Monday, July 14, 2014


Same ol' song
One more time


At one point in my life I claimed to be a risk management practitioner, a/k/a business continuity planner.

I was certified, first by the no-longer-extant Harris Institute, and then by the Business Continuity Institute (BCI). I even provided Jon Seals with filler copy for the Disaster Recovery Journal.

I also participated on a number of professional boards, exchanging thoughts with others in the trade, from tyros to experts.

I thought I was pretty good at my job. Several of my peers told me they agreed with my self-assessment and surely they wouldn't lie.

But all the time one thing - OK, several things, but this one in particular - bothered me: people sans experience with management positions.

I recently saw an "How do I do" something appeal from a director of business continuity.

This person, as with many others, has the title but neither experience or classroom knowledge (the latter a very poor substitute for experience).

The question was about a fairly common situation that organizations with an international operation face on a regular basis: How to protect personnel traveling abroad and, by extension, how to protect the folks at home from whatever unwanted "gifts" the travelers bring back from "wherever."

The person who raised the issue used The "P" Word, "pandemic."

The "P" word was the first clue that the person posing the question was not a professional risk management practitioner or even a business continuity planner. (The difference between the two is area of responsibility or scope of the position.)

First of all, being concerned with a pandemic shows too narrow a focus. This is the type planning director who would develop a separate and unique "pandemic plan" rather than incorporate the threat, its mitigation options, and the responses appropriate for each threat condition into the overall plan.

If the planner has a big budget and wants to use as much of it as possible, multiple, threat-specific plans are the way to go. Not as effective or flexible as an overall plan, but time and fund consuming - and it looks good to Very Senior Management - "Yes, boss, we have a plan for this and a plan for that, and even a plan in the event of."

I gave the poster a fairly detailed outline to things to do - and action plan if you will - without even looking at the poster's "director" title.

Would I still have offered my free advice?

Maybe not. After all, it seems to this scrivener that a director ought to know most of the information I provided.

One question I have from this (and similar) experiences: Is this the Peter Principle or the Dilbert Principle in action?

Sunday, July 13, 2014


Mid-east conflict
Impacts supply chain


Years ago I worked for Tadiran, a multi-division company that dealt in everything from air conditioners and telephone systems to highly classified military material for use by armies around the world.

I worked for Tadiran's Electronics Division in Holon, Israel, and its Telecommunications Division in Clearwater FL, USA.

It was while working for the telecom division - analog and digital business systems - that I became aware of (potential) customer concerns about getting replacement parts for an Israeli product if normal operations were interrupted by rocket attacks from Israel's neighbors.

This was after the Begin-Sadat peace treaty but before the peace agreement with Jordan. The Palestinian Authority was then headed up by non-Palestinian Yasser Arafat.

Today, with rockets from Gaza and Lebanon indiscriminatingly falling on Israeli civilians the question raised by Tadiran's potential clients remains valid.

Is it safe to buy products from a country in conflict?

It really makes no difference which country is involved in a conflict, the question is a valid one.

What should a risk management practitioner recommend?

FIRST, Check the desired product's Mean Time Before Failure (MTBF). Most electronic gear has an established worst case MTBF based on testing and "aging" by the product's manufacturer. I define "worst case" as the part in the system with the lowest MTBF; the part most likely to fail.

At Tadiran in Holon we used to "age" product samples under carefully monitored, and recorded, conditions. We also performed a series of abuse tests. In the end, the aged and abused device was disassembled and thoroughly inspected.

SECOND, based on the MTBF confirm that the local (in-country) vendor has spares available; more for parts that have lower MTBFs. Also find out how many installations of equipment use the low-MTBF part. If the in-country vendor lacks sufficient known-good replacement equipment consider having your own reserves or looking at a competiting product.

It's not just terrorists that can jeopardize spares.

Consider strikes.

Strikes at, alphabetically,

  • Any transportation link (truck, rail, sea, air) and related (e.g., strikes at ports of all type)
  • Government agencies (e.g., Customs)
  • In-country vendor
  • Manufacturer
  • Manufacturer's vendors

And those are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

When I was with Tadiran in Clearwater FL, we had spares and replacement systems. If the Telecommunications Division was unable to ship parts from Israel for a month or two, we were covered; we had the parts our clients might need.

