Essential Security Tips on a Villa Holiday Rental

It is all too easy, when in the holiday mood, to empty your head and get into that welcome relaxed state of mind. But this is the time when you are at your most vulnerable and should be alert to what can happen when your defences are down.

The tricks employed by the opportunistic thief are explained, below, so that you are more informed of their modus operandi, whether it’s travelling to your villa holiday destination, or about your person.

Personal security;

Be aware upon your arrival to the airport, since this is where an opportunist thief will seek to identify his or her target, which is when most money will be within the party.

Thieves may identify potential targets for many reasons. Some include seeing expensive luggage or a video cam, or they may see a pre-occupied family in a flustered state. Clearly keep possessions close to you, but do keep an eye out for anyone watching you in particular.

Most importantly, check that you are not being followed in the car: if you think you might be then slow down and let them pass. If you remain suspicious then take a note of their registration number and report it to the police. Thieves tend to work as pairs and of mixed gender. They can also work as two individual teams and communicate with each other.

Be aware and look around at ATMs: be prepared with your card and pin number before you go to the machine and don’t count your cash in front of the ATM for onlookers to see. It is advisable that two persons attend the ATM when withdrawing cash, particularly at night. Try to hold less cash by making greater use of your credit cards.

It has been known that certain tricks are played in Barcelona. An old trick is whereby a passerby brushes your shirt and tells you that some bird has made some droppings when it was the same person that actually put it on you in the first instance. By the time you overcome the confusion the passerby runs off with your wallet. In fact, any such trickster could try to distract you in so many different ways, so do be alert, particularly in Barcelona and other major cities.

At the villa;

Do be suspicious of persons that knock on your holiday villa door pretending to wish to speak to the owner or give an obscure name, or appear to sell a product like honey. If suspicious do take their car registration number and report it to the police, as such persons can be just simply assessing the situation.

A common ruse is the gas man arriving to seek an inspection of the gas rubber hoses at the holiday villa. The only gas people in Spain are the heating engineers that are registered, so they would never arrive to a villa without an appointment. These people could show an ID card that could look like the real thing, but such persons are just tricksters and seeking to cheat or steal in some way.

If the entrance door to the holiday villa is some way from the pool, ensure you lock the door.

Lock windows, particularly those without bars and doors. Opportunistic thieves have been known to go into villas to steal when the occupants have been on the patio, or in the pool. Such thieves work very quietly and speedily.

If you have two cars then try to leave one car in the driveway when you go out at night, as well as leave a light on in the villa.

In the car;

A helpful fellow motorist may flag you down indicating that you have a flat tyre on your car, or indicate some other problem with it. When you get out of the car to see what is wrong, or to change the tyre, one of the thieves takes off with a bag and your car keys. The thief having already spiked the tyre at some stage in your journey or at the airport.

Always keep your car locked.

Never display anything in the car, regardless of value. Remove any car rental stickers, which simply serve to draw attention to you as a holidaymaker.

Be careful if the car is loaded with luggage when parked and left unattended. Best go to a secure car park in cities, rather than park in the street.

Beware a family car pulling up alongside of you and an occupant asking if you could kindly change a bank note for them, explaining to you that all the banks are closed and that they need change urgently. The occupants of the car may look innocent enough with a mother and two children alongside. What happens in these situations is that when you then open your purse or wallet by the car window, the money or holder is grabbed by one of the car occupants and the thieves drive off.

What to do;

If you do experience a theft then go directly to the police station and report the incident. Ensure you obtain a crime number, as you would in the UK, in order to be able to make a claim to your insurers.

If you have booked with an agent then get the representative to go with you to the police station and be your interpreter. You may need to pay for the interpreter’s time, which you can claim back from your insurance company, so do obtain a receipt.

Do inform your insurers, by phone and letter, about such an incident as soon as practically possible, as each company has its own deadlines for making a claim, which are usually within a week of returning from your holiday. Give the crime report number, or you will have difficulty getting compensation. If you suffer any loss on the last day of your holiday then you can report the crime to the police at the airport police station, thus saving you time.


If you compare the UK with Spain as a destination, for example, in order to put theft into perspective, the statistics demonstrate that Spain has one of the lowest crime rates in the European Union, according to the European research study shown on the Wikipedia link, below.

When it comes to theft of personal property or pick-pocketing, Spain is a third less than the UK, and when it comes to burglary is, in fact, two thirds less than the UK rate, with an average in Spain of 1% and the UK being 3%.

Should you ever have the misfortune to experience an unfortunate event whilst away, then do try not to let it spoil your holiday, as cash and valuables can easily be replaced by your insurers.

In Defence of the Christian Nation State

Nation states are necessary creations allowing varied and formulaic control over political, legal and economic processes for a defined geographically bound group of people. Nation states are more however than economic unions, common spaces, and constitutional mandates. They are organisms. Cultural mores, emotional attachments, and collective understandings are far more important to the development and maintenance of a nation state than elitist documents; arcane legal statutes; or multi-cultural inspired concepts of being nice, diverse or happy. A nation state is a collection of people with shared linguistics, histories, aptitudes, and objectives. Yet here we have the soft modern Western mind and state, engaged in a war with Islamic fascists, erecting more mindless mommy-state programs, secularism and destroying civilisational concepts and nation state creations through Islamic immigration, appeasement, multi-culturalism and post modern socialist management and ethos. It is a highly disturbing and enraging scenario.

European civilization strode on to conquer the world after establishing and agreeing upon a nation state structure. The nation state concept was ratified by the European powers in the 1648 Westphalian accord which stated that, ‘there shall be a Christian and Universal Peace, and a perpetual, true, and sincere Amity, between his Sacred Imperial Majesty, and his most Christian Majesty; as also, between all and each of the Allies…’ A Christian and European form of national determination and governance thus came into acceptance. Within geographical limits a state would have territorial and taxation control and state law within that territory would reign supreme. Though wars did and always will occur, the concept that groups of people could have security, common interests and objectives all freed from wanton anarchy allowed the coming Western revolutions of the mind, spirit, and political-economy to gather strength post 1648. This competitive and secure structure allowed the West to take-off. The rest, including world domination, is history.

Fast forward now to the 21rst century and we have the on-going deconstruction of the nation state. Post modern, anti-reality, anti-Western ‘philosophy’ and anti-Christian dogma mandates the dismemberment of the nation state and the creation of transnational governance. But to get there cultures and ethos need to be eradicated and then re-casted. Post modern socialism and the fetish for all things trans-national is nothing but a lurid attempt to destroy geographically defined accountability and transparency via parliamentary and republican governance and impose an elitist and quite immoral control pattern. The idea that post moderns hold dear is that nationalism and nation statism, along with intolerant Christianity is bad. Chauvinism, pride, nationalism, cultural ignorance and arrogance are all attributed to the nation state and its Christian ideology. World wars, fascism, communism, imperialism and racism according to the post modern elite, emanate from nation states and only from nation states with Christians hosting a goodly display of immoderate barbarism as well. The post moderns seem to posit that racism, wars, tribal conflicts and aggression never existed until post-1648.

This is of course nonsense. Racism and tribalism are phenomena as old as the human race. In the modern period wars of imperialism, racism, religion and ideology have been created by leaders using the nation state structure to gain power and the ability to wage war. Nation states hardly created these ideologies. Intellectuals, academics in the case of communism, fascism and Hitlerism were vital to convince whole populations that tribal, racial, or class creed based systems were part of the ‘darwinian’ or ‘lamarckian’ order and would allow supremity over others. Religion and ideology have always been used by the power mad and the warring to justify their conquests.

Utopian ideologies simply seize the nation state and use the cultural values of the state in question to help the ideology seize power. Fascism took root differently in Germany and Romania for example as it did under communism in Russia or China. Blaming the nation state for wars is simply wrong. Statism, utopian philosophies, empire building dictators, and military castes thirsting for territory and plunder have been the main causes of the bloodiest wars in the past 100 years. The only contribution nation states might have made was in the creation of the modern and now dismembered British and Russian empires driven by trade, geo-political control of key areas, and state competition. Even here the British colonial wars were no more obscene and usually less bloody than the internecine savagery amongst the natives it was busy conquering. In any event it is hard to argue that India, to give just one example, was not better off under British rule especially in light of modern Indian political-economic development. Even here with so-called imperialist white wars, the good outweighed the bad.

Nation states do engage in war, but that is part of the deal. Nation states must secure for a group the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of whatever it is they want to pursue that does not derange the working order of international relations. If attacked it is assumed that the nation state will defend itself. As nation states become modernized, industrialized and build up a transparent and accountable liberal-democratic order with proper institutions and constraints, it is hard to make the case that the nation state becomes a bellicose war making machine. Facts simply don’t support this. For the post modern elite to presuppose that the nation state is the root of all evil and war, and must pass under the control of a smiling, kind, all knowing elite, is to put it mildly, rather insane. The further that governance passes from the local into the abstract, the more problems and the more treachery that will abound. Yet we are well on the way to deconstructing our modern states. This has nothing to do with globalization or world economics, but it has everything to do with post modern political attitudes.

