Friday, September 30, 2016

BMW Concept X2 Previews 2017 BMW F39 X2

BMW, the carmaker that tries to abide by its “Sheer Driving Pleasure” as much as it can, didn’t keep its promise with the F48 X1. That’s due to the platform of the second-generation compact crossover, which is FWD by nature. But in spite of it all, the entry-level X car continues to sell like there’s no tomorrow.

Be that as it may, the most affordable sports activity vehicle from the Bavarian carmaker is missing something. That’s a coupe-like brother with an even number in its name. Cue the F39 X2, previewed today at the 2016 Paris Motor Show by a concept. Question: what’s wrong with this set of live pictures? Indeed, that’s a fancy mock-up, not a functional prototype.

Fret not, though, because the production-ready F39 X2 won’t differ too much from what BMW has brought to Paris. Another question: how is the Concept X2 different from other BMW coupe crossovers? The roof, as you can see from the adjacent pics, isn’t as sloped as the X4 and X6. What the X2 loses in sexiness, however, gains in terms of headroom and practicality.

Similar to the X3 and X4, the wheelbase will be shared between the X1 and X2. More to the point, 2,760 millimeters or 108.6 inches will have to do. Unfortunately for us people, the uninspired interior design of the X1 will be carried over by the X2. To be offered in front- and xDrive forms, the 2017 BMW X2 will also mirror the engine options that are currently available for the X1. For the entry-level X2 sDrive16d, a three-cylinder turbo borrowed from the MINI will have to suffice. Higher up the range, the X2 xDrive25i will boast 231 PS (228 hp) and 350 Nm (258 lb-ft) of torque from a 2.0-liter engine.

“The BMW Concept X2 combines the fast-moving body language and low-slung proportions of a coupe with the robust construction of an X model. This is a sporty vehicle with a bold character, and it allows us to open up some fascinating new design possibilities for the BMW brand,” explains Karim Habib, the head of BMW Design. On that note, expect the BMW F39 X2 compact crossover to debut in production-ready form in 2017.

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New $148-Million Connector at LAX Improves Passenger Access Between Domestic and International Terminals

For years, making many flight connections at Los Angeles International Airport has required a walk outside the terminal or a shuttle bus ride, as well as re-screening at a security checkpoint.

LAX officials say a new $148.5-million passenger facility that opened Thursday will end those inconveniences for many passengers.

The new Terminal 4 connector allows travelers to move between the recently expanded Tom Bradley International Terminal on the west side of the airport and the five terminals on the airport’s south-facing side, which is home to dozens of airlines including United, American, Delta and Alaska. About 52.3 million passengers — 70% of the airport’s total — passed through those terminals last year, officials said.

Travelers can now cross between these terminals without going outside or leaving secure areas — although anyone flying into the Bradley terminal will still be required to go through customs and immigration.

“The key to successfully renovating the airport is building modern facilities that improve efficiency for the traveling public,” said Sean O. Burton, president of the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners. “The Terminal 4 connector does that by reducing the walking distance between terminals and making transfers easier for passengers with checked luggage.”

The new multilevel facility includes moving walkways between the Bradley Terminal and Terminal 4 next door. From there passengers can proceed by tunnels and connecting corridors to Terminals 5, 6, 7, and 8, where they can reach shopping, restaurants, coffee shops and lounges.

The Terminal 4 connector also offers new amenities to passengers arriving at the airport, such as more convenient baggage transfer and luggage inspection stations as well as a faster-moving, four-lane TSA checkpoint that can screen 3,000 passengers or more a day. A public plaza with outdoor seating is located on the upper departures level.

Airport officials say completion of the project is a major step forward toward securely connecting all LAX terminals. Plans call for similar connectors to be built at Terminals 1, 2 and 3 on the airport’s north side.

Los Angeles World Airports, the operator of LAX, contributed about $114 million to the connector project, while American Airlines put in about $34.5 million. The federal Transportation Security Administration will reimburse American for some of its contribution.

Airport officials estimate that constructing the Terminal 4 connector generated about $230 million in benefits to the local economy and created 1,400 annual jobs with a total payroll of $85.2 million.

Its building and facilities are equipped with some of the most energy efficient lighting, cooling and heating systems available. Designers have also reserved space for the future installation of solar panels to generate electricity.

The connector is part of an $8.5-billion-dollar modernization and expansion of the nation’s third busiest airport, which is the primary international gateway to the western United States. The centerpiece of the work has been the $2-billion remodel of the Bradley terminal.

Among the other projects are improvements to domestic terminals, a proposed midfield concourse with additional passenger gates and plans for a centralized car rental facility, a people mover in the terminal area and a light-rail connection to the Crenshaw Line, which is now under construction.

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

L.A. City Leaders Question Financial Risk of Hosting 2024

The deadline is looming to submit another round of bid materials to the International Olympic Committee, but many Los Angeles city leaders continue to have questions about what legal and financial protections will be in place should L.A. be awarded the 2024 Summer Games.

The second round of bid materials is due Oct. 7. The Los Angeles City Council is scheduled to discuss the bid materials this Friday.

Los Angeles is in competition with Paris and Budapest to host the Games. The City Council in Rome is expected to vote Thursday on whether to reject the city’s Olympic bid at the urging of its mayor. The IOC will choose a host city in September 2017.

At an ad hoc committee meeting Wednesday, several City Council members questioned what protections would exist should the city have a funding shortfall or an unforeseen catastrophe. Bid leaders have said the cost of the Games could exceed $6 billion. They expect sponsorships, broadcasting rights and other revenue streams to cover those costs and leave a $161-million surplus.

Last week, LA 2024, the private group leading Los Angeles’ bid, announced a number of venue changes. The Honda Center in Anaheim would host volleyball. Men’s and women’s golf would be held at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades. And Long Beach would host handball, BMX racing, water polo, marathon swimming, triathlon and sailing.

“I guess I don’t quite understand how all of that works,” said City Council President Herb Wesson. “If we’re over in Santa Monica and something goes awry, their building blows up, falls apart, does that mean we have to pay for that?”

Chief Legislative Analyst Sharon Tso said that has yet to be determined.

“There isn’t anything to that effect in place yet and I think that’s one of the recommendations we need to work toward,” Tso said.

LA 2024 is expected to provide $10 million in liability coverage at each venue.

“Whether it’s in Santa Monica or Sepulveda Basin or elsewhere, LA ’24 has an insurance obligation to protect the city, whatever city that venue may be in,” said Councilman Paul Krekorian.

There is also state legislation, SB 1465, awaiting action by Gov. Jerry Brown that would create the Olympic Games Trust Fund. The fund would provide as much as $250 million to cover a financial deficit or liability.

“I would hope that the governor would sign that because this isn’t just an Olympics for Los Angeles. It’s an Olympics for the state, for the region, for the country,” said Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, before adding: “We’re all pretty sure there won’t be a deficit in these Games.”

Despite the concerns they expressed, members of the committee voted to support the bid materials.

The final round of bid materials, including the budget for the Games, will be considered by the council in December.

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Meet Kate, the World's Youngest Commercial Airline Captain

Kate McWilliams, 26, started flying when she was just 13 and became a pilot in 2011.Passengers and cabin crew ask Kate McWilliams how old she is "almost every day".The 26-year-old British woman recently qualified as an airline captain, making her the youngest commercial captain in the world.

"Personally I don't think my age matters," McWilliams, who flies for UK airline EasyJet, told The Independent. But McWilliams' youthful appearance does not detract from her qualifications. She started flying at 13 in the air cadets and began a training programme at CTC Aviation when she was 19.

McWilliams became a first officer in 2011 before passing a command course to become a captain this year."I've been through the same training and passed the same command course as every other captain so I've proven myself capable regardless of my age," she said.McWilliams, who is among the 5 per cent of female pilots, flies Airbus A319 and A320 planes to 100 destinations throughout Europe.

Accompanying McWilliams on a recent flight was Luke Elsworth, 19, who this year became the UK's youngest pilot. Julie Westhorp of the British Women Pilots' Association said she hoped McWiliams' story would inspire more women to consider an aviation career.

"It clearly demonstrates to other young women that it is possible to succeed as a pilot in commercial aviation," she told the Press Association.

Earlier this year, Royal Brunei Airlines introduced its first all-female pilot crew.

Royal Brunei Airlines' first all-female pilot crew before their inaugural flight earlier this year. Photo: Royal Brunei Airlines/Instagram

Captain Sharifah Czarena and senior first officers Sariana Nordin and Dk Nadiah Pg Khashiem were pictured in the cockpit of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner before their inaugural flight on February 23, which is Brunei's National Day.