The threat of a conflict in the country where a product is manufactured should be only a minor concern; there are too many other things that can disrupt the supply chain.

The question to ask: does the in-country vendor have sufficient parts to meet all the clients' needs and, if not, what options does management want to consider?

Friday, July 11, 2014


Kudos for Customs
At Miami International


I recently was reading travelers' rants about U.S. Customs at Miami International (MIA).

All of the wailing and gnashing of teeth seemed to be from visitors to the Several States.

Maybe some of the complaints actually were about TSA, but it all got dumped on the people of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) which, sadly, is under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS); DHS also, again unfortunately, controls the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

I have been flying in and out of MIA since it was "owned" by Eastern Air Lines (EAL), National Air Lines (NAL), and Pan American Airways (PAA) and was the home to CIA-cover Southern Air Transport, for which I briefly worked as a "metal pickler." (You had to be there.)

Eastern Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation

Each time I came through U.S. Customs in Miami was a good time.

No hassles.


Flight from TLV

When our First Born was about 10 months old we flew from TLV (Lod, Israel) via El Al to MIA. We were relocating and had a number of suitcases and carry-ons (this was before the limits were imposed).

Baby in hand we stood, briefly, in line. Seeing Mother and Child (and weary father with loads of luggage) a Customs agent opened a line and called us over to be the first.

He asked what we had in the bags and told me to put a red carry on on the inspection table.

"What's in that bag?" he asked. "Dirty diapers," we responded. This was the day of cloth diapers and it was a long flight.

"Open the bag." Naturally I complied. One whiff and we had cleared Customs.

Welcome to JFK

After a series of long flights I dragged myself to Customs at MIA where I was greeted by a smiling Customs agent with "Welcome to New York." I was tired, but not so tired that I didn't get his humor. I staggered on to my waiting ride, but I was smiling.

Leaving Town

Somehow, and I'm not certain how or why, when the Spouse and I flew out of MIA toward Barcelona (BCN) - a nice airport, incidentally - we managed to get a priority pass through TSA. We still had to take computers out of bags, but we kept our shoes and belts as we were scanned. Lines, both priority and "regular" were moving along nicely, but arriving as requested 3 hours before boarding still is advised.

On the Other Hand

We flew from TLV to Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) where Customs decided a can of olives was suspicious. We were sidetracked to an inspection table where the Spouse had to retrieve the can and show it to the agents. Was it because of our point of origin? That crossed our minds.

What DOES Bother Me

I am bothered by two and a half things.

Why repeated personal inspections?

My luggage and I pass inspection at the originating airport, say MIA.

Theoretically, nothing dangerous or contraband gets pass the TSA screeners. Air crews are checked. Vendor personnel are checked. So I should be "good to go." (As I write this I can think of any number of ways to get weapons or contraband past TSA's watchful eyes.)

I get to my intermediate destination - say London Heathrow (LHR). I get off my plane and head to my connecting flight (that always seems to be at the other end of the mile-long terminal building). BUT, before I can go to the boarding gate for my outbound flight I must run the gauntlet of the local version of TSA.

I have not been out of the international terminal, always behind the inspection checkpoint, areas; where, when could I have acquired something that would endanger anyone?

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) isolates international travelers and holds them in large a glass-on-three-sides room. As long as passengers stay within the isolation area, there are no additional personal inspections.

Why has TLV apparently given up passenger profiling and opted for electronic inspections?

I have flown into and out of Israel since 1975.

On my first flight to Israel, via El Al, I had two large duffle bags. As passengers waited for boarding instructions I was asked the usual questions.

Did I pack the bags myself? (Yes)

Have the bags been in my possession since I packed them? (Yes)

Did anyone give me anything to carry with me to Israel? (No)

When I returned to the States, I was asked the same questions, plus where did I go in Israel and what did I do while I was in country.

