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

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

Afghan Soldiers Can’t See to Read

This week in Afghanistan (Fed 23, 2011) the NATO General in charge of training the new Afghan Army, Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, said he would like to see all Afghan National Army soldiers reading at the First Grade Elementary School level by October of 2011. Think about that statement for a moment and be veryContinue

Life in Afghanistan Before the Taliban

I don’t know who took the first two pictures here but the story is that they were taken in 1968 by a British diplomat. If anyone knows who I can contact to see whether I can display these with permission I would appreciate the contact info.  And should the owner of these pictures want themContinue

The Mad Mullah of Pakistan and the Giant Afghan Earthquake

Northern Pakistan was hit by a 6.1 or possibly 6.4 earthquake this afternoon. The shaking was also felt throughout southern Afghanistan including Kabul. There’s nothing unusual about this and indeed earthquakes are pretty common in the region.  They’re caused by the ongoing collision of the Indian subcontinent with the under belly of Asia.  It’s aContinue

At Night Through Armed Checkpoints

“You no speak okay?” I nodded my head and slouched lower in our wreck of a Toyota Corolla shuddering up to the checkpoint. Snow sleeted down the mountain slope to lash through the yellow of the headlights. “Say nothing okay. Nothing.” I’d already had a lot of practice at this already, about a dozen timesContinue