Americans back the Syria bombing. They’re much more divided on what comes next

(CNN)Nearly six in 10 Americans approve of President Donald Trump’s decision to strike at a Syrian air base from which chemical attacks were launched last week, according to a new CBS News national poll.

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April 11, 2017

‘SNL’ gets Trump and O’Reilly just right

(CNN)“Saturday Night Live” returned after a three-week hiatus and delivered a stinging and bold comedic takedown of both Bill O’Reilly and President Donald Trump’s alleged history of sexual misconduct with women. Although “SNL” was unfair in one way — it lumped Trump and O’Reilly’s history of sexism together — when in reality Trump’s is far worse.

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April 10, 2017

Masters 2017: Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia lead into final round at Augusta

(CNN)One’s got a gold medal and wants a green jacket, the other just wants a major title.

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April 9, 2017

‘Unprecedented’ mid-week storms in Atlanta force 3,000 Delta cancellations

(CNN)Storms that blew through the eastern US on Wednesday left a trail of disruption at Delta Air Lines that the carrier was still mopping up more than 72 hours later.

The No. 2 US airline said it had canceled around 3,000 flights in the wake of Wednesday’s storms that left passengers stranded and frustrated during one of the busiest travel weeks of the year.
Wednesday’s storms in Atlanta, the mid-Atlantic region and the Northeast had planes and crews out of position stretching into Friday.
    Spring break travelers packing planes compounded an already difficult situation, making it hard to find available seats for delayed travelers and causing a pile-up in airports and telephone queues. Pilots and cabin crews who fly under tightly regulated work schedules found themselves unable to operate flights in many cases, even if planes were back in position.
    Delta Chief Operating Officer Gil West called the storms that hit Atlanta on Wednesday “unprecedented.”
    “The specific track and intensity of weather like this is often difficult to forecast,” said West in a message to customers. The storm cells battered Georgia and caused tornadic conditions in the area of Delta’s biggest hub airport at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, through which 60% of its 1,250-aircraft fleet visits each day.
    But West also acknowledged that the airline’s recovery effort has not been “ideal” and apologized to customers.
    Delta has one of the most enviable track records in the airline business. The carrier had 161 days in 2016 without a cancellation on its mainline operations. That included both cancellations related to factors it could control, like maintenance, and those it couldn’t, like weather.
    The airline has faced high-profile disruptions recently. The airline suffered roughly the same number of cancellations as this week’s issues when an IT outage in August forced a halt to its operations, leaving the airline catching up for days.
    Suzanne Goldklang, a reporter at CNN affiliate WNEP in Pennsylvania, had her Thursday evening departure from Savannah, Georgia, canceled, only to be rescheduled on a flight leaving four-and-a-half hours earlier. After racing to the airport to catch her new flight, that one was canceled, too. Rebooked again, her 1:30 p.m. departure on Friday was also canceled for lack of a flight attendant.
    “There’s a ground hold at (New York’s) LaGuardia so they may pull us off this plane,” said Goldklang, speaking to CNN aboard a flight, her fourth attempt to get out of Savannah Friday evening. Goldklangs’ flight finally left Savannah Friday evening for New York, 61 minutes late.

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    April 8, 2017

    Social airline concepts make flying more fun

    (CNN)Flying is about to get a lot more fun.

    The latest design concepts feature customizable group-seating pods, sleek lounge bars and, soon enough, co-working spaces — all at 35,000 feet.
    These changes come with a trend toward experiential travel, in which “authenticity and personalized experiences” are key components of a fulfilling journey, according to a 2016 US Experiential Traveler Survey by travel industry intelligence platform Skift.
      From Qatar Airways’ new QSuite group-seating arrangements to Airbus’ proposed adaptable modular planes, air travel is entering a new era of personalization and socialization.
      “Beyond premium cabins, I see a continued trend of more opportunities for passengers to engage socially with others,” Ben Schlappig, travel consultant and founder of One Mile at a Time aviation blog, tells CNN.
      “KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines) took the first step towards that with [its] Meet & Seat concept — where you can pick out a seatmate based on their social profiles.”
      “While I don’t exactly see that type of service growing, I think airlines will find more opportunities to let passengers engage with one another — but only when they choose to, of course.”