The trio made their maiden flight together from Brunei to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia - a country where women are forbidden from driving cars.

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Renault Beats Tesla And GM To The Punch With 250 Mile Range EV 'Available Now'

There is one thing Tesla can be proud of: Automakers around the world are getting off their duffs. Today, French carmaker Renault announced at the Paris auto show that its fully electric “ZOE will be available for immediate sale with the Z.E. 40 battery enabling it to travel 400km NEDC.” The car is just one in a wave of longer-range EVs, launched by major automakers to compete with Tesla’s Model 3, which is not expected to appear in serious quantities before 2018.

ZOE’s 400km range translate to roughly 250 miles according to the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC). That cycle might be a bit optimistic. However, Renault states that the number is “equivalent to a real-world range of 300km [186 miles] in urban or suburban areas on a single charge.” With that, Renault’s ZOE is the first of a number of electric vehicles that deliver a gasoline-like range at an affordable price. The current ZOE starts at EUR 17,490 ($19,630) including tax.

The ZOE is already Europe’s best-selling electric passenger vehicle, and its “range increase surpasses any affordable electric vehicle available today,” Renault says. Renault’s ZOE is the sibling of Nissan’s LEAF. That Nissan is preparing a new generation LEAF with a range of approximately 300 miles has been a badly-kept secret since last year. The car was generally expected for 2018, but with sister ZOE available now, it probably is a good guess that Nissan will pull forward its plans.

GM’s Bolt will be available late 2016 for $37,495. Opel today announced a Bolt-based Ampera-e to roll on the European market in 2017. Daimler launched a whole new electric brand named EQ today, with the first model to be “launched in the SUV segment before the end of this decade,” Daimler says. Volkswagen‘s “400 to 600km” I.D. EV also will hit the road in 2020. Peugeot promised five electric models by 2021.

The market for electric vehicles will be very crowded with models from large makers with boundless manufacturing capacity, huge dealer networks, and a target painted on Tesla. The Californian carmaker already lost China to the Chinese. In Europe, Tesla shows serious weakness, well before EU OEMs have begun making EVs in earnest.

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Virgin America Inc. (VA) Stock Rating Lowered by Vetr Inc.

Virgin America Inc. (NASDAQ:VA) was downgraded by research analysts at Vetr from a “strong-buy” rating to a “sell” rating in a research report issued to clients and investors on Tuesday. They currently have a $50.27 price objective on the stock. Vetr‘s price objective suggests a potential downside of 6.98% from the company’s current price.

Separately, Imperial Capital started coverage on shares of Virgin America in a report on Friday, September 23rd. They issued an “in-line” rating and a $57.00 target price on the stock. Two analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, eleven have issued a hold rating and five have assigned a buy rating to the stock. The company has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $41.75.

Shares of Virgin America (NASDAQ:VA) opened at 54.04 on Tuesday. The stock has a 50 day moving average price of $55.56 and a 200 day moving average price of $53.55. Virgin America has a 12 month low of $26.30 and a 12 month high of $56.54. The firm has a market capitalization of $2.41 billion, a P/E ratio of 7.57 and a beta of 1.62.

Several hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of the company. A.R.T. Advisors LLC purchased a new stake in Virgin America during the first quarter valued at about $989,000. Envestnet Asset Management Inc. bought a new position in shares of Virgin America during the first quarter valued at approximately $100,000. Legal & General Group Plc increased its position in shares of Virgin America by 153.3% in the first quarter. Legal & General Group Plc now owns 3,959 shares of the company’s stock valued at $153,000 after buying an additional 2,396 shares during the last quarter. Wealthsource Partners LLC bought a new position in shares of Virgin America during the first quarter valued at approximately $217,000. Finally, Kennedy Capital Management Inc. increased its position in shares of Virgin America by 171.2% in the first quarter. Kennedy Capital Management Inc. now owns 178,346 shares of the company’s stock valued at $6,877,000 after buying an additional 112,581 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 77.60% of the company’s stock.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Air Canada Announces Mumbai-Toronto Non-Stop Service

Air Canada today announced the launch of thrice weekly non-stop service between Toronto and Mumbai from July 1, 2017. At present there is no non-stop service between Mumbai and Canada and this will be Air Canada's third service to India.

"Air Canada is pleased to offer customers this new, non-stop route between Toronto and Mumbai. This is Air Canada's third route to India after Toronto-Delhi service that began last fall and our new seasonal Vancouver-Delhi service commencing next month. This will be the only non-stop service between Canada and Mumbai and with it Air Canada now offers the best coverage of any carrier operating in the Canada-India market," said Benjamin Smith, President, Passenger Airlines at Air Canada.

Air Canada will deploy its Boeing 787-9 aircraft on the route which features 30 business class lie-flat seat suites, 21 premium economy and 247 Economy Class seats, with upgraded in-flight entertainment at every seat throughout the aircraft.

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2017 Jaguar XE Review The Claws Are Out

Things were not off to a good start in “Operation Impress the In-Laws”. The Jaguar XJ I had expected, and which promised ample long wheelbase accommodation for their legs, was no longer arriving; instead, Jaguar‘s brand new 2017 XE R-Sport, the automaker’s entry-level sports sedan and rival to the BMW 3 Series, was on its way. My extended family may not be especially swayed by brand cachet, but could the smallest Jag be too compact a kitty to keep four adults happy?

Jaguar has been on something of a reinvention kick over the past few years. A process arguably begun by the beautiful F-TYPE coupe and convertible, it’s seen new and more invigorating engines be clad in sharper, more beguiling bodywork, not to mention a welcome improvement in build quality and reliability.

Launched at the same time as the F-PACE, though, the XE was overshadowed by Jaguar’s first SUV. A design that’s close to that of the larger XF – itself a condensed version of the range-topping XJ – meant solid good looks on the road, but added to the feeling of “more of the same” from the automaker.

Away from the F-PACE, though, the XE holds its own. The front is its strongest aspect, both the gaping maw of the grille and the angry squint of the headlamps, sending flowing creases back over the heavily-sculpted hood.

From the side the XF cues are clearer, and by the time you reach the rear it’s all gone a little bland. The big, two-tone alloy wheels of the R-Sport version help with the stance, at least, even if I’m not 100-percent on their design.

Jaguar has been waging a war between heritage and modernity for some time now, and nowhere is that clearer than in the XE’s interior. The center stack, with its vast, widescreen infotainment touchscreen – an option; the regular version is a significantly smaller panel – is the most geeky part of the cabin, while the wraparound dashboard design is pure, old-school XJ.

Despite the big screen, Jaguar has wisely provided physical buttons for the HVAC system. They don’t feel the highest-quality of switchgear in the segment, especially the ocean of unpleasantly glossy black plastic they’re surrounded by, but they’re at least easy to stab without distraction from the road ahead.

Jaguar’s excellent HERE-powered navigation system goes beyond the parking lot, offering to hand over the final steps to your destination to your smartphone. Switch on the auto-learning commute mode, meanwhile, and while it won’t give you directions you already know, it will keep an eye out for potential hold-ups along the route.

With two average sized adults up-front, mind, rear seat legroom is on the compact side. Trunk space, too, is limited. My in-laws are indeed average size and they fit, though the steeply raked rear glass and sculpted seats meant it felt fairly tight back there.

Though I’m a diesel fan in general, having tried Jaguar’s oil-burner at the XE’s launch I can’t say it’s the engine I’d choose from. Diesel’s big draw – lashings of torque – is hardly evident, and the whole thing seems tuned unduly for economy. Along the way, the XE’s eagerness has been declawed.

Better, then, to opt for the 3.0-liter, supercharged V6 that the XE 35t R-Sport shares with its F-TYPE cousin. That nets you 340 HP and 332 lb-ft. of torque, for a 5.1 second 0-60 mph time and a 120 mph top speed.

Jaguar’s pop-up transmission knob is still a neat party trick, and so is the 8-speed ZF automatic gearbox. It shimmies neatly through the ratios, happy to keep you moving as the agile and smooth handling underscores the sporting ambitions of the car.

Indeed, in Sport mode the transmission is almost too eager to play, holding lower gears even when you’d think it would be patently clear that you were cruising, not competing, in traffic. Pick the right roads, though, and it’s plenty of fun.

Jaguar says you should get 20 mpg in the city, 29 mpg on the highway, for a total of 23 mpg combined. In my mixed driving, I saw an admirable 22.5 mpg.

The 2017 XE is certainly priced ambitiously, kicking off at $34,900 for the RWD version with Jaguar’s healthy 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder and its 240HP. By the time you get to this 3.0-liter supercharged car, however, you’re looking at $49,200 for the RWD or $51,700 for the AWD.

