Sunday, June 26, 2011

Bruce Schneier

Bruce Schneier (play /ˈʃnaɪər/; born January 15, 1963[1]) is an American cryptographer, computer security specialist, and writer. He is the author of several books on computer security and cryptography, and is the founder and chief technology officer of BT Counterpane, formerly Counterpane Internet Security, Inc. He received his master's degree in computer science from the American University in Washington, DC in 1988.[2]

In 1994, Schneier published "Applied Cryptography", which details the design, use, and implementation of cryptographic algorithms. More recently he published "Cryptography Engineering", which is focused more on how to use cryptography in real systems and less on its internal design. He has also written books on security for a broader audience. In 2000, Schneier published Secrets and Lies: Digital Security in a Networked World. In 2003, Schneier published Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly About Security in an Uncertain World.

Schneier writes a freely available monthly Internet newsletter on computer and other security issues, Crypto-Gram, as well as a security weblog, Schneier on Security. The weblog started out as a way to publish essays before they appeared in Crypto-Gram, making it possible for others to comment on them while the stories were still current, but over time the newsletter became a monthly email version of the blog, re-edited and re-organized.[3][citation needed] Schneier is frequently quoted in the press on computer and other security issues, pointing out flaws in security and cryptographic implementations ranging from biometrics to airline security after the September 11 attacks. He also writes "Security Matters", a regular column for Wired Magazine.[4

Schneier revealed on his blog that in the December 2004 issue of the SIGCSE Bulletin, three Pakistani academics, Khawaja Amer Hayat, Umar Waqar Anis, and S. Tauseef-ur-Rehman, from the International Islamic University in Islamabad, Pakistan, plagiarized an article written by Schneier and got it published.[5] The same academics subsequently plagiarized another article by Ville Hallivuori on "Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP) security" as well.[5] Schneier complained to the editors of the periodical, which generated a minor controversy.[6] The editor of the SIGCSE Bulletin removed the paper from their website and demanded official letters of admission and apology. Schneier noted on his blog that International Islamic University personnel had requested him "to close comments in this blog entry"; Schneier refused to close comments on the blog, but he did delete posts which he deemed "incoherent or hostile".[5]

About Bruce Schneier

Bruce Schneier is an internationally renowned security technologist and author. Described by The Economist as a "security guru," he is best known as a refreshingly candid and lucid security critic and commentator. When people want to know how security really works, they turn to Schneier.

His first bestseller, Applied Cryptography, explained how the arcane science of secret codes actually works, and was described by Wired as "the book the National Security Agency wanted never to be published." His book on computer and network security, Secrets and Lies, was called by Fortune "[a] jewel box of little surprises you can actually use." Beyond Fear tackles the problems of security from the small to the large: personal safety, crime, corporate security, national security. His current book, Schneier on Security, offers insight into everything from the risk of identity theft (vastly overrated) to the long-range security threat of unchecked presidential power and the surprisingly simple way to tamper-proof elections.

Regularly quoted in the media -- and subject of an Internet meme -- he has testified on security before the United States Congress on several occasions and has written articles and op eds for many major publications, including The New York Times, The Guardian, Forbes, Wired, Nature, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The Washington Post.

Schneier also publishes a free monthly newsletter, Crypto-Gram, with over 150,000 readers. In its ten years of regular publication, Crypto-Gram has become one of the most widely read forums for free-wheeling discussions, pointed critiques, and serious debate about security. As head curmudgeon at the table, Schneier explains, debunks, and draws lessons from security stories that make the news.

Two-Factor Authentication: Too Little, Too Late

By Bruce Schneier
Inside Risks 178
Communications of the ACM vol 48, n 4
April 2005

Two-factor authentication isn't our savior. It won't defend against phishing. It's not going to prevent identity theft. It's not going to secure online accounts from fraudulent transactions. It solves the security problems we had 10 years ago, not the security problems we have today.

The problem with passwords is that it is too easy to lose control of them. People give their passwords to other people. People write them down, and other people read them. People send them in email, and that email is intercepted. People use them to log into remote servers, and their communications are eavesdropped on. Passwords are also easy to guess. And once any of that happens, the password no longer works as an authentication token because you can never be sure who is typing in that password.

Two-factor authentication mitigates this problem. If your password includes a number that changes every minute, or a unique reply to a random challenge, then it's difficult for someone else to intercept. You can't write down the ever-changing part. An intercepted password won't be usable the next time it's needed. And a two-factor password is more difficult to guess. Sure, someone can always give his password and token to his secretary, but no solution is foolproof.

These tokens have been around for at least two decades, but it's only recently that they have received mass-market attention. AOL is rolling them out. Some banks are issuing them to customers, and even more are talking about doing it. It seems that corporations are finally recognizing the fact that passwords don't provide adequate security, and are hoping that two-factor authentication will fix their problems.

Unfortunately, the nature of attacks has changed over those two decades. Back then, the threats were all passive: eavesdropping and offline password guessing. Today, the threats are more active: phishing and Trojan horses. Two new active attacks we're starting to see include:

Man-in-the-Middle Attack. An attacker puts up a fake bank Web site and entices a user to that Web site. The user types in his password, and the attacker in turn uses it to access the bank's real Web site. Done correctly, the user will never realize that he isn't at the bank's Web site. Then the attacker either disconnects the user and makes any fraudulent transactions he wants, or passes along the user's banking transactions while making his own transactions at the same time.

Trojan Attack. An attacker gets the Trojan installed on a user's computer. When the user logs into his bank's Web site, the attacker piggybacks on that session via the Trojan to make any fraudulent transaction he wants.

See how two-factor authentication doesn't solve anything? In the first case, the attacker can pass the ever-changing part of the password to the bank along with the never-changing part. And in the second case, the attacker is relying on the user to log in.

The real threat is fraud due to impersonation, and the tactics of impersonation will change in response to the defenses. Two-factor authentication will force criminals to modify their tactics, that's all.

Recently, I've seen examples of two-factor authentication using two different communications paths: call it "two-channel authentication." One bank sends a challenge to the user's cell phone via SMS and expects a reply via SMS. If you assume that all the bank's customers have cell phones, then this results in a two-factor authentication process without extra hardware. And even better, the second authentication piece goes over a different communications channel than the first; eavesdropping is much more difficult.

