Tuesday, March 28

Dubai Port Hysteria Kills UN Seafarer Identity Convention

The International Labour Organization (ILO) is a United Nations “agency which seeks the promotion of social justice and internationally recognized human and labor rights.”

The ILO formulates international labor standards in the form of Conventions and Recommendations setting minimum standards of basic labor rights: freedom of association, the right to organize, collective bargaining, abolition of forced labor, equality of opportunity and treatment, and other standards regulating conditions across the entire spectrum of work related issues.

One item that the ILO has under its wing is Seafarer Identification. Since seafarers travel around the world and don’t always know where they are going, it is often difficult, if not impossible, to obtain the right visa before arriving at a port. This is where the ILO comes in, with a Convention that sets the rules for seafarer identification to permit the movement of seafarers with limited restrictions/visa issues.

The old Convention was passed in 1958, and after the terror attacks of September 11, it was realized that an updated convention was needed. So in the summer of 2003 the new Convention (Number 185) was adopted and it came into force on 9 February 2005. There is just one small problem, the US does not like the new Convention. Specifically, they don’t like the following clause in the Convention:

Shore leave

4. Each Member for which this Convention is in force shall, in the shortest possible time, and unless clear grounds exist for doubting the authenticity of the seafarers' identity document, permit the entry into its territory of a seafarer holding a valid seafarer's identity document, when entry is requested for temporary shore leave while the ship is in port.

6. For the purpose of shore leave seafarers shall not be required to hold a visa. Any Member which is not in a position to fully implement this requirement shall ensure that its laws and regulations or practice provide arrangements that are substantially equivalent.

The problem here is that the US does require visas for seafarers wishing to go ashore in US Ports. In the past they used to issue Crew Visas that were issued to the crew upon arrival. This is no longer possible. Therein lies the problem. If you are a seafarer and you are coming to the US, you need to get a visa before you join the ship, especially if you plan on joining it in the US. Immigration won’t let you into the Country unless you have a visa. This Convention tried to eliminate the Visa requirement in the US or at least force the US to make it easier for seafarers to get a visa once here.

I have been told that those negotiating this Convention were warned by the US not to include the visa clause but it was included anyway by representatives of the seafarers, who, in the way the ILO is set up, have a say in the negotiations. The joke is that the new convention was created for the US, and now the US will not sign it. Since they have not signed it, other countries are not willing to commit to it. After all, at least 60% of global shipping involves the US. Without the US, this convention will have a hard time gaining acceptance.

Let’s look at who has ratified this convention:

France
Jordan
Hungary
Nigeria

Do you think there is a problem here? If the US signs up, then (unless they can prove that the seafarer is a National Security threat) the US will have to permit all seafarers with a valid seafarer ID entry into the US. One of the four countries to ratify this Convention is in the Middle East. Another is Nigeria, which has problems preventing their own citizens from kidnapping/attacking foreigners working in their own oil fields. They also have also managed to let the former president of Liberia, Charles Taylor, escape from their ‘protective custody’. Mr. Taylor is wanted for crimes against humanity and is the only person to be charged with war crimes while a serving head of state other than Molosovich.

The latest country to ratify this Convention was Hungary which ratified the Convention in March, 2005. (So there have been no new ratifications in the last year.) If the US ratifies this Convention, then they would be pushed to accept foreigners from all other countries that also ratify this Convention. That includes countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran. Both countries are already on the International Maritime Organization’ ‘White List.’

The ILO has been trying to get the US to commit to ratification of this convention with little success so far. I suspect that this Convention is all but dead, taking into account the reaction of congress in the DP World Port ownership issue. Imagine the furor in congress and the public if it is suggested that they sign up to an international convention that will result in seafarers from around the world (including North Korea and Iran) into the country without proper due diligence.

C185 Seafarers' Identity Documents Convention (Revised), 2003 - ILO

Monday, March 27

Maritime Monday #2

I start this week with a confession. This weeks carnival had no submissions. With that in mind, I have removed 'Carnival' from the title, and instead I am proud to present this week's edition of Maritime Monday. This week contains links to blog post found that I think you might find interesting.

This Weeks Photo:


All the Cruise Vessel mishaps this week reminded me of a Survival Craft exam I gave in Miami in 2001. It is not regular work for me. I was asked if I could fly down at the last minute as the regular inspector was not available. I am not one to say no when I get a chance to take a lifeboat (survival craft) for a spin.

It was a group test, the students working together, and in the end they all passed save one. The group being tested was hotel staff. You see, there are so many lifeboats on a cruise ship, that there is not enough seafarers to mann all the positions. So the hotel staff is called upon to mann some of the positions. At the start of the exam, the Chief Mate was a little too involved in the exam as a coach, so I stopped the exam for a minute and proclaimed the Chief Mate 'dead'. They managed to do fine without him. (Photo by Mrs. Fred.)

This weeks items:

The Estrogenius Radio Blog has a post about Rogue Waves.

EagleSpeak has coverage of a truly impressive eplosion that took place on the HYUNDAI FORTUNE. More coverage of this incident at Cargolaw.

The Monitor has coverage about the sinking of the Canadian Ferry QUEEN OF THE NORTH in British Columbia. More coverage of the sinking at The Galloping Beaver including an estimated position of sinking.

Sailors, Mariners & Warriors League cover another 'North' vessel (no relation) in trouble where the EMPRESS OF THE NORTH, a sternwheeler cruise vessel has run aground in the Columbia River. Oddly enough, the passengers abandoned ship directly onto another sternwheeler, the QUEEN OF THE WEST.

Gates of Vienna has a post covering the well-publicised P&O STAR PRINCESS fire. If one cigarette can cause all that damage. Imagine what a pack of cigarettes in the hand of a terrorist can do...

Fires, sinking, and running aground are not the only dangers of going to sea. Cruise Junkie has a running list of Persons Overboard from 1995-2006. They also have a list of all sorts of events that happen to and on cruise vessels.

Blue Mountains Union News has a story about longshoremen on the guard against foreign-flag cargo ships taking cargo containers destined for other Australian ports, which should be carried only by Australian-flag vessels.

Sake Light has a post about Piracy in International Waters and the role of the US Navy.

Admiralty, Boating, and Maritime Law Podcasts has this video of a collission between a Greenpeace vessel and a Japanese whale 'research' vessel. (No comment concerning Greenpeace's actions for the moment.)

Weekly Maritime Reference:
This week we visit the legal term "General Average." A good definition of General Average:

An ocean marine loss that occurs through the voluntary sacrifice of a part of the vessel or cargo, or an expenditure, to safeguard the vessel and its remaining cargo from a common peril. If the sacrifice is successful, all interests at risk contribute to the loss borne by owner of the sacrificed property based on their respective saved values.

Basically, there is an accident on the vessel and in trying to save the vessel, cargo is jettison or somehow damaged or destroyed in the process of saving the ship. Like water damage from fighting a fire. Or tossing cargo over the side to get access to a damaged part of the ship or the cargo causing the distress. The actions were successful in that the ship is saved. However, not all of the cargo owners are getting their cargo. As their loss resulted in the other cargo-owners getting their cargo, those cargo owners must compensate the ship and other cargo owners for their loss, essentially all lose equally.