Jaguar then heaped on the $2,100 Comfort and Convenience package with its climate-controlled front seats, heated rear seats, power trunk lid, and electric rear sun-blind, along with the $2,700 Technology package that upgrades to the 10.2-inch display, navigation, WiFi, and excellent 825W Meridian sound system.

$1,000 apiece for the Adaptive Dynamics and a set of 19-inch wheels, $990 for the head-up display, and another $900 for the gloss black trim and fancy metallic paint push the total to a hefty $61,385 with destination.

Personally, I’d temper my hunger in the options list, even if for the most part Jaguar undercuts its BMW and Mercedes-Benz rivals in the segment spec-for-spec.

That’s because, at its heart, the 2017 Jaguar XE is about crisp, comfortable speed. Don’t be confused by the passenger seats or the luxury appointments: this is a way to get the corner-chomping, exhaust-howling fun of the F-TYPE into a more family-acceptable package. My in-laws were happy and, grinning discretely behind the wheel, so was I.

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Trump: LAX Is Example Of ‘Third-World’ US Infrastructure

Trump name-dropped the airport in Monday night’s debate as an example of the United States’ “third-world” infrastructure, alongside LaGuardia Airport, John F. Kennedy International and Newark Liberty International.

The exchange came as Trump lamented the country’s $19 trillion of debt and vast infrastructure needs.

“You land at LaGuardia, you land at Kennedy, you land at LAX, you land at Newark, and you come in from Dubai and Qatar and you see these incredible — you come in from China, you see these incredible airports, and you land — we’ve become a third world country,” Trump said to Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. “We’re a serious debtor nation.

And we have a country that needs new roads, new tunnels, new bridges, new airports, new schools, new hospitals. And we don’t have the money, because it’s been squandered on so many of your ideas.”

“Maybe [that’s] because you haven’t paid any federal income tax for a lot of years,” Clinton replied.

Trump’s choice to call out LAX may not surprise travelers who have become accustomed to seemingly interminable traffic getting into the airport on certain days and long security lines after check-in.

Still, some debate observers questioned Trump’s world choice. “Third world” originated during the Cold War to define countries who were not allied with NATO or Communist Bloc countries. It has more recently become a stand-in phrase for “impoverished” and is widely considered an outdated term to describe developing countries.

Trump isn’t the first politician to use the term to describe U.S. airports. Vice President Joe Biden also characterized LaGuardia as “third world” prior to a recent upgrade.

LAX ranked 91st in the world, according to a survery of 13.5 million air travelers released by research firm Skytrax earlier this year. A J.D. Power survey found that LAX ranked 29th among travelers in North America, the Hollywood Reporter recently reported.

The airport has acknowledged some of its shortcomings and is working on a $14 billion improvement project. The publicly-owned airport operates on revenues generated at the airport. Capital improvement projects are typically financed by municipal airport bonds.

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JetBlue Adds New Cross-Country Route From Los Angeles

JetBlue is adding a new cross-country route. The airline announced Monday that it will begin flying nonstop between Los Angeles and Orlando on Jan. 5.

JetBlue will fly one daily round-trip flight between the cities on Airbus A320 aircraft. The westbound flight will leave Orlando at 7:05 p.m. and land in California at 9:39 p.m., all times local. The return is a redeye, scheduled to depart Los Angeles at 10:30 p.m. and land in Florida at 6:10 a.m. the following morning (all times local).

JetBlue touted the new route as one that would bolster the carrier’s presence at its Orlando focus city, from where it now flies nonstop to more than two dozen destinations. From LAX, Orlando will become JetBlue’s fifth nonstop route. The airline already flies from LAX to its bases at New York JFK, Boston and Fort Lauderdale as well as to Buffalo.

However, JetBlue will face significant competition on its new LAX-Orlando route, where it will go up against nonstop service offered by five other airlines. American, Delta, United, Frontier and Virgin America all fly nonstop between LAX and Orlando. That means JetBlue will be competing head-to-head with the three biggest U.S. carriers as well as an “ultra low-cost” carrier (Frontier) and California-based Virgin America.

JetBlue also announced on Monday that its high-end Mint service – which features lie-flat seats and business-class amenities – is now on sale on its flights between Fort Lauderdale and San Francisco. The Mint service will debut on JetBlue’s two daily flights on that route on May 15. And, as previously announced, JetBlue’s Mint service will roll out on its LAX-Fort Lauderdale flights starting March 20.

“This is a big win for our Florida and California customers who are eager to have more choices when traveling cross country,” Dave Clark, JetBlue’s VP for network planning, says in a statement. “The Sunshine State and the Golden State have been so important to JetBlue’s growth and success, which is why we are so pleased to continue to deliver on our plan to expand on both coasts.”

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Fun Fall Activities Around Southern California

Thursday was the first day of fall, and around Southern California that means harvest moon festivals, pumpkin patches, apple picking, Knott’s Scary Farm and Oktoberfest!

As the warm days start to give way to long, cool nights, Patch has compiled a list of fun fall activities with and without the kids.

Apple picking at Oak Glen: Just 90 miles east of Los Angeles, Glen Oaks is a an autumn wonderland where you can pick apples and fall flowers, press your own cider, taste apples and pies, make cider and and candles and experience life as the colonials lived it. The mile high town offers dozens of apple orchards and restaurants to choose from.

The Harvest Moon Celebration is a 2,000-year-old Chinese tradition celebrating the end of the summer harvest, and the Huntington Library carries on the tradition. The Sept. 27 Harvest Moon Celebration features live music, offerings from 30 Chinese and Asian-inspired restaurants and the new Boone Gallery exhibition, “Gardens, Art, and Commerce in Chinese Woodblock Prints.” The celebration takes place in the gorgeous setting of the Chinese Garden. The celebration starts at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $98.

Knott’s Scary Farm runs from the first day of fall to Oct. 31. And for anyone who’s never been, it is truly terrifying. The only thing scarier than Knott’s Scary Farm’s gangs of evil clowns, starving zombies, and roving cannibals are its mazes. This year’s mazes are: “Fright Lane with Skeleton Key,” “Paranormal Inc.,” “Red Barn,” “Shadow Lands,” “Special Ops: Infected,” “The Gunslinger's Grave: A Blood Moon Rises,” “Tooth Fairy,” “Trick or Treat,” “The Dead of Winter: Wendigo’s Revenge,” and “Voodoo - Order of the Serpent.” Tickets start at $40 and season passes are $90.

Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights will curl your toes. Rides, shows and mazes featuring your favorite horror film villains will haunt our nightmares. This year, fright night runs most Thursdays through Mondays until Nov. 5. This year’s mazes include, “American Horror Story,” “The Exorcist,” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “Freddy V. Jason,” “Halloween,” and “Krampus.” Other attractions include, The Walking Dead attraction, the Terror Tram, the new Jabbawockeez Show, and scare zones. Tickets start at $64 and climb as Halloween nears.

If blood and terror isn’t your idea of fall fun, Disneyland is hosting Mickey's Halloween Party from Sept. 23 to Oct. 31. Mickey’s party features trick or treating stations, Disney villains, a Halloween parade and fireworks. Ticket prices vary.Moorpark’s Underwood Family Farms Fall Harvest Festival features fall actives the entire month of October including farm animals, antique tractors, and a celebration of all things pumpkin and a giant pumpkin contest Oct. 9.

The Great Pumpkin Weigh-Off! Nothing says fall like a pumpkin, and Orange County’s Great Pumpkin Weigh-Off has pumpkins as far as the eye can see, including the Giant Pumpkin contest on Sept. 24. Last year’s winner weighed 867 pounds. The day features a myriad of pumpkin contests as well as a scarecrow contest, games and food at Irvine Park and Railroad.

Oktoberfest in Old World Huntington Beach runs through Oct. 31. Oktoberfest features parades, beer, German food, beer, dachshund races, beer, live music, beer, food trucks, beer, lederhosen, beer, dancing and beer.

Oktoberfest at Alpine Village in Torrance is the largest Oktoberfest in Los Angeles, and it’s the next best thing to being in Munich. It runs through Oct. 29 and features family fun days throughout the month. It’s all about the beer, food and music.

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department’s 3rd Annual Haunted Jail & Halloween Carnival at Crescenta Valley Station on Saturday October 22 features family friendly, spooky Halloween fun. The day includes costume contests, games, crafts and a moonbounce. The Twilight Show for the little ones is $5 and the scarier Tour of Deadwood is $8.

