Wednesday, November 29

Finnish Triple-Murderer Escapes from an 'Open Institution'

What exactly is an Open Institution?

Inmates participating in work or other activities and who are considered to suit in freer circumstances and are not likely to leave the institution without permission, are placed in open institutions. In open institutions inmates always use their own clothes. All open institutions are intoxicant-free institutions, in which an inmate is required to controlled commitment not to use intoxicants. - Finnish Prison Service

Here is a photo of facility that the triple murderer escaped from:

("The Hamina Work Colony is a minimum security penal facility". HS Photo)

As you can see, this 'prison' is dependant on the prisoners not walking away. This is why, as it says above, they only put low-risk inmates in there. Here is where is gets tricky as the Finns, with their European-style 'forgive the criminal' mentality decided that a triple murderer with a life sentence was a low-risk criminal.

Convicted triple murderer Juha Valjakkala, who currently goes under the name Nikita Joakim Fouganthine, escaped from the Hamina Work Colony run by the Finnish Prison Service in the south coast city of Hamina on Monday night.

Valjakkala was last seen at the minimum security penal facility at roll call Monday evening at about 10:00 PM. His absence was noticed at eight in the morning, on Tuesday, which means that the escapee could have a head start of up to ten hours. - HS

Now if it makes you feel any better, according to their rules, he did not exactly escape. He just left without permission:

Leaving an open institution is not considered as an escape. If a prisoner has left the institution without permission, he can be ordered as a disciplinary punishment a loss of served time at most 20 days. In 2005 18 (27 in 2004) prisoners left an open institution without permission. - Prison Service

He must have had a good reason to leave, because being in prison in Finland is almost like not being in prison at all.

You get the have private visits with the wife:
Prisoners have the right to receive visitors at certain times reserved for visits during weekends and for a special reason at other times as well. In prisons there are family meeting rooms were close family members may meet in home-like circumstances for a few hours without supervision. - PS
Your even allowed to go on vacation from prison:

A prisoner may be granted a permission of leave after he/she has served a half of the sentence or if there is an especially important reason. The permission is granted if it is likely that the prisoner complies with the permission conditions. To a prisoner guilty of aggravated drug or violent offence or a prisoner who has earlier violated the permission conditions grossly can permission of leave be granted only if the complying with of the conditions is considered almost certain. - PS

And the Government pays for it:
Travel costs on the permission of leave are paid from state funds if the permission has been granted due to a close relative’s serious illness. Also the travels during the first leave and always when it is 6 months since the last return are paid by the state. Then the cheapest way of travel must be used. A prisoner may not leave the Nordic countries. - PS
Did you catch that last part? You can even leave the country. I would think that these events would be family related. I can't see even the Finns letting prisoners out to that they can go to a rock concert or something. So if it is a family event, why not require the family to pay for their loved one to show up.

So, lets back back to this wandering ex-triple murderer. Here is a summary of his Wikipedia page:
Juha Veikko Valjakkala (born June 13, 1965) became a part of Finnish and Swedish crime history in 1988 when he was convicted of the murder of a family of three at a cemetery in the northern Swedish community of Åmsele.

The series of events that led to the murders began when the 22-year-old Valjakkala was released from a prison in Turku on May 1, 1988, after which he started wandering through Sweden and Finland with his 21-year-old girlfriend Marita Routalammi.

On July 3 they arrived in Åmsele. After nightfall Valjakkala stole a bicycle. He was pursued by Sten Nilsson and his 15-year-old son Fredrik. The chase ended at a cemetery where Sten and Fredrik Nilsson were both shot by Valjakkala with a shotgun. Later Sten's wife and Fredrik's mother, Ewa Nilsson, went looking for the two and was stabbed to death by Valjakkala outside the cemetery. Valjakkala and Routalammi were caught in Odense, Denmark just over a week later.

Valjakkala was given a life sentence on three counts of murder, while Routalammi got off with two years for complicity in assault and battery. Routalammi was released after serving half of her time, and Valjakkala was transferred to Finland to serve out the rest of his sentence.

In April 1994 Valjakkala fled the Riihimäki prison where he was being held. He took a teacher as a hostage, but he was apprehended nearby and the hostage escaped the situation unscathed. He has also tried to escape once in 1991. - Wiki
He also attempted to escape from a prison (with fences) in 2004. That totals three attempted escapes prior to this escape. That does not include his arrest in 2002, in Sweden, where he went while on furlough/vacation from prison. He went and failed to return. So lets call it four attempted escapes.

If he is caught, his punishment would only be an additional 20 days which means nothing since he is serving a life sentence. for those familiar, a life sentence in Finland is about 12 years. He has already served 18 years and was waiting for a Presidential pardon. It might be that he got tired waiting.

I am taking a beating for my harsh stance on punishment of crime at this site here that is discussing this escape. It keeps getting brought up that it is the US's harsh punishment of criminals that is the cause of the America's high crime rate, compared to Finland and Europe's in general. I call BS on that and here is a little to back that up:
SUPERIOR POLICING does little good without a commitment from the justice system to keep violent thugs off the streets. The United States has the longest prison sentences in the Western world. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics and its counterparts in other countries, a convicted armed robber can expect to serve about four and a half years behind bars in the United States, a little over two years in Great Britain, a bit less in Germany, and less than 18 months in France. The United States imprisons nearly 700 out of 100,000 citizens as compared to about 125 in the U.K. and Canada, 100 in Germany, and about 60 in most of Scandinavia. Some of these countries may actually have fewer thugs than the United States, but those left unpunished do enormous damage.

While building and staffing prisons costs a great deal, letting criminals roam free costs even more. One violent criminal can do over a million dollars worth of damage in the space of a year. A single armed robbery costs society more than $50,000, and a hardened thug can commit a hundred such crimes in a year. The European elite still seems to regard Americans' desire to lock up violent criminals as an index of barbarism and America as a nation gripped by violence and infatuated with rough, frontier justice. With violence and theft exploding all over the developed world, however, one has to ask which type of society is barbaric--one that punishes criminals, or one that lets them prey on law-abiding citizens?

Not surprisingly, overwhelming evidence demonstrates that keeping criminals locked up reduces crime. British academic Donald E. Lewis's comprehensive 1986 examination of studies on the correlation between sentence length and crime rates (published in the British Journal of Criminology) concludes that doubling the length of the sentence for a crime will cut the likelihood that criminals will commit that crime by a little less than 50 percent. In a comprehensive comparison of crime rates in the United States and Great Britain, a Bureau of Justice Statistics researcher and the head of Cambridge University's Criminology Institute hit on the key fact: Crime rates fell in the United States as punishment increased and rose in Britain as punishment decreased. As James Q. Wilson has observed, "coincident with rising prison population there began in 1979-80 a steep reduction in the crime rate as reported by the victimization surveys." - Weekly Standard
OK, the study mentioned is a bit old, so here is a comparison of the percent change in crime between 1997 and 2001. (Appears to be the most recent study, released in 2003.)

- Finland +12%
- US -12%

Violent Crime:
- Finland +7%
- US -12%

- Finland +7%
- US -15%

Domestic Burglary:
- Finland -24%
- US -14%

Car Theft:
- Finland +3%
- US -9%

Drug Trafficking:
- Finland +79%
- US 0

While the US has a higher absolute crime rate, the trend for the US is a decline in crime. That can't be said for Finland.

Take this from the 'murder' entry in Wikipedia:
Finland is the most violent nation in Western Europe according to several recent studies. The most likely way to get "manslaughtered" in Finland is to get stabbed or severely beaten by an intoxicated male person. Also, guns such as rifles and shotguns have traditionally been more usual in Finland than in most of Europe due to the popularity of hunting. There are over a million registered guns and firearms in private ownership in Finland while the country's entire population is only a little over five million. - Wiki
So Finland shouldn't brag about their low crime rate, unless they are bragging to Americans. Keep in mind that being drunk is an acceptable excuse in Finland as to why a person is not guilty of murder.