No scanners.

No wands.

Just profiling.

The last time I left Israel, my luggage was scanned (and I had to show the inspector my two bottles of arak I had in my checked bag) and I walked through a metal detector similar to the ones in the U.S., except I kept my shoes on. (Another traveler had a can of something that showed up on the luggage scanner. The inspector asked the traveler what was in the can "Olives?" "No," the traveler replied. I don't recall what the traveler said was in the can, but the inspector passed him along without removing the can for inspection.

Why do the Supremes insist that profiling is illegal?

Profiling works for the Israelis. How well? How many El Al flights have been high jacked? How many flights leaving Israel have been high jacked? Go a step father: how many planes destined for Israel have been high jacked? (Israeli inspectors check all passengers on all flights to Israel, even if the passengers are unaware of this.)

If it works so well for Israel, why are the Supremes (U.S. Supreme Count justices) so against profiling in America.

Civil rights.

Criminals' rights.

A Florida Highway Patrolman developed a profile that helped him arrest a record number of drug traffickers. Then the courts discovered his technique and he was admonished to cease and desist and some of his arrests were tossed out. (What's wrong with this picture?)

The Feds (FBI, CIA, probably DHS) use profiling. But TSA and Customs are forbidden the training and implementation of the tool.

Back to Miami

I've traveled through a number of airports - in the U.S. and overseas - and I will rate MIA as a "pretty good" place to get off a plane.

Granted, it’s a lot bigger than it used to be back with I "worked for the CIA," but without exception my experience with Customs has been a pleasure.

Southern Air Transport C-130 Hercules

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Two Broward PDs fired
For anti-Palestinian rants


CAVEAT: I am a dual national - U.S. and Israel; my daughter is in Israel and, with my son-in-law and almost 4-year-old grand-daughter, having to hide in a "safe room" while Hamas rockets fall indiscriminately near her home. She is a non-combatant; my grand-daughter certainly is not a military target, yet Hamas has been, and continues to, attack civilians (but rarely a military target). I fully expect The World to condemn Israel for retaliation and for injury or loss life of any Gazan not in uniform; never mind that civilians are Hamas' preferred - of not only - target.

I'm between a rock and a hard spot, a hammer and an anvil.

Two Broward Country assistant public defenders (PDs) were fired for (allegedly) posting anti-Palestinian rants on their Facebook pages. (One admits the act, the other denies it.)

Bruce Raticoff and Gary Sheres were dismissed by elected PD and tv personality Howard Finkelstein for comments made on their individual social network pages. The comments were discovered and published by the Sun-Sentinel, a local newspaper.

According to an article on the Sun-Sentinel web site, The remarks from the two men's' personal Facebook accounts last week were posted under an item about Palestinians allegedly celebrating the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teen boys. The killings were blamed on the Islamic militant group Hamas.

Blogger's comment: I was in Israel at the time and there is no "allegedly" to the celebration of the kidnapping and murder of three youths, two 16 and one 19.

"They are the filthy swine they don't eat. Their ignorance to the world bewilders the dumbest people I have ever met," Sheres posted.

A bit later, a comment came from Raticoff's account: "That's why the Palestinian people are considered the cockroaches of the world. Reprehensible and despicable with utter disregard for civility and humanity. Burn them to the ground."

Strangely enough, according to the same Sun-Sentinel article, a fellow assistant PD, of "Palestinian" heritage, Lubna Abualown, apparently defended the pair's right to continue employment with the PD's office: Finkelstein said she argued for their jobs.

The article notes that Abualown asked the standing room only crowd of co-workers, "Ask yourselves, are you living the example you want your children to be? Or are you perpetuating the racism that this country fought so hard to destroy?''

So what's my quandary? There are several.


The PD's office is concerned primarily with criminal matters. It is charged with defending people charged with a crime.

Consequently the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, a/k/a the Bill of Rights declares unequivocally
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I'm not a lawyer and I don't play one on tv, but it seems to this scrivener that the two assistant PD's freedom of speech has been not merely violated by trampled upon by Finkelstein's action.

