10 Most Secure Locations on the Planet

They say safety is relative. Some people go their entire lives and NEVER feel safe. Others take incredible precautions to protect both themselves and their loved ones from anyone and anything that may seek to cause them harm (babyproofing anyone?).

Where are you most safe? Are you thinking about places where you can retreat and hide from the world? If so, here are the 10 Most Secure Locations on the Planet that are considered the safest, for various reasons.

1. Fort Knox

Located in Kentucky south of Louisville, Fort Knox is home to the United States’ monetary assets, said to hold tons of gold – 5,000 tons at last estimate (equal to about 2% of ALL Gold ever mined from the Earth). To make it safe enough (if the location surrounding by the military camp isn’t enough) there is a bank vault within a deep basement of the building that has a 250 ton door marking its entrance.


2. Cheyenne Mountain

This is also in the United States, located just outside of Colorado Springs, CO. It is the command center and control, communication and the intelligence center for both the United States Space Command missions and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). Built at the height of the Cold War, the facility is said to be sturdy enough to survive a multimegaton nuclear detonation within 1 nautical mile (1.9km) of it’s center. It has blast doors that each weigh, individually, 25 tons.


3. Haven Co

Located in the Sealand in the North Sea, about six miles off the coast of Britain, this location is a company base founded in 2000. The company provides data protection. The only way you can get in is if you are an authorized staff member, an investor in the company or you are a Royal Family member. Although services for HavenCo ceased without explanation in 2008, it’s an example of the type of “island data haven” that is very secure do to it being SO HARD to get to traditionally.


4. Area 51

The famed stories be true or not, this area in the remote deserts of Las Vegas is more than just strange. It is also one of the most secure locations on the planet. It is a United States military base ( a detachment from Edwards Air Force Base in CA) where no one knows what’s occurring, except those that work there and the President. Known by many names (Groom Lake, Dreamland, Paradise Ranch, etc.) Area 51 is believed to be a testing ground for advanced and experimental aircraft.


5. Air Force One

One of the most well built planes in the world and what many consider the world’s most secure moving location, Air Force One has plenty of security. The United States President travels in a modified Boeing 747-200B series aircraft. It has the world’s most advanced flight avoidance, air-to-air defense, and electronics  technology packages available anywhere in the World, all for the protection of the Commander-in-Chief and his entourage.


6. ADX Florence Prison

The Administrative Maximum Facility (ADX for short) is a supermax prison (for men) in Colorado housing the baddest of the bad. These criminals are considered the most dangerous cons in the US and has earned the prison the nickname of “Alcatraz of the Rockies.” Described by one former ADX warden as “a cleaner version of hell”, security measures at the prison include attack dogs guarding the area between the prison walls and 12 ft. high razor wire fences, 1,400 remotely controlled steel doors, motion detecting laser beams, pressure pads and cameras. Current residents of the prison include infamous “Shoe Bomber” Richard Reid, 9/11 terrorist mastermind Zacarias Moussaoui, and Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols among many, many others.


7. The 1960’s Bar

Located  100 feet underground within Britain’s secret subterranean Burlington bunker complex in Wiltshire, England, the 1960’s Bar is a recreation of a pub popular with British Government officials. This top secret base was first constructed during the Cold War and designed to be a refuge for the higher-ups to reconstruct Britain in the event of a nuclear attack…needless to say they figured  they would need a few pints to wait out the radiation.


8. Bold Lane

Located in Derby, England, this car park is multi-story stronghold for 440 cars. First conceived and designed by an agricultural engineer after he had the window of his car smashed and his radio stolen while in an airport parking structure.  Sophisticated security measures include CCTV  cameras, panic buttons, bar-code scanning entry doors, and advanced sensors controlled by a central computer that detect any and all movements of each car. Although, at over $30 dollars an hour, keeping your auto safe in the UK isn’t cheap.


9. Deposed Iraqi Leader Saddam Hussein’s Baghdad Bunker

The 2,150 square-yard bunker was originally designed to withstand the blast of a nuclear bomb and house 50 people. Located nearly 100 feet underground, security measures for the Dictator’s refuge included three-ton Swiss-made doors, 5ft-thick walls, a 6ft-thick steel-reinforced concrete ceiling, and two escape tunnels. The bunker survived seven American dropped bunker busters and 20 cruise missles during the war. Unfortunately, it couldn’t survive looting and was picked almost completely clean during the last days of the war by Iraqi soldiers.


