Monday, February 26

Maritime Monday 48

Welcome to this weeks edition of Maritime Monday.

This weeks photos:
The Japanese Flag whale processing vessel NISSHIN MARU:

Here is one of the vessel in better days:

Here are some photos after the fire from two weeks ago:

(The working end)

More photos and video at the Institute of Cetacean Research.

ABC News Online has the latest noting that the ship may not be returning home as assumed. (The vessel is needed if whaling is to continue.)

Sea Shepherd notes its return to Australia without difficulties, despite the FARLEY MOWAT arriving without a 'flag'. They also note that they intend to retire the vessel, asking Australia for permission to keep the ship there permenantly.

This Weeks Items:

Eagle Speak has news and photos (of the ships sporting grey and not CG White) that the US Coast Guard will hold onto three Cyclone Class Patrol Ships instead of turning them back over to the Navy in 2008 as originally planned.

Nation's Port Commons has coverage of US Customs clarification of Cargo Security Myths.

EITB24 has the smoking cargo of fertilizer on the Netherlands-Flag OSTEDIJK. La Nueva Espana has stunning photos of the vessel spewing smoke just offshore.

Reuters has the news of Spain and Mauritania refusing to accept a disabled ship with approximately 400 suspected illegal aliens. The vessel is currently being tended to by the Spanish Coast Guard, which Mauritania claims towed it out of Spanish Territory and into theirs. (Now why would they do that?)

Shipping Times covers the hijacking of the UN chartered aid vessel MV ROSEN, which is the fourth hijacking of this type for the same shipping company. has the resupply of McMurdo Station in Antarctica by the MV American Tern and tanker USNS PAUL BUCK which were escorted by US Coast Guard Icebreaker POLAR SEA and Swedish Icebreaker ODEN.

Oil Change International has news that North Sea oil output is declining faster than projected.

Monsters and Critics has the sinking of the Norway-Flag OCEAN CAROLINE and the rescue of the crew by Polish Rescue Services.

Greenpeace UK notes (link fixed) that its vessel, the ARCTIC SUNRISE, has been boarded by military police arresting at least 18, and most likely seizing the vessel as well. It was to be expected when you sail into a restricted zone. Maybe they mis-understood their initial 'reception':

Written by Louise, Greenpeace campaigner, aboard the Arctic Sunrise - Wow. Well it’s now 2.50pm and around seven hours after we set sail. We are still here, right up against the pontoons that surround the Faslane nuclear weapons base – and just some 150 metres away a Trident submarine is sitting there… I keep staring at it… It’s a large beast but it’s still weird to think that something of that size can carry enough nuclear missiles to wipe out hundreds of thousand of people at the touch of a button…

It’s been a mad old morning. As we left Greenock and steamed towards the base - even though I have total faith in our crew onboard - I thought, “there’s no way we are going to be able to blockade that base”. We’ve been sitting around the corner in Greenock for days, on a Greenpeace ship with NO NEW NUCLEAR WEAPONS written down the side, so I was guessing the base would be more than prepared for us. But no, for ages just one police launch and one police inflatable (with one man onboard) was all we encountered. They must have been on a coffee break. - Greenpeace

In a related note, Sailors, Mariners & Warriors League has news of Iran's refusal to permit GreenPeace's RAINBOW WARRIOR to enter the Port of Bushehr to present alternatives to nuclear power to the 'People of Iran'. Since when does Government refusal stop Greenpeace? This is a group where getting arresting is one of the goals of their protests. What a better statement to make than to be arrested by the Iranians. Then again, perhaps they are not that stupid. (Watch next weeks news prove me wrong.) That is why they stick to harassing the US, UK, Japan, Australia, etc....

Helsingin Sanomat documents how while the Finns might be technologically advanced, they still have something to learn when it turns out that every Maritime Monday reader knew of the upcoming tests of the Russian Nuclear icebreaker 50 YEARS OF VICTORY, but they did not. Seems that the Russians forgot to tell them as they should have according to an existing agreement.

Marex Newsletter has the US Maritime Administration renaming Short Sea Shipping to America's Marine Highway as part of an initiative to push the program forward.

NOAA News Online has news of a Tsunami Warning Partnership with Australia's Bureau of Meteorology. (Go here for a diagram of how the offshore buoys work.)

Third Party Logistics has the 2007 Container Shipping Forecast.

Cruise Bruise has the fire that gutted the Indonesian ferry LEVINA 1 that killed at least 16.

The Pilot Boat has 'Fatigue Prevention'.

EU Referendum reminds us of the Sherman DD tank which was fitted with a skirt to permit it to swim ashore during D-Day and of the 50th anniversary of the death of Major-General Percy Hobart, who was in charge of the unit that came up with this and many other creative war-fighting machinery.

Ahoy Cargo has the protest by L-1 Identity Solutions over the awarding of the TWIC Contact to Lockheed Martin. (I would prefer to protest the awarding of a TWIC Contract to any company. TWIC is broken. Let the ports handle Port Security.)

O'Reilly Radar has a photo and a story why a town in the UK is putting up signs to prevent truckers from using unsuitable roads that are being suggested by GPS navigators.

York Press (UK) has the defense of sending rubbish to China for recycling, basically being that the initial product that resulted in the waste came from there. (Closed loop recycling.)

Heard through the bubbles repairs an underwater hole in a ship's rudder.

Haight's Maritime Items has:

UK – MSC NAPOLI - update - The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) issued an updated status report concerning the MSC NAPOLI. The list of the ship has been reduced to 8 degrees, easing the response operations. Recovery of the remaining oil in the ship is progressing well. Ten containers were lost overboard during bad weather last week, but none contained dangerous goods. 553 containers have been removed from the ship and 293 containers remain on deck. All of the beached containers have been removed. (2/19/07). - Dennis Bryant

Dan Bryan has an account at Flickr where he has a great collection of the MSC NAPOLI cleanup both at the vessel and ashore.

As you can see, most of the above-deck containers have been removed. However, the holds are still full of cargo, and water.