The language may be less than delicate and certainly not "politically correct," but does it rank down there with the "N" word (OK for some to use, not for others - I never figured out the logic there). It's OK, albeit not polite, to disparage a person's linage, but when the subject is protected, as Palestinians apparently are, then retribution will be swift and sure.

Why is it that Palestinian text books at all grade level demonize Jews in general and Israelis in particular. Granted, this is Broward Country Florida USA and the text books are in Gaza and the so called "West Bank," but the books are funded - at least in part - by American dollars. Despite rare UN criticism of the Palestinian Authority over the text books' content, it remains in place - along side children's tv programs having the same goal.


Finkelstein is a political animal.

His office is often under fire for defending people we all know are recidivistic criminals who ought to be put away forever and a day. We know that because the equally political DA's office tells us these are the facts and nothing but the facts.

While we don't have many (obvious, i.e., wearing jubba or galibiyya for men or abaya, and hijab for women) Muslims in Broward County, there are a few. (The population is sufficient to support 11 mosques in the county, all are Sunni save for one "independent" organization.) It would not be unreasonable to assume that at one time or another a Muslim would need the services of a public defender.

A perception that the PD's office is "anti-Palestinian" or "anti-Arab" might give a Muslim client a feeling that the assigned assistant PD won't work as hard for the client as required by law.

At the same time, the Broward PD's office has at least one assistant PD (Abualown) whose parents are from the West Bank, and her husband from the Gaza Strip, according to the Sun-Sentinel.


Unless Finkelstein at least publicly offers the two fired assistant PDs the opportunity to return to their posts, it become patiently obvious that political correctness trumps the Constitution's First Amendment.

This won't be the first time the Constitution has been ignored.

Maybe it's time to toss out the ideals of the founding fathers and to replace the increasingly trampled upon document with something modern, something "politically correct."

Like a realtor's cry of "location, location, location," politicians - and Finkelstein is a politician - cry "image, image, image."

I like Finkelstein on tv (Tell Me, Howard), but I think he may have gone to far in his effort to be politically correct.

2 Public Defenders Fired Over Anti-Palestinian Facebook Posts

Anti-Palestinian Facebook Comments Leads to Firing of Public Defenders

Racist Facebook Rants Cost Assistant Public Defenders Their Jobs<

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


TSA gets it


In a headline from The Wire web presence we learn that The TSA Might Make You Turn Your Phone On to Prove It's Real.

Let's see, it's only been 25 - almost 26 - years since Pan Am 108 was blown apart over Lockerbie Scotland by a bomb placed in a portable radio carried by the temporary girlfriend of a Moslem terrorist.

Perhaps if someone had insisted that the radio be turned on the Pan Am flight would have made it to the States as planned.

So, nearly 26 years later the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is finally realizing that electronic gear can go BOOM!

To be fair, TSA has been making us remove computers of all types for special inspection, but cell phones and digi-cams, while scanned, are generally given only a cursory glance (else why the sudden interest in making passengers turn on a cell phone?).

The Wire's article suggests that confirming that a cell phone is operational will cause delays in the inspection process is almost funny.

The travelers I've seen are reluctant to turn their communication devices off at ANY time, even after being told to do so by the electronic flight attendants. In other words, there should be no delays - just open the phone to see the display.

Of course seeing the display really doesn't prove the communications device WORKS, but it probably will be enough to convince TSA.

If TSA really wants to check phones ask passengers to call a dummy number then listen for the response.

For me, however, there is one minor problem.

My cell phone service is restricted to the Several States. When I board a flight from the States I remove the battery and put it back in only on final approach to my return destination. My cell phone company charges dear for international calls on my plan, ergo the no battery option. No battery, no accidental phone activation = no charges for messages, etc.

Despite all its precautions, it still is easy to plant weapons on a plane.

Shortly after 9-11 (2001) I wrote an article pointing out the weak points in airline security. The article was reviewed by an airline security chief who said "it can't happen that way."

But it does and it has and I think the airline has a new security chief.

