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This Just In!

updated February 21, 2017

Congress just passed the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which lets travelers return to the U.S. from the Caribbean by land or sea without a passport until June 2009. American citizens flying back to the U.S. will still need a valid passport as of January 8, 2007, the original deadline. The State Department estimates that about 73 percent of Americans don't have passports, and it has had trouble keeping up with the recent spike in demand.

A seven-year, $91 million expansion of the Denver Art Museum opens to the public on October 7. Designed by the World Trade Center site's master planner Daniel Libeskind, the angular, titanium-clad building was inspired by the jagged peaks of the Rockies (denverartmuseum.org, $13).

A historic partnership between the Musée du Louvre in Paris and Atlanta's High Museum of Art begins October 14 when the "Kings as Collectors" exhibit opens. Over the next three years, hundreds of paintings, sculptures, and antiquities from the Louvre will be exhibited in the U.S. for the first time (high.org, $15).

George Washington's Mount Vernon estate has undergone a $100 million expansion. A new museum with six galleries will exhibit his family's personal items like furniture, books, china, and clothing--many of which will be on display at Mount Vernon for the first time. Highlights of the visitors center include an exact replica of the mansion in miniature (furniture and all) and a stained-glass window depicting key events in the president's life. Both buildings are scheduled to open on October 27 (mountvernon.org, $13).

Berlin's Bode Museum--which showcases ancient coins, Byzantine art, and Germany's largest collection of sculptures--will reopen on October 18 after nearly a decade of renovations.

Carib Aviation has launched a new company called Dominica Air Taxi, with interisland service between Dominica and either St. Lucia or Antigua. The 50-minute flights cost $79 each way (dominicaairtaxi.com).

Pacsafe has introduced a duffel bag (above) made with the patented, slash-proof, stainless-steel mesh it uses in backpacks ($230).

Several Florida theme parks--Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, and Universal Orlando--formally announced policies that guarantee you'll be able to reschedule a vacation without penalty or get your money back if a hurricane threatens the resort area or your hometown.

Day passes to American Airlines' private lounges are being sold at self-serve airport kiosks: $50 for the first pass, and $25 each for two additional passes.

Irish carrier Aer Lingus is charging $5 per checked bag if you reserve online (or $10 at the airport) on flights within Europe scheduled to depart after January 17.

At sharedbook.com, users create photo albums with templates that match their vacation--the Yosemite book, for example, includes borders in the park's Native American motif, a John Muir quote, and park maps, as well as space for text and photos.

US Airways dropped its 14-day-advance-purchase shuttle fares to $100 for a round trip between Boston and New York. The airline also has a new Bill Me Later option; with a special introductory offer, you can buy tickets through November 30, 2006, and not make any payments for the first 90 days.

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