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Regional airports provide air service and stimulate small-city economies

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In the past four years, 20 communities have lost air service, according to the Regional Airline Association. Look at the past 35 years and that number jumps to 91. For smaller towns and cities, the availability of air travel is always on the chopping block as airlines cut small-plane service and consolidate in major cities.

This means not only that residents are forced to spend more and travel long distances just to make it to an airport, but also that the local economy suffers, as its businesses aren’t easily accessible to the rest of the country. “It’s a nonstarter for a business with any type of national or international presence to locate in a community without national air service,” says Faye Malarkey Black of the Regional Air Association.

Airlines cutting routes is due to several factors: the high cost of operating a plane, the lack of passengers that small markets produce, and a pilot shortage. Due to the increased number of hours a commercial pilot is required to fly, the aging pilot workforce, and fewer pilots coming out of the military, pilots are a rare resource, which forces airlines to drop routes, often at the expense of small communities.

To remedy this issue, airlines are partnering with regional air carriers to restore flights to underserved areas. In Cheyenne, Wyoming, for instance, the Cheyenne Regional Air Focus Team struck a deal with SkyWest (subcontracted by American Airlines): Passengers can fly between Dallas and Cheyenne nonstop on a 50-passenger SkyWest jet, and for one year of service, the city would guarantee a minimum revenue of $2.3 million.

Last year, Columbia, Missouri, expanded its air service to Denver, guaranteeing United Airlines that its trips to Colorado would bring in at least $600,000 in revenue in one year. The city also waived the landing and rental fees at the airport, about $125,000, and spent $250,000 on marketing for United flights to and from Denver.

In order to ensure airlines won’t lose money on the deal, cities raise money beforehand, usually through a mix of government funding and private donations. In Cheyenne, the $2.3 million came from a mix of state subsidies, city-allocated funds, and private donations.

Commercial air service facilitates economic growth

Commercial air service is important to the economic growth and quality of life in rural or low-population towns. And when the airlines leave, companies sometimes follow. When equipment manufacturer Caterpillar Inc. moved its headquarters from Peoria, Illinois, to Chicago, CEO Jim Umpleby said one reason for the move “better access to flights,” citing that two-thirds of Caterpillar’s business was from outside the US. In 2013, the fast-food chain Krystal Co. moved from Chattanooga, Tennessee, to the Atlanta suburbs; company executives said access to a larger airport that provided service to all its markets was a key factor in the decision. Same goes for Albemarle Corp., which moved from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2017, bringing with it 120 high-paying jobs.

Darren Rudolph of the Visit Cheyenne tourism office, said that many major industries and businesses in Wyoming need the convenience of daily flights: “the energy industry with linkages to major companies in Texas, the tourism industry with Cheyenne being a gateway to Wyoming’s National Parks, and the military with links to air force bases throughout the nation.” This is why, he says, Cheyenne residents voted to build a new $18.5 million airport several years ago — they knew the economic value of attracting commercial airlines.

For some cities, like Cheyenne, state subsidies and private donations are enough to bring back commercial airlines, but other cities need more help. That’s why the Essential Air Service Program was put in place. The EAS, part of the Department of Transportation, was formed in 1978 in response to the Airline Deregulation Act, which gave airlines almost complete autonomy of where they did and didn’t have to fly. As the name implies, the federal law deregulated the airline industry, and the US government relinquished control of fares and routes to the free market.

The Essential Air Service Program seeks to guarantee that small communities are served with at least minimal airfare service. To accomplish this, it subsidizes small community airports, whether that means putting money toward ticket sales, landing fees, or marketing. As of 2017, the EAS budget was $288 million, all of which comes from the Airport and Airway Trust Fund and overflight fees (the cost an airline pays for flying over the US). There are 173 EAS communities in the US, mostly in Alaska but also in the Midwest, California, Wyoming, and Washington. Columbia Regional Airport was on Essential Air Service subsidies until 2008, but now its air service is funded by a mix of state and local funds, along with private donations.

When proposed in 1978, EAS was supposed to be a temporary measure. But small cities have continued to suffer from lack of air service, and many, including Black, now see the program as a necessity. “The increasing trend of urbanization of gross domestic product is not a good thing in this country, and as small communities lose their air service, that trend is only going to worsen,” Black says.

Not everyone thinks the Essential Air Service Program is so essential

But not everyone shares Black’s view. In 2007 the George W. Bush administration tried to decrease funding to $50 million, and the Heritage Foundation, a conservative research institution, has proposed eliminating the program altogether.

David Ditch of the Heritage Foundation believes the cost of the program far outweighs the benefits, and says that because not everyone uses the program, not everyone should pay for it. “The cost is being borne [by] people across the country, overwhelmingly those who will never take advantage of the program,” he says.

Although money for the EAS Program doesn’t come directly from taxpayers, Ditch says that taxpayers shouldn’t even have to pay indirectly for EAS.

To him, the program is an expensive investment that offers a convenience, not a necessary form of transportation, and sometimes it’s allocated to cities that don’t need it. “One example we found is there are subsidies that go to an airport in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, when there is the Harrisburg Airport literally 40 miles away,” he says. “It doesn’t make sense for taxpayers to spend millions of dollars to use Lancaster Airport because it’s marginally more efficient.”

