Vice Versa Visa or Passport Problemo – WIF Travel

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The World’s

Most Difficult

Countries to Visit

13,000 miles long and roughly 30 feet tall, the Great Wall of China symbolizes both the country’s military strength and its isolationism. Currently, no country has a Great Wall, but many countries are dedicated to staying isolated, often to avoid exposing their citizens to socio-cultural ideas and practices disliked by their respective governments. For various reasons, the following 10 countries may be difficult for tourists to visit.

10. Canada

Surprised? Frankly, so are we. Canada’s requirements for air travel and border crossing have been more stringent since its southern neighbor, the United States, suffered a terrorist attack in 2001. Since 2007, anyone traveling into Canada by air must have a passport. People who frequently drive across the Canadian border may obtain an enhanced driver’s license that serves in lieu of a passport. Even with stricter security measures required, Canadian customs officials have a reputation for friendliness. The stereotype of the conversational Canadian customs officer is so pervasive that Canadian comedian Rob Bebenek has a stand up routine wherein he contrasts crossing the U.S. border with crossing the Canadian border.

However, one group of people may find Canada difficult to enter. Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) are considered particularly serious offenses in Canada. Someone who has been convicted of more than one DUI or DWI might not be permitted to cross the border. If a conviction is at least 10 years old and carried a maximum sentence of less than 10 years, someone who has the necessary paperwork may petition for Criminal Rehabilitation. If that petition is granted, the person will be allowed to cross. Those who aren’t eligible to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation may apply for Individual Criminal Rehabilitation, a status that is determined by the Canadian government on a case by case basis. Other options for those who are ineligible for Criminal Rehabilitation include getting a pardon or discharge of your conviction from the country where one was convicted, which must be accepted by the Canadian government, or obtaining a temporary resident permit.

9. Iran

Many cultural innovations that are now prized worldwide began in Iran. Refrigeration, postal delivery, guitars, and chess originated in the area. Tourists would be welcome to learn about the country’s culture and its history, if they didn’t have such difficulty visiting. In 2018, the United States both imposed sanctions on Iran and discontinued its nuclear deal with the nation. Those political decisions had a significant commercial impact, harming the country’s tourist industry.

Deterred by the sanctions, Americans and citizens from countries allied to the United States no longer visit Iran. However, the sanctions have especially affected domestic tourism. Seventy percent of Iran’s tourism revenue comes from Iranians traveling within the country. Fewer Iranians have sufficient money for traveling, since the sanctions are weakening the Iranian economy.

8. Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan is a former Soviet bloc country that’s bordered by Kazakhstan, Uzebekistan, and Afghanistan. The Soviet bloc countries were satellite countries of the Soviet Union. Many of them were financially destabilized when the Soviet Union fell in 1991.

The revenue tourists bring is welcome in Turmenistan, but it’s a difficult country to visit. Most travelers who wish to visit must be invited by the government or fund a touring company, though tourists staying on the mainland may be granted five day visas. Social media is banned in Turkmenistan. All tourists are officially required to be accompanied by guides, who report the tourists’ movements to the government.

7. Yemen

We’ve talked about the warfare in Yemen before, and we’re mentioning it again because, sadly, Yemen is still at war. A brief history of warfare in Yemen: In 2004, the Houthis, a Shiite political and religious group, plotted to overthrow the Yemeni government. On September 21, 2014, the Houthis seized the capital city, Sana’a. Because many political and religious groups opposed the Houthis, the country began a civil war in 2015.

The civil war hasn’t ended, but it isn’t solely a war among Yemenis. Yemen’s civil war is a proxy war, a war instigated by major powers that don’t become directly involved. Iran provided weapons to the Houthis, while Saudi Arabia and the United States provided weapons to the Yemeni military. In 2019, the U.S. Congress voted to stop selling arms to the Yemeni government. Imagine: A Yemeni who was born in 2014 has never experienced peace, or a stable economy.

When the country is at peace, it is an enviable tourist attraction. Sana’a, the capital city, has been continuously inhabited for 2,500 years. For tourists who enjoy nature, Yemen would be an ideal vacation destination .Ninety percent of the reptiles in Yemen cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Unfortunately, tourism companies officially advise that the country is unsafe to visit due to terrorism, civil war, health risks, kidnapping, and armed conflict.