Previous Edition:
Maritime Monday Carnival #1 - 20 March 2006

Submission Guidelines:
Look here for more details: Submission Guidelines

Sponsors:
No sponsors for this week. You can sponsor this week's post retroactively. Then again, if you are interested in doing that, then you might consider sponsoring an upcoming post. Check the submission guidelines for more details.

Feedback Welcomed!

Sunday, March 26

Traffic Light (with instructions)

Just how stupid is this country becoming? I ran across this traffic light in Queens, NY on Saturday.

(Wait for Green Light)

Am I the only one who thinks that if you do not know this, then you should not be behind the wheel of a car.

How many of these idiotic signs are posted in New York City?

Carnival of the Clueless

Saturday, March 25

New French Labor Law Permits firing of Bad Employees

Once again France is being torched by protestors. This time it is over what I would consider a law that is probably desperately needed in France, if not elsewhere.

The CPE was introduced as a way to tackle the high level of unemployment for young workers. French employers can hire workers under the age of 26, but can also fire workers without just cause within the first two years of employment. - Jurist

This is very simple issue. As an employer, I have an open job. I want to fill that position with the best person that I can find.

The last position that I had open, I eventually offered the job to the ninth temporary employee that we had doing the work. Two of the other temps quit, mainly because they were overqualified. The other six I fired. They were either too stupid, or too set in their ways, or just not interested in doing work. They needed a paycheck, but did not feel like working. Any one of these six would have made our office a miserable place if we had been forced to keep them.

Yes, they were stupid.

It is a hassle to hire a new clerk. The job is not difficult but it does require learning and it requires some competence on the part of the employee. It also involves contact with clients from around the world, which requires a certain degree of understanding as English is a second language for many of the clients. It is not required that they have this understanding when they are hired, but that they can learn how to work with these clients. They are however required to have general knowledge of world geography; Finland is in Europe. Canada is not part of the United States (yet). China and Taiwan are in fact two different Chinas, etc. Of course we are all not operating in the same time zone either. It is amazing how poor people's understanding of geography is. (not to mention their math and writing skills.)

We dedicated lots of time in an attempt to train each one of these temps. We want them to succeed, after all it is in all our benefit to get the new employee trained and contributing to the job at hand. So to decide to fire someone means that we have to start over again. That is a difficult thing to do to your staff.

Our office staff is part of a team. To think that a person is fired simply by the decision of a person in a corner office is silly. People get fired because the people they work with want them gone. How often is a great co-worker fired from your office, other than for cause? In all the cases but one, the person was fired because of complaints and feedback from the staff. So it was the coworkers who fired these people. It was just me who agreed with their criticism and pulled the trigger.

For the person looking for a job, this is a great rule. You see, you are competing against people more stupid (lazy) then you. Why should they get to keep a job just because they tricked those who hired them, or because they have a friend in the human resources department. So either you need to do good work, or your out while they look for a better employee. Think of it as an extended job interview.

This now permits companies to take a risk in hiring you. If it is a mistake they can just get rid of you. In the cases where they are looking to hire multiple people, they can fill both positions immediately, instead of waiting to see if the first choice was good or not. Instead of leaving positions empty, they can hire for those positions without the fear of being stuck with poor choices.

So who is rioting over this law in France? I am not sure, but I would not interested in hiring any of them. They do not look like people over 26. If anyone should complain, it should be those over 26. The law will not permit firing these people, so I would think that companies would be less likely to hire then than someone they can just get rid of.

In Virginia, there is a right to work law. Employees can be fired for no reason. In the five years working for the company, every employee that was fired, was fired for cause. In other words, they should have been fired. Employees do not feel like there is this constant threat of being fired. That is not the atmosphere at all. They know that the company needs them, because they are good workers.

The Virginia law also permits employees to quit with no prior notice. For every employee that has been fired at my company, at least two have quit with no notice. So I would think that employees benefit more. They can look for new work and if they find something, they just stop coming to their current job.

What is wrong with a company firing an employee anyway? Companies that abuse this right will find themselves in trouble.

Labor law talks between French PM and unions end in deadlock - Jurist
Paris Burning, Once Again - Washington Post
Concerns over violence intensify in France - International Herald Tribune

Sunday, March 19

Sanborn-Snow-Bush Conspiracy 'Dot' Connectors have Dull Pencils

I just noticed that a number of left-leaning sites are trying to 'Connect the dots' on some sort of maritime conspiracy running around the Bush White House that the Dubai Port Deal has somehow brought up to the surface. Of course it is the Democrat members of Congress who seem to think that this might be the next thing to throw against the wall to see if it will stick against the President. After all, word has been out for a while that the Democrats plan to impeach the President 'when' they get control of Congress in November. Thankfully that won't happen, but try telling them that. So they continue to build their list of charges against him.

Enter David Sanborn, who is the President's nomination to be the next Maritime Administrator (MARAD). Democrat Senator Bill Nelson does not like the President's pick and is going to see if he can increase the Dubai Port kill-zone by torpedoing the President's pick to head the Maritime Administration, a part of the US Department of Transportation. Senator Nelson gives us this classic concern:

Nelson said he is troubled that if Sanborn is confirmed as head of the US Maritime Administration, Sanborn would be overseeing his former employer's work at US ports. But the Maritime Administration issued a statement last night saying it ''does not regulate US ports, their operations, or their security." Instead, the administration said, it collects port traffic data and advises on issues such as dredging, congestion, and environmental guidelines.

Apparently the Senator has NO CLUE how small the US Maritime Community is. It's small. Really small. Everyone knows everyone else. When you go to training courses you run into many people you have met before. Instead of 'Six Degrees of Separation' American Merchant Mariners (Seafarers) have Three Degrees of Separation. (any US Merchant Mariner can be connected to any other US Merchant Mariner through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than one intermediary.) To compare, the US Naval Academy admitted 1,220 Cadets this last year. The US Merchant Marine Academy admits about 275 Midshipmen each year. A much smaller group, but then again, your only putting a handful of seafarers on each ship, not hundreds like in the Navy. Don't think that those who leave the Navy end up in the Merchant Marine or the maritime industry. Few make the transition. The training and experience in the two fields is completely different.

I find this conspiracy theory very amusing since I too:

- I Have worked for SEA-Land Services. (which was owned by CSX)
- I Have worked for P&O Containers.
- I have also spent two weeks assigned to MARAD (All before my 34th birthday)

To put things in perspective. SEA-Land was the shipping line started by the creator of Containerization. Many of the country's Maritime Experts (Container-shipping related) have worked for SEA-Land. What really gets the conspiracy theorists going is that Secretary of the Treasury, John Snow, is a former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CSX Corporation, the former owner of Sea-Land. He took the position in January 2003. In late 2004 CSX sold it's "CSX World Terminals" to DP World. Now lets look at Mr. Sanborn's Bio from his nomination:

The President intends to nominate David C. Sanborn, of Virginia, to be Administrator of the Maritime Administration of the Department of Transportation. Mr. Sanborn currently serves as Director of Operations for Europe and Latin America at DP World. Prior to this, he served as Senior Vice President for North America Service Delivery at CMA-CGM (America) LLC. Mr. Sanborn also served as Vice President for Network-Operations for American President Lines, Pte. Ltd. Earlier in his career, he served as Director for Operations for Sea-Land Service, Inc. Mr. Sanborn is a retired Lieutenant Junior Grade for the United States Naval Reserve. He received his bachelor's degree from the United States Merchant Marine Academy.

