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6 world-famous monuments undergoing major renovations

Big Ben bonged for the last time on Aug. 21 after an announcement that London’s famous bell will be silenced until 2021 while its home, Elizabeth Tower, undergoes a multi-million dollar renovation.

>> Read more trending news

The London clock tower isn’t the only tourist attraction to close for major repairs in recent years.

Eiffel Tower

One of the most famous structures in the City of Light is undergoing a 15-year, $321 million overhaul, Curbed reported. Workers will update the tower’s elevators and twinkling lights and reinforce it against weather and possible terror attacks.

According to The Guardian, the Eiffel Tower is repainted every seven years, and the process takes 20 months and requires 60 tons of paint.

Sydney Opera House

This iconic Australian performance venue’s Joan Sunderland Theatre is undergoing its largest upgrade since it opened in 1973. According to The Telegraph, the construction will serve to upgrade acoustics and increase flexibility of the stage and seating areas.

As a result, the theater will be closed for more than half of 2017. Renovations are expected to wrap up in 2020 or 2021.

The renovations will cost more than $150 million.

Forbidden City

Thanks to many generous donations, Forbidden City’s Yang Xin Dian, or Hall of Mental Cultivation, is having its first renovation in more than a century.

Work on the famed Chinese palace should be completed by 2020.

Washington Monument

Businessman and philanthropist David Rubenstein is spending $2 to $3 million on renovations to the elevator inside the prominent figure in Washington, D.C.

The monument is closed to visitors until at least 2019, according to The Washington Post.

Machu Picchu

Peru’s “New Wonder of the World” is in the midst of a $36.7 million upgrade.

Changes include hiring a staff of guides and guards, adding an exit ramp and additional security measures, installing on-site toilets and more. Work will continue until about 2019.

RELATED: They may be clichés, but don’t rule out these popular tourist spots for your next vacation

Bonnie Tyler to sing 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' on cruise during solar eclipse

It's the epic matchup you've been waiting for, bright eyes: Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and a real-life total solar eclipse.

>> Solar eclipse 2017: What time does it start; how long does it last; glasses; how to view it

>> Amazon issues refunds for potentially fake solar eclipse glasses

According to Time, Tyler, backed by DNCE, will perform the iconic 1983 song aboard Royal Caribbean's Total Eclipse Cruise during Monday's Great American Eclipse. The cruise aboard the Oasis of the Seas leaves Orlando, Florida, on Sunday and will head to the Caribbean.

>> Watch the music video here

>> Read more trending news

"Bonnie Tyler was a natural choice for this once-in-a-lifetime moment," Royal Caribbean President and CEO Michael Bayley said, Time reported.

Read more here.

London's Big Ben to go silent for four years

Big Ben, the iconic British timekeeper at the Palace of Westminster, will go silent until 2021.

>> Read more trending news 

Also known as the Great Bell of the clock on the Elizabeth Tower, Big Ben is the name of the bell inside the clocktower. It will sound Monday for the last time for four years.

According to the BBC, the bongs are being disconnected for the clock and the surrounding tower to be restored.

“Big Ben falling silent is a significant milestone in this crucial conservation project. This essential program of works will safeguard the clock on a long term basis, as well as protecting and preserving its home,” Steve Jaggs, keeper of the Great Clock, said in a statement.

Jaggs said the clock will be be “dismantled piece by piece with each cog examined and restored,” The Washington Post reported.

According to CNN, the repairs will cost approximately $40 million. 

The bells chimes have signaled time every hour in the city for 157 years.

The last time the bell was silent was in 2007, when it stopped for maintenance work. Before that, the bong was paused between 1983 and 1985 while it underwent refurbishments.

The bell will still ring for important national events such as New Year's Eve and Remembrance Sunday.

Read more at BBC and The Washington Post.

Doctor saves woman overdosing on flight

A Boston cardiologist saved a passenger who passed out after a believed overdose 30,000 feet in the air.

>> Watch the news report here

Dr. Anil Punjabi was about to fall asleep on his flight from Boston to Minneapolis on Friday when he heard the Spirit Airlines attendant shouting for a doctor.

Other passengers alerted the crew when a woman a few rows back had been in the bathroom for a long time. When she got back, she was turning grey and slumped over, and passengers noticed she didn't have a pulse. Punjabi said he was working with an OBGYN nurse also on the flight to give her mouth-to-mouth CPR when they discovered a needle hidden in her bra.