From a business standpoint, he also doesn’t think the government should be “picking winners and losers” by paying for a business’s access to an airport.

When asked about a possible solution, he says building out roads for buses or other transit that easily links small communities to larger airport hubs would be a more fiscally responsible alternative. Alternatively, he says, the subsidies should be dealt with at the state level. “The federal government should not subsidize people living anywhere, which includes remote locations,” he says.

Black disagrees. Aside from the benefits to businesses, she says that feeling connected to global transportation is reason enough for communities to have air service. “It’s not just for leisure travel; it’s a matter of quality of life,” she says.

Once when Black was waiting at an airport gate, she struck up a conversation with a fellow flyer who said her town was having a problem attracting doctors to their community because of the lack of air service. “That’s a struggle of life for these communities,” she says. “It’s just an absolute imperative for these communities to have air service.”

Correction: A earlier version of this article misstated SkyWest and America Airline’s relationship.

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11 Exercises to Fix Rounded Shoulders and Sculpt Beautiful Posture

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Modern life takes its toll on our posture when we spend hours sitting and neglect the position of our spine. Poor posture leads to an imbalance in our muscles which means that they can’t support the body properly. Luckily, this can be fixed by doing a set of effective exercises. Moreover, they can help you to reduce back pain, stop headaches, increase energy, and improve circulation and digestion.

Bright Side is ready to help our readers achieve a beautiful and healthy body, and found 11 simple exercises that can be done at home by anyone. At the end we included a small tip, as a bonus for those who enjoy massage.

1. Upper trapezius stretch

It’s better to start from your shoulders first to relax your upper muscles. An upper trapezius stretch is just perfect for this.

Initial position: For this exercise, you can stand or sit on your yoga mat, whatever you like. Keep your head straight.

What to do:

  • Slowly move your right ear toward your right shoulder. When you do this, it’s normal that your left shoulder might lift as well. If it does, bring your head back to the initial position and try to relax your left shoulder.
  • Put your right hand over your head and place it on your left cheekbone. Don’t push your head down with it, it should just lie there. This will stretch your upper trapezius muscles very gently.
  • Calmly breathe and sit in this position for 30 seconds.
  • Slowly remove your hand, come back to the initial position and repeat the same on the other side.

2. Superman

The Superman exercise engages your upper and lower back. It helps you fight lower back pain and prevents a curved spine.

Initial position: Lie face down on your stomach, on your yoga mat.

What to do:

  • Extend your arms and legs. Keep your neck neutral.
  • Keep your torso stationary and lift your arms and legs up toward the ceiling. Try forming a “U” shape with your body.
  • Hold the position for 5 seconds, lower your arms and legs, and go back to the initial position.
  • Repeat 10 times.

3. Bridge

The bridge works out glutes and strengthens the lower back, which is important for good posture.

Initial position: Lie on your yoga mat, bend your knees, and place your feet hip-width apart. Place your arms by your sides.

What to do:

  • Engage your buttocks and raise them up, creating a straight line with your body. Your shoulders should be on the floor.
  • Hold this position for 10 seconds and slowly lower your body back to the initial position.
  • Repeat 15-20 times. Give yourself a rest for 30 seconds after every 5 reps.

4. Reverse shoulder stretch

This is an effective exercise to stretch your back and shoulder muscles and remove tension and pain in them.

Initial position: Stand on a yoga mat, with your feet wider than your shoulders, place your straightened hands behind you, and lock your palms together.

What to do:

  • Bring your shoulder blades together and start putting your arms up. Try to feel the tension in your spine and shoulder muscles.
  • For more spine stretch bend forward and bring your locked hands up. Hold this position for 10-15 seconds.
  • Slowly return back to the initial position.
  • Repeat 20 times.

5. Foam roller exercise for upper back

A foam roller will help you to relieve pain in your back muscles, fix rounded shoulders, and improve your overall posture.

Initial position: Get a yoga mat and lie on it with your hips apart and your feet on the floor. Place your foam roller right under your upper middle back, in your shoulder blade area.

What to do:

  • Bring your hands behind your head, this will support it. Bring your hips into a bridge pose, and hold your balance, supporting your body with your legs.
  • Inhale, push your body from your heels, and roll on your spine. Stop when the roller reaches the top of your shoulder blades.
  • Exhale and roll back until the roller reaches the bottom if your rib cage.
  • Repeat this for 30-45 seconds.

6. Cat-cow exercise

The cat-cow exercise is perfect for stretching your back, lower spine, and core muscles.

Initial position: Stand on all fours on the yoga mat, place your hands right under your shoulders, and knees and feet hip-width apart. Keep your toes pointing toward your body. Your spine should be natural and straight, no bending or arching.

What to do:

  • Cat position: exhale and engage your abdominal muscles. Arch your spine up toward the ceiling, bringing your head to your chest, aligned with your spine. Hold this for 10 seconds.
  • Cow position: slowly start bringing your stomach toward the floor and try to feel the tension in your lower back. Bring your shoulder blades together. Hold this for 10 seconds and go back to the initial position.
  • Repeat 15 times.