All we have here is a person with a career full of experience relevant to the position he is being nominated to. Strange, the Democrats were just complaining that the President is making appointments of unqualified persons. (F.E.M.A's 'Brownie' for starters.) This is yet another non-story. Too bad Senator Nelson and Senator Kerry have bought into it. Remember Senator Kerry?

Kerry, in a letter to Snow, wrote that, ''As you know, the CSX rail corporation, where you previously served as chief executive officer, sold its port operations to DP in 2004." Congress needs to learn ''whether administration officials could have unduly influenced CFIUS's approval process," Kerry wrote.

I tried to find Senator Kerry's 2004 comments about the sale of CSX to a Dubai firm on his website, but the search for "CSX" came back with no hits. Guess he did not find a problem with it at the time (At what point after 9/11 did port security become important?) Did you notice that Kerry is suggesting that Mr. Snow might have committed a crime? Nice guy eh?

P.S.
So far none of these conspiracy theorists have managed to link White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card to the conspiracy yet. That surprising since:

- Mr. Card served as the 11th U.S. Secretary of Transportation (92-93)
- He attended the United States Merchant Marine Academy

The 'moonbats' have had Rove stuck in their sights for years. I have always believed that Rove is the decoy. It is Card that is the Ringleader of the whole Administration.

P.P.S.
If you really whant to find a conspiracy in the UAE Port Deal, how about looking at how the Clintons tag-teamed DP World, the company buying P&O Ports.

Mrs. Clinton, Senator from the State of NY raises a stink about the Company buying Terminal Operations in the US. Enter her Husband and ex-President, Mr. Clinton, who takes in anywhere from $0 to $400,000 in consulting fees to help steer the company through the Congressional objections to the deal. Technically, nothing illegal was done as Mr. Clinton didn't infuence Mrs. Clinton to change her mind. Neither one of them has any knowledge of ports, or port terminal operations, or containerzation. Yet there they were right in the middle of this mess. Now President Clinton explains how he was always on the same page as his wife.

“I told them I couldn't understand why they wanted to do this, given all the problems we have with port security,” said the former president. “I thought there would be tremendous public and Congressional opposition. If they were determined to press ahead, I thought they should not push the process, but should open it up, and they should actually propose things that would increase port security.”

Clinton says he never asked anyone to support the deal, and he says Dubai Ports World never compensated him. - NY1

Where did all those other stories about the ex-President's involvement in this deal on behalf of the UAE Company come from? Now, if the press bothers to check, it seems that President Clinton might have broken the law advising them, even for free.

Apparently, Department of Justice lawyers from the Office of Legal Counsel want to know if Clinton registered as an "Agent of a Foreign Principal." According to the American Prowler, "Federal statute requires that anyone -- even a former President -- doing political or public affairs work on behalf of a foreign country, agency or official must register with the Department, and essentially update his status every six months. It was not clear Clinton had done so." - NMJ

The newest information available is from the second half of 2004 at it does not appear that Clinton's firm is listed. It will be interesting to see if Clinton's Business is registered. Don't wait for the press to tell you. Now lets all forget all the American Businesses sold to foreign entities while Clinton was in office.

UPDATE: 28 March 2006
Mr. Sanborn has withdrawn his nomination.

MarAd candidate Sanborn pulls out

DAVID SANBORN has asked President Bush to withdraw his nomination to head the US Maritime Administration and the While House has complied, pulling his name from consideration. The announcement came late Monday as Bush sent four unrelated nominations and one other withdrawal to the Senate. Sanborn, a former executive with Dubai Ports World wrote in his letter to Bush that “the convergence of a number of factors bring me to the conclusion that I cannot effectively serve my country, you, and the U.S. maritime industry." He was nominated to head MarAd in January, before the DPW furore began, but became caught up in the hysteria when Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida democrat, held his nomination hostage to the company’s sale of US terminal contracts. Sanborn, a Merchant Marine Academy graduate and navy veteran, had over 30 years experience in the maritime field and also said in his letter that his “background makes me one of the most qualified people there is for this position” of MarAd director. No replacement nominee has been tendered, leaving acting administrator John Jamian in charge of the Department of Transportation agency that he has run for over a year since Capt. William Schubert resigned. Lloyd's Register - 28 March 2006

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Agency nominee taking Senate heat - Boston Globe
Climate of Corruption II - New Media Journal
Foreign Agents Registration Unit (FARA) - US Department of Justice

Maritime Monday Carnival #1

Welcome to the first week of what I hope is a long-running Maritime Carnival.

First up is the picture of the week, which is actually a video:



This is a time-lapse video of one week at the Panama Canal condensed into an 11 minute video. If the video is not working, you can view it here.

I am pleasantly surprised that there are submissions already for the first week. Here they are both submitted and 'found' posts:

This Weeks Submissions:
From the website of the US Coast Guard come a couple of stories about Port Security operations in the Persian Gulf. Most people are not aware that the Us Coast Guard operates overseas in wartime. The first story s the most interesting, describing the situation of guarding Iraq's two offshore oil platforms, which was described as right out of Waterworld.

From the Heritage Foundation, we have Port Security: Four Examples of What Not To Do.

The furor over the proposed sale of a London-based firm that operates facilities at some U.S. ports to a company in the United Arab Emirates has focused Congress’s attention on the issue of maritime security. The U.S. part of this deal appears to be dead, but real dangers remain—specifically, that Congress will implement policies that will not make Americans safer and could actually harm U.S. interests. There are at least four bad proposals on the table that Congress should reject. (Continue)

From the Strategy Page we have: A Major Victory for Al Qaeda, a good summary of acts done by the UAE that put them firmly in the ally column. It is just a pity that it is our own Congress that hands Al Qaeda a victory against one of our allies.

From Spank that Donkey we have Scratch Two Flat Tops !!!! the US Navy currently operates 12 aircraft carriers. Seems that some in the Pentagon are toying with the idea of cutting that number back to 10. Is ten enough? Is twelve too many? Read to find out

Speaking of carriers, the USS Ronald Reagan is making a port call in (of all places) Jebel Ali, in the United Arab Emirates. Perhaps Congress forgot to tell the Navy how dangerous that country is.

SAILORS, MARINERS & WARRIORS LEAGUE has coverage of a Sailor Beaten To Death On Oil Tanker Over Prophet Mohammed Cartoons.

Eaglespeak takes the press to task with Headline fun with "pirates" pointing out what was reported does not reflect the true story, with their own stories contradicting the headline. (kind of like calling a person with a mask and a gun inside a bank a 'suspected' bank robber. )

Maritime expert Cargolaw has complete photo coverage of the grounding of the Containership M/V APL PANAMA, a 'Cargo Nightmare Prize Contender' here. The story includes pictures of offloading the ship BY HELECOPTER. There are lots of other maritime accidents documented on this site.


(Wow, that sucks!)

Weekly Maritime Reference:
One reference book all Navigational Officers are familiar with is the American Practical Navigator.