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Delta Airlines flight is diverted to land at Manchester airport after Samsung Problem

A Samsung tablet wedged under a seat on a Delta Airlines flight began smoking when it overheated - causing the plane to be diverted.

Emergency services met flight DL138 from Detroit at Manchester Airport after it diverted there on its way to Amsterdam following reports of ‘smoke in the cabin’.The tablet had become jammed under a seat in premium class and left under a seat cover, where it started smoking - and passengers smelt a strange odour.

Maintenance staff at Manchester Airport found the tablet, which had been invisible to passengers and cabin crew and was probably left by a previous passenger.The seat is believed to have been replaced while the Boeing 767-400 was on the ground, before the flight continued to the Netherlands with a three-hour delay.

Some passengers on subsequent flights claimed Delta staff asked them to turn off their Samsung devices. The Federal Aviation Administration is now investigating.Delta has since confirmed that the device was made by Samsung - but not a Note 7 model, which is currently under a huge recall after reports of battery fires.

A spokesman said: ‘The aircraft landed safely and Delta’s maintenance team quickly found the source and the aircraft was cleared to continue its journey.‘The flight arrived in Amsterdam at 2.55pm. The device in question fell below the seat and became jammed, which caused the malfunction.’

A Samsung spokesman told MailOnline today: 'It appears that external factors contributed to this incident. This is not related to the Galaxy Note 7.

We have reached out to Delta to investigate as the cause is yet to be determined.'

The incident comes after a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 phone was said to have emitted smoke on board a passenger jet from Singapore to India on Friday.

The phone was found in the bag of a passenger in an overhead bin after other passengers reported smelling smoke in the plane, IndiGo airline officials said.Etihad Airways temporarily banned the use of the smartphones at the beginning of this month again after reports of explosions from faulty batteries.

On September 2, Samsung announced a product recall of at least 2.5million Galaxy Note 7 smartphones due to a faulty battery causing the phones to catch fire.

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2018 Chevrolet Equinox Redesign Bows

Intent on grabbing a larger share of the hot compact crossover/SUV market both here and abroad, Chevrolet unveiled an all-new 2018 Equinox. The remake leaves no doubt the next-gen Equinox is destined to be a higher-profile player than the vehicle it replaces when it comes to battle rivals like the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, Nissan Rogue and Toyota RAV4.

The 2018 Equinox rides on an all-new platform that shares much with the one found under the new Buick Envision. Marginally lower and wider than before, this 5-passenger Chevy hauler also is 4.7 inches shorter and has jettisoned nearly 400 pounds as part of its revamp. While the wheelbase also gets trimmed by 5.2-inches -- to 107.3 inches – the upgraded architecture reduces the turning circle by 10 percent and actually adds 3.5 cu. ft. to its interior volume

The 2018 Equinox wraps its stiffer, stronger structure in sleeker, more refined bodywork and LED-infused front/rear lights that add sophistication to the vehicle's look. Inside, the cabin reflects Chevy’s latest design thinking and matches more upscale trim bits with one of two MyLink infotainment systems that offer support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as well as an available OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. Although its second-row split bench no longer has fore/aft adjustability, the new fixed design maintains just as much legroom and the backs now fold virtually flat for greater utility while creating up to 63.5 cu ft of cargo space.

Motivation for the 2018 Equinox will be supplied by three turbocharged 4-cylinder engines, starting with a gasoline-burning 1.5-liter making 170 horsepower and 203 lb-ft of torque. By summer, it will be joined by GM’s 2.0-liter gas engine delivering 252 horses and 260 lb-ft of torque as well as the automaker’s new 1.6-liter turbodiesel expected to make 136 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque while returning 40 mpg highway. While the 1.5-liter and 1.6-liter engines will be backed by a 6-speed automatic, the 2.0-liter gets teamed with GM’s new 9-speed autoshifter. The Equinox will be available with front-drive as well as a switchable on-demand AWD setup that decouples the rear axle when not in use to improve fuel efficiency.

Chevy will offer a host of new safety/driver-assist features that will be standard or optional on the 2018 Equinox. The existing Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert will be joined by a new Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Alert with Following Distance Indicator and Low-Speed Forward Automatic Braking systems. Also new for 2018 is a 360-degree Surround Vision camera, Safety Alert Seat and the Rear Seat Reminder alert introduced on the 2017 GMC Acadia. More details about the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox as well as pricing will be released closer to the on-sale date.

LAX Car Service - MGCLS

Monday, September 26, 2016

Los Angeles Says Goodbye to an Old Friend

Clippers forward Blake Griffin wrote an open letter to fans. He summed up last year with: “last season sucked.” Here's what else is happening in the Golden State:


End of an era: The voice of the Dodgers is ending his career after 67 years. It was a weekend of tributes to Vin Scully, who called his last game at Dodger Stadium on Sunday. His final broadcast will be this coming Sunday in San Francisco. “For the people of Los Angeles, he is not merely the announcer of baseball games, he is the soundtrack of our lives, the dignified and graceful accompaniment of endless sandy summers, a daily harmonic reminder of the Southern California dream.” Los Angeles Times

What a win: The Dodgers won their fourth consecutive division title Sunday with a walk-off homer. Los Angeles Times

All alone: The issue of solitary confinement in state prisons has received a lot of attention, but long-term isolation in county jails is often overlooked. In L.A. County, the average stay in “restrictive housing” is a year — long enough to experience “debilitating psychological effects.” “The majority of these inmates, they want to be out, to have the interaction, the freedom. It’s healthier,” said Capt. Joseph Dempsey, who is in charge of Men’s Central Jail. Los Angeles Times

Fear and paranoia: Some Latino voters are so concerned about Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump that they are turning to fortune tellers, witch doctors and shamans for help. They want to know if the billionaire businessman will win the November election. “Everyone thought he was a joke, a bad telenovela. But now they know it’s real and they come to me with a lot of fear, a lot of paranoia,” said Maria Murillo Beltran. Los Angeles Times

Make way: Sixth Street in the Miracle Mile area is going on a road diet. Cars will soon have to give up lanes to make more room for cyclists and pedestrians. Curbed LA

Land grab: When Los Alamitos Race Course closes one day, it could be the new home of a master-planned, mixed-use community. Orange County Register

Brick and mortar: What’s a mall to do when its anchor tenant closes? “It’s going to be very challenging for the independent specialty stores to survive a major anchor like Macy’s shutting down,” said Logan Rodriguez, a former Macy’s executive who is now strategic account director at Square Root. “I don’t know that you have too many options.” Los Angeles Times


Fact check: The scope of Trump’s falsehoods is unprecedented. So where does that leave voters and journalists? “He’s a con man. He’s hustled people out of money that they’re owed. He’s lived off tax shelters. He’s always looking for a scheme and a con, and in that sphere, you just fall into telling lies as a matter of course,” said Thomas E. Mann, a resident scholar at UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies. Los Angeles Times

Employee relations: Los Angeles County has made it easier for Probation Department employees with a history of disciplinary problems to receive promotions. Those problems range from off-duty drunk driving to mistreating children in custody. “I mean, it’s tough, because some of these people are going to work 30 years for us. We’ve got to have some process so you can overcome the mistake you’ve made,” said Cal Remington, the interim probation chief. Los Angeles Times


Disso queen: Thanks to the Angelina Jolie-Brad Pitt divorce, attorney Laura Wasser is back in the news. She’s Hollywood’s most famous divorce lawyer. New York Times

Suspects arrested: Fullerton police have arrested three people, including a 17-year-old female, in connection with a triple homicide. Police say the victims and suspects knew one another. Los Angeles Times

Lights and sirens: Two San Francisco paramedics are in trouble for reportedly using an ambulance for sex. One male paramedic drove the ambulance while the other allegedly had sex with a woman in the back. SFist

Inspired by true events: Actress Julia Roberts is reportedly “attached” to play Kelli Peters, the Orange County PTA mom who was the subject of the Los Angeles Times’ six-part series “Framed.” Variety


Water sources: Last year, farmers in the San Joaquin Valley dug 2,500 wells. That’s a record number. Sacramento Bee

Dangerous conditions: Soaring temperatures and Santa Ana winds could mean wildfires for Southern California. “I’d say the tinder box would be Southern California itself,” said David Sweet, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Red flag warnings will remain in effect through Monday afternoon. Los Angeles Times

Forest for the trees: California’s forests will be OK, even as millions of trees die off, according to a professor of environmental analysis at Pomona College. “Even those who mourn the loss of the iconic, pine-scented uninterrupted sweep of green trees in the Sierra should remember that the ‘death’ we perceive in California’s forests presages their regeneration.” Los Angeles Times


Future of automation: Trucking is one of the last professions that can provide a middle-class lifestyle without a college degree. But that could be changing as carmakers and ride-sharing companies pursue a future of driverless cars. “We are going to see a wave and an acceleration in automation, and it will affect job markets,” said Jerry Kaplan, a Stanford lecturer. Los Angeles Times


Social hierarchy: This is the fascinating story of San Francisco socialite Dede Wilsey and her place in the city’s world of arts and philanthropy. New York Times

Long-lost family: In Palm Desert, 90-year-old Frances Inman Gonsalves is meeting her half-sister for the first time. “When she walked into my home, it was wonderful. The most wonderful thing that has happened because now our family is complete,” Gonsalves said. Desert Sun

What a steal: Monthly rents are dropping in San Francisco and San Jose. The average price of a one-bedroom in San Jose dropped from $2,790 to $2,455. And in San Francisco, a one-bedroom will go for an average of $3,698. Mercury News


San Diego will be 94 degrees and mostly sunny. Los Angeles is expected to have a high of 100 degrees. Riverside will be sunny and 99. Sacramento will be 97 and sunny. San Francisco will have sunshine and a high of 84 degrees.


