Friday, June 08, 2007

Passport backlog slows hundreds of travelers

If you're planning a trip that requires a passport plan on a long wait
By Connie Thompson

If you're planning a trip that requires a passport and you don't already have one, plan on a long wait - as long as two months!

Hundreds of people face the threat of having to cancel their trips because their passports are not ready. "They told me it would be six weeks," said one traveler, Kelly Sanchez.

I first met Kelly Sanchez at Sea-Tac Airport on March 16th after she'd contacted the Passport Services Office for the fourth time. She was originally told her family's passports would take six weeks. But when she tried to track the progress, the passports were not even in the system. "So much time has passed. My checks have cleared. Why can't I track my passport?" she said.

As other passengers at Sea-Tac were getting ready to catch their flights, Kelly's emotions were nearing the boiling point. Here's what she says the passport office told her when even they could not track her passport: "If I don't have it in the system by the 30th, I should probably start making decisions to cancel my trip," she recalled being told.

Kelly is trapped in the 'Never Never Land' of passport backlog. She's holding $2,000 worth of tickets for her family's trip to Mexico with a departure date of April 10th.

Right now, the passport office is getting an estimated one million calls per week. The stated processing time for normal processing is currently 10 weeks. The processing time for an expedited passport is about one week. See: Passport backlog slows hundreds of travelers KOMO-TV - Seattle ...

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

G-8 Summit meets this week in Europe

Tensions overshadow summits agenda
By Keymah B. N. Aharon
KNN News

As this weeks G-8 Summit convenes obvious political and social differences between Europe and the US become all too clear. Where is these tensions headed?

Personalities and policy disputes will dominate coverage of the upcoming annual Group of Eight (G8) meeting. Analysts will be especially watchful of the personal dynamics between newcomers like France’s Nicolas Sarkozy and Japan’s Shinzo Abe and outgoing leaders like President Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin has already roiled the waters. He threatened to retarget select European cities with nuclear weapons (AP) if plans for deployment of a U.S. missile defense system go ahead and warned of a “new arms race.”

Yet the most controversial topic may prove to be climate change, which German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the G8’s host (Deutsche Welle), has put atop the agenda, and which British Prime Minister Tony Blair views as something of a legacy issue. But Europe and the United States do not yet see eye-to-eye on greenhouse gas emissions (NYT).

KNN has chosen two articles written in 2002 and 2003 to shed some historical light on this brewing prophetic confrontation.

SEE: The End of the West

& The Coming Clash Between Europe and America > The Good News ...

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Waistlines keep expanding around the globe

Urbanization, Western ways adding to the world's weight problem
By Lauren Streib
Forbes Magazine

No matter how you tip the scales, Americans are getting wider every year. What's worse is that many nations are following suit.

In a list of the countries with the greatest percentage of overweight people, Nauru tops a list of countries with the greatest percentage of overweight people, with an alarming 94.5 percent of its adult population (ages 15+) classified as such, based on the most recent estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO). The Federated States of Micronesia, Cook Islands, Niue and Tonga round out the top five, all with a portly population of over 90 percent.

The U.S. weighs in at No. 9, with 74.1 percent of those over 15 years old considered overweight. But given that its population is nearly 20,000 times that of Nauru, clearly the U.S.’s size belies it rank.

Experts say it is not surprising that people across the globe are increasingly becoming overweight. They blame urbanization and the influx of Western ways of life including myriad fast-food choices, little exercise and stressful jobs.

Click here for related content
Slide show: World's fattest countries
Complete list of the fattest countries

"Due to urbanization, more people are living in more dense environments, in cities where they are removed from traditional food sources and dependent on an industrial food supply," says Neville Rigby, director of policy and public affairs for the International Association for the Study of Obesity. Modernization is causing countries with small populations and few resources to depend on imported, often over-processed food. "The Western diet overwhelms, and many people are not genetically engineered to cope with this," says Rigby. See: Waistlines keep expanding worldwide

Monday, June 04, 2007

Tensions heat up between US and Russia

Russian president issues warning over U.S. missile defense ahead of G-8
Associated Press

MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that Moscow could take “retaliatory steps” if Washington proceeds with plans to build a missile defense system for Europe, including possibly aiming nuclear weapons at targets on the continent.

Speaking to foreign reporters days before he travels to Germany for the annual summit with President Bush and the other Group of Eight leaders, Putin assailed the White House plan to place a radar system in the Czech Republic and interceptor missiles in neighboring Poland. Washington says the system is needed to counter a potential threat from Iran.

In an interview released Monday, Putin suggested that Russia may respond to the threat by aiming its nuclear weapons at Europe. See: Putin warns on U.S. missile-shield

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Cleveland Cavs are Eastern Conference Champions

Hot-shooting Gibson leads Cavs to NBA Finals
Associated Press

Cleveland, a city that hasn't celebrated a world championship since the Browns won an NFL title in 1964, has the next closest thing. And now the Cavs, who won only 17 games the year before James arrived from just down the Interstate in Akron, will meet the San Antonio Spurs in Game 1 of the finals on Thursday night.

James, who scored 48 points in Cleveland's double-overtime win in Game 5, didn't have to carry the Cavs by himself.

Gibson gave him all the help he needed.

The slender second-round pick from Texas, who didn't become a major contributor until March, outshined his superstar teammate. Gibson made three 3-pointers in the first 2:16 of the fourth and drilled another long-range jumper with 6:52 left, setting off a massive celebration in Quicken Loans Arena.

"If I'm dreaming, please don't wake me up," Gibson said. "This was perfect, to win it for Cleveland."

The Cavaliers are only third team to come back from an 0-2 deficit in a conference finals, joining the 1971 Baltimore Bullets and 1993 Chicago Bulls. See: Game 6: Cavs finish off Pistons

See Video Highlights: Pistons-Cavs Game 6 Highlights