Take the case example of Islam. Islam is a universal, supremacist ideology of control and power. Yet it eschews the nation state by creating the Muslim Umma or community, and directly tells its followers that there are no nation states just the Umma. In fact the only defence against the Muslims is the Western nation state. In the failure that passes for the Islamic world a Hamas or Hizbollah only needs to become a dual state within a state to have de-facto power. They don’t need to bother with the real thing. All they need are the state resources and like the Nazis in Germany they can steal what they want by creating a parallel state with the national structure and controlling resources and support.

In fighting off Islam what then are Western states doing? They import more muslims from a cultural ethos that is diametrically opposed to Western cultural values and give them multi-cultural protection to set up their own little states within nation states. They fund their schools, mosques, extended family reunification programs, and tell them that Islam means peace. Domestic institutions are being changed to Muslim favor within Western states. In foreign affairs the West tries to wage a necessary war in Iraq and Afghanistan while not offending Muslims; done on the cheap with too few troops, legal restrictions on everything from when to fire to how we can interrogate terrorists, and sensitivity to every death or injury. The softness of the West is self evident for the Islamic jihadists to see. We can thank post modern socialism and the hatred towards Western civilization by the elite for this turn of events.

Is It Now or Never for ‘Brendan And The Boys’? Liverpool FC’s Title Challenge

Talk of a league title returning to Anfield on the 11th of May, after a twenty four year wait, would not have been taken seriously even amongst the most optimistic reds of the Merseyside as the season kicked off on the 17th of August at home to Stoke. However with only four games to go Brendan Roger’s Liverpool have found themselves two points clear at the top of the table and, after Manchester City’s slip up during the week, must be considered favourites to go all the way. With an inspirational Steven Gerrard demonstrating his prowess in his new Quarter Back position, a manager with blind belief in his players’ potential and above all a strike partnership terrorising the country’s defences with frightening ease, not many would claim otherwise.

Is this the start of a new era at Anfield resembling that of Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley in the 70s and 80s? Are Manchester United in for a long winter in the face of their bitter rivals taking over as England’s Top Dog? These prospects may excite the members of the famous Kop but are in direct confrontation with another school of thought, one questioning the Merseyside club’s realistic chances of reproducing such a credible title challenge in the near future. Is this not just a one off? A quick reminder of Anfield’s legendary atmosphere? A last cry of honour from their formidable and yet aging Captain before the inevitable hanging up of the boots? Both sides of the story shall be discussed.

Brendan Rodgers has spent the better part of the season trying to find his starting back four. It seems only two players have succeeded in demonstrating their ability to fend off any potential threat to Minglolet’s closely guarded net, Martin Skrtel and Glen Johnson in central defence and at right back respectively. With Jose Enrique suffering of a knee injury and not featuring since the Red’s away win at Fulham in November, the Liverpool boss has struggled to find a suitable replacement. Indeed, Ally Cissokho, Daniel Agger, Mamadou Sakho, Glen Johnson and Jon Flanagan have all been used to fill in for the Spaniard with perhaps only the latter showing why he deserves to be in contention for the position as of late. The other position yet to be secured is the centre half position alongside the International Slovak, with on top of Agger and Sakho already mentioned Kolo Toure has also attempted to prove his worth at the heart of defence. Yet with only 4 games to go Rodger’s has still to decide, with Toure and Agger both starting 15 and Sakho starting 14 it seems this problem may go unsolved. That the amount of league goals conceded is only 1 less than in the entirety of last season’s, a season in which they finished 7th, despite there remaining 4 games, is mainly due to such an instability. On top of this the number of clean sheets preserved by the Anfield XI has declined from 16 to potentially 14 and this only if they to no longer concede a single goal, a prospect that seems rather unlikely in view of the recent trend. This situation can be likened to one of the factors that lead to collapse of Manchester City’s title hopes this season. With Manuel Pellegrini lacking a suitable partner for, arguably the world’s best defender, Vincent Kompany.

In front of the forever alternating back four is the English pair composed of promising Jordan Henderson and emblematic Steven Gerrard. The Merseyside boy through and through silenced the rumours that he was playing the season too many and has adapted to his new ‘Quarter back’ position remarkably well. Alongside the indefatigable Henderson, Gerrard has dictated the Liverpool play and contributed highly to his side’s recent success with 13 goals to his name, more than he had in the league since the 08-09 campaign in which they finished runners up with a club record of 86 points. However, 10 of these realisations came from the conversion of spot kicks awarded to the Merseyside club. Gerrard has also been subject to a highly increased amount of protection from his manager with the latter substituting the club captain before the final whistle on no less than 6 occasions in contrast to the 1 from the previous year. With a passing game still equal to those dubbed as the best in Europe his influence on the game is incontestable, but with his new role on the pitch requiring a more defensive approach Gerard’s advancing years do and will undoubtedly pose a problem in the near future. With a tackle success rate declining in and the illustration of the England International’s difficulty to cope when presented with a more agile and rapid opponent when he brought down Oxlade Chamberlain at Anfield in the 5-1 victory over Arsenal, it is fair to say he is not getting any younger. As much as it would not be fair to simply show Gerrard the door, Brendan Rodgers may wish to begin the search for a new ‘Quarter Back’ if he aims to upkeep his side’s level of performance in the league next year.

The outcome of this year’s title race is still very much to play for with Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea only 2 points behind and still yet to visit Anfield, in what may be a title deciding fixture, and with Manchester City six points behind with a game in hand. Though it is Liverpool that posses the strongest hand in the run in and a significant psychological advantage of being on top. It remains important to remind oneself that this current campaign has represented for both Chelsea and Manchester City a season of adaptation with both clubs bringing in new managers with very different styles to their predecessors, despite this being Mourinho’s second spell at Stamford Bridge. As demonstrated by Liverpool themselves a season or two is sometimes required in order for a manager to have a noticeable impact upon their teams, something often forgotten by impatient chairmen to easy to hit the eject button when goings get tough, a situation Brendan Rodgers has the luxury of not experiencing. It would therefore seem that it is in fact during next season that the true force of both Chelsea and Manchester City shall be put to test. On top of this the two other title contenders have, unlike Liverpool, been competing on more than one stage with halfway through the season papers talking of a potential historic quadruple for Manchester City and Chelsea still in contention for a place in the final of the Champions League as we speak. Having played a significant amount of games less than both the blues from London and for Manchester it would only seem logical that the boys from Anfield find themselves where they are at such a crucial stage. The question remains whether they will be able to repeat such a feat once Mourinho and Pellegrini have had a certain amount of time to shape their squads as they wish and Rodgers has to deal with European football on top of domestic aspirations, where due to an increase in expectations there will also be an increased level of pressure.

A level of pressure under which the Liverpool players have not found themselves until this point, with Brendan Rodgers assuring us on more than one occasion that his aim is to take it “game by game”. He did not go as far as his Portuguese counterpart in playing down his side’s title chances all together but it is fair to say that there was perhaps less of an obligation for him to do so given the inferior amount of expectation, whether it be through the fans, the press or more importantly the board. This would however change if Steven Gerrard were to lift the Premier League Trophy with the Merseyside Reds finding themselves obliged to perform at a similar level as they have throughout this campaign, with on top of that the expectation to succeed in Europe as they have in the not so distant past. Such expectations would even rise when it comes to domestic cups, FA and League. With such a restraint squad and inexperienced squad, with the exception of few, Liverpool’s ability to cope will be highly scrutinised.

Some have even gone as far as to link Liverpool’s current success to the amount of penalties they have obtained claiming it’s down to ‘luck’ and a series of biased decisions. It would be false to claim that the penalties did not play an important part in the table leader’s success with 12 spot kicks being awarded to the latter, 5 more than anyone else. But is there not a need for a certain amount of luck in order to win the title? Looking back there have been situations where the champions have simply ‘run away’ with the league, however if one is to recall Manchester City’s title winning game one may also recognise that on occasion a little luck can swing the league in team’s favour rather dramatically. Liverpool have, as City did, made their own luck with their attacking style of play being at the source of their numerous penalties. It would therefore be unfair to declare that their league success has been based on ‘luck’ to such an extent. Should they decide to attack and run at defenders in such a manor there is no reason why it shouldn’t lead to the same result in the season to come, with perhaps the only changing factor being the increased awareness of opposing defenders.