6. Angola

Angola, a large country in southwestern Africa, includes deserts and rain forests. Angola was formerly a Portuguese colony, but Portugal now depends on Angola for financial support —Angola possesses rich oil reserves. Angola has survived colonization and civil war. Now the country’s greatest threat is economic instability, caused by inflation.

In 2011, the capital city, Luanda, was the most expensive city in the world to visit. The average price of a melon at a street market was one hundred U.S. dollars. Someone who could afford to visit Luanda would still need to pay to be invited. Tourists must receive an official invitation from the government in order to visit. Anyone who requests a letter has to pay for it. If the letter arrives without a visa despite the visa having been paid for, or the visa is later denied, none of the expenses incurred can be refunded.

5. Saudi Arabia

Like Yemen, we’ve talked about the dangers of visiting Saudi Arabia. Also like Yemen, the Saudi Arabian government’s oppressive practices have since worsened. The Saudi government admitted to orchestrating the November 2018 murder of a journalist for The Washington Post, Jamal Khoshoggi. Khoshoggi, who authored articles criticizing Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman, was ambushed and strangled when he entered the Turkish consulate to obtain a marriage license. His attackers chopped up his body with a bone saw.

On 2019, 36 countries signed an open letter criticizing Saudi Arabia for its human rights abuses.Negative news coverage of Saudi Arabia has negatively affected its tourism industry. The Saudi royal family is the richest family in the world, worth over one billion dollars. The economic instability exacerbated by the decrease in tourism will affect not the royal family, but the Saudi citizens. Twenty percent of the population of Saudi Arabia lives in poverty.

4. Russia

Even before U.S. special counsel investigator Robert S. Mueller confirmed that Russia interfered with the United States of America’s 2016 presidential election, sociopolitical tensions created during the Cold War were still present between the two countries. And as long as the nation remains under the thumb of its president, Vladimir Putin, that tension is likely to remain.

Russia doesn’t recognize U.S. diplomats’ authority to intervene in visa-related difficulties involving American travelers. All travelers are advised to avoid unsanitary water, unsafe medical treatments, pick-pocketing, and government surveillance.

3. Kiribati

The Pacific island of Kiribati isn’t particularly dangerous to visit. It’s just incredibly difficult to reach. Any airport travel requires a long, costly flight between islands. There are few amenities to which travelers from the United States, Canada, and Western Europe are accustomed.

However, local families are willing to accommodate guests. A tourist who requires a passport — anyone living outside of the European Union — should schedule an additional trip to Wales. The only Kiribati embassy in Europe is in Llandewi Rhydderch. But hey, we hear Wales is nice this time of year, if you’re feeling particularly ready to — eventually — make your way to Kiribati.

2. Bhutan

The Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan was closed to visitors until 1974. As of 2019, obtaining a visa costs $40. A tourist must pay $250 to the government for each day of his or her stay. The daily fee includes the provision of accommodation, transportation, food, and a guide.

Travelers from India, Bangladesh, and the Maldives do not need to obtain a visa to visit Bhutan. Invited guests of the government aren’t required to pay a daily fee. The fee is intended to deter visitors, in order to protect the country’s forestry. Bhutan’s dense forests make it the only carbon negative country in the world, and federal law requires that sixty percent of the land always remain covered by trees.

1. Eritrea

Eritrea is the most difficult country in the world to visit. Formerly a colony of Italy, the northeastern African country gained independence in 1991, after a 30 year war with Ethiopia. As of 2019, Eritrea is a dictatorship. All tourists require a visa, and a visa costs $70.

Visitors aren’t permitted to use local transportation while they are in Eritrea. The only way to travel within the country is by prearranging modes of transportation with a tourist company. Anyone traveling outside of the capital city, Asmara, must receive the government’s permission to travel to each destination he or she wants to visit.


Vice Versa Visa or Passport Problemo –

WIF Travel

Real Laws – WIF NonSense

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Real Laws That

Make Absolutely

No Sense

Laws aren’t made to be popular; they are made to enforce behavior and allow humans to live together in functional societies. However, across the world, there are some laws that just don’t make sense. Some aren’t enforceable, some are anachronistic, and some defy facts and/or logic. Below are 10 examples of regulations that will make you ask, “Seriously–how is this a law?”

10. Women in Saudi Arabia are not legally allowed to drive

Saudi Arabia is not known for its tolerant climate toward women’s rights—women in the kingdom, which is governed by Sharia (Islamic law), with a strict Wahabbism interpretation, face numerous restrictions on their day-to-day lives. These religious restrictions, which have the power of law, include a requirement for women to dress conservatively and cover their hair, the need for a male guardian when venturing out in public, and a restriction that requires women to get the permission of a male relative to open a bank account or obtain a passport.