Finland is not the only country with this problem. I have a good friend from Estonia. She had mentioned that Estonians go to Sweden to commit crimes because even if they get caught, Swedish jails are not that bad.

What is the right way to treat a triple-murderer like Juha Valjakkala? I would think that this would be a person worthy of the death penalty. The Finns think otherwise. And that is why he is now out loose wandering the Finnish, or even perhaps the Swedish countryside.

You can bet that Juha has no problems with the Finnish system. Neither do two other Finns who have committed murder in the US and then fled to Finland, to avoid the death penalty.

Finnish triple murderer escapes from minimum security prison - Helsingin Sanomat
Crime Without Punishment - Weekly Standard
International comparisons of criminal justice statistics 2001 - PDF
Finnish Murderers - Wiki

Update: 1 December 2006

Finnish police have recaptured escaped* triple murderer Juha Valjakkala.
Police arrested escaped triple murderer Juha Valjakkala at his private home in the Maunula district of Helsinki at 7:30 Thursday evening. Valjakkala, who had escaped from the Hamina Work Colony run by the Finnish Prison Service in the south coast city of Hamina on Monday night, did not put up any resistance when he was arrested. - Helsingin Sanomat
Great they have caught him, but this follow-up story makes this whole case even stranger. For starters, what is a person who has been in jail for the last 18 years, serving a life sentence, doing with an apartment? How is he paying the bills for the apartment? Is the Government paying the bills? Why didn't he have the place rented out? Are there some protections in place because it would be unfair if he lost his home while in prison?

Just how did he get to Helsinki? Why he stole a car of course:
Jalonen thinks that it is likely that Valjakkala drove to Helsinki in a car that was stolen from Hamina at about the time that he fled the city. The car was found in Maunula the following day. However, Jalonen emphasised that the investigation is not yet complete. - Helsingin Sanomat
Good thing the car owner did not confront him. After all, this guy killed three people over a bicycle. A bicycle. Is he in jail for theft of a bicycle? No, for murder. That was how far this guy was willing to go as a criminal. Killing for no real reason. It's not like he was robbing a bank or other hi-stakes crime.
Minister of Justice Leena Luhtanen (SDP) said on Thursday that transferring Juha Valjakkala from an ordinary prison to a more open labour colony was a mistake.

Speaking in Parliament during Question Time, Luhtanen noted that the decision was made by the Criminal Sanctions Agency, and that the Ministry of Justice had no knowledge of the matter.

MP Petri Salo (Nat. Coalition Party) asked how it was possible that a triple murderer with a record of four escapes could be moved to a labour colony where supervision of inmates is more difficult, and escape is easier. - Helsingin Sanomat
Too bad there will not be a serious questioning of this case. He will be put into a real prison for a while, but not for very long. After all, he was recommended to be pardoned and released. (Keep in mind that according to the law, he did not escape despite the title of the article.)
Inspector Jukka Siltaloppi of the Criminal Sanctions Agency says that Valjakkala will be placed immediately in a closed prison.

Siltaloppi believes that Valjakkala will not have any hope of getting a furlough or being transferred to a minimum security prison for at least six months to a year.

He also faces disciplinary action, which could vary from a warning to solitary confinement.
- Helsingin Sanomat
Wow. No vacations for at least six months and it will be at least a half year before he can escape again from the Hamina facility. The police also managed to interrupt a meeting he was having with a woman:
In addition to Valjakkala there was a woman about 40 years old in the apartment. The National Bureau of Investigation is looking into her possible involvement in the events, but police say that she is being treated as an outsider.

"She has certainly had some kind of relationship with Valjakkala, but we have not yet investigated the matter", said Police Inspector Kari Jalonen. - Helsingin Sanomat
Treated as an outsider? What the hell is that. She was found in the apartment with the most-wanted man in Finland. She was either a hostage or she was an accomplice. Looking at this Finnish article here where they interview the woman, it seems she was more of a girlfriend although she claims in the article that there is no love there, even though she met him in prison and continued to write and that the apartment was hers and that he just took his vacations there. Yeah right. (Feel free to add a better translation in the comments if I misunderstood.) Anyway, they did not take her in for questioning, which is how the news reporter got her hands on her.

Clearly, this is not the end of the story. He is not dead yet.

The Finns are lucky that their murder rate is low. I can't see how they could manage with too many more murderers to deal with. They won't have to deal with this one for much longer as he is overdue for release. Yes, I know that he is in for life, but in Finnish terms that's about 12 years. As it stands now, he has been in prison longer than anyone else in Finland.

Update: 2 December 2006

Juha Valjakkala tried to hang himself in prison. Unfortunately, he did not succeed so they will still have to deal with him once he gets out of prison. Interesting in that he proved so efficient in being able to kill others yet failed when attempting to kill himself. Maybe he is no longer a danger to society.

Kolmoismurhaaja Juha Valjakkala yritti perjantaina itsemurhaa. Ilta-Sanomien mukaan Valjakkala yritti hirttäytyä vankisellissään Helsingin vankilassa eli Sörkässä. - Helsingin Sanomat
Surely this story is nowhere finished.

Update: 4 December

Here is the summary of the hanging attempt in English:

Juha Valjakkala, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for killing three members of the same family in northern Sweden in 1988, tried to hang himself after being re-arrested on Thursday. Valjakkala escaped from a low security prison at Hamina in Finland on Monday but was seized three days later at an apartment in Helsinki.

Now he is being detained under police guard in a psychiatric ward in the Finnish capital, according to Aftonbladet and the Finnish paper Ilta Sanomat. Two hours after Valjakkala was arrested on Thursday he was found in his cell "in a bad condition". He was taken to the emergency ward of Helsinki's Maria hospital.However, his injuries were not judged to be serious and Valjakkala was taken to a secure psychiatric ward. - The Local, Sweden

How is it possible that he could have managed to try and kill himself within two hours of being recaptured? Wasn't he interrogated? How often do guards go around checking inmates? Are Finnish criminals that different that they can be relied upon to behave on their own?

There are some other things that bother me. How is it that he was permitted to change his name? Really. Just think about that. In a country of about 5 million people, they kind of know who their infamous criminals are (I am told) so it is completely idiotic to permit an infamous criminal to change his name and give him a new identity. Poor him if he is stuck with a name that everyone recognizes, for the wrong reasons.

Also, when are European countries going to stop transferring prisoners back to their home country to serve their sentences? I can understand that it makes it easier for the relative to visit prisoners, but shouldn't the prisoners take that into consideration prior to doing the crime? At least in the case of murder, I would think that the country where the crime took place might have more of an interest in ensuring that the prisoner is kept locked up. If they are willing to commit crimes in other countries they should be ready to face justice on those other countries, including the death penalty, like in the US.

*"Leaving an open institution is not considered as an escape." Finnish Prison Service

Police catch escaped triple murderer Juha Valjakkala in Helsinki - Helsingin Sanomat
Järjestin Valjakkalalle pakopaikan - Iltalehti

Tuesday, November 28

US Airways Imams Should Be Prosecuted

This is not how Religious member of society are supposed to behave. This is how terrorists and terror enablers act.

At the very least, these Imams should be banned from flying. However, they really should be prosecuted and sent to jail.

Muslim religious leaders removed from a Minneapolis flight last week exhibited behavior associated with a security probe by terrorists and were not merely engaged in prayers, according to witnesses, police reports and aviation security officials.

Witnesses said three of the imams were praying loudly in the concourse and repeatedly shouted "Allah" when passengers were called for boarding US Airways Flight 300 to Phoenix.

"I was suspicious by the way they were praying very loud," the gate agent told the Minneapolis Police Department.

Passengers and flight attendants told law-enforcement officials the imams switched from their assigned seats to a pattern associated with the September 11 terrorist attacks and also found in probes of U.S. security since the attacks -- two in the front row first-class, two in the middle of the plane on the exit aisle and two in the rear of the cabin.

"That would alarm me," said a federal air marshal who asked to remain anonymous. "They now control all of the entry and exit routes to the plane." - Washington Times

You can bet that the Imams knew what they were doing when they choose those seat locations. If they wanted to sit in different parts of the plane, why not check in and request to sit like that.

According to witnesses, police reports and aviation security officials, the imams displayed other suspicious behavior.

Three of the men asked for seat-belt extenders, although two flight attendants told police the men were not oversized. One flight attendant told police she "found this unsettling, as crew knew about the six [passengers] on board and where they were sitting." Rather than attach the extensions, the men placed the straps and buckles on the cabin floor, the flight attendant said. - Washington Times

Now they have weapons. It was not clear to me at first why they had asked for them as the news did not point out that they were given the seat-belt extenders and that they failed to put them on, instead putting them on the floor, ready to grab for assaulting the flight crew. Instead of presenting the facts of the incident, the mainstream media left open the possibility that whether they were needed was a matter of opinion and that the flight attendants were being cruel, forcing the imams to be strapped tightly into the seats. Shame on the media for distorting the story.

The imams who claimed two first-class seats said their tickets were upgraded. The gate agent told police that when the imams asked to be upgraded, they were told no such seats were available. Nevertheless, the two men were seated in first class when removed.

A flight attendant said one of the men made two trips to the rear of the plane to talk to the imam during boarding, and again when the flight was delayed because of their behavior. Aviation officials, including air marshals and pilots, said these actions alone would not warrant a second look, but the combination is suspicious.

"That's like shouting 'fire' in a crowded theater. You just can't do that anymore," said Robert MacLean, a former air marshal. - Washington Times

Why did only two of them move into first class? They must have been very insistent as anyone who flies knows that you can't just sneak into first class.

And what were Imams doing in first class anyway? Is that the way that muslim imams travel? If so, why did they not just buy first class tickets from the start?

So why were these muslims targeted? Was it for their outrageous behavior or was it for their being muslims? Do you think their might have been other muslims on that flight? Why were they not removed?

The pilot said the airlines are not "secretly prejudiced against any nationality, religion or culture," and that the only target of profiling is passenger behavior.

"There are certain behaviors that raise the bar, and not sitting in your assigned seat raises the bar substantially," the pilot said. "Especially since we know that this behavior has been evident in suspicious probes in the past."

"Someone at US Airways made a notably good decision," said a second pilot, who also does not work for US Airways.

A spokeswoman for US Airways declined to discuss the incident. Aviation security officials said thousands of Muslims fly every day and conduct prayers in airports in a quiet and private manner without creating incidents. - Washington Times

Clearly the profiling of behavior worked. The actions of these Imams does nothing but support terrorism, both in pushing transportation employees not to question suspicious behavior as well as informing terrorists what kind of actions are possible to get away with on an airplane. THAT, is what professionals call a 'DRY RUN.'

And No, you can't say allah akbar anywhere near a plane. I would take that as evidence enough that you are getting ready to kill everyone around you and would expect law enforcement to put you down before you got the chance to meet allah on your own terms.

Will any muslims speak out against the behavior of these Imams? Most likely not. Take a look here at what happened to a US muslim who spoke out against jihad and Islamic Terrorism.

Update: 6 December 06

Thanks to Sout al Kouffar for this video response aptly titled 'Flight Club.'

Now all we need is for US Airways to announce that they are suing the six imams for the expenses they incurred as a result of their stunt.

Update: 17 December 06
Newt Gingrich also believes that these imams should be prosecuted:
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told an audience in New Hampshire Muslim clerics pulled off a plane for praying should have been charged criminally.

Gingrich made the remark Friday night, as he delivered the keynote speech at the Manchester Republican City Committee Christmas dinner, the Manchester (N.H.) Union Leader reported.

"Those six people should have been arrested and prosecuted for pretending to be terrorists," Gingrich said. "And the crew of the U.S. airplane should have been invited to the White House and congratulated for being correct in the protection of citizens." - Washington Times

Monday, November 27

Maritime Monday 35

Welcome to this weeks edition of Maritime Monday.

This Week's Photos:
Here is an example of some out of the box thinking. A sea-based rocket launching platform. It takes less energy to launch a satellite into space at the Equator because you can take the most advantage of the Earth's rotation. As you can see from the map below, there are some countries where it could be possible to launch from the equator, but why limit yourself to those choices, when you can just build your own spaceport at sea and control all the factors without having to deal with a possible questionable Government. (The vessels are home-ported in Long Beach.)

(SEA LAUNCH COMMANDER and the ODYSSEY at the Equator)

(Diagram of the converted oil platform turn ODYSSEY launch platform)
(Launch site at left)

(Launch of XM Radio's 'XM-4' communications satellite on October 30, 2006)

More photos and a summary of this launch mission here at the Sea Launch Mission page.

More at the Sea Launch Homepage.

This Week's Items:
Eagle Speak covers the concerns of the anti-nuke crowd over the shipment of nuclear fuel by the ATLANTIC OSPREY which happens to be a single-hull vessel.

Sustainable Shipping has the must-read assessment that double-hull tankers ARE NOT less likely to have oil spills, and in some cases are even more likely. Ever hear of a mid-deck tanker? It is a design where the cargo tanks are separated top and bottom with a bulkhead. This way, if the bottom is holed, the pressure of the water pushing up is greater than the pressure of the oil pushing down through the hole, resulting in very little leaked oil. More here.

BBC News has the story of the capture of a homemade submarine captured off of Costa Rica carrying three tons of cocaine. Marine Log has more details on the homemade craft captured off Costa Rica and how the submarine was not a submarine at all.

The Star, Canada covers the still-unfolding story of two solo "around the world" sailors who are in serious trouble in the southern ocean. Surely, not the last either before the face is over. (As a professional sailor, I consider this race the ultimate act of irresponsibility for a sailor.) has the news of the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan (in Canada for those not familiar) agreeing to purchase Cargo Terminals in New York and in Canada. No comment so far from Senator Schumer on yet another foreign group purchasing port infrastructure. (The self-proclaimed libertarian-socialist-communist author of the LE REVUE GAUCHE Blog expects the right to start frothing at the mouth over the news of Canadian teachers purchasing port facilities in New York. The author, Eugene Plawiuk, claims to be an 'investigative researcher'. So I wonder how he overlooked the simple fact that it was Democrats who first went ballistic over the foreign purchase of US port facilities.)

Yahoo news carried the story that "The perception that there is a long list of unimplemented 9/11 recommendations [concerning port security] is simply not accurate." As the story explains, don't expect the Democrats to do much (anything) to improve port Security.

Sailors, Mariners & Warriors League has coverage of the collision of surfacing Japanese sub ASASHIO with the Panama Flag cargo ship SPRING AUSTER.

The Salt Lake Tribune has this week's other must-read by MARCEL RODRIGUEZ, Lt. USNR (Ret.) who writes about serving in the merchant marine during WWII.

PortWorld has the comment by Ton Dufresne, President of the Canadian International Longshore and Warehouse Union, who said that the proposal to have background checks on port workers' criminal records was based on an "urban myth" that there was organized crime within the ILWU.

The ILWU has a press release explaining that background checks of their workers in the US is not needed as there are no terrorists in their ranks. (What about criminals?)