10. Granite Mt. Mormon Church Records Facility

The records storage of the Mormon Church is a massive vault encased in rock at Granite Mountains, Utah first opened in 1965. Armed guards waving metal detector wands usher visitors into a concrete bunker before swinging open metal gates to a tunnel entrance. Excavated 600 ft inside the mountain, the vault features state-of-the-art environmentally controlled document storage chambers as well as administrative offices, shipping and receiving docks, a processing facility and a restoration laboratory for microfilm.


These are just a sampling of some of the world’s most SECURE locations. With the near daily unrest that occurrs even in developed countries today, there has been a lot of discussion about how secure any location really is. However, chances are good that if you are deep within these systems, you will be safe at least for some time. Did we miss one you think should have made the list? Let us know in the comment below.


Top 10 Companies To Blame For America’s Gigantic Trade Deficit

From the latest Rail Time Indicators report, a look at some big time importers (as measured by container volumes).

The chart below show the top 10 U.S. container (importers) in 2010 according to The Journal of Commerce. Note that “big box” retailers dominate the import side, holding the top five spots (as well as many other spots in the top 100). Reportedly, something like 85% of U.S. households buy bananas. That’s a lot of bananas, which helps explain why Dole and Chiquita are often among the top 10 U.S. container importers. (Their imports aren’t just bananas, but a lot of them are.) Electronics and appliances are also big business for U.S. container imports.


Bin Laden’s luxury hideout

Osama bin Laden made his final stand in a small Pakistani city where three army regiments with thousands of soldiers are based not far from the capital – a location that is increasing suspicions in Washington that Islamabad may have been sheltering him.

The U.S. acted alone in Monday’s helicopter raid, did not inform Pakistan until it was over and pointedly did not thank Pakistan at the end of a wildly successful operation. All this suggests more strain ahead in a relationship that was already suffering because of U.S. accusations that the Pakistanis are supporting Afghan militants and Pakistani anger over American drone attacks and spy activity.

Pakistani intelligence agencies are normally very sharp in sniffing out the presence of foreigners in small cities.

For years, Western intelligence had said bin Laden was most likely holed up in a cave along the Pakistan-Afghan border, a remote region of soaring mountains and thick forests where the Pakistan army has little presence. But the 10-year hunt for the world’s most-wanted man ended in a whitewashed, three-story house in a middle-class area of Abbottabad, a leafy resort city of 400,000 people nestled in pine-forested hills less than 35 miles from the national capital, Islamabad.

Sen. Carl Levin, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said bin Laden’s location meant Pakistan had “a lot of explaining to do.”

“I think this tells us once again that unfortunately Pakistan at times is playing a double game,” said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a member of the Armed Services Committee.

A senior Pakistan intelligence official dismissed speculation that bin Laden was being protected.

“We don’t explain it. We just did not know – period,” he said, on condition his name not be released to the media.

Extra security forces swarmed the city on Monday, adding to Abbottabad’s already massive military presence. Heavily armed trucks rumbled through, and police shooed children away from around the fortress-like compound.

Associated Press reporters saw the wreckage of one of the American helicopters that malfunctioned and had to be destroyed during the operation. Residents described the sounds of bullets, the clatter of chopper blades and two large explosions as the raid went down.

Hours after the operation, a soldier armed with a gun could be seen walking on the compound’s roof, as tense crowds of onlookers suddenly swelled in the narrow street leading away from the site.

It was unclear how long bin Laden had been holed up in the house with members of his family. From the outside, the house resembled many others in Pakistan and even had a flag flying from a pole in the garden, apparently a Pakistani one. It had high, barbed-wire topped walls, few windows and was located in a neighborhood of smaller houses, shops, dusty litter-lined streets and empty plots used for growing vegetables.

Neighbors said large Landcruisers and other expensive cars were seen driving into the compound, but they had no indication that foreigners were living inside. Salman Riaz, a film actor, said that five months ago he and a crew tried to do some filming next to the house, but were told to stop by two men who came out.

“They told me that this is haram (forbidden in Islam),” he said.

A video aired by ABC News that purported to show the inside of the compound included footage of disheveled bedrooms with floors stained with large pools of blood and littered with clothes and paper. It also showed a dirt road outside the compound with large white walls on one side and a green agricultural field on the other.

After nightfall on Monday, a single light shone from inside the compound.

Some residents were alarmed. “We’re very concerned for this town. It was a very safe place. Now there could be al-Qaida everywhere,” said Naeem Munir.