The future is not all doom and gloom for Liverpool as they approach their first Premier League title and this majorly due to their world-class strike partnership that they possess in Luis Suarez and Daniel Strurridge, aka ‘SAS’. Indeed in would be unthinkable to discuss the club’s future potential without mentioning one of the deadliest attacking duos in Premier League football. The record lies with Andrew Cole and Peter Beardsley when in the 93-94 campaign they put away 55 goals for Newcastle United between them. As it stands, with 4 games to go, the Liverpool duo have managed a highly impressive 49 goals. They are therefore on par with Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton’s record with Blackburn Rovers’ league winning side of 1995. Given the understanding and complicity that the two forwards have developed and the fact that game by game their ability to provide for each other only seems to grow it would be foolish not to consider them as a considerable threat to any defence. This provided they succeed in fending off the interest of foreign and even fellow English clubs during the transfer season as they did successfully in the summer of 2013. This shouldn’t represent to hard a task with Luis Suarez signing a contract recently ensuring his is one of the highest earners of the League and with the return of Champions League football to Anfield it would seem there is not reason for him to reiterate a willingness to leave Sturridge’s company on the Merseyside.

Despite the prolific ‘SAS’ partnership providing 49 league goals the dependency on the latters contribution and notably that of Luis Suarez has, rather ironically, decreased since the previous campaign. A campaign during which the prospect of losing the Uruguayan for 10 games through suspension was met with a veritable outburst of anxiety, but who’s absence eventually lead to the rise of the Englishman as he scored 11. However this season it is not only Sturridge that has lead to a decrease in dependency on Suarez it is the contribution of the squad as a whole, with the total league goal tally rising from 71 to 93 and this once again with 4 games left to play. On top of Steven Gerrard’s mentioned contribution, Raheem Sterling has provided 7 goals, Philip Coutinho 5 and perhaps more surprisingly Martin Skrtel 7, thus explaining in part his manager’s confidence. This in direct contrast to last season’s 9 for Gerrard, 2 for Sterling, 3 for Coutinho and 2 for Skrtel. It would therefore seem that a major asset of the Liverpool squad and one that is likely to increase in the future is that of a wide range of players being able to score consistently and at crucial moments, such as Sterling, Skrtel and Coutinho did against City in the 3-2 victory at Anfield, days before the 25th Anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster. One can only come to the conclusion that this is down to one man and one man only, Brendan Rodgers.

Brendan Rodgers has been decesive in turning Liverpool around and ‘returning them to where they should be’ according to the large majority of the Liverpool followers. It is his attacking philosophy which has allowed ‘SAS’ to develop to the extent to which it has and his use of attack as the best form of defence leading his entire squad to push forward fearlessly producing goals, and lots of them. His blind confidence and belief in his players transcends upon them allowing them to play free of pressure and achieving heights only Brendan Rodgers himself foresaw. This confidence is based on a remarkable self belief and how the game should be played and won, but also on a confidence that was placed in him by the board at Liverpool FC, where there was absolutely no question as to his future as head coach despite his failure to finish higher than 7th in the 12-13 campaign. He has been likened to Shankly and Paisley on more than one occasion, perhaps the most recently by Kevin Keegan, a Liverpool great and a highly experienced manager. One is therefore able to say that Liverpool’s future lies in safe hands as long as the board upkeeps its level of confidence in a man who’s confidence in others has lead to their success, illustrated through three members of the squad starring amongst the nominees for PFA player of the year.

It is another aspect of Rodgers’ ideology that allows one to believe in Liverpool’s future as a title challenging club, his confidence and willingness to allow the youth to develop as an integral part of the first team squad. Ex-Liverpool manager, now England head coach, Roy Hogdson recently praised the mangers of the English Premier League for their bravery in contributing to the development of young English players by including them in their first team plans. One manager that cannot go unmentioned when congratulating such a feat is Brendan Rodgers whom through the confidence that he has shown in Sterling, Henderson, Flanagan, and Sturridge has played a significant role in the affirmation of Liverpool and England being ready for the future. In 2013 Liverpool boasted the youngest team in the league with an average age of 23,38 demonstrating that despite their aging captain, they are a team with a future ahead of them.

Hegemony and Globalization

If from a classical perspective US behaviour can still on a whole be accommodated within the framework of the international law we are accustomed to, there is a second way to look at the problem, which makes the picture much more complex and potentially harmful. This perspective focuses on the changes in the nature of international law which are due to the globalization and questions the role which the USA plays in the process. As is well known, theories differ about the nature of globalization and how it will effect on an international law primarily based on states as political units governed by the principle of sovereign equality. In particular, it is not at all certain that the state as such will evaporate in the process of globalization, or that all states will be equally affected.

For those who view globalization as an outright “americanization” of the world, the matter is easily disposed of. Far from disaggregating into a bundle of services connected in a world network for the benefit of the consumer, as some neo-liberal visionaries want us make to believe, the USA would be in fact on the way to world domination through the corrosion of the integrity of potentially competing states. This is an oversimplification of reality, unless the noun “americanization” is taken as a synonym for the empire of the capitalistic system. In this latter meaning, it is true that the western model of state is in the process of loosen its administrative hold on economic governance. If this process has to be welcomed as an efficient reshaping of power leverages in an integrated and multileveled international environment, or to be lamented as a dismantling of the achievements of social cohesion and a surrender to the market’s dominance, is not a question which has to be answered here. The point is that in any case the state lays down some of its prerogatives and is put on the same level as other actors such as international institutions, “independent” agencies, interest groups, corporations, individuals. This cannot but have a profound impact on the nature of international law, or at least on some of its tenets, first of all on sovereign equality. Indeed, it is clear that even in an advanced stage of international economic interdependence, states will not disappear as principal units of order and governance. Rather, as Kingsbury has aptly argued, the crucial change is likely to be normative, until reaching a functional concept of sovereignty as a “bargaining resource of variable quantum”. It is obvious that the most powerful states will be in a better position to bargain their power, or even to make the deal at the expenses of others. This uneven diminution of state sovereignty will not only lead to a re-division of the world into zones of “civilization” reminiscent of a colonial past, but will also be most dramatically felt in a loosening of the restraints on coercive intervention.

It is at this point that the discourse on globalization meets the specter of hegemony. It might well be that liberal states, in the meaning of free market oriented democracies, are not likely to fight each other, so that the system of a “liberal” world should incarnate the ideal of a perpetual “liberal” peace, but this does not at all imply that liberal states are less inclined to use force than others. On the contrary, their missionary and self-righteous zeal pushes them to override ethical and normative barriers against the use of whatever they deem to be “just” force.

There are theories which go even further and view war as immanent in the very concept of globalization. The views differ with the perspectives. So, for neo-colonial studies, it is quite obvious that “globalization” is but a synonym of a predatory design by western states to re-establish their control over world strategic resources, preferably through the interplay of international financial institutions, but if need be through some more decisive destabilising devices or the outright use of force. For other theorists a permanent state of emergency, a constant conflict with the “Other”, be it with an opportunely designated “rogue” state or even more aptly with a “global” threat such as terrorism, is even necessary for the self-understanding and survival of the very concept of state in the age of globalization. After all, from Hobbes onward, sovereignty has commonly been understood as obedience in exchange of protection.

Therefore globalization, somehow “perversely” can serve to confirm the continuing significance of national imperialism”. What does this mean for the present discussion on US hegemony? From what has been said above, it seems that a new hegemony may necessarily have to be conceived of in terms of military strength alone. In fact it does not come as a surprise that there are now in the USA intellectuals who explicitly propagate the inevitability of war for the defence of the free markets, or favourably compare US readiness to display its military power in today’s “world jungle” with European weaknesses, cowardice and fancies about an outdated international law.

In all respects, the invasion of Iraq marks the crossing of a threshold. Not only it was an unapologetically, openly defiant blow by the USA to the collective will of the Security Council. It also departed from the “zero casualty” doctrine, cherished by the prior US military and political establishment, which is now felt irreconcilable with the pathos and ethos of a “superpower” worthy its name. This development sheds a sinister light on President Bush’ National Security Strategy document of 17 September 2002, a document which some have tried to accommodate as a dialectical attempt to reinterpret customary international law on self-defence. More than the proclaimed right of pre-emptive self-defence against terrorist threats and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, for which some arguments could be made, the real motive of the NSS seems to be the determination of the US Government “to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equalling, the power of the United States”. Taken together with the neo-liberal millenarianism which pervades the present US administration, its pronounced “interest” in holding its grip on strategic resources such as oil, and its unabashed contempt for international institutional or multilateral checks, this amounts to little less than an admission of a resolute will to dominate the world, to establish an ultimate imperium, whatever the price might be.

Should this be the grand strategy behind some recent US moves, such as the labelling of some states as belonging to an “axis of evil”, one cannot help but see the future with apprehension. International law is little consolation to remember that it was with the decisive help of the USA that it managed to escape this danger once.

Home Security – Why Door Security Systems Are the First Line of Defence

In the event that you might be new to door security, you need to understand that securing your doors in your residence that lead to the outside, is a way to protect you and your family from intruders. Many thieves get into specifically through the front, back, or side doors of the home. Locks can certainly end up being picked, but when you have an alarm system attached to that doorway, if it is opened up while you have your security alarm armed, you are alerted and so will the police.

