Friday, August 31

Econuts and Moonbats Stop Hawaii Superferry (For Now)

For those who are not familiar with the US State of Hawaii, it is one of only two US States that are not connected to any other states. The other State is Alaska, which adjoins Canada.

Now take a look at a map of Hawaii. There are only two ways to get around the state from one Island to another or to the mainland, ship or plane.

Currently, the only route available to people has been inter-island airplane flights. Not exactly the best option if you need to move a car full of stuff or farm produce or commercial products. Nor can all this air travel be very good for the 'environment'. Since you can't move cargo by air cheaply, and you can't do it by truck for obvious reasons, there is healthy maritime cargo industry dedicated to keeping the islands supplied with most everything they need, which is just about everything. However, until now, passenger traffic has been pretty much limited to cruise ships for the tourist market. The main problem getting in the way of efficient ferry traffic has been the rough seas around the islands. After all, they are in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. So in comes Hawaii Superferry with a special design to minimize vessel movement as a result of rough seas.

So, great for Hawaii, right? Apparently most people think so. Inaugural trips quickly sold out. However, there is a small minority that has gone bananas over this new service to the point of blockading the ships, threatening the passengers and damaging their cars.

These disruptors didn’t just threaten other Hawaii families. Monday night, when the Hawaii Superferry attempted its second-ever landing on Kauai, protesters raised the stakes by using their own children as human barricades, encouraging their youngsters to paddle surfboards in front of the Superferry as it moved into the harbor. State officials say protesters reportedly threatened to toss their children from the pier into the Superferry’s path if the vessel wasn’t stopped. Coast Guard officials mounted on small boats unsuccessfully chased after 50 or so protesters who darted quickly from their reach via various watercrafts. The conflict quickly descended into lawlessness, as county, state and federal law enforcement were unable to bring calm to the chaos either on land or in the harbor waters. - Hawaii Reporter

Well 'unable' is probably the wrong word. More like they were unwilling to take control of the situation. The protesters managed to run rampant both on the water and ashore. If the protesters really did threaten to endanger their children, that is surely grounds enough to take the children away, or at the very least change them with child endangerment.

Even the Coast Guard opted out of securing the port area.

USCG can't ensure ferry safety - KAUAI - 30 August – The US Coast Guard says potential danger from a protest flotilla in Nawiliwi, Kauai is too severe for it to ensure the safety of Hawaii Superferry's Alakai. Protesters aboard surfboards blocked the vessel's path on Sunday and the anticipated continuation of that watereborne protest prompted the decision by the USCG, which subsequently forced Hawaii Superferry to discontinue service to Kauai indefinitely. USCG Honolulu Captain of the Port Vince Atkins said in a statement: "The USCG is committed to safety and security and enforces all applicable laws in the maritime environment" but "in this instance, the risk level was too high for the vessel, its passengers and for the protesters." By law, no unauthorised persons or vessels are allowed within the 91m security zone of the ferry; any violaters are subject to a fine of $32,500/violation, with additional violations bringing up to 10 years in jail. Atkins explained that the USCG is authorised to use 'minimum force' to police the security zone law against protesters, and "we have used the minimum force necessary to ensure safety to this point". But the potential risks of additional waterborne protests spurred the decision by the USCG to recommend against Kauai calls on safety grounds. According to the Honolulu Advertiser, Hawaii Superferry president John Garibaldi found it "alarming" that the USCG could not ensure the ship's safety. - Fairplay Daily News

The Coast Guard is responsible for port security. The way I read their comments above, it sounds like they have surrendered to the protesters.

Take this reckless protester. The vessel can't even see where he is. If the vessel needs to maneuver to avoid going aground, then they will do so to protect the vessel and the passengers on it. Was this protester arrested? Not likely. That however, is how you stop this type of behavior. You warn them of the penalties for breaking the law. Then you start arresting them. You don't need to get all of them. But you will stop most from being as foolish allowing you to better concentrate on those who remain.

It might be that the ferry service was not interested in bad press from strict law enforcement. If they did this to a cargo ship the crew would most likely have responded with fire hoses. In a fight like that the surfer loses.

So what is all this about? To tell you the truth I am not so sure. On the surface, the protesters are mad that the new ferry service did not undergo a full environmental assessment. It was not that it was ignored; initially the company was told that it did not need to do one, and was approved to operate.

From what I can tell, the assessment would have had to be done covering the addition of the car ramps needed in the port for the ship to load vehicle traffic. This is a really idiotic technicality, but it has been used pretty effectively by the protesters, with the bonus of great timing by the court to inflict the most financial damage on the company. (Let that be a lesson to anyone who want to do business in Hawaii...)

As far as the environment goes, there is a damn volcano in the state spewing out greenhouse gasses 24/7, the State relies on sea and air traffic more than any other. Then there are these protesters wasting gas to go surfing and protesting. (None of which were required to do an environmental assessment to justify their need to buy a car.) But there is more to this protest than just concern for the environment. There is the moonbat factor.

Under the surface of the protest, you see the odd sign "Stop the Superferry and Strykers" and even "Exposing your children to Depleted Uranium Dust? Shame on you."(Here).

