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This week’s government website (and dream job):
http://travel.state.gov/travel_warnings.html

This site is chock full of great things. The title “Travel Warnings, Consular Information Sheets, and Public Announcements” does not do it justice.


“The U.S. government does not currently have diplomatic or consular relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran and therefore cannot provide protection or routine consular services to American citizens in Iran. The Swiss government, acting through its Embassy in Tehran, serves as protecting power for U.S. interests in Iran. The Iranian government does not recognize dual citizenship and generally does not permit the Swiss to provide protective services for American citizens who are also Iranian nationals. In addition, U.S. citizens of Iranian origin who are considered by Iran to be Iranian citizens have been detained and harassed by Iranian authorities. Former Muslims who have converted to other religions, as well as persons who encourage Muslims to convert, are subject to arrest and possible execution. The Iranian government reportedly has the names of all individuals who filed claims against Iran, and who received awards, at the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal at The Hague pursuant to the 1981 Algerian Accords. There are restrictions on both the import and the export of goods between Iran and the United States. Neither U.S. passports nor visas to the United States are issued in Tehran.”

What a wonderful way of saying – you are completely screwed if you go to Iran. Do you actually think the Swiss can do anything for you? Stay away!
This would really be my dream job – investigate all the crises going on in the world and write up pretty little paragraphs that essentially tell people “Hey stupid! Yeah, you. Don’t go there.”

Nepal is always good for kick in the ass too:
“In a November 15, 2002, press release, the Maoists claimed responsibility for targeting and brutally murdering two locally hired U.S. Embassy security guard employees in separate incidents that occurred on December 15, 2001, and November 9, 2002. Included in the press release are threats of further violence against any party or "diplomatic communities...working against the Maoists," including the "American Diplomatic Mission."”

Now this is some great writing:
"In areas outside the Kathmandu Valley, the situation is tense and uncertain, with armed conflicts between the Maoists and government security forces occurring sporadically and unpredictably. Several recent incidents of violence have occurred on main highways outside the Kathmandu Valley, including the roads linking Kathmandu with the Tibetan and Indian borders and the tourist destinations of Pokhara and the Chitwan National Park.”

And lest you think it’s just “third world” countries that you need to be careful in:
In Russia:
“The importation and use of Global Positioning Systems and other radio electronic devices are subject to special rules and regulations in Russia. In general, mapping and natural resource data collection activities associated with normal, commercial, and scientific collaboration may result in seizure of the equipment and/or arrest of the user. The penalty for using a GPS device in a manner which is determined to have compromised Russian national security can be a prison term of ten to twenty years. In December 1997, a U.S. citizen was imprisoned in Rostov-na-Donu for ten days on charges of espionage for using a GPS device to check the efficacy of newly-installed telecommunications equipment. He and his company believed the GPS had been legally imported and were not aware that Russian authorities considered nearby government installations secret.”

And here’s one for the ladies: In Saudi Arabia
“The American citizen spouse of a Saudi national is, with a handful of exceptions, female. Saudi women are prohibited from marrying non-Arabs except with a special dispensation from the King. (A dispensation is also required before a Saudi woman may marry an Arab who is not a citizen of the Gulf Cooperation Council, i.e. Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.) Saudi families generally will not allow their daughters to marry non-Muslims, and conversion to Islam is often required before an American man could marry a Saudi woman. A few daughters of Saudi diplomats, raised and educated abroad, are known to have received royal dispensation for marriage to Europeans. Most Saudi women who are married to westerners reside abroad with their husbands.

Women are prohibited from driving, riding a motorcycle, pedaling a bicycle, or traveling by taxi, train or plane without an escort. All American wives were aware that they would not be able to drive while in Saudi Arabia, but few comprehended just how restricted their movements would be. Only the relatively affluent Saudi family will have a driver on staff. Most American women depend entirely upon their husbands and male relatives for transportation. While most expatriate western women routinely use taxis, any woman married to a Saudi will be expected to have an escort - either another female relative or children - before entering the taxi of an unrelated male.

Women and children residing in Saudi Arabia as members of a Saudi household (including adult American citizen women married to Saudi men, adult American citizen women who are the unmarried daughters of Saudi fathers, and American citizen boys under the age of 21 who are the sons of Saudi fathers) require the permission of the Saudi male head of their household to leave the country. Married women require the permission of their husband to depart the country, while unmarried women and children require the permission of their father or male guardian. The U.S. Embassy can intercede with the Saudi government to request exit permission for an adult American woman (wife or daughter of a Saudi citizen), but may not be able to obtain permission for the departure of minor children without the father's agreement.

Among the younger generation, it is rare for a Saudi to have a second wife, but it does occur. A man is legally entitled to up to four wives, with the proviso that he be able financially and emotionally to accord them equal status.”

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