Tuesday, September 05, 2006

US Agency: Don't Expect Visa-Free Travel for Poland Too Soon

The U.S. Government Accountability Office, the congressional watchdog formerly known as the General Accounting Office, released a report on the visa waiver program on Tuesday. The agency comes up with some general recommendations, but in a separate letter to the head of the House Committee on the Judiciary, a GAO official writes something quite interesting about the countries seeking for the U.S. to drop visa requirements for their citizens:
It does not appear there will be any expansion of the Visa Waiver Program in the short term, because despite ongoing progress, these countries will still fall short of the program'’s statutory requirements.
Not that this is the last word, but it certainly shows that neither Poland nor the other 12 countries, mainly the new EU members, can expect visa-free travel any time soon. Not sure what the definition of "short term" is, but I bet it's not months, but rather years.

What requirements are we talking about? Well, it's things like:
  • issues related to meeting biometric and other technical and security criteria
  • reporting lost and stolen passport information
  • and public affairs campaigns regarding the implications of violating the terms of visas.
Keep in mind Poland is still not part of the Schengen passport-free zone in Europe. That has to happen before U.S. drops visa requirements.

Flying with the Knights

Well, since I can't seem to find too much lately to write about Poland, maybe my great readers will indulge my ego and watch the final video piece I made for my broadcasting class. Drop me a note to let me know what you think. Be gentle...

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Goodbye Chicago. Hello Washington!

Apologies for the recent silence, but things got a little busy in Chicago before I took off for Washington, DC. And the nation's capital is not welcoming me too warmly. It's being hit by the remains of Hurricane Ernesto. But things will get back to normal and I promise to start being more faithful to the blog.

In the meantime -- as I try to settle in, go to visit the parents and pick up a person close to my heart from New York -- take a look at my last article from Chicago. It's got Hamas, it's got an exclusive interview, it's got interesting stories. Worth a look ;)

OK, here's a little preview:

Muhammad Salah and his wife Maryam get up at dawn every morning for daily prayer in their Bridgeview home with the rest of the family.

Their five children usually return to bed, while Maryam Salah makes a cup of tea and toast for her husband, who takes a few quick sips before starting the first shift at their family business of driving dialysis patients to their treatments.

Maryam Salah, 45, jokes that even in this seemingly dull routine, she is violating U.S. law by aiding a designated terrorist.