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State Department offers informational website for traveling students

Got a kid getting ready to travel abroad? The State Department offers a website with what you both should know

If you or your child is heading abroad for spring break, the State Department has just the website for you: studentsabroad.state.gov. It's part of State's larger website and focuses on practical information (applying for a passport) while also dispensing some motherly/fatherly advice (don't drink too much, and don't drink if you're underage; don't use drugs; and if a flag on the beach says the water isn't safe, don't go in).

"If you find yourself in a legal jam, contact the closest U.S. consulate, U.S. consular agency, or the U.S. embassy for assistance," it notes. But, it adds, "keep in mind, U.S. consular employees cannot arrange for local officials to release detained American citizens." Here's a list of emergency contacts, which is good to have at any age: http://www.lat.ms/1EVYGzs

Honduran safety situation improves

The State Department's March 2 warning on Honduras contains some good news amid the concern about the "critically high" levels of crime and violence: It's not as bad as it was. "It has declined the past two years," the warning says. It goes on to say that you can't expect help from the police, which may not respond or may be in cahoots with criminals.

Honduras, it says, has "one of the highest murder rates in the world" and notes that 100 U.S. travelers have been killed since 2002. "The vast majority of serious crimes in Honduras, including those against U.S. citizens, are never solved," it says. Info: http://www.lat.ms/19BBvBC

Attacked museum reopens in Tunisia

The Tunisian museum that closed after gunmen shot and killed more than 20 foreign tourists last month has reopened.

Tunisia's National Bardo Museum, known for its Roman mosaics, reopened Monday. Flowers honored the tourists killed in the attack. Two artworks were damaged in the assault, and glass cases were broken.

Two of the attackers were killed in the melee; another man who was involved in the planning died in a security raid last week, the Associated Press reported.

About 10,000 people attended a rally the day before the Monday reopening, the BBC reported. It quoted Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi as saying, "The Tunisian people proved today that they do not bow to terrorism.... When Tunisia is targeted, the whole nation stands as one."

Thailand focuses on aviation standards

Thailand's aviation standards are lacking, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization, and the country's current prime minister may use his authority to force changes in as little as 45 days, the AP reported Monday.

The areas of concern, the transport minister said in the AP story: "outdated laws, inadequate official oversight of safety matters, and personnel training and equipment short of international standards."

Such reforms might ordinarily take years, the country's transport minister said. The government contends that using one article of the government's constitutional powers allows the reforms to be pushed through in a hurry. The ruling junta came to power in May after a coup.

Among the airlines having to cancel planned extra flights: budget carriers Thai AirAsia X, NokScoot and Asia Atlantic Airline as well as Thai Airways, according to Britain's Telegraph newspaper. Thailand is preparing to celebrate Songkran, its new year. The vice president of the Thai Travel Agents Assn. told the Bangkok Post that the cutback may increase prices for tour packages.

Guinea-Sierra Leone border closed

The abrupt closing of Guinea's border with Sierra Leone last week caught many people off-guard, news reports said. Guinea, a West African nation, has been especially hard hit by the outbreak of Ebola, which has killed more than 10,000 people during its recent upsurge, and the 45 days of closures in five districts is part of the effort to stem the tide. Many people were stuck at the border after the closing, the AP reported.

Sources: U.S. Department of State, Associated Press, the Nation, the BBC

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