Decide to go to Europe and start planning

This trip came together in a hurry. I made a conscious decision to go to Europe around the first of June. So then reality set in and I thought of all the things I had to do to prepare. It’s not like you can walk into an airport these days and say – I’d like to take the next flight to Europe – you have to get ready well in advance. First, I had to get a new passport because my old one was 25 years old. “Great!” I thought, “this is going to be like pulling teeth after 9/11.”

But really it is easier now with the web (no web 25 years ago). I actually had to get a copy of my birth certificate first – ordering it online was easy. Then I went to the local court house, filled out the express form (1-2 weeks), handed over my old passport and birth certificate, and paid the $135 plus $25 for processing. Ten days later I had a passport.

I didn’t actually buy my airline ticket until I had the passport in hand. During the ten days I got all worked up about where to go. I researched online what was happening in The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France and Belgium. I checked about a dozen sites on cities in these coutries. Then I started narrowing down to just 4 cities I thought I could reasonably make it to in 2 weeks.

I narrowed down to Amsterdam, Berlin, Munich and either Paris or Brussels or somewhere between Munich and Amsterdam. I decided to fly into Amsterdam and hit the ground running.

This was imported from the teamsiems in Europe blog.

Taliban’s Sanctuary Bases in Pakistan Must Be Eliminated

From RAND:
“If Taliban sanctuary bases in Pakistan are not eliminated, the United States and its NATO allies will face crippling long-term consequences in their effort to stabilize and rebuild Afghanistan, according to a RAND Corporation study issued today.”

Some Recycleable Plastic Bottles Are Not Safe

From Plastic Bottles That Are Not Safe – Toxins in Water Bottles, Baby Bottles at thedailygreen.com

Check the recycle numbers on your plastic containers. If it is a 3, 6, or 7 it can leach bisphenol-A (BPA) into the food/liquids you put in it.

Lanier plans to seal off rough ‘hoods in latest effort to stop wave of violence

This sounds too much like Escape from LA, Aeon Flux, Matrix, or any of a dozen sci-fi, post-apocalyptic films: seperate the chaff from the wheat and leave them to their own devices while the pure race continues to grow and prosper and become more pure.

So what’s next? If we don’t like someone we “drop them off” in the “dark zone.” A human garbage dump, so to speak.

Written by Michael Neibauer and Bill Myers, The Examiner 2008-06-04

WASHINGTON D.C. – Police will seal off entire neighborhoods, set up checkpoints and kick out strangers under a new program that D.C. officials hope will help them rescue the city from its out-of-control violence.

Under an executive order expected to be announced today, police Chief Cathy L. Lanier will have the authority to designate “Neighborhood Safety Zones.” At least six officers will man cordons around those zones and demand identification from people coming in and out of them. Anyone who doesn’t live there, work there or have “legitimate reason” to be there will be sent away or face arrest, documents obtained by The Examiner show.

Lanier has been struggling to reverse D.C.’s spiraling crime rate but has been forced by public outcry to scale back several initiatives including her “All Hands on Deck” weekends and plans for warrantless, door-to-door searches for drugs and guns.

Under today’s proposal, the no-go zones will last up to 10 days, according to internal police documents. Front-line officers are already being signed up for training on running the blue curtains.

Peter Nickles, the city’s interim attorney general, said the quarantine would have “a narrow focus.”

“This is a very targeted program that has been used in other cities,” Nickles told The Examiner. “I’m not worried about the constitutionality of it.”

Others are. Kristopher Baumann, chairman of the D.C. police union and a former lawyer, called the checkpoint proposal “breathtaking.”

Shelley Broderick, president of the D.C.-area American Civil Liberties Union and the dean of the University of the District of Columbia‘s law school, said the plan was “cockamamie.”

“I think they tried this in Russia and it failed,” she said. “It’s just our experience in this city that we always end up targeting poor people and people of color, and we treat the kids coming home from choir practice the same as we treat those kids who are selling drugs.”

The proposal has the provisional support of D.C. Councilman Harry “Tommy” Thomas, D-Ward 5, whose ward has become a war zone.

“They’re really going to crack down on what we believe to be a systemic problem with open-air drug markets,” Thomas told The Examiner.

Thomas said, though, that he worried about D.C. “moving towards a police state.”

Staff Writer Scott McCabe contributed to this report.

Obama?

Obama clinches nomination; Clinton seeks VP spot

AP – Cheered by a roaring crowd, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois laid claim to the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday night, taking a historic step…”