The compound, which an Obama administration official said was “custom built to hide someone of significance,” was about a half-mile (one kilometer) away from the Kakul Military Academy, one of several military installations in the bustling, hill-ringed town.

“Personally I feel that he must have thought it was the safest area,” said Asad Munir, a former station chief of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI, in the northwest. “Abbottabad is a place no one would expect him to live.”

Suspicions that Pakistan harbors militants have been a major source of mistrust between the CIA and Pakistan’s ISI, though the two agencies have cooperated in the arrests of al-Qaida leaders since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, including several in towns and cities outside the border area.

“Why had Pakistan not spotted he is living in a nice tourist resort just outside Islamabad?” asked Gareth Price, a researcher at Chatham House think-tank in London. “It seems he was being protected by Pakistan. If that is the case, this will be hard for the two sides to carry on working together. Unless Pakistan can explain why they didn’t know, it makes relations difficult.”

Relations between Pakistan’s main intelligence agency and the CIA had been very strained in recent months after a CIA contractor shot and killed two Pakistanis in January, bringing Pakistani grievances out into the open. Since then, a Pakistani official has said that joint operations had been stopped, and that the agency was demanding the Americans cut down on drone strikes in the border area.

The U.S. has fired hundreds of drones into the border regions since 2008, taking out senior al-Qaida leaders in a tactic seen by many in Washington as vital to keeping the militant network and allied groups living in safe havens on the back foot.

While tensions may run high, it is unlikely that either nation could afford to sever the link completely. Pakistan has nuclear weapons, and the U.S. needs Islamabad to begin its withdrawal from Afghanistan this year as planned. Pakistan relies heavily on the United States for military and civilian aid.

Some of the strongest allegations about ISI involvement in sheltering bin Laden were made in Afghanistan, where President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly said that more of the American focus should be across the border in Pakistan.

“For years we have said that the fight against terrorism is not in Afghan villages and houses,” said Karzai. “It is in safe havens, and today that was shown to be true.”

There was no evidence of direct ISI collusion, and American officials did not make any such allegations.

“There are a lot of people within the Pakistan government, and I am not going to speculate about who, or if any of them had foreknowledge about bin Laden being in Abbottabad but certainly its location there outside of the capital raises questions,” said White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan.

Some analysts suggested that Pakistan would have little interest in sheltering bin Laden. They contrasted the al-Qaida leader with Afghan Taliban leaders, whom Pakistan views as useful allies in Afghanistan once America withdraws. Al-Qaida has carried out scores of attacks inside Pakistan in recent years.

Last month, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the U.S. joint chiefs of staff, accused Pakistan’s military-run spy service of maintaining links with the Haqqani network, a major Afghan Taliban faction.

Hours later, a Pakistani army statement rejected what it called “negative propaganda” by the United States, while army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said his troops’ multiple offensives against insurgent groups in the northwest are evidence of Pakistan’s resolve to defeat terrorism.

Kayani also told graduating cadets at the Kakul academy that their force had “broken the backbone” of the militants.

But Pakistan’s government and army are very sensitive to concerns that they are working under the orders of America and allowing U.S. forces to operate here. One Islamist party staged a protest against bin Laden’s killing, but there was no sign of a major reaction on the Pakistani street.

“Down with America! Down with Obama!” shouted more than 100 people in the southwestern city of Quetta. “Jihad, jihad the only treatment for America!”

The Pakistani Taliban, an al-Qaida-allied group behind scores of bloody attacks in Pakistan and the failed bombing in New York’s Times Square, vowed revenge.

“Let me make it very clear that we will avenge the martyrdom of Osama bin Laden, and we will do it by carrying out attacks in Pakistan and America,” Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan told The Associated Press by phone. “We will teach them an exemplary lesson.”

The U.S. closed its embassy in Islamabad and its consulates in the cities of Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar on Monday for fear of unrest.

Many Pakistanis doubted the U.S. account of the raid, with some refusing to believe that bin Laden was dead.

“It is not possible. Like other incidents, I think this is faked,” said Mohammad Bashir, a 45-year-old cab driver in Abbottabad. “It seems that in the coming days, suddenly Osama will come out with a statement.”

Jet-Propelled Surfboard

Handy Man The bodies of WaveJet boards are designed by Steve Walden, an originator of the modern longboard. Jeff Harris

Surfers want to ride waves, not tire out while paddling to them. That’s where the WaveJet comes in. Two battery-powered jets tucked into the shortboard’s three-inch shell provide 20 pounds of thrust to propel riders at 12 mph—three times the average paddling speed.