The concept behind door security is to make sure your doors are linked to your home security system. This is among the most essential items of security you can have for your house as the doors are prone to thieves. Even when you may have locks that are “un-pickable” as promised by the supplier, a practiced crook could possibly pick virtually any lock and get access to your property should they be so inclined. Certainly, you should lock your doors and also have the very best locks you can afford, but the thing is, locks are not always the most effective deterrent.

Various unbiased tests have revealed that home doors just are not ideal at keeping burglars out. Even if your door is solid wood, the frame in which the door is situated may very well be very cheaply constructed and therefore literally crack under a forced entrance. Consequently, the door might be able to resist two hundred pounds of pressure, however if the door frame is significantly less strong as the door, then pressure placed on the door will mean the intruder gets access as the frame collapses under pressure. Naturally, you would like to get the best doors and frames you possibly can.

Home security and door security comes in different kinds. You can have the doors fitted with the sensor of the security monitoring system you may have or you can choose a number of different door locks for example deadbolts, chains for your door, sliding door security locks, and install metal doors as opposed to wood. Furthermore, you should make certain that the door frame is really as solid as the door itself because again, if the door is secure and the frame is not, burglars can gain entry easily. A thief can make off with your valuables when entry to your home is convenient.

Finally, should you be installing extra secure doors as part of your home security, be sure the door incorporates a viewer so that you can check and check out who is at your door before you decide to open it. The viewer should really provide you a large viewing area so even if the person is standing to the side, you will see them.

The Best Self Defense Weapons For Unarmed Security Guards

Often times unarmed security guards find themselves in potentially dangerous or violent situations with someone who is armed and/or dangerous. Because their resources are limited in terms of weaponry, they may have to resort to regular, unassuming items that are part of everyday life to help gain some leverage and protect themselves. Here are some of the best sources of self-protection for unarmed guards:

Keys: Despite being a mundane item that most of us would never think to use in a combative way, keys can be a powerful go-to weapon for guards who have limited options in terms of protection. They are also one of the few items that guards may have on their person at any given time. When held between your fingers with the ends pointing out, keys can simulate illegal weapons such as brass knuckles, and provide a quick defense against an attacker or simply as peace of mind when in a potentially compromising situation.

Pens: A pen is a rarely-used, last-resort type of weapon, but also one that is likely to be within reach in many environments, including that of an unarmed security guard. It most often comes into play when a person is caught in a situation where they must employ a grassroots method of self-protection. The pointed tip of a pen can do some serious damage when applied with great force, and, despite the grisly nature of such a scenario, can be a saving grace in a random attack of violence or aggression. In the same way that pens with rubber grips are preferable for easy writing, they’d prove equally resourceful when being used to defend oneself.

Flashlights: Though most unarmed security guards are not permitted to carry anything that resembles a weapon, it is standard for them to carry flashlights, especially when working at night or in an area that has poor or dim lighting. Though it is not intended to be used a weapon, a flashlight can act as a valuable resource for a guard who is in a precarious situation where he must defend himself. Flashlights are often quite heavy, especially industrial-sized ones made of steel or metal. The shape and weight of flashlights make for a solid form of self-protection, especially if a guard is faced with an attacker who is armed and undoubtedly, dangerous.

Breath Spray: This may sound strange, even comical, but anyone who’s ever felt the icy sting of a wrong-way nozzle (pointed anywhere near the eye) of a pocket breath spray will attest to their minty (though burning!) capabilities; fresh breath sprays are highly potent in anti-bacterial and cooling properties, while some even contain chlorine dioxide; these agents are all meant to be ingested as directed for specific purposes only and an accidental (or emergency) spray to the eye would result in a not-so-fresh feeling of burning beyond belief. This tactic would leave an attacker temporarily clouded vision and may allow the victim to escape or overtake the situation

Home Security Driveway Alarms: Your First Line of Defense

A home security driveway alarm will ensure you rest serenely and safely allowing you the reasonable expectation to sleep peacefully at night and not in fear of a break-in. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) warns homeowners that a burglary occurs in the United States every 15 seconds. Not surprisingly, a majority a homeowners are a victim to burglaries most often during the daytime, when homeowners are most likely to be at work or school. When this happens in what should be your sanctuary, you may feel violated and vulnerable. Avoid becoming another statistic and protect your home with a defence monitoring system.

Features of a Home Security Driveway Alarm

The need for a monitoring system for a house is clear and an easy solution is with a system in driveway. It is a great addition to a security system because it illuminates the path the leads directly to a homeowner’s front door. Increase your feeling of security by being alerted the moment an intruder approaches your home. It is a set of usually infrared motion sensors that emit distinct sounds such as classical, Westminster, whistle or chimes with adjustable volume control. The range of your transmitter can be set from 40 to over 1,000 feet, depending on the model. This device is an excellent way to extend the boundaries of your current security system. Another great feature with monitoring systems for home is that more often than not they include a warranty when you purchase the system. There is nothing like a guarantee when you purchase additional security for your home.

Driveway Alarms for Multiple Purposes

There are many different types of monitoring systems so ensure that you choose a system that is compatible with your specific needs. May be you currently have a home security system but would like to have additional security. Or maybe you have a house that is an annual target for those teenagers who like to egg your home to celebrate their high school’s Homecoming football game. With your monitoring system, you can now scare away those pesky teenagers, not only with one of the four pre-programmed sounds but with your pre-recorded message. Or, better yet, you can now have fair warning when you in-laws have arrived, as usual, unexpected. Even though they are called driveway alarms, do not rule them out if you do not have a driveway, you can install them anywhere on your property.

Additional Accessories

When you add security to your home with a driveway alarm system, you have more options than just the standard four sounds that come with your device. You can also add strobe lights and sirens to really discourage possible burglars. Some systems even have the capability of automatically dialing a monitoring system or it can be programmed to notify friends or family members in the case of an intrusion.

Ford Motor Company – Case Study

Ford Motors is one of three leading automotive manufacturing companies in the United States. Based in Michigan in 1903 by Henry ford and grew to reach revenue of $150 billion and more than 370,000 employees by 1996 [1]. In the 1970’s, the automobile market for the major auto makers – General Motors (GM), Ford, and Chrysler- was crunched by competition from foreign manufactures such as Toyota and Honda. In 1999, Ford acquired the Swedish Volvo model in an attempt to compete in the foreign market and expand to other regions. Furthermore, Ford launched a full organization re-engineering business process plan called “Ford 2000” aiming at reestablishing the company’s infrastructure. The process meant reduction in their Vehicle Centers (VCs) to only five covering the operations that spanned 200 countries. It also meant cutting redundancies and requiring Information Technology (IT) to be the driving force and the link between Ford centers worldwide.

In building Ford’s IT infrastructure, the company focused on implementing a setup that supported the TCP/IP communication protocol based on the U.S. department of Defense requirements. At those days, Ford internal network was meant to serve files transfer unlike most companies that used the network mainly for email communications. Throughout the 1990’s, Ford developed a cost effective Global Enterprise Network Integration (GENI) process to link all its locations compromising on the type of the connection and the cabling in favor of full coverage. During the same time, Ford started building its Web Farm, which was basically a set of hardware and software managed by a team for building Ford’s public website. The work started by publishing documents for technical references and moved to more advanced images from a live auto show. As a result, the website received 1 million visits a day in less than 2 years after its official launch. Throughout the end of the 90’s, Ford established its web services by increasing the amount of information published, building more intelligent and standard web application in 12 weeks period, purchasing more Netscape browsers for setup on its users’ machines, and creating a B2B server to allow the suppliers secured access to Ford’s Intranet.

In the path towards service cost reduction and bringing more business through the web, Ford worked closely with its competitors in the U.S. market GM and Chrysler to establish what came to be known as “Automotive Network Exchange” (ANX) certificate. The protocols aimed at providing a unified communications standard through the Internet to enable suppliers to provide common technology for all manufacturers. Moreover, Ford focused on making information on its web site more accessible and useful by deploying a team to manage the process of adding and updating information based on an analysis of how humans deal with information. One final aspect of Fords endeavor was to try to build a model through its infrastructure that benefited from the model implemented by Dell computers to improve their supply chain and delivery process. The direct model would not work well for automotives as it would with computers, as a result Ford worked on its retailing network remodeling and identifying what would eventually give it the extra edge in delivery time.

Enterprise Architecture Issues

Ford’s regional expansion to address the competition for market shares demanded cost management for the infrastructure upgrades
IT infrastructure places limitations on the type of application development based on the platforms
Easy access to information and prompt delivery of vital data to key individuals requires proper knowledge managementOrganizations reengineering and process remodeling is necessary when adapting new technologies to maintain the cost and increase efficiency
Supply chain errors and delays can severely affect the progress of the business and the market value of the corporation


Infrastructure Upgrade

Since the inception of the Internet in the 1960’s, much effort has been made in standardizing how computers connect to it. In 1982, the International Organization for Standards (ISO) realized that during that period many ad hoc networking systems were already using the TCP/IP protocol for communications and thus adapted it as a standard in its model for the Internet network [2]. The main driver for IP convergence, at that period, was the growth in data traffic through wide area networks (WANs) established by local companies. Furthermore, in 1991, the Internet was open for commercial use, and that demanded a reduction in the total cost of operating the network to cope with 1 million Internet hosts that materialized in only 1-year time. Telecommunications companies like AT&T understood the potential and worked on standardizing the network offering voice services over IP networks that managed the separation between voice and data transmission [3].