Fairplay Daily News has:

Korea seeks to fill seafarer shortfall - SINGAPORE - 22 February – South Korea is facing an acute shortage of seafarers, caused by a rapid rise in fleets coupled with the attractions of other maritime sectors. Foreign seafarers are to be recruited to meet the shortfall. The Korea Shipowners’ Association expects an annual increase in the number of vessels in member companies' fleets of about 60 ships. Harsh working conditions at sea - despite monthly salaries averaging $2,500 for ratings on ocean-going vessels - is another reason, a source told Fairplay. The problem is exacerbated by the attractions of employment in other sectors, including the shipbuilding sector where opportunities for young people are increasing. However, the supply of engineers is not acute as they average salaries of more than $3,000 a month. Currently, one foreign officer and seven ratings are allowed per ship based on an agreement between management and companies' unions representatives; KSA now plans to discuss the expansion of the number of foreign officers and ratings to three officers and eight ratings during the first half this year. - Fairplay Homepage

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Saturday, February 24

" Virginia expresses 'profound regret' for slavery"

A small step for Virginia:
RICHMOND, Virginia: The Virginia General Assembly voted unanimously to express "profound regret" for the state's role in slavery, the latest in a series of strides the Southern state has made in overcoming its segregationist past. - IHT
Maybe in another hundred years they will get around to apologize for seceding from the Union and for the Civil War.

If you ever run across an ass who defends the Confederate Flag by stating that his great, great, granddaddy fought for that flag, you can point out that somebody else's great, great, grandfather kicked his ass and told him never to fly it again. (You could also take a higher path and simply mention that General Lee would not approve.)

I refer to Northern Virginia (where I currently work) as 'Occupied Virginia.' This is where all the 'beltway bandits' are located and most of the people who work here, like me, are from somewhere else.

Friday, February 23

The Money Pit from "The Money Pit" is for sale

You remember the house from the Tom Hanks movie The Money Pit right?

Well the house, recently renovated, can be yours for only $7.9 million:

The movie was made in 1986. The house was built in 1898 That is pretty good appreciation for 20 years, provided it sells at that price.

No mention on how much it costs to heat the place, but it will cost you $50,000 a year in property taxes.

Thursday, February 22

Happy 275th Birthday President Washington

While Monday was the official holiday, today is President Washington's real Birthday. President Bush made a visit to Mount Vernon, President Washington's home.

Presidents Washington and Bush.

President Bush laying a wreath at Washington's Grave.

Here is an excerpt from President Bush's Mount Vernon speech:
You know, George Washington was born about 80 miles down the river from Mount Vernon in the year 1732. As a young man, he went West, and explored the frontier, and it changed his life. As he grew older, he became convinced that America had a great westward destiny as a nation of free people, independent of the empires of Europe. George Washington became the central figure in our nation's struggle for independence. At age 43, he took command of the Continental Army. At age 51, he was a triumphant hero of the war. And at age 57, he was the obvious and only choice to be the first President of the United States.

With the advantage of hindsight, it is easy to take George Washington's successes for granted and to assume that all those events were destined to unfold as they did. Well, the truth is far different. America's path to freedom was long and it was hard. And the outcome was really never certain. Honoring George Washington's life requires us to remember the many challenges that he overcame, and the fact that American history would have turned out very differently without his steady leadership.

On the field of battle, Washington's forces were facing a mighty empire, and the odds against them were overwhelming. The ragged Continental Army lost more battles than it won, suffered waves of desertions, and stood on the brink of disaster many times. Yet George Washington's calm hand and determination kept the cause of independence and the principles of our Declaration alive.

President George W. Bush is escorted by Gay Hart Gaines, Regent of the Mount Vernon Ladies Association, as President Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush arrive Monday, Feb. 19, 2007 to the Mount Vernon Estate in Mount Vernon, Va., to lay a wreath at the tomb of President George Washington in honor of Washington’s 275th birthday. White House photo by Eric Draper He rallied his troops to brilliant victories at Trenton and Princeton. He guided them through the terrible winter at Valley Forge. And he marched them to Virginia for the war's final battle at Yorktown. In the end, General Washington understood that the Revolutionary War was a test of wills, and his will was unbreakable.

After winning the war, Washington did what victorious leaders rarely did at the time. He voluntarily gave up power. Many would have gladly made George Washington the king of America. Yet all he wanted to do was return here to Mount Vernon, and to be with his loving wife, Martha. As he wrote with satisfaction to his friend Lafayette, "I am become a private citizen on the banks of the Potomac, and under the shadow of my own vine and my own fig tree."

George Washington's retirement did not last long. In the years after the Revolution, America's freedom was still far from secure. There were uprisings and revolts. States argued over their borders. And under the Articles of Confederation, the federal government was virtually powerless. With the United States in crisis, George Washington was called back to public life to preside over a Convention of the States. And the result was the United States Constitution and a new executive office called the presidency.

When the American people chose Washington for the role, he reluctantly accepted. He wrote a friend, "My movement to the chair of government will be accompanied by feelings not unlike those of a culprit who is going to the place of his execution." George Washington accepted the presidency because the office needed him, not because he needed the office.

As President, George Washington understood that his decisions would shape the future of our young nation and set precedent. He formed the first Cabinet, appointed the first judges, and issued the first veto. He also helped oversee the construction of a new federal city between the northern and southern states. The nation's new capital would take his name, and George Washington hoped it would inspire Americans to put the welfare of their nation above sectional loyalties.

This son of Virginia had come to see himself first and foremost as an American, and he urged his fellow citizens to do the same. More than two centuries later, the story of George Washington continues to bring Americans together. Every year, about a million people visit Mount Vernon to learn about this good man's life. We find the best of America in his spirit, and our highest hopes for ourselves in his character. His honesty and courage have become the stuff of legend. Children are taught to revere his name, and leaders to look to him for strength in uncertain times.

President George W. Bush addresses visitors and guests at the Mount Vernon Estate of President George Washington, Monday Feb. 19, 2007 in Mount Vernon, Va., in honor of President Washington’s 275th birthday. White House photo by Eric Draper George Washington's long struggle for freedom has also inspired generations of Americans to stand for freedom in their own time. Today, we're fighting a new war to defend our liberty and our people and our way of life. And as we work to advance the cause of freedom around the world, we remember that the father of our country believed that the freedoms we secured in our revolution were not meant for Americans alone. He once wrote, "My best wishes are irresistibly excited whensoever in any country I see an oppressed nation unfurl the banners of freedom."

President Washington believed that the success of our democracy would also depend on the virtue of our citizens. In his farewell address to the American people, he said, "Morality is a necessary spring of popular government." Over the centuries, America has succeeded because we have always tried to maintain the decency and the honor of our first President.

His example guided us in his time; it guides us in our time, and it will guide us for all time. Thank you for coming, and may God bless. - President Bush

Here is a painting of the British Surrender at Yorktown:

Here is Washington with Lafayette, another important Patriot:

Today also happens to be my birthday.

So I am taking the day off.