This week’s birthdays for notable Californians:

Jeanie Buss of the Lakers (Sept. 26, 1961), tennis superstar Serena Williams (Sept. 26, 1981), economist Oliver E. Williamson (Sept. 27, 1932), actress Gwyneth Paltrow (Sept. 27, 1972), USC President C. L. Max Nikias (Sept. 30, 1952), Dodger pitcher Kenley Jansen (Sept. 30, 1987), actress Julie Andrews (Oct. 1, 1935), Mark McGwire with the San Diego Padres (Oct. 1, 1963), Rep. Devin Nunes (Oct. 1, 1973).

MGCLS - LAX Car Service

Delta to launch nonstop flights between LAX and Melbourne

Delta Air Lines and joint venture partner Virgin Australia plan to launch nonstop service between Melbourne and Los Angeles International Airport next year.

Beginning April 4, Virgin Australia will fly five times weekly between Melbourne and Los Angeles using Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

Delta(NYSE: DAL) said the new flight complements existing service offered by Delta and Virgin Australia. The carriers currently fly twice daily from Los Angeles to Sydney and daily from Los Angeles to Brisbane.

The new flights between LAX and Melbourne will include a Melbourne to Los Angeles route on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays and a Los Angeles to Melbourne route on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

"The United States is a key market for Virgin Australia, and this enables us to offer direct services from Los Angeles to the three largest cities in Australia — Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney," said Virgin Australia Group Chief Executive John Borghetti.

With the new Melbourne-LAX route, Delta and Virgin Australia together will offer 25 weekly flights between Australia and the United States and round-trip connectivity from 230 destinations in the Americas to 49 destinations in Australia and New Zealand.

Delta has been the fastest-growing carrier at LAX since 2009 and will embark next year on a relocation to Terminals 2 and 3, enabling operation alongside Virgin Australia and many of its other airline partners. The airline said its $1.9 billion plan to upgrade and connect the complex at Terminals 2 and 3 will improve check-in and connection times for its customers.

MGCLS - LAX Car Service 

Tesla Motors Inc Should Invest, Open Shop In South Africa

Given the popularity of Elon Musk, a South African-born, Canadian-American entrepreneur, and his electric vehicle company, several government officials around the world want Tesla Motors Inc to expand its operations into their countries. The latest comments come from the Department of Trade and Industry South Africa's head, who wants the company to bring in its electric vehicle and storage batteries.

MyBroadband reported Trade and Industry Minister, Rob Davies, attended the 15th Africa Growth and Opportunity Act Forum in Washington DC and encouraged the company to find the possibility of establishing shop in the country. During a business breakfast session on Sunday, the minster expressed his foreign investment desires in front of investors.

Mr. Davies pointed towards the automotive programs in South Africa which already offer a lot of incentives for electric vehicle buyers. While also highlighting plug-in hybrid and fuel cell vehicles, he said that the government now understands that electrification is the future for the auto industry.

He said that the government is also working with the Independent Power Producers Programme on alternative energy sources, emphasizing that investors see the IPPP as one of the world’s best power purchasing program.

The one-day AGOA Forum, an annual forum that organizes on alternative basis between the US and sub-Saharan Africa, will be held today, 26 September. Last year, the forum took place in Gabon, a Central African country along the Atlantic coast. This year the forum’s theme is “Maximizing US-Africa Trade and Investment: AGOA and Beyond.”

In April, TheCountryCaller reported that Tesla has started its first Powerwall system in South Africa, after announcing plans to step into the market earlier this year. While there is no update on the delivery numbers, the market is still gradually growing.

Mr. Davies insists that Tesla should also introduce the Model S and Model X into the country by building a retail location; however, we believe that there is not much demand for EVs in South Africa, mainly due to their high prices. South Africa could become an interesting market for the Model 3 and Model Y, but not many people will be able to afford the Model S and Model X. Additionally, the automaker requires building its charging infrastructure in the country.

LAX Car Service - MGCLS

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Inside Los Angeles's Abandoned Nazi Compound

Tucked into the Santa Monica Mountains overlooking the Pacific, just past the McMansions of the Pacific Palisades, lie the decaying, graffiti-plastered remains of what is believed to have been a 1930ís compound for Nazis in Los Angeles.

A few years ago, I first hiked out to Murphy Ranch, the abandoned compound, after hearing about it (ironically) from an Israeli friend who was obsessed with LAís weird side. After returning a couple times, I went again this summer because the city of Los Angeles, which owns the land, announced this past spring it was tearing down some of the structures.

After parking the car alongside the neatly manicured lawns off Capri Drive in the Palisades and beginning the walk along the road that hugs the dusty mountainside, past the mega-mansions being built into the hillside and a semi-buried pickup truck, I eventually came to what used to be the entrance to the ruins.

A few years ago an ominous set of black gates with crumbling flagstone wallsónow torn downómarked the entrance to the site. Now a person just has to hope they go the right way, following the path until they find the first of the ruins' famed sightsóthe 500-odd concrete steps leading down a terraced landscape to the compound.

In 1933, the property that now makes up the ranch was bought by one Jessie M. Murphy. This name is believed to be a front, historian and head of the Palisades Historical Society Thomas R. Young told the Los Angeles Times. (Young did not respond to Daily Beast requests for an interview). The property was really bought, he says, by the heiress Winona Stephens and her husband Norman while under the influence of a German who claimed to have supernatural abilitiesóHerr Schmidt.

Under his influence, Young told the Times, the Stephens sunk roughly $4 million into the property. Herr Schmidt had convinced them that Hitler was going to take over the world, and that the U.S. was going to collapse, so Nazi sympathizers needed a stronghold for when it was time to emerge and take control.

While it is believed the couple ran out of funds before they could build their planned four-story mansion (designed by, no joke, the famed African-American architect Paul Williams, whom they hired to replace another famed architect, Welton Becket), the $4 million they did spend resulted in a terraced mountainside for agriculture, a sprinkler system, a 20,000 gallon fuel tank, a power station that could support a small town, a 395,000-gallon concrete water tank, and of course, those long concrete stairs.

The concrete stairs (there are actually multiple sets) lead down to the famed power station of Murphy Ranch. Before it was filled in this spring, the remains of the concrete water tank were set 30 feet in the ground and filled with magnificent graffiti, but unfortunately the city got sick of rescuing trapped graffiti artists and it was filled in this year.

LAX Car Service - MGCLS

American Airlines Downgraded My Seat, Won't Give Refund

I had round-trip tickets to fly from Cleveland to Bangor, Maine, via Philadelphia on American Airlines recently. Three of the four flights were in first class. I paid a total of $957.

American made unrequested changes to my flights several times, resulting in a downgrade to economy class for all but one leg. There was no offer of a refund for the difference between the cost of the three first-class flights that I paid for and the one first-class flight that I received.

I contacted customer service, and they directed me to the refunds department. An airline representative told me to submit the request again after I completed the flights, which is not the response that I expected.

I submitted a request after my last flight, but after waiting several weeks and then resubmitting it, I've received no response. I'd like an apology and a refund of the fare difference.

This one's simple. American Airlines sold you three flights in first class; it should have delivered them. If it didn't, it should have refunded the difference between economy class and first class on the day you purchased the tickets.

But that's not how airline math works. Airlines calculate the fare difference on an involuntary downgrade based on the price the day of the flight, not the day you booked the flight. As you probably know, the price of an airline ticket changes right until the moment of departure. The numbers work to the airline's advantage in a big way because an economy-class ticket is much more expensive on the day of travel.

