Adventures in War Zones and Disaster Areas for Journalists and Relief Workers

The 20 Most Needed Foreign Words in a War Zone

What Words Do You Need in a War Zone or Humanitarian Disaster Area? One thing you should have done on the plane ride into your latest hell-hole of a disaster area or war zone is learn the handful of words in the local language that may save your life. You only need a handful. YouContinue

Your First Day in a War Zone or Disaster Area

What to Do When You Step Off the Plane You would think that getting into a war zone or disaster area is the hardest part of your assignment, but really it is quite easy compared to what you face during the first day on the ground. Just getting from the airport can be a cocktailContinue

How to Get Out of a Minefield

I’m often asked if I worry about getting shot when working in some of the places I go to. Not really.  I mean, it is something I am always aware of and something I try to be prepared for, but the possibility of getting shot is not nearly the nightmare that people assume it is.Continue

Driving in Four World Cities–Eyes Clenched Shut

  I cannot remember the last time in Calgary that I used my car horn. I am not even sure that it works. I do know that if I did use the horn here it would be taken as a deadly insult worthy of gestures and incoherent rage. This is in horn-less Calgary. Elsewhere, thingsContinue

Water is Life — and Quick Profit

Travelers, even the type that heads for a cosseted resort in a first world country, know to be careful about the local water.  But what do you do when you are in a country where there is no safe water? Buy bottled water you’d say. Most of the time that would be a good idea,Continue

Foreign Journalists as Liars and Fools

  I’ve been watching the television coverage of the latest war this week. (It doesn’t matter which, they are all the same.) No matter which network I watch, with the exception of Al Jazeera or the BBC, the major world networks seem to be driving their correspondents to ever lower forms of journalism in theContinue

Amid the Ruins — A Poor Kind of Journalism

An odd thing is happening to journalism amid the chaos of humanitarian disasters these days.   It’s becoming as managed, influenced, nuanced and manipulated as the worst of government spin controlled journalism. Over the past years I’ve experienced at first hand a most remarkable change in how the media works  in humanitarian disasters such as Albania,Continue

How to Buy a Carpet in Afghanistan — it is not easy

I am not a carpet kind of guy. Left to myself I would be quite happy plodding around barefoot on the beaten earth floor of a Neanderthal cave, or scuffing through the dust floor of an Ethiopian tuqual. But others seem to find great pleasures in tightly bound and painted hairs ripped from the backsContinue

Torturers I Have Met

A few years ago I was splitting a bottle of Dewar’s Scotch with one of the most senior drug control police officers in the Afghan government, (drinking is an activity more common than you would think in that Islamic nation) when the conversation turned to torture. There had just been a sensational case involving theContinue

Travel Photography Tips

I’ve been asked more than once lately for a list of tips and techniques for taking good photographs while traveling. I’ve resisted adding my thoughts because there is a tremendous amount of excellent material already available on the web. Just do a search for “travel photography tips” and there you go. But, if by addingContinue