At the same time, Ford had launched its plan to update its infrastructure, and seized the opportunity brought by the global movement of integrating the voice, fax transmission network with data transmission and expanded its WAN to include its offices in Europe and elsewhere. The financial benefits also came from the fact that Ford adapted the TCP/IP protocol from the beginning and made sure that all its technical infrastructure upgrades adhere to the standards. This made the transition of its system to the Internet as cost effective as it could be.

Web Technologies

Intranets employ the hypertext and multimedia technology used on the Internet. Prior to 1989, when Tim burners-Lee invented the Web [4], most applications used standard development languages such as C and C++ to create desktop applications that were proprietary and dependent on the platform. For example, applications running on a command-based operating system such as UNIX would not run under Windows, and those working for PCs might not work on Apple computers and vice versa [5]. The invention of HTML (Hyper-Text Markup Language) introduced a new model for applications that conform to the standards provided by a single program, the “Web Browser”. Unlike standard applications, the browser brought a unified interface that had a very fast learning curve. Users seem to require no additional training to work with web browsers. Furthermore, system administrators did not have to spend time installing upgrades on users’ machines, since the Intranet client/server architecture facilitated all the updates through the connection with the web server [6].

Since Ford established its Intranet, it was aiming at building web applications through the initial analysis of “Mosaic”, the early form of web browsers. The technical department at Ford used web languages to create the first web site in 1995. In 1996, the team started building applications making use of the unified “Netscape” browser that was deployed on all machines at the company, and working on a standard template to cut on the development life cycle. There was a substantial cut in training cost due to the user-friendly interface of web applications. Furthermore, the speed of development made vital applications available to different individuals across the company. For example, the B2B site allowed suppliers remote and secured access to various sections of Ford’s Intranet. In addition, the development team created an application as a virtual teardown on Ford’s website where Ford’s engineers could examine parts of competitors’ cars and evaluate any new technologies. The alternative would have been an actual trip to a physical location where Ford tears down cars to examine the parts.

Knowledge Management

While there are many definitions for knowledge, each company might adapt its own based on how it analysis data and information to acquire knowledge. The University of Kentucky, for example, defines knowledge as “a vital organization resource. It is the raw material, work-in process, and finished good of decision-making. Distinct types of knowledge used by decision makers include information, procedures, and heuristics, among others… ” [7].

Organizations go through different activities to manage the amount of information they collect to form the knowledge base of the company. Activities include creating databases of best practices and market intelligence analysis, gathering filtering and classifying data, incorporating knowledge into business applications used by employees, and developing focal points for facilitating knowledge flow and building skills [8].

Ford was excited about the traffic it was receiving on the Web site and everyone was publishing all the material they have on desk on the Intranet. Nevertheless, there was a growing concern about the usability and usefulness of the material people were adding. As a result, Ford created a “Knowledge Domain Team” to build complete information in nine areas that were identified as vital to the business. The process Ford took was based on surveys and specialists input in how people perceive information, and what is considered vital and what is distracting in the structure of Ford’s website. The aim behind the initiative was to reduce the time individuals spent in searching for information through proper indexing of the website content, and making sure that what was important could be accessed in due time, and what is trivial did not overwhelm the researcher with thousands of results.

Business Re-engineering

In the area of organization’s re-engineering process innovation is the set of activities that achieve substantial business improvements. Companies seeking to benefit from process innovation go through the regime of identifying the processes, the factors for change, developing the vision, understanding the current process, and building a prototype for the new organization. History shows that organizations who define their processes properly will not have problems managing the issues and developing the change factors [9]. When introducing technology, business redesign is necessary. The industrial fields have been using Information Technology to remodel processes, control production, and manage material for generations. However, it is only recently that companies recognized that the fusion of IT and business would go beyond automation to fundamentally reshaping how business processes are undertaken [10].

When foreign companies were allowed to compete in the U.S. market, Ford understood that to succeed in business in a competitive arena it needed to implement strategies that competitors find difficult to imitate [11]. As a result, Ford bought Sweden Volvo to enter the European market, and partially owned Mazda to have a competitive edge with Japanese cars1 [12]. To achieve that it re-engineered its production development activities and global corporate organization and processes for dramatic cost reduction. Furthermore, it understood that expansion requires collaboration and alignment, and thus planned to establish the IT infrastructure through a WAN that connected all the offices. In the process of innovation and re-engineering, Ford has set policies to manage the cost of establishing the network, built models for continuous implementation, and organized global meetings to align all parties with the process. Adding to that, when it came to managing the website, Ford facilitated an awareness campaign for all the branches to understand that Ford is using the web to collaborate and research and adapting information technology as a way to maximize its business value. The goal for Ford was to maintain its leadership in the market and to do that in the most efficient and cost effective method that is there.

Traveler Security – How to Stay Safe While Out of Your Comfort Zone and Survive While Traveling

The enclosed recommendations are a result of my travel throughout the world on business for 20+ years. These observations are offered as a helpful supplement to other sources on the web dealing with personal security issues while traveling. My apologies to those who do not find these observations pertinent to their particular situation. Allow me to say that these suggestions are offered freely and without restriction so they may be passed around with no obligation. Very little of this information is original to me, and I apologize if anyone has written anything similar. Also, I am not a security professional and make no claims of expertise. This stuff works for me… each reader’s mileage may vary. Some of my ideas might actually get people in trouble with the authorities and/or cause physical harm. Please read this with an open mind and a critical eye. .

Lots of US Embassy staff, host country Federal Police and Army staff gave me input, horror stories and advice regarding personal safety issues while I was visiting and working in overseas markets… mainly, Latin America, but including trips to Western European and Pacific Rim countries.

I also have input from international and US expatriates living and working there. I know that many people have a lot of experience in many different countries, and may honestly laugh at all these ideas and issues presented here as stupid and alarmist. How you take it is your business… it is submitted in serious concern for the safety of all international travelers.

It was necessary for me to learn this stuff because I have lived and worked outside the US most of my life. I first traveled internationally in the 1960s and retired in 2005 to live in Argentina. I hope you can understand that the world in post 9-11 has really changed. Radicals of the right, the left and the lunatic religious extreme and NarcoTerrorists all celebrated when the twin towers went down. You should also be aware that even pre 9-11, international travel was seriously more dangerous than it was in the 1960s. Now, bad guys all over the world have become more encouraged by their perception that bad guys can get away with bad stuff… hence, have become more aggressive.

* TRY TO FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF with the area you plan to visit. There are various aggregates of news that allow one to program their search “bots” to look for keywords involving your area of interest. I use Yahoo News, DogPile News Search element and some others. I also look for the local news sources for the area in question on the web. Here are some questions you should consider when seeking information about your geographical area of interest.

* Are terrorist/organized criminal groups currently active in the area?
* Do they aggressively attack visiting foreigners? Or, is it more local-on-local crime?
* How active are they? How violent have they proven to be within the last 4 – 12 months?
* How sophisticated are they? Do they use military weapons and tactics?
* Are they predictable? Can you expect to be safer by staying out of known areas of operation?
* Will local citizens warn visiting foreigners? Do you have local contacts who can advise you?

Groups and individuals have demonstrated their willingness to employ terrorist/criminal tactics to further their agendas. While some threats have a regional focus, others have become international and affect multiple areas. Foreign visitors, military and diplomatic staff are seriously targeted in virtually every region of the world.

Consider ways you might become a victim of a criminal/NarcoTerrorist attack. Several factors to keep in mind include:


Taxis: Try to never travel alone in a taxi. Try to never take a taxi off the street. Try to ALWAYS have a taxi company card on you and call or have someone call the cab for you. If not, a taxicab stand is the next best solution. Even US embassy marines have to take these precautions, and we know they’re in good shape… pretty tough in a fight. They are also excellent sources of good local information. Unfortunately, one of the thriving businesses in criminal/NarcoTerror Land is to pick up a rich guy (you) off the street in a taxi, and around the corner are two additional thugs with guns who escort you to a quiet place, strip the rich guy, take his luggage, etc.

If a Visa or debit card is found, they will escort you to an ATM and make you withdraw the daily limit before they strip you naked and leave you on the side of the road. Unless… if they are impressed with what they find among your effects, the thugs may decide it’s worth a try to sell you to the NarcoTerrorists (drug traffickers). They may ask for US$5,000 – US$15,000, knowing the NarcoTerrorists’ usual minimum demand for ransom is US$250k. Then, you may spend the next several years of your life chained to a tree in the jungle swatting mosquitoes and eating undercooked beans. If you or your taxi driver notices a suspicious vehicle or two in the vicinity, consider asking the taxi driver to take you to the nearest police station… or high traffic area.