But in this new world of active attacks, no one cares. An attacker using a man-in-the-middle attack is happy to have the user deal with the SMS portion of the login, since he can't do it himself. And a Trojan attacker doesn't care, because he's relying on the user to log in anyway.

Two-factor authentication is not useless. It works for local login, and it works within some corporate networks. But it won't work for remote authentication over the Internet. I predict that banks and other financial institutions will spend millions of dollars outfitting their users with two-factor authentication tokens. Early adopters of this technology may very well experience a significant drop in fraud for a while as attackers move to easier targets, but in the end there will be a negligible drop in the amount of fraud and identity theft.

Two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication (TFA or 2FA) is an approach to authentication which requires the presentation of two different kinds of evidence that someone is who they say they are. It is a part of the broader family of multi-factor authentication, which is a defense in depth approach to security. From a security perspective, the idea is to use evidences which have separate range of attack vectors (e.g. logical, physical) leading to more complex attack scenario and consequently, lower risk.

two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication is a security process in which the user provides two means of identification, one of which is typically a physical token, such as a card, and the other of which is typically something memorized, such as a security code. In this context, the two factors involved are sometimes spoken of as something you have and something you know. A common example of two-factor authentication is a bank card: the card itself is the physical item and the personal identification number (PIN) is the data that goes with it.

According to proponents, two-factor authentication could drastically reduce the incidence of online identity theft, phishing expeditions, and other online fraud, because the victim's password would no longer be enough to give a thief access to their information. Opponents argue (among other things) that, should a thief have access to your computer, he can boot up in safe mode, bypass the physical authentication processes, scan your system for all passwords and enter the data manually, thus -- at least in this situation -- making two-factor authentication no more secure than the use of a password alone.

Some security procedures now require three-factor authentication, which involves possession of a physical token and a password, used in conjunction with biometric data, such as fingerscanning or a voiceprint.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Partner / John Grisham

They watched Danilo Silva for days before they finally grabbed him. He was living alone, a quiet life on a shady street in Brazil; a simple life in a modest home, certainly not one of luxury. Certainly no evidence of the fortune they thought he had stolen. He was much thinner and his face had been altered. He spoke a different language, and spoke it very well.But Danilo had a past with many chapters. Four years earlier he had been Patrick Lanigan, a young partner in a prominent Biloxi law firm. He had a pretty wife, a new daughter, and a bright future. Then one cold winter night Patrick was trapped in a burning car and died a horrible death. When he was buried his casket held nothing more than his ashes.From a short distance away, Patrick watched his own burial. Then he fled. Six weeks later, a fortune was stolen from his ex-law firm’s offshore account. And Patrick fled some more.But they found him.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Incredible India!

UP: Minor blinded for resisting rape, 2 cops suspended

In a shocking incident from Kannauj, a 14-year-old girl was stabbed in both her eyes by men who tried to rape her on early Saturday morning.

The assailants then fled the spot leaving the girl battling for her life.

Villagers found the girl in a field and rushed her to a nearby district hospital.

Doctors at the Vinod Dixit hospital said that the girl has lost sight in one eye completely and has suffered nearly 80 per cent damage in the other.

One Constable and a Sub-Inspector have been suspended for failing to register an FIR when the girl was first brought to the police station.

A case of rape and attempt to murder has been registered against the two accused. Both the accused are absconding.

The incident comes as a major blow to the Mayawati government, which is already facing flak for the Lakhimpur rape and murder case.

A 14-year-old girl was found hanging from a tree inside the premises of Nighasan Police Station in Lakhimpur district on June 10.

The victim's mother in her complaint had alleged that the girl was raped and murdered after which 11 policemen were placed under suspension.

While local police ruled out murder citing post mortem report, the state government has ordered a CB-CID probe into the incident.

The second post mortem conducted by a panel of expert from Lucknow confirmed that the girl was strangulated, but ruled out rape.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Started in 1995, is a member of The Internet Mental Health Initiative, a project of the Tides Center, and a leading non-profit web community dedicated to providing high quality information, support and education to the family members, caregivers and individuals whose lives have been impacted by schizophrenia.


Frontline (ISSN 0970-1710) is a fortnightly English language magazine published by The Hindu Group of publications from Chennai, India. Narasimhan Ram is the Editor-in-Chief of the magazine. As a current affairs magazine, it covers domestic and International news. Frontline gives a prominent place to various issues of development and hindrances in the Indian states. Apart from topics of politics and political economy, it also covers a wide range of topics including Arts, books, cinema, Science and English language.

The Week

The Week is an English language Indian weekly newsmagazine published by The Malayala Manorama group, which also publishes the newspaper Malayala Manorama. By circulation, it claims to be the second largest selling English newsmagazine in India, behind India Today, though a majority of the sales are concentrated in south India.

Its managing editor is Phillip Mathew, and editor-in-charge T R Gopalakrishnan.

India Today

India Today is an Indian weekly news magazine published by Living Media India Limited, in publication since 1975 based in Mumbai.[1] India Today is also the name of its sister-publication in Hindi. Aroon Purie has been the magazine's editor-in-chief since 1975, a position he has held continuously for the last three decades.

It is part of the India Today group, also founded in 1975, which now includes 13 magazines, 3 radio stations, 4 TV channels, 1 newspaper, a classical music label (Music Today), book publishing, and India's only book club. With the publication of its 30th Anniversary issue in December 2005, the magazine, which had commenced publication in 1975 with a circulation of 5,000 copies, has published five editions and currently has a circulation of over 1.1 million copies with a readership of over 5.62 million.

In March 2009, the news magazine arranged the visit of former President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, to India, where he delivered a lecture on the "Challenges of Change". Musharraf thanked the newspaper for the reception and protocol it had offered him during his trip there.[2] In 2011, Sarah Palin and her husband toured India at the invitation of India Today.