While women in Saudi Arabia have gained some limited rights in recent years, including the right to vote and run for office, they still face numerous limitations on their freedoms, including the world’s only ban on female drivers. While the ban is technically an unwritten religious edict, it is codified as law because Saudi Arabia only recognizes local driver’s licenses, which are not issued to women, and has arrested women who attempt to defy the ban. The kingdom’s ruling family and religious authorities have repeatedly justified the ban, with deputy crown prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud saying the Saudi community “is not convinced about women driving” and one conservative cleric contending, without offering evidence, that driving posed a threat to women’s ovaries and would result in children born with health problems (again, this argument is refuted by evidence from every other country on earth). The nonsensical ban has certainly impacted the Saudi economy, with limited mobility hurting female workforce participation, and exacerbated income inequality, as women from wealthy families are able toemploy drivers to get around, but poor women cannot.

Interestingly, while Saudi women (and non-Saudi women in Saudi Arabia) cannot drive cars, they are able to fly planes within the kingdom. The first female Saudi pilot was licensed in 2014.

9. In Utah, drinks can’t be seen by patrons until they are served

If James Bond really wants to be certain his martini is “shaken, not stirred,” he better not drop by any restaurants in Utah. Since 2009, Utah law requires restaurants to prepare mixed drinks behind a 7-foot partition (often made of opaque glass) out of the view of restaurant patrons. This so-called “Zion Curtain,” a nod to the state’s large teetotaling Mormon community, was meant to shield children from the glamour and corrupting influence of seeing a drink being mixed. This, despite any evidence that seeing drinks mixed by professionals would be a potential gateway to underage drinking for Utah youths. About the only good thing you can say about the law is that it is actually better than the alcohol restrictions it replaced. Prior to 2009, Utah law required customers to become members of “social clubs” (i.e. restaurants) or bars before you could consume a drop of alcohol on the premises. Basically, getting wine with dinner involved the same procedure as joining a country club, sometimes even requiring sponsorship.

The “Zion Curtain” law has been unpopular in the state, with a survey showing 70% of Utah residents oppose the law. A revised version of the law, effective July 1, 2017, will allow restaurants to forgo the “Zion Curtain,” but only if they create an adults-only buffer zone around the bar. Again, the law is better than what it replaced, but still tied to the–largely unproven–conclusion that the sight of an alcoholic drink being mixed poses an unacceptable threat to Utah’s youth (but somehow watching adults consume the drinks post-mixing doesn’t).

8. In Mississippi, it’s illegal to have a second illegitimate child

There are archaic “love laws” that remain on the books all over the United States that make everything from living together before marriage, gay sex, and adultery criminal acts. These laws are rarely, if ever, enforced, so their continued existence is perplexing.

Mississippi has one particularly strange law of this type, which states:

“If any person, who shall have previously become the natural parent of an illegitimate child within or without this state by coition within or without this state, shall again become the natural parent of an illegitimate child born within this state, he or she shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for not less than thirty (30) days nor more than ninety (90) days or by a fine of not more than Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($ 250.00), or both.”

This law has a dark history. It was designed largely to target African-Americans and originallyclassified parenting a second illegitimate child a felony and included a provision that allowed violators to escape punishment if they agreed to sterilization (fortunately, that version never became law). There was one quirky loophole written into the law: all multiple births would be counted as the first illegitimate child, so if you had twins (or triplets, etc.) out of wedlock, you had found the only way to legally have multiple illegitimate children in Mississippi.

While it may seem harmless to keep these outdated and unused laws on the books, the fact remains that as long as a law is there, someone could decide to enforce it (in the case of laws against adultery, a vindictive spouse seems to be the primary complainant seeking the law’s enforcement against their partner or partner’s paramours). Before gay marriage was legalized across the United States, there was some concern that the law against a second out-of-wedlock birth, borne of racist intentions, could find another discriminatory outlet. The law could theoretically be used to target gay parents, whose marriages were not recognized in Mississippi (and whose children were all, therefore, technically born out wedlock). Another reason for Mississippi to ditch this law: it doesn’t seem to be discouraging Mississippians from having kids outside of marriage. Census Bureau research showed that Mississippi’s percentage of out-of-wedlock births was the second-highest among US states, with more than 48% of births occurring outside of marriage.

