwestern regional office. "So we're hoping people do follow that advice. I think we'd all feel a little happier." Jan 13, 2012

Business travelers will spend less time in security lines in 2012 Business travelers can expect to spend less time in security screening lines this year, according to a new-year roundup. "While wallets and aspirin bottles may be emptied faster than we'd like this year, there are some forces at work to make travel less of a hassle for those frequenting busy terminals and crowded planes," Amanda Rogers writes. Other changes will include more applications for smartphones and tablets and potential headaches from airline mergers. Jan 13, 2012

NYC hotel deals market will stay active in 2012, experts say New York City's hotel-transactions market this year will likely maintain the brisk pace it displayed in 2011 as strong property results and an influx of foreign capital make the area more attractive to investors, experts say. Investors closed 15 hotel deals in the market in 2011, for a total deal volume of USD2.4 billion, compared with 10 deals representing USD1.3 billion in 2010, data by STR show. Jan 13, 2012

DHS' cybersecurity guidance is too broad, GAO says The federal government has inundated the private sector with cybersecurity information, but has failed to show companies how best to put it to use, a Government Accountability Office report says. The report criticizes the Department of Homeland Security's cybersecurity guidelines, saying that "[g]iven the plethora of guidance available, individual entities within the sectors may be challenged in identifying the guidance that is most applicable and effective in improving their security posture." Jan 13, 2012

Forecast: Lower prices, mobile popularity to drive SSD growth Solid-state drives should remain on a strong growth path because of lower prices, a shortage of spinning hard disk drives and the growing popularity of mobile devices, according to research firm IDC. Worldwide SSD revenue increased by 105% in 2011, hitting USD5 billion in revenue, compared with USD2.4 billion in 2010. Jan 13, 2012

Clean-energy investment hit USD260 billion in 2011 Global clean-energy investment increased by 5% in 2011, reaching USD260 billion, according to data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. It remains to be seen whether the sector will continue to thrive as governments wind down economic-stimulus payouts. "Most of those dollars have now been spent," says Bloomberg policy analyst Ethan Zindler. "Next year industry will have to be more competitive and more cost-effective without government support." Jan 13, 2012

Canada to recognize marriages of gay tourists The federal government is working quickly to change the law so that the marriages of the thousands of gay couples who travel to Canada to wed are legally recognized in this country. OWe want to make it very clear that in our governmentOs view, these marriages should be valid,O a senior government official said on Friday. OThatOs why we will change the Civil Marriage Act so that any marriages performed in Canada that arenOt recognized in the coupleOs home jurisdiction will be recognized in Canada.O The legislative change will apply to all marriages performed in Canada regardless of the laws of the jurisdiction in which the couple live, the official said. But in a separate statement Thursday, federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said the Harper government has no plans to reopen the debate on same-sex unions and the definition of marriage. OI will be looking at options to clarify the law so that such marriages performed in Canada can be undone in Canada,O he said. The statements came in the wake of a political firestorm that broke out Thursday after international headlines suggested the Canadian government doesnOt legally recognize the marriages of foreign same-sex couples who were married in Canada because they could not legally do so in their home state or country. The controversy was sparked by a Toronto court case involving a foreign lesbian couple, who wed in Toronto in 2005, now seeking a divorce. The couple wed in Toronto in 2005. Under a court order, they cannot be named. A federal lawyer contended the couple cannot divorce in Canada under this countryOs laws since they were never really married here. Their marriage is not recognized in Canada if it is not recognized in their home jurisdictions N in this case, Florida and England, the lawyer said. FridayOs amendment would fix a legislative gap in the Civil Marriage Act, the official said, and legally recognize the validity of same-sex marriages in Canada. However, under the current law, Mr. Nicholson acknowledged that marriages of non-Canadian residents performed in Canada Ocould not be dissolved in Canada.O Under the Divorce Act, there is a residency requirement that a couple must live in the country for at least a year in order to divorce here. The government will not yet be looking at changes to the Divorce Act, as that legislation is much more complicated, the official said. The official said the Conservative government is moving quickly on the issue. OThe confusion and the pain that is resulting from this gap is completely unfair to those who are affected, and I think we saw that yesterday in the coverage of these poor people who woke up to this news,O the official said. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, while speaking in Halifax Thursday, was quick to attempt to dispel the controversy. Although he said he didnOt know much about the case, he was clear that his government Ohas no intention of further opening or reopening this issue.O Jan 13, 2012

How to find affordable last-minute Chinese New Year hotel deals online The annual Chinese New Year (CNY) holiday is now about much more than just staying with friends and family these days. Chinese, especially young affluent ones, are looking to travel overseas rather than just return home for the holidays. Another important travel demographic, the event culture vulture, is also keen to combine this auspicious holiday with an exotic overseas sojourn. According to HotelTravel.com Chief Information Officer, Olivier Dombey, more Chinese travelers are waiting till the last minute to bargain hunt while booking CNY hotels on mobile platforms. OThere has been a seismic shift in travel behavior since I left Beijing in 2008. Once travel restrictions were lifted, Chinese started to look at the CNY period as a prime opportunity to travel outside the country. OWe are seeing more last-minute hotel bookings by Chinese travelers on mobile platforms. And there is also considerable interest from other nationalities to travel to key destinations to experience and take part in CNY festivities. OThere are still available rooms and good hotel deals in popular destinations, but selecting the right city to spend CNY is key to finding online deals. HotelTravel.com has a few simple suggestions that we think will help travelers get the best value for hotel stays.O Look beyond Hong Kong and Macau Both former colonial enclaves are traditionally fully booked during CNY. More importantly, hoteliers are only too aware that they can leverage peak demand period as an excuse to jack room rates sky high. Since it is a three-day public holiday (starting Monday, January 23), a large part of both cities close up shop for the week leaving available restaurants, shops, and malls packed to the gills. Book in Bangkok Almost everyone knows that Bangkok hotels offer some of the best value for money deals on the planet. But did you know that the Thai capital has almost as many rooms as there are in all of India? BangkokOs Chinatown is also fun, safe, and vibrant during CNY. Plus it is not an official government holiday so for the rest of the city its business as usual. Stay in Singapore Staying in Singapore is not cheap any time of year, but...

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