Uganda defies terrorists and remains open for business

Way to go, Uganda.

A week after a bomb ripped through a crowd watching the World Cup, Uganda has thumbed its nose at the terrorists and declared it is open for business.

The country’s tourism minister says they’ve beefed up security at public gatherings and are checking public places such as bars and restaurants to improve day-to-day security. Serapio Rukundo, the tourism and wildlife minister, said in a recent statement that the terrorist attacks in the capital Kampala were “meant to scare and discourage visitors.”

Al-Shabaab, a Somali Islamist group, has claimed responsibility for the bombing. Uganda is one of several nations in the region supporting the Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu, which is fighting Al-Shabaab.

This weekend Uganda hosts the African Union summit, so security will be a key issue. It’s a key issue at any time, because Uganda has a thriving tourist industry based on its teeming wildlife and beautiful landscape. One Ugandan newspaper recently reported there has been no reduction in reservations for safaris, an indication that tourists are thumbing their noses at the terrorists too.

Another tourism official, Edwin Muzahura, said, “These scares happen anywhere and tourists cannot stop to come because two bombs are detonated in some parts of Kampala. . .People out there understand that there are security concerns in America, Europe, Asia and everywhere.”

While the death toll from terrorism keeps rising, its impact may actually be on the wane. As Mr. Muzahura points out, terrorism can now happen anywhere. Nowhere is totally safe, therefore there is no compelling reason to avoid certain areas. I even had a safe and enjoyable trip to Somaliland, the northern breakaway region of Somalia, where I found the Somali people to be warm and welcoming, certainly not the image Al-Shabaab wants to project. The terrorists may be losing some of their ability to assert terror.

I wish I had the money to go to Uganda right now.


Image courtesy user dog blue via Gadling’s flickr stream. Check out dog blue’s excellent
Uganda series for more reasons to visit this beautiful African county.

Video shows the cause of Newark Airport shutdown – a couple in love

On Sunday, thousands of passengers ended up stuck at Newark airport for several hours, forced to evacuate the terminal, go through security again, and wait for the many flight delays and disruptions that happened as a result.

Some passengers tried to make the best of the situation. Many probably expressed frustration with the TSA employee who allowed a mystery man to walk the wrong way through a security checkpoint. And others may have wondered who the man was who caused them to suffer through the ordeal.

Was he a terrorist checking out the security system? Was he a man who made an Innocent mistake? No, as the just-released video footage of the incident suggests, he was a just a guy in love, looking for a few more minutes with his sweetheart. On the video below, you can see him hanging out by the security desk. He’s asked to move and does so, but when the guard leaves his post just a few seconds later, the guy takes that opportunity to duck under the rope and join his lady friend.

Ah, love. Cute, right? No. Not even a little. As a result of this guy breaking the law, and of the TSA employee’s failure to do his job, thousands of people were needlessly evacuated from the terminal. Time and money were wasted. And a few hundred people probably missed important connections or meetings, or at least had their vacation get off to a really bad start.

This guy wasn’t a terrorist (just an idiot), but the next person who tries and succeeds in getting past security could be. More than just frustrating travelers going through Newark on Sunday, the incident exposed just how insufficient TSA security is. What good are X-ray scanners and full-body pat-downs when a guy can simply breeze past an empty guard desk? It looks like our biggest threat to security may not be underpants bombs, but rather the lax attitudes of some employees within the TSA.

The TSA employee has been placed on administrative leave. The man who slipped past security has not been identified.

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Check out these other stories from the airport checkpoint!

Ten products to avoid when passing through airport security

The Transportation Security Administration spends millions of Dollars each year trying to inform airline passengers what to leave at home, and how to safely pack things.

We should all know by now that liquids come with restrictions, and that swords and other dangerous items will be taken away from you.

Now, these guidelines can be a little vague, so we have compiled ten products that will probably get you in trouble at the airport. Remember, this isn’t an open invitation to taunt the TSA!



The TSA absolutely loves offensive T-Shirts
. And by “loves”, I mean hates.

Nothing is more entertaining at the airport checkpoint than a really insulting t-shirt. In fact, they love them so much, that they may have airport cops arrest you, and force you to wear a different shirt.

Yes – the T-Shirt picture above is real, and there is indeed a real site where you can order it. It’s just one of many really offensive shirts being sold at tshirthell.com. $19 will get you your very own very offensive shirt, and a chance at being Tasered at the airport.


Pick the blue wire

Harmless alarm clock, or surefire way to get pushed up against a wall with your legs spread. You feeling lucky enough to try and find out? (On sale at Amazon.co.jp for just under 3000 Yen).