Outlook is one of India's four top-selling English weekly newsmagazines. Like many other Indian magazines it is reluctant to reveal its circulation, but the 2007 National Readership Survey suggested 1.5 million copies. Outlook's competitors are India Today, The Week, and Tehelka. Currently, the Outlook group publishes several magazines like Outlook Business, Outlook Profit, Outlook Money, GEO, Marie Claire, People, Traveller, Career 360 and News Weekly. Outlook has been published in New Delhi continuously since October 1995 by the Outlook Group, whose founding editor-in-chief is Vinod Mehta. In October 2008, Mehta appointed Krishna Prasad as Outlook's editor. Earlier, Prasad had edited the magazine's special issues. Prasad also publishes the popular blog Churumuri.

Sandipan Deb and Tarun Tejpal were past editors of the magazine.

Outlook made news for its investigative reports of the "Kargil bungle" and the cricket "match-fixing controversy." Outlook has time and again carried out many Pro Left stories exposing it to the allegations of being a "Left leaning" publication.[2]

Writers for Outlook included Bhaichand Patel, Rakesh Kalshian, Uri Avnery, George Monbiot, Daniel Lak, Ashok K. Mehta, B. Raman, Anil Dharker, Saeed Naqvi, Ramachandra Guha, Prabhu Ghate and Andrew Whitehead.

The Outlook Group also publishes Outlook Traveller, Outlook Money and the Hindi Outlook Saptahik. Launched by Hathway Investments Private Limited, the Outlook Group is currently owned by the Rajan Raheja Group.

Harvard University Professors

Harvard at a Glance

Drew Gilpin Faust: Harvard University President

Drew Gilpin Faust is the 28th President of Harvard University and the Lincoln Professor of History in Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

As president of Harvard, Drew Gilpin Faust has expanded financial aid to improve access to Harvard College for students of all economic backgrounds and advocated for increased federal funding for scientific research. She has broadened the University’s international reach, raised the profile of the arts on campus, embraced sustainability, and promoted collaboration across academic disciplines and administrative units as she guided the University through a period of significant financial challenges.

A historian of the Civil War and the American South, Faust was the founding Dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, guiding its transformation from a college into a wide-ranging institute for scholarly and creative enterprise, distinctive for its multidisciplinary focus and the exploration of new knowledge at the crossroads of traditional fields.

Previously, Faust served as the Annenberg Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, where she was a member of the faculty for 25 years.

Raised in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, Faust went on to attend Concord Academy in Massachusetts. She received her bachelor’s degree from Bryn Mawr College in 1968, magna cum laude with honors in history, and her master’s degree (1971) and doctoral degree (1975) in American civilization from the University of Pennsylvania.

She is the author of six books, including Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War (University of North Carolina Press, 1996), for which she won the Francis Parkman Prize in 1997. Her most recent book, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War (Alfred A. Knopf, 2008) looks at the impact of the Civil War’s enormous death toll on the lives of 19th-century Americans. It won the Bancroft Prize in 2009, was a finalist for both a National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize, and was named by The New York Times one of the “10 Best Books of 2008.”

Faust has been a trustee of Bryn Mawr College, the Andrew Mellon Foundation, and the National Humanities Center, and she serves on the educational advisory board of the Guggenheim Foundation. She has served as president of the Southern Historical Association, vice president of the American Historical Association, and executive board member of the Organization of American Historians and the Society of American Historians. Faust has also served on numerous editorial boards and selection committees, including the Pulitzer Prize history jury in 1986, 1990, and 2004.

Her honors include awards in 1982 and 1996 for distinguished teaching at the University of Pennsylvania. She was elected to the Society of American Historians in 1993, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1994, and the American Philosophical Society in 2004.

Faust is married to Charles Rosenberg, one of the nation’s leading historians of medicine and science, who is Professor of the History of Science and Ernest E. Monrad Professor in the Social Sciences at Harvard. Faust and Rosenberg have two daughters, Jessica Rosenberg, a 2004 summa cum laude graduate of Harvard College, and Leah Rosenberg, Faust’s stepdaughter, a scholar of Caribbean literature.

Universities nurture the hopes of the world: in solving challenges that cross borders; in unlocking and harnessing new knowledge; in building cultural and political understanding; and in modeling environments that promote dialogue and debate... The ideal and breadth of liberal education that embraces the humanities and arts as well as the social and natural sciences is at the core of Harvard’s philosophy.

- Drew Gilpin Faust in an address to the Royal Irish Academy, June 30, 2010

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Pitcairn Islands

The Pitcairn Islands ( /ˈpɪtkɛərn/;[1] Pitkern: Pitkern Ailen), officially named the Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands, form a group of four volcanic islands in the southern Pacific Ocean. The islands are a British Overseas Territory (formerly a British colony), the last remaining in the Pacific.[2] The four islands – named Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie, and Oeno – are spread over several hundred miles of ocean and have a total area of about 18 square miles (47 km2). Only Pitcairn, the second largest and measuring about 2 miles (3.2 km) across, is inhabited.
The islands are best known as home of the descendants of the Bounty mutineers and the Tahitians (or Polynesians) who accompanied them, an event retold in numerous books and films. This history is still apparent in the surnames of many of the islanders. With only about 50 inhabitants[3] (from four families as of 2010: Christian, Warren, Young, and Brown), Pitcairn is the least populous jurisdiction in the world (although it is not a sovereign nation). The United Nations Committee on Decolonisation includes the Pitcairn Islands on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.

Here's something for you girls: Gmail -- Last account activity

What is 'Last account activity'?
Last account activity shows you information about recent activity in your mail. Recent activity includes any time that your mail was accessed using a regular web browser, a POP1 client, a mobile device, etc. We'll list the IP address that accessed your mail, the associated location, as well as the time and date.
To see your account activity, click the Details link next to the Last account activity line at the bottom of any Gmail page.

If you're concerned about unauthorized access to your mail, you'll be able to use the data in the 'Access type' column to find out if and when someone accessed your mail. For instance, if the column shows any POP access, but you don't use POP to collect your mail, it may be a sign that your account has been compromised.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Nobody respects a poor person.

Here's a good article:


Economics govern everything -- your life -- and all its aspects.