Unlike El Al - or perhaps the "old" El Al - most airlines "trust" vendors who board the aircraft when the aircrew is elsewhere. Although baggage handlers are airline employees, is anyone from security inside the baggage hold as luggage is loaded? How much are baggage handlers paid - enough to prevent temptation by a person with evil intent?

The problem in the U.S. is that when journalists managed to sneak weapons past TSA, the journalists were arrested for committing a crime, when in fact they proved the inadequacy of TSA screening. Instead of a reward they received punishment (but still got their story).

Israel used to blatantly profile passengers boarding planes to or from Israel. It worked. Most passengers, even Arabs, moved quickly through pre-boarding checks. Now Israel has "modernized" and, if there IS profiling today, it is covert; the emphasis seems to be on electronic detection of undesirable materials. I liked the old way better, but maybe profiling still is taught and implemented and I just failed to recognize it.

Asking passengers to turn on their cell phones should not be a problem; most cell phones are on anyway. But why stop at cell phones; have computers - notebooks, tablets, etc. - turned on a well. Just don't make anyone wait while the operating system's graphical user interface loads - THAT WOULD delay the line.

While TSA is busy checking cell phones - and I agree that this should be done - maybe it ought to consider checking all electronics, including portable radios, hearing aids, and all computing devices.

Or, although the Supremes declared it illegal, train TSA personnel to profile passengers in addition to the luggage and body screening.

And retrain some of those food sniffing puppies in the baggage claim area to detect explosives in shoes and underwear in the passenger (and crew) screening areas. (While it is unlikely a crew member would sabotage his/her own plane, a uniform and an ID badge is enough for anyone to access a plane at the jet way.)

Monday, July 7, 2014


To murder



  * Six arrested in Israel for murder of Palestinian youth

  *  Arab taxi driver charged with murder of Jewish woman


  * PA government makes no effort to find, arrest murderers of three Jewish boys

  * PA government makes no effort to quell anti-Israel rioting

  * Mother of slain Jewish boy calls Moslem boy's mother to express sympathy

  * Mother of slain PA boy calls for beginning of third intifada.

  * American relative to slain Jewish boy calls American relative of slain Moslem boy to express sympathy

Can anyone see a pattern here?

Yet "The World" condemns Israel.

Obama via Kerry, tells ISRAEL to restrain its people - while the Moslems in the Hamas/PA territories rampage and rain missiles down on Israel.

The murderers must be caught (Israel has arrested 6 suspects; the PA none) and punished.

Question: Should Israel provide the Jewish murderers salaries while incarcerated and should it give them early release when it turns lose Moslem murderers to appease the terrorists? How would The World react if Israel did what the PA does? Maybe the U.S. and the EU could fund the payments as they do for terrorists held in Israeli prisons.

Will the arrest of the alleged killers of the (singular) PA youth bring calm to the area? Unlikely.

The Moslems do not think like Europeans, and that's the Jews' problem. While the Jewish mother expressed sympathy for her Moslem counterpart, the Moslem wants only the beginning of the third intifada.

The only way to deal with the Moslems is on the Moslems' terms.

Moslems cannot co-exist even with other Moslems. Look at Iran Lebanon, and Syria. How can anyone expect them to coexist with non-Moslems, infidels, dhimmis.

If it was not for strong leaders in Morocco, Libya, Algiers, Egypt, and Saudi, those countries, too, would be battle grounds. Jordan is in jeopardy. Turkey - "modern Turkey" - teeters on the brink of political disaster. Iran, as long as the ayatollahs control the army, is "stable" that is, all dissent is put down harshly.

(The Soviet Communists also followed the "iron hand" policy and allowed descent only when it suited them; local rivalries were stamped out for the sake of the good of the state.

Most Moslem countries are basically a collection of tribes, each with its own values that may, but often do not, align with the state's political will.)

In Israel, the response to the murders of three Jewish youths was five hours of televised speeches before the three were buried. Not one speaker - not one - called for retribution or encouraged riots in Moslem-dominated areas.

No riots.

No threats to any Arab - Moslem or not.