Unlike a Jet Ski’s circular exhaust nozzles, the oblong ones on the WaveJet save space and add power. By forcing water through smaller, flatter openings, the jets produce a higher-pressure stream. Riders turn the jets on and off with a bracelet remote control that also acts as a kill switch if they wipe out. Because the battery-and-jet module sits just ahead of the fins, where a standing surfer’s weight rests, the 15 pounds it adds only minimally affects the board’s balance and performance.

Although the WaveJet’s power could realistically help pro surfers shred harder, its true purpose is to make water sports less frustrating for amateurs. The board’s propulsion system is currently built into 11 surfboard models, including paddle- and lifeguard boards, and will soon be installed in bodyboards, kayaks and kiteboards as well.

Dimensions: 7.1 ft. x 21 in. x 3.125 in.
Weight: 32 lbs.
Run Time: 39 min.
Price: $4,500 (est.)
More Info: WaveJet

E-fabric spools bring bullet-proof watches, paper-thin batteries

E-fabric, etched and layered with microscopic electronics, coud bring bullet-proof watches on every soldier’s wrist and a light in every African hut.

John Maltabes, a Hewlett-Packard research engineer, is reflected in a sample sheet of thin, flexible electronic displays.

Tony Avelar/The Christian Science Monitor

Computer chips are arguably the most complex objects ever built by humans. Manufacturing a Pentium chip involves up to 5,000 steps of painting, etching, and polishing as up to 25 layers of metal and insulator are stacked onto a silicon wafer.

But John Maltabes, a visiting scholar at Hewlett-Packard (HP) Laboratories in Palo Alto, Calif., imagines a different future, one in which electronics are mass-produced like fabrics or newspapers.

Imagine a yard-wide sheet of plastic coated in thin layers of metal and semiconductor rolling off a spool in a factory. That sheet passes under a printing press like a rolling pin, which imprints millions of transistors, capacitors, diodes, and wires onto it. The sheet then scrolls through an etcher to complete the printing process. The sheet would wind onto another spool as a finished product: perhaps a sheet of solar cells that could be unrolled and cut to size on a roof, or a flexible television display that could unwind like a blind in a living room.

Mr. Maltabes is working on these so-called “roll-to-roll” methods for making flexible, paper-thin computer displays. But he believes that the cheaper manufacturing and more flexible, durable products could fundamentally change the economic equation of what is affordable to do with electronics in general.

“There are devices that we can’t even imagine now,” says Maltabes. “You could ‘sensor’ the world. Think about wrapping the pipes in your house with some kind of material that actually senses the temperature of your pipes. They tell you the pipes are about to freeze and warm them so they don’t freeze.”

Or smart bandages that sense inflammation in a wound and release medications. Or lighted wallpaper, purchased by the roll at Home Depot, that changes color and hue with the turn of a knob.

One gadget being created with US military funds is the so-called Dick Tracy wristwatch: This flexible band, strapped on a soldier’s wrist, would provide communication, satellite images, and Google Earth-style maps. “You should be able to shoot a bullet through it and have everything work except for the place where there was a hole,” says Maltabes, of the device, under development at Arizona State University’s Flexible Display Center.

Roll-to-roll manufacturing could also lower the cost of making batteries. Yi Cui, a nanotechnologist at Stanford University, in California, is printing experimental batteries on paper and cloth using inks that contain carbon nanotubes and lithium-containing dust.

The technology potentially overcomes a major problem: Engineers would like to store electricity produced by solar and wind farms during the day, so it can be used at night – but the cost of today’s lithium batteries renders this out of reach.

“The scale of the problem does not match,” says Dr. Cui. “You put together all of the lithium batteries we’ve made for the last 20 years to power the US electrical grid and you can probably only power it for five to seven minutes.” Cui hopes, though, that printed batteries can be expanded to that massive scale.

Roll-to-roll could propel another green technology – printed solar cells – into widespread use in developing countries, enhancing the decentralized, off-grid economies that are already emerging. In areas without electricity, small propane or solar-powered generators are already used to recharge cellphones – or sometimes even small LED lights, says Sandeep Tiwari, a nanotechnologist at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., who devotes some of his time to developing-world technologies.

“Every hut has this light that is then used by children to study at night,” says Mr. Tiwari of one village in northern India. “Lighting has made a huge difference.”