A couple of summers ago, when we were living in Washington DC, there was a problem with exploding manhole covers. It was actually not funny. Those manhole covers are very heavy, and they would explode unpredictably -- it had to do with the antediluvian electrical wiring in the Georgetown neighborhood. Now that Dubya has descended upon Germany, we get manhole cover fear in a different way:
This is only one of the thousand little requests the Secret Service had of the German government to secure Mr. Bush's person. Others were that citizens living along the official traveling route were asked to remove their mailboxes if they exceeded a certain size. It was rumored that the mobile phone net in Mainz was going to be turned off for a day (which was denied, then cautiously de-denied). House owners needed special permits to enter their homes and were kindly informed not to go on their balconies. (I wonder, are there any snipers posted to deter the bold and uncooperative?) The university hospital is not accepting any normal patients today (other than in the internistic department), being "on hold" for Bush and his team. The schools are closed. Public transport is largely suspended. Streets are closed off. Shipping on the Rhein is discontinued. The garbage is not collected and the streets are not being cleaned. The underground parking lots are closed. The Opel plant in Rüsselsheim stopped production for the day since they anticipated supply problems (all those blocked roads and bridges and cancelled trains). Employees and workers in the area have been asked to take a day off since the anticipated chaos on the streets would only bring them in very late anyway. Etc. Etc. Mind you, these are not voluntary measures by the Germans. These are imposed restricitions from the US side. (Makes me wonder about the independence of my country, frankly.) Since this is paid for by the German taxpayer (which we are), and the trip is being paid for by the American taxpayer (which we are), Mr. Bush's visit to Germany is suddenly heavily sponsored by our family. I'm not sure I'm liking this thought.
Source: Süddeutsche Zeitung