(Photo at Honolulu Advertiser #10 in Series)

This group of protesters (while supporting the troops) is protesting the Superferry because the US Army might use it to move from one island to the other. By doing so, it will be contaminating the islands because the vehicles may be carrying or may have fired depleted uranium ammunition. So it appears to be the moonbats (A very small, violent, irrational minority creating chaos) who are driving the protests against what is probably a service that will result in a great improvement in the quality of life for many islanders. The problem with this angle is that the Army is going to move the vehicles where it wants whether the Superferry is operating or not.

Currently this whole mess is in the courts. I would expect that to be cleared up quickly and that the ferry would be permitted to run again. At that point, you can be sure to see more trouble from the moonbats, who only respect the courts when they rule in their favor. Rarely, do they ever go quietly.

With that, I wish the Superferry Best Wishes and a speedy return to service. (Because I want to go visit and I would much rather go by ferry between the islands than fly.)

Oh yes, if your like me thinking 'Hey I would love to work for them', their jobs page is here.

Update: 31 Aug 07
From the blog Mixed Plate Special, comes this photo from the ferry which clearly illustrates the hypocrisy of the protesters, who somehow managed to ignore the massive cruise ship in the background.

Go read their post "Report from the ferry: Stand-off at Nawiliwili Harbor" for the rundown.

Superferry Protesters: Hypocrites All - Hawaii Reporter
Surfers temporarily drive Superferry from Nawiliwili Harbor - Planet Kaua'i
What the heck, more pictures of the Superferry demonstration at Nawiliwili - I got a million of 'em - Planet Kaua'i
Photos of the vessel - on FLICKR

Thursday, August 30

MRAP Crew Survives Massive IED Explosion

IEDs have been a problem for the US Military in Iraq. Basically, it has been the only real way of striking the US (and now more often Iraqis as they build up their defenses) by using their ever depleting terrorist manpower.

The US has responded by introducing the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle commonly referred to as the MRAP. This is what they look like fresh out of the factory:

Here is a photo

of a USMC Cougar mine resistant and ambush protected (MRAP) vehicle after it had been hit by a very substantial IED in Iraq. The crew escaped with only minor injuries and no one was killed, even though the blast ripped the engine from its armoured bay and hurled it over 100 yards - EU Referendum

Just look at this thing! Go to EU Referendum (here and the here) to see more impressive photos of this wreckage. This vehicle is totaled, but the important thing is that it did its job by protecting those inside it. There you can also read about the UK's own issues dealing with the IED problem in which their Land Rovers are not suitable to defend against.

Elvira Arellano Should Not Have Been Deported

Elvira Arellano is the illegal alien who has just been deported back to Mexico, for the second time. Here is a summary of her story:
Arellano entered the United States illegally in 1997, and was apprehended and deported back to Mexico by the United States government. She returned within days and lived illegally for three years in Oregon. In 1999, she gave birth to Saul Arellano, whose father remains unnamed by his mother. Saul is a United States citizen due to the 14th Amendment, which grants birthright citizenship. In 2000, Arellano moved to Chicago and worked as a cleaning woman at O'Hare International Airport. In 2002, following a post-September 11 security sweep, she was arrested and convicted of using a false Social Security number to obtain employment and was sentenced to three years probation. Arellano was ordered to appear before immigration authorities on August 15, 2006. Instead, on that date, she took refuge in the Adalberto United Methodist church in the Humboldt Park area of Chicago to avoid arrest and deportation.

On November 14, 2006, in Mexico City, Saul Arellano appeared before the Congress of Mexico. The Mexican lawmakers passed a resolution to urge the United States government to suspend the deportation of Arellano and other parents of children who are United States citizens.

She was arrested on August 19, 2007 in Los Angeles. Within hours of her arrest Arellano was repatriated to Mexico by U.S. federal agents in compliance with an existing deportation order. She was accompanied to the Mexican border by an official of the Mexican consulate in San Diego, California, as well as by agents of the U.S. government. - Wikipedia
My first reaction to her deportation was 'good, only 12 million more to go.' Then she decided to start making headlines from Mexico, bad talking about her treatment while in the US illegally. That is when I realized that the US made a mistake in deporting her for the second time. And as the saying goes, 'no good deed goes unpunished'.

In her case, she should have been given jail time instead of being deported, especially considering that she was making a mockery of out immigration laws not only by defying them, but also by taking sanctuary in a church and making a public issue of it. By illegally reentering the US, she should have received a two year jail sentence which is the maximum permitted by the law:
1912 8 U.S.C. § 1326 -- Reentry After Deportation (Removal)

After the amendments made by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), subsection 1326(a) now makes it an offense for any alien who has been denied admission, excluded, deported, or removed, or has departed the United States while an order of exclusion, deportation or removal is outstanding and thereafter enters, attempts to enter, or is at any time found in the United States, unless prior to the alien's reembarkation at a place outside the United States or his application from foreign contiguous territory, the Attorney General has expressly consented to such alien's for admission, or such alien shall establish that he was not required to obtain such advance consent under the Immigration and Nationality Act or any prior Act.