Indian society

Weaving the Web / Tim Berners-Lee, Mark Fischetti

Weaving the Web : The Original Design and Ultimate Destiny of the World Wide Web by its Inventor

If you can read this review (and voice your opinion about his book on, you have Tim Berners-Lee to thank. When you've read his no-nonsense account of how he invented the World Wide Web, you'll want to thank him again, for the sheer coolness of his ideas. One day in 1980, Berners-Lee, an Oxford-trained computer consultant, got a random thought: "Suppose all the information stored on computers everywhere were linked?" So he created a system to give every "page" on a computer a standard address (now called a URL, or Universal Resource Locator), accessible via the HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP), formatted with the HyperText Markup Language (HTML), and visible with the first browser, which did the trick of linking us all up.
He may be the most self-effacing genius of the computer age, and his egalitarian mind is evident in the names he rejected for his invention: "I thought of Mine of Information, or MOI, but moi in French means 'me,' and that was too egocentric.... The Information Mine (TIM) was even more egocentric!" Also, a mine is a passive repository; the Web is something that grows inexorably from everyone's contributions. Berners-Lee fully credits the colorful characters who helped him get the bobsled of progress going--one colleague times his haircuts to match the solstices--but he's stubbornly independent-minded. His quest is to make the Web "a place where the whim of a human being and the reasoning of a machine coexist in an ideal, powerful mixture."
Hard-core tech types may wish Berners-Lee had gone into deeper detail about the road ahead: the "boon and threat" of XML, free vs. commercial software, VRML 3-D imaging, and such. But he wants everyone in on the debate, so he wrote a brisk book that virtually anyone can understand. --Tim Appelo

The Road Ahead / Bill Gates

The Road Ahead, a book written by Bill Gates, Nathan Myhrvold and Peter Rinearson and published in November 1995, summarized the implications of the personal computing revolution and described a future profoundly changed by the arrival of a global information superhighway.
Gates received a $2.5 million advance for his book and money from subsidiary rights sales;[1] all his proceeds were donated to "encourage the use of technology in education administered through the National Foundation for the Improvement of Education,"[3] a foundation created by the National Education Association.[

Tim Berners-Lee

Sir Timothy John "Tim" Berners-Lee, OM, KBE, FRS, FREng, FRSA (born 8 June 1955[1]), also known as "TimBL", is a British physicist, computer scientist and MIT professor, credited for his invention of the World Wide Web (not the Internet), making the first proposal for it in March 1989.[2] On 25 December 1990, with the help of Robert Cailliau and a young student at CERN, he implemented the first successful communication between a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) client and server via the Internet.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Social issues in India

Socio-economic issues in India

Poverty in India

Poverty is widespread in India, with the nation estimated to have a third of the world's poor. According to a 2005 World Bank estimate, 41.6% of the total Indian population falls below the international poverty line of US$ 1.25 a day (PPP, in nominal terms 21.6 a day in urban areas and 14.3 in rural areas).

Standard of living in India

With one of the fastest growing economies in the world, clocked at a growth rate of 8.3% in 2010, India is fast on its way to becoming a large and globally important consumer economy. The Indian middle class, estimated to be 50 million people, by McKinsey[1] is fast becoming used to Western culture.[2] If current trends continue, Indian per capita purchasing power parity will significantly increase from 4.7 to 6.1 percent of the world share by 2015.[3] In 2006, 22 percent of Indians lived under the poverty line. India aims to eradicate poverty by 2020.[4]
The standard of living in India shows large disparity. For example, rural areas of India exist with very basic (or even non-existent) medical facilities, while cities boast of world class medical establishments. Similarly, the very latest machinery may be used in some construction projects, but many construction workers work without mechanisation in most projects.[5]
In 2010, the per capita PPP-adjusted GDP for India was US$3,290.

My Most Favorite Book

By Colin De Silva

Below Poverty Line

Below Poverty Line is an economic benchmark and poverty threshold used by the government of India to indicate economic disadvantage and to identify individuals and households in need of government assistance and aid. It is determined using various parameters which vary from state to state and within states. The present criteria are based on a survey conducted in 2002. Going into a survey due for a decade, India's central government is undecided on criteria to identify families below poverty line.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

My Comments

Girls opt for Gmail's 2-step verification. That'd keep your account(s) pretty safe. Eventually-- we'll have biometric based Email. I'd like to launch such a portal. :-)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Girls: Opt for Gmail's 2-step verification

Has anyone you know ever lost control of an email account and inadvertently sent spam—or worse—to their friends and family? There are plenty of examples (like the classic "Mugged in London" scam) that demonstrate why it's important to take steps to help secure your activities online. Your Gmail account, your photos, your private documents—if you reuse the same password on multiple sites and one of those sites gets hacked, or your password is conned out of you directly through a phishing scam, it can be used to access some of your most closely-held information.Most of us are used to entrusting our information to a password, but we know that some of you are looking for something stronger. As we announced to our Google Apps customers a few months ago, we've developed an advanced opt-in security feature called 2-step verification that makes your Google Account significantly more secure by helping to verify that you're the real owner of your account. Now it's time to offer the same advanced protection to all of our users.2-step verification requires two independent factors for authentication, much like you might see on your banking website: your password, plus a code obtained using your phone. Over the next few days, you'll see a new link on your Account Settings page that looks like this:

Take your time to carefully set up 2-step verification—we expect it may take up to 15 minutes to enroll. A user-friendly set-up wizard will guide you through the process, including setting up a backup phone and creating backup codes in case you lose access to your primary phone. Once you enable 2-step verification, you'll see an extra page that prompts you for a code when you sign in to your account. After entering your password, Google will call you with the code, send you an SMS message or give you the choice to generate the code for yourself using a mobile application on your Android, BlackBerry or iPhone device. The choice is up to you. When you enter this code after correctly submitting your password we'll have a pretty good idea that the person signing in is actually you.

It's an extra step, but it's one that significantly improves the security of your Google Account because it requires the powerful combination of both something you know—your username and password—and something that only you should have—your phone. A hacker would need access to both of these factors to gain access to your account. If you like, you can always choose a "Remember verification for this computer for 30 days" option, and you won't need to re-enter a code for another 30 days. You can also set up one-time application-specific passwords to sign in to your account from non-browser based applications that are designed to only ask for a password, and cannot prompt for the code.