If you must drive a car and your budget does not include an armored vehicle with “run-flat” tires preceded by a “chase” car and a following “blocker” van full of armed bodyguards, try to rent/select an 4-wheel drive vehicle with high clearance. A heavy-duty bumper is a good idea for running through barricades. If you see a police roadblock manned by only one or two officers and one (or NO) clearly official vehicle, consider running the roadblock or going around it. You may prefer to reverse out of the area quickly to a place where you can turn around and leave the area. If it is really a fake-cop scam (or, off-duty/retired cops pulling a scam), you should be OK. You may really need a heavy duty vehicle for this maneuver. If is a legitimate control point/official police roadblock and they catch you, humbly and VERY politely explain that you are sorry and will never do it again, but a friend of yours warned against false roadblocks by criminals/NarcoTerrorists. All around the world, official roadblocks usually have many, many clearly marked police vehicles and uniformed/heavily armed officers. Don’t forget that NarcoTerrorists have Police uniforms and equipment, too… but, usually not too many official vehicles.

If you happen to be driving down a street and one or more people run out in front of the car in an attempt to stop you, PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE to slam down the accelerator as if you are trying to hit them. They will get out of the way.

If you are in a known area for auto-related crime and someone rear-ends your vehicle as if on purpose, consider leaving the scene as rapidly as possible. This is a serious “What if… ?” scenario.

In many countries, police understand if you slow down but fail to stop at traffic lights and stop signs after dark because it is known to be too dangerous at night.

PLEASE BE AWARE that motorcycles and scooters are not always a good idea if you have to try to escape while someone is shooting at you. Car sheet metal isn’t much, but every little bit helps.

ATMs: Try to only go to an ATM in the daytime ANYWHERE in the world. Even in the US. Also, pay attention to who is in the area before, during and after getting your money. Situational awareness is difficult when you’re trying to get the pesky machine to work… so, consider not going to an ATM alone.

Buses: Until 1995, I always felt safe taking the bus. I would still take the Nuevo Laredo – Monterrey bus, but probably think twice about taking one in the Juarez or Sinaloa state areas. Why? The various Colombian and Mexican NarcoTerror groups stop buses full of people as bait to get the government forces to move into kill zones where IEDs take them out. I have seen the results first hand, and seeing where 40+ teenage army guys got brutally cut to pieces by home-made bombs will mess up your whole life.

If you happen to be one of the poor guys shivering naked on the side of the road with 20-30 others watching the NarcoTraficantes molest the women passengers, understand that you will spend the next SEVERAL YEARS of your life eating beans in the jungle. Poor folks get to go home…except for the young and pretty girls and teenage boys they want to draft for paramilitary service for the NarcoTraficantes .

The NarcoTraficantes are studying in the same Islamic extremist terror schools as Al-Qaida, and Colombian/Mexican NarcoTraficantes’ IEDs (improvised explosive devices) are really starting to show up a lot more… in recent cases, bait and blast techniques were used in the south of Mexico to kill lots of soldiers and Federal Police.

At an outdoor table at any restaurant, don’t leave your phone, camera, purse or any other valuables in plain sight or within reach of the walking public. Try to sit as far from vehicular/pedestrian traffic as possible. As always, play the “What if… ? Game” and remain alert to your surroundings. Jenna Bush’s purse was jacked in full daylight in Buenos Aires, surrounded by agents.

When leaving a high-end location, such as an electronics store, Armani, etc, an expensive restaurant or nice hotel, you may have just identified yourself as a potential high-end target. If you are carrying packages, and you put them into an automobile, please try to secure the items in the trunk or a lockable compartment and be aware that you will possibly be followed by thugs with evil intent to your next location. If you are in a Range Rover or Cadillac Esplanade, you should understand that you are in a rolling high-value target, with little or no secure storage. If you stop and leave the vehicle in any unsecured location after being seen exiting a high-end location, don’t be too surprised if you come back later to find the locks broken or the vehicle stolen.

A wallet is a liability, and I never carry one. I wear a slim, zippered pouch between my T-shirt and external shirt/sweater for credit cards, driving license and copies (NOT originals) of my passport, birth certificate, travel or residency documents. Sometimes, I prefer a photographer’s vest with lots of internal/external zippered or Velcro pockets. This vest can contain as much as a small suitcase… currently, about 4 kilos of stuff. Fanny packs are less secure, so I usually just put reading material, inexpensive sunglasses, gum, etc in them. Cameras/GPSs and other high-end items are secured in Velcro pockets in the vest or coat pocket. As a side note, I have copied and reduced in size all my important documents for daily carry and emailed these copies to several of my web-based email accounts so I can replace them at any time from any internet/print location.

The amount of cash I carry is as small as possible. I keep large denomination bills in a money clip in the bottom of one front pocket with a handkerchief crushed down on top of it. Another money clip contains the daily allotment of small bills is in another front pocket, so I don’t have to flash large bills for most purchases. It is also crammed down in the bottom of the front pocket with another handkerchief crammed on top of it. The bulk of my funds, original passport and other documents, valuables, etc are kept in a WalMart small combination safe that fits in my luggage, which I check in at the front office safe at the hotel when traveling. PLEASE NOTE that I do not agree with several recommendations that a “decoy wallet” stuffed with paper be carried to toss away so as to distract attackers. I prefer throwing my decoy stash of small denomination bills to scatter everywhere as a more time consuming distraction for a better chance of escape.

Luggage security: Most complaints regarding theft, damage or loss involves the contents of luggage. Savvy travelers will make a written inventory of items in their luggage and photograph it in case of loss. Carry important items like medication, eyeglasses, and expensive jewelry in your hand luggage, a traveler’s vest like photographers use to carry their small equipment items, etc. My vest holds up to 8 kilos of goodies. Photocopy the contents of your wallet and your passport. Carry a copy in your hand luggage and leave one at home as back up. Keep luggage under your control until you check in at your destination. Consider traveling with sturdy plain-looking luggage. Expensive looking luggage may be targeted for its perceived contents. External bag tags should not list your full home address and telephone number. I put my cell phone number, my phone number and email address on my tags. I do not put my name or any affiliations on bag tags. Consider defacing your beautiful luggage with big bands of tape all around the outside, laterally, with your phone numbers, email, etc in case of loss.

Consider durable luggage that is capable of being locked or secured and that will withstand being at the bottom of a pile of hundreds of other pieces of luggage without popping open. It is a good idea to add extra banding… $5 for a wide nylon strap with side snap locks at WalMart… or airport plastic wrap or duct tape to your luggage locks to prevent anyone from opening your luggage without detection. When flying, I do NOT lock my bags. I only use self-locking plastic tie-wraps. They work well for securing my luggage. All airport inspectors have replacements if they have to cut your ties to inspect your bags. You can buy these at any home improvement store for about a dollar. The reason for this is that smugglers have been known to slip drugs/weapons, etc into luggage only to retrieve it later and maybe with force. Passengers have unknowingly transported illegal substances/firearms that were slipped into their suitcase by baggage handlers only to be arrested later by authorities. What explanation you would give to prove your innocence to a foreign government of why you are carrying drugs or guns? If your luggage was properly sealed, you should see if it has been tampered with prior to opening it. Report any luggage tampering immediately to security before opening the case.

Luggage locks: If there is a combination lock on the bag, I put a piece of tape on the bag under the lock with the combo… usually, 0-0-0. This is because my bag was seriously harmed by customs forcing the bag open EVEN THOUGH IT WAS UNLOCKED. A sign of the times, no?

Airplane security: Beyond the obvious precautions, I would suggest trying to reserve a window seat as close to the middle of the cabin as possible. The rear and front of each cabin is where the bad guys congregate to watch over the victims. Consider what you can do to avoid being obvious about your business/military/nationality/religious affiliations.

Cruise Ship Security: Cruise ships are like a small city where passengers are encouraged to forget their troubles and relax once onboard ship. It is natural for passengers on vacation to let their guard down, especially when out to sea in a resort-like setting. Try to not let a false sense of security aboard a cruise ruin your vacation by becoming a crime victim. Before you ship out, consider taking some of these preventative steps:

After you enter your cabin, and while the door is still open, always check inside the bathroom or closest before sitting down inside. Don’t assume that your cabin is as secure as a hotel. Many people have keys to your cabin and your cabin door may be left standing open for hours while the cleaning crews or cabin steward services the room. Cabin doors locks are sometimes horribly outdated and are not re-keyed as frequently as hotel rooms. Obviously, don’t leave valuable items lying around. It is a good idea to have inventoried your luggage and photographed expensive items at home, and even emailed the info to your web email account for easy retrieval anywhere before you packed them at home in case of loss. Since most ship passengers are set up on a charge account system, be sure to use the ship safe deposit box for storage of valuable items, papers, credit cards or extra cash. Use all locks on the cabin door including the night latch. Consider carrying a hardware store door stop in your luggage and deploying it for extra security while in the cabin. Some are available with alarms from web suppliers. Don’t open your cabin door to strangers. Whatever the person wants can be expressed from the other side of the closed and locked door. Be sure to teach children about this important procedure.

