Monday, February 21, 2005

Mainsz to shut down during POTUS' visit
Bush security not setting up warm welcome
By Tom Goeller
The Washington Times
From the World Section

BERLIN -- Hopes of opening a new chapter in trans-Atlantic relations are clashing with security needs ahead of President Bush's visit this week to Germany, where many citizens are angry about plans to shut down highways, businesses and schools.
American security forces seem to have taken over the cities of Mainz and nearby Wiesbaden in preparation for the president's visit on Wednesday, local press reports, with snipers on rooftops, jet fighters on high alert and Secret Service agents everywhere.
The security plans, the most intensive ever seen in Germany, call for the closure of four interstate highways and shipping channels in the Rhine River, which runs through Mainz, as well as delays in train schedules.
All schools in the area will be closed, but students will have no chance to watch the arrival of Mr. Bush because all balconies along his way through the city are ordered to be empty and all windows must be closed and darkened.
About 1,200 residents who live near a conference center where Mr. Bush will visit with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder will have to pass through tight security checks to get to their homes.
Businesses are expected to operate with skeleton staffs or, like the State Bank of Rhineland-Palatinate, close completely. The central hospital will be closed for patients, and its emergency room reserved in case it is needed for Mr. Bush.
"Shall I be sitting all day long in the dark, only because Mr. Bush is driving by?" complained resident Maria-Luise Fuchs in the local newspaper Wiesbadener Kurier.
The extreme measures have prompted a sort of triumphal boasting by anti-American protesters who turned out in force when Mr. Bush visited the German capital of Berlin in May 2002.
"He doesn't dare to visit Berlin again," says a posting on the Web site, which is being used to organize protests during this week's visit.


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