President Bush Visits Mount Vernon, Honors President Washington's 275th Birthday on President's Day - White House
275th Anniversary of the Birth of George Washington - White House

Happy Birthday President Washington - FFI - 22 Feb 2006

Tuesday, February 20

Austrian Embassy Replies Concerning sale of Weapons to Iran

On February 14 I sent the following email request to the Embassy of Austria in Washington, DC:
Attention: Mr. Wolfgang Renezeder
Dear Sir,

I am writing concerning Austria's approval to sell 800 rifles to Iran as part of their anti-drug program.

I was wondering what is Austria's position on fighting illegal drug trafficking by killing suspected drug traffickers? This seems to go against EU human rights as well as denies suspected drug traffickers of due process of a court trial.

The EU and Austria are against the death penalty so the approval to sell high-powered weapons for this purpose appears to go against Austrian values. So any clarification would be appreciated.
Also, previous Government statments claim that the intended use of the rifles had been thoughly checked. How was this accomplished.

Also, has the Government of Austria requested any explanation from the Government of Iran about this discovery?

Thank you in advance for your reply.
Best regards,

Fred Fry
Fred Fry International
Tel.: 202-895-6746
Today I received a reply:

Dear Mr. Fry,

The Austrian Embassy in Washington, D.C. acknowledges receipt of your e-mail.

The Embassy shares your concern regarding newspaper reports on the alleged discovery of Austrian rifles in the hands of terrorists in Iraq. Since any arms in the hands of terrorists pose a threat to international security, these concerns are taken very seriously by Austria.

However, at this point, no information has been provided verifying that the alleged rifles recovered in Iraq are part of the 2005 shipment to the government in Iran.

The Embassy would like to inform you that the 2005 sale of 800 HS50 Steyr-Mannlicher rifles to the Iranian government was subject to stringent investigation by the Austrian authorities; we would like to point out that the decisive reason for agreeing to the export was made by the Austrian Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of the Interior based on exclusive use for border control and the fight against drug trafficking and terrorism purposes.

Combating the trafficking of drugs from Afghanistan through Iran is a major priority for the international community. Therefore, also UNODC-law enforcement projects have focused on assisting the counter Narcotic Law Enforcement Capacities equipping border control posts along the international border between Afghanistan and Iran.

In view of other highly sensitive foreign- and security-policy matters related to Iran, the Austrian MFA insisted on a detailed end-user certificate, certified by the Iranian MFA, clearly defining both end-use and end-user (National Police Organization and Anti-Drug Traffic Organization). These detailed certificates were provided by the Iranian Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

As a matter of principle, the Austrian MFA examines every single license application for the export of war material on the basis of the current state of affairs at the time of application, and in compliance with the Austrian War Material Act, as well as the politically-binding EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports. The Embassy would finally like to emphasize that Austria is aware that foreign policy parameters regarding Iran have changed over the last two years; since then no licenses on further export applications have been granted - neither in 2005 nor in 2006.

Sincerely yours,

Wolfgang Renezeder

Director of the Press & Information Service

Embassy of Austria

I am sure that Austria is now wishing that this sale never took place. As you can see from the email, I was sent a standard reply to this issue, as it completely ignores the death penalty/human rights question of how the Austrian Government found it acceptable to arm a Government that planned on executing suspected drug traffickers. Technically, Austria could have ignored that question/problem since this was an arms purchase with the UN's 'stamp of approval'.

It is yet to be seen if Austria will confront the Iranian Authorities concerning what they did with the rifles they sold them. It could be that they know the answer already and there is no point bothering to confirm what they suspect is true. After all, if the US had bothered to fabricate fake evidence in this case, why not just fabricate a warehouse full of WMDs in Iraq to shut international critics up.

This too brings out another point, it matters not that Austria secured end user certificates from the Iranians concerning these rifles. It only matters what the Iranians actually did with them. After all, the US went to war against Iraq for failing to prove to the UN that they no longer had WMDs. So it does not matter that little was found, as the war was not about the WMDs, but for failing to comply with UN Resolutions. But try telling that to the International community, many of whom have bank accounts full of oil-for-food money.

Also notice that this weapons sale was in compliance with "the politically-binding EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports." That code includes taking into account:
- the importing state's record on terrorism, implementation of humanitarian law (non-use of force against civilians), and arms control agreements
I would love to see the paper explaining how they took Iran's record on the above into account.

Original story here:
Austrian Firm OK with Collecting Blood Money from Iran as Long as It's 'Legal'

UNODC - Homepage
EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports

Monday, February 19

Maritime Monday 47

Welcome to this weeks edition of Maritime Monday.

This Weeks Photos:
Here are a couple of vessels from Denmark's DFDS:

DFDS - " Det Forenede Dampskibs- Selskab" (The United Steamship Company) - is the oldest, large shipping company in Denmark, founded in 1866. Today DFDS is a leading North European liner shipping company, listed on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange.

Freight activities
are operated in DFDS Tor Line. The main customer groups consist of international transport and shipping companies and manufacturers of large quantities of industrial goods whose logistics include a significant element of transport by sea.

Passenger activities
are operated by DFDS Seaways. The main customer groups consist of holidaymakers travelling by car, Mini Cruise passengers, group travel and transport and conference passengers. - Company website

As you can see RoRos are big in Northern Europe. RoRos are truly and important part of intermodalism. It does not get much easier than driving the trucks on and off. (Unless of course the driver got wasted in the bar while onboard.)


(DANA SERENA - RoPax - Passenger and RoRo)

More photos of their fleet here.

This Weeks Items:

Eagle Speak has a story on scanning containers to combat fraud.

Cdr. Salamander has Iran's claim to have 'tagged' a US Warship with the emblem of Iran's Revolutionary Guards. The good CDR dares them to try and do that to his ship. (The claim has been made but so far there is no proof to back it up) has an update on the PROBO KOALA toxic waste dumping scandal. For starters, the owner, Trafigura, has agreed to pay close to $200 million as settlement for the dumping, Amsterdam Port Officials have been arrested and an arrest warrant has been issued for the Captain.

PortWorld has the Port of New York and New Jersey's demands for an $84 million fee in order to obtain its approval of DP World's sale of its US Port operations. (Why wasn't there a demand when the terminals were sold to DP World just a couple months ago?) Eagle Speak has an update to this case where Senators Schumer and Menendez have forced the Port Authority to back down.

Sailors, Mariners & Warriors League has the drowning of 177 migrants from Ethiopia and Somalia after their boat that was headed to Yemen sank. According to the report some who drowned were thrown into the sea from other boats by smugglers to make room for smugglers from the boat that sank.