Just like in a hotel, protect your cabin key and cabin number. Dishonest crew or passengers will look for the opportunity to snatch a loose key or one that is left unattended. When in port, be sure to leave your key with the registration desk before disembarking.

Remember the phony hairspray/deodorant can safe if small items need to be secured and no safe is available. Once on board and out to sea, don’t assume that you are totally safe from criminal acts. While there is little danger of an outside predator robbing or attacking you on a cruise ship, crimes can just as easily be committed by crew members or by fellow passengers. Many cruise lines hire transient and seasonal employees at low wages. Because of this, turnover is high and cruise lines struggle to keep a ship fully staffed. While most crew members are hardworking and honest people, you cannot assume that the ship has properly screened that nice cabin attendant, waiter or below deck crew.. Consider a Family Security Plan: If you bring your children aboard, be sure to establish family rules in advance. Set curfews and restrictions…just like at home. Teenagers especially should be told never to accompany crew members into non-public areas nor should crew members be allowed inside your cabin. Being at sea can cause a false sense of security. Even though the crime incident rate per thousand is relatively low, there can still be predators on board. Ship nightclubs, casinos, swimming pools and jacuzzis are favorite spots for those looking for a victim.

You also need to keep your guard up with intoxicated passengers. Food and liquor consumption peaks on board ships and cause bring out the worst in some people not used to it. Just because passengers are dressed up, doesn’t mean they will act appropriately or not be overly aggressive. It is not unheard of for a ship passenger to slip a drug into your drink and take advantage of you just like on shore. There are pickpockets, purse thieves, and cabin burglars on board waiting for you to let your guard down or become careless. There are also scam artists who seek and prey on rich vacationers if given the chance.

Your family security plan for children might include bed checks, curfews, restrictions, and special meeting places. Beware of which children they hang out with, just like at home. Your children can be exposed to other children who use drugs or like to get into mischief, just like at home. Try to limit your child to ship sponsored activities in public areas. You should make contact with your children periodically even if they are supervised. Giving them the run of the ship while you are otherwise engaged is not a good idea. Always have a backup plan and identify a ship crew member as a contact person in case your child fails to show up or you get separated at a port. Make certain that the kids understand there is nothing you can do to retrieve a kid from the police if they are caught in a foreign country with contraband.

You are not in Kansas anymore. Although you boarded a ship in a US port doesn’t mean that you are protected by the US justice system. Most ships are registered in non-US countries and travel in territorial waters where US laws might not apply. The cruise industry does not report crime data consistently, if at all, to the FBI or have a database of ships with the most crime problems. Shipboard crimes sometimes fall into a “no man’s land” of law enforcement. A crime can occur between two people of different nationalities, on a ship from a third country, and in the territorial waters of a fourth country. The governing law is the International Maritime Law and is not as well developed as US law. Reporting a crime on board a cruise ship doesn’t mean anything will be done or that the crime will ever be investigated. The FBI is the only US law enforcement agency that can investigate a major crime but only if it occurs in International waters, otherwise crimes are reported to the jurisdiction of the closest foreign country and to the embassies of the parties involved. Prosecution of crime, in many cases, will be left in the hands of the local port authority where no one can predict the outcome.

Be aware that if you or your family member gets into trouble on board a ship or in a port, you may be held accountable to the laws of a foreign country. The thing to do is to stay alert, be cautious, and stay safe while at sea. For details on the safety record of your cruise ship or how your ship will handle problems such are lost luggage or crime acts, contact the cruise line directly and ask for written disclosure of their policies and regulations. You can also contact the Cruise Lines International Association in New York City who represents the twenty five largest cruise lines for more information.


Location: Local terrorists may target locations frequented by foreigners or foreign military personnel such as certain hotels, apartment buildings, public transportation centers, and nightclubs. Avoid possible target locations. They often use the employees of foreigner frequented establishments, taxi drivers, airport staff (especially banking/money changing establishment personnel) and adult entertainment workers as associates or sources of information about possible lucrative targets.

Opportunity: Terrorists and criminals look for “soft targets”… so, learn to avoid appearing so. It is difficult to over stress the need to maintain vigilance, practice good personal safety, and to alert the proper authorities of suspicious behavior. If you find yourself unable to avoid being outdoors at night, try to walk down the middle of the street (not always possible). Be especially watchful if passing a large van or a vehicle with people in it, courtyards and deep doorways near your path. Walk purposefully with strong, determined strides… shoulders back, head erect, head and eyes constantly moving. Use windows/mirrors near the street to check your surroundings. Under no circumstances allow anyone to engage you in conversation at this time. Criminals will try to slow you down while their helpers get into position to assault you. Keep moving, speak into your cell phone as if carrying on a conversation… preferably in a language you think the possible attackers don’t know. To attack you, terrorists generally must perceive you, your association, or your location as a target. Put serious thought on the subject of how to avoid appearing to be an easy target.

Be alert for how criminals/NarcoTerrorists prepare and conduct attacks through predictable steps. Through vigilance, you might be able to recognize preparations for an attack before it is executed. Be alert to unusual behavior that may indicate intelligence gathering, surveillance, collecting materials for attack, dry runs, and rehearsals. For example:

* Taking photos or videos of potential targets
* Writing notes or sketching details about a possible target
* Showing abnormal attention to details of routine activities and security measures
* Using false identification
* Paying cash for items normally bought on credit
* Purchasing large quantities of items that could be used as part of an attack (e.g., chemicals or cell phones)
* If you see something unusual, report it immediately to security officials for further investigation. Make a note of the individual’s description and activities, the time of day, and equipment being used.

Terrorist/criminal attacks at the Spanish/English/Japanese rail systems, Mexican border towns, Bali, Indonesia, Luxor, Egypt, London, England, and other tourist locations signal an increased threat to foreign travelers. While visiting a new location, it is natural to tour local sites of interest. While sightseeing, you should keep good anti-crime/anti-terrorism practices in mind.

Plan Ahead

* Research any known potential threats in the area. If the threat is elevated, take extra precautions or postpone your activities.
* Plan activities and a route that includes safe locations. Keep thinking, “What if…”
* Ask a friend or coworker to join you – small groups are usually safer than individuals.
* If sightseeing with others, pre-designate a location to meet at if separated during an emergency. Make sure someone knows your itinerary (acquaintances, business contacts, hotel staff?) and what time you may be returning.


* Conceal your national/business/religious affiliation and try to blend in with other tourists. USA red white and blue t-shirts, soccer/baseball logo clothing and religious jewelry are overly conspicuous in many instances.
* Observe and conform to local culture. Activities such as public displays of affection, drinking alcohol, or wearing shorts or skirts may be inappropriate.
* Do not bring undue attention to yourself. Avoid loud or boisterous behavior. Walking the streets at night in an inebriated state in very dangerous in many locations.

To get more info on TRAVELER SECURITY, email me at [email protected] or visit my favorite survival and preparedness (Surviving Argentina… lessons learned in total meltdown) blog at

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Merely the Notion of Self-Defence Is Changing?


Professor Zemanek has identified the No. 1 issue of the latest developments in international law. I fully agree with all of his major conclusions. I do not think that any State may “lead” the international community in any respect, and act as a supreme arbiter of right and wrong, derived from its belief in the superiority of its legal order, and human rights standard. I find particularly dangerous the Bush administration’s reference to the “legal” conception of preemption. However, I see some change in the notion of self-defence, not necessarily as a consequence of the American behavior. In this paper, I will touch upon merely the interpretation of these two notions: self­defence and preemption.

The Notion of Self-Defence

The question emerged after 9/11, whether the United States had lawfully exercised the right to self-defence against Afghanistan. The first answers were negative. Alain Pellet wrote just some weeks after the terrorist attacks that they cannot be considered acts of war. A war presupposes “an armed conflict between adversaries if not identified, at least identifiable… [The attacks] are neither an ‘aggression’ in the legal sense of the word, nor war crimes. One might possible classify them as crimes against humanity… More troubling, by the [UNSC] Resolution 1368, the Council goes as far as to consider (sic) that the acts of terrorism of 11 September justify the exercise of the ‘inherent right of individual or collective self-defence’ in accordance with the Charter”. According to Pellet, this is an “extremely wide interpretation which hardly conforms to the letter of the Charter” A similar view was held by Antonio Cassese. Pierre-Marie Dupuy feared that the reference of the Security Council to the inherent right of self-defence would give the United States “a carte blanche to do, alone, what it likes and when it likes”. The same opinion was expressed by the Hungarian international lawyer Boldizsar Nagy. In his chapter, Karl Zemanek also comes to the conclusion that according to “traditional understanding… defensive action is allowed only against an ongoing attack”. He denies that the US would have been entitled to “eliminate the source of the attack”, i.e. al Qaeda and the supporting Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

Actually, the UN Charter refers to states against which no force can be used. However, the Charter was prepared at the end of World War II, when the founding fathers of the United Nations wanted to address classical, inter-state aggression, which until that point posed the most serious threat to mankind in history. Resolution 3314 of the General Assembly, however, presented a definition of aggression that included, among others, the following act: “The sending by or on behalf of a State armed bands, groups, irregulars or mercenaries, which carry out armed attacks against another State,… or its substantial involvement therein”. According to the Resolution, only acts of “such gravity” as “bombardment” of the territory of another State, the “use of any weapons” against it, or attacking its ground, air or naval forces can be considered. Therefore, the question that arose on 11 September was whether the State of Afghanistan- or the Taliban- was “substantially involved” in the preparation and perpetration of the terrorist acts.

