When traveling abroad, it's always smart to check the U.S. State Department's Web site for updates on safety and security in the country you're visiting. But the department's classifications for travel warnings and alerts has always been a bit confusing. What's a "Consular Information Sheet," anyway, and how does it differ from a "public announcement"? Now the department has made the system easier to understand:
- General reports on current conditions in all countries (formerly called Consular Information Sheets) are now called Country Specific Information.
- Reports about conditions that are expected to be short-lived are now called Travel Alerts (formerly Public Announcements).
- Travel Warnings are still Travel Warnings - basically, "don't go."
For more, go to travel.state.gov.
History museum needs time
If you were hoping to visit the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History this summer, you need to make other plans. The museum is delaying its reopening from this summer to the fall.
Museum Director Brent Glass said the museum has received inquiries from visitors making travel plans and wanted to provide them with a more realistic time frame for the reopening. An exact date has not been set.
The museum closed in fall 2006 for an $85-million renovation. Some of its most popular artifacts, such as Dorothy's ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz, are on display at the nearby National Air and Space Museum during construction.
The renovation follows a 2002 blue-ribbon commission report that sharply criticized the museum for its confusing layout and its less-than-inclusive presentation of history.
Blues great honored
A blues trail marker has been unveiled signifying the birthplace of legendary Delta blues musician Robert Johnson.
The city of Hazlehurst, Miss., unveiled the marker last month near the city's historic train depot.
Johnson recorded only 29 songs during two recording sessions in 1936 and 1937, but his work went on to be performed by countless blues and rock musicians.
Johnson wrote Me and the Devil Blues, Crossroads Blues and Rambling on My Mind. He was only 27 when he died on Aug. 16, 1938.
Johnson was born in Hazlehurst, but was living near Robinsonville, just south of Memphis, by 1920. He traveled around the Mississippi Delta and to other parts of the country, including Memphis, St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit, New York, and even Canada.
Another blues marker honoring Johnson went up in May 2007 outside Little Zion Missionary Baptist Church, near Greenwood.