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Yilan, Taiwan
I'm a Social Studies teacher and single mom from Colorado and have lived here for 9 years. Taiwan is an excellent base for us explore Asia, while living in relative (gun free) safety, while benefiting from a cheap and efficient national health care system. The people are amazing too. I have friendships that are 14 years old and I'm always making new ones.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Trump's New Jerusalem and a World Wide State of Alert

Back in 2009 after Taiwan's devastating typhoon Morakot, I joined the US State Department's STEP program. 
I periodically received little regional warnings, especially after a terrorist attack in say the UK or France for example. A few hours after Trump's Thursday decision to be the only country (and global super power, major donor to Israel) to formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital, the DOS sent me the following travel warning.  This was the first time I received one in response to Trump's foreign policy decision. One like this hasn't been issued since 2003 and the start of the 2nd Iraq war (I was in Egypt's Red Sea at that time). Thursday's warning is here:
As part of the Department of State's continuous efforts to provide U.S. citizens traveling abroad with information about safety and security events, we are updating the Worldwide Caution with information on the continuing threat of terrorist actions, political violence, and criminal activity against U.S. citizens and interests abroad.  This replaces the Worldwide Caution dated September 14, 2017.      
As terrorist attacks, political upheaval, and violence often take place without any warning, U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness when traveling.  To better prepare for possible emergencies, U.S. citizens are encouraged to read Country Specific Information pagesTravel Warnings, and Travel Alerts on travel.state.gov before planning a trip.
In addition to concerns stemming from terrorism, travelers should be alert to the possibility of political unrest, violence, demonstrations, and criminal activities when traveling.  Country-specific information pages and Travel Warnings should be consulted to obtain the latest data on such threats. 
Travelers are urged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.  The Department uses these security messages to convey information about terrorist threats, security incidents, planned demonstrations, natural disasters, etc.  In an emergency, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate or call the following numbers: 1-888-407-4747 (toll-free in the United States and Canada) or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries
 U.S. government facilities worldwide remain in a heightened state of alert.  These facilities may temporarily close or periodically suspend public services to assess their security posture.  In those instances, U.S. embassies and consulates will make every effort to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens.  U.S. citizens abroad are urged to monitor the local news and maintain contact with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. 
 Terrorist groups including ISIS, al-Qa'ida, their associates, and those inspired by such organizations, are intent on attacking U.S. citizens wherever they are.  Extremists may use conventional or non-conventional weapons to target U.S. government and private interests.  Terrorists are increasingly using less sophisticated methods of attack to more effectively target crowds, including the use of edged weapons, pistols, and vehicles as weapons.  Extremists increasingly aim to assault "soft" targets, such as:
·     high-profile public events (sporting contests, political rallies, demonstrations, holiday events, celebratory gatherings, etc.)
·        hotels, clubs, and restaurants
·        places of worship
·        schools
·        parks
·        shopping malls and markets
·        tourism infrastructure
·        public transportation systems
·        airports
 In multiple regions, terrorists, guerrilla groups, and criminals seek to kidnap U.S. citizens to finance their operations or for political purposes.  The Department also remains concerned that terrorists could again seek to down aircraft using concealed explosives or hijack commercial flights
Private U.S. citizens should not travel to any country to participate in armed conflict.  U.S. citizens are reminded that fighting on behalf of or providing other forms of support to designated terrorist organizations can constitute the provision of material support for terrorism, which is a serious crime that can result in penalties, including prison time and large fines. 
The warning continued in detail with each region and links to their countries. I believe Taiwan is quite safe and I statistically have more of a probable chance being hurt in the States by a gun, by someone I know, then a terrorist attack in Taiwan. However, I don't think I will go to Malaysia or Bali this Chinese New Years.
I'm all for rocking the boat, stirring the pot, but Trump's recklessness is far from coming from a position as peacemaker. If he truly wanted to promote peace or stability outside of global cooperation with allies and UN resolutions, he might of made Jerusalem the capitol of Israel and Palestine and formally recognize a 2 state solution. Until then, Americans abroad are more of a target, which may be what Trump's men wanted all along.

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