Scandinavian Shipping Gazette has an editorial on short sea shipping in northern Europe.

The Monitor covers the report issued by Canada's auditor general that declares that Canada's Coast Guard is riddled with incompetence.

Molten Eagle has the result of what happens when you submerge a coffee cup 15,000 feet down in the Pacific Ocean. (On my last vessel we did sampling and a couple of times sent syrofoam cups along with the 'package', although the result was not as dramatic as we did not go as deep.) Anyway, it is worth a look as this was and is an accomplishment and part of American Maritime History.

EU Referendum has coverage of the UK's First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Jonathan warning that the UK faces a choice between remaining as a first division sea-going nation or "turning into Belgium"

Sustainable Shipping has Canada's funding of a program to provide shore power to ships in port.

Marex Newsletter has the EU's proposal to criminalize "Environmental Incidents" which will effect the maritime industry and will not be limited to accidents but also to illegal shipments and unlawful trade. (One would think that activities described as 'illegal' and 'unlawful' already have laws to deal with them, but when has that ever stopped the EU...)

Marine Log has ten months of jailtime for Lenny Roman, who thought it was a good idea to hand a fake Coast Guard Master's License to the Coast Guard after he required a tow for his water taxi.

The BBC has the 50th anniversary of the odd John Frum 'Cargo Cult' on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu. Go here for an explanation of cargo cults and here for a summary about John Frum.

Oil Change International has news that French oil company TOTAL knew that the tanker ERIKA was a risk after it come out in court that the tanker did not meet the company's own safety rules.

Greenpeace notes that half of Iceland's whale catch has been left in a dump to rot. (Supposedly the other half is rotting on purpose according to Icelandic traditions) The story also mentions that there are thousands of tons of unsold whale meat in Japan which makes me wonder if the Japanese Government is not whaling due to any demand but simply to maintain their excuse for whaling that it is part of their maritime tradition.

Speaking of waste, Alaska Report notes that the cost to build Alaska's Gravina Island's Bridge to nowhere (not to be confused with Alaska's other bridge to nowhere) has risen by $67 million to close to $400 million. All this to replace a 7 minute ferry trip.

Aftenposten (Norway) has photos covering 'A new Life for Lighthouses.'

The ILO has ten countries listed as ratifying the new Seafarer Identification Convention. Not listed is Russia, whose Duma was reported to have ratified the Convention in November.

For those of you interested the Sea Shepard anti-whaling protests, the ROBERT HUNTER has docked in Melbourne, Australia and has been ordered to inform the authorities of its new flag as its current registration expires today. The unflagged FARLEY MOWAT is approaching Australia and proclaims that it will enter port properly registered, somewhere. (Story at The Age, Australia) Meanwhile the Japanese Whaling vessel NISSHIN MARU was struck by a crippling fire last week, partly fueled by whale oil (How ironic is that?) The disabled vessel has offers from Greenpeace and the US Coast Guard to tow it out of the area and today New Zealand, which is responsible for rescue coordination down there has ordered the ship out of the region. (Story at the Times Online)

Haight's Maritime Items has:

UK – smoking restrictions on vessels - proposed - The UK Department for Transport issued a news release stating that it is proposing to restrict smoking on sea-going and inland vessels operating in UK waters. The consultation will close on 11 May. Note: Even the Americans haven’t gone this far – yet! (2/14/07). - Dennis Bryant

Hello, someone needs to tell these lawmakers that ships are not just workplaces, they are also a home for the seafarers. When I was at the US Merchant Marine Academy, they came around one day and told everyone to remove all but the most innocent photos of girlfriends and women in general as our rooms were not rooms at all but Government workspaces. And there was a possibility that a woman might be offended by the phototographs. These would be the very same women who would then go into our underwear drawer to make sure we folded our shorts correctly.

Fairplay Daily News has:

Erika Day 3: Total's embarrassing memo - PARIS 14 February – Erika trial Day 3: French energy group Total, charterer of the Erika, has vehemently rejected all accusations made against the company. “Total cannot be held responsible for the state of the ship and in particular its level of corrosion,” defence lawyers argued. However, a document written in 1998 by Bertrand Thouilin, head of the group’s shipping/trading legal department at the time of the accident, has been put forward. Thouilin wrote that “the responsibility of a charterer may be at stake when it comes to the choice of the ship.” Judges commented that such a document “will carry a certain weight in this trial,” to which Thouilin responded that the document was for internal use within Total only and was meant to reinforce vetting procedures. Nevertheless, even if it proves difficult to establish the responsibility of charterer Total in view of existing laws, the 70 civil claimants present at the trial all want Total to be designated as the responsible party. Depending on what the judges decide, this could lead to a change in law whereby cargo owners would join ship owners as responsible for pollution. “Until now the text of laws governing pollution do not provide for charterer responsibility,” one lawyer outside the trial explained. Meanwhile, ship owner Giuseppe Savarese declared that he is now ruined, dashing hopes of civil claimants that the owner should also be liable for the pollution. Class society RINA has asked the court for “international immunity”, rejecting the competency of French jurisdiction in the handling of the case. Finally, the court noted the absence of the ship’s captain, Karun Mathur; it is now thought he will not attend the trial at all. - Fairplay Homepage

Seeing all the trouble that the Captain went through to be released the first time, I don't blame him for not going back. How come none of these cases ever focus on the Chief Engineer who should know the condition of a vessel far better than the Captain. While the Captain is ultimately responsible, he is dependent on his officers to keep him informed of things....

------------------------------------------ has the program assessment summary for US State Maritime Schools, rating the program as 'Effective'.

The State Maritime School program effectively targets Federal resources in a well-defined, cost-shared partnership with the State maritime academies to produce highly qualified officers for the US merchant marine. Of the 370 graduates in 2005, 29 accepted tuition aid stipends requiring post-graduate commitments for maritime industry employment and active military revervist status. (I think they meant 'reservist')

Budget requests need to be more explicitly tied to the accomplishment of performance goals. The program must better demonstrate improved effectiveness from year to year with emphasis on supplementary performance measures identified in the PART. - Gov has the program assessment summary for the US Merchant Marine Academy, rating the program as 'Moderately Effective'.

The United States Merchant Marine Academy has a clear purpose to produce well-qualified merchant marine officers who are obligated to serve a set number of years in a reserve component of the US Armed Forces and to work in maritime-related employment.

The Academy needs to improve its ability to achieve its performance goals and demonstrate cost effectiveness, particularly in comparison with other programs that have a similar purpose and goals. - gov

The report provides the following numbers:

Does the performance of this program compare favorably to other programs, including government, private, etc., with similar purpose and goals?

Explanation: USMMA produces nearly 80% of the licensed, qualified, obligated merchant mariners appointed each year in the USNR-MMR program. The balance of USNR-MMR accessions come from the six SMA programs.

The average total cost per graduate is $187,503, on an average annual basis, $46,876 per student. USMMA cost per graduate is determined as specified in GAO study B-159219 (Financial Operations of the FIve Service Academies). The SMA (State Maritime Academies) four year licensed officer cost of $120,196 per graduate The SMA annual cost per graduate is $30,049.

The average total cost per graduate at the US Coast Guard Academy is $305,000. - gov

For those who are interested, you can find the one assessment that covers the US Military Academy, US Naval Academy, and US Air Force Academy here. (One assessment was done as they are all operated by the Department of Defense.)


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 as well as suggest area of coverage.

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Sunday, February 18

Benedict Clinton 2008, Benedict Obama 2008: Presidential Victory through defeat in Iraq

After the Iraq votes in Congress, I think I will just start calling the 'cut and run' crowd as Benedict's (Including the Republican turncoats). As expected, the Democrats are fighting over each other to see who can guarantee defeat in Iraq quicker. Benedict Clinton has declared that if President Bush does not pull all troops out of Iraq, she will as President.

Benedict Obama, her main challenger shows why it is sometimes dangerous to act first on an issue by declaring that all troops should be out of Iraq by the end of March, 2008, a date almost a year earlier than his main Democrat challenger. However, while Clinton has been all talk, Obama put action behind his words and submitted legislation in the Senate to ensure a pullout from Iraq:
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., wants to cap troop levels and begin redeployment, with all combat troops out by March 2008. - Seattle Times
Not to be outdone, Clinton has realized that she needs to act quicker than relying on a campaign promise to fix Iraq if elected. After all she has already been elected to the senate.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the early front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, has called for a 90-day deadline to start pulling American troops from Iraq.

Clinton, the wife of former President Bill Clinton, has been criticized by some Democrats for supporting authorization of the war in 2002 and for not renouncing her vote as she seeks the U.S. presidency in next year's election.

"Now it's time to say the redeployment should start in 90 days or the Congress will revoke authorization for this war," the New York senator said in a video on her campaign Web site, repeating a point included in a bill she introduced on Friday. In October 2002, Congress authorized President George W. Bush to take military action in Iraq before the U.S.-led invasion of March 2003. - Reuters
Benedict Clinton, in calling for what is basically an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, is attempting not only to neutralize Obama's Iraq 'plan' but also deal with a serious problem for all Democrats pushing defeat in Iraq.

While the press may not be portraying Iraq as anything close to victory, the election is about two years away, and when people go to vote, they will be judging Iraq as is it is at the time that they vote, not at the time that the candidates have staked their position. This of course explains why the candidates positions on Iraq keep changing, especially Clinton's, whose constantly changing position on Iraq requires a computer to keep track of. (By pulling out immediatly, you ensure that Iraq remains a mess, exactly what you need to get votes in 2008.) At least Obama has been consistently against the war in Iraq which I will give him credit for. Unfortunately for him, we are in Iraq, and his position on Iraq is one against winning there and therefor not an option for many in 2008. And that is a shame because he is a pretty decent candidate, when compared to the other Democrats running against him. Which is exactly the type of position that might win him the Primaries only to get creamed in the General Election, which is the only one that matters.

President rebuked, but real fight may lie ahead - Seattle Times
Clinton urges start of Iraq pullout in 90 days - Reuters

Fred vs "Children Against the War!" at the White House

Its Sunday and I was taking my wife's grandmother to see the White House and as I approached I could see this little girl marching back and forth. As she got closer I took this picture.

(Children Against the War! and Mom looking from afar.)

So I asked her if she knew what her sign said. She looked at it and read it aloud to me.

I then asked "Which war?"
"The War in Iraq."
Then I asked why she was against it?
Because people are getting hurt.
She replied, this time not sure of the answer.

I then asked "Why are we fighting there?"
I don't know.
Of course she did not know. Finally I asked where her mom was. She pointed out the lady in the photo standing in the street. I thanked her and walked away and went over to the fence to look at the White House. A couple minutes later the child and her parents were behind me and the girl was holding back crying. I did tell her father that I was very polite to her and did not intend to upset her. I got a polite reply back that it was alright. (Something tells me that this was mom's idea and dad was not too crazy about it.)

I wonder what the parents were thinking when they pulled this stunt. After all, they must have known that once she put that sign in her hand she was going to be a target, especially in front of the White House. She was there for a good bit before running into me and all I did was ask her a couple of questions. You know, try to get a little dialog going like the left always suggests. In this case it did work, because the little girl was not interested in protesting any longer.

Then on the way out I saw this other family:

(Child: Don't Send Me to Iraq)

So here we have another moonbat mom using her child as an anti-war protester. I did not talk to them, and anyway I was no out as a protester for or against anything. I was out to enjoy the sights of our Capital. At least they stuck to the other side of the street, where the anti-Us, pro-Soviet Union protest is located.

One thing for sure, neither of these kids decided to do this on their own. And 'I don't know' is a common answer I get when I talk to protesters in front of the White House. Like when they are there with "War is not the answer" signs and you ask 'what is the answer?' I never saw so many blank faces in my life.

Friday, February 16

'Mission Accomplished'...And then they went on Vacation

What says more about the US Congress, their shameless climbing over each other to be the first to declare defeat in Iraq, or the fact that right after they voted down the President's Surge Plan they promptly went off for a week's vacation?

Completely missed by all of the defeatist Congressmen is that it was the terrorists in Iraq who escalated the violence/fighting there and the President's surge plan is a response to the escalation, not an escalation itself.

This vote tells the terrorists that the US does not want to win in Iraq as badly as they do and as far as supporting the troops they are all for that, provided that they don't want or need additional support.

Also absent from the House was any condemnation of Iran's activities in Iraq, other than to warn the President not to do anything to stop Iran from killing more troops.

Maybe it's a good that that Congress is going on Vacation. This way they can't do as much damage. If the war was such a serious matter, you would think that the last thing they would do is take a full week off. But look at who we are talking about. Well good for them. Too bad these creeps now have to hope that things don't get better in Iraq because of they do this vote will be hung around their necks like a noose, especially the Republicans who should have known better.

This is the kind of congress that would have lost World War II. Thank God this will not stop our current activity in Iraq. If anything, our troops will work harder and be more ruthless in order to fight the terrorists who will now by trying to send as many dead bodies back to Congress as possible, because that's the only way that they can win this war.

Thursday, February 15

EU's Strategy to Combat Global Warming: Billions for BS

For all the talk about saving the environment, the EU, while pointing its finger at the US for not ratifying Kyoto, has done little itself to curb their greenhouse gas emissions. It is no secret that most of the EU Member states are in violation of their agreed Kyoto Carbon Emission limits. They however have done a good deal of tinkering with greenhouse gas accounting.

The position of the EU is not without controversy in Protocol negotiations, however. One criticism is that, rather than reducing 8%, all the EU member countries should cut 15% as the EU insisted a uniform target of 15% for other developed countries during the negotiation while allowing itself to share a big reduction in the former East Germany to meet the 15% goal for the entire EU.

Also, emission levels of former Warsaw Pact countries who now are members of the EU have already been reduced as a result of their economic restructuring. This may mean that the region's 1990 baseline level is inflated compared to that of other developed countries, thus giving European economies a potential competitive advantage over the U.S. - Wiki

Unfortunately, tinkering with the numbers is not going to make the planet any cooler.

Funny thing is, Germany is surely now wishing that they had kept East Germany's carbon reductions for themselves, because they now have a problem with too much emissions:
BERLIN, June 28 — Germany, one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases in Europe, announced changes Wednesday that would allow increases in its emissions — a move that is expected to be challenged by the European Commission.

The German cabinet decided to exclude the coal industry from the European Union's carbon trading program, under which companies must buy permits before they can release higher-than-mandated levels of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The move could persuade other countries to loosen their controls, critics said.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, a Conservative, and her Social Democratic coalition partners agreed to cut Germany's emissions limit by nearly 3.4 percent from 2008 to 2012. But critics said the reductions would be ineffectual if coal — a source of some of the worst industrial pollutants — is excluded. - NY Times
I'm sorry but I do not understand how you can exclude some greenhouse gas emissions when you are talking about GLOBAL WARMING. If they want to play that game, then you could say that the US decided to exclude all its industry from carbon trading programs.

The whole point of trading carbon emissions is so that dirty industries like Germany's coal industry can purchase carbon credits because that is much less expensive than cleaning the industry itself. Instead, they can spend money to clean up other areas. (One way to account for coal's emissions would be to tax coal, which theoretically would decrease its use or fund the changes needed to make coal more 'green' or tax the coal companies. But try telling that to the thousands working in the industry.)

Germany is not the only country that is cheating. It seems that many of the EU Countries are simply underestimating their current emissions:
MANY governments, including some that claim to be leading the fight against global warming, are harbouring a dirty little secret. These countries are emitting far more greenhouse gas than they say they are, a fact that threatens to undermine not only the shaky Kyoto protocol but also the new multibillion-dollar market in carbon trading.

Under Kyoto, each government calculates how much carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide its country emits by adding together estimated emissions from individual sources. These so-called "bottom-up" estimates have long been accepted by atmospheric scientists, even though they have never been independently audited.

Now two teams that have monitored concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere say they have convincing evidence that the figures reported by many countries are wrong, especially for methane. Among the worst offenders are the UK, which may be emitting 92 per cent more methane than it declares under the Kyoto protocol, and France, which may be emitting 47 per cent more. - Kyoto promises are nothing but hot air - New Scientist
Methane? Why do we not hear anything about methane emissions? (More on that in another post, but keep the following in mind: "Methane is responsible for nearly as much global warming as all other non-CO2 greenhouse gases put together. Methane is 21 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than CO2.")

The EU's numbers games does not end here. Now that they have taken advantage of 'East Germany's' unused carbon credits, they are now going to purchase more mythical Carbon credits from Russia, which has a ton of them due to the breakup of the Soviet Union and the following collapse of the Soviet Union's Greenhouse Gas manufacturing machine.

Now you would think that someone in the EU would think that sending billions of Euros to Russia is a truly stupid idea and come up with an alternative way to use that money. (Such as fining industry at the going rate of carbon credits instead of the much higher penalties that will be imposed, which is driving the need to purchase carbon credits from Russia. Or how about allowing polluting industries to replace all the light bulbs in the EU with compact florescent lights)

Funny thing is, with all the EU attention on trading Carbon credits, they must have forgotten that they were against it before they were for it.
By the summer of 2000, almost all the European countries had ratified the protocol, but the United States, Russia, Japan, Australia, and a number of Eastern European nations had not. Since the Protocol could not go into effect until 55 percent of all industrial nations contributing at least 55 percent of emissions had ratified it, there was great pressure on the United States to do so. All this came to a head in The Hague in November 2000. The U.S. delegation, handpicked by the Clinton-Gore White House, wanted very much to achieve a compromise with the Europeans that might make ratification by the Senate possible. The compromise would involve “emission trading” among nations that faced different costs of compliance, as a means of lowering the overall cost. The EU opposed it, although Europe had granted to itself the option of emission trading among European nations.

This so-called European “bubble” allowed the EU to set specific reduction quotas for each country. Some European countries were even permitted to raise their emissions over the 1990 levels, since they were still in a developing stage. Others, like Germany and Britain, took it upon themselves to take larger cuts, up to 25 percent. While this sounds like a very large reduction in emissions, it must be recognized that the choice of 1990 as the base year made it relatively easy for Germany and Britain to meet these targets. Germany had just completed its reunification and was shutting down the former East Germany’s highly inefficient industries. Britain had started to substitute North Sea natural gas for coal in its power plants, which drastically reduced the country’s carbon dioxide emissions. - New Atlantis
Now here is the part that just screams hypocrisy:
The sessions in The Hague were highly dramatic, and the conference had to be adjourned without an agreement. Had Europe compromised and permitted emission trading, as requested by the U.S., an agreement might have been possible. But western European nations, especially France, wanted to see the U.S. make painful cuts in its use of energy rather than permit the purchase of unused emission permits from Russia. The French had a point: the emission trading scheme, while it would have allowed the U.S. to sign on, was really a cop-out, since buying unused permits from Russia would mean that overall emissions to the atmosphere would not actually be reduced at all. - New Atlantis
Thanks to Europe, the US will save billions for not having to purchase the right to pollute under Kyoto. Turns out that the EU eventually agreed to carbon trading, once they realized that they would need to trade as well, with 'trade' really meaning 'to buy', and will be forking billions over to Russia. Funny how these things work out. (And they think that we are the stupid ones!)
European nations agreed to the "Kyoto" process, and have set carbon emissions limits for themselves. In order to exceed those limits, they are going to buy "credits" from Russia. These "credits" are a fictional device. The Europeans are buying permission to pollute -- from Russia, the most polluted country in Europe. Russia delivers nothing. Reuters:
"Gazprombank and Dresdner Kleinwort plan to invest in projects generating carbon credits under the Kyoto Protocol, in a Russian and east European market worth up to 5 billion Euros ($6.5 billion) through to 2012.