This is actually an alarm clock that requires you to disarm it by plugging the wires in using a sequence shown by lights. It is made for people who have a bit of a hard time waking up in the morning.




Make your own bomb guides

Here is one that doesn’t cost anything more than a couple of pages of printouts.

If your bag is being searched, and the agent comes across a stack of “make your own bomb” guides, do you think you will a) make your flight or b) not make your flight. (Hint, pick B).


Dirty bomb emergency kit

I’m sure you could come up with 20 different reasons why you are carrying a dirty bomb nuclear decontamination kit in your luggage.

Sadly, none of those reasons will help get you back to the US mainland, and it is a really long swim from Gitmo. (Image from Nukepills.com, where this handy kit sells for $249.99).



Personal doomsday detonator

To you, this is just a 4 port USB Hub, to Mr. Officer, this is a bomb detonator.

If they find this, don’t make any sudden moves, and whatever you do, don’t flip the cover open to press the detonator button. (On sale at Thinkgeek.com for $39.99)



Designed for a really explosive wakeup call

I’m not an X-Ray specialist, so I have no idea how this will show up on the TSA screens. But somehow, I don’t think they’ll find it as funny as we do.

This is obviously a gag gift, so if you want to really piss someone off, gift wrap it, and tell them to open it once they reach their destination.


Yes sir – I’m just naturally curious about radiation and dirty bombs

Unless you have a student ID showing your related studies or an employee badge for a national lab, you’d better have a great story for the screener that finds these books.

They may look like harmless reading material to you and I (and they are), but $10 says any number of these titles will get you pulled aside for some extra special screening.


The fake grenade USB memory drive

These USB hand grenades probably won’t look too authentic on the X-Ray machine, but they’ll sure make for a funny gag when your bag is being searched.

And by funny gag, I mean pain in the ass. Security personnel don’t take too kindly to fake grenades, and if you catch them on a bad day, you may end up being involved in a terminal scrub. Other things to avoid are grenade replicas or disarmed grenades.



Nothing says “strip search” faster than rubbing bomb making products on your belongings

Ever had your belongings “swabbed”? The security agent will rub your laptop or other item with a swab, then stick it in an expensive machine that says “ping”.

At least, in most cases it should say ping, because when that red light starts flashing, it’s telling them you have bomb residue on the item. Know someone with a heart condition? Don’t borrow one of their patches to rub it all over your laptop. It’ll end badly for everyone involved.


Jacket + wires = fighter jet escort

It was back in 2004, back when everyone was a little more security aware than they are today. A Saudi woman was on board Delta Airlines flight 43, on its way to the US when it got flanked by fighter jets, diverted and forced to land. All because of a jacket with a couple of wires.

To the untrained eye, it looked like a suicide bomb jacket, to everyone else, it was just a winter coat with internal warming pads. Or how about airline passenger/tech student Star Simpson back in 2007 – her art project/fashion statement also combined wires, lights and batteries, and it nearly got her shot at Boston Logan airport. Of course, this idiot was also holding a piece of Playdough, so the combination really could have been a problem.



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More terrorist bombs in Majorca

Three small bombs exploded today in Majorca, in a coordinated attack claimed by the terrorist group ETA. There were no injuries.

The first bomb went off in the bathroom of an Italian restaurant and bar next to the beach in Palma de Majorca. Another was detonated nearby by police in a controlled explosion. Shortly thereafter, a third bomb exploded in the town square. ETA, a terrorist group that wants an independent state in Spain’s Basque region, gave a warning that the bombs were going to explode and police were able to evacuate everyone in time.

This comes less than two weeks after two other bombs by ETA, one against Guardia Civil in Majorca that left two officers killed, and another against a Guardia Civil apartment building in Burgos that left dozens with minor injuries.

ETA has killed more than 800 people in the past fifty years and often targets popular tourist destinations like Majorca and Burgos in order to undermine the Spanish economy.

Ports and airports in Majorca closed after bomb kills two

The Spanish government has sealed off the island of Majorca after a terrorist bomb attack killed two officers of the Guardia Civil. This comes a day after a bomb targeted Spain’s national police force in Burgos, another destination frequented by tourists. Both attacks occurred outside Guardia Civil barracks.

The attacks are suspected to be the work of ETA, a terrorist group that seeks an independent Basque homeland in Spain’s northern region and which will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of its founding on Friday.

The blast happened just before 2pm local time in Palmanova. The two officers were parked in their patrol car close to where the blast went off. Several other people are reported injured. The Spanish government rushed to close all departure points from the island in order to keep the terrorists from escaping. Spanish media has reported that the main airport, Palma, has since reopened.