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New study shows minivans fare poorly on certain crash tests

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A group of four minivans recently tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for protection in small overlap front crashes showed some of the worst possible outcomes for this type of crash, with only one vehicle performing acceptably.The Nissan Quest, the Chrysler Town & Country and its twin, the Dodge Grand Caravan, all earned poor ratings.READ: Minivan crash report studyThe exception was the 2015 Toyota Sienna, which earned an acceptable rating. It joins the Honda Odyssey, which last year earned a good rating in the test, in the ranks of TOP SAFETY PICK+ winners."Minivans are popular among parents, a group that tends to be safety conscious, but we’ve only seen two so far that offer decent protection in small overlap crashes," says David Zuby, IIHS executive vice president and chief research officer.In the small overlap test, which replicates what happens when the front corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object such as a tree or a utility pole, the crash forces bypass the vehicle's main energy-absorbing structure.These crashes may be especially difficult for minivans to handle. That's because minivans are typically built on car platforms but are wider than cars. As a result, more of the vehicle is located outside the main structure. Minivans also are heavier than cars.

Delayed O'Hare airline passengers voice frustrations on social media

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All flights in and out of Chicago's two airports were halted Friday morning because of a fire at a suburban Chicago air traffic control facility. The ground stop threatened to send delays and cancellations rippling throughout the nation's air travel network.

By 8:30 a.m., more than 580 flights at O'Hare and Midway had been canceled, according to aviation tracker FlightAware.com. FlightAware.com CEO Daniel Baker said the number of cancellations and delays are expected to rise considerably over the next few hours.

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Drama as plane's wing partially collapses on take-off (see video)

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 An Italy-bound flight was forced to return to London when a piece of its wing collapsed Thursday and video of the incident was posted to Facebook and YouTube.

A journalist for The Independent in London was on the flight and reports that passengers were "terrified" after hearing a loud band shortly after take off from London City Airport.

The owner of online travel agency To Tuscany also posted the dramatic video of the City-Jet flight bound for Florence. The Avro RJ85 aircraft landed in London safely and passengers are now en route to Florence on another aircraft.

To Tuscany posted the video on its Facebook page, saying it was from the owner. While the post does not specifically name the owner, the company's web site lists the owner as Sean Caulfield.  

"On take-off there was a strange noise then a bang and six-foot plus section of the left wing that looked like suddenly came loose and hung down, flapping in the jetstream," journalist Cole Moreton told The Independent.

<script>(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/all.js#xfbml=1"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script>Post by To Tuscany.

'Scumbag hat' tweet creates backlash for Seattle DOT

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In an attempt to make followers laugh, the Seattle Department of Transportation tweeted a photo with commuters and “scumbag hats” Monday morning, which resulted in backlash.

The photo was a shot of gridlock traffic on the West Seattle Bridge and it included several brown “scumbag hats” photoshopped on many vehicles.

“Scumbag hat” refers to a popular Internet meme, added to photos to describe someone as a scumbag.

In response to the tweet City of Seattle communications director Jeff Reading released a statement: 

“It’s never acceptable for a city employee to ridicule members of the public. I understand the tweet in question was meant humorously, but many — myself included — took it quite differently. Mayor Murray holds a high standard of respect for communications with the public across all city departments. We will ensure that this type of offending humor is not repeated in communications to the public by City of Seattle employees.” 

Officials with the West Seattle Transportation said the tweet was inappropriate and unprofessional. 

SDOT spokesman Rick Sheridan released a statement after the tweet:

“The use of the hat meme was not intended to insult drivers but to highlight a roadway problem and help drivers make decisions about their trips. We apologize to anyone that was offended by the tweet.

Our traffic management center personnel typically use humorous memes to highlight problematic situations for drivers. The staff member was trying to note that rubbernecking near a collision site was creating delays.

We have removed the tweet from our Twitter feed. The staff member’s supervisor will also reinforce the department’s standards for social media. Again, we apologize if anyone was offended.”

The tweet has been removed. 

Exploration company claims it found wreckage that could be MH370

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A marine exploration company has claimed it’s found wreckage in the Indian Ocean consistent with that of a commercial airliner.

“We’re not trying to say that it definitely is MH370, however it is a lead we feel should be followed up,” GeoResonance spokesman David Pope told Australia TV station 7News.