So the difference between first- and economy-class may be only a few dollars or, strangely, it may have a negative value. That's right, unbelievably, the economy-class fare to which you were "downgraded" could cost more than your advance-purchase first-class ticket.

When we spoke, your estimate of the fare difference was about $200. By American's estimate, it was $112. That's airline math!I have no idea why American ignored your repeated efforts to obtain a refund. You could have contacted a customer-service executive at the airline.

I think this kind of airline math is morally wrong and opportunistic. But American is hardly alone. This is how virtually all airlines do it.I contacted American on your behalf. It refunded the $112 fare difference. It's not quite the $200 you were hoping for, but it's better than nothing.

LAX Car Service - MGCLS

Saturday, September 24, 2016

2016 Dodge Challenger SRT 392 review

Between the fervor caused by the supercharged, 707 horsepower SRT Hellcat and the revelation that nearly 500 ponies can be had for less than $40k by opting for an R/T Scat Pack, the SRT 392 has become something of a neglected middle child in the Challenger lineup, more or less splitting the difference between the two in terms of features, looks, performance, and price.

While the shadow of its boosted brethren looms large and the less expensive alternative offers identical power output, the SRT 392 is a compelling option in its own right, boasting the grip, braking, and similar suspension components to its top-spec SRT counterpart but with a noticeable amount of weight taken off of the front of the car and cost removed from the bottom line.

And although it shares a power plant with the Scat Pack model, the upgrades here go beyond standard equipment like the 900 watt audio system and leather seating. But is it worth the premium over the Scat Pack? And on the other end of spectrum, does the SRT 392 fall short of greatness simply because it’s not an SRT Hellcat? I grabbed the keys to this B5 Blue, six-speed manual transmission-equipped tester and hit the streets of Los Angeles to find out.

The anatomy of an SRT 392

The 2015 refresh of the Challenger lineup created some convolution as a result of its model expansion. Both the R/T and SRT trim levels gained a new model whose configuration was substantially different from the other model it shared a badge with, and the upcoming Challenger T/A adds another level of complexity when it comes to discerning what model gets what hardware.

For the SRT 392’s part, the most obvious element is the 392 cubic-inch, 6.4-liter naturally aspirated V8, which makes 485 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. It is essentially identical to the 6.4-liter motor used in the R/T Scat Pack model, as indicated by its identical power output. And like the Scat Pack, the SRT 392 is available with a six-speed manual gearbox or an eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters. But the devil’s in the details when it comes to comparing these two. For instance, while the two cars offer six-speed manual transmissions, I noticed that the clutch resistance in the SRT model is similar to the Hellcat rather than the relatively light action in the R/T Scat Pack.

Other differences are more obvious though – while the Scat Pack model gets a static spring and Bilstein damper suspension setup, the SRT 392 uses a Hellcat-like three-mode adaptive system which allows occupants to alter ride stiffness on the fly from the infotainment display. The system functions in the same manner as it does in the SRT Hellcat, but it’s clear the SRT 392’s tuning is not nearly as aggressive as the Hellcat’s. The ride height is slightly higher, the springs slightly softer, and the sway bars slightly less substantial. While it’s still undoubtedly a sport-tuned setup, the components used differ from those in the SRT Hellcat.

Braking, however, does not. The SRT 392 gets the same meaty six-piston Brembo brakes that its more expensive counterpart does, and its available wheel and tire combination is the same as well, sans the wheels’ paint hue. With less mass over the front end of the car the 392’s weight distribution is more ideal than the Hellcat’s, and the lower weight means the brakes have an easier job slowing down the car.

Steering is something of a mixed bag – while the SRT Hellcat sticks with a hydraulically-assisted rack, both the R/T Scat Pack and SRT 392 use an electronically boosted one. Although there’s a small sacrifice in steering feel, the consolation prize is the ability to adjust steering weight on the lesser models, a feature that can’t be designed into a hydraulic rack.

In terms of luxury content, the SRT 392 is every bit the grand tourer that the SRT Hellcat is. Heated and ventilated leather seating, a leather-trimmed, flat-bottomed steering wheel, and the 8.4-inch Uconnect infotainment system with navigation and SRT Performance Pages functionality are standard here as they are in the SRT Hellcat, and this luxury content is another area where the SRT 392 clearly differentiates itself from the R/T Scat Pack.

Behind the wheel

One of the numerous improvements made in the 2015 refresh was the switch to active exhaust systems for all performance models from the R/T Scat Pack on up. So as you’d expect, the SRT 392 sounds the business when you fire up that big Hemi. But that middle child syndrome hits a snag here as well.

For those that have never had seat time in a Hellcat, the SRT 392’s engine note is the stuff that muscle car dreams are made of. But those fortunate enough to have spent some time in the supercharged model will notice the difference. While the 392 sounds like a proper V8 bruiser in its own right, it lacks the guttural violence of the Hellcat which, quite honestly, sounds more like something that you’d see rounding Daytona Speedway than cruising down Main Street.

The same goes for the SRT 392’s performance. Sprinting to 60 miles per hour from a standstill in just over four seconds is legitimately quick by production car standards, but the Hellcat’s mid three-second gallop puts it in league with six-figure supercars. Truth be known, you’d be hard pressed to find areas to really utilize 707 horsepower outside of a race track, so the SRT 392’s 222 horsepower deficit isn’t that much of a concern during normal driving.

Compared to well-equipped iterations of the Mustang GT and Camaro SS, the SRT 392 boasts both more grunt and more luxury, but the LX architecture that underpins the Challenger is both dimensionally larger than those two and fairly ancient from a technological standpoint. While the Challenger will hold off the Ford and Chevy in straight line sprints, its additional weight and sedan-based chassis – while admirably capable and a lot of fun to toss around – can’t muster up the same level of handling prowess. It’s just physics, man.

The road ahead

Although the Challenger’s LX-based platform limits the car’s dynamics to some degree, it’s also a huge factor in the coupe’s chiseled good looks and grand touring comfort. The rumor mill speculates that the next big step for the Challenger will be a move to a new platform that it will again share with the Charger, based on the significantly smaller Alfa Romeo Giulia. If the rumor proves true it would bring the Challenger closer to the sixth-generation Camaro in size, and likely improve some of its dynamic limitations in the process.

But it’s also likely to come at the cost of the cavernous trunk, rear seats that adults can actually sit in, and a general lack of claustrophobia. One of FCA’s coveted talking points is that Challenger owners are most likely to replace their car with another Challenger, showing how fiercely loyal this big coupe’s fans are. You have to wonder if that passion will remain if this outlier muscle car’s design finally falls in line with the trends in rest of industry.

One thing’s for certain though: If muscle cars are your thing, nobody is doing it with more sincerity than Dodge is right now, for better and for worse. And although it’s not quite the king of the hill, the SRT 392 brings enough charisma, value, and capability to make a strong case for itself on any performance coupe shopping list.

MGCLS - LAX Car Service

Airlines Seek to Limit Types of Therapy Animals Allowed on Planes

Turkeys, pigs and even roosters have flown the friendly skies, carried onto commercial planes by passengers who identified the critters as emotional support animals.

But a committee of airline representatives and disabled rights advocates has been meeting for months in Washington, D.C., to come up with new rules on what type of animals should be permitted on planes and what documents are required to prove the animals are needed.

Airlines recognize two types of animals that can accompany passengers free of charge: service animals, such as seeing-eye dogs, and emotional support animals, which help comfort travelers with psychological or emotional conditions.

The debate among members of the Accessible Air Transportation advisory committee focuses on what type of animals can be recognized as emotional support animals.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, among others, suggests limiting emotional support animals to dogs, cats and rabbits, while other organizations, including the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, would like to add birds to that list (but not chickens, ducks or turkeys).

Some advocacy groups say passengers shouldn’t be required to carry a letter from a mental health professional confirming the need for an animal because it would be stigmatizing.

Airline representatives say too many passengers falsely claim that their pets are emotional support animals. The carriers want to recognize only dogs and miniature horses as service animals and require that all animals be kept in pet carriers during the flight.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation wants to limit the type of animals allowed on a plane for a different reason.

“Allowing various types of animals to fly will expose all passengers to pet dander, even when the animal is riding in an enclosed carrier,” the group wrote to members of the committee.

LAX Car Service - MGCLS

2017 Honda Ridgeline AWD Black Edition

For Americans, the pickup truck is something of a sacred cow. There’s a long-held set of conventions that many truck buyers consider obligatory – a body-on-frame platform is chief among them, along with purpose-built hardware like four wheel drive transfer cases and a solid rear axle.