      Party of four

      Most modern business class pods have been designed for solo travelers, who generally prefer privacy and personal space.
      “Airlines have invested billions of dollars in these types of private, cutting-edge seat designs,” says Schlappig.
      “But as airlines do everything they can to optimize revenue, they’re finding that there are more leisure travelers willing to pay for first and business class seats.”
      For those traveling with family, friends — or even work colleagues — the panels thwart conversation and collaboration.
      Answering a call for more flexible arrangements, Qatar Airways recently debuted a business class seating design reminiscent of a train cabin — albeit with quite a few more bells and whistles.
      Unveiled in March at the ITB Berlin exhibition — the world’s largest tourism trade fair — the new QSuites enable groups of four to sit together.
      Essentially, pairs of seats face each other, creating a cabin-like arrangement.
      Adjustable privacy panels enable travelers to open the space and create the feeling of a private cabin for parties of two or four — or close off the pod completely to travel alone.
      Those flying with friends or colleagues may appreciate the group option — making it easy to work on projects, watch TV or swap stories.
      Put the privacy panels back down, and each pair of leather seats can convert into a single bed — or a double bed with all panels removed.
      “What makes this new seating arrangement so brilliant is that you can have full privacy at each seat if you prefer, or you can turn the center section of four seats into a social area,” adds Schlappig.
      “We’ve never seen an airline offer such customization in a premium cabin before, and I imagine many airlines will take note of that.”
      The new suite designs will begin appearing in Qatar Business Class cabins as early as June.

      New social order

      What if the planes of the future could be customized, cabin by cabin, to include a mix of spas, sleeper capsules, cafes, cycling studios and co-working spaces?
      That’s exactly what Airbus envisions with its next airliner, estimated to debut within a “matter of years.”
      Dubbed Transpose, the modular cabin architecture is all about flexibility — both for airlines and flyers.
      “Personalization is something consumers expect universally. They can tailor anything from their phone to a coffee order to a loan online,” Jason Chua, project executive at A by Airbus Group, tells CNN.
      “Airlines are responding to that desire for customization, but right now there are significant limitations to bringing a similar level of choice to commercial air travel — even the smallest change in an aircraft cabin can take anywhere from seven to 10 years.”
      To streamline such changes, Airbus takes inspiration from already existing freighter modules, which are switched in and out upon landing.
      “Transpose doesn’t require a completely new aircraft or the fundamental redesign of airport infrastructure,” says Chua.
      Instead of spending decades on designing an entirely new aircraft, Transpose cabins aims to enable airlines to quickly diversify and customize their aircraft — not to mention add revenue streams.
      Modular cabins would swap in and out, according to the route and customers. For example, an overnight Hong Kong to New York City flight would likely be full of sleeping cabins and perhaps a dim sum restaurant.
      But on its next leg, the same plane might switch to a new arrangement — spas, co-working spaces and coffee shops — for daytime travel.

      Mix and mingle

      Not quite as revolutionary, but still a boon for extroverts around the world, Emirates plans to launch a new iteration of its signature A380 Onboard Lounge this July.
      “Our passengers, particularly long-haul flight travelers, are looking for a space to relax and socialize while flying,” says Terry Daly, Emirates’ senior vice president of service delivery.
      “In our latest revamp, we have taken inspiration from private yacht cabins … and we have managed to increase the seating space while keeping the signature U-shape.”
      Capturing the look and feel of an executive club, the spacious Business Class cocktail bar and lounge incorporates champagne hues, bronze accents, LED mood lighting, surround sound and lots of shiny wood.
      First introduced in 2008, the lounge concept was one of the first of its kind to offer travelers a chance to mix, mingle, stretch their legs — or catch a sports game.
      “Airlines are doing a better job of recognizing that different passengers have different needs,” adds Schlappig.
      “They are trying to make it easier to socialize with the people you’re traveling with, and even to make new friends along the way, given that meeting new people is often the best part of travel.”

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      April 7, 2017

      Hate crimes focal point of new DOJ task force

      (CNN)Attorney General Jeff Sessions provided an update on the Justice Department’s new crime reduction task force Wednesday, including new details on a subcommittee that will specifically focus on hate crime prevention.