But Gazprombank, owned by the world's largest gas company Gazprom (GAZP.MM: Quote, Profile , Research), admitted that no projects could actually be implemented until Russia passed laws to govern emissions trading -- something it has repeatedly promised but failed to deliver."Furthermore:

"Outside JI schemes, which allow investors to book foreign emission savings as their own, experts say Russia may have as many as 3 billion tonnes of spare quotas to sell under Kyoto's terms if it passes the required laws."
Thus Western Europe itself funds the tyrannical regime that is still seeking to subvert it. As Lenin said, "When the last of the bourgeoisie is hanged, it will be a capitalist who sells us the rope." - Astute Bloggers
Now, it just might be that Russia's carbon credits might be the only ones left in Europe cheap enough for European companies to afford because, in the EU's infinite wisdom, Member states have decided that VAT (Value added Taxes) will have to be paid on purchased carbon credits. That could be as high as 25% depending on which country you are in. Here is the summary for Finland:
(Link to PWC's Carbon Trading guide - PDF link)

Is there nothing that the EU will not tax? So while the EU sells the plan as an incentive for companies to make changes and then profit by selling their remaining right to pollute, they then turn around and tax the hell out of it and thereby limiting the benefit for a company to make changes towards conservation. Businesses will still have to conserve, but the promised rewards are not as great as promised. There was an added issue in the first round in that many countries gave their companies more credits than they could have possibly used. (Cross-border trades – seller charges no VAT and buyer self-assesses for local VAT, both charging and recovering the VAT on the same return. - PDF link)

With all of this accounting games going on, you would think that truer carbon reduction methods would also be credited, such as planting a tree. Well, no.

One reason why the EU has been getting away with the juggling of carbon emission credits is simply due to the year that was chosen as a baseline. Europe has been making out like a bandit as they were particularly dirty in the year chosen, 1990.

The urge to be selfish when talking about climate change is strong. Greenhouse gases have the same effect wherever they are emitted, yet the cost of stopping such pollution is not similarly dispersed. Each country pays the full cost of controlling its own emissions but gains only a small fraction of the global benefit.

Selfishness alone, however, did not lead the United States to reject the Kyoto protocol. Sound economic policy did. The agreement is highly inefficient and inequitable.

The treaty sets targets for greenhouse gas emissions for each participating country based on its 1990 emission levels. Unlike much of the world, the United States has grown considerably since 1990, and this places it at a great disadvantage compared to countries whose economies have fallen. Those countries may even benefit under the treaty because they will have "lost" emissions.

Prosperous Western Europe has cleverly aligned itself with slumping Eastern Europe (and possibly Russia) to take advantage of the declines in emissions in those countries. Taking Europe as a whole, the region must reduce emissions only a few percent to reach its Kyoto targets.

In contrast, the United States would have to reduce emissions by almost 30 percent to reach its Kyoto targets. This means that while the European abatement program will cost roughly $5 per ton, the United States program could cost as much $100/ton. - NPR
So while these nations are emitting much less greenhouse gases, they really did not do anything to achieve these reductions. If anything, it was American actions in helping to kill off the Soviet Union that brought about this 'greening' of Europe. Shouldn't we get some credit for that?

By the time this is all done in 2012, the Kyoto Protocol might turn out to be little more than a stick to beat the US with. Unfortunately, it is going to cost businesses in Europe billions for their Governments to have the privilege. That's pretty damn sad for countries that believe that the planet is in danger of global warming.

UPDATE: 20 February 2007
I ran across this at Davids Medienkritik:

Europe 'complacent' on climate change - February 18, 2007 - European nations are not doing enough to fight climate change and should show more leadership before they criticise the US and Asia, the head of the UN Environment Program (UNEP) said on Saturday.

Achim Steiner said in an interview with Bild am Sonntag newspaper climate change has been caused primarily by carbon dioxide emissions from Western industrialised nations and it was thus their responsibility to lead the fight against it.

He said the US and Asia were now moving faster in the fight against climate change than Europe, which he said has grown complacent.

"The Americans and Asians are catching up quickly and are becoming strong business competitors (with green technologies)," Steiner said, in excerpts of the interview released ahead of Sunday's publication.

"But in Europe we've cherished the illusion in recent years that 'we've done enough'," he added.

He praised Germany, which holds the European Union presidency, for "showing initiative" but said it was not enough. "It's important that Germany move forward," he said, referring to Europe's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases.

The EU's environment commissioner earlier this month said Germany's lack of progress in cutting greenhouse gas emissions was holding back international efforts to combat global warming. - Davids Medienkritik

After all, it is the reult that matters most.

Gazprom, Dresdner to launch carbon deal - The Age, Australia

Tuesday, February 13

Austrian Firm OK with Collecting Blood Money from Iran as Long as It's 'Legal'

Surprise, surprise. Iran buys sniper rifles from Austria. The US and UK warn that Iran will use the rifles against US and UK troops. The manufacturer decides to sell them anyway. The sniper rifles then end up in Iraq in the hands of terrorists almost immediately after delivery in Iran. Terrorists then use the very same Austrian sniper rifles to kill US and UK troops. Austrian firm collects $15 million.

Austrian sniper rifles that were exported to Iran have been discovered in the hands of Iraqi terrorists, The Daily Telegraph has learned. More than 100 of the.50 calibre weapons, capable of penetrating body armour, have been discovered by American troops during raids.

The guns were part of a shipment of 800 rifles that the Austrian company, Steyr-Mannlicher, exported legally to Iran last year.

The sale was condemned in Washington and London because officials were worried that the weapons would be used by insurgents against British and American troops.

Within 45 days of the first HS50 Steyr Mannlicher rifles arriving in Iran, an American officer in an armoured vehicle was shot dead by an Iraqi insurgent using the weapon.

Over the last six months American forces have found small caches of the £10,000 rifles but in the last 24 hours a raid in Baghdad brought the total to more than 100, US defence sources reported. - Telegraph, UK

Selling Iran these rifles was clearly a bad idea from the start and both the US and UK protested to Austria concerning the sale for the stupidity that it was. Selling Iran any weapons is a bad idea, and has been since the Iranian revolution.