"We were down on the ground within 25 minutes, but at that time she was completely unresponsive,” Punjabi said.

For those 25 minutes, the crew, Punjabi, the nurse and an EMT trainee all worked to keep the woman alive.

The situation is putting a spotlight on the gravity of the opioid epidemic in Boston.

It’s also raising serious concerns for Punjabi about whether action should be taken by airlines across the U.S. to prevent this from happening again. Punjabi and the crew kept the woman alive until the plane was on the ground 25 minutes later, but in other situations, that may not be possible, he said.

>> Read more trending news

"You need to talk to your union, you need to talk to Spirit, you need to talk to the company. I said the one thing you need to get in your med kit is Narcan,” Punjabi said.

Helen Tederous, the spokesperson for Buffalo Niagara International Airport, said a Boston flight bound for Minneapolis made an emergency landing in Buffalo on Friday night, and a woman was taken to the hospital for an overdose.

Needles are allowed on flights, but must be declared and screened through TSA. Click here for more information.

– WFXT has reached out to Spirit Airlines for comment on the incident and has not yet heard back.

Donald Trump's childhood home in NYC listed on Airbnb

President Trump’s childhood home, located in Queens, New York, has been listed on home rental website Airbnb. The house is in the Jamaica Estates neighborhood.

>> Read more trending news

The listing provides a short history of the house, which was built by Trump’s father, Fred:

President Donald J. Trump’s childhood home. In 1946, Donald Trump was born to Fred and Mary Trump and brought home to Jamaica Estates. Here they lived, in a home built by Fred himself. This is their home. Five bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, 14 beds and 2 sofa beds.

The house is conveniently located for those who wish to visit the city during the day and retreat to a calmer scene at night.

>> Earlier story: Donald Trump's childhood home goes on auction block

According to an earlier listing, the 2,500-square-foot house features "a brick and stucco exterior and an old world charm interior featuring arched doorways, hardwood floors, five bedrooms, four and a half baths, library, living room with fireplace, formal dining room, basement and more."

Anyone who’s interested can rent the house for $725 a night. They can also stay longer and receive a weekly discount of 20 percent and a monthly discount of 40 percent.

If one is looking for something a little bit more permanent, Chateau Des Palmiers, Trump’s St. Martin-based estate, is selling for $11 million cheaper than its original asking price.

Lights out, music off for cruise passengers to avert ‘pirate attack,’ reports say

Passengers aboard a luxurious 104-day world cruise were ordered to go dark and remain silent at night for 10 days to thwart off possible “pirate threats,” according to reports

>> Read more trending news 

The Sea Princess departed from Sydney, and as it approached and crossed the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Suez Canal, it was turned into floating mass of darkness, according to The Telegraph

Curtains had to be drawn, and there were no late-night evening strolls on the deck or movies under the stars, according to one passenger’s account.

“No lights, no party atmosphere, no lapping up tropical breezes on their balconies,” passenger Carolyne Jasinski wrote in an piece for news.com.au. “All around the ship, as the sun set, all curtains were drawn and all shutters closed. Bright lights, which normally signal the presence of the Sea Princess on the ocean, were dimmed or turned off altogether.”

Jasinski said the captain alerted the 1,900 passengers, apologizing for alarming them, but insisted they must be prepared for a possible pirate attack.

A spokesperson for the cruise line, who was not named, told The Telegraph: “Any measures aboard Sea Princess were simply taken out of an abundance caution and not in response to a specific threat and are common to international shipping sailing in the region.”

The Sea Princess, operated by Princess Cruises, is expected to finish its journey in September in Dubai, The National reported. The three-month cruise journey cost attendees nearly $40,000, according to The Telegraph.

Read more at The TelegraphThe National or news.com.au.

Toilet flush delays thousands of passengers at Florida airport, officials say

A single flush of a toilet at Florida's Orlando International Airport over the weekend ended up delaying thousands of passengers as a hazmat team cleaned up sewage that flowed into one of the airport’s customs areas.

>> Watch the news report here

An investigation is ongoing into what caused the toilet issue, but it appears someone was trying to flush the contents of a suitcase, officials said.