      In a letter to US Attorney’s offices across the country, Sessions explained that the Hate Crimes Subcommittee “will develop a plan to appropriately address hate crimes to better protect the rights of all Americans.”
      “We must also protect the civil rights of all Americans, and we will not tolerate threats or acts of violence targeting any person or community in this country on the basis of their religious beliefs or background,” Sessions added.
        Last year the FBI released statistics showing an alarming spike in the number of reported hate crimes — in particular a 67% increase in crimes against Muslim Americans.
        The new announcement is particularly noteworthy in light of Sessions’ previous opposition to the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law in 2009 when Sessions was a US senator.
        “The hate crimes amendment is unwarranted, possibly unconstitutional — certainly, I believe it is unconstitutional in certain parts — and it violates the basic principle of equal justice under the law,” Sessions said back in 2009 on the Senate floor. “The hate crimes amendment to this bill has been said to cheapen the civil rights movement.”
        Despite Sessions’ reservations about the law as a senator, he said during his confirmation hearing: “The law has been passed, Congress has spoken, you can be sure that I will enforce it.”
        In addition to hate crimes, the DOJ task force will also undertake a review of the department’s existing marijuana enforcement policy — a subject that legalization advocates have been watching closely given Sessions’ fervent disapproval of the drug.
        “I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store,” Sessions said last month. “Educating people and telling them the terrible truth about drugs and addiction will result in better choices. We can reduce the use of drugs, save lives and turn back the surge in crime that inevitably follows in the wake of increased drug abuse.”

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        April 6, 2017

        After the flood: ‘No tourists please. Help welcome’

        On a journey through northern New South Wales and southern Queensland, Warren Murray meets locals contending with the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie

        Light to moderate traffic is easing along the Pacific motorway connecting the Gold Coast and the Tweed, with no particular sign of storm damage or delays. But in Chinderah, just inside New South Wales and just off the highway, John Anderson is in full-tilt disaster recovery mode, contending with the aftermath of the flooding rains that ex-cyclone Debbie sent south.

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        April 5, 2017

        Wood, fire and metal: How fine whiskey gets its flavor

        (CNN)“The story of the barrel is one of the overlooked crafts of whiskey-making,” says Jeff Arnett, master distiller of American whiskey brand Jack Daniel’s.

        Indeed, the type of barrel the spirit is stored in has an enormous influence on its taste, making the art of cooperage — the crafting of the barrels — an essential part of the whiskey-making process.
        It’s a process that still relies on a huge amount of human skill despite advances in technology streamlining production.
          “The tools used to shape the staves and bind them with the hoop (haven’t changed much) … It’s still a hand-crafted business,” says David Cox, the former director of fine and rare whiskeys for The Macallan, a single malt distillery that has produced rare whiskeys since 1824.
          He adds: “There’s something elemental about making casks. There’s a romance to it.”

          ‘An amazing sight’

          The process of making a whiskey barrel usually begins with a stock of American white oak. This is the most commonly used wood for whiskey barrels, largely due to how leak-resistant it is and the flavors it imparts into spirits. Most whiskey barrels are made in the US, where white oak grows.
          “American white oak gives a vanilla, coconut, creamy kind of flavor,” says Matthew Crow, wood and cask science manager for Diageo, the drinks company that owns Johnny Walker, “compared to European white oak, which gives a dried fruit flavor with more spice.
          Coopers divide the wood into the long body sections, called staves, ensuring its rings are at right angles to the wood’s wide face. This minimizes the chance of the wood warping and makes it more water-resistant.
          After the circular wooden tops and bottoms are attached, the staves are placed in a belt-like iron hoop before being bent — usually by softening the wood with steaming — into the signature curvy shape of a whiskey barrel.
          (“It’s made in the shape it is so you can steer it when you’re rolling it like a wheel,” says Arnett.)
          The next stage is to char the barrel by firing flames inside it. Barrels usually pass through gas-powered flaming systems on conveyor belts. This extracts flavor from the wood, which seeps into the spirit during the whiskey’s maturation process, which lasts for a number of years depending on the brand and style.
          The charring process is, “an amazing sight to watch,” Cox says.