The basic statutory maximum penalty for reentry after deportation is a fine under title 18, imprisonment for not more than 2 years, or both.
However, with regard to an alien whose "removal" was subsequent to a conviction for commission of three or more misdemeanors involving drugs, crimes against the person, or both, or a felony (other than an aggravated felony), the statutory maximum term of imprisonment is 10 years. Moreover, if deportation was subsequent to conviction for an aggravated felony, the statutory maximum term of imprisonment is 20 years. - US Dept. of Justice
Instead, the US thought that is would just be easiest to send her back to Mexico and that the problem would go away. I am not sure how they thought that was going to happen in this case, seeing that they had done this once already and she promptly returned to the US.

Now in Mexico, she is desperately trying to get the Mexican Government to back her cause to allow her to return to the US, even to the point of suggesting that the Mexican Government send her back to the US as a Diplomat. (That won't work as the US would need to accept her, which won't happen.)

Foreigners, even illegal ones, are guests in their country. Elvira Arellano was an uninvited 'guest'. She behaved badly at the party. She ignored, evaded and disobeyed the hosts. Eventually, she was forced out the door by the bouncers. That is the right of the hosts, especially when dealing with people who do not respect the simple rule of law.

Her deportation should have been the end of the story, but now she is becoming some celebrity in Mexico for being sent back home. She has met with the Mexican Congress that has condemned the US for deporting her (This is very amusing considering how Mexico treats legal and illegal immigrants to their country). The President of Mexico even met with her and issued a press release!
President Calderón Receives Elvira Arellano

(Tuesday, August 28 | Press Release)

President Calderón received Elvira Arellano at the Official Los Pinos Residence today - During the conversation, the Mexican President listened carefully to Mrs. Arellano’s explanation of her current situation and her constant struggle to reunify migrant families. [Comment: What struggle to reunify migrant families? This has always been about herself and only herself.]

The president offered Elvira Arellano all his sympathy regarding her compulsory separation from her son [Comment: Again, nobody is keeping her away from her child. Her child is welcome to be with her in Mexico.] and offered her his support in this complex situation.

President Calderón ratified the priority his government places on the living conditions of Mexican migrants residing in the United States and repeated the need for an integral migratory reform in that country.

He also explained that his administration is working hard to create employment opportunities for Mexicans which, in the medium and long term, will enable a larger number of co-nationals to have opportunities for development in this country.

For her part, Mrs. Arellano asked the Mexican government to apply for a visa from the United States that will enable her to return to that country.

The Mexican president instructed Secretary of Foreign Affairs Ambassador Patricia Espinosa to order her department to undertake an analysis of the situation being faced by Mrs. Arellano and her son and to take the necessary steps with the US authorities to be able to respond to this request. - President of Mexico
You have to be kidding me. This is the sorry state of the Mexican Government today, meeting with a woman who was returned to her country because she broke the rules of another country. As it is, the Mexican Government has actively aided its citizens to get the hell out of their country. Sadly, for most of them, that is the one and only time the Mexican Government has done anything for them. (And most likely in a selfish attempt to increase US dollar remittances back to Mexico.) Like I said in a previous post, the Mexican Government is part of the US illegal immigration problem. Recently Mexico mentioned that the amount of money sent back to Mexico has declined. Well of course, that is what happens when there is nobody left behind to send money too. Maybe the Government can convince her fellow citizens to send money to Ms. Arellano.
One area that her and people who support her are using is the fact that her child is a US Citizen and that it is unfair to deport her as they would be separated. That is a scam and is recognized by the US Government as a scam, as a US Citizen child cannot apply for their parents to legally immigrate until the child is at least 18 years old. This is to prevent illegals coming here for the purpose of having a child, an anchor child.
Anchor baby or jackpot baby are terms used to refer to a child born in the United States to illegal aliens or other non-citizens. Such a child is legally a citizen of the United States. The term refers to a resident alien's child's role in facilitating "chain migration" under the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Services Act of 1965. Immigration reductionists claim that the baby would become the "anchor" of a chain by which its family may receive benefits from social programs, and by which the parents may themselves eventually become lawful permanent residents or citizens of the United States. Anchor baby has been characterized by some as a derogatory term.

A US-born child cannot in fact sponsor his/her parents for legal immigration to the United States until he/she becomes an adult, and illegal immigrant parents do not gain any additional legal rights based solely on the fact that they have had a child born in the US. - Wikipedia
Nobody said that she could not have her child rejoin her in Mexico. However, as a US Citizen, he is welcome to stay here. Some have suggested removing the awarding of citizenship by birth to children of illegal aliens. I don't think that is a good idea in that it punishes the child who has done nothing wrong. One way to tackle this issue is to make parents who have their children in the US while here illegally ineligible from even obtaining legal US Residence.

We do not know who the father of her child is. The only reason I can see for her concealing his identity is to ease obtaining US Government assistance as a single mother for her child.

Mexico and the US Governments are the Immigration Problem - 25 May 2007
Fighting Illegal Immigration is easier than anyone is willing to admit - 18 June 2005

(President of Mexico and Elvira Arellