Tuesday, May 30

Maryland Convicts Sniper - Weak State's Attorney to Run for Attorney General

A very efficient jury in Maryland found the DC area sniper John Allen Muhammad guilty of six counts of murder. So what:

The verdict, reached after four-and-a-half hours of deliberation, is Muhammad's second conviction in the case. He has already been convicted in Virginia, where he is awaiting execution. - Washington Post

The best thing that Maryland can do is send Muhammad back to Virginia so that they can carry out the death penalty he was awarded in the first trial. You see, Virginia got first crack at Muhammad because that was the only state (of Virginia, DC and Maryland) where it was believed that the state was 'man enough' to sentence the sniper to death.

Maryland's State Attorney Douglas Gansler was talking tough in 2002 in an attempt to prosecute the DC snipers first.

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." -

Federal officials didn't believe it and this trial did nothing but prove that they were right in sending the snipers to VA first. There is this bright point in the story:

He is expected to be sentenced in Maryland in coming weeks but to return to Virginia shortly thereafter, where most of his appeals have been exhausted. - Washington Post

I was under the impression that the appeals process in VA was delayed while this dog and pony show was going on in Maryland. There was no reason to delay the proceedings, and I am glad to see that they were not. The biggest loss seems to be the money Maryland spent on this trial. Keep that in mind the next time they claim not to have enough funds for law enforcement.

On a more disturbing note, State Attorney Douglas Gansler has decided to run for Maryland Attorney General. As the election nears, keep in mind the following:

(following extracted from my March post on this subject)

Mr. Gansler did not push for the death penalty for the snipers:

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.
(End extraction)
So far, this is the only quote I can find from Mr. Gansler about the trial.

Montgomery County State's Attorney Douglas Gansler called Muhammad's defense "a performance."

"It is somewhat absurd what he was saying," Gansler said of Muhammad's conspiracy theory. "He had no defense." - Ledger-Enquirer

Will Maryland voters give Mr. Gansler the position or Attorney General? I hope not. If I lived in Maryland I would endorse his opponent, Montgomery County Councilman Thomas E. Perez or someone else. Be interesting to see what happens. I would love to see the press ask Mr. Gansler "Why did you not try the DC sniper with the death penalty on the table?"

Maryland Backs Away from Death Penalty for Sniper - 06 March 2006

Monday, May 29

Maritime Monday 11

Welcome to this Memorial Day edition of Maritime Monday.

This Weeks Photos:
Here are some pictures of the Bridge of the USS NEW JERSEY. You can just barely see the slits that you can look out from.



This weeks items:

It's the tail end of Fleet Week in New York City. Here is the Navy's Official Fleet Week Homepage.

Check out USMM.ORG for a couple stories of WWII Merchant Marine prisoners of war.

Eagle Speak has "Disaster Logistics."

Small Ship & River Cruising has news that Americans can cruise to Libya now that diplomatic relations between the two countries have been reestablished.

What do you get when you take the Island of Diego Garcia, an Aircraft Carrier, and a pilot named Lazlo? You get a sea story of course. Neptunus Lex provides the story, in two parts. Part one here. Part two here.

Looking for a short sea story. Interested-Participant has one here.

Helsingin Sanomat has coverage of vessel sewage discharge in the Baltic Sea.

Last week I discussed Jones Act trades. Haight's Maritime Items has timely news of a MARAD report covering Jones Act shipping to Alaska, Hawaii, Guam and Puerto Rico:

Competition in the US noncontiguous domestic maritime trades - The Maritime Administration (MARAD) released the 2006 edition of its report on Competition in the Noncontiguous Domestic Maritime Trades. (Note: PDF document) This is the trade between the US mainland and Alaska, Guam, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. While the trades exhibit a high level of market concentration, major investments have been made and freight rates have declined in real terms in all markets. (5/23/06).

MSNBC (among others) covered the story that many jobs in Mexico are reserved not only for Mexican Citizens, but they must also be Native-born Mexicans. Of note: "Mexico’s Constitution reserves almost all federal posts, and any position in the military and merchant marine, for “native-born Mexicans.”"

Six's junk thought theorem has news about Freak waves and how common they really are. He also links to other pages with wave photos.

SAILORS, MARINERS & WARRIORS LEAGUE has the story of the ferry PONT-AVEN being hit by a 50 foot wave, injuring passengers and damaging the ferry.

Cargo Law has an amazing series of photos of yet another encounter with a 'freak wave.' This time the victim is the M/V SAGA SPRAY and a load of shiny new 53 foot empties.

Other Items:

Be sure to check out the shipcam of the ISLAND PRINCESS which is in the Alaska Trade. (Here)

Weekly Maritime Reference:
For those who do not know: "How to Read a Compass"

Boxing the Compass on Wikipedia.

Previous Editions:
Maritime Monday 10 - 22 May 2006
Maritime Monday 9 - 15 May 2006
Maritime Monday 8 - 08 May 2006
Maritime Monday #7 - 01 May 2006
Maritime Monday #6 - 24 April 2006
Maritime Monday #5 - 17 April 2006
Maritime Monday #4 - 10 April 2006
Maritime Monday #3 - 02 April 2006
Maritime Monday #2 - 27 March 2006
Maritime Monday Carnival #1 - 20 March 2006

Submission Guidelines:
Look here for more details: Submission Guidelines

You do not have to be the author to submit a blog post or news story. Feel free to suggest something that you think is worth sharing.

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!


Friday, May 26

The Senate Immigration Bill Is an Amnesty Bill

Senator Kennedy, among others, claims that the Senate Illegal Immigration Bill does not grant Amnesty:

"Our bill provides a means for them to earn the privilege of American citizenship," Kennedy said during floor debate this week. "It is not amnesty. Amnesty means forgiveness. Amnesty means going ahead of the line. No one goes to the head of the line. They go to the back of the line. They do not only go to the back of line for current applicants, but they go to the back of the line for everyone who is in line today."

"They go to the back of the line in terms of their ability to adjust their status," he said. "They have to pay the penalty. They have to learn English. They have to demonstrate that they have no criminal activities. And they have to demonstrate that they are working."The fastest they can be able to earn their citizenship is 11 years," continued Kennedy. "They have to demonstrate that they are learning English. They are playing by the rules; they are in no trouble with the law; they pay the penalty at the beginning and another penalty at the end." - Chicago Trubune

Many however do not believe this explanation. I do not either. There is a simple explanation as to why this should be considered an amnesty bill. Those who came here illegally will be allowed to get in line for citizenship. Those who did not come here illegally still cannot even get in line! this is the real reason that many came here in the first place. They had no line to get on in the first place.

It is not like all Mexicans can just get in line for Citizenship. Those who are here illegally are not getting in line behind their follow Mexicans who are back home wanting to move to the United States. One poll suggested that 40% of Mexicans were either planning or wanted to move to the US legally, or otherwise. That 40% is currently in no citizenship line. Even if they could apply, most in Mexico do not meet the minimum education requirements let alone have the money to pay. If this bill passes into law, many more will come to make sure that they can get in line. It does not matter if they put a cutoff date in place, that is what fraudulent documents are for.

One solution I had was to just annex Mexico. I actually got some feedback in that the move would just be "another example of American Imperialism." OK I have done some more thought about it, and perhaps we look into the option of granting all Mexicans and Canadians Conditional American Citizenship. They can all go to an American Embassy to apply for/claim it. It can be sort of like Puerto Rico. They do not vote for President unless they are living in the states. Same for paying taxes. There can also be a condition that they have to perform 40 quarters of work (10 years) before they can claim any benefits from the system. Will this plan result in a flood of Mexicans into the US? Probably, but how different would it be from what is happening now?

After reading these comments from the White House, I am beside myself:

WASHINGTON - The White House on Friday said a Senate bill that would grant legal status to illegal immigrants is analogous to a traffic law that allows a speeder to pay a fine and continue driving. "If you had a traffic ticket and you paid it, you're not forever a speeder, are you?" White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said in response to questions from The Examiner.

"So the fact is, you have paid your debt to society," he added. "And we have come up with a way to make sure that the debt to society gets paid. Then you move forward." - Examiner.com

These comments made me realize that NONE of these people we are now depending on to solve the illegal immigration problem have ever dealt with the Government Department responsible for processing Immigrants; US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The USCIS is by far the worse organization in the Government to deal with. We all know that there are about 12 million illegal aliens in the US. There are millions more who are here legally but have no proof, because USCIS is such an incompetent organization that it takes YEARS to get them their Green Card. (Ask my wife.) Getting your Congresswoman involved does no good either. They never got an answer back from USCIS about my wife's status. Then there was the cost. Thousands of dollars. I know of at least two friends who have become citizens, one just a month ago, not because of a burning desire to become Americans, but more so to never have to deal with the immigration authorities again!

Tony Snow might have a good analogy, if he was referring to getting a ticket in (Dukes of) Hazard County. Are you a speeder forever? No, but as far as your insurance company, you are for at least three years. OK, I will give Mr. Snow a little slack, since he is still new in his job. I think he just compared illegal immigration crime to the wrong crime. Perhaps he should have picked a more serious crime, like robbery, rape or murder. Those are crimes that do follow you around for life. Too serious? Lets take the crime of reentering the United States illegally after you have been deported. That is a Felony, and that will follow you around for the rest of your live. So will identity theft. What kind of fine does the White House propose for forgiving that crime?

This statement was not received well by members of Congress:

"I don't know if Tony meant to trivialize it or not," said Will Adams, spokesman for Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo. "But it's certainly misleading."

"The penalty for a speeding ticket is a fine," he added. "The penalty for being here illegally is being removed from this country. But the president doesn't want illegal aliens to go home." - Examiner.com

At least we still have the occasional voice of reason popping to the surface.

The White House is busy concerning illegal immigration. There is also this comment made yesterday:

WASHINGTON - The White House on Thursday warned that House Republicans would be held accountable in November for opposing a Senate bill that would grant legal status to illegal immigrants.

“They pay a heavier political price for failing to act than for acting,” White House Press Secretary Tony Snow told reporters.

His comments came just hours before the Senate passed an immigration bill that the White House called “comprehensive” because it would strengthen borders and create a guest-worker program for illegal immigrants. - DC Examiner

I just wonder WHO the White House thinks is going to punish the Republicans in the House for not granting illegal aliens amnesty? These are the same Republicans who for the most part are trying to constrain 'pork' project spending. I along with most Americans want real immigration reform. None of us want reform at any price. If the White House is serious about granting all the illegal aliens here a chance at citizenship, then they better include everyone in Mexico. Might was well get this process over with. (see the citizenship suggestion above)

BREAKING NEWS: Senate Passes Amnesty Bill For Illegal Aliens - California conservative
Immigration amnesty? Not exactly. - Chicago Tribune

Tuesday, May 23

Impending Ethanol Shortage?: Update

On May 9th I documented that we are most likely headed for an ethanol shortage. After all, Brazil is the world leader in ethanol production and all of the news reports were wishing that only if the US could produce ethanol like Brazil. As I noted, we ALREADY produce about the same amount of Ethanol as Brazil. Check out the chart:

You can see that the only real potential source of foreign ethanol is Brazil, and as we all know, they use their ethanol as a replacement for imported oil. They are not likely to have that much to sell to us, especially when you take into consideration our potential demand for ethanol. If all gasoline used in the US was required to contain 10% ethanol, current US ethanol production would have to triple, assuming that 100% of the ethanol produced was used for blending with gasoline. Even if all of Brazil’s current ethanol production was imported, we would still be about 50-70 million barrels short to meet the 10% goal and as we all know, there are other uses for ethanol. See the graph below:

Currently, about 13% of all corn grown in the US goes to ethanol production. It is now estimated that approximately, 20% of all corn grown in the US this year will be used for ethanol production.

WASHINGTON, May 12 (Reuters) - The booming ethanol industry will consume 20 percent of this year's U.S. corn crop, the government forecast on Friday, and soy-based biodiesel also is taking off. Biofuels will bolster corn and soybean prices, the Agriculture Department said in its first look at this year's crop harvest. Voracious demand for corn from ethanol makers will help cut the corn (maize) surplus in half by fall 2007, or 1.14 billion bushels. - Reuters

The article also notes that the amount of corn used for ethanol production this year is up 34% from previous years. Currently there is a surplus of corn, but I wonder how long that will last. As it is, the demand for corn to produce ethanol has resulted in near decade highs for corn prices as exports are also up according to the article. At some point in the near future I suspect that we may face a tough choice of what to do with our corn harvest, use it to feed or to fuel. This will most likely harm international food programs, such as the World Food Program, as excess food can easily be converted to fuel for profit instead of giving it away as in the past. There is also the question of what do we do if the crop has a bad year?

Just today, we have Senator Clinton calling for a massive increase in ethanol usage.

Clinton is calling for the creation of a $50 billion "Strategic Energy Fund" paid for by increased profits of the big oil companies. She had urged the creation of such a fund last fall when hurricane damage in the Gulf Coast sent the price of gas soaring.

She is also calling for a massive expansion of ethanol, a corn-based fuel additive and substitute, which is currently only available at a small percentage of gas stations in the United States.

President Bush and other elected officials have called for a greater expansion of E-85, a fuel made of 85 percent ethanol that can be used in vehicles built to run on both regular unleaded gasoline and E-85.

Clinton's speech calls for accelerating the spread of E-85 to half of the nation's gas stations by 2015 by offering a 50 percent tax credit for station owners who install ethanol pumps. - Yahoo News

As I noted in my previous post, the US would need over 279 million barrels of ethanol a year to replace just 10% of current gasoline consumption with E-85. This year the US is expected to produce 107 million barrels of ethanol, less than half of what would be needed.

Fortunately, there are plans to produce 'cellulose ethanol' from sources other than corn, like switch grass, as well as agricultural (farm) waste. So instead using the corn, you can use the corn stalks. Hopefully, these new processes will be available in time to meet the increased demand.

Impending Ethanol Shortage? - 09 May 2006
BIO ETHANOL AS A TRANSPORT FUEL (PDF) - Fonterra (source of Charts above)
UPDATE 1-Ethanol, biodiesel eats into US corn stockpiles - Reuters
Ethanol: Myths and Realities - Business Week


Monday, May 22

Maritime Monday 10

Welcome to the National Maritime Day edition of Maritime Monday.

This Week's Photos:

(Merchant Marine Memorial, NY)

(National WWII Memorial Flagpole)

This week's items:

For starters, today, Monday the 22nd day of May, 2006 is National Maritime Day. The White House website has the President's Proclamation here. Eagle Speak has more details on the Merchant Marine during wartime. The US Maritime Administration has a "Short History on National Maritime Day" here.

REUTERS has the story of the Captain of Celebrity Cruise's MERCURY who was removed from the vessel by the US Coast Guard in Seattle, Washington for failing an alcohol breath test. Check out Free Republic for reader comments on this story. See the USCG Press Release here.

The US Coast Guard has suspended its search for a passenger of the MARINER OF THE SEAS (Royal Caribbean) that is suspected of falling overboard. The Coast Guard was notified about 8 hours after he was reported missing by his friends. He is 'suspected' of falling overboard because they have video footage of him falling over the side around 2 a.m. according to Breitbart. It is unclear at what time the tape was reviewed, but taking into account that it took them 8 hours before reporting him missing to the Coast Guard, I suspect they did so at the time they reviewed that part of the security tape.

Eagle Speak also has an update on the man found adrift between Denmark and Norway. Turns out he was not an American after all. (However, he was damn lucky!)

The Navy Newsstand has the story of the decommissioned aircraft carrier ORISKANY sunk on 17 May to become an artificial reef off Florida. See Google photos here.

The Scandinavian Shipping Gazette has an editorial Titled "Wide World, Narrow Minds" providing an example of "what happens when conventional economic theory is applied to a complex business. " Especially, when it is one of your country's largest industries. (I remember hearing a lecture by a Finnish Economist explaining that the State subsidies that supported shipping should be done away with. I asked what was going to happen to those with industry specific skills. The reply was an annoying "the State will allocate funds to retrain them." More likely just pay unemployment.)

Small Ship & River Cruising covers the Keel laying of Cunard Line's QUEEN VICTORIA. Cunard has a couple pictures of the vessel under construction here.

The Finnish Gambit has news of Royal Caribbean ordering a gigantic cruise ship from Aker Yards in Finland. How big you might ask:

"Taking a huge leap of 43 per cent in size from the new record breaking "Freedom of the Seas" to be delivered for Royal Caribbean from Aker Yards in April, the new giant of the cruise market will be 360 meters (1,181 feet) long, 47 meters wide, 65 m high above waterline and accommodate 5,400 passengers."

You can see a profile image of the planned "Project Genesis" vessel on the shipbuilder's site Aker Yards.

Sailors, Mariners & Warriors League has the story of a sailor dying after a brawl with another sailor at sea. What is news-worthy is that this didn't happen on any-old cargo vessel, but on Cunard Line's QUEEN MARY 2.

Holland & Knight's Haight's Maritime Items has the following summary on the TWIC Program Senate hearings this last week:

Senate hearing on TWIC program - On May 16, a hearing on the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program was conducted by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Chairman Ted Stevens (R-AK) expressed concern that the program was significantly behind schedule. Deputy Secretary Michael Jackson, Department of Homeland Security, testified concerning the Coast Guard’s recent initiative on acceptable maritime credentials; proposed initiation of the TWIC process; and proposed changes to the merchant mariner credential. Mr. George P. Cummings, Port of Los Angeles, outlined elements considered critical to the TWIC program, including use of best available technology and reasonable costs to stakeholders. Ms. Lisa B. Himber, Maritime Exchange for the Delaware River and Bay, explained ways in which the TWIC process got off track and requirements to get it back on track. Mr. Larry L. Willis, AFL-CIO, expressed concern about the proposed disqualifying offenses, the waiver process, and the cost of obtaining a TWIC. (5/16/06).

Ms. Himber's testimony was the most eye-opening (The ALF-CIO's testimony was missing from the webcast.) as she notes that there were problems with the program and not all of them were explained to her. She also mentioned that the biometric aspect of the IDs was not tested in their experiment. I was surprised to learn that, although the way the program is set up, each port can decide which biometric they will use. So testing one will not be enough. The ALF-CIO's written statement is no shocker in that their main concern is that common criminals who present no terrorist threat will be denied TWIC credentials and by default lose their jobs.

Philly.com has the news that Unions are complaining that Aker Philadelphia Shipyard is using too much foreign material for Jones Act (see explanation below) tankers that they are constructing.

Is Maritime Monday too American or even too Finnish? Well, we are all victims of our own experiences. With that in mind, you are encouraged to submit maritime-related posts either by submitting via the submission instructions linked below or by posting a link to the story in the comments of this post.

Other Items:

Check out some Flickr Images for offshore oil.

Hapag Lloyd has a matching game on their site.

Weekly Maritime Reference:
The subject of this week is the United States Jones Act. It covers cabotage trade.

CABOTAGE 1. national shipping: trade, shipping, or navigation that takes place in coastal waters within the boundaries of a single country - MSN Encarta

In it's simplest form, to move any cargo (on the water) from one US port to another US port, the vessel must be:

- Built in the United States.
- Owned by a US entity. (a person or corporation)
- Crewed by Americans.

Of course most of the US can also be serviced by truck, rail and pipeline, but Hawaii, Alaska, Guam, and Puerto Rico are supplied mainly by ship, so any cargo originating in the US must travel on US-Flag Jones act vessels. Not all US flagged vessels can carry Jones Act cargo as they have been built overseas. Those vessels can carry cargo to and from the US and can travel between US ports as long as cargo loaded in one US port is not discharged in another.

The act also contains protections for Seafarers:

The Jones Act is an Act of Congress, which governs the liability of vessel operators & marine employers for the work-related injury or death of an employee. It is a federal cause of action, meaning that the United States Congress intended for all seamen's injuries throughout the nation to be guided by the same liability standards. Although the Jones Act protects seamen, it is not the same as workers' compensation. It does not require payment regardless of fault. In order for a worker to recover under the Jones Act, a worker must prove some negligence or fault on the part of the vessel's owners, operators, officers, and/or fellow employees or by reason of any defect in the vessel, its gear, tackle, or equipment. The Jones Act provides an injured seaman a remedy against his or her employers for injuries arising from negligent acts of the employer or co-workers during the course of employment on a vessel. This means that the employer must do something unreasonable or fail to perform a reasonable act that would have prevented injury in order for the seaman to win his claim Claims brought under the Jones Act can also raise claims against a vessel's owner that a vessel was unseaworthy. - Cargolaw

The Jones act has it's supporters, most notably US Shipyards and American shipping companies. There are also it's detractors; US areas supplied mainly by Jones Act vessels, and American farmers.

Merchant Marine Act, 1936 - USMM.net
Understanding the Jones Act - Cargolaw
Maritime Cabotage Task Force (Photo Gallery)
The Jones Act:What Does it Cost Hawai'i? - University of Hawaii

Previous Editions:
Maritime Monday 9 - 15 May 2006
Maritime Monday 8 - 08 May 2006
Maritime Monday #7 - 01 May 2006
Maritime Monday #6 - 24 April 2006
Maritime Monday #5 - 17 April 2006
Maritime Monday #4 - 10 April 2006
Maritime Monday #3 - 02 April 2006
Maritime Monday #2 - 27 March 2006
Maritime Monday Carnival #1 - 20 March 2006

Submission Guidelines:
Look here for more details: Submission Guidelines

Carnival Cat Maritime Monday Submission Form

You do not have to be the author to submit a blog post or news story. Feel free to suggest something that you think is worth sharing.

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, May 21

55,322 Illegal Alien Criminals = 459,614 Arrests

I ran across a Government Accounting Office report for Congress that aimed to answer the following three questions:

- How many times have they been arrested?
- How many and what type of criminal offences have they been arrested for?
- What states were they arrested in?

The answers are kind of shocking. In their investigation, they identified 55,322 criminals who were in jail during the investigation who were identified as entering the country illegally, in other words "Criminal Illegal Aliens".

How many times have they been arrested?
- This group of 55,322 criminal illegal aliens had been arrested a total of 459,614 times.
- 97% of those arrested had been arrested more than once.
- 58% had six or more arrests!

How many and what type of criminal offences have they been arrested for?
- They were charged with close to 700,000 crimes. (Average 13/criminal)
- 24% were drug related.
- 12% were for Murder, robbery, assault, and sexually related crimes.

The report notes that this is the minimum number of crimes that they had been charged with as seven states only report the first crime that a person is charged with, not all.
What states were they arrested in?
- Not surprisingly, 58% were arrested in California.
- 14% were arrested in Texas.
- 8% in arizona.
That is 80% of all arrests.
Just image how many illegal alien criminal arrests there would be in California if the state was less inclined to tolerate their presence.

I am not sure that I can add much commentary to this. The numbers are telling enough on their own. This is an example of the crime element that is hiding among the illegal alien population. The report states that the date cannot be used to extrapolate or make estimates. (So we can't say that "not bad considering there are an estimated 12 million illegals.") I wonder, this is the state of crime in states that have the most illegal alien residents. If Congress were to legalize their presence, once would expect (former) illegal aliens to migrate throughout the country. How much will the criminal element within the group spread with them? They also note that an arrest does not mean a conviction.

Also, 58% of this group was arrested 6 or more times. How many times were they deported? If they were deported once and returned, that is a felony. What kind of prison sentences do they receive? How often are they release without being prosecuted? I would think that six arrests would label these people as extremely undesirable and that the government would do their best to keep them behind bars.

Information on Certain Illegal Aliens Arrested in the United States (PDF) - GAO

Government Accountability Office


Friday, May 19

The Great Illegal Alien Roundup 2008

Illegal immigrants / aliens are worried. Word is getting out that the feds are raiding employers and rounding up illegals around the country. There is so much talk going on, that illegal aliens are not able to separate fact from fiction.

One hindrance to catching illegal aliens has been politicians who have gotten in the way of efforts to catch them. Take for instance the Mexican IDs issued to illegal aliens, the “Matricular Consular” by their consulates in the US. It is illegal to accept them in the US as a form of identification, but congress has prevented this law from being put into action. These identity documents are used as an excuse to permit service to illegal aliens, such as opening bank accounts, even though it is well known that these documents are completely unreliable according to the FBI, and Congress.

Regulation in the federal budget prohibited U.S. businesses from accepting these cards, but an amendment passed September 14, 2004, which Congressman Miller opposed, that pulls this requirement. - Congressman Gary Miller

So if ICE was being hindered by politicians in the past and now it is not politically-savvy to get in the way of ICE, the agents are now probably doing what they want to do, catch illegal aliens. After all, who becomes a customs and Immigration Enforcement Officer to not catch illegals. With nobody restraining them, they are bound to become more active, increasing their catch.

Take the case of Fischer Homes in Kentucky. ICE arrested 80 in an illegal alien raid. Four that were arrested were company supervisors. The other 76 were illegal aliens. Even if they are released, you can bet that they are now unemployed. At the moment, it appears that they have not been released.

All the men were held without bond. Each is charged with a misdemeanor of entering the United States "without inspection and at a time and place other than a designated port of entry." Each man faces a maximum sentence of six months in prison and deportation. - Cincinnati.com

It might not be a good idea to be caught outside of the US States that are already flooded with illegals such as Texas or California. Other states just might be able to hold you until the Government can deport you. Just wait until that news starts spreading. You might see a redistribution of illegals back to illegal-friendly states.

The investigation into Fischer Homes took two years. Why do the raid now? Did they finally get a green light? Did someone step out of the way? (See more examples below)

The interesting fact in this case is that the supervisors are being arrested even though the illegal aliens were employees of a sub-contractor and not the Fischer Homes itself.

More local authorities are taking action to go after those aiding illegal aliens. Take the city of San Bernadino, California:

LOS ANGELES — Landlords who rent to illegal immigrants could face $1,000 fines, and homeowners who hire undocumented workers could have their cars impounded under a measure being voted on today by the San Bernardino City Council.

A group opposed to illegal immigration in the city of 200,000, located 70 miles east of Los Angeles, collected more than 2,200 signatures to force the council to consider the tough proposal. If the council doesn't approve the measure today, the issue will go to voters on a citywide ballot. - USA Today

The Council did not approve the measure but voters will decide either at a special election or in the mid-term elections in November.

The measure does force you to think; Do you really want to risk losing your car just to save a couple bucks getting your lawn mowed so that your kids don't not have to? According to the article, San Bernadino is not the only city getting tough:

As Congress considers legislation on the issue, some cities are getting tough on illegal immigrants while others are offering refuge.

Costa Mesa, Calif., recently ordered police to check suspected felons' immigration status. Cambridge, Mass., and California's Maywood and Coachella have declared themselves "sanctuaries" where police don't check papers.

States are wading into the controversy, too. Colorado Gov. Bill Owens, a Republican, signed into law May 1 a bill prohibiting sanctuary cities. Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, a Republican, last month signed a measure requiring officials to verify the legal status of people seeking many state benefits. - USA Today

I had not heard of 'sanctuary' cities before. No matter, this will be a short-lived aid to illegal aliens. Can they all really find work in a couple small safe-havens that make this declaration? Anyway, the sanctuary declaration will probably increase the presence of illegals there resulting in a change of opinion in the local population. Finally, Nothing will stop the State and Federal authorities from conducting Immigration operations in those cities and these declarations themselves will probably attract Federal attention.

Herndon, VA held town elections on 2 May and voted out the Mayor and two council members specifically as a result of their actions that helped establish a day laborer center used by illegal aliens. The center has been very controversial from the start, and despite massive resistance from the local community, the elected leaders pushed ahead anyway and now have been shown their walking papers. Even worse, the organization that was awarded the contract to manage the center, has suspected (just wait) terrorist connections:

This month's defeat of local politicians who built the equivalent of a day-care center for illegal Hispanic immigrants in a leafy Washington, D.C., suburb was a victory not just for immigration reformers but also anti-terror watchdogs.

Angry voters in Herndon, Va., swept out their bleeding-heart mayor and two of his allies on the town council and replaced them with candidates who are not expected to renew the lease of a controversial hiring site set up to help illegal aliens find work.

Lost in all the controversy, however, is the more disturbing fact that the site -- a covered building featuring picnic tables and bathrooms -- was founded by a Muslim charity with ties to suspected Saudi-backed terror front groups. Its town operating permit won't expire until the fall of 2007, allowing the group not only time to aid and abet hundreds more illegal immigrants, but possibly recruit them.

Stepping in last year to run the government-sanctioned site was an obscure group by the name, Project Hope and Harmony, which landed (in partnership with nonprofit Reston Interfaith) the $200,000 contract. The man behind the project is Muslim activist Mukit Hossain. But he's not just any activist. Born in Bangladesh, Hossain also runs a shadowy Muslim charity in Herndon which recently had its accounts closed by Wachovia bank due to suspicious activity related to possible money-laundering. The Foundation for Appropriate and Immediate Temporary Help, or FAITH, received a $150,000 donation last year from a front group run by Saudi bagman M. Yacub Mirza, whose home and offices were raided by federal agents after 9/11. FAITH helped establish the Project Hope and Harmony.- Frontpage Mag (Click the link to read the whole story)

So it appears that not only are businesses taking advantage of illegal aliens as cheap labor, but Islamic terrorists are also taking advantage of illegal aliens as potential terrorist recruits. Remember a while back when it was learned that Al-quida was attempting to recruit non-arabic volunteers? More to follow on this issue later.

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, keeps up the pressure in going after illegal aliens currently in the US.

SAN ANTONIO -- The end of April marked a near record 9,544 removals for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office here for the first four months of 2006.

More than 1,500 of those deported during this period were criminal aliens, and the remaining were non-criminal status violators. Under the Department of Homeland Security’s new Secure Border Initiative (SBI), ICE is able to expedite their removal in an administrative process allowing them to spend significantly less time in the United States, and in detention. Before SBI, the average removal process was 90 days; now it's down to 14 days. - 4 May 2006

By the way, it is not a good idea to attempt to go onto a military base if your an illegal alien.

PANAMA CITY (Florida) -- Three men were arrested here earlier this week by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents following the discovery of their illegal presence in the country by military personnel working at the base’s main gate. The men, all citizens of Mexico, were employed by a sub-contractor to do scaffolding work at the military base.

Military personnel immediately contacted ICE to verify the status of those seeking entry into the facility. ICE special agents from the Office of the Resident Agent-in-Charge in Pensacola responded to the scene and confirmed that the men were illegally present in the country and did not possess employment authorizations.

The three men were taken into custody for administrative immigration violations. One of the subjects was in possession of a fraudulent resident alien card. His case was presented to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida and criminal prosecution was accepted. The other two individuals were placed into administrative removal proceedings for the immigration violations. They were served Notices to Appear before an immigration judge at a later date. - 5 May 2006

O.K. so two of the three were released. But the third is facing serious charges. No word yet on the employer, but you can bet that he is probably now inder investigation. You also don't want to work for any Government entity.

LOS ANGELES – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested five unauthorized workers employed by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) today, capping a year-long joint review of the utility’s hiring records by ICE and LADWP that resulted in the arrest of eight unauthorized workers overall.

Today’s arrests took place at the utility’s headquarters downtown in coordination with the LADWP’s human resources department. The illegal workers identified during ICE’s investigation held both professional and blue collar positions, ranging from a management analyst and customer service representative to a water sampling technician and a maintenance worker. One of the unauthorized employees was an electrical engineering associate. (Do these sound like jobs Americans won't do?)

The unauthorized workers identified during the review of the LADWP’s nearly 7,000 employee records included foreign nationals from five countries - Ethiopia, Nigeria, El Salvador, Mexico, and the Philippines. All of the unauthorized workers were processed for administrative immigration violations and will be placed in deportation proceedings. ICE may seek to criminally prosecute one of the workers for making a false claim to United States citizenship.

All but one of the workers identified during ICE’s investigation had initially been legally admitted to the United States, but several are here on visas that did not authorize them to work and have since expired. Three of the employees are lawful permanent residents, or “green card” holders, who have criminal convictions that render them deportable.

“In many cases, companies such as DWP seek to hire legal workers, only to have their efforts undermined by employees who present counterfeit documents or knowingly violate the conditions of their admission,” said Julie L. Myers, Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for ICE. “When a person uses fraud or false documents to obtain a job, they mask not only their true identities, but also their motives and, in some cases, their criminal history.” - 16 May 2006

As technology gets better and it becomes easier to check the legal status of workers, more and more companies will catch and fire any illegal aliens that they find that they have employed.

There is currently a voluntary system setup to check the status of applicants for employment against a federal database. (Story here)

They also appear to be going after those providing documents to illegal aliens. It's about time.

Providence, RI - Special Agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Office of Investigations in Providence yesterday arrested 41 year old Julia Pensoy-Calel on a federal criminal complaint alleging that she sold counterfeit immigration and Social Security identification cards. - 12 May 2006

OGDEN, Utah -- A Mexican national appeared in federal court this morning charged with operating a counterfeit document mill suspected of supplying fraudulent immigration and identity documents throughout the United States.

Following a search at his Ogden residence last Thursday, Sergio Aguilar 35, was taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in an undercover sting that revealed Aguilar creating and selling phony identification documents -- even as agents entered his home. In addition to Aguilar, three other Mexican nationals with prior criminal convictions were taken into custody at the residence. One of three arrived at the residence as a potential customer, money and photos in hand, as the search was nearing completion. - 8 May 2006

DETROIT -- Three members of a driver's license fraud ring were sentenced here today after pleading guilty to transporting illegal aliens for the sole purpose of fraudulently obtaining Michigan driver's licenses, announced U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Special Agent in Charge Brian M. Moskowitz.

Fabiano Caneva, 27; Nelson Domingues, 41; and Fabiano Cesilla, 26, all Brazilian citizens, were sentenced here today before U.S. District Judge Victoria A. Roberts. Caneva was sentenced to 37 months in prison; Domingues will serve 33 months in prison; and Cesilla was sentenced to 27 months in prison. In addition, Hugo De Souza Faria had already been sentenced in December to 16 months in prison. Faria has since been deported to Brazil. ICE will deport all the defendants after they serve their prison sentences. - 1 May 2006

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa --A Dubuque man who sold hundreds of false identity documents to illegal aliens pleaded guilty here today to seven counts involving counterfeit identity documents. This guilty plea resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Jorge Antonio Dominguez-Cervantes, 46, a citizen of Mexico, was convicted of one count of producing false identification cards; one count of producing false immigration documents; two counts of possessing false identification of another person; one count of possessing a document-making implement; one count of conspiracy to produce or falsify documents; and one count of money laundering. In the plea agreement, Dominguez-Cervantes admitted that he produced fraudulent identification documents, including permanent resident alien cards ("green cards"), Social Security cards and driver's licenses, which were sold to illegal aliens during 2005 and early 2006. He admitted that ICE agents seized the evidence of his involvement in producing hundreds of false documents.

Sentencing before U.S. District Court Judge Linda R. Reade will be set after a pre-sentence report is prepared. Dominguez-Cervantes remains in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending sentencing. He faces up to 69 years in prison, a $2 million fine, and $700 in special assessments. After he completes his sentence, Dominguez-Cervantes will be turned over to ICE and placed into removal proceedings. - 1 May 2006

I have heard the President's speech concerning the illegal immigration and I have to say that it was pretty good. I am not too excited about the guest worker option. I think instead that the US should greatly increase the number of legal immigrants. There are a number of problems with a guest worker problem, starting with there will never be enough slots for all who will want to work here. At the least, what he wants is a great start. We are not going to solve illegal immigration during one session of Congress. Another thing, there was no mention of how to deal with those who are granted a way of becoming legal but decide not to go through the process. There will still be a need to 'round up' million(s) of illegal aliens. Also, by becoming legal, they will want more money, since their salary will then have tax deductions taken out. Higher salaries will reduce the demand for this labor, and very well might cause high unemployment in this working group. Then what do we do?

Much more needs to be done in the countries where the illegal aliens are coming from as there is the real problem. I can't think of a more effective force for change than a large group of returned illegal aliens. They have shown that they can mobilize and protest. They can do it at home.

Counterfeit Mexican “Matricular Consular” ID cards are such a problem that they are not currently accepted as a valid ID IN MEXICO or even valid for entry into Mexico. Here is a story (in Spanish) concerning the push to legalize the use of the documents in Mexico. the ID card image in the story is in the name of "Al Qaida Gonzalez" and while issued by a consulate in the US, is issued to a person with a fraudulent name. Here is the blogger who obtained that card, and two others. Each one with a different name. He has a translation of the story linked above in the post.

Before you call me a racist for wanting to secure our border and catch and deport illegal aliens, keep in mind, that I believe that the US should seriously consider annexing Mexico. With 10-20% of all Mexicans living in the US already (Half of them legally) I think the only way to truly stop the desire for Mexicans to come to the US is to bring Mexico under US jurisdiction and law. Then we can address the issues that create the poor conditions in the country. I know firsthand how screwed up the US immigration system is as I am married to a foreign national.

Matricular Consular Myths and Facts - Congressman Gary Miller

Database at Center of Immigration Reform - Breitbart.com
Rumors fly as feds deny immig raids - Daily News
80 arrested after probe - Cincinnati.com
California city votes on immigration issue - USA Today
Kingdom of the Illegals - Frontpage Mag.com
FBI Testimony to Congress concerning Mexican IDs

Fighting Illegal Immigration is Easy: Update III - Fred Fry International

Fighting Illegal Immigration: Part II - Fred Fry International

Fighting Illegal Immigration is easier than anyone is willing to admit - FFI

Wednesday, May 17

Venezuela - Sale of F-16s a (almost a) Non-Issue

President Hugo Chavez now has a reason to be pissed at President Bush. The US has halted all sales of military equipment to Venezuela, mostly for the acid comments by the President against the US, although the official Government reason is "in response to a lack of support by Venezuela for counterterrorism efforts."

This has caused problems for Venezuela's Air Force in obtaining replacement parts for the F-16s the US sold them years ago. Venezuela's Defense Minister was so pissed off at the move that he suggested that they sell the jets to Iran:

Gen. Alberto Muller, an adviser to Chavez, said earlier he had recommended to the defense ministry that Venezuela consider selling its F-16s after the U.S. announced a ban on arms sales to the South American country. Muller said he thought it worthwhile to consider "the feasibility of a negotiation with Iran for the sale of those planes."

He has since backed away from this idea. At least, this is what they are saying. No matter, this is a non-issue for two reasons:

1) If Venezuela can't get the spare parts to put these jets in the air, just where will Iran find the parts? (and pilots for that matter)

2) How does Venezuela plan to get the jets to Iran without the US Navy intercepting the shipment?

This is probably a move to try and cash-out some value out of the jets instead of bearing the cost of preserving the jets until the day the US agrees to sell them parts again. The other option is to start cannibalizing jets to keep the others flying.

It is possible that the jets could make it to Cuba, but what would Castro use to pay for them and just what would he do with them?

The one real troubling move would be for Hugo to let China take one apart right there in Venezuela and then let the Chinese courier the interesting pieces home. They could then arrange for the airframe to have some sort of 'accident' to account for what happened to the jet. (The Chinese have probably already been through the jet.) Thankfully, these jets have not been upgraded.

I have a photo of a US P-3 operated by Iran but the quality is not so great. Thanks to the Internet, I found a webpage that has a great picture of an Iranian P-3 here. I have no idea if any of the P-3s are still flying.

Venezuela Weighs Selling U.S. Jets to Iran - Washington Post

Monday, May 15

Maritime Monday 9

Welcome to this week's edition of Maritime Monday.

This Weeks Photo:
The GLOMAR EXPLORER in Suisun Bay, California as part of the 'Ghost Fleet' in 1996. Unlike other vessels in the fleet, this vessel was moored by itself as special permission was required in order to board her. In 1997 she left the ghost fleet and was refitted as a drillship.


This weeks items:

The Department of Homeland Security has released the proposed rule covering the issuance of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) card. It is in PDF format and 277 pages long. Here is an excerpt from page 58: (full document here.)

33 CFR 104.105
Coast Guard proposes amending § 104.105 to exempt foreign vessels from the TWIC requirements. Currently foreign vessels entering U.S. ports that carry a valid International Ship and Port Facility (ISPS) certificate are deemed to be in compliance with part 104, except for §§ 104.240, 104.255, 104.292, and 104.295. However, there are a small number of foreign vessels who are not required to comply with the International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) or with the ISPS Code, and therefore must submit security plans in accordance with this part. Without the proposed language, these vessels would be required to comply with the TWIC provisions. The crew of these vessels would primarily consist of foreign mariners. While not explicitly exempt from the TWIC requirements by the language of 46 U.S.C. 70105, the particular situation of foreign mariners makes it impractical to issue this population TWICs, and it has been determined that it is inappropriate to this rulemaking. Thus, the small number of foreign vessels who would otherwise be required to comply with part 104, as well as all other foreign vessels, have been exempted from complying with the TWIC provisions of this part since none of their crew would hold a TWIC. Nothing in this proposed exemption should affect the existing requirements that owners or operators have procedures in place for allowing seafarers to traverse facilities for the purpose of completing crew changes or taking shore leave.

EagleSpeak has news of a shipbuilding boom in Vietnam, of all places.

The UK's Maritime and Coastguard Agency posted a press release concerning a 15,000 British Pound fine given to a racing sailboat captain for sailing the wrong way up a Traffic Separation scheme. Remember to follow the rules! Not following them can be extremely costly.

Haight's Maritime Items (homepage) notes that the Maritime Administration and the EPA have issued "guidance for Best Management Practices for Preparing Vessels Intended to Create Artificial Reefs. " (PDF Document) The document contains a couple good pictures.

The Canadian Sentinel comments that Canada's mess of a submarine program should be blamed on the liberals in Government that bought the used subs from the UK.

The International Maritime Organization of the United Nations Has released the latest edition of IMO News Magazine. Unlike other IMO publications, this one is available at no charge on their website.

NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) has this graphic on the different types of offshore oil platforms.

The article this appears in covers 'Risers':

In offshore petroleum production, steel risers (tubing) are used to bring oil from the seabed to floating production platforms. In deepwater applications (3,000 to 5,000 feet), heavy steel risers require expensive tensioning and buoyancy systems. For ultradeep operations in water depths of 5,000 to 13,000 feet, the size and weight of conventional steel risers becomes cost prohibitive, inhibiting the exploitation of substantial offshore domestic oil reserves (Silverman 1999).

The use of lighter-weight composite production risers (CPRs) will reduce platform weight together with floatation and tensioning requirements and overcome one of the greatest limiting factors in offshore oil production, that is, increasing riser loads that floating platforms have to support in increasing water depths. However, the cost of CPRs has been significantly higher than steel risers because prior manufacturing techniques have not been optimized and production levels have not achieved economies of scale. When CPR cost disadvantages are overcome, platform lifecycle costs will be reduced, and additional crude oil production from deepwater Gulf of Mexico petroleum reserves will be realized (Johnson 2000).

Since you cannot put the oil rig on the ocean floor, you have to bring the hole they are drilling up from the seabed to the rig. As a benefit, the start of your hole is nice clean (pre-drilled) pipe.

I mentioned Offshore wind farms in a previous issue. Turns out these farms might be closer than you think. Practical Environmentalist has the story of a Gulf of Mexico wind project expected off of Texas.

In YET ANOTHER example of how Louisiana is attempting to take advantage of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, Senator Mary Landrieu has decided to blackmail the Federal Government by placing a hold on Dirk Kempthorne's nomination as interior secretary. What does she want?

"The people of Louisiana have been providing America's energy since the 1940s and we are happy to continue, but we cannot do so under these unfair conditions," Landrieu said Wednesday. "We must receive our fair share of revenue so that we can fully protect America's wetlands and the national infrastructure they serve."

What does the Senator consider 'fair?' "half of offshore oil and gas royalties." Thanks to 43rd State Blues for the post. I guess they are getting tired of inventing pork projects to get the money. We are all concerned about hostile foreign Governments supplying our oil and gas, but what about hostile domestic Governments?

Maxed Out Mama also has coverage of the Louisiana offshore oil grab. This time by State Governor Kathleen Blanco. At issue is the demand to collect a portion of the Federal royalties on oil pumped out of the Gulf of Mexico further than 3 miles offshore. The State's boundary is 3 miles out. I am surprised to learn that they already do receive royalties from oil pumped further than three miles offshore.

The Monitor has coverage of angry passengers on Celebrity Cruises' SUMMIT. The vessel is having problems with it's POD propulsion. More coverage at the Seattle Times, which includes this quote:

According to one of the crew members, reached by a ship-to-shore line, many of the people on board were enjoying complimentary drinks Friday and did not seem concerned any longer about the missed port calls.

Lets hope they don't get too drunk that they can't remember the trip! Don't know what POD propulsion is? See the summary below.

I am a little confused. People pay to go on a cruise, and they are complaining/outraged that they are getting more time at sea? Some feel that they are being held hostage or that they are on a prison ship. I should feel sorry for them, but these problems are common in the shipping world. Just where do you think you are going on vacation?

The story above reminds me of a great quote from a Captain of a Crab boat on the show Deadliest Catch.

"It's like being in jail, with a chance of drowning."

Taking a cruise is nothing like going to sea on a cargo ship or fishing vessel, but you still are going to sea, on a ship.

Speaking of risks, Divester has the story of diver Timothy Hogan who is suing the Coast Guard because it took a couple of hours to come to his rescue for a dive accident. (The rescue chopper got lost.) I wonder how much the Coast Guard billed him for the rescue?

Divester also have this interesting question; Who buys private submarines? Short answer, Arabs in the Middle East. Why do I find this unsettling?

Chron.com has news that the first FPSO might be stationed in the Gulf of Mexico. Don't know what a FPSO is? Take a look here.

The Port of Helsinki has a webcam covering the South Harbor where the main passenger terminals are located. Keep in mind that there is a 7 hour time difference between Helsinki and the US East Coast. If you are looking at the right time, you will see a bunch of orange tents in the foreground where you can purchase some fresh fish and bread, or sit and have a good munkki (donut) and coffee.

Lloydslist has news (subscription) that Iran may already be suffering from it's saber rattling as it's shipping companies need billions to renew and expand their fleets and they may have a hard time finding funding outside Iran as long as they keep on their current nuclear path.

Other Items:

Check out Google Images results for "free-fall lifeboat"

Be sure to check out this interactive webpage that lets you explore the different parts of a modern containership. Clicking on a part of the ship will bring up a photo(s) of the area.

This is part of the website of Reederei (Shipping Company) Thomas Schulte, a German Shipping Company.

Weekly Maritime Reference:
The subject of this week is POD Propulsion. First atke a look at this PDF summary of traditional ship propulsion. Basically, they look like this.

In the diagram above, the rubber is missing.

In POD Propulsion, the propeller and the rudder are combined into one unit that can be rotated. This permits the propeller wash to be pointed in any direction instead of having the rudder direct the force. This eliminates the need for stern thrusters. Here is a photo of a Rolls-Royce Mermaid installation:

As you can see, a good portion of the machinery is now outside the hull reducing the space required in the Engine Room. As with any new technology, there have been some problems with this system, as was noted above.

Previous Editions:
Maritime Monday 8 - 08 May 2006
Maritime Monday #7 - 01 May 2006
Maritime Monday #6 - 24 April 2006
Maritime Monday #5 - 17 April 2006
Maritime Monday #4 - 10 April 2006
Maritime Monday #3 - 02 April 2006
Maritime Monday #2 - 27 March 2006
Maritime Monday Carnival #1 - 20 March 2006

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Thursday, May 11

US Treasury Blind to China's Currency Manipulation

I am completely confused with this verdict. The US has been pushing for China to float the Yuan. Now the Treasury Department finds no manipulation. How can that be?

The Treasury, which has repeatedly said it wants China to loosen its grip over the value of the yuan, chose yesterday to avoid a direct confrontation. While China hasn't made enough progress, it isn't deliberately seeking an unfair trade advantage with its currency policies, the Treasury said in its semiannual report on the practices of U.S. trade partners. - Bloomberg

Take a look at this chart of the Dollar-Yuan exchange rate: (21 January 05 - 30 April 06)

The drop in the rate was in July 2005 when China relaxed the exchange rate.

Preeg estimates that the value of the yuan, a denomination of the renminbi, is being deliberately held at 40 percent less than its fair market value against the dollar, giving Chinese goods a competitive advantage.

John Engler, the president of the National Association of Manufacturers, said the administration had missed a chance to drain support from the legislation targeting China.

``A citation for currency manipulation would have put China on notice that the U.S. government is serious about this,'' said Engler, whose Washington-based organization is the largest U.S. group lobbying on behalf of factory owners, in a statement. ``Economic history shows that severe currency misalignments, if not dealt with, could increase the dangers of protectionism.''

Yesterday's report covers the second half of 2005. Three weeks into that period, China ended a decade-old peg to the dollar, revalued the yuan by 2.1 percent against the dollar and said it would allow the currency to fluctuate by as much as 0.3 percent a day. The yuan has climbed 1.3 percent since. - Bloomberg

Lets just see what a chart of two floating currencies looks like. Here is the Dollar-Euro exchange rate chart: (21 January 05 - 30 April 06)

Now, for comparison, take a look at the Euro-Yuan exchange rate chart: (21 January 05 - 30 April 06)

Can you see a link between the two last charts? It looks like the Yuan-Euro rate is directly linked to the Dollar-Euro rate. This might have serious consequences for Euro Countries, especially if the value of the Dollar drops and the Yuan follows it down. This would mean that Americans would still be able to afford cheap Chinese products, while at the same time, American-Made products would become cheaper t foreigners, increasing exports. That's great, because we will need the increased income to afford $5 a gallon gas as the price of oil will go through the roof.

Come to think of it, let the Chinese continue to fix the exchange rate. It only means that they will have to keep buying US Treasury notes.

Treasury Report on China Currency Policy Angers U.S. Lawmakers - Bloomberg

Some effects of a devalued Dollar - FFI - 05 September 2005

Wednesday, May 10

Are ExxonMobil's Profits all that Bad? - Update

Once again ExxonMobil (XOM) is in the news again. This time for the 'insane' compensation given to it’s retiring CEO Lee Raymond totaling $400 million. I last visited the subject of record oil company profits in September, 2005 and pointed out that record profits are not all that bad for:

  • The Government since it receives record tax payments from the Company
  • The shareholders whose investment continues to grow
  • The Government again from taxing dividends and capital gains made by ExxonMobil shareholders.

(By the way, the compensation came at the cost of the shareholders, if anyone, and not out of your pocket.)

Lets put a little perspective on how much ExxonMobil is earning this last quarter:

Net income (U.S. GAAP) $8.4 Billion

This comes to a net income per share of $1.38. That’s not much as there are 6.1 billion shares outstanding. Lets look at some other figures:

  • Income taxes $7 billion
  • Excise taxes $7.6 billion
  • All other taxes $11 billion
  • Total taxes $25.8 billion

So ExxonMobil paid three times in taxes what it made in profit. Who is gouging who? Each share paid over $4 in taxes to earn $1.38. Now some in Congress are demanding that even more be taken from the company and the holders of 6.1 billion shares because despite not being able to prove gouging, they simply use the fact that the company is making record profits that it must be by gouging.

In this respect, congress has been making highly deceptive and disingenuous comments, pandering to potential voters. Take Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois and his statement on Meet the Press:

SEN. DURBIN: Am I the only one of your guests here that think that profit taking is a problem? I mean, I understand the basic laws of supply and demand. I understand that if the input costs have gone up, it’s going to reduce your, your profitability. But here we have the most enormous profits in the history of the United States of America in business. The equivalent of $1,000 per household in America for profits. All of the market factors you described may suggest that the product is going to be more expensive to sell, but they don’t forgive what I think is an outrageous profit taking by this industry. - Meet the Press

Opinion Journal makes a minor error here by suggesting that "the senator complained that the high prices at the pump will cost the average household $1,000 this year" although I suspect that this is exactly the message that Senator Durbin was hoping people would get out of his statement. Well Senator, I am not surprised that America's largest company just happens to be making huge profits. As other sites have noted, it's profit is only about 9% of revenue. FAR FROM WHAT ANYONE OTHER THAN A SOCIALIST WOULD CONSIDER GOUGING.

As Joint Strike Weasel points out, the $1,000 per household averages out to $250 per American. This might be shocking if a company was making that much profit off each American, but that is not true. ExxonMobil is a global company and that total is it’s worldwide profit, not it’s profit on US operations. And imagine, all that profit was accumulated at an average of 27 cents a gallon. If the oil companies were fixing prices, you would think that they would be making more than 27 cents a gallon. ($3/gallon times 9%) Of that $250 per American, only $67 is US related revenue.

Congress neglects to mention where ExxonMobil is earning their billions from. Well here are some figures from the first quarter report:

  • Upstream (Exploration, Development, Production, )
    United States $1.28 billion
    Non-U.S. $5.1 billion
  • Downstream (Refining and Supply)
    United States $679 million
    Non-U.S. $592 million
  • Chemical
    United States $329 million
    Non-U.S. $620 million

73% of ExxonMobil's Profit was made outside the United States.

With all the talk of the US buying everything from China, you would think that ExxonMobil would get some gratitude for being such a profitable international American Corporation.

Many are suggesting that the oil companies are fixing the price of oil, resulting in these profits. That is simply idiotic. People are just ignoring a couple of simple facts:

Demand for oil is increasing – Not only is the US increasing it’s demand for oil, but the rest of the world, especially India and China, are increasing their use of oil. Not by a little, by lots and oil companies are not able to keep up with pumping ever larger quantities out of the ground, moving the oil, refining the oil, and getting it to the final customers.

The current supply is limited - It is getting increasingly harder to replace the oil that has been pumped – Oil companies have proven reserves for pumping. Actually pumping the oil reduces the reserves. To be an ongoing business, they need to replace the reserves that they have used, otherwise the company will eventually run out of oil to pump.

Replacing the oil pumped has been getting harder recently for the oil companies, compounded by the fact that they are increasing production to meet increasing demand, which increases the amount needed to be replaced is year greater.

One way of replacing reserves is to increase the amount of oil that you can get out of existing oilfields. Another way is to go out and purchase another oil company and add their reserves to yours. While this does increase your reserves, it has no net change in the world’s proven reserves.

Falling Dollar - A declining dollar makes oil more expensive in the US compared to what other countries are willing to pay for it. As foreign countries get more dollars for the same amount of their currency, they can offer more per barrel without it costing them more money. However, a declining dollar increases the profit earned overseas as profit being sent back to the US results in more dollars even if the foreign revenue is the same.

Not for anything, but if this company is making a fortune gouging the planet, why haven't you purchased some shares?

Note: This is part 2 of 3 concerning Gasoline, Congress and ExxonMobil. Keep in mind that I am currently an owner of a small portion of exxonMobil and BP.

See part one here: "Impending Ethanol Shortage?"

Profits of Doom? - OpinionJournal
$3-a-gallon gas: Blame Washington, not Big Oil - Fortune

Are Record Oil Company Profits all that Bad? - FFI - September 2005