To learn more about 2-step verification and get started, visit our Help Center. And for more about staying safe online, see our ongoing security blog series or visit Be safe!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pakistan: deadliest place to be a journalist

-- Declan Walsh

The brutal murder of Saleem Shahzad, a Pakistani investigative reporter whose battered body was found in a canal outside Islamabad two weeks ago, remains unsolved. But one thing seems certain. While the men who beat him to death employed ruthless violence — smashing his face, cracking his ribs and piercing his lungs — the cause of death was his own pen.
“They didn't like what he wrote. That's why they killed him,” says Ali Dayan Hasan of Human Rights Watch, which has played a central role in investigating the case.
Chasing the truth is a perilous business in Pakistan, the world's deadliest beat for journalists. Sixteen have died in the past 18 months, according to Reporters without Borders — more than in the drug wars of Mexico, the street battles of Somalia or the battlefields of Afghanistan.
The causes of these deaths are as varied as Pakistan's myriad conflicts. Some are caught in suicide blasts; others targeted by Taliban militants or Baloch insurgents. In Karachi, several reporters have been gunned down as part of the city's vicious political wars.
But the death of Shahzad, a 40-year-old correspondent for the Hong Kong-basedAsia Times Online, has touched a raw nerve because the chief suspect is Pakistan's most powerful spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). “Who will protect us from the protectors?” asked sub-editor Shaheryar Popalzai on Twitter.
Shahzad was no stranger to danger. A specialist in Islamist militancy, he delved deep into the murky underworld of spies, soldiers and militants. He was briefly kidnapped by the Taliban in Helmand in 2006, and interviewed Ilyas Kashmiri, a notorious jihadi reportedly killed in a CIA drone strike last week. And he probed controversial links between those militants and Pakistan's military.
In late May, his career reached a new peak: he had just published his first book,Inside Al Qaeda and the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11. At 5.30pm on a Sunday, he left his Islamabad home for theDunyatelevision studios. He was to discuss a story he had written about Islamist infiltration of the military.
But as he passed through the city centre — one of the most heavily guarded precincts in Pakistan — he disappeared. The following morning Human Rights Watch raised the alarm, saying it had established through credible sources that Shahzad was in ISI custody. But it was too late.
Later that day, police in Mandi Bahauddin, a Punjabi backwater 80 miles south of the capital, recovered his battered body from an irrigation canal. His car, the keys still inside, was abandoned about 12 miles away. An autopsy revealed 17 different injuries. News of the killing cast a pall of fear and anger over Pakistan's media. Some papers reported the news tentatively, skirting the ISI links. The president of the All Pakistan Newspapers Society, Hameed Haroon, bolstered accusers. “Nobody, not even the ISI, should be above the law,” he said.
The ISI, already under immense pressure following the death of Osama bin Laden on May 2, responded with a 374-word statement — possibly the longest in its history — rejecting the allegations as “baseless and unfounded” and warning reporters to act “responsibly.”
“[The ISI] will leave no stone unturned in helping to bring the perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice,” it said. But the spy agency was also being accused from beyond the grave. Before he died, Shahzad sent an email recounting a worrisome meeting at the ISI headquarters last October. The head of the ISI media wing, Rear Admiral Adnan Nazir, summoned him to divulge his sources for a story on a released Taliban commander. Shahzad, by his own account, said nothing.
The atmosphere was generally friendly. But before the meeting was over, Nazir told him the ISI had captured a dangerous terrorist with a “hit list”, and allegedly said: “If I find your name in the list, I will certainly let you know.” Taking this as a veiled threat, Shahzad emailed his account of the meeting to Human Rights Watch and several journalists, with instructions to release it in the event of his death.
In its statement the ISI insisted the meeting had “nothing sinister about it”. The purpose of such briefings was to provide “accurate information on matters of national security” and notify journalists of threats, it said.
The furore over Shahzad's murder has roiled Pakistan's media, which has undergone massive change over the past decade. Since President Pervez Musharraf liberalised the television sector in 2004, the number of news channels has gone from one — state-run — to dozens. The boom has created thousands of jobs and fostered a vigorous culture of debate that, ironically, helped unseat Gen. Musharraf in 2008. Criticism of the military, previously cautious, has become bolder and more frequent.
But there have also been negatives. Reporting can be reckless, with some channels spreading lurid conspiracy theories in pursuit of ratings. Military and civilian leaders use the media to manipulate public opinion through bribery, intimidation or coercion. And clear “red lines” about what is permissible still exist.
The most egregious case is in the conflict-hit Balochistan province, where about a dozen reporters have been killed, kidnapped or tortured by ethnic nationalist rebels or military intelligence since 2009. Media coverage of the conflict is insipid.
In the rest of the country, militancy and the military are the sensitive stories. In 2005 Hayatullah Khan, a reporter in the tribal belt, disappeared after he photographed a fragment of a U.S. missile fired from an unmanned drone. Six months later, he was found dead; relatives blamed the ISI.
In 2008, a local reporter working for theGuardianon a story about extra-judicial detention was abducted and tortured by men he believed worked for the government. Most victims remain silent, fearful of repercussions. One exception is Umar Cheema, a correspondent for theNews, who was abducted from Islamabad last September. Bundled into a jeep and blindfolded, he was taken to a safehouse where he says he was stripped, beaten with a leather strap and threatened with rape. After seven hours, he was dumped on a road in rural Punjab.
Mr. Cheema, who recently won the Martha Gellhorn prize for journalism, has accused the ISI of responsibility for his ordeal. “I realised I had to speak up, because that's the only thing that protects me. Keeping silent will get me killed,” he said.
Expectations are low for the inquiry into Shahzad's death. The police are reluctant to pursue the case and, according to theExpress Tribune, phone records for the last 18 days of Shahzad's life have been mysteriously erased. “If it is true the ISI was involved, there will be no result,” says Benjamin Ismail of Reporters Without Borders.
Meanwhile, some “red lines” have shifted. In the wake of the bin Laden debacle and Shahzad's death, the ISI has faced unprecedented scrutiny. Former army officers question its tactics; last week, Opposition MP Ayaz Amir called for the spy agency's budget to be made public. “We must raise the curtain of silence now,” he told Parliament.
But will journalists be more secure? An Interior Ministry proposal to issue reporters with gun licences has been dismissed as a political stunt. More serious proposals involve setting up a 24-hour “hot-line,” manned by colleagues, for journalists in danger.
The most likely outcome, says Mr. Ismail, is self-censorship. “Journalists are afraid. Now, even the most famous reporters can be targeted if people don't like their writing. They realise they will have to stop writing if they want to survive.”— © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2011
Sixteen journalists have died in Pakistan in the past 18 months but the killing of Saleem Shahzad, linked to the ISI spy agency, has sent fresh shockwaves.