The LA Times has the news of over 800,000 TEUs moving through the Port of Los Angeles in October, a record. No other US port has even managed to hit the 700 thousand mark, other than the Port of LA. (The story refers to 800 thousand containers, but later does clarify 'to the equivalent of 800,064 20-foot containers.' One 40 Footer equals 2 Twenties. So if every container handled was a 40 footer, that would be 400,000 actual containers handled.) has the story of the Greek Coast Guard firing on a sailboat carrying illegal immigrants. (Come on, please tell me that the Greek Coast Guard can manage to stop a sailboat without having to shoot it to pieces. Or is the the new policy after they were caught dumping illegals in the waters off Turkey, to drown.)

Cargo Law has finally obtained a full set of photos of the amazing 2002 grounding of the M/V ALVA STAR.

The Nor'wester notes Canada's discrimination against Canadian fishermen as foreign fishermen are not prosecuted for violating Canada's fishing laws.

Navy Newsstand has the story of the USS JUNEAU making a port call at the Maxie Naval Base in Zhanjiang, China.

Greenpeace is pissed off at Iceland for 'harpooning' a moratorium on high-seas bottom trawling, accussing it of acting instead to protect it's own interests. (As if any country would do that.)

Lloyds Agency has a summary of the salvage operation of the ROKIA DELMAS that is aground off France. Latest entry is from 9 November noting that it will take several weeks to remove containers from the vessel.

Venezuela Analysis covers CITGO's first delivery this season of home heating oil at a 40% discount for low income families in New York City. While I will not be filling up at a CITGO anytime soon, I highly encourage anyone eligible to take advantage of the offer of below-cost fuel. This way you can finally 'stick-it' to the oil man.

Haight's Maritime Items has:

Sailor jumps from sinking boat to barge - In a story too strange to have been invented, the US Coast Guard issued a press release stating that a man was found on a barge under tow in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of northern Florida. It appears that the man jumped from his sailboat to the barge after the two vessels collided at night. The sailboat sank. The crew of the tug was unaware of the collision. When they first noticed the man on the barge the next morning, they thought he was a stowaway and called the Coast Guard. Agents from the Coast Guard and the Customs and Border Patrol initially handcuffed the man, until they verified his identity and situation. (11/18/06). Holland + Knight

Fairplay Daily News has:

P&O Cruises re-flags more ships - LONDON - 22 November – P&O Cruises, the Carnival Corp subsidiary, is to transfer its 69,153-gt Oriana from the British to the Bermuda flag because weddings on board a British-registered cruise ship are not legally recognised. As the cruise liner will still fly the Red Ensign but under Bermuda registry, no UK seafarers will lose their jobs or any loss of conditions and pay. P&O has already re-flagged the Arcadia, Oceana and Artemis, all operating cruises out of Southampton, understandably for the same reason. The 115,000-gt newbuilding Ventura, despite the focus on its British pedigree, will also fly the Bermuda flag. This means a loss of 390,000gt from the British register. Andrew Linington of seafarer union Nautilus UK told Fairplay: “we have talked to the UK government but with no success.” Nautilus representatives were meeting P&O today over this issue. A P&O spokesman confirmed to Fairplay that the wedding issue was the only reason for transferring the ships. All five P&O ships will offer a Weddings at Sea package. A Department for Transport spokesman said the issue had been considered but the complexities of four different wedding processes made it too difficult. - Fairplay

Submissions for future editions:
Please submit articles for inclusion in next week' edition using the following submit form at Blog Carnival. You are also welcome to email photos for inclusion in future editions.

Send me an email (address in the sidebar) if you would like to sponsor an edition of Maritime Monday. I accept money and gear.

Previous Editions:


Sunday, November 26

Being Less Poor: Playstation 3 Flatscreen Christmas Edition

It is Christmas time again and once again we have a perfect example of why many people in the US are poor. Because they are blowing money on things like the Playstation 3 video game system by Sony. That sucker sells for over $600 and it does not even include any games with it. Sure, if you can afford the thing, then that is your problem where to cram it in with the other stuff around the TV. However, there is all this talk of 'the poor' in America. I can only guess at how many poor were lined up waiting to get their hands on one of these things.

Now, I am not talking about the poor who were paid to wait in line by some moneybags who has better things to do than stand outside a store for days for something he can order online a couple months from now once the insanity wears off. Nor an I talking about those who purchased one to resell on Ebay. I am talking about almost everyone else who is getting ready to waste $600+ for a game while at the same time complaining that they never have any money. That's basically almost everyone that was waiting in line. No wonder you guys are poor. Not only were you waiting to purchase an overpriced product, but you were also not working to do it. Did you call in sick, or perhaps took a vacation day or two. Maybe you are unemployed and see the game as something that you deserve. No matter the situation, most of the people who purchased this thing probably deserve to be poor, just for the stupidity of the purchase.

Now there is some good to be found in all of this. First, if you were able to find the $600, then you can surely find another $250. And if you were prepared to buy one but were not quick enough to get one, then you have $600 that you can use to make yourself richer. That is by making a direct investment in stock.

Many stocks permit you to make a direct purchase through their websites. Stocks such as General Electric and Exxon Mobil among many others. Many (but not all) pay a dividend every three months. This can be given as either cash or as more stock. The price to open an account it not so great. The fee for the two I listed above is only $250. So for the price of a Playstation 3 you could instead open an account for both GE and XOM and still have $100 left over to purchase one $50 monthly investment for each afterwards. That's right, once the account is open, you can purchase additional stock for as little as $50. That amount should be easy to find, since by not buying a Playstation 3, you won't be buying games for it, or Blu-Ray DVDs. See, you'll be saving a ton in no time.

So which stocks to buy. I have listed two above that I own, but they may not be the right ones for you or the reasons that I purchased them might not be relevant for you. One way that you can narrow down the possible list is to limit your choices to those stocks that issue a dividend. They tend to be more stable and should be making a profit, which is where the dividend comes from. If you want my opinion about a stock, ask in the comments, even anonymously if you wish.

Now, just imagine what you could do by not spending a couple thousand on a flat screen TV! (and then the additional cable fees to get a high definition TV signal and hundreds more for a HD DVD player and disks.)

As always, keep in mind that there are two reasons why people are poor:

- They do not earn enough money
- They spend too much money

People dwell too much on reason one and tend to ignore reason two.

Keep in mind that direct investment makes a great Christmas present and allows you to purchase additional stock each Christmas, birthday or other celebration.

Of course you could also use the $600 to pay off part of your credit card debt......

Read more in the Past Issues:

Being Less Poor - 27 October 2005
Being Less Poor: Update - 18 June 2006


Monday, November 20

Europes Newest, Crushing 'Feel-Good' Taxes

Global warming is all the rage in Europe. When they are not busy blaming the US, they are thinking of ways to fight it themselves. Well, not really fight it. More so to punish the average person, by forcing them to pay the 'actual cost' of their actions, including their share of the environmental damage that their actions create. This is mainly done through taxes. For the longest time, gasoline in Europe has been heavily taxed, to the point of 60% and more of the total price, resulting in gas being twice as expensive in Europe as it is in the US. Of course, there are other ways to travel and other ways to damage the environment.

Take this new tax proposal that is being debated in the UK:
CONSUMERS could be hit by steep price rises for a range of goods from food to hotel breaks under plans to tackle climate change being considered by David Miliband.

The Environment Secretary is consulting taking sweeping powers to extend curbs on greenhouse gas emissions so that they cover many more businesses, including supermarkets and hotel chains — curbs that at present apply only to the big industrial users. The costs incurred are potentially huge and are likely to be passed on to the consumer. - Times Online

This is a different tax than this next one that the Times Online reported on in July of this year:

AIR passengers will be charged up to £40 extra for a return ticket within Europe to pay for the environmental impact of their journeys, under plans approved by the European Parliament yesterday.

