NASA opens space station to private astronaut missions

June 7, 2019

Atlanta (CNN Business) For grownups who dreamed as kids of becoming astronauts -- but who didn't quite make it past space camp -- you may have another chance.

NASA is proposing launching private astronaut missions at the International Space Station as early as 2020, the agency announced Friday.

As part of its directive to open the station for commercial use, the US space agency will support up to two private astronaut missions to the space station each year. The missions can be up to 30 days each.

The private astronauts will take a NASA-approved commercial space vehicle to the space station, and they will conduct commercial and marketing work on the station or in work spaces attached to the station, according to NASA's press release.

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Delta cuts back how far you can recline your seat

April 12, 2019

(CNN) — As I flew Delta Air Lines from Chicago to Atlanta on Thursday in coach, I spent a few minutes guessing if the tall man in front of me would recline his seat.

I wanted to work, but if he reclined while I was writing, my laptop might not survive it.

As airplanes pack travelers into smaller seats with reduced personal space, powering up that laptop can be a risky bet: Will the person in front of you recline their seat? And if they do, will they do it so quickly that your laptop suffers?

Delta is hoping to prevent future conflicts between passengers by limiting how much their seats can recline on certain aircraft, according to The Points Guy's Scott Mayerowitz's latest story.

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3 years, 80,000 miles, 61 national parks

June 4, 2019

Indiana Dunes National Park, Indiana (CNN) — There's a sandhill crane nesting in the middle of a patch of restored marsh, the bird's partner calling out as it returns to their nest.

A few hundred feet away, a beaver pops out of its lodge in the middle of the marsh, then dips back under water after spotting human visitors.

Andres Quintero quietly takes pictures of the animal inhabitants of Indiana Dunes National Park, the newest of the US National Park Service's 61 headliner national parks.

As Quintero hikes with a park ranger to the summit of Mount Baldy sand dune, 126 feet high, he is rewarded with a spectacular view of Lake Michigan, the Chicago skyline visible to the northwest and the Northern Indiana Public Service Corp. Power Plant operating to the east.

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A New Yorker's guide to LGBTQ life in Greenwich Village, past and present

June 27, 2019

Greenwich Village, New York City (CNN) — When Maria-Elena Grant stops by the Cubbyholein Greenwich Village after work for a drink with friends, she can't help but remember the battles she's fought along the way.

A longtime hangout for lesbians and their friends, the Cubbyhole is one of the few lesbian bars in a neighborhood where the modern gay rights movement got national attention after a police raid at the nearby Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969.

The first pride march took place the following year, as LGBTQ people in New York Citymarched to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall uprising -- and to fight for their rights.

"The gay pride parade wasn't a parade," Grant said. "It was a march, it was like a civil disobedience, it was a demonstration. It wasn't like having a fancy corporate float and all this money ... It was a civil rights action."

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The Beat Generation lives on in San Francisco

March 24 2019

(CNN) — It began with a poem.

"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked ..."

When Allen Ginsberg read his poem "Howl" at the now-closed Six Gallery in San Francisco on October 7, 1955, he was rising up against the Cold War, the wars in Asia and what President Dwight Eisenhower had dubbed the "military industrial complex."

San Francisco poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, co-founder of City Lights Booksellers & Publishers, was in the audience and sent Ginsberg a telegram afterward offering to publish it.

From suits to poets

"The Beat poets began the counterculture movement in the arts that is the reason all the artists I know are still here in San Francisco," said Andrew Sean Greer, a San Francisco-based novelist who won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for "Less."

"Ferlinghetti and his friends changed the city from men in gray flannel suits to poets in leaky basements, black and female and queer poets even then," Greer tells CNN Travel. "We're a continuation of that hope and rage and art. I still go to Caffe Trieste with a friend to write and Vesuvio to drink and City Lights for poetry."

As he turned 100 on March 24, both Ferlinghetti, City Lights -- which remains a beacon of poetry and progressive thought in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood -- and the city all celebrated.

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A slew of ravaging hurricanes couldn't knock out these national park treasures

St. Marys, Georgia (CNN) — Before Hurricane Irma ever made landfall at the waterfront town of St. Marys, Georgia, in September, local officials and US National Park Service employees did everything they could to batten down the hatches.

They activated their emergency response plans, working hard to board up mainland structures and the park service's historic structures and treasures 7 nautical miles away on Cumberland Island.

But no human effort could block the power of Irma.

After the hurricane departed, residents saw boats stacked on top of each other or tossed onto the mainland, flooded streets and debris scattered everywhere.

The park service's mainland dock -- where up to 300 passengers daily could catch the ferry to Cumberland Island, the main attraction of Cumberland Island National Seashore -- had been destroyed.

While some tattered parts remained, the accessible dock was at the bottom of the St. Marys River.

To read more about other national parks recovering from the 2017 hurricanes, click here. 

So much food: Why do restaurants serve tasting menus?

New York (CNN) — I still remember the "Oysters and Pearls," a dish described as a "sabayon" of pearl tapioca with oysters and caviar.

It was one of many perfect little Thomas Keller dishes, and they just kept coming.

I was delighted to be dining at Per Se that night in 2004, just a few months after French Laundry chef/owner Thomas Keller and his partner Laura Cunningham had opened their East Coast outpost in the Time Warner Center in Manhattan.

There was no traditional choice of appetizer, main course and dessert. It was the tasting menu to end all tasting menus, I thought, all perfectly orchestrated by Keller, Cunningham and their staff.

As would befit a fine dining restaurant, the mood overlooking Columbus Circle was quietly elegant, and the service was sublime. (The wait staff had taken movement classes to learn how to walk gracefully within the space.)

And the food? I counted more than a dozen perfect little dishes before the night was over, and it took most of the night.

And yet, it sometimes felt like an endurance race for my stomach.

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