Journalist abducted, blindfolded, beaten and burned

-- Declan Walsh
Waqar Kiani was driving out of Islamabad just after sunset when two vehicles, a Toyota jeep and a saloon car, ran him off the road. Two men yanked him out, bundled him into the jeep and applied a blindfold. Fifteen minutes later, they reached a safehouse where Mr. Kiani was tied to a chair and greeted by an interrogator. The abuse started.
Mr. Kiani, a 29-year-old Pakistani journalist, was working for the London-basedGuardianat the time, July 2008. Two days earlier, he travelled to Karachi on assignment for London-based reporter Ian Cobain, who was working on a story about alleged cooperation between Pakistani and British intelligence in the detention and abuse of suspected militants. The trail led Mr. Kiani to the headquarters of the Intelligence Bureau, a civilian spy agency, in an upmarket city suburb. Realising he was being followed, Mr. Kiani hastily returned to Islamabad. There, he found his apartment had been broken into and turned upside down. Some papers were missing. Hours later, he disappeared.
At the safehouse, the interrogator shone a bright light in Mr. Kiani's face while others punched him in the kidneys and burned his arms with cigarettes. Accusing him of being a “British agent,” they peppered him with questions that indicated they had details of his bank account, his movements and his interactions with twoGuardianreporters.
Mr. Kiani told them he was a journalist. “We don't care about theGuardian, whatever that is,” one said. “We are just doing our job.” During the beating, Mr. Kiani vomited and was refused access to food, water or a toilet. Hours later, the men bundled him back in a vehicle and started driving. He could only hear voices. “What shall we do with him?” said one. “Cut off his legs,” replied one. “Cut off his fingers,” said another, “so that he will not be able to write anything in future.” Another suggestion came: “We should shoot him and throw him in the river.” Three hours later, Mr. Kiani was dumped on the roadside in Mianwali, 120 miles southwest of Islamabad. If he told anyone of his ordeal, they warned, they would abduct his wife, rape her and post a video of the assault on YouTube. They pushed him from the vehicle, still blindfolded, warning him not to look back or they would shoot.
The following day, I went to see the Interior Minister, Rehman Malik. He was evasive, suggesting a “private gang” was behind the attack but promised to investigate. He assigned two policemen to guard Mr. Kiani's home. I contacted Human Rights Watch, who offered advice.
But Mr. Kiani's ordeal wasn't over. For days afterwards, strangers loitered outside his apartment block. He received threatening phone calls, including one that threatened the “ultimate punishment” for having sought help. Local police were reluctant to register a case. Once, after being followed by an unmarked car, Mr. Kiani turned up at my house at 3am, terrified. He stayed the night.
The British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, wrote a private letter to the Pakistani government, expressing his concern. Eventually the harassment stopped. Now Mr. Kiani is back at work, most recently covering the death of Osama bin Laden. To this day, he cannot identify his abductors. TheGuardiandid not publicise the abduction at the time out of fears for Mr. Kiani's safety, but he has agreed to talk about it for the first time.
“Our government and military establishment want their own kind of stories in the papers,” he said. “That's why abuses continue to happen.” Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry — which oversees the Intelligence Bureau — has not resolved the case.— © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2011

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Long Walk

The Long Walk was ghost-written by Ronald Downing based on conversations with Rawicz. It was released in the UK in 1956 and has sold over half a million copies worldwide and has been translated into 25 languages.[1] The film, The Way Back, directed by Peter Weir was based on the book and released in late 2010.[4]

Over the years, critics of the book's accuracy have included Peter Fleming (the brother of Ian Fleming), Eric Shipton and Hugh E. Richardson, a British diplomat stationed in Lhasa.[5

Aron Ralston

Aron Lee Ralston (born October 27, 1975) is an American mountain climber and public speaker. He became widely known in May 2003[1] when, while canyoneering in Utah, he was forced by an accident to amputate his right arm with a dull knife in order to free himself from a boulder.

The incident is documented in Ralston's autobiography Between a Rock and a Hard Place, and is the subject of the 2010 film 127 Hours.

The Client / John Grisham

In a weedy lot on the outskirts of Memphis, two boys watch a shiny Lincoln pull up to the curb…Eleven-year-old Mark Sway and his younger brother were sharing a forbidden cigarette when a chance encounter with a suicidal lawyer left Mark knowing a bloody and explosive secret: the whereabouts of the most sought-after dead body in America. Now Mark is caught between a legal system gone mad and a mob killer desperate to cover up his crime. And his only ally is a woman named Reggie Love, who has been a lawyer for all of four years. Prosecutors are willing to break all the rules to make Mark talk. The mob will stop at nothing to keep him quiet. And Reggie will do anything to protect her client — even take a last, desperate gamble that could win Mark his freedom… or cost them both their lives.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Let's go to the movies: 127 Hours

The Confession / John Grisham

An innocent man is about to be executed.
Only a guilty man can save him.

For every innocent man sent to prison, there is a guilty one left on the outside. He doesn’t understand how the police and prosecutors got the wrong man, and he certainly doesn’t care. He just can’t believe his good luck. Time passes and he realizes that the mistake will not be corrected: the authorities believe in their case and are determined to get a conviction. He may even watch the trial of the person wrongly accused of his crime. He is relieved when the verdict is guilty. He laughs when the police and prosecutors congratulate themselves. He is content to allow an innocent person to go to prison, to serve hard time, even to be executed.