The American Practical Navigator (Pub 9) is a publication which describes the modern principles of marine navigation and includes the formulas, tables, data and instructions required by navigators to perform the computations associated with dead reckoning, piloting, and celestial navigation. The publication also contains sections addressing the Practice of Navigation, Navigational Safety, Oceanography, Weather, and Electronic Navigation. It is prepared and published by NGA on a five-year program. This publication is available in its entirety on the website. A Marine Navigation Calculator function is also available on the website which performs many of the navigational computations derived from formulas and data found within this publication's text and tables.

So lets take a word out of the Glossary:

green flash. . A brilliant green coloring of the upper edge of the sun as it appears at sunrise or disappears at sunset when there is a clear, distinct horizon. It is due to refraction by the atmosphere, which disperses the first (or last) spot of light into a spectrum and causes the colors to appear (or disappear) in the order of refrangibility. The green is bent more than red or yellow and hence is visible sooner at sunrise and later at sunset.

Bridge watches (at least those I was a part of) would look at sunset to see if there is going to be a green flash. I have to say that it is pretty cool to see the upper edge of the sun turn green right before disappearing below the horizon. It is also possible that there is a green flash in the morning but it is a little more challenging to see it as you can't see the sun beforehand to get an idea when/where to look.

Submission Guidelines:
Look here for more details: Submission Guidelines

Sponsors:
No sponsors for this week. You can sponsor this week's post retroactively. Then again, if you are interested in doing that, then you might consider sponsoring an upcoming post. Check the submission guidelines for more details.

A special thanks goes out to 'Cannoneer No. 4'.

Feedback Welcomed!

Tuesday, March 14

Feingold 2008: R.I.P.

The road to the Presidency is littered with the failed campaigns of those who desired the job. Many never had a chance. However, Senator Feingold seems destined to sabotage his campaign before it even gets off the ground. His attempt to get the Senate to censure the President has turned into Presidential campaign suicide.

Sure, there are many (moonbats) who would love for this to happen and applaud the Senator for his actions. However, despite the moonbats being a vocal group, their true support come election day is pretty damn thin, especially once you dilute the Democrat voting pool with Republicans and others who are determined to see you lose. (See Kerry 2004)

I will give credit to Senator Feingold for visiting Afghanistan and Iraq. (Not that you would know it from the lack of pictures.) But I wonder if he was paying attention while he was over there. You know, going to visit the mass graves and so on.

The Senator apparently would bring his own ties to the Middle East if he ever manages to win the White House. I only mention this since the Congress has all of a sudden demonized all Middle East Countries.



So what is the issue here? Lets look at the Resolution:

Resolved, That the United States Senate does hereby censure George W. Bush, President of the United States, and does condemn his unlawful authorization of wiretaps of Americans within the United States without obtaining the court orders required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, his failure to inform the full congressional intelligence committees as required by law, and his efforts to mislead the American people about the authorities relied upon by his Administration to conduct wiretaps and about the legality of the program.

Now we already know that this resolution has NO SUPPORT. The Republicans wanted to vote on the resolution but this has not happened because the Democrat leadership has done everything possible to prevent this as they would be left with two hard choices. Either voting against this, or voting for it and looking weak on National Security. (Which they really are)

You see, there is an issue here that Senator Feingold would do well to explain:

How is the FISA Court going to be able to issue 200,000+ wiretap warrents taking into account that the FISA Court has only issued 6,652 from 2000 through 2004?

Senator, how would you monitor 200,000+ suspected terrorists around the World?

This whole episode is a perfect example of why it is so hard to be elected President after serving in Congress. It is to easy to grandstand in front of a Camera. Unfortunately, this grandstanding can all too easily be used against you. Take Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan. She recently went onto the Senator floor with a huge sign that said "DANGEROUSLY INCOMPETENT." (via Drudge Report) She was referring to President Bush. But you can bet that she will be confronted with those signs when/if she chooses to run for re-election. Then they will be referring to her. Just like the person who claims that "I am not an idiot." People only seem to remember the person's name and 'idiot.'

Oh yes, I address the NSA wiretap issue a while bac in a post titled "The Company You Keep." Basically, if you are going to associate with suspected terrorists (like an A.C.L.U Lawyer) then you should expect your phone to be tapped. If you don't, then your an idiot.



--------------------------------------------
Russ Feingold - US Senator

Russ Feingold for President - Supporter Blog

325,000 Names on Terrorism List - Washington Post

Censure Proposal Fails To Get Vote - California Conservative

FISA Warrants Issued - EPIC (Chart)

The Impeachment Agenda - Opinion Journal

Mark Noonan Calls for Censure of Senator Feingold - Blogs for Bush

The Company You Keep - FFI 18 January 2006

update: 15 March 2006

Cluebat of the Week - RightWing NutHouse




--------------------------
Fred Fry 2008:
Kerry 2008 - 29 January 2006
Gore 2008 - Not Happening - 12 October 2005
Biden 2008? - Last Exit Before Toll - 09 October 2005
Obama 2008? Mr. Electability? - 25 July 2005

Home

Sunday, March 12

Maritime Monday - A New Carnival

Welcome to Maritime Monday. Hopefully it will develop into a weekly Carnival covering the Commercial Maritime world and related, hosted right here on FFI. Looking at the Dubai Port hysteria, there is a severe lack of understanding about the Maritime Industry. So this is your chance to spread the word about what it's all about.

1991 - Rio Haina, Dominican Republic. Yes, the ship is going between the two white buoys. This was our second attempt to enter the port. The pilot was real excited, jumping up and down in that everything was going well the second time around. Everyone was laughing except the Captain. (Photo by Fred Fry)

Carnival submissions should meet the following guidelines:

Either a photo or writing covering one of the following subjects:

- Merchant Marine (Training and Certification (i.e.STCW), Operations, Inspections, Security, Stowaways, Accidents, Life at sea, etc...)

- Maritime Schools (Merchant Marine Academy, Other Maritime Academies, Unions Schools, other schools all around the world)

- Navies and Coast Guards (US and Foreign)
- Port Terminals
- Longshoremen and Stevedores
- International Maritime Organization (IMO)
- Offshore Oil Drilling Industry
- Anything else Maritime related

In general, links to all submissions will be posted with a summary, but I reserve the right to reject any post, like those that don't meet the guidelines. (The goal is to be inclusive)

Deadline for Submissions:

Every Sunday at 2200 Eastern Time.

Please submit your entry via the Carnival Submit form at Carnival Cat. Alternatively, link the post in the comments section of this post.

In addition, each Monday I will post a Maritime photo.


Sponsorship:

There is no advertising on FFI and there are no current plans to change that.

However, you can be a sponsor of a Maritime Monday post. Your ad will appear at the bottom of the post and will remain with the post as long as FFI is online. Sponsorship is available for $100 and $300 to be the exclusive sponsor for a week.

Saturday, March 11

Michelle Malkin and Senior Republicans - "Dubai Hysteria" Victims

I have to admit that I am not a regular reader of Michelle Malkin. I'm not sure why. We all tend to gravitate towards those who we agree with, and for the most part, my views seem to be on the same page as hers. However, her site seems so one-sided for a blog. She is one of only a few conservative sites that do not permit reader comments and even though there are trackbacks, you can't see who is linking to her unless you take the extra step of opening the trackback link. No matter, it's her site and she can set it up any way she wants. Perhaps, she does not like how uncontrollable comments are. There will always be someone who can manage to make your blood boil. Sure those comments can be deleted, but it is impossible to un-read the comment. Anyway, we are all living with a limited amount of time, and I already enjoy enough blogs than I have time to read them.

I have been covering the Dubai port deal, and how idiotic our congress has been acting in this matter, completely ignoring the real security threats in our transportation chain. The 'newest' threat identified just this week in the press is the high number of truck drivers with criminal records. Just look at all of the bills introduced in Congress over this issue lately. (See: Congressional Action:UAE DP World Port Deal - "Dubai Hysteria") In the long run, the big losers in all this will be the incumbent Republicans that fought this deal. They have shown their true colors. I was an independent, and it was President Bush who brought me into the Republican Party, with a small helping of the Democrats who pushed me to the Republican side. But now I am stuck with lots of crappy Republicans in Congress. They should not count on my support. They were too quick to abandon the President for my liking. Stanley Bing, a columnist for Fortune, wrote in 2000 "Fifteen things you young people need to know about comportment." A good number of Congressional Republicans broke Rule Ten:

Be loyal. even when it is to your detriment. That kind of behavior has a way of getting noticed and appreciated in your target audience. As does the lack of it.

Congress also broke Rule Three:

Be really nice to everybody you can be nice to. If you must be tough with somebody, don't overdo it. And if you have a choice between screwing somebody or helping him get a little bit out of the deal, do the latter. People will come to see you as someone who deserves to win and will rejoice in your success.

Sure they are rules for business, but they work well in surviving every day life. Now rule ten does not reply to Ms. Malkin because she is supposed to be objective. She managed to break Rule Six:

Have some insight about what you can and cannot do. That will make it unnecessary for others to point it out.

Michelle broke this rule by writing about a subject that she knew nothing about. Not only that, but she presented conclusions that were not only wrong, but if turned into policy will actually harm the country, especially since the UAE's neighbor, Iran, is the real enemy.

As Strata-Sphere pointed out, some other conservative bloggers were attacking those against the deal, including Malkin, and she hasn't taken it very well, as her recent reply shows. You see, she thinks this is a bad deal because it is an Arab firm and many Arabs are terrorists and letting them into our ports is a bad idea. Are people in the UAE supporting terrorists? Sure they are, as are people in every other country including our own. Is the UAE supporting the US? They sure are, more than people can imagine.

Problem is, by not understanding what this deal entails, you cannot understand what the threats really are. For one thing, a terrorist is not going to tell a shipping company or a port terminal operator what he is shipping around. Look at the drug trade. How often are containers full of drugs 'stuffed' by people who work in the ports? (essentially never.) So if the drug trade does not need access to port details, why do terrorists need this sort of access?

Anyway, Malkin is right. Terrorists come from Arab Countries. However, there are many types of Arabs. Those in this deal are not the terrorist type. Even if they were, this deal does not give them any access. Here is where Malkin is wrong. They would not control the ships going back and forth. They do not control the visa process required for anyone in that Company to come to the US, other than the American Employees who do not require visas. The Terminal Operator also has no control over security. They would barely have any control over their employees, most of which are supplied by the local unions.

Killing this deal also denies US Intelligence groups potential access to container movements around the world. Aren't we trying to track the movement of WMD around the world. Just how does Ms. Malkin suggest we do that? Forget the possibility that Boeing might lose a multi-billion dollar contract with Emerites Airlines. What about that container full of explosives destined for a US Embassy somewhere in the world?

Also, if the UAE is such a dangerous place, how come US soldiers and sailors (and Merchant seafarers) aren't being gunned down, kidnapped, or targeted in any way in the UAE? I thought that place was full of radicals? For that matter, if this Company is so dangerous, does that make the American Executives of this Company traitors?

This whole issue was handled poorly. While many conservatives came out against this deal, once they learned more about it, their opinions changed and I give them credit for being brave enough to admit that their initial reactions might have been a little overboard. Some, like Malkin, appear to be digging holes on this issue. Until now, I have never seen negative comments from Conservatives about Malkin. It will be interesting to see how she deals with it, or decides to ignore it and more on. Perhaps moving on it the best way to go. This is easier said than done. I for one demand accountability, but from Congress, not from her.

Finally, here is Rule Eight which applies to bloggers like myself, where despite all our efforts, our Blogs seem to just simmer with a handful of visitors each day:

Don't be bitter at the success of others. Their status has nothing to do with you, even though you may feel as if it does. There will always be people more successful than you, many of whom are less talented or worthy. That's the nature of existence. Why worry about it? You'll eat yourself up from the inside out, and it won't change a thing. Be happy instead. I know it seems stupid and impossible, but try.

Right.

Fifteen things you young people need to know about comportment - Fortune


Other FFI Posts on the Port Deal:
Why the UAE is so Important to the Navy and America - 9 March 06

Congress Reaction "Ignorant, Scaremongering" - Maritime Industry - 8 March 06

NJ Senator Lautenberg - "Dubai Hysteria" Victim - 8 March 06

UAE DP World Port Deal - Endorsed by Israeli Shipping Line - 3 March 06

Congressional Action:UAE DP World Port Deal - "Dubai Hysteria" - 2 March 06

Try this Port threat on for Size - 20 February 06

UAE DP World Port Deal is a Non-Issue - 19 February 06

Thursday, March 9

Why the UAE is so Important to the Navy and America

Some news stories are reporting that the UAE is used for port calls for Naval Shipping. I have also seen some reports that there are more Naval vessel calls to the UAE than to any other foreign port.

Dubai is a critical logistics hub for the U.S. Navy and a popular relaxation destination for troops fighting in the Middle East. On many occasions since the ports story erupted, the Pentagon has stressed the importance of the U.S-UAE relationship.

Last year, the U.S. Navy docked 590 supply vessels in Dubai, plus 56 warships, Gordon England, deputy secretary of defense, said in a Senate hearing last month. About 77,000 military personnel went on leave in the UAE last year, he added.

During the hearing, he warned about the implications of a negative decision on the ports deal: “So obviously it would have some effect on us, and I’d not care to quantify that, because I don’t have the facts to quantify it. It would certainly have an effect on us.”

56 warships, that's not so bad you say. I agree, that's about one a week. Look at that other number though. 590 Supply vessel calls. Some of those vessels are Underway Replenishment ships. These are ships that carry fuel, ammunition, spare parts, and food and supply warships at sea. This way, the warships do not have to dock and expose them to risks, like was experienced by the USS COLE. Also, since the warships do not have to dock every couple of days, they can stay on patrol constantly, requiring less ships and 'men' to cover Naval operations.



Now if the UNREP ships cannot load supplies in the UAE they will probably have to go outside the Persian Gulf. This will increase the time it takes for these vessels to reload and return to the fleet. Take a look at this map of the Gulf.


Anything strike you as a threat? Notice how Iraq is all the way in the Northern Corner of the Gulf. Iraq was not a serious threat to Naval vessels mainly because they did not have access to the sea. The story is completely different concerning Iran. First, I am sure we will all remember the Strait of Hormuz and how Iran was using that as their killing zone for Tankers headed to Iraq. The Strait is no less dangerous to US Naval Traffic. Unfortunately, Iran has easy access the the ENTIRE GULF. There is not much breathing room in the Gulf for the Navy to operate in. The Iranians aren't stupid either. They won't gun for the warships. They will go after the cargo and UNREP vessels. Going after the Navy's supply lines. If there is any shooting between the US and Iran, expect good portions of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman to be Iran's shooting gallery. The US Navy would be operating in the enemy's backyard.

Which Country on this map is best positioned to assist us? Yep, the very country Congress is working so hard to piss off. Are you paying attention Congress? Are you paying attention House Speaker Dennis Hastert?

I was on a research vessel in the Gulf in 94-95. I had a disagreement with one of the scientists one day when I commented on the idiotic extremes he wanted to go to to "blacken" ship and cover all of the light emanating from the vessel (the ship was painted glossy white.) "You get reports that Iran was attacking vessels in the Gulf. What do you do?" he asked, expecting me to explain how I would conceal the vessel. My reply was the opposite. "I would turn on all the deck lights on and paint red crosses on the hull." He was somewhat surprised at my reply. He made the mistake of asking a follow-up question. "Is that all you would do?" He found my reply unsettling. "Nope, I would also have the lifeboats swung out as I headed for port as quickly as I could." We were a research vessel after all. (And an easy target.)

You can bet that the Pentagon is not trying to figure out it's options. God only knows how many Iran plans not have to be reviewed just in case Naval vessels are no longer welcome in the ports that they can call at now. General Abizaid, gave Congress his two cents about their stupidity yesterday:

Gen. John Abizaid, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East, took an unusual step for a military leader Thursday, criticizing opposition to the attempted purchase of some U.S. port operations by a Dubai-owned company, calling it "Arab and Muslim bashing."

Abizaid, a grandson of Lebanese immigrants, and other military officials were asked about DP World's withdrawal from the deal as they left a briefing of lawmakers on Capitol Hill. He said the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is a part, is vital to the military's stake in the Persian Gulf region. The Navy heavily uses the port there.

"I am very dismayed by the emotional responses that some people have put on the table here in the United States that really comes down to Arab and Muslim bashing that was totally unnecessary," Abizaid, who just returned from Iraq for meetings in Washington, told reporters. - WP


So now we hear that there might be some real consequences for American Companies as a result of killing this deal.

It is not clear how much of Dubai’s behind-the-scenes anger would be followed up by action, but Boeing has been made aware of the threat and is already reportedly lobbying to save the ports deal.

The Emirates Group airline will decide later this year whether it will buy Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner or its competitor, Airbus A350. The airline last fall placed an order worth $9.7 billion for 42 Boeing 777 aircraft, making Dubai Boeing’s largest 777 customer.

You can bet that the French are already in the UAE telling everyone how they love them in an attempt to win as much as possible that was originally destined for American firms.

I suspect that the US also lost a huge intelligence treasure-trove. Everyone was running around, yelling about the possibility that someone might get access to something they should not see. Well that works both ways. What kind of intel might the US have gotten access to? Movement of cargo between two foreign ports making it easier to track WMD around the world? What would that have been worth?

At the moment things appear to have calmed down because the US terminals will be sold to a US Company. As dumb as Congress has been lately, it will probably take them months to figure out that the shareholder of the American Firm that will assume ownership of the terminals will be DP World.

This soap opera is not over by any means!

Great Coverage of the results of this Deal:

Dubai threat to hit back - The Hill

More Port "Absurdity" - VI - The Buckle - Macsmind

Abizaid Criticizes Port Deal Opponents - Washington Post

How to create a real security crisis. - Opinion Journal

The Anchoress: Dubai Deal A Bad Play All Around - Descission 08

The Tragic Treatment of the UAE Ports Deal - Strategy Page

An ally has been betrayed... - Called As Seen

Other FFI Posts on the Port Deal:

Congress Reaction "Ignorant, Scaremongering" - Maritime Industry - 8 March 06
NJ Senator Lautenberg - "Dubai Hysteria" Victim - 8 March 06
UAE DP World Port Deal - Endorsed by Israeli Shipping Line - 3 March 06
Congressional Action:UAE DP World Port Deal - "Dubai Hysteria" - 2 March 06
Try this Port threat on for Size - 20 February 06
UAE DP World Port Deal is a Non-Issue - 19 February 06

Wednesday, March 8

Congress Reaction "Ignorant, Scaremongering" - Maritime Industry

Lloyds List is probably the World's leading Maritime news Organization. For months, the DP World bidding war to gain control of P&O Ports was front page news. Apparently nobody in Congress gets a subscription, seeing that the Dubai Ports deal was such a surprise.

THE political storm in Washington over the prospect of an Arab company buying some US port facilities is causing many of the country's business leaders deep embarrassment, writes Janet Porter in Long Beach.

Most of those directly involved in the ports, shipping or logistics industries do not share the view that the takeover of P&O's US port facilities by DP World poses any security threat.

Many are shocked by the level of ignorance about how their industry works and as surprised as those outside the US about why a well publicized acquisition that had been under negotiation for several months suddenly ran into so much controversy.

I am not shocked. It has always been a challenge to explain to family, friends, and friends girlfriends what it is that I and my friends do. I have seen some comments about this deal being an example that the Administration has returned to business activity like this being "business as usual" insinuating that there is no due regard to security. I for one take that as an insult. Basically, that comment suggests that all of us in the Maritime Industry are only out for money. What a load of bull.

I have seen the extreme measures that people (including myself) have gone to to ensure that cargo, crew, and vessels were safe. I know that I have cost my company money as well as client goodwill by not doing something that I had a problem with. I have traveled to other countries to explain to vessel operators why these actions are in their best interest even before September 11. Many have cried out about potential security threats to Congress which has done next to nothing about it. Sadly the UN, by way of the International Maritime Organization, IMO, has probably done more to improve security on vessels by way of the ISPS Code. Most of those in Congress probably have no clue what the ISPS covers let alone what the IMO is.

Congress is showing everyone that they care nothing about transportation security. All they care about is appearing to care about transportation security to their voters who know nothing about the maritime industry. Killing this deal will do nothing about the other terminals operated by other foreign companies. Killing this deal will not undo DP Port World's 2004 purchase of US-based Terminal Operator CSX World Terminals. (Which was completed without a peep out of Congress.)

A poll of delegates planning to attend this week's Trans-Pacific Maritime Conference in Long Beach found that 58% did not feel the acquisition would increase the security risk for the US.

That sentiment was repeated time and again during the opening day of the conference attended by more than 1,100 industry professionals.

The majority see the deal as a straightforward commercial transaction and say those in Congress opposed to the sale are using scaremongering tactics for their own political purposes that have little to do with genuine security issues.

Christopher Koch, president of the Washington-based World Shipping Council, spoke for many when he described the outcry as xenophobic.

"Those who work in the international logistics field are not generally worried about this transaction," said Peter Tirschwell, editorial director of the Journal of Commerce, which conducted the poll.

However, respondents also said that supply chains overall are not safe enough, with an overwhelming 84% answering "no" to a question about whether supply chains are safe enough. (Hello Congress!!!)

The effectiveness of security still varies considerably from one facility to another, said Sean Strawbridge, vice president of the IT firm Embarcadero Systems Corp.

One potential weak spot is the screening of personnel allowed into ports with a national credentialing programme one way of tightening the level of port security in the US. - Lloydslist

The Government has done a pretty good job killing the US Merchant Marine. (No complaints when all the major US shipping lines were bought by foreign firms.) Now they realized that they have not done enough to kill the rest of our transport chain.

Sad. I am disappointed with how the republicans have reacted to the hysteria and not dealt with the facts. One fact recently disclosed that the US Navy is a customer of DP World in Djibouti, Africa. (It's between Ethiopia and Somalia. A true garden spot!) Too bad nothing will be done to improve Terminal security.

LEGISLATION now before Congress to tighten waterfront security following the political hysteria over DP World's acquisition of P&O could make inefficient US ports even slower and more congested, transport industry leaders are warning.

In the past fortnight since Washington woke up to the fact that P&O was about to be sold to a Dubai company, eleven separate pieces of draft legislation have been tabled.

The most extreme calls for every container arriving in the US to be screened. Another, introduced by Congressman Duncan Hunter, would ban any foreign ownership of critical infrastructure. That would force those companies that already own US assets that become classified as critical by the Department of Homeland Security to sell, even if they come from a country regarded by the US as friendly such as Britain.

At this stage, those working in the US shipping, ports and logistics industries have no idea about the final shape of any new regulations that may be passed following the sudden panic about security on the waterfront.

They fear, however, that the end result may be very counter-productive, with lawmakers paying little attention to the advice of those who understand how terminals operate. - Lloydslist

I can't see the outcome of this being good. Hopefully President Bush will veto whatever idiotic legislation the Republican Leadership sends to him because they are scared of the voters back home. This whole thing is a non-issue, other than what the Press has made it out to be.

Industry chiefs slam "ignorant, scaremongering" over DP World - Lloydslist
US port operators warn against extra legislation - Lloydslist (By Janet Porter in Long Beach)
A Spoonful Of Panic Helps The Majority Go Down - Captain's Quarters
FAQ on ISPS Code and maritime security - IMO
PortGate: Republicans Turn on President Bush — And What Will It Cost Us? - California Conservative

Previous Port Hysteria Posts:

NJ Senator Lautenberg - "Dubai Hysteria" Victim - 8 March 06

UAE DP World Port Deal - Endorsed by Israeli Shipping Line - 3 March 06

Congressional Action:UAE DP World Port Deal - "Dubai Hysteria" - 2 March 06

Try this Port threat on for Size - 20 February 06

UAE DP World Port Deal is a Non-Issue - 19 February 06

NJ Senator Lautenberg - "Dubai Hysteria" Victim

"Senator Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced a bill (S. 2367) to provide a cause of action for United States port operators with respect to the potential change of ownership of a terminal operator to a foreign entity, and for other purposes. (3/3/06)." - Holland & Knight


TEXT Version

What is a "Cause of Action"?

A specific legal claim -- such as for negligence, breach of contract or medical malpractice -- for which a plaintiff seeks compensation. Each cause of action is divided into discrete elements, all of which must be proved to present a winning case. - Nolo

From the Bill:

The owner of a United States port may file an action seeking relief, including nullification of any contractual obligation with any terminal operator within the port, in any appropriate United States district court if a merger, acquisition, or takeover transaction would result in a change in the ownership of the terminal operator, and the new owner would be a foreign controlled entity. Such relief may be granted upon a showing by the owner of the port of a demonstrated increase in the security risk to the port or the port community as a result of such change in ownership.

So far there is no evidence that this port deal will in any way increase a security risk to the US. There is a total lack of any cases of security violations dealing with this Terminal operator. This bill will have untold negative consequences for all terminal operators in the US, many of which are already foreign entities. Looks like the biggest cause of action would be the current terminal operators against the US Government for putting unrealistic restrictions on their ability to sell their business interests.

If Congress truly believes that the Port Operator's cooperation is needed to smuggle weapons into the US, then they are sadly mistaken. Apparently they have not heard of ABC News experiment to import nuclear material into the US. They managed to do so without it being detected, twice.

The ship carrying the container was tied up at the Staten Island dock in New York, where the Customs Service says it has a state-of-the-art system in place to detect even a small, low-level amount of radioactive material.

"We're doing whatever it takes to screen the high-risk containers," said customs inspector Kevin McCabe, the chief of the contraband enforcement team, who did not know about the test when he demonstrated the screening measures to ABCNEWS.

During an interview in August, he gave ABCNEWS the same demonstration he said he had given to President Bush when he visited the port. McCabe displayed the small radiation pager used by inspectors, which he said could detect even a shielded, low-level radiation shipment — like depleted uranium.

And while the shipping container holding ABCNEWS' suitcase was selected by customs for this kind of screening, it sailed right through the inspection and left the port without ever being opened by customs inspectors. And a few days after its arrival in the United States, the container was on the back of a truck headed for New York City.

Clearly the gatekeeper is Customs, not the port operator. I seem to remember that one of these tests traveled on a P&O ship, but I cannot find any reference to that on the net. No matter, they all handle cargo the same way.

I suspect that Senator Lautenberg has been to the ports in his state. I hope that next time he goes with his eyes open. Perhaps he can spare a second to think about how all the drivers with criminal records should be handled.

Customs Fails to Detect Depleted Uranium - ABC News
The ABC News Nuclear Smuggling Experiment: The Sequel - NRDC

Current Maritime Developments - Holland & Knight LLP
Senator Lautenberg - Homepage

Good Job DHS - Macsmind

Monday, March 6

Maryland Backs Away from Death Penalty for Sniper

Maryland State Attorney Douglas Gansler in 2002:

Maryland prosecutors say they will bring six counts of first-degree murder against the two Washington sniper suspects.

State's Attorney Douglas Gansler says they will seek the death penalty against army veteran John Allen Muhammad.

He indicated prosecutors will not seek the death penalty against his 17-year-old alleged accomplice, John Lee Malvo, but do plan to try him as an adult.

Mr Gansler said: "We don't feel the death penalty is appropriate for juveniles."

Maryland was the first state to press murder charges against the two snipers. Despite this, AND despite most of the victims being shot in Maryland, AND despite the assurance from Maryland State Attorney Gansler to push for the death penalty for John Allen Muhammad, it was decided to try the snipers in Virginia as it was seen as the state WITH the best chance of resulting in a death sentence for the two. John Allen Muhammad was sentenced to death, and his partner John Lee Malvo received life in prison due to the technicality that he was 'only' 17 when he killed all those people.

Now it is Maryland's turn to try the sniper team for the murders committed in Maryland. Mr. Gansler proves that it was a correct move to try them in VA first by not pushing for the death penalty:

Prosecutors will not seek the death penalty against convicted sniper John Allen Muhammad when he goes on trial in May, the Montgomery County state's attorney said Thursday.

Douglas Gansler filed notice last month with the county's Circuit Court that he would seek life without possibility of parole if Muhammad is convicted of the six murders in the county in 2002.

What happened? Why the change?

Idiotic excuse Number One:

In an interview, Gansler said "underlying the entire decision was the fact that Muhammad has received a death sentence in Virginia."

If this is true, then why try them at all. As it stands, Virginia Courts have already made sure that both of them will die in jail. Maryland is now delaying the process with this sideshow of theirs.

Idiotic excuse Number Two:

"We also had to look at the law and facts and given that in Maryland, seeking of the death penalty almost always sets up a system of false promises to victim's families," Gansler said, pointing out that only five men have been executed in Maryland since 1978.

He discussed what he called 'legal hurdles' in Maryland, where the law requires prosecutors "to show beyond reasonable doubt the person was the triggerman," and show that two or more people were killed in a single incident.

