Flyover country? Not if you slow down to the small town pace and enjoy the simple life, the simple things like a warm summer evening with fireflies… 5-Stars ? Yea, hometown bias 😉
What color is your passport?
Are you American? British? Aussie? Kiwi? Other European nations? Any other free nation where its’ citizens can travel ?
Then, you have already won the lottery in life!
That is your ticket to freely “travel-around-the-world” .
Think about how lucky you are when you read the article below.
Anthony Arden Kobler
After 50 years, Cubans hope to travel freely
By PAUL HAVEN | Associated Press
(original article published in the Washington Times click here)
HAVANA (AP) — After controlling the comings and goings of its people for five decades, communist Cuba appears on the verge of a momentous decision to lift many travel restrictions. One senior official says a “radical and profound” change is weeks away.
The comment by Parliament Chief Ricardo Alarcon has residents, exiles and policymakers abuzz with speculation that the much-hatedexit visa could be a thing of the past, even if Raul Castro’sgovernment continues to limit the travel of doctors, scientists, military personnel and others in sensitive roles to prevent a brain drain.
Other top Cuban officials have cautioned against over-excitement, leaving islanders and Cuba experts to wonder how far Havana’s leaders are willing to go.
In the past 18 months, Castro has removed prohibitions on some private enterprise, legalized real estate and car sales, and allowed compatriots to hire employees, ideas that were long anathema to the government’s Marxist underpinnings.
Scrapping travel controls could be an even bigger step, at least symbolically, and carries enormous economic, social and political risk.
Even half measures — such as ending limits on how long Cubans can live abroad or cutting the staggeringly high fees for the exit visa that Cubans must obtain just to leave the country — would be significant.
“It would be a big step forward,” said Philip Peters, a Cuba expert at the Virginia-based Lexington Institute. “If Cuba ends the restrictions on its own citizens’ travel, that means the only travel restrictions that would remain in place would be those the United States imposes on its citizens.”
The move would open the door to increased emigration and make it easier for Cubans overseas to avoid forfeiting their residency rights, a fate that has befallen waves of exiles since the 1959 revolution.
It could also bolster the number of Cubans who travel abroad for work, increasing earnings sent home in the short term and, ultimately, investment by a new moneyed class.
Scrapping exit controls should win Cuba support in Europe, which improved ties after dozens of political prisoners were freed in 2010.
But Peters and several other analysts said they doubt the new rules would bring about any immediate shift in U.S. policy toward Cuba, which includes a ban on American tourism. Those restrictions are entrenched and enjoy the backing of powerful Cuban American exiles.
“I don’t think it would lead to a drastic change in U.S. policy, but an accumulation of human rights improvements could lead to an incremental change,” Peters said.
Cuba-born Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from Florida, said any discussion aboutimmigration reform on the island is a peripheral issue.
“The kind of changes I’m interested in are not about immigration,” said Ros-Lehtinen, who heads the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. “I’m interested in changes that affect fundamental freedom, democracy and respect for human rights.”
U.S. officials said they have been watching for an announcement for months, noting there has been such talk as far back as August. But nothing has happened, and they are skeptical that the Castro regime is truly committed to such reform.
Asked about possible reciprocal measures, one U.S. official said the Obama administration can’t promise anything because it doesn’t know what exactly Cuba plans to announce. The official wasn’t authorized to speak publicly and demanded anonymity.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the U.S. “would certainly welcome greater freedom of movement for the Cuban public.”
Rumors of the exit visa’s imminent demise have circulated on and off for years. The whispers became open chatter last spring after the Communist Party endorsed migration reform at a crucial gathering. But Castro dashed those hopes in December, saying the timing wasn’t right and the “fate of the revolution” was at stake.
Alarcon’s comments, made in an interview published in April, revived hopes that a bold move is coming.
“One of the questions that we are currently discussing at the highest level of the government is the question of emigration,” he told a French journalist. “We are working toward a radical and profound reform of emigration that in the months to come will eliminate this kind of restriction.”
But on Saturday, Vice Foreign Minister Dagoberto Rodriguez told exiles not to set their hopes too high, vowing the government would maintain some travel controls as long as it faced a threat from enemies in Washington.
Havana residents say they are anxiously waiting to see what the government does.
“The time has come to get rid of the exit visa,” said Vivian Delgado, a shop worker. “It’s absurd that as a Cuban I must get permission to leave my country, and even worse that I need permission to come back.”
Added Domingo Blanco, a 24-year-old state office worker: “It’s as if one needed to ask to leave one’s own house.”