The location of the company’s sighting is nearly 3,000 miles north of the official search zone in the southern Indian Ocean.

According to the GeoResonance website, the company’s geophysical survey methods have been used to identify WWII munitions that later led to the recovery of explosives left buried under layers of silt in the coastal Black Sea.

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According to CNN, Malaysian Acting Transportation Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Malaysia "is working with its international partners to assess the credibility of this information."

However, the agency responsible for coordinating the multinational search in the southern Indian Ocean dismissed the claim.

“The Australian-led search is relying on information from satellite and other data to determine the missing aircraft's location,” the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) said in a statement reported on CNN.com. "The location specified by the GeoResonance report is not within the search arc derived from this data.”

Pope told 7News GeoResonance experts compared recent findings with images taken on March 5, three days before MH370 was reported missing.

“The wreckage wasn’t there prior to the disappearance of MH370,” Pope said.

There’s no indication the JACC will investigate.

“The joint international team is satisfied that the final resting place of the missing aircraft is in the southerly portion of the search arc,” the agency said according to a CNN report.

Photos: Treasures of the Titanic

Photos: Coast Guard cannon sinks ghost ship

Thanksgiving travel to cost more this year

Whether on the highway or at home, Americans will pay more to celebrate Thanksgiving this year. But higher gas prices and costlier airfare are not stopping millions of people from traveling for the holiday.

About 42.5 million people are expected to drive, fly or ride trains to their Thanksgiving destinations, according to travel tracker AAA. That's the highest number since the start of the recession.

Ninety percent of them will drive. It won't be cheap. Drivers will pay almost 20 percent more for gas, which has reached an average of $3.42 a gallon.

Air travelers will get hit, too. The average round-trip airfare for the top 40 U.S. routes is $212, up 20 percent from last year. Rail tickets on most one-way Amtrak trips have climbed 2 to 5 percent. Hotel and motel rates are also up slightly.

But George Gorham and his fiancé, Patricia Horner, weren't deterred. They flew across the country to visit Gorham's son at North Carolina's Fort Bragg. They used frequent-flier miles and planned to visit tourist attractions in the nation's capital along the way.

Horner said they still would have made the trip without the miles, but "it would have been more painful."

Travelers were also at the mercy of the weather. The East Coast was expecting rain and scattered thunderstorms Wednesday. Parts of upstate New York and upper New England could see a mix of snow and freezing rain. The National Weather Service predicted showers in the Pacific Northwest and northern California as well.

Plenty of people were staying home.

Damian Buchwald of Buffalo, N.Y., picked up a second job earlier this year. His new work schedule has helped pay the bills but leaves him without time to travel to Connecticut to spend the holiday with his wife's family.

This year, the couple and their teenage son, Raven, will celebrate Thanksgiving with his mother, neighbors and friends in town.

"When you can't travel and people can't travel to you, you gather your closest friends. And that way nobody has to pay an arm and a leg, and everyone can eat well," Buchwald said.

But having relatives over for dinner is becoming more expensive, too.

A 16-pound turkey and all the trimmings will cost an average of $49.20, a 13 percent jump from last year, or about $5.73 more, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation, which says grocers have raised prices to keep pace with higher-priced commodities.

In Pawtucket, R.I., Jackie Galinis was among those looking for help to put a proper meal on the table. She stopped at a community center this week seeking a donated food basket. But by the time she arrived, all 300 turkeys had been claimed.

So Galinis, an unemployed retail worker, will make do with what's in her apartment. "We'll have to eat whatever I've got, so I'm thinking chicken," she said.

Then her eyes lit up. "Actually, I think I've got red meat in the freezer, some corned beef. We could do a boiled dinner."

Carole Goldsmith of Fresno, Calif., decided she didn't need to have a feast, even if she could still afford it.

Goldsmith, an administrator at a community college in Coalinga, Calif., said she typically hosts an "over-the-top meal" for friends and family. This year, she canceled the meal and donated a dozen turkeys to two homeless shelters. She plans to spend Thursday volunteering before holding a small celebration Friday with soup, bread "and lots of gratitude."

"I think everybody is OK with it," she said. "They understand. Everybody is in a different place than they were a year ago."

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