MEPs voted in favour of the “immediate introduction” of a tax on jet fuel for flights within the 25 member states of the EU. The charge would double the cost of millions of budget airline flights. - Times Online - July

Looks like flying around Europe is going to get much more expensive. Not that its cheap now with all the taxes that are already levied on airfare tickets. The tax on jet fuel above would be in addition to this proposed requirement for airlines to purchase permits for their CO2 emissions:
Brussels aims to include the rest of the world in the European Union's latest green policy plan set to impose CO2 emission controls on all flights within and entering Europe, according to a leaked draft proposal from the European Commission.

The plan, which will require all flights arriving or departing from EU airports to buy permits to cover their carbon dioxide emissions, will be presented just before Christmas and is crucial to the bloc's fight against global warning and climate change.

The report estimates that passengers on flights within Europe would pay an extra €9 for a ticket, with the actual sum depending on the price of the permits. Those flying long haul would pay up to €39.60, according to The Times. - Business Weekly
This plan will not permit airlines to purchase unused CO2 permits from other industries, because they are not expensive enough, and because Eastern Europe and Russia have many unused credits since Soviet industry was particularly dirty and of course, Kyoto measured pollution from 1990, when Soviet factories were still spewing pollution like there was no tomorrow. No, there will be a limited amount of credits available for purchase, with the industry as a whole, capped at how much CO2 it can emit. (Taken from the July story.)

Keep in mind that the amount of the taxes appear to be set arbitrarily with no link to the cost of the actual 'damage' created by their actions. Notice that there is no mention what this tax revenue is going to be used for.

Europe has been so concerned about global warming that they were eager to sign up for the Kyoto Accord to cut Greenhouse gases. Never mind that most of these countries have utterly failed to meet the requirements that they have agreed to, they are now getting ready to punish those countries that have refused to sign up to Kyoto.
FRANCE has threatened to tax imports from countries that have not signed the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions.

Its Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin, told a meeting on sustainable development yesterday: "Europe has to use all its weight to stand up to this sort of environmental dumping.

"I would like us to study now with our European partners the principle of a carbon tax on the import of industrial products from countries which refuse to commit themselves to the Kyoto Protocol after 2012." - Sydney Morning Herald
One of the countries that this tax is aimed at is Australia. They are understandably upset. Take this comment from the Australian Sunday Telegraph:
THE country that spent 30 years testing its nuclear weapons in our region wants to punish Australia for not signing off on a voluntary greenhouse agreement.

France has outraged everyone from the Prime Minister to industry bodies for suggesting European taxes should be introduced on imports from countries that have not ratified the Kyoto Protocol, including Australia. - Sunday Telegraph
It was accompanied with this graphic:

Not that the French are ones to care about criticism. But wait, the EU is not the only ones planning to tax the rest of us for their own feel-good 'pet projects'.

There is a UN airfare tax that is attempting to take even more from your pockets:
GENEVA, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Countries around the globe are rallying to the idea of taxing air travel to fund provision of cheaper drugs to poor countries fighting AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, France's foreign minister said on Monday.

But Philippe Douste-Blazy said it was essential for many more to come on board to ensure the success of the drug purchase programme through a new U.N.-backed project, UNITAID.

"Other countries are going to join us. We are already seeing that a genuine globalisation of solidarity is under way," he told the first session of the governing board of UNITAID, launched in New York last month by five nations.

"But there must and can be many more of us," he told a news conference later.

The five launch nations were France, which is to contribute some $250 million next year, Brazil, Britain, Norway and Chile. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and former U.S. President Bill Clinton joined them in the September launch. Nineteen rich and poorer countries have already agreed to levy the tax -- applied since July in France, whose President Jacques Chirac first proposed it -- and others say they will raise funds for the new body in other ways.

The tax is also already enforced in Brazil, Chile and Gabon, with several others to follow by early next year, but it has been fiercely opposed by airlines which say it hits them unfairly and will reduce tourism to developing countries.

But Douste-Blazy, who was elected as president of UNITAID on Monday, dismissed this argument at the news conference, saying the tiny levy involved was unlikely to deter anyone.

In France, the tax amounts to one euro ($1.26) a ticket on a domestic or European economy class flight and four euros on a business or first class seat. These figures are multiplied by four for transcontinental journeys.

In all, 44 countries have joined the pilot group that set up UNITAID, which will operate out of the U.N.'s World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva and aims through bulk ordering to buy vital medicines at low cost.

Its declared aim is to bring about a reduction in the price of medications and to encourage drug companies to develop new treatments by ensuring competition among them for its custom.

Some 90 percent of new cases of AIDS -- which kills 3 million people a year including 570,000 children -- are in developing countries where few can afford the drugs. Malaria kills between 1 and 3 million people a year, mainly in Africa. - Reuters
So what if the tax is only 1 Euro (5 Euros for trans-Atlantic flights.) They are still taking it from you instead of asking. The UN has been wanting to directly tax citizens for a while now and it seems they are using this route to do it. It might only be one Euro now, but as we all know taxes normally only go up. How long until some UN bureaucrat has a presentation or 'White Paper' on all the good that they can do if the tax is raised to only 2 Euros. Eventually all these taxes do add up.

Anyway, nobody asked me if I want to donate to help fund cheap drugs in the third world. Probably because my answer would be no, not one penny. It is not that I am a heartless bastard, so what if I am, but because it is not my responsibility to ensure that the third world receives cheap medicine. It is the responsibility of their own governments to look after them. Many do not because their leaders are corrupt and pocket the money that should be used to take care of their citizens. So now we have the UN come in and PAY BRIBES to these very same corrupt leaders so that they can be permitted to treat these people. This in effect perpetuates corrupt governments. And they want to use money taken from me in taxes to do it with. No thank you. How about forcing these leaders to act like they should?

Anyway, this is just a taste of what is coming in the near future. It is a shame and I believe very short sighted. Europe could actually reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions by lowering taxes. As it is now, Alcohol is being shifted all around Europe to low tax jurisdictions so that citizens from high tax jurisdictions, like Finland, the UK, and Norway, can travel and purchase cheap alcohol and return it back to their home. Many Finns travel to Sweden solely to purchase alcohol while on the ship. Many never even leave the vessel when it's in Stockholm. They also travel to Germany, taking the van or trailer with them to stock up with cases of booze. Yes, it's that bad, and it is contributing to global warming. What a waste.

Alcohol is not the only item moved around Europe creating greenhouse gases. The European Parliament itself moves between Brussels and Strasbourg every month:
Moving various files and equipment between the two cities takes 10 large trucks and the costs for two locations are estimated at € 200 million a year. A force of 30 men loads the trucks for the 400 km journey between the two locations. Around 5,000 people attached to the European Parliament, such as parliamentarians, advisors, clerks and journalists, also move between Brussels and Strasbourg. - Wikipedia
Face it, none of these taxes is really being proposed to fight greenhouse gases or even to help the poor in the third-world. They are just being imposed to take more money from you for the purpose of sustaining big government.

Update: 9 December 2006

Take the Tobin Tax. This is a proposed tax that in effect would limit the possibility of currency traders speculating in the currency markets.

The Tobin tax is an almost deceptively simple idea: a tax levied on every currency change, set on a low enough level not be a hindrance on any transactions needed to finance real trade in goods and services or long-term capital investment but high enough to discourage the bulk of destabilising speculative money movements. Given the vast amount of daily currency transactions - almost 1500 billion dollars - a tax of just 0.1 percent could generate more income than the total amount of official development aid from the industrialised to the less-developed countries. The introduction of a Currency Transaction Tax could, at a stroke, solve all the problems of development financing. - Erkki Tuomioja Blog

Of course the tax would be applied to every transaction, not just large ones. After all, you can't rake in the big bucks unless you take a slice of the pie out of every transactions. It's kind of like those scams where they only plan to steal the part that would have been rounded away. (Office Space, Superman, etc.) Then again, numbers are sometimes are rounded up. The fact that you round both up and down makes it neutral to the person who is effected by the rounding. Sometimes you win, and sometimes not. In the case of the Tobin tax both the sending and the recipient are penalized. the sending by raising his cost to send the funds. The recipient in that his product has now become more expensive.