7. It’s legal to be naked in public in Vermont, but can be illegal to take your clothes off in public

one man, who strolled through Burlington, Vermont one day in the summer of 2016, wearing only sneakers and a bandana (on his head), apparently knows, it’s not illegal to be naked in public in Vermont, unless you are in a public park. However, while nudity is fine, disrobing in public is generally considered to be a violation of Vermont’s law against lewd and lascivious conduct. A Vermont Supreme Court case (around a flasher) did find that exposing one’s naked body could be a violation of the law and the Court further referenced the need for lewd and lascivious conduct to be obscene or sexual in nature.

Because it’s hard to draw the line between innocently taking off one’s clothes in public and being a flasher, would-be nudists in Vermont are advised to drop trou before they head out in public. When asked about public nudity, Burlington’s police chief described the behavior of a man who was walking through busy intersections in the buff as “inappropriate,” but “not necessarily illegal,” noting that as long as naked folks weren’t stripping down in public, harassing people, or touching themselves, there was not much city police officers could do according to state law.

6. In the US, it is illegal to burn money

Got money to burn? Well if you’re in the US, you can’t, at least not legally (several other countries also outlaw the destruction of currency).  Title 18, Section 333 of the United States Code says that:

“Whoever mutilates, cuts, disfigures, perforates, unites or cements together, or does any other thing to any bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt issued by any national banking association, Federal Reserve Bank, or Federal Reserve System, with intent to render such item(s) unfit to be reissued, shall be fined not more than $100 or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.”

Interestingly, it’s fine to destroy coins, as long as it’s not done “fraudulently,” so collectors of souvenir pressed pennies can sleep soundly at night.

Actually, everyone can pretty much sleep soundly at night. Despite the existence of this law, destroying bills is not a crime that’s often prosecuted, even when it’s done publically. MSNBC’s Larry Kudlow burned a bill on the air to protest inflationary policies without facing any legal consequences. And some think that if burning of currency were prosecuted, the law would likely be ruled unconstitutional as a limit on protected speech, though others point out that since the government pays to print money (about 5 cents per bill), its interest in preserving the cash supply isn’t merely symbolic. In the US, this law is mainly used against counterfeiters, so while burning money is technically illegal (even when it’s YOUR money), the odds that you’ll end up doing time for setting fire to a stack of Benjamins remain low.

5. Under US military law, unsuccessful suicide attempts are illegal

You would think someone who was on the verge of taking his own life would have suffered enough, right? But the US military disagrees, making it a crime for soldiers to attempt to kill themselves, one that can result in disciplinary action, including prison time and a bad-conduct discharge. Under Article 134 in the Manual for Court Martial, prosecution is allowed for self injury that causes “prejudice to good order and discipline” or has a “tendency to bring the service into disrepute”, a provision that has been used to prosecute unsuccessful suicide attempts, even when there was evidence of mental health issues on the part of the offending soldier.

Suicide isn’t treated as a crime for soldiers who succeed. As one military lawyer, defending a client who was court-martialed after a failed suicide attempt, explained this cruel paradox, “If he had succeeded… he would have been treated like his service was honorable, his family would have received a condolence letter from the President, and his death would have been considered in the line of duty. Because he failed, he was prosecuted.”

Certainly, the US military does have a compelling interest in dissuading its troops from suicide. Suicide rates amongst US service members are more than two times the average for the general population. However, there isn’t any evidence that criminalizing suicide attempts reduces their frequency. Data from Canada and New Zealand, which decriminalized suicide in 1972 and 1961 respectively, suggest that removing laws punishing suicide attempts did not impact the suicide rates within those nations.

Common sense suggests that adding criminal charges to the plate of an already suicidal individual only compounds the problems facing that person. The World Health Organization suggests that criminalizing suicidal acts adds to the stigma related to suicide, which can undermine suicide prevention efforts. In other words, laws against suicide attempts, like those within the US military, don’t stop suicides, but they may deter depressed people from accessing help that might prevent suicides.

4. In several US states, atheists are barred from public office

Atheists, those who do not believe in a higher power, have long faced discrimination, and in many places across the globe, that discrimination is codified as law. In 13 Muslim countries, people who reject the state religion of Islam or espouse atheism face the death penalty. In the United States, the situation for atheists isn’t nearly so dire, but for a country whose Constitution includes several references to freedom of religion, the US has a surprising number of legal restrictions on atheists.