Travis Boyette is such a man. In 1998, in the small East Texas city of Sloan, he abducted, raped, and strangled a popular high school cheerleader. He buried her body so that it would never be found, then watched in amazement as police and prosecutors arrested and convicted Donté Drumm, a local football star, and marched him off to death row.
Now nine years have passed. Travis has just been paroled in Kansas for a different crime; Donté is four days away from his execution. Travis suffers from an inoperable brain tumor. For the first time in his miserable life, he decides to do what’s right and confess.
But how can a guilty man convince lawyers, judges, and politicians that they’re about to execute an innocent man?

Interview: Helen Gray, HALO Trust programme manager

By Craig Stennett
IT'S DEPLOYMENT day at The HALO Trust's compound in Zimpeto district, north Maputo, Mozambique – a day that's fondly described in Portuguese, the national tongue of Mozambique, as the day of confusão.

HALO is the world's oldest and largest landmine-clearance organisation and, today, 15 of the 26 highly specialised teams working in Maputo have just returned from their eight-day leave and are about to embark on three weeks living and working in one of the country's remaining 139 minefields.

The atmosphere is tense because these men and women work at what is widely acknowledged as one of the world's most dangerous jobs – de-miner.

It's still the rainy season, but today there's nothing but brilliant sunshine and an intense wilting African heat.

Helen Gray, a 30-year-old Scot, brought up on an East Linton farm and educated at George Watson's College in Edinburgh, now programme manager for The HALO Trust (it stands for Hazardous Area Life-Support Organisation) in Mozambique, pulls into the compound in her Nissan pick-up and surveys the scene.
What greets her is a blur of activity. Land Rovers and trucks are being refuelled, tents and sleeping bags are being loaded and stores are emptied of food and the essential de-mining kit the teams will need for the three weeks they'll spend in the field. After several hours they are ready for deployment throughout Maputo province and they leave the relative safety of HALO's compound.Gray has just returned from taking Susan Eckey, deputy director-general of the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, and her accompanying delegation on a fact-finding mission in the HALO minefields. One of the two all-women teams HALO employs had extended their days in the field to accommodate the visit and will now redeploy later in the week.

HALO, a non-profit, non-governmental organisation, has its head office in Dumfries. Its singular mandate is to remove landmines and unexploded ordinance from the nine countries it operates in. It deployed its first de-mining team in Mozambique in February 1994, and has now declared the country's six northern provinces mine-free, leaving only the south to be made safe.After finishing her Bachelor of Science degree in biology and anthropology at Durham University, Gray worked as an interpreter for the Scottish Sea Bird Centre then as an expedition guide in Peru's threatened rainforests. Back in Britain she speculatively sent her CV to HALO. Her neighbour had told her about the organisation and she had already decided she wanted to work in a humanitarian field.Gray has worked for HALO since 2004 – when she was just 24 – doing her initial six-month training in Cabo Delgado, on the northern border of Mozambique, in the minefields laid by the Portuguese back in the early 1970s, when the country was fighting for its independence from Portugal.

She then worked in Angola, but returned to Mozambique in January 2008. In February 2009 she was asked to run the country's operations, with responsibility for its 370 staff and a budget of $3 million, just over half of what she needs if Mozambique is to hit its 2014 target to become completely mine-free."My job gives me tremendous satisfaction," she says. "It's brilliant to be able to send de-miners to an unsafe area to clear the land. That land then goes back to the local community, and you can return in a few months and see maize growing or the houses or schools that have been built there. The landmine problem has gone – forever. You don't get that sort of reward in many jobs."Learning to be a de-miner is painstaking work. Gray remembers her first day: "I really wanted to find a mine. For safety reasons, the drill we learn is systematic and repetitive. But, as I'd done all the training, I didn't want to find a metal signal with the detector and then spend 20 minutes carefully scraping and excavating my way towards a Coke can. I wanted to find a mine."
Gray has gone through all the appropriate levels of training: "To relate to the de-miners, paramedics or mechanics, you should have experienced their jobs yourself, first hand. You should have been through the training and worked on the ground yourself." She pauses and reminisces briefly about her life growing up on the farm in East Linton. "My upbringing has helped with the physically challenging work I do now and problem solving when you're out in the bush. I learnt from a young age to think on your feet."Returning to her first few days in the field, she adds: "Discovering my first mine was a reality check. People stand on these and they lose their legs, they lose their lives. Mines are particularly horrible, as they do not discriminate against old or young, male or female. They lie in the ground just waiting. I still to this day enter minefields and think, 'My God, what's the impact here? What's that village doing so close?'"

It's this level of commitment that allows Gray and her staff to tackle the mine clearance Mozambique so desperately needs. A country that, after 20 years of struggle with Portugal, faced an internal civil war between Frelimo (the Liberation Front of Mozambique) and Renamo (the Mozambican National Resistance party). An effective cease-fire came into force in October 1992, and it remains to this day. Its legacy, however, was 900,000 deaths, five million displaced people and an estimated 200,000 landmines deployed by all sides.HALO is probably most famously linked in the public's collective memory with an iconic image of the late Princess Diana in a minefield. In January 1997, the last year of her life, Diana visited a HALO minefield on the outskirts of Huambo City in Angola. The images were seen worldwide and have been attributed with influencing the signing of the Ottawa Treaty, which created an international ban on the use of anti-personnel mines and the need for their removal from the 70 countries they still present a danger to.

"Diana was visiting the International Committee of the Red Cross in Angola when they suggested to her that she should visit one of our minefields," Gray recalls. "The princess brought fantastic visibility to the need for humanitarian mine clearance and the issue of mine use."Gray accompanied Prince Harry last year to the once densely laid minefield around the Cahora Bassa hydroelectric dam. She had led the team which removed some mines from this area. The community of Nhanchenge was divided by an 11km minefield – so far HALO has destroyed 6,500 mines and the work is ongoing, reuniting villages that were literally cut in two by the deployment of mines.
"Prince Harry visited HALO in Tete province for two days," she says. "We showed him the work HALO had undertaken to clear this incredibly dense mine line. He met the local community and victims of the mines and showed the same humanity and empathy his late mother was renowned for."Leaving the Zimpeta compound in the pick-up, Gray makes her way out of Maputo, along cratered roads bent on the destruction of the Nissan's suspension and through dense traffic, which adheres to an alternative highway code to that practised in Scotland. Drivers need good visual awareness and nerves of steel – qualities she has in abundance. "It's lucky I've been driving tractors at home since I was young," she chuckles, as we swerve around another oncoming minivan full of commuters naturally travelling the wrong way up the same road.