But the Austrians decided to approve the sale anyway. After all, they hardly have a military to risk being shot at by their own weapons and the Iranians were putting a huge sum of money on the table as these rifles sell for close to $20,000 each. That's over $15 million for the order. That was just the right price to make the company feel good about this sale. After all, just because your Government says it's OK to make this sale, does not mean that you have to sell the weapons to anybody, especially Iran.

The Austrian government approved the sale of the rifles, made by precision weapons maker Steyr Mannlicher GmbH, after it concluded in 2004 that they would be used to fight narcotics smugglers. [Just how did they conclude that?]

In comments to the AP that year, Steyr head Wolfgang Fuehrlinger said U.S. Embassy officials had expressed concerns that the rifles could be used against American troops in Iraq, adding that he had rebuffed a request to stop such sales.

Fuehrlinger described the 12.7 x 99 mm "Steyr .50 HS" as a high-power weapon able to penetrate metal as thick as a man's thumb. The gun is about 4 feet long, weighs more than 20 pounds and counts as an anti-armor weapon among experts because of the high punch of its projectile, Fuehrlinger said. [Just the type of weapon Iranians need to fight drugs in their own country. Maybe the US should start shooting drug smugglers at it's boarder too. How well would that go over with the International Community?]

The U.S. imposed sanctions on Steyr in December 2005, forbidding it from obtaining U.S. export licenses to do business in America. The Austrian government condemned the decision at the time, saying it made no sense to punish the company after the fact. Britain's Ministry of Defense said it had also raised the issue with the Austrian government shortly after the sale.

"We discussed it privately with the Austrian government shortly after the sale," a Ministry of Defense spokesman said, on condition of anonymity in line with government policy. "Now the potential that these weapons could fall into the wrong hands appears to have happened." - Fox News

So US Embassy Staff come and visit you and ask you not to sell your rifles to Iran, and probably at the same time explain the possible repercussions for doing so. Then the Austrian Government has the nerve to complain about US sanctions against the company for selling high powered rifles to a country the US has sanctions against. A country that is a known terror supporter.

It is not surprising that weapons sold to Iran are being found in Iraq. Iran is a country that is willing to back up it's agenda with supplies and personnel as well as lying no matter how obvious the lie is.

This is not the first time equipment sold to Iran to fight the drug trade as ended up in the hands of terrorists. The very same thing happened with night vision equipment that was sold by the UK to Iran. Only in that case, the night vision equipment was found in the hands of Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Israeli intelligence officials have complained to Britain and the United States that sensitive night-vision equipment recovered from Hezbollah fighters during the war in Lebanon had been exported by Britain to Iran. British officials said the equipment had been intended for use in a U.N. anti-narcotics campaign.

Israeli officials say they believe the state-of-the-art equipment, found in Hezbollah command-and-control headquarters in southern Lebanon during the just-concluded war, was part of a British government-approved shipment of 250 pieces of night-vision equipment sent to Iran in 2003.

Israeli military intelligence confirmed that one of the pieces of equipment is a Thermo-vision 1000 LR tactical night-vision system, serial No. 155010, part No. 193960, manufactured by Agema, a high-tech equipment company with branches in Bedfordshire, England, and San Diego. A spokesman for Agema in San Diego denied all knowledge of the system.

The equipment, which needed special export-license approval from the British government, was passed to the Iranians through a program run and administered by the U.N. Drug Control Program. The equipment uses infrared imaging to provide nighttime surveillance that allows the user to detect people and vehicles moving in the dark at a range of several miles. -

Of course the UN had to be involved in arming Iran in some way. Yet another worthless UN program that in this case is helping to equip our enemies.

I do not see any comments from the Austrian Government demanding an explanation from the Iranians. Don't hold your breath for one either.

As for the weapon's manufacturer, I suspect that it is only a matter of time before it faces lawsuits in the US by families of soldiers who have been killed by their weapons. I would think that despite their own Government's green-light they failed to conduct proper due diligence prior to approving the sale and for that they will be held liable.

Of course Iran, which is denying that they are supplying terrorists, could simply line up the 800 sniper rifles they purchased to show that American claims are nothing but lies, but that will never happen. The International community does not have the guts to demand Iran to be accountable for its actions.

What might be the most unsettling aspect of all of this is that Austria, and by default, the EU, somehow approved of Iran's plan to fight illegal drug trafficking by killing the drug traffickers with sniper rifles.

This is the same ideological group that abhors the death penalty, and certainly would protest any death penalty sentence against any drug traffickers caught. Their justice is given through a rifle scope without as much due process as it takes to sight them in and pull the trigger. Luckily for the EU, Iran really did not intend to shoot drug traffickers.

Since we now know where one of Iran's weapons suppliers are, perhaps it should be flattened to send a message. Maybe not. You bomb Austria with lawyers instead.

Update: 14 February 2007

Surprise. Austria refuses to take responsibility for where these rifles ended up and even questions whether the US can tell an authentic rifle from a copy:

Austria yesterday washed its hands of any responsibility after it was revealed that powerful sniper rifles it sold to Iran had been acquired by insurgents in Iraq.

The Daily Telegraph revealed yesterday that American troops had recovered more than 100 Steyr HS50 Mannlicher rifles, part of a consignment of 800 sold to Iran by Austria last year, during a series of raids in Iraq.

Astrid Harz, a spokesman for the Austrian foreign ministry, said yesterday that the sale had been "checked very thoroughly" and what happened to the rifles after they were delivered to Teheran ostensibly for use by border police was not the responsibility of her government. It was the responsibility of the Iranians, she said.

Franz Holzschuh, Steyr's chief executive, said the company had not been contacted by anyone officially to verify the serial numbers on the rifles. He said it was possibile that the weapons were copies.

The Austrian government concluded in 2004 that the.50 rifles, capable of piercing all types of body armour, would be used to fight drug smugglers. But American and British officials had warned that the weapons could fall into the hands of insurgents. - Telegraph, UK

Personally, I am surprised that they bothered to comment at all. Of course they did not bother to explain how they determined that Iran was going to use these rifles to fight drug traffickers, nor did they explain how they thought it appropriate to shoot suspected drug traffickers with .50 caliber shells. I wonder how they figured out that the Iranians would be responsible at all in the matter.

This sale took place while the EU was negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program. I have said it before, that the EU was in no position to negotiate with Iran due to the extensive financial dealing Member States have with Iran. This is a perfect example of that.