Many Cubans are reluctant to talk about their own experience with the exit visa. One woman named Miru, who has been trying to leave Cuba since 2006, shared her story on the condition her full name not be used for fear that speaking with a foreign journalist could land her in trouble.
“This has been a very long process,” she said of her odyssey, which began when her husband defected from a medical mission in Africa and sought asylum in the U.S.
First, she had to get a letter releasing her from her job at a government ministry — a process that took five years. Only then could she apply for the exit visa. That was three months ago, and Miru still hasn’t received an answer. Officials say her case is complicated but won’t give a specific reason for the delay.
“I am very anxious to see my husband again,” she said.
The exit controls are a Cold War legacy of Cuba’s alliance with the Soviet Union. They were instituted in December 1961 to fight brain drain as hundreds of thousands of doctors and other professionals fled, many for new lives in Florida. That was three months before the U.S. embargo barring most trade with the island went into full effect.
Over the years, it has become much easier for Cubans to obtain permission to travel, though many are still denied, and it is particularly hard to take children out of the country.
Also, the exit visa’s $150 price tag is a small fortune in a country where salaries average about $20 a month. In addition, the person the traveler wishes to visit must pay $200 at a Cuban consulate.
Those who leave get only a 30-day pass, and the cost of an extension varies by country. In the U.S., the fee is $130 a month. Those who stay abroad more than 11 months lose the right to reside in Cuba. Before 2011, any property would automatically go to the state.
“The Cuban government has monetized every part of the humiliating process of coming and going,” said Ann Louise Bardach, a longtime Cuba expert and author of “Without Fidel: A Death Foretold in Miami, Havana and Washington.” ”Getting out means running a gantlet, and it is all based on how much humiliation you can endure, and by the time they end up in Miami, people are filled with hate and dreams of revenge.”
Cuban officials have long portrayed the measures as necessary to counter Washington’s meddling. They accuse the U.S. of trying to lure away doctors by letting them walk into any American consulate and request asylum.
Cuban officials say even ordinary islanders are encouraged to leave by U.S. regulations that automatically grant asylum to any who reach American shores, a policy Cuba says has encouraged thousands to attempt the dangerous trip on leaky boats and makeshift rafts across the Florida Straits.
It’s not clear how emigration reform will affect dissidents, who are routinely denied permission to leave and could still find themselves on some form of no-exit list.
In a recent New York Times opinion piece, dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez called the exit controls “our own Berlin Wall without the concrete … a wall made of paperwork and stamps, overseen by the grim stares of soldiers.” She has been denied travel papers at least 19 times by her own count.
Some hardliners in Florida predict any change will be merely a sleight of hand designed to export malcontents, ease a severe housing shortage and fob off legions of superfluous state workers.
But for hundreds of thousands of Cubans like Miru, the exit visa is a personal matter, not political. After six years separated from her husband, she clings to hope that she will finally obtain permission or benefit from a change in the law.
“I have followed all the rules of my country,” she said. “I’ll be so happy to leave.”
Associated Press writers Andrea Rodriguez and Peter Orsi in Havana, Laura Wides-Munoz in Miami, and Bradley Klapper in Washington contributed to this report.
Follow Paul Haven on Twitter: www.twitter.com/paulhaven
World’s sexiest accents
(Original Article – CNNGo.com here)
By Jordan Burchette 18 August, 2011
In the unending pursuit of love, or its less eternal surrogate, the right accent can be as attractive as bright eyes, a beaming smile and a parabolic backside.
For world travelers, a far-flung tongue promises the unknown, confirms the known and dispels the thought-we-knew.
But no accent is sexy when it’s strong enough to crush a beer can. Which means not all accents are created equal.
It’s estimated that there are nearly 7,000 languages on earth. That’s nearly 7,000 different ways to traipse clumsily through the English language — or to sex it up like a Justin Timberlake song wrapped in chocolate cleavage.
Which begs our list of the world’s sexiest brogues. Some of you may have a legitimate case for inclusion in the top twelve. Others — we’re looking at you, Vietgermans — do not.
Our also-rans included Putonghua (especially when Taiwanese women speak it in gentle tones), Australian (as appealing as warm Foster’s to some, tantalizingly exotic to others) and Japanese (the language of repressed salarymen is also strangely designed for pillow talk).
Feel free to state your objections and/or rain your accolades in the comments section below or on our Sexiest Accents Facebook Poll.
Because when it comes to accents, there are no absolutes. Except that Bronx English is absolutely horrible.