Eventually we join the well-maintained NRD EN4 highway west of Maputo, following the trail the de-mining teams took the day before. Driving towards the South African border, we arrive at one of the Equipa de Meninas minefields or "girls' sections". They are working at the Damo minefield, the old electricity pylon route, its wooden structures long since crumbled into the earth.The ten-strong team has been awake since 4.30am – work starts at first light at 6am, finishing at 1pm. The working day is dictated by the need to avoid the worst of the heat. Nevertheless, temperatures can get into the 30s Centigrade, producing a punishing environment in which it's hard to maintain physical strength and concentration – both crucial for de-miners – along with the strict adherence to the operating procedures they must follow to stay alive. The women wear ballistic visors and Kevlar jackets and systematically cover the land inch by inch with metal detectors. Since lapses in concentration could be fatal, they take a ten-minute break every hour.The first women's section was formed within HALO in 2007.

"The perception in Mozambique was that de-mining was a job done by men," says Gray. "When we were recruiting, we clearly stated that applications were welcome from both women and men, and we found that many women applied. They've done incredibly well and some have been promoted through our system."Twenty eight-year-old supervisor Domingas Lacrimosa Lina Dias, a tall, purposeful woman, says: "We work here to rid our country of mines. I feel proud as a woman to be doing this job. It was seen as men's work, but I am proving otherwise."Gray's mobile is ringing. When she answers she is informed that they're ready for the destruction of a landmine at Mubobo minefield a mile or so away. Mubobo is the most heavily mined area remaining in Maputo province. The Frelimo government laid it during the civil war to impede sabotage of the vital pylons providing the capital with its electricity.Twenty two-year-old section supervisor Onorio Manuel meets Gray on our arrival. From the safety of the designated control point, he formally briefs her on the situation in the minefield. After safety equipment has been put on, Manuel primes a pentolite explosive charge he needs to destroy a Soviet PMN mine they've detected near one of the pylons.

"It is HALO policy to destroy every mine and each piece of unexploded ordinance it discovers. Then it is irretrievably gone, for all time," Gray explains as she monitors Manuel's progress with the explosive charge. The two walk slowly up into the minefield, the safe zones clearly marked by red-tipped sticks placed in the ground. "If you're inside these markers, you're safe," says Gray.They solemnly pass the skeletal remains of two individuals whose deaths in this minefield passed without ceremony long ago. "They were probably trying to steal metal, stepped on one of the anti-personnel mines planted here, but managed to crawl off – only to die here alone. "They're not from the local community so their bodies haven't been claimed. We're deciding with the locals what we should do with them once we've completely cleared this area."A whistle blows, giving the signal for the whole team to withdraw to a safe distance as Manuel lays the charge. "You always do this part alone," Gray explains. "One man, one risk." A fuse that will burn for five minutes has been chosen, ample time for Onario to join Gray 100 yards from the blast zone – the distance deemed safe for this type of landmine.

The minutes are counted down, then the seconds as the detonation time approaches. Out of direct line of sight, it's the noise of the bang that hits you first, followed by a mushroom black plume of smoke pushing its way up into the sky as the explosive charge and the mine itself are destroyed. Then it's all over – and in Maputo province there's one less mine to worry about.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Lazarus syndrome

Lazarus syndrome or autoresuscitation after failed cardiopulmonary resuscitation[1] is the spontaneous return of circulation after failed attempts at resuscitation.[2] Its occurrence has been noted in medical literature at least 25 times since 1982.[3] Also called Lazarus phenomenon, it takes its name from Lazarus who, in the New Testament account, was raised from the dead by Jesus.[4] The syndrome name is ironic in that it incorporates an example of the scientifically rejected concept of resurrection into a scientifically documented medical phenomenon.

Occurrences of the syndrome are rare and the causes are not well understood. One theory for the phenomenon is that a chief factor (though not the only one) is the buildup of pressure in the chest as a result of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The relaxation of pressure after resuscitation efforts have ended is thought to allow the heart to expand, triggering the heart's electrical impulses and restarting the heartbeat.[2] Other possible factors are hyperkalemia or high doses of epinephrine.

Monday, June 6, 2011

TELL NO ONE / Harlan Coben

TELL NO ONE is a story of loss and redemption. It begins innocently enough. Dr. David Beck and his beloved wife, Elizabeth, are celebrating the anniversary of their first kiss in the quiet of Lake Charmaine. They grew up together, first kissed at age twelve, and now, twenty-five years old and married less than a year, they return for an idyllic weekend away.

Tragedy shatters their solitude. Elizabeth is abducted and murdered, her body found in a ditch. Her killer is caught and brought to justice. But for David Beck, there can be no closure. Eight years pass. He never gets over Elizabeth's murder. He loses himself in his work as an inner city pediatrician.

But everything changes on the eighth anniversary of Elizabeth's death. Two unidentified bodies are found at Lake Charmaine, unearthed years after their deaths. But even more disturbing, Beck gets a bizarre email that mentions a specific phrase - a phrase known only to him and Elizabeth. The email also tells him to click a hyperlink the next day at a specific hour - “kiss time” - 6:15PM.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


I've Schizoaffective disorder. And, yep that's a straitjacket. :-)


I'm terrified of dogs particularly stray dogs. What's the word for rabies phobia?


Mediocrity is a rabid disease.


My life has always been a Sisyphean ordeal.

Escape mechanism

I'd stop daydreaming -- fantasizing.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Severe tissue necrosis following Bothrops asper envenomation. The victim was an 11-year-old boy, bitten two weeks earlier in Ecuador, but treated only with antibiotics.[