Tobin tax - Wikipedia
Zero Tuomioja and the Tobin Tax - Finland for Thought

Air fares 'to double' as Europe votes for green tax - Times Online - 5 July 06
Green tax on holidays and food splits Labour - Times Online
Nations rally to air travel "medicines" tax- France - Reuters
Airlines Hit By EU's CO2 Emissions Plan - Business Weekly
French promise revenge for not signing protocol - Sydney Morning Herald
Hopping Mad Over French Sneer - Sunday Telegraph

Maritime Monday 34

Welcome to this Thanksgiving Week edition of Maritime Monday.
Please submit articles for inclusion in next week' edition using the following submit form at Blog Carnival. You are also welcome to email photos for inclusion in future editions. You are also encouraged to submit suggestions on stories that you would like to see covered.

This Weeks Photo:
This is a photo of the 106,000 Deadweight ton supertanker MOSCOW RIVER that is operated by the Novorossiysk / NOVOSHIP Shipping Company.

Details of the vessel here.

This Weeks Items:

Eagle Speak has a welcome development in scanning shipping containers for nuclear materials.

Coming Anarchy has news of an oil pipeline from the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria to Greece in an effort to bypass the Bosporus Straits of Turkey.

The Daily News Canada has the announcement of required background checks for Canadian port works. As is typical, the unions are up in arms that their members are being targeted, like "former crane operator Paul Matthew Arthur (who) received 12 years in prison for helping to smuggle almost $100 million of drugs through the port of Halifax several years ago", for example.

Sailors, Mariners & Warriors League has coverage of the vessel WESTWOOD POMONA, which suffered damage from a rogue wave. has news of France inspecting the North Korean Flag vessel AM NOK GANG in off Mayotte in the Indian Ocean.

One News New Zealand has coverage of the French seizure of 4 tons of cocaine found during an at-sea inspection of a Panama Flag cargo ship.

Jennifer Marohasy notes the start of Japan's whaling season. 850 minke whales are to be targeted this time around. For science, of course. (Those scientists must be pretty lousy to need so many. I was only allowed one fetal pig in my science project in high school.)

The Torch notes the likely US request for Canada to assist in patrolling in support of the UN embargo against North Korea. Maybe they can spare 1 ship. Maybe.

Marex Newsletter has the story of CITGO's downfall, thanks to Venezuela's President. (Note: Keep in mind that Venezuela's crude oil is of a kind requiring specialized refining. Their US refineries are constructed specifically to handle Venezuela crude. Shipping the crude to China is possible but causes problems when they want to refine it. Then there is the fact that it takes longer to ship to China, so more tankers are needed than shipping to the US. Then again, nobody up here wants Venezuela crude, not even for free so they just might have to ship it to China.)

Cruise Bruise has news of the intentional dumping of a half million liters of used lube oil and sludge into pits dug into the ground onto the Pacific Island of Vanuatu. (Most interesting read.)

The Sir Robert Bond Papers has coverage recent offshore Oil Rig security concerns in Canada.

SeattlePI Blog asks "Will LNG liquefy American cities? And why the secrecy?"

Neo Commons covers the setback to the Cabrillo Port LNG project in California due to the demands that the offshore facility meet landside air quality standards.

Offshore Shipping Online has news of the European Parliament voted to increase protection of European waters and called on member states to clean up their waters by 2017.

Helsingin Sanomat has a follow-up to the Tallink Directors drunken escapades onboard their newly-acquired SILJA SYMPHONY. The directors will be making an 'Apology Tour'. (The Estonian Directors are being persecuted for what Finns and Swedes normally do daily in Tallinn, Estonia every day. They consider it their Riviera. It does not excuse the act, but does give it a little context. So the next time your in Tallinn and wonder about all the drunk Estonians, just remember, they are Finns and Swedes.)

Malta Media has news of the death of the Chief Officer of the RoRo JOLLY BLU when he was run over by a truck trailer onboard.

Cruise Ship Law Blog
has coverage of 2 passengers stranded in Kusadasi, Turkey after being forced to disembark from the GRAND PRINCESS cruise vessel.

Divester has the story of Truk Lagoon's WWII Japanese wrecks are increasingly becoming an environmental disaster.

Santa's Sleigh? No, that's just the EMMA MAERSK arriving in the UK, to the horror of members of the Green Party who can't help themselves from guessing wildly about the amount of environmental damage that the vessel leaves in it's wake. Story at the BBC.

The Age, Australia, seems to think that Santa's sleigh is named the CSCL NEW YORK. (It also mentions that the EMMA MAERSK is too big for any Australian Port.)

Containership-Info has high resolution photos of the EMMA MAERSK.

Murdoc Online has an image from space of a US Aircraft Carrier, landlocked in China.

Beyond Katrina has news of environmentalists suing to end bluefin tuna fishing in the Gulf of Mexico.

Petrobras Oil of Brazil has an interactive diagram of a fixed offshore oil platform.

This (Bulgarian?) website has photos in a post titled "Lords of the Logistic."

In the Spirit of Thanksgiving, go to Cape Cod Today and read a summary of the voyage of the MAYFLOWER that brought the pilgrims to the new world.

Haight's Maritime Items (Homepage) has:

Right to maintenance and cure lost through concealment - The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that a mariner forfeits his right to recover maintenance and cure for personal injury when he knowingly or fraudulently conceals his condition from the vessel owner at the time of employment. In the instant case, plaintiff seaman applied to employment with defendant shipowner. As part of the hiring process, the shipowner required new employees to complete a medical history questionnaire. On the questionnaire, plaintiff indicated that he had never had back, neck, or spine trouble or received chiropractic treatment. In fact, plaintiff had injured his back several times, most recently in a work-related incident six months earlier, for which he sought treatment from both an orthopedist and a chiropractor and filed a workers’ compensation claim. Evidence showed that defendant would not have hired plaintiff if it knew of his medical history. Plaintiff suffered back injury one week after being hired as a deckhand. He then brought suit seeking maintenance and cure, as well as damages under the Jones Act for personal injury. The court held that recovery for maintenance and cure was barred where plaintiff actively concealed material facts relating to his physical condition and medical history from his prospective employer. Jauch v. Nautical Services, Inc., No. 05-30466 (5th Cir., November 9, 2006).


UK – maritime forger removed from country - The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) issued a press notice stating that a foreign national residing temporarily in the UK has been removed from the country after twice attempting to gain approval to study at a UK marine college. Both applications included forged documents purporting to show that the applicant had maritime experience qualifying him for such training. (11/9/06).

Fairplay Daily News has this amusing story:

Grimaldi blasts Finnlines hypocrites - Emanuele Grimaldi, managing director of Italian ro-ro operator Grimaldi Naples, has questioned the intentions of the two members of the Finnlines board seeking to block the proposed takeover. “The two board members who advised colleagues not to recommend the offer to other shareholders because the price was too low are the same hypocrites who earlier sold us their shares at the same price,” he said. He described the offer as “fair and reasonable” but the outcome would only become clear on 1 December when the offer is closed. “Those who wish to stay as shareholders, thereby showing great faith in our capacity to manage Finnlines, are certainly welcome,” Grimaldi added, blaming the disruption to the complexities of Finnish commercial law. “We are in transition between the national and EU ruling for this kind of operation; this is probably the first case in this sector to go under a transitional law.” Grimaldi pointed to Finnlines’ presence in St Petersburg, a strategic port for Moscow, where the growth of car and truck traffic is expected to be rapid.Lloyd's Register - Fairplay

Finally, Senator DeMint has introduced legislation to phrohibit the issuance of Transportation Worker Identity Cards (TWIC) to 'serious Felons'. As he mentions, this was the original plan, but some unnamed Congressman/men stripped the provision out of the bill before both Houses approved the version sent to the President. Here is the Senator's Press release:

DeMint Introduces Bill Banning Serious Felons from Working at US Ports - Senator urges Congress to pass Secure Port Workforce Act

November 14th, 2006 - WASHINGTON, D.C - Today, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) introduced The Secure Port Workforce Act, a bill that would prevent serious felons from having access to secure areas at American ports. U.S. Senator John Ensign (R-Nevada) is an original cosponsor.