Famous tongues: Fernando Lamas, Gabriela Sabatini
A historical refuge for Spaniards, Italians and Germans, the hyper-libidinous South Ameripean melting pot of Argentina has cultivated a proud, pouty tone. With its own pronunciation of Spanish letters (“ll” sounds like “shh”) and its own words (“you” is “vos”), this is a dialect that’s hard to get. (Or at least plays that way.)
Sounds like: A tightly tuned guitar of G-strings strummed by a lamb shank
Famous tongues: Tony Jaa, Tata YoungWith five tones comprising their native speech, the traffickers of this often fragile accent turn any language into a song of seduction. Thai is largely monosyllabic, so multi-beat foreign words get extra emphases right up until the last letter, which is often left off, leaving the listener wanting more. (Or at least asking “Huh?” lustfully.)
Sounds like: R-rated karaoke
Famous tongues: Nikki Minaj, Billy OceanFor fetishists of oddball sexuality, the Caribbean island of Trinidad offers an undulating, melodic gumbo of pan-African, French, Spanish, Creole and Hindi dialects that, when adapted for English, is sex on a pogo stick.
Sounds like: A rubber life raft bobbing on a sea of steel drums
9. Brazilian Portuguese
Famous tongues: Alice Braga, Anderson SilvaPerhaps owing to its freedom from French influence, the Brazilian Portuguese accent has a more colorful, puerile flair than its coarser European counterpart. The resulting yowl of drawn-out vowels reveals a flirty freedom of spirit that sounds like a permanent vacation.
Sounds like: The near, then far, then near again hum of a low-wattage vacuum cleaner that runs on dance sweat
8. U.S. Southern
Famous tongues: Matthew McConaughy, Britney SpearsThere’s nothing sexy about being in a hurry, and you could clock the growth rate of grass with the honeyed drawl — less Tea Party, more “True Blood” — of a Southern beau or belle.
Sounds like: Molasses taking a smoking break
7. Oxford British
Famous tongues: Hugh Laurie, Sienna Miller
Authoritative. Upright. Erudite. Scholarly. Few accents promise the upward nobility of the Queen’s English. It’s a take on the language that sets hearts devoted to James Bond and Hermione Granger aflutter. And, should the speaker fail to slake your most wanton desires, eh, at least you’ll learn something.
Sounds like: A crisply ironed shirt playing a harp
Famous tongues: Colin Farrell, Andrea Corr
Valued slightly more in men than in women, the Irish brogue is a lilting, lyrical articulation that’s charming, if not exotic. Fluid and uplifting, it can swing from vulnerable to threatening over the course of a sentence, restoring your faith in the world again … right before it stabs you with a broken bottle top.
Sounds like: A marauding pixie
Famous tongues: King Sunny Adé, Omotola Jalade Ekeinde
Dignified, with just a hint of willful naiveté, the deep, rich “oh’s” and “eh’s” of Naija bend the English language without breaking it, arousing tremors in places other languages can’t reach. Kinda makes the occasional phone scam worth the swindle.
Sounds like: The THX intro with teeth
Famous tongues: Petra Nemcova, Jaromír Jágr
Like Russian, without the nettlesome history of brutal, iron-fisted despotism, Czech is a smoky, full-bodied vocal style that goes well with most meats. Murky and mysterious, the Bohemian tone is equal parts carnal desire and carnival roustabout.
Sounds like: Count Dracula, secret agent
Famous tongues: Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz
Sensual and beckoning, but with the passion to unleash hell kept just barely restrained, Castilian is like a dialectic Hoover Dam. But then there’s the lisp. Tender, vulnerable and cute as a baby’s hangnail — no one owns the “th” sound formed by tongue and teeth like those who speak the language of Cervantes.
Sounds Like: An outboard motor on Lake Paella
Famous tongues: Sophie Marceau, Jean Reno
The demotion of this perennial prizewinner of global brogues to second place may illustrate the declining sexuality of Old World petulance. Still, the come-hither condescension and fiery disinterest of the French tongue remains paradoxically erotic.
Sounds like: A 30-year-old teenager
Famous tongues: Monica Bellucci, Alessandro Del Piero
Raw, unfiltered and as grabby to ears as its president is to rears, the Italian accent is a vowelgasm that reflects the spectrum of Italic experience: the fire of its bellicose beginnings … the romance of the Renaissance … the dysfunction of anything resembling a government since Caesar. Insatiable, predatory and possessive, this is sex as a second language.
Sounds like: A Ferrari saxophone
Long before embarking on a life of leisure and recreational crime fighting, Jordan devoted himself to the written, spoken and, during the occasional shower, harmonized word. He is currently based in the U.S. following stints in Hong Kong and Florida, which he refuses to recognize as U.S. territory.
Read more about Jordan Burchette