Putting down asphalt at the gap in The Wall at Dahiet al-Bariid – no information available to the residents of this area or to the tens of thousands who transit here daily

There is still NO INFORMATION at all about what is happening at the gap in The Wall (between what will be the West Bank and northern Jerusalem) at Dahiet al-Bariid. There are only rumors.

Maybe it will be closed before Ramadan (which will start on 1 September). Maybe it will be closed at some point during Ramadan. Maybe it will be closed by the end of 2008 (just about the time that the peace negotiations launched at Annapolis in November 2007 are supposed to be coming to a conclusion with the establishment of a Palestinian state…)

In any case, this morning, I went out to go to some meetings in Ramallah, and noticed that there were armed men standing on the corner. There was also a border police jeep, with more armed persons, but they drove off.

When I passed through, nobody said anything, or gave me any informational pamphlet, or anything like that. Nor were there any signs posted …

When I came back, I found the road blocked with two huge pieces of formed cement just in front of the driveway to my building. And more armed men blocking the gap in The Wall.

Putting down asphalt at the gap in The Wall in Dahiet al-Bariid

“Drive around”, they said blithely — as if it didn’t matter at all.

Armed men in the street - at the gap in The Wall in Dahiet al-Bariid

That would mean going either through Qalandia — a supposed “border crossing” which is always a nightmare of congestion and humiliation under the point of some very big and very advanced automatic weapons.

Or, it would mean going around 11 miles or so on a winding road with some very aggressive drivers as road companions, through the “Judean Desert”, and passing through two more checkpoints — the one being upgraded beside Jabaa village, and the one called “Hizma” …

Armed men in the neighborhood

Putting down asphalt under armed guard

Then they said, “wait five minutes”. And they used a “traktor” (bulldozer) to pick up the huge boulders, and eventually the mad crazy traffic through the area started up again.

Pulling back the boulders and putting them on the West Bank side of The Wall in Dahiet al-Bariid

Putting down asphalt all along the Jerusalem side of The Wall in Dahiet al-Bariid

But, if I had listened to them at first, and not protested, I would have had to drive nearly one hour out of the way, through horrible dusty roads with world-class potholes, and at the same time as some very crazy and crazed drivers, on a very, very hot day …

And nobody knows what will happen or what the situation will be tomorrow.

NOTE OF REMINDER: This, my neighborhood, on the Jerusalem side of The Wall, where I and my neighbors simply live, is part of the Twilight Zone here. Yes, here, the little area where we live between The (still-open) Wall and a miserable and frustrating checkpoint (which it took over 20 minutes to transit today in the burning sun and boiling heat), has been designated a “Military Zone” [not a closed Military Zone or an operational Military Zone, but just a Military Zone], where anyone entering (or damaging “the fence”) subjects him-or-her-self to MORTAL DANGER — and ENDANGERS HIS LIFE!

Military Zone - anyone entering or damaging the fence endangers his life

New UN data base

Yousef has kindly sent this link which he found interesting on Slashdot, announcing a new UN data base set up by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). I would not have found it on my own…

The head of DESA, Sha Zukang was a very effective Ambassador for China — his last posting was at the UN Office in Geneva. Like many people, he thought it would be fun and rewarding to join the UN.

One of his achievements is this new searchable UN data-base. It seems to be limited to certain kinds of statistical data submitted by member states — and it is not linked to any other UN data system.

The announcement reads: “The DESA Statistics Division has just launched a new internet-based data service for the global user community. It brings UN statistical databases within easy reach of users through a single entry point. Users can search and down load a variety of statistical resources of the UN system. ‘The UN-system has accumulated over the past 60 years an impressive amount of information. UNdata, developed by the Statistics Division of DESA, is a new powerful tool, which will bring this unique and authoritative set of data not only to the desks of decision makers and analysts, but also to journalists, to students and to all citizens of the world’, says Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs. Since its foundation, the United Nations system has been collecting statistical information from member states on a variety of topics. The information thus collected constitutes a considerable information asset of the organization. However, these statistical data are often stored in proprietary databases, each with unique dissemination and access policies. As a result, users are often unaware of the full array of statistical information that the UN system has in its data libraries. The current arrangement also means that users are required to move from one database to another to access different types of information. UNdata ( here ) addresses this problem by pooling major UN databases and those of several international into one single internet environment. The innovative design allows a user to access a large number of UN databases either by browsing the data series or through a keyword search. The project has been developed in partnership with Statistics Sweden, the Gapminder Foundation and with partial financial support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. For more information: http://data.un.org”. This item was published here .

The site says it contains over 55 million records. The most popular searches are listed as:
China population 1990-2010
GDP prices
internet users

The Indicator Databases nclude:
Key Global Indicators
Millennium Development Goals Indicators [!!!]
Gender Statistics
ECE (Economic Commission for Europe) Indicators

And these databases cover the general areas of agriculture, education, employment, energy, environment, industry, national accounts, population, trade and tourism.

The UN decides who is a journalist

The UN says that a journalist is someone who is necessarily hierarchically subordinate to an editor.

And, the new head of the UN Department of Public Information on the purpose of his job? Protecting the SG.

These revelations are reported by Matthew Lee on 28 July on his Inner City Press Blog:

“In late June in Madrid, the head spokespeople for 37 UN agencies met and planned how to best communicate the work of the UN to a worldwide audience. While claiming to want to engage with new media, including blogs, a UN summary of the meeting obtained by Inner City Press shows a proposal by at least some UN agencies to exclude any media without a traditionally hierarchical editing process — that is, to exclude blogs and most participatory media.
Continue reading The UN decides who is a journalist

Report of new hacking attack on UN websites in Asia — another "cyber rattle"

Darren Pauli of Computerworld Australia is reporting that “The United Nations (UN) has been hit by a string of hacking attacks aimed at identity and credit card theft, and building botnet hordes. The attack on the UN Asia Pacific website is believed to originate from the same group responsible for attacks on the US-based Biotechnology Information Organization and the prominent Indian Syndicate Bank. The financially-motivated incursions, launched from the same remote location, infected a server common to all three websites and downloaded a Trojan to visitor computers via drive-by attacks…
Continue reading Report of new hacking attack on UN websites in Asia — another "cyber rattle"

UN Site hacked

Slashdot, a tech site is reporting that the main UN site was hacked using a technique called “SQL Injection”. This well known vulnerability typically occurs when a database-driven site exposes too much information, thus allowing users to manipulate database commands via the URL bar.

Also worth noting is the run on expensive, proprietary Microsoft software. Not only that but they used MS Word, the popular word processing application to create the “Down for maintenance page here: ” UN Site.

Continue reading UN Site hacked