Today most analysts agree that the Taliban was “substantially involved” in the attacks. It is interesting to note that prior to 9/11 as many as four Security Council resolutions had been passed regarding the Taliban and al Qaeda. No attention has been paid to these resolutions by either international lawyers or political scientists.

The first Resolution, 1193 (1998) was adopted after Taliban troops occupied Mazar- e-Sharif, where they stormed the Consulate of Iran and murdered eleven diplomats and one journalist. In its Resolution, the Security Council condemned these atrocities and expressed its “grave concern at the continued Afghan conflict which has recently sharply escalated due to the Taliban forces’ offensive… causing a serious and growing threat to regional and international peace and security, as well as extensive human suffering”. The Resolution demanded that “the Afghan factions… refrain from harboring and training terrorists and their organizations and… halt illegal drug activities.” The second Resolution, 1214 (1998), states that the Security Council remained “deeply disturbed by the continuing use of Afghan territory, especially areas controlled by the Taliban, for the sheltering and training of terrorists and the planning of terrorist acts”. The third Resolution, 1267(1999), mentioned Osama bin Laden by name. It stated that the Taliban continued to provide “sanctuary and training for the international terrorists and their organization” which constitutes a “threat to international peace security”. The Security Council demanded that the Taliban turn over bin Laden to either the United States or a third country where he could be brought to justice.

The antecedents of the fourth Resolution, 1333 (2000), deserve special attention. In the late 1990’s the Russians realized that “Afghan” mujaheddin were participating in the war in Chechnya. Russian intelligence found a remarkably high number of Arabs among these Afghans and quickly tracked them back to Osama bin Laden’s organization. There was a growing interest in Russia to get rid of them. Moscow discussed the matter with Washington. After intensive Russian-American consultations the Security Council adopted Resolution 1333 (2000), which condemned the Taliban for the “sheltering and training of terrorists and planning of terrorist acts” and reaffirmed its “conviction that the suppression of international terrorism is essential for the maintenance of international peace and security”. The UNSC noticed that the Taliban benefited directly for the cultivation of illicit opium by imposing a tax on its production and recognized that “these substantial resources strengthen the Taliban’s capacity to harbour terrorists”.

The above resolutions clearly indicated that the members of the Security Council were convinced that the Taliban had been “seriously involved” in providing support for the activities of al Qaeda and, consequently, held the Taliban responsible for events on Afghan soil. This is why, as early as the day after the terrorist attacks, Resolution 1368 (2001) was adopted, in which the Security Council condemned the “horrifying terrorist attacks” in New York and Washington, declaring them a “threat to international peace and security” and recognized “the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence in accordance with the Charter”. Furthermore, the resolution stressed that “those responsible for aiding, supporting or harboring the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of these acts will be held accountable”.

NATO took a similar position. The Permanent Session of the North Atlantic Council concluded that “if it is determined that this attack was directed from abroad against the United States, it shall be regarded as an action covered by the Washington Treaty”. On 2 October 2001, the North-Atlantic Council discussed the information provided by the United States. Secretary General Robertson announced after the meeting that it had been clearly determined that “the individuals who carried out the terrorist attacks belong to the Afghan terrorist organization headed by Osama bin Laden and protected by the Taliban regime”. Therefore the terrorist acts must be regarded as “attacks from abroad”. A similar position was also taken by the European Council on 21 September. In their conclusion, the Heads of State and the Governments of the European Union stated that “on the basis of UNSC Resolution 1368 a riposte by the US is legitimate. A week later, on 28 September, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1373 (2001). The document referred again to the right of self-defence and the threat of terrorism to international peace and security. In addition, it determined that terrorism and its support were inconsistent with the purposes of the UN. Finally, on 16 January 2002, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1390, which affirmed all its previous resolutions with regard to Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Although in these resolutions the UNSC did not authorize any state to carry out military counter-measures, the fact that three permanent members of the Council (France, Great Britain, and later Russia) opened their airspace for military actions and the fourth (China) assured the United States of its support proved that a number of significant states recognized that since 11 September, the United States has been in a permanent state of self-defence. Some international lawyers did not come to the same conclusion. Pellet, Dupuy and Nagy stated that:

(a) the behavior of the United States cannot be regarded as self-defence because Washington launched the counter-offensive several weeks after the attacks rather than immediately and, moreover, against a state located several thousand kilometers away;

(b) when executing counter-strikes the United States might have used force against terrorists or states harboring them only if the Security Council authorized it to do so.

“The inherent right of self-defence has limits”, wrote Boldizsar Nagy, referring to the Caroline case. “It was the US Secretary of State Webster who put down his immortal words in 1841 that have remained valid even today.” During the act, Webster noted that “the partying referring to this has to prove the necessity of self-defence, instant overwhelming, leaving no choice of means and no moment for deliberation”. The same view was expressed by Cassese and Pellet. In the opinion of Pellet, “the use of armed force must be subject to the authorization of the Security Council which has not (yet) been given”. According to this view the party concerned has no right to a delayed use of force in response to an armed attack. Cassese insisted that the use of force by the victim state should be directed “to repel the armed attack of the aggressor state”.

The more than 150 year-old “immortal” words of Webster were, however, applicable only for defence against traditional acts of aggression only under certain conditions. As far as terrorist acts were concerned the Webster thesis is absolutely inapplicable. Moreover, it is the terrorists who could make the best use of it. In the case of a terrorist act the attackers and their supporters remain either unknown or are identified only after some of them are killed during the attack, while the others disappear and hide in remote countries. On the basis of this interpretation action against Osama bin Laden and his organization would have been possible only on 11 September and only if they had been, say, directing the execution of the attack on a mobile phone aboard a yacht in New York City harbor. Otherwise, the US would have had only one recourse; to turn to the UN in order to convene the Security Council, which would either have given a go-ahead for coalition war (as before the Gulf War) or not (as in the case of Kosovo).

If one took the position of Karl Zemanek, a number of legally recognized counter­measures should have been deemed illegal, e.g. the use of force by Great Britain to take back the Falkland Islands from Argentina in 1982. The Argentine forces invaded the Islands on 2 April while the massive British counter-strike was launched only many weeks later, on 21 May. The British needed some time to build up their expeditionary forces and to cover the huge distance between Britain and the theater of war. On the basis of the conditions suggested by Zemanek, all “delayed” self­defence should be considered illegitimate. However, this does not reflect military and political realities. As far as the “elimination” of the source of the attack is concerned, a number of UNSC resolutions provided that the Taliban should refrain from supporting and harbouring terrorist organization like al Qaeda. It is difficult to see any other way to decrease the threat of further terrorist attacks on the part of bin Laden’s organization due to its close ties with the Taliban regime. After 9/11 the question was asked, with some irony, whether the Taliban should be eliminated to stop the activity of al Qaeda or vice versa.

Cassese admits in his paper that “the magnitude of the terrorist attack on New York and Washington may perhaps warrant the broadening of the notion of self­defence. I shall leave here in abeyance”, he added, “the question of whether one can speak of ‘instant’ custom, that is of the instantaneous formation of a customary rule widening the scope of self-defence as laid down in the corresponding rule customary law. It is too early to take a stand on this difficult matter”.15 My view is that is should not have been left here by Cassese. The decisions of the Security Council, the North Atlantic Council and the European Council indicate that the military counter-measures adopted by the US and its allies were accepted by a major part of the international community, including the remaining members of the UNSC and all NATO members. Moreover, this did not represent a single occurrence, but rather a continuum of unfolding developments regarding Afghanistan that date back to 1998.

The new threat posed by terrorism requires a new interpretation of the notion of self-defence, because it differs in many aspects from the traditional military threat posed on a number of occasions since 1945. It may well be that no new written norm could be formulated regarding the response of a state suffering terrorist attack. Of course, it would be extremely difficult to describe in written legal norms how a state might respond to such an attack. In any case, my conclusion is that the old interpretation of the notion and scope of self-defence has been extended by the actions of the international community on 12 September 2001 and the following days. It represents an important change in customary international law. This was, however, the only change in international law as a consequence of 9/11. It does not mean, of course, that the nature of international law itself has changed in any way.

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