“We can spend all the money in the world screening cargo but if we don’t screen the people working at our ports, we can’t expect to prevent a terrorist attack,” said Senator DeMint. “A serious felon is a prime target for those trying to smuggle a nuclear device or chemical weapon into our country. Trusting convicted murderers and weapons smugglers with secure access to our ports allows the fox to guard the henhouse and this legislation will put a stop to it.”

In language nearly identical to prohibitions at American airports, The Secure Port Workforce Act would deny access to secure areas in our ports to serious felons who have been convicted of: Espionage; Sedition; Treason; Terrorism; Crimes involving transportation security; Improper transport of a hazardous material; Unlawful use of an explosive device; Murder; Violations of the RICO Act where one of the above crimes is a predicate act; Conspiracy to commit any of these crimes.

It would also bar convicted felons who have been convicted in the last seven years (or incarcerated in the last five years) of: Assault with intent to murder; Kidnapping or hostage taking; Rape or aggravated sexual abuse; Unlawful use of a firearm; Extortion; Fraud; Bribery; Smuggling; Immigration violations; Racketeering; Robbery; Drug dealing; Arson; Conspiracy to commit any of these crimes.

This language passed the Senate unanimously as part of The SAFE Ports Act. Unfortunately, the language was quietly gutted in conference leaving only a prohibition on convicted traitors, spies and terrorists from having access to the secure areas of our ports. This population of criminals is so small it doesn’t begin to address the security problems at our ports. No legislator took credit for this change in conference, however the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) announced it lobbied Congress to remove the DeMint language:

ILWU’s The Dispatcher, October 2006: “Congress will return after the election in a ‘lame duck’ session and work through part of November and December. We have heard rumors that Senator DeMint (R-SC) is particularly angry with the ILWU’s successful lobbying effort to strip his anti-labor provision. He may attempt to amend another piece of legislation, so the union will stay on guard to protect its members’ interests.”

“The Secure Port Workforce Act will be the first test of the new calls for bipartisanship on critical issues facing our nation,” said Senator DeMint. “Leaders of both parties are on record fully supporting this measure and it deserves immediate passage. The safety and security of our nation’s ports is far too important to push off to another Congress.”

Law enforcement officials recently underscored the threat our ports face when traditional crime, particularly organized crime, works with terrorists. Only weeks ago, the FBI apprehended a member of the Russian mafia attempting to sell missiles to an FBI agent he thought was acting as a middleman for terrorists. Joseph Billy Jr., the FBI’s top counterterrorism official, commented that the FBI is “continuing to look for a nexus,” between organized crime and terrorists and that they “are looking at this very aggressively.”

Joseph King, a former Customs Service agent and now a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, outlined the concerns of serious felons looking the other way when suspected cargo enters U.S. ports. “It’s an invitation to smuggling of all kinds,” he said. “Instead of bringing in 50 kilograms of heroin, what would stop them from bringing in five kilograms of plutonium?” A criminal in one of our ports may think he is just helping smuggle in drugs, but inadvertently be helping smuggle a weapon of mass destruction into the United States.

Senator DeMint is a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation which has jurisdiction over the program that regulates who can access secure areas in ports.

Don't hold your breath that this will be passed any time soon.

Send me an email (address in the sidebar) if you would like to sponsor an edition of Maritime Monday. I accept money and gear.

Previous Editions:

Thursday, November 16

Shocking: Warrantless Search at Airport Naps Suspected Terrorist Entering the US

While the Democrats drone on about the US listening in on international phone calls made by suspected terrorists without warrants, perhaps they should expand their 'terrorist protection agenda' to include those crossing into and out of the US:

A man was arrested at Detroit Metropolitan Airport after officials say they found him carrying more than $78,000 in cash and a laptop computer containing information about nuclear materials and cyanide.

Sisayehiticha Dinssa, an unemployed U.S. citizen, was arrested Tuesday after a dog caught the scent of narcotics on cash he was carrying, according to an affidavit filed in court.

When agents asked him if he had any cash to declare, he said he had $18,000, authorities said. But when agents checked his luggage, they found an additional $59,000. When they scrolled through his laptop, they said they found the mysterious files. - BreitBart

This was all done without a warrant as he was returning to the US and of course Customs has a free hand with everyone coming back to the US. It gets better:

At a court hearing Wednesday, Dinssa was ordered held in custody until at least until Monday at the request of prosecutors.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Leonid Feller argued Dinssa was a potential risk to the community and federal agents want to get a warrant to search his computer more thoroughly, The Detroit News reported Thursday. U.S. Magistrate Donald Scheer approved Feller's request to detain him.

Dinssa, who is from Dallas, arrived in Detroit from Nigeria by way of Amsterdam and was headed for Phoenix, Feller said. He is charged with concealing more than $10,000 in his luggage, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, the Detroit Free Press reported. - BreitBart

So now that he has been identified as a possible threat or criminal (He lied and was caught with undeclared cash.) they will obtain a warrant to go completely through his laptop and hold his ass in jail until they better understand what he was up to. So the system works as it should.

No mention on whether he was a muslim or not. Nigeria does have a substantial muslim population and chances are good that he has some connection to more radical elements of the Nigerian muslim population based on three facts; he is unemployed, was caught with larges amounts of cash, had in his possession documentation about nuclear materials and poison.

So why is this important? Well instead of bringing back the files on a computer, he could have faxed it back or explained the relevant parts of the documentation via a phone call. Currently the US can snoop in on international calls without a warrant. The Democrats want to change that. While they are at it, why not just require warrants for each of the millions of people coming back to the US if the Government wants to search them. Of course that's ridiculous, as is requiring warrants for international phone calls, faxes and mail.

There is now additional information from Little Green Footballs:

Oddly enough, the AP wire story leaves out some important facts; namely, that he was born in Ethiopia, and that he had just spent four months in Nigeria: Airport arrest turns up nuclear info.

And even more oddly, not one of the news agencies thinks we need to know his religion. - Little Green Footballs

I am going to go out on a limb and bet that this guy was up to some terrorist related activities. Lets see how quickly the muslim community comes to his defence. At least he is looking at five years in prison for the hidden cash. That's a good start.

Update: 17 November 06

Someone thought this story was important enough to email it to a person in Nigeria. The real interesting part is that they used a Satcom link to check out the post. Just who in Nigeria uses Sat communication? Might it be the same type of people who hand out tens of thousands to 'unemployed Americans'? There was a real interest in the story here, they wasted 5 minutes on it. (OK, unlikely, but possible.)


Signs That Allah is Not on Your Side

Update: 29 November 2006

Here is a link to view the Official Criminal Complaint.

Monday, November 13

Maritime Monday 33

Welcome to this weeks Maritime Monday.

Please submit articles for inclusion in next week' edition using the following submit form at Blog Carnival. You are also welcome to email photos for inclusion in future editions. I know there's a boatload of interesting photos out there!

This Weeks Photos:

Think containers are big. Here is a Lighter Aboard Ship (LASH) Vessel. One of the great benefits of this type of vessel was the simple fact that it did not need access to a dock. The barges are lowered from the stern and tugs take them to the final customers. In places like Africa, the barge can be moored right to small dock or even a riverbank where it can be unloaded with the best means available.
There were a number of interests that did not like this idea both at home and abroad, like stevedore unions for one, and some legislation (I think in Japan) severely limited the viability of this type of transport. As you can see, some are still around, thanks to a simple fact that many things do not fit inside standard shipping containers.

