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Posts tagged ‘News’

Paranoid Traveler or Conscious Consumer?

March 17, 2015

Should I go on this trip? Would you go?

For two years I planned this vacation: taking a smaller cruise ship to various ports across the Mediterranean Sea. I gathered over fifty pages of research on the trip locations, studied guidebooks and constructed a google map. I watched videos of each port. After I purchased the the trip tickets and packed my suitcase, current events left me in a quandary on whether I should take this vacation.

On February 15, ISIS beheaded 21 Coptic Christians from Egypt on the coast of Libya near Sirte, a port town. By Mid-March ISIS and the State-affiliated militants were engaging in violent clashes.

In October of 2014, ISIS began a propaganda campaign, threatening the Vatican, claiming to launch a war against the Catholic Church and invade Rome. On March 15, the Vatican, which in the previous months had downplayed the threats, its Geneva ambassador suggested that military force should be used against ISIS, if settlements could not be reached.

What I found alarming is that Cruise News.com reported:

But sailing into a port in Morocco or Egypt on a cruise ship? It’s not a matter of if. It’s just a matter of when.

Fisherman on Lampedusa, a small island halfway between Sicily and Libya, raised their concerns with the Italian government that they were fearful of being boarded by the terrorist group.

I called my cruise company. The representative reported that their insurers would not allow the ship to go anywhere near where they perceived danger. I guess protecting their investment will also protect me. It’s kinda funny that it comes down to money. He said they would change their itinerary if there were any threats. He also said the cruise line could not guarantee safety 100%, which I understand.

Statistically, I should be more concerned with these possibilities if I stayed home: about 40,000 automobile deaths and 32,000 firearm deaths occur in the United States each year. I’m in more danger driving on the 95 Interstate or catching a stray bullet from a crime or accident than anything happening on the high seas. So far, not one American tourist has been killed by ISIS.

Still, the situation in the Middle East does give one pause. Whereas I have a choice to go, I know that those folks caught in the middle of these conflicts have no choice.

The State Department has issued travel alerts and warnings for over 40 locations.

How does a traveler remain aware without being hyper vigilant?

As a traveler, have you faced a similar situation and what did you decide?

Would you stay home or go on this trip?

UPDATE:

The next day, after I composed a draft of this post, tragically militants killed 17 tourists as they stepped off buses to visit the National Bardo Museum in Tunis. My cruise line has listed the Bardo Museum as one of their excursions.

Someone wrote on Facebook that didn’t understand why anyone would travel to Tunis. Last year 6.2 million tourists visited that country without major incident. Tunisians have invested in the travel industry, as 20% of the population benefit from tourism. The people of Tunisia will suffer the long-term effects of reduced revenues if the tourist industry collapses, which would further weaken the country economically and perhaps give ISIS a further foothold in the ensuing chaos. Tunisia has taken positive steps toward democracy, a positive outcome of the Arab Spring. Let’s hope the militants have not derailed their democratic initiatives.

Link

Balkanalysis.com Special Report

Philadelphia Performance Protest against Gun Violence

On March 29, Heeding God’s Call, held their Fifth Annual Good Friday Procession and Vigil to protest the continued gun violence in the city. Nearly 200 worshippers gathered late in the afternoon at St. Paul’s Baptist Church, where worship services began, and then “en masse” marched to Benjamin Franklin High School on North Broad Street for  the vigil.

Healing Presence Choir2

The Tabernacle United Choir and Arch Street Methodist Choir joined the Healing Presence Singers under the backdrop of the Common Threads Mural, which is representative of hope for the future. Holly Phares directed the choirs during the ecumenical service that included guest speakers from several faith-based organizations and  families who have lost children to gun violence. By joining together, the worshipers affirmed that it is possible for citizens to fight for legislation and social policies that would help bring peace to our streets and homes.

Marching

According to CNN, Philadelphia has one of the worst homicide rates in the country, with more than 80% of these crimes committed with a gun.

A young, black man, has a greater chance of being shot and killed in Philadelphia than he would have if  he were a soldier serving in the conflicts in Afghanistan or Iraq,

An average day in US has 30 gun-related murders with another 162 wounded  based on the most recent figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, 53 people kill themselves with a gun each day. Our homicide rate of 4.7 murders per 100,000 people is one of the highest of all developed countries. Unfortunately, statistics of these daily tragedies mean little in the public consciousness and only when mass shootings occur, do citizens begin to take notice. This outrage that follows these shootings is followed by frustration as law-makers, indebted to the gun lobby, block even the most sensible gun restrictions, such as high-capacity magazines. If the Tucson shooter had only ten bullets, Christina Taylor Green would be with her family today.

At the rally in Philadelphia, parents of children who were killed by guns spoke of their loss.

While this was a peaceful demonstration, just a day before mothers in Indiana had to stand in defiance in front of a line of armed men carrying AR-15 semi-automatic weapons. The moms, advocating for restrictions on purchases of high-capacity magazines and legislation requiring background checks on gun sales, were protesting in front of the Indiana statehouse. An armed opponent admitted that his rifle was loaded. Some might argue that the Indiana protest was also peaceful, but the potential for violence, either because of accident, mental instability or provocation, undermines the tenants of democracy to live free from the threat of gun violence.

Numbers to reach US Senators at this link.

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