If you’re a regular reader of my consumer advocacy columns, you probably already know that the word “free” should trip all kinds of alarms.
If not, don’t worry, I’ll get you up to speed: If you see the word “free” in a product offer, run!
But “free” can be used in another equally important context. Promises to make you “debt free,” for example, can leave you even deeper in the hole. There, too, my advice is identical — don’t walk, flee.
It’s been a “good news” kind of week for observers of our nation’s security apparatus. At least that’s how the government is spinning it.
But there’s plenty of bad news for travelers, too. More on that in a minute.
On Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security announced it had scrapped the color-coded terrorism alerts and was moving to a more “robust” two-tiered system called the National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS).
The feds also issued a helpful guide (PDF) that explains NTAS. It’s an interesting read. It promises to only issue alerts “when credible information is available” and to include “a clear statement that there is an imminent threat or elevated threat.”
Karlin Lissa and her family planned to return to Sudan for the first time in more than a decade. But their plans were foiled when the State Department issued a travel warning in October, advising US citizens to defer all travel.
The Lissas wanted to go to Sudan — still want to go — but they can’t put their children in harm’s way. The government warning is anything but ambiguous:
U.S. citizens and citizens of European countries have been victims of kidnappings, carjackings, and armed robberies while travelling in Sudan. Armed militias have instigated sporadic violence and attacked locations in Southern Sudan. Threats have been made against foreigners working in the oil industry in Upper Nile state. Land travel at night should be avoided.