The New York Times may no longer be able to sell you papers, but it’s hoping that it can sell you on an ill-advised trip to a foreign nation that routinely expresses its hatred for any Westernized nation.
For a mere $6,995 (plus taxes, fees and extras like upgrades), you can now, thanks to the brilliant minds at America’s finest newspaper, take a luxurious, 13-day tour of Iran, complete with “insights into the life and accomplishments” of the always-charming Ayatollah Khomeni (on your Day 4 tour of the “mountain villages”). One assumes his prowess at hostage-taking and undercover nuclear bomb manufacturing go unaddressed.
Journey 2,500 years back in time to discover the ancient secrets of Persia on this 13-day itinerary incorporating some of most well preserved archaeological sites in the world. Welcome to the once-forbidden land of Iran.
Journey with on-the-ground experts who will help untangle this nation’s complicated timeline. Starting in Tehran you will journey across country through beautiful landscapes, arid mountains and rural villages to experience vibrant bazaars, get lost in ancient cities and learn about the traditions and cultures of Iran. Traveling in a small group and staying in luxurious hotels along the way, your journey through Iran will reveal the secrets from this once forbidden land.
The package, which includes most meals and four-star resort accommodations sounds positively lovely. And if you’re willing to bypass State Department warnings about travel to Iran, and forgo the protection of a nearby US embassy, I bet it will be quite the tour. Be careful, though, as it is listed as requiring “moderate” physical activity. No word on whether they’ve taken into consideration the possibility of a lengthy stay in an Iranian prison once you’re taken hostage by hostile factions. It does, however, note that after you glide through the bazaars and ancient cities of Persia, you will be given time to ascertain the value of your purchased antiques, so that you’ll know whether you can use them to bribe customs officials for a ticket out of the country.
Of course, should that happen, you won’t be able to hold the Times responsible, as the tour’s terms and conditions make patently clear:
Travelers dissatisfied with their experience on the trip may have a tough time if they try to sue. The “terms and conditions” for the trip include a “binding arbitration clause” that gives arbitrators, “not any federal, state, or local court or agency,” “exclusive authority to resolve any dispute” related to the trip. A 2010 New York Times editorial described such binding arbitration clauses as “pretty unfair” and advised readers to “beware” them.
But, of course, even if you determine that their binding arbitration clause is unfair, the trip is so spectacular, how could you pass it up? Wouldn’t you like to be the first person on your block to return from abroad with tales of spectacular sunsets and how you survived a brutal human rights record?
If the Times doesn’t get any takers, perhaps it could help organize next year’s WHO conference. After all, this year’s conference on “world tobacco reduction” (because, of course, the WHO has no more pressing matter to handle than whether Third World dictators are smoking Lucky Strikes), is in that bastion of human rights, Russia. And attendees got a tour of the sights, too. Stops included Vladimir Putin’s private residence (you even get to see Stalins personal rooms!), the Red Square (where they used to carry out their public executions!) and the Cathedral of Christ the Savior (where Pussy Riot was arrested!). And the whirlwind journey through Moscow must have been successful: yesterday, the WHO took the very Soviet route of suddenly banning all public oversight of their meeting.
Just think of what they could do in Iran!