Our voracious appetite for trucks caught the interest of Japanese automakers decades ago, but Toyota and Nissan have, for the most part, stayed close to the traditional playbook in hopes of luring buyers away from established standards offered by American nameplates.

But the truth is that for the vast majority of truck buyers, these designs are overkill for the kind of use their trucks see regularly, and that established formula has its own inherent drawbacks for everyday drivability.

When Honda first introduced the Ridgeline in 2005, they approached its design from a different perspective, focusing on offering the utility of a pickup with the ride comfort, ease of use, and efficiency of a car. It was a risky move, and the first generation Ridgeline proved to be somewhat polarizing to truck buyers both for its appearance and its car-like underpinnings.

But the clever design features found throughout the Ridgeline won it something of a cult following that kept the first generation pickup in production for nearly a decade. After more than a year off the market, Honda has returned to the fold with an all-new, second generation Ridgeline that builds upon the strengths of the original truck while addressing many of the issues that kept truck buyers at arm’s length the first time around.

The 2017 Ridgeline is still a unibody pickup, and it’s based on a front wheel drive chassis shared with the current generation Pilot crossover. However, the Ridgeline gets the strategic use of high strength steel throughout its chassis that the Pilot doesn’t. For those who are rational enough to have not already dismissed this truck out of the gate, there’s also a number of other improvements throughout the second generation Ridgeline.

Honda sought not only to bolster the truck’s capability, but improve ride, handling, and aesthetics. That last one proved to be a deal breaker for a lot of folks, as the first generation Ridgeline’s looks were considered awkward by many.

This time around Honda has chosen to go a more conventional route with the truck’s bodywork. The much maligned buttresses between the top of the bed and the cab of the old model have been replaced by a more traditional truck bed that’s four inches longer than before, and the tapered front end gives the Ridgeline a more contemporary look that’s visually in line with rest of Honda’s current offerings.

Motivating the new Ridgeline is a naturally aspirated, 3.5-liter SOHC V6 that makes 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. It sends the power to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic as standard while all-wheel drive is optional. There’s enough grunt on tap to get the truck to 60 miles per hour from a standstill reportedly almost two seconds faster than the previous model, but with a curb weight of over 4,500 pounds and transmission that’s a bit slow to make decisions, its pace still falls short of anything resembling urgency.

LAX Car Service - MGCLS

Alaska Airlines tries out DIY Bag Tagging at LAX

Alaska Airlines has gained a reputation for being willing to test new technology on its passengers.

The Seattle-based carrier tried adding solar panels to power its passenger ramps in 2013. The airline tested out fingerprint machines to identify passengers at its airport lounges in 2014 and launched electronic, reusable bag tags on a trial basis last year.

Now Alaska is experimenting with a system at Los Angeles International Airport that lets passengers tag their own bags and leave them at an automated station.

Under the trial program that started last week, Alaska passengers can print bag tags at home or at an airport kiosk. Once the tags are affixed to the luggage, the passengers take them to self-drop stations.

The idea has already been used by airlines in Europe and Asia.“We try to be nimble,” said Bobbie Egan, a spokeswoman for Alaska.Alaska claims the drop-off process takes less than 30 seconds. The trial will continue until Nov. 10.

Why is Alaska testing the new system at LAX?“The self-bag drop model works best at high-volume airports where road warriors are tech savvy and willing to try a new pilot like this,” she said. “The design of the check-in area at LAX in particular was better suited for the equipment and passenger flow than in Seattle, for example.”

Alaska also is aiming to be California’s go-to airline, now that Alaska has acquired Burlingame-based Virgin America.

LAX Car Service - MGCLS

Friday, September 23, 2016

Things To Do This Weekend In Los Angeles September 23-25


Bring your appetite for all things deep fried during the closing weekend of the LA County Fair. Expect tons of carnival rides and belly bombs, alongside new additions this year like a dinosaur exhibition and an indoor ice skating rink.Travel back to the island and celebrate the 12th anniversary of Lost's premiere during We Have to Go Back: The Lost Concert. The show's composer Michael Giacchino leads the Hollywood Studio Symphony Orchestra at the Ford Amphitheater, with an appearance from showrunners Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof. Show up early (7:45pm) for a pre-show conversation with Giacchino and Cuse.

Honor the harvest moon with a classy, boozy evening in the Alexandria Hotel's ballrooms at the LUCKYRICE LA Moon Festival Cocktail Feast. Sip on innovative, Asian-inspired libations during this two-hour, late-night cocktail extravaganza.

Make it an even later night at Sleepless: The Music Center After Hours. Watch as the cultural institution transforms into an interactive performance space during this futuristic, sci-fi-influenced edition, with kaleidoscopic telescopes, an LED tunnel and classic arcade games.


Take advantage of an afternoon of free museum admission during Museum Day Live. Local institutions like the Autry, Grammy Museum, Japanese American National Museum and more are offering free access today.

Catch up on some of your favorite comedy podcasts during the annual LA Podcast Festival. Today's live show highlights at the Sofitel include improv4humans, Who Charted? and Comedy Film Nerds.

Toast to Culver City's centennial with a free street fest during the Block Party of the Century. The block party portion includes everything from a cappella singers to samba dancers, while a ticketed tasting event includes sips and bites from local spots like City Tavern, the Culver Hotel, Spinfish and more.

If you're up for another free fest—and who isn't?—make your way to the La Brea Tar Pits' adjacent Tarfest. This celebration of live music and art will once again bring live music, dance, local artists and a beer garden to the public park.

Catch a timely election season special screening of Idiocracy in Echo Park. Mike Judge will be on-hand to present his dystopian cult comedy, along with President Camacho (Terry Crews) and Frito Pendejo (Dax Shepard). Show up early to see TRDMRK (DJ Nu-Mark from Jurassic 5 and Slimkid3 formerly of Pharcyde) spinning alongside DJ Diabetic (a.k.a. Shepard Fairey). Welcome to Costco, I love you!


Start out your Sunday in Huntington Beach for the Surf City Surf Dog competition. The action starts in the morning with big dogs and works its way up (or down?) to pint-sized pooches before the final round.

Spend the afternoon in Long Beach for the final day of Music Tastes Good. This inaugural food and music festival finishes up its three-day run with sets from Sylvan Esso, De La Soul and Gallant—Sunday-only tickets are a steal at $35.

Hop on the Metro Blue Line and head to Watts Towers for the free Simon Rodia Jazz Festival. The counterpart to Saturday's Day of the Drum, the long-running festival features an afternoon filled with jazz performances and tributes.

Make for the coast and spend the rest of the day at the annual Abbot Kinney Festival. Take every artsy street fair you’ve ever attended and add in innumerable food trucks, five live music stages, local artisans and a beer garden at this beloved and stereotypically Venice fest.

Close out your weekend at the Hollywood Bowl for a concert from Bloc Party + Bob Mould + Ezra Furman. Catch the reconvened English indie rockers alongside Hüsker Dü frontman Bob Mould and the youthful, verbose lyricist Ezra Furman.

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Los Angeles Adds Three Venues To Bid For 2024 Olympics

Three existing venues have been added to Los Angeles' bid for the 2024 Olympics, including Long Beach as one of four main sports clusters.

LA2024 announced the additional venues Thursday, emphasizing its use of existing venues to avoid costly construction and cost overruns that have plagued Olympic host cities in recent years.

Long Beach's arena, convention center, waterfront and pier would comprise one of four main sports clusters scattered around the Los Angeles area as opposed to having a single Olympic Park. The city joins the other clusters of downtown Los Angeles, the South Bay near Torrance and the San Fernando Valley.

The LA2024 bid committee said each cluster will be located within a secure perimeter where fans can walk between venues with food, music and celebration sites. The clusters are connected to the region's public transit system.

The venue changes will be included in LA2024's second bid file that is due to the International Olympic Committee on Oct. 7. The IOC will select the 2024 host city in September 2017. Los Angeles is competing with Paris, Rome and Budapest, Hungary.

Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi on Wednesday rejected her city's bid, although her motion to withdraw the bid would have to be approved by Rome's city assembly.

Handball would be held in Long Beach's 13,500-seat arena, which recently underwent $10 million in upgrades, along with warm-up facilities at the connected convention center. BMX and water polo would be held in temporary facilities along the city's waterfront, where open-water swimming and triathlon would be held. Sailing would be near the city's Belmont Pier.

Long Beach's venues are located 24 miles south of downtown Los Angeles. The athletes' village would be on the UCLA campus on Los Angeles' west side.

Honda Center in Anaheim would host indoor volleyball, bringing the Olympics to Orange County, with the 18,000-seat venue that is home to the NHL's Anaheim Ducks located about 26 miles from Los Angeles. It would be about an hour drive from the athletes' village.

In LA2024's original plans, volleyball was to be played at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion. Instead, that 13,800-seat basketball arena would host wrestling and judo.

Historic Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles would host men's and women's golf. The course has hosted the U.S. Open, two PGA Championships and the annual PGA tournament since it opened in 1929.

Adding sites in Long Beach and Anaheim would bring the Olympics closer to the large populations in Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

LA2024 said UCLA's tennis center and north athletic field have been added to the track and field stadium as part of the training center located at the athletes' village in an effort to reduce additional travel for competitors.

"We're very pleased to add more world-class existing venues to our fiscally responsible and innovative Games Plan for 2024," LA2024 chairman Casey Wasserman said. "By relying on Southern California's wealth of top sports, housing and transportation infrastructure, LA 2024 will minimize construction risk, operational struggles and costs, and can focus on providing athletes with the perfect stage to perform their best, without distraction."

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Santa Maria Airport Adds Daily Flights to Los Angeles

Daily flight service between Santa Maria and Los Angeles will return early next month. Starting Oct. 6, Mokulele Airlines will start flights between Santa Maria Public Airport (SMX) and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
"I think it's very important," said Chris Hastert, Santa Maria Public Airport General Manager. "Obviously, air service is a big concern for our board members and serving our public, who are the taxpayers for the district. We're very fortunate to find Mokulele, who is a regional carrier looking to expand into California, so the timing was perfect."
The Kona, Hawai-based airline will begin service just one day after United Airlines pulls out of the airport. Last month, United announced it will no longer operate in Santa Maria. The airline had been providing twice-daily service to San Francisco since May 2015. The move left airport officials needing to find a new carrier to provide daily service to a major hub.
"It enables us to have at least some service in place to replace the outgoing service," said Hastert. "Having service to Los Angeles, with all the connections that they have there, is a great benefit to our residents here in Santa Maria."
Founded in 1994, Mokulele is a family-owned airline that operates daily flights between the Hawaiian Islands. Earlier this year, the airline made the jump to the mainland and began offering daily flights between the Imperial County Airport and LAX. It was the first step in expanding its operations, which continues with the addition of the new Santa Maria flight.
"We signed a one-year agreement, which has come incentives and waivers and other things," said Hastert. "We hope that they'll be very successful and stay much longer. They are obviously growing in California. We hope they'll add even more flights and possibly base some other other activities, such as maintenance and pilot training here as well."
Passengers who have previously flown from the airport with United or Allegiant Air, which also operates in Santa Maria, have been accustomed to jet service. Mokulele, however, will use much smaller planes, nine-passenger seat Cessna Grand Caravans.
"Mokulele operates a little differently from your standard airline because they don't have a direct connection with one of the major carriers, so there will be a little bit of a learning curve with the public," said Hastert. "We anticipate putting a webpage up on our site and working with them to get the word out on how you connect on to other airlines. They have agreements with Alaska and Air New Zealand right now, so booking through a travel agency, you can get those connections."
Hastert adds Mokulele will offer an introductory fare of $65 each way. He speculated it would rise after an initial period, but will eventually settle at a competitive rate.
While the airport has now re-established daily service to Los Angeles, Hastert says the search continues to add another major carrier. On the airport's "wish list" are locations such as Phoenix, Denver or Salt Lake City. Earlier this month, Hastert traveled to Dallas to meet with American Airlines.
"That meeting went well, obviously no announcements or anything yet," said Hastert. "It takes a long time for airlines to evaluate different routes that they would potentially fly in and out of, and we have other airline meetings hopefully to schedule in the next couple of months."

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Skies are open for first scheduled flights between U.S. and Cuba

As a JetBlue flight from Fort Lauderdale to Santa Clara glides skyward to a water cannon salute Wednesday, it will become the first regularly scheduled flight between the United States and Cuba since 1961.

Silver Airways is preparing to launch a much smaller commercial service to Santa Clara from Fort Lauderdale Thursday with approximately 30 passengers, and next week American Airlines will offer its inaugural scheduled 160-seat flight to Cuba from Miami, heart of Cuban exile.

American Airlines also has become the first U.S. airline to get a business license for its operations in Cuba, which will include opening a city ticket office. An agreement signed with the Chamber of Commerce of Cuba last week will allow American to legally make purchases and open a commercial bank account on the island. The airline is currently negotiating a lease for a ticket office and training center in Havana’s Miramar section.

Even though the embargo remains in place, new rules by the Obama administration since the rapprochement with Cuba began in December 2014 allow American companies to have a physical presence in Cuba.

“The revival of regular direct flights is a positive step and a contribution to the process of improving relations between the two countries,” Cuban Transportation Vice Minister Eduardo Rodr?guez told reporters in Havana Monday.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx will be aboard JetBlue’s historic flight to Santa Clara and plans to meet with both the Cuban transportation minister and Foreign Minister Bruno Rodr?guez while in Cuba.

JetBlue, which will be using a 150-seat aircraft for the Santa Clara flights, plans to begin regularly scheduled service to the Cuban cities of Camagüey and Holgu?n in November.

So far Silver Airways has received Cuban government approval to operate scheduled service from Fort Lauderdale to Santa Clara, Camagüey, Cienfuegos, and Holgu?n. It is still awaiting approval for flights it wants to operate from Fort Lauderdale to Santiago de Cuba, Cayo Coco, Varadero, Cayo Largo, and Manzanillo by year’s end.

Frontier, Southwest Airlines and Sun Country Airlines also have won DOT approval for routes outside Havana but have not yet announced when they will begin service.

American, which will fly its first scheduled flights from Miami International Airport to the Cuban cities of Cienfuegos and Holgu?n on Sept. 7, also is in the process of getting the necessary permits for its Cuba country manager, Galo Beltran, to be based on the island.

Beltran is a longtime AA executive but the airline will employ some 200 contracted Cuban employees at the five Cuban airports it’s currently authorized to serve. In coming days it will launch twice daily service from Miami to Santa Clara and Varadero, and daily service to Camagüey.

For its first flight to Cuba — the Cienfuegos flight gets the honors because it takes off a little before American’s flight to Holgu?n — there will be a Cuban trio and pastelitos for the passengers.

“Opening up a new station is always challenging. Cuba is especially unique because we are starting service to five stations over the course of five days,” Beltran said in a Q&A in an AA employee newsletter.

Although the United States and Cuba reached an agreement on resumption of scheduled air service between the two countries in February, the United States still doesn’t permit Americans to engage in tourism on the island. U.S. visitors to Cuba must fall into 12 categories of authorized travel.

“The irony is that Cuba is the only country in the world where Americans can’t freely travel and that needs to be sorted out,” said Carlos Gutierrez, U.S. commerce secretary under George W. Bush and now an advocate for more engagement with Cuba.

The resumption of regular air service is significant “but it’s just one step forward in a long process,” said Gutierrez who is now chairman of the Albright Stonebridge Group, a global strategy firm. “Every step forward is one more step in making [rapprochement] irreversible. Even today it seems irreversible.”

American plans to use a 160-seat Boeing 737 for its service to Holgu?n and Camagüey and a 128-passenger Airbus A319 on its routes to Santa Clara, Varadero and Cienfuegos.

American also said this week it is revising a previously announced baggage policy for Cuba flights to allow passengers to take more luggage with them.

Passengers can take up to five pieces of luggage or boxes, but if they exceed 50 pounds and have linear dimensions that measure more than 62 inches, overweight and oversize charges will apply in addition to a $25 fee for the first bag, $40 for the second, $150 for the third and $200 for both the fourth and fifth bags.

The overweight and oversize limits for each bag are 100 pounds and 126 inches, meaning passengers can take up to 500 pounds of luggage if they’re willing to pay the fees and excess charges. The first and second bags are free for passengers with elite status or who are traveling in business or first class.

However, from Nov. 19 to Jan. 6, 2017, excess, oversize and overweight luggage and boxes will not be accepted on AA Cuba flights, said Martha Pantin, an American spokeswoman.

A dozen U.S. airlines also have applied to the U.S. Department of Transportation to fly the 20 daily Havana routes up for grabs. DOT has given preliminary approval to eight airlines and is expected to give its final approval later this year. Then the airlines must get authorization to land in Havana from the Cuban government.

“Today we take another important step toward delivering on President Obama’s promise to reengage Cuba,” Foxx said in July when DOT announced its tentative approvals for the Havana routes. “Restoring regular air service holds tremendous potential to reunite Cuban American families and foster education and opportunities for American businesses of all sizes.”

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