In Occupied Israel, a/k/a the PA territory, the reaction to one Moslem youth is rioting and, from Aza (Gaza) continuing rocket attacks - continuing because they started well before the three Jewish youth were buried and before 6 Jews allegedly murdered the Moslem youth. (Unlike in the PA-controlled areas of Israel, there is some level of a justice system: arrest, trial, conviction, punishment.)

Was it wrong for Jews to murder the Moslem boy? Certainly.

Could it have been avoided. Likewise certainly, IF the PA had made any effort to find and arrest the murderers of the three Jewish youth. It did nothing.

Should Obama and the heads of the EU governments have expressed sympathy for the outrage to Israeli - and in one case, American - citizens? Not really. But they don't need to encourage the rioters by calling on Israel to show restraint. Kidnapping and murders take place in the U.S. and EU countries as well and no one - not in Israel or in any Islamic land - offers condolences for their losses, as horrific as they are.

Until Israel learns, and applies the lesson, that the ONLY way to convince the Moslems in Occupied Israel is the same way the Moslems behave, the riots will continue.

It should be obvious to all - but alas The World remains blind - that Israel's restraint, Israel's rule of law has NOT made a positive impression on the Moslems of Occupied Israel.

In the end, in my opinion, Israel must deal with the Moslems on the Moslems' own terms; fight fire with fire until the Moslems' fire is totally and completely extinguished.

Friday, July 4, 2014


What's special about
Kidnapping Israeli boys?


I don't mean to be unkind, but the expectations of Israelis that the world will condemn the kidnapping and murder of three yeshiva boys will not be satisfied.

Why should it?

Granted, the motives behind the kidnappings were either/both nationalistic and/or religious, but kidnapping - even for nationalistic or religiously motivated ideals - is not unique to Israel.

I was in Israel as the police and army searched for the kidnapped boys.

I was there when they were found and later buried.

I heard many average Israelis complain: Why doesn't Obama say something; why doesn't he condemn the kidnapping and murder of these boys? For the same reason he sat on the fence for so many days after the Islamist Boko Haram kidnapped 200 school girls simply because they wanted an education. (By the way, whatever happened to those children?)

Why? Because, sadly, the situation in Israel is neither unique or on a grand scale.

Does Netanyahu condemn kidnappings in the U.S. or elsewhere? Did Netanyahu or even Peres condemn the mass murders of children at schools in the U.S. and Europe?

In the U.S. alone there have been seven children, all but one less than 10 years old, kidnapped and murdered since February 2002.

Wikipedia has a list of kidnappings from around the world that dates back to pre-1900.

While the entries listing the victim as "murdered" - or in the case of the three Israeli boys, simply "killed" - perhaps even more sad are the ones whose fate is listed as "unknown.'

There is a succinct but definite semantic difference between "murder" and "kill." Refer to for a brief definition of the words as they commonly are applied.

ON THE OTHER HAND the internet is filled with instant outrage over the kidnapping, murder, and burning of the body of Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir, 16, from East Jerusalem.

Both the US and UN condemn killing of Palestinian boy in Israel.

According to the BBC, The US and UN have condemned the abduction and murder of a Palestinian teenager in Israel, which sparked fierce clashes in East Jerusalem.

US Secretary of State John Kerry called it "sickening" while the UN demanded justice over the "despicable act". (Is there a stench of double standard at play here? Kidnapping and murder is a "sickening" and "despicable act" ONLY if the act is against a non-Jew, otherwise the act goes without comment, without condemnation.)

Despite "Palestinian" condemnation of Israel, there so far has been no evidence that an Israeli - Jew or non-Jew - was involved. Burning a body according to Moslem belief precludes the dead male from acquiring his 70 virgins in the afterlife. Most Jews are unaware of this belief, so while it is possible the Moslem youth was a victim of Jews, it is not likely.

UNLIKE HAMAS/PA which celebrated the yeshiva boys' kidnapping and murder, Israeli police and military will hunt down and prosecute any Israeli - regardless of religious or political affiliation - who may have been involved in the Moslem youth's abduction.