Has the war on terror increased terrorism?

This simple yet fascinating graphic published on Point by Fascinating Point implies tackling terrorism with brute force and young soldiers (with all their weaknesses) may be accelerating the very cause celebre it seeks to quash. May not be a surprise but evidence is worth a thousand thoughts and statements.

Global Terrorism

Aid effectiveness wiki… by UNDP!

UNDP LogoYou may not be surprised to learn that UNDP has developed an excellent resource on Aid Effectiveness, tho’ you might be surprised that it is a wiki! Though not launched, and appears to have sneaked up by the back door it is certainly worth a second and third look.

Designed by a hardened field practioner the Aid Effectiveness Wiki has been developed by Aidan Cox at the Regional Centre in Bangkok following his development of the Donor Assistance Database (DAD) in Afghanistan and coordination support to Angola, India, Iraq, Maldives and Sri Lanka. DAD spun off from AIMS Humanitarian Information Centre where a very early stage incarnation the Appeal Tracking Information Management System (ATIMS) developed. Yes this history is of primarily nostalgic value.

Now UNDP has complimented its comprehensive corporate DevAid site with the wiki they can truly act as the access point to some of the best information on this topic, of course they are by no means on their own, ODI, The World Bank, OECD just to name three all conduct critical work in this area. However genuinely opening up to contributions for the broader community of expertise may well ensure that on this topic UNDP can at least ensure accessibility from one location to critical information and comment, if not develop thought leadership.

Lets sing praises where it is due. Following recent critical comments about the slow adoption of modern approaches to information management by security specialists in the humanitarian and development sphere, What do Aid workers and spies have in common? and Open Source Spying and NGO’s by the NGO Security blog. It is refreshing that in a critical area such as Aid Effectiveness advanced transparent approaches to information sharing and management are being advanced.

No doubt some find it hard to swallow that UNDP is leading the charge! However take another look, UNICEF openly publishes its RSS, podcast and vodcast at the bottom of every page on its website. Despite the excellent podcasts being produced by Christian Aid they are still hard to find on their site. Maybe traditional fears of change stressed by NGO Security are on the mark.

Wiki’s are a key information management tool, the more focused the interest the more powerful and valuable they become. Given the critical nature of humanitarian and development work we would be doing a disservice to our end clients and ourselves if we do not adopt such technology sooner rather than later.

Airline Security: biometrics, security ratings… any rights?

biometric scanningCongratulations! You have a personal security rating by the US government, the EU is sharing all data about passengers, the governments are introducing biometric passports, and the UK has now introduced biometric scanning of passengers.

I hope you feel safer!

Passengers at Heathrow airport are being invited to sign up for a trial of the most advanced passenger screening equipment in the world.
Travellers will be able to bypass long queues if they have their fingerprints biometrically scanned, while face and eye scans will be introduced soon.

Those trying the miSense system have the scans at the same time as their passport is scanned at check-in.


The British Aiport Authority suggests that such electronic keys will enable customers to pass through airport process smoothly. Though it is difficult to imagine Heathrow or JFK as smooth as Dubai’s e-gate card system, which requires one fingerprint and a full face photograph, but thereafter a one gate check in!. The British version will require 13 identifying scans of fingerprints, irises and face!Italian biometric passport

Whilst the UK, USA, Canada, Singapore, Norway, Italy to name but a few, have adopted biometric passports, though the Dutch system has already been cracked!

Biometric scanning is not new, but as we take is and the news from the US in conjunction it is clear that governments around the world will all be able to access to our most personal details… is this a step in the cause of liberty or are these restrictions (innevitably though they may be) playing into the hands of the terrorists, have the terrorists won by derailing our lives?

Global Nomads will innevitably have to manage these challenges and no doubt like me you have been pulled aside (especially in the US) for more detailed checking following their discovery of visas in your passport from wierd and wonderful terrorist havens.

I for one have an uncomfortable feeling that increased paranoia concerning people of different cultures, their ways and means will increase as the fear frenzy escalates,  allowing ever more defenses to be thrown up in the name of “security” concerns… when will this stop?

We witness this in many cities around the world as the rich, then middle class willingly segregate themselves from poorer, increasingly percieved as, crime ridden neighbourhoods. Extrapolating such a social problem to an international scale may potentially lead to greater isolation and marginalisation of whole swathes of nations and possibly countries, religions, cultures or races. Will we still be arguing that we are winning the war of terrorism then?

Paranoia – another friend on Skype?

Since you are all seasoned travellers there is no need to introduce you to Skype, probably it is the friendliest VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) service available.

No doubt you, like me, really enjoy being able to phone friends and family all over the world as I please. The Web cam takes it to a whole new level and my kids just love to chat, scream and show their favourite toys to cousins, uncles and grandparents.

However have you ever considered security! Yes, sadly Skype is just about as secure as the internet, fortunately we are not all using MS Windows, market dominant software typically attracts security breaches… Oh dear… it looks as if Skype is not only taking the market by storm but is likely to for a while, especially in Europe, Latin America, Africa and Middle East. The BBC Digital Planet podcast 16th Oct 06 has more info.

Telephone calls are most prone to hacking when they can be interrupted. For example if you call a bank the line is on hold while you wait for call centre staff to become available, this is when the call/ line can be interrupted (pretending they are the bank call centre) and interjects a request for verification of who you are, asks for your password, and card number, codes …. of course after they have such details they can directly manipulate your banking details. These are known as “man-in-the-middle” attacks, since the hacker has to interject a call and manage the telephone communication to both parties. Of course there are plenty of counter-opinions such as Ravings of a Strange Mind.

Is this common … far from it, indeed it doesn’t appear there have been any widely discussed examples … yet!

Of course enterprise providers of VOIP equipment (like CISCO or Nortel), VOIP solution providers to business (Vonage), and hosted VOIP service providers will all be putting in place appropriate security mechanisms. It is not so easy for Skype since they do not control the equipment in your home, the last mile or the server connecting to your computer.

Paranoia is not a healthy state of mind, however next time you are on Skype to the bank… there is a skip in the music… the line tone changes… simply gives some strange interference… you might want to fall back on good old paranoia and hang up!

Gabrielle is freed!

Gabrielle an Italian held kidnapped for the last few weeks is FREE see his response to freedom at Peace Reporter. Gabrielle a convert to Islam is an extremely friendly, sincere and very sensitive person, who really poured his heart and sole into his photo journalism in Afganistan, striving to make a difference.

EU airline security restrictions… from 6th Nov.

From 6th November 2006…travellers in European Union have tight restrictions (less than 100ml) on hand-luggage carrying of liquids, gels and pastes.

New security restrictions apply to anyone travelling from any EU airport, experience suggests this applies to transit also).