"Given space and time and distance, the multiple murders would not satisfy legal definition of single incident," Gansler said.

His current excuses would have been equally valid in 2002, especially the last comment concerning the "single incident." I would think that it is the State Attorney that would inform the state that it's death penalty laws are useless and need to be changed. I wonder how well he even knew his state's death penalty laws back in 2002 since he didn't see these issues as problems back on '02.

Not for anything but ANYBODY can be smart enough to argue that any multiple murder incident is actually multiple single murders. As for meeting the definition of a single incident, he could have made a convincing case based on the following facts:

- They made one attack a day.
- Their first day's attack resulted in multiple deaths in a couple of hours.
- There was only one ransom demand. (Not one for each state.)

Sounds pretty convincing to me.

Idiotic excuse Number Three:

The state's attorney's office also considered the potential cost to Maryland taxpayers of seeking the death penalty for Muhammad, saying it would have created "an opportunity for public defenders in the case to spend a great deal of money and time on experts in the death penalty phase."

Money! Of course, this has to do with money. Thanks for telling the world that Maryland is not interested in spending too much money on fighting crime. This brings me back to a previous comment, why try them at all? How much money will this case waste? What will trying them change? For this, we have the final excuse:

Idiotic excuse Number Four:

We also had a legal obligation to ensure that in the event the conviction in Virginia is overturned that the people responsible (for the killings) are not set free onto streets of Maryland.

So this trial might be important. If the death penalty conviction is overturned in Virginia, he no longer faces a death penalty sentence. That's just great.

I know that many people have problems with the death penalty. I think the main problems are that it is not used enough. The 1,000th execution milestone was just pasted a short while back. It took about 30 years to execute 1,000 murderers. In 2004 there were 16,137 murders. 62% of those murders resulted in arrests. So if the death penalty was being used for the crime, there should be thousands of death penalty sentences carried out each year. Instead, we have people being sentenced to life in prison, or less. So when people claim that the death penalty is not a deterrent to crime, I wonder how they know, because it is not being used except as an exception. I suspect that if your chances of facing the death penalty were certain, that would be something for criminals to think about.

Just remember, there are 6 billion apples on this planet. Too many people are too concerned about the rotten apples. Rotten apples should be thrown away. Do what you can to keep them fresh, but if they insist on turning rotten, then there should be no guilt in throwing away garbage.

Can we please reform our death penalty laws and turn it into a useful tool against crime.

Sniper suspects face six murder charges - TCH Archives (26 Oct 2002)
Montgomery County won't seek death penalty for convicted sniper - Herald-Mail Online (6 March 2006)
Murder - FBI 2004
Uniform Crime Reports - FBI

Sunday, March 5

Friday, March 3

UAE DP World Port Deal - Endorsed by Israeli Shipping Line

In a move that proves that we as a planet can grow up, if only our politicians could, the Chairman of Zim Israel Navigation Company sent a letter to Senator Clinton concerning the DP World deal, expressing support for it:


The letter:

Dear Senator Clinton,
We are the owner of the largest Israeli shipping line in the world, Zim. In light of the concerns and misinformation about DP World in the US media, we want to put on record our support for the company.

For the past many years we have been pleased to have DP World as our business partner, supporting our operations by providing services at key marine terminals around the world, including in the UAE.

As an Israeli company, security is of the utmost importance to us and we require rigorous security measures from terminal operators in every country in which we operate, but especially in Arab countries, and we are very comfortable calling at DP WorldÂ’s Dubai ports. During our long association with DP World, we have not experienced a single security issue in those ports or in any of the terminals operated by DP World and have received exemplary service that enhances our efficiency and the smooth running of our operations.

DP World has been an industry leader with regard to security and works closely with us on an on-going basis to maintain the highest security standards in all its terminals around the world.

We are proud to be associated with DP World and look forward to working with them into the future.

Yours Truly,
Idan Ofer, Chairman of the Board

This letter kind of blows a hole in all the "The UAE boycotts Israel" excuse for killing this deal. Are there boycott issues? Sure there are, but in the world of shipping, DP Port World does not maintain any boycott, be it against a client or cargo. There is not much more that this firm would have an opportunity to boycott. Sure they could fire all the Jewish employees that they are inheriting from the current owners, but we all know how unlikely that is. As a terminal operator they load and unload cargo as directed by the shipping lines. Telling a client that they are not going to touch a container because "it's Jewish" is suicide. As is allowing any sort of terrorist to take advantage of your access to secure areas. This letter speaks volumes concerning the security threat issue of this deal. If a terrorist might take advantage of this deal to attack the US, then they would be ten times as likely to do the same against Israel. In fact, there is a distinct lack of any terror actions in ports, other than the famous "Container Boy."

The statement by Zim apparently means nothing to Senator Charles Schumer of NY:

"We have to represent security in America. And so, it really doesn't matter to me what Zim says." - Senator Schumer

Apparently the Senator does not realize that Zim also operates in the US. Between 3 March and April 4 there will be 14 ZIM vessels calling the Port of NY. So at least a good portion of Zim's security concerns are related to US ports. (NY is one of many ports ZIM calls at in the US.)

Congressman Duncan Hunter of California who is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee does not like this deal either. So much so that he has stated that he will do everything possible to kill it. That is an interesting position that he is going to have to defend come election time. I suspect that it is easier that actually doing his own job.

A search of the news brings back no articles for Senator Schumer and TWIC. TWIC is the Transportation Worker Identity Card program. The program is far behind schedule with no estimate of when the Government will begin issuing the identity cards totransportt works. If Congress is serious about port security, then they will get off their asses and look into why existing programs to secure ports are so far behind schedule.

(ZIM AMERICA in the Panama Canal)

Zim Israel Navigation Company

Israeli shipper endorses DB World - CNN

Direct link to the letter - CNN (PDF format)

UAE DP World Port Deal is a Non-Issue - FFI
Congressional Action:UAE DP World Port Deal - FFI
Try this Port threat on for Size - FFI

Meaning of "Torah" According to Wikipedia

Just another example of why you need to practice due diligence when using Wikipedia as a reference for anything:

As it turns out, I was looking for what Torah meant. Good thing that I am smart enough to know that this can't be right.

Torah - Wikipedia

Torah (תּוֹרָה) is a Hebrew word meaning "stupid skript," "he," or "oh jeez." It is the central and most important document of Judaism revered by Jews through the ages. It is also called the Law of Moses (Torat Moshe תּוֹרַת־מֹשֶׁה) . Torah primarily refers to the first section of the Tanakh–the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, but the term is sometimes also used in the general sense to also include both of Judaism's written law and oral law, encompassing the entire spectrum of authoritative Jewish religious teachings throughout history, including the Mishnah, the Talmud, the Midrash, and more.

A quick search on Google finds Torah, again as defined by Wikipedia:

Torah - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Torah (תּוֹרָה) is a Hebrew word meaning "teaching," "instruction," or "law." It is the central and most important document of Judaism revered by Jews ...en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torah - 48k - Mar 2, 2006 - Cached - Similar pages

I suspect that this will be quickly corrected. But how many people will see this and believe it before it is? I am somwhat surprised that the entry is not protected. Really, are we to belive that this entry is not targeted by vandals?