>> Read more Floridoh! stories

The flooding caused passengers flying into Orlando from outside the country to be bused to a customs area on the opposite side of the airport Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Traveler Mike Ortiz said getting through the ordeal took a lot of time.

>> Read more trending news

“As soon as we landed, they immediately told us that there were problems with the terminal and we would have to sit there on the tarmac for a while,” he said. “There were carpets ripped up and there were floor fans trying to air out what was, I guess, some flooding going on.”

Officials at the airport said they were still looking into what was flushed and who flushed it, but their immediate efforts had been to get the customs area reopened.

Rate of people bumped from flights plummets in wake of United incident

The number of passengers bumped from flights in the United States has dropped to historic lows, the federal government announced Tuesday.

>> Read more trending news

The report, issued monthly by the U.S. Department of Transportation, is the first to include data for the second quarter of this year -- the timeframe when a passenger on a United Airlines flight was injured as he was dragged from his seat after he refused to voluntarily leave the plane to make room for a United employee.

The incident drew attention to the common airline practice of “overbooking” flights and led United and two other major carriers to change their policies on how passengers are involuntarily denied boarding on flights.

>> Related: Delta will pay passengers up to $10K to give up seats

Of the 12 major U.S. air carriers that report statistics on the bumping of passengers, the DOT said the numbers dropped for the first half of this year from the same time in 2016, with a rate of .52 per 10,000 passengers bumped. The rate goes even lower for this year’s second quarter: .44 per 10,000 passengers.

Both marked the lowest rates seen since 1995.

Following the early April incident at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, in which video of the passenger being roughly removed from the aircraft went viral, there was an outcry from consumer advocates who charged that United and O’Hare were acting improperly. It also prompted a lawsuit from the passenger in question, who suffered a concussion and broken nose, along with the loss of two of his front teeth, The Washington Post reported.

United CEO Oscar Munoz apologized soon after on “Good Morning America.”

“This will never happen again,” he told the show’s hosts.

In May, Munoz and executives for Alaska, Southwest and American airlines testified before the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee as lawmakers called for swift changes to overbooking and airline customer-service issues.

>> Related: Low-cost airline considers replacing seats with standing space

“This committee and the Congress do not want half-measures or temporary fixes,” committee chair Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., said in his opening remarks. “This issue is not going away. We are not going away, we will hold you accountable and we expect real results.”

Since the incident, United announced it was changing its bumping policy, increasing the maximum amount travelers may be paid for volunteering to be bumped from a flight to $10,000. Delta Air Lines matched that amount. American Airlines, meanwhile, issued a pledge that once a passenger boards a plane, that person will not be removed to free up a seat for someone else.

“We all know that when airlines overbook, they offer passengers incentives to volunteer to give up their seats; United should never have escalated the situation and should have offered sufficient incentives to avoid this terrible outcome,” National Consumers League executive director Sally Greenberg said in an April news release. “The fact that United can get away with this underscores just how few rights consumers have the minute they step into an airport. If the Department of Transportation won’t hold the airlines to account for these practices, then Congress needs to step in and fix the problem.”

The DOT since has launched a website where travelers can report issues including tarmac and flight delays, and discrimination. The “Got Flights? Know Your Rights” page also includes information on what customers are entitled to when buying a plane ticket.

Flight delays, cancellations and discrimination

The report issued Tuesday also contained detailed statistics for flight cancellations and delays, on-time performance and other common passenger issues, such as:

  • On-time performance: The 12 reporting U.S. carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 76.2 percent in June 2017, down from 78 percent in June 2016 and 79.1 percent in May.
  • Cancellations: About 1 percent of scheduled domestic flights were canceled in June 2017, up from 0.8 percent in May.
  • Tarmac delays: In June, airlines reported six tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights, compared to 27 delays in May. In June, airlines also reported two tarmac delays of more than four hours on international flights compared to no such tarmac delays in May.
  • Chronically delayed flights: At the end of June, there were three regularly scheduled flights that were chronically delayed — more than 30 minutes late more than 50 percent of the time — for four consecutive months. There were an additional 12 regularly scheduled flights that were chronically delayed for three consecutive months and an additional 83 regularly scheduled flights that were chronically delayed for two consecutive months.
  • Causes of flight delays: In June, 23.76 percent of flights were delayed: about 7 percent by aviation system issues; nearly 9 percent by late-arriving aircraft; just under 6 percent by factors within the airline’s control, such as maintenance or crew problems; less than 1 percent by extreme weather; and .04 percent for security reasons. In addition, 1.09 percent of flights were canceled and 0.26 percent were diverted. According to the DOT, weather plays a role both in extreme-weather delays and aviation-system delays.
  • Incidents involving animals: In June, there were three incidents involving the death, injury or loss of an animal while traveling by air, down from the six reports filed in June of last year, but up from the one report filed in May. June’s incidents involved the death of one animal and injuries to two other animals.
  • Complaints about airline service: DOT received 1,605 complaints about airline service from consumers in June, up almost 8 percent from the total of 1,490 filed in the same month last year, but down nearly 10 percent from the 1,779 received in May. From January to June, the DOT received 9,026 consumer complaints, up almost 8 percent from the total of 8,375 received during the first six months of 2016.
  • Complaints about treatment of disabled passengers: The DOT received 77 disability-related complaints in June, down from both the 82 complaints received in June 2016 and the 78 received in May.
  • Complaints about discrimination: In June, the DOT received three complaints alleging discrimination — all regarding race. This is a drop from six discrimination complaints in June of last year and nine complaints in May. For the first six months of this year, the DOT received 44 discrimination complaints: 29 complaints regarding race, two complaints regarding ancestry/ethnicity, four complaints regarding national origin, two complaints regarding color, two complaints regarding religion, four complaints regarding sex and one complaint categorized as “other.”

Parents of 4th graders: Here’s how to get free entry to any national park this month

Trekking through some of the country’s most beautiful terrain just got cheaper. 

>> Read more trending news 

Thanks to the Department of the Interior’s Every Kid in a Park program, fourth-grade students can enter any of more than 2,000 of the nation’s national parks and other federally managed lands and waters for free for one year. 

Fourth-grade students can sign up for the free pass, valid until Aug. 31, at everykidinapark.gov.  

The first three members in a group with a visiting fourth-grader will be granted free entry as well at sites that charge per person. For those that grant payment and entry by car, any accompanying passengers in a private, non-commercial vehicle with a fourth-grader will be allowed to enter at no charge. 

>> Related: Most moms work equivalent of 2 full-time jobs, study says

Educators can also obtain free passes. 

>> Related: Seniors: Get your $10 lifetime pass for National Parks now before price hike

The Every Kid in a Park program encourages children to be active and explore nature at a time when more than 80 percent of American families live in urban areas and young people are more tethered to electronic devices than ever.

According to the program, the goal of the promotion is to “inspire fourth graders nationwide to visit our federal lands and waters, whether it is a backyard city park or a national forest, seashore, or marine sanctuary. By targeting fourth graders year after year, the program works to ensure every child in the U.S. has the opportunity to visit and enjoy their federal lands and waters by the time he or she is 11 years old.”

Learn more and get a pass at everykidinapark.gov

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story reported that the pass was valid from Sept. 1 to Aug. 31, 2018. It is valid Sept. 1, 2016 to Aug. 31, 2017.

Kind stranger helps mother flying alone with crying kids when no one else would

One stranger's act of kindness is showing others around the world what a little compassion can mean to someone.

While aboard a plane, Kesha Bernard of Savannah, Georgia, offered to help a fellow mother when two of her three children started crying and screaming before takeoff. The Alaska Airlines flight was delayed due to weight issues.

While Bernard waited for others who were closer to help, she noticed that instead many were "huffing and puffing."

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

“Toddlers cry,” Bernard said. “You could be the most disciplined mother on the planet, and this could happen to you.”

After waiting for about 15 minutes, Bernard got up out of her seat and went a few rows back to ask the mother if she needed help.

Bernard told WSB-TV’s Kimberly Richardson the woman looked at her with complete longing and was beyond appreciative.

The mother said yes, and handed her one of her three children.

>> Read more trending news

As Bernard walked back to her seat, she says the baby immediately stopped crying, and eventually fell asleep in her arms.

The moral of the story? “Be nice and considerate,” Bernard said. “If someone needs help, for God's sake help them.”

The message, which has over 221,000 likes and almost 100,000 shares, concluded with: “How can we ignore a human in distress? Please be kind. Please be considerate. Help one another. It makes everything easier. I promise you won’t die.”

>> See the post here

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