(The LASH vessel ATLANTIC FOREST in Port Canaveral, Florida)

Photos from the Port Canaveral Website.
More information available at

This Weeks Items:

Marex Newsletter covers the death of a vessel pilot in Boston. The third pilot death in the US this year.

EagleSpeak has a Veteran's Day tribute, including the heroic story of US Merchant Marine Academy Graduate Edwin O'Hara last defensive acts on the merchant ship SS STEPHEN HOPKINS during WWII. He also points out that USMMA is the only Federal Academy authorized to carry a Battle Standard and the only Academy whose students are regularly ordered into war zones. (Federal law prevents students form other academies from being in warzones.)

The Ledger has the story of a WWII Merchant Mariner who was at Iwo Jima.

In yet another example of how Shipping Companies treat their crews like crap poorly, Helsingin Sanomat has coverage of the drunken escapades of Estonia's Tallink Board of Directors during a cruise on their newly acquired SILJA SYMPHONY.

In From the Cold has India's detention of the North Korean mystery vessel, the M/V OMRANI-II after it suffered mechanical problems off the Indian Coast. Turns out, the vessel was empty, adding to the mystery surrounding the vessel.

Sailors, Mariners & Warriors League covers the grounding of the tanker KRISTIN POLING in New York.

This French Blog has photos of the Panama-Flag ROKIA DELMAS hard aground in France. I have no update, but from the recent photos, it appears that the vessel is not going anywhere anytime soon.

The Monitor has a summary of the kidnapping (and release) of two western oil workers from the ship they were working on offshore.

Neptunus Lex has the story of the US Navy coming to the rescue of yet another Iranian dhow.

Lawhawk at A Blog For All notes that the US Navy has agreed to assist in the removal of the USS INTREPID from it's mud prison on Manhattan's upper West Side. The Aircraft Carrier/Museum was headed for shipyard renovation until the mud around the vessel turned out to be a bigger problem than expected.

Nothing to do with Arbroath covers the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service's orders to a Containership to either capture of kill a rogue monkey seen onboard prior to docking. (I guess the Australians are not familiar with the adventures of 'Curious George')

Alaska Report has news of the Panama-Flagged GLOBAL HAWK whose cargo of logs has shifted in a storm. The vessel is now listing.

Divester has coverage of the project to sink the USNS GENERAL HOYT S. VANDENBERG in order to turn it into an artificial reef. They are trying to raise the remaining funds by selling the right to names the reef on ebay. Opening bid received $900,000. Auction here. Here is the homepage of the Artificial Reefs of the Keys, which is organizing this sinking. You can make a smaller donation here.

Fredrik and Crew on MAIKEN has great eyewitness coverage and photos of the birth of an island off Tonga. More at Matangi Tonga Online.

Thomas Paine's Corner covers Ship Breaking in Bangladesh. (Explore the rest of that blog at your own risk.)

Avant News explores 'what if' the Airbus A380 was retooled into a jet-powered, wide-bodied superboat.

Haight's Maritime Items has:

In memoriam – sinking of the EDMUND FITZGERALD - On this date in 1975, the S.S. EDMUND FITZGERALD sank in Lake Superior during a strong storm. All 29 crewmembers died. The tragedy resulted in several books, numerous Internet sites, and a hit song for Gordon Lightfoot – The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. (11/10/06).

Fairplay Daily News has:

Le Joola: French judges close in - PARIS 08 November – French judges investigating on the sinking of the Senegalese ferry Le Joola are hoping to be able to issue international arrest warrants soon against those responsible. More than 2,000 lives were lost in the tragedy, which occurred off Gambia in September 2002. "Even with the lack of co-operation of Senegal and Gambia, the French judges working on behalf of the victims' families have now collected sufficient documents and testimonies to say who bears some responsibility in the disaster," said Me Etienne Rosenthal, a lawyer representing the victims' families. A number of high profile political figures in Senegal at the time of the accident are likely to be prosecuted. Among them are the former armed forces minister, the chief of the army, the navy chief (Le Joola was managed by the navy), the former transport minister and the former prime minister. However, one observer commented that arresting these people could prove sensitive from a diplomatic point of view as the action is being taken by French judiciary, not Senegalese. Nevertheless, France – which lost 22 citizens in the sinking – has been left with little choice because Senegal closed all investigations into the accident simply on the grounds that the captain went down with his ship. Local families were poorly compensated. French judges have highlighted the incredible amount of negligence surrounding the loss of the ferry and say people who bear responsibility will be sued for severe negligence, involuntary homicide and failure to assist persons in danger. Lloyd's Register - Fairplay

Lloyds List has:
Crew die after waves slam crude carrier - TWO seafarers were killed and another seriously injured after huge waves hit the crude oil tanker FR8 Venture near Orkney, off Scotland's coast on Saturday.

The incident happened shortly after the Singapore-flagged, 74,065 dwt vessel left the Pentland Firth, near Orkney, en route to Houston, Texas, in heavy storms. Shetland coastguard received a call from the vessel at around 12.40pm and a rescue helicopter was rushed to the scene.

Both men however were already dead, while the other was airlifted to hospital, according to news reports. The men were believed to have been standing on the deck when a huge wave, more than 20 feet high, struck the tanker. It was loaded with 75,000 tonnes of crude oil.

The vessel, built this year, is owned by Singapore-based FR8 Shipmanagement. It was steered back to port at Scapa Flow and investigations are underway. The area had been experiencing severe weather conditions over the last year days. - Lloydslist

Rantburg points out that the US Congress is running out of time to pass legislation easing offshore oil drilling restrictions. (Because we all know that the next Congress won't do it.)

Finally, this is also the last moments for the US House and Senate to pass the "Belated Thank You to the Merchant Mariners of World War II Act of 2005" during their lame-duck session of Congress. This is not likely to happen as Senator Larry Craig (Chair of the Senate Veteran Affairs Committee) and Congressman Steve Buyer (Chair of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs) have refused to let the bill (S1272 and HR 23) out of their respective committees for a vote. Why, because the estimated cost of $36 million the first year "is too expensive." And this from people who have no problem allocating over a billion dollars for two bridges to nowhere in Alaska (Yes, two bridges). Just one more reason why the Republicans lost this last election.
WASHINGTON, Nov. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- The Just Compensation Committee, a non- profit unincorporated committee of Veterans representing the interests of World War II Merchant Marine veterans, announced today that Congressman Buyer (R-IN) is withholding a full committee vote on H.R. 23 , a proposed bill that would compensate remaining World War II Merchant Marine veterans that were denied the G.I. Bill of Rights that the other military services received following the conclusion of World War II. H.R. 23 has been awaiting a full- committee vote for the past several months, but has been road blocked by Congressman Buyer for political purposes. Currently, H.R. 23 has 267 co- sponsors and is allocating $1,000 a month for remaining Merchant Marine veterans and their widows.

"The Merchant Mariners of World War II sacrificed their lives in order for troops, ammunition, gasoline, military equipment and supplies to reach the war front overseas, and to still prevent these remaining veterans from being compensated for their service in the name of politics by Chairman Buyers is devastating," said Ian Allison, co-chair of the Just Compensation Committee.

"It's not only wrong but also unethical to spend billions of dollars on the Iraq War and still refuse a committee vote for thousands of World War II veterans from an entire auxiliary service that have been trying for over 60 years to gain some compensation for the G.I. Bill of Rights they were denied. How you treat your veterans from yesteryears is a good indication on how you plan to treat veterans from today's wars." As of October 2006, H.R. 23 has collected 267 co-signers while the Senate companion bill S. 1272 has collected 41 co-signers. - Full Press Release

This is not surprising. Don't expect the Democrats to pass this one next year either.