In seven US states, state constitutions bar atheists from public office. Maryland’s Constitutiongoes a step further, saying atheists also can’t serve as jurors or witnesses. While these restrictions have been rendered unenforceable by a Supreme Court decision (in a case brought by a Maryland notary who refused to take an oath that required belief in God), that hasn’t stopped some from trying to use them to deny office to atheist elected officials. Given that keeping these bans on the books serves no purpose, some atheist groups have been arguing for their removal. Proponents of removing the atheist bans, like Todd Steifer, chairman of the Openly Secular Coalition, say that if illegal discrimination against any other minority group was enshrined in the state constitution, “You’d have politicians falling all over themselves to try to get it repealed. Even if it was still unenforceable, it would still be disgraceful and be removed. So why are we different?”

3. In some US states, you must disclose if your house is haunted when trying to sell it

While the existence of ghosts is up for debate, with polls showing that almost half the people in the US and the UK believe in ghosts, there is no conclusive scientific evidence that supports their existence. In fact, some scientists have argued that the existence of ghosts is refuted by the failure of the Large Hadron Collider to detect any energy that would comprise such spirit beings. However, even though there’s no irrefutable proof that ghosts exist, some US states still require you to disclose whether your property is haunted when you try to sell it.

The extent of required ghost-related disclosures depends on the state where your house is located. In Virginia, you aren’t legally required to disclose any act or occurrence (including hauntings), unless it had, “effect on the physical structure of the real property, its physical environment, or the improvements located hereon.” So if the haunting extends to blood appearing on the walls, for example, you do need to make it known to buyers. In New York State, the Supreme Court found that once a homeowner publically represents their home as haunted, the home is legally considered haunted, a material condition that must be disclosed to potential buyers. But if you’ve kept Casper’s existence to yourself, you’re in the clear to sell without providing info to buyers. In Massachusetts, there is no requirement to disclose that a home, “has been the site of alleged parapsychological or supernatural phenomenon.” However, if the buyer asks if the place is haunted, it is a crime to lie. For an unproven phenomenon, ghosts seem to get a surprising number of mentions in US real estate law.

2. In Switzerland, it is illegal to keep just one of a social animal

In 2008, Switzerland passed legislation protecting the “social rights” of certain animals. Since passage of this law, it is illegal to keep a single member of a social animal species, a designation which includes goldfish, parrots, and guinea pigs, since a solitary social animal will be lonely.

While this law has great intentions behind it, it does create a bit of a quandary for some pet owners seeking to abide by the law. What if you start with two guinea pigs, but one dies? Do you now have to continue buying replacement companion guinea pigs until the end of time? One enterprising Swiss company addresses just this problem, offering a “rent-a-guinea-pig”service. The rental service provides companion guinea pigs for an otherwise solitary guinea pig’s remaining time, which can be returned after the death of the other guinea pig. No word on how the law will deal with guinea pigs who happen to be antisocial jerks, and are the rare members of their species that don’t want to chill with a buddy. However, the law doesn’t have strong enforcement provisions, especially since the Swiss voted down an attempt to appoint lawyers to act on behalf of pets, so folks who keep a solitary goldfish are unlikely to face penalties (other than pangs of conscience) for violating the law.

1. In China, it is illegal for Buddhist monks to reincarnate without state permission

China’s citizens are subject to a sweeping array of laws, including legal restrictions on thenumber of children they can have and their mobility to relocate within the country. But with regard to Tibetan Buddhist monks, the Chinese government is seeking to extend its control even beyond this life. China’s State Religious Affairs Bureau Order No. 5 requires Tibetan religious leaders (known as living Buddhas or tulkus) who are planning to be reborn to apply to several government entities for approval before doing so. China has called the law, “an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation,” a statement that merely underlines the inherent futility of attempting to regulate what its citizens can do after death.

The real purpose of the law seems to be to allow Chinese authorities to control the selection of the eventual successor to the Dalai Lama, and to quell any movement in support of Tibetan independence by religious figures in the region. The Dalai Lama has previously said that if Tibet remains under Chinese control, he will be reincarnated elsewhere, suggesting there could be dueling Dalai Lamas in the future—one selected by Chinese authorities through their reincarnation recognition procedures, and another illegally-reincarnated Dalai Lama outside of Chinese territory.


Real Laws

–  WIF NonSense