7. Kneeling hip-flexor stretch

The kneeling hip flexor stretch will help to remove tension from your pelvic and lower back muscles.

Initial position: Kneel on a yoga mat, bring your right leg in front of you, and bend it at a 90 degree angle. Your foot is flat on the ground. Support yourself by standing on your left knee that is also bent at 90 degrees.

What to do:

  • Slowly start bringing your right knee forward and brace your core. Engage your glutes and keep bringing your hips forward.
  • Your left knee is already bent at more than 90 degrees. Keep your spine straight, don’t bend it forward or backward.
  • Hold this position for 10 seconds to feel the stretch in the muscles then slowly return to the initial position.
  • Repeat 10 times for both sides.

8. Bird dog exercise

Bird dog helps to remove back pain, strengthens the core, and promotes proper posture.

Initial position: Stand on all fours on the yoga mat, your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Your spine should be straight and neutral.

What to do:

  • Raise your right hand and your left leg at the same time, bringing them parallel to the floor.
  • As you do this, lengthen your neck and bring your chin to your chest. Look down at the floor and remain like this for 10 seconds.
  • Return to the starting position and then repeat the same exercise with your left hand and right leg.
  • Repeat 10-15 times.

9. Forearm plank

Plank is not only effective at burning fat, but it also helps to strengthen the spine muscles, it prevents back pain, and it helps to improve your posture.

Initial position: Place your forearms on the yoga mat and align your elbows below your shoulders. Your arms should be parallel to your body at about shoulder-width distance.

What to do:

  • You can clasp your hands together for more comfort. Correct your neck and spine by looking at one spot on the floor somewhere about 30 centimeters in front of your hands.
  • Pay attention, so that your head is in line with your back.
  • Hold this position for 20 seconds.

10. T-Spine windmill stretch

The t-spine windmill stretch can help you fight pain and tension in your lower back and trunk. Moreover, it works out your shoulder muscles.

Initial position: Lie on your side on a yoga mat and bend your knees and hips at 90 degrees. Extend and stack your arms together on your right side.

What to do:

  • Raise your left arm up and then place it out to the left, opening your body up. Right now, your shoulder blades should be on the floor and your legs should remain in the same position.
  • Hold it for a couple of seconds and return to your initial position.
  • Do 30 repetitions on each side.

11. Tight shoulder massage

A simple tennis ball can help you to remove pain in your shoulders in different areas and relax them. All you need here is a tennis ball and a wall.

Initial position: Stand next to the wall and face it. Place a tennis ball on the wall and lean on it. Your chest should push the ball inside your shoulder.

What to do:

  • Start making a circular movement around this muscle and try to find a trigger point.
  • Hold a ball on this point until you feel that the tension and pain are gone.
  • Keep doing this until you relax all of your trigger points.
  • Repeat on the other shoulder.

Bonus: Thai massage is amazing for your back and shoulders.

Thai massage is an ancient form of massage that uses stretching and gentle pressure on the body to relieve muscle and joint pain, and balance your body. This massage helps to make muscles more flexible and removes chronic stiffness. For better results in achieving a healthy back and good posture, you can try this type of massage, focusing on your spine muscles.

Exercises can be effective, but it’s also important to pay attention to your posture throughout the day and strive to keep your spine straight. Do you have good posture? Maybe, you have a couple of exercises that help you relieve back and shoulder pain? Let’s share in the comments!

Illustrated by Alena Tsarkova and Marat Nugumanov for BrightSide.me

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8 Top Technology Trends To Watch In China

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This is a preview of 2019 Technology Trends Report in China from Business Insider Intelligence and EqualOcean. Chinese high tech firms have been leading the way in innovation for many technologies, such as 5G. These technologies are either currently undergoing or about to undergo major phases of change.

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Why Iran is attacking oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz

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The Strait of Hormuz is a narrow waterway that lies between Iran and Oman. Dozens of tankers carry oil through the 21-mile-wide passage each day. This flow of oil represents 20 percent of the world’s supply.

Most of the tankers traveling through the Strait of Hormuz are bound for Asia. But an attack on any tanker there, regardless of its destination, can affect the price of oil everywhere. That’s because oil is a globally traded product — a drop in supply from the Persian Gulf can drive up prices from other sources around the world. After two tankers were attacked in June, the price of Brent Crude — oil sourced from the North Sea — jumped by nearly $2 per barrel.


The price of Brent crude, a global benchmark, jumped in response to the attack of two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz.

Vox/Danush Parvaneh

The attacks in June weren’t the only incidents in Hormuz in recent months. Several other oil tankers have been seized, attacked, and harassed. These tankers — and this narrow water passage — have become a center of conflict between the US and Iran. It’s a conflict with the potential to escalate in one of the world’s most important oil chokepoints, sending the global economy into a tailspin.

You can find this video and all of Vox’s videos on YouTube. And if you’re interested in supporting our video journalism, you can become a member of the Vox Video Lab on YouTube.

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