          An enduring image

          With global demand for whiskey increasing, demand for barrels could get even bigger.
          In the US, whiskey sales have been growing for a decade, rising 6.8% from the previous year in 2016, with $3.1 billion of sales to wholesalers. Recently theprice of scotch, perhaps Scotland’s most famous export, has risen due to a similar spike in popularity. Japanese whiskey has alsoboomed both domestically and abroad.
          Crow says that the cooper will remain intrinsic to the whiskey-making process. Speaking about Diagio’s cooperages in Scotland, which repurpose barrels bought from the US for Scotch whisky, he says: “We have robotics to place the casks … but there’s still a traditional, manual skill at work.”
          “We treat used barrels by scraping their inner surface to remove old char, then re-char and re-burn them. There’s a real focus on the manhandling aspect.”
          Cox is also happy robots aren’t taking over the main crux of production.
          “In a time of great technological change, there is a certain comfort that sometimes doing it the old way. Perhaps the slow way can be the right way,” he says.

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          April 4, 2017

          10 packing tips from a travel pro for a best-case scenario

          (CNN)Choosing a suitcase can be an adventure in itself. Packing it properly with just the right contents is an art form.

          There are a basic set of lessons to packing like a pro. Here’s a handy 10-step guide:

          1. Bag the right bag

            First, let’s end any debate about whether to go for a carry-on or check-in bag.
            Unless you really can’t travel without taking every single thing you own — plus a few extra sweaters just in case — these days taking only what fits in an overhead is the way to go.
            There are two schools of thought when it comes to luggage.
            Some swear by the durability of the hard shell suitcase, some insist the extra pliability of soft side bags can prove beneficial.
            Either way, lightweight and thoughtful design are keys.
            A bag should be light enough empty that when packed its weight is still easy enough to hoist overhead without any unnecessary toppling into the lap of the scary looking dude in seat 17D.
            Bags weighing less than 6 pounds (2.7 kilograms), like Heys’ softside spinner are ideal, and those that are roomy with smart compartments like an exterior accessible laptop section for simple removal and replacement are both functional and security-line friendly.
            Most importantly, luggage should err on the safe side of the standard carry-on size — in inches that means slightly under 22 x 14 x 9 (height x length x width), or 56 x 36 x 23 in centimeters, which is the most common allowable size across airlines.
            Many bags claim to be regulation size carry-ons and in fact aren’t, so double check dimensions before buying to avoid forced gate check.

            2. Compression is key

            A compression bag is one travel gadget that isn’t a gimmick.
            These smart space savers can mean the difference between fitting one week’s worth of clothing in a carry-on, or two.
            Flight 001’s Spacepak Clothes bag can hold up to eight pairs of men’s jeans, five shirts and a sweater, and once all the air is pushed out, fit right into a carry-on.
            A bonus with this bag: one side of the Spacepak is for clean clothes, the other for dirty, so you can uphold cleanliness and maintain a tightly packed case without bundled dirty duds crammed into corners.

            3. Make duds do double duty

            It’s possible to fit two weeks worth of clothing into a carry-on, the items just have to be carefully curated.
            First, build a foundation of neutrals, like a chambray top, jeans, white shirt and a black dress for women.
            For men, a navy polo, jeans, a white button down and black slacks.
            Then add in pops of color in the form of sweaters, blouses and skirts for women — blazers and collared shirts for men — for mix and match variety.
            Yes, we appreciate you won’t exactly be setting the fashion world alight, but seriously, in the proud traditional culture of the country you’re headed, that on-trend fetish leather suit won’t just land you in trouble, it’ll give you a nasty heat rash.
            Ten pieces of clothing can turn into 14 outfits if properly planned.
            Women can achieve this by packing four bottoms, four tops, a sweater or blazer and a dress.
            Guys can do the same, subbing the tops for button downs and tees and the dress for shorts, weather permitting.
            Each article of clothing should go with any other in the collection for the double-duty dressing to work — so go easy on the denim.

            4. Go sans wrinkles

            Ironing at home is already a chore, so why take it on your travels?
            Reduce the need by slipping suits and such into plastic dry cleaning bags.
            When suitcases get jostled, garments will slide around in the bag instead of settling in one spot and getting wrinkled, so clothing will be as smooth as it was when packed upon arrival.
            For business travelers, adding something like the Charles Tyrwhitt Italian-woven pure wool travel suit to your wardrobe will also mean fewer wrinkles since the more tightly twisted fibers are more resistant to creasing.

            5. Pack backup

            If you must pack contingency items, make sure they don’t take up essential space.
            A lightweight but durable duffel that can be folded into a palm-sized pouch for toting and can later be filled with the snow globes, bottles of booze and unsuitable leather fetish suits one inevitably acquires abroad.
            If the need for a shopping spree arises, the bag can be checked on the return journey.
            When fleeing freeze for warmer climates, replace hefty outerwear with stowable alternatives like the Craghoppers CompressLite’s hooded jacket.

            6. Cut the footwear

            Three pairs of footwear should accommodate the needs of any trip that doesn’t involve the Malaysia International Shoe Festival.
            Pack one dress pair, one casual pair and one comfort or athletic pair, the bulkiest of which should be worn on board.
            Shoes should be packed soles to the side of the case going all around the edge, leaving space in the center for clothes, or a Spacepak.
            Socks, undergarments and any other requisite small goods should be stuffed into shoes to maximize space. The footwear keeps its shape and no crevice is left unaccounted for.
            Bags keep shoes protected and clothes clean, but ignore the allure of pretty shoe pouches for pairs, individual ones allow for the necessary customized placement.

            7. Maximize that ‘personal item’

            Most airlines allow passengers on board with one carry-on plus one personal item provided it fits under the seat.
            Take advantage of the opportunity to stow that extra outfit that didn’t fit in the carry-on. It can double as a spare change of clothes in the event that forced gate check leads to a lost bag.
            Keep the item light to avoid piercing shoulder pain when running to a gate to catch a flight or flagging a fast-moving tuk tuk.
            Electronics and chargers, valuables like jewelry and travel documents should live here so they’re close at hand and extra safe.
            An emergency snack to get through at least the first leg of a flight can ward off disappointment when the airline doesn’t even provide peanuts.

            8. Avoid gadget glut

            Gadgets galore can be cumbersome and unnecessary, especially since many now sync.
            Instead of dragging along an iThis and iThat, load up storage-capable smartphones with music, movies and memos, grab some headphones and leave the rest at home.
            To further ensure tech doesn’t take over, use a do-it-all charger like the Victorinox worldwide adapter plug with USB charger that juices up mobile phones, tablets, digital cameras and laptops in Europe, North and South America, China and Australia, among other destinations.

            9. Tote tailored toiletries

            Now that security regulations have relegated grooming products to baggies, leave behind goods that are added luxuries.
            Hotels are good for lotion, soap and shampoo, and personal items beyond that can be squeezed into travel-size to-go containers, like flexi-Go Toobs.
            These easy-to-load silicone tubes hold products and prevent drips while a ring on the rim lets the user designate bottle contents.
            For more offbeat personal care essentials that’d bulge beyond the baggie in their regular packaging, MiiSTS offers iPhone-sized sprays for things like sunscreen, stain remover and insect repellent.

            10. Stay secure

            Safety is paramount and moving about as much as travel demands can mean vital personal data and documents are susceptible to bad deeds.
            That’s the rationale behind iPassport, the peace of mind device that debuted at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
            The slim, secure passport case comes with a biometric lock and can only be opened after scanning the owner’s fingerprint, so if it happens to get lost or stolen, no identities will be stolen with it.
            It also comes with RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) protection to prevent hackers from tapping into data and Bluetooth smart tethering technology so the user can sync the device with a smartphone and track it down if necessary.
            Just make sure your passport is inside it before you set off. Nothing more embarrassing than swiping it open at the airport to discover that’s where you stowed your emergency snack.

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            April 3, 2017

            More middle-aged men taking steroids to look younger

            Experts warn about growing number of men in their 40s and 50s taking drugs to fight signs of ageing and boost sex drive

            Growing numbers of middle-aged men are turning to anabolic steroids to make themselves look and feel more youthful and boost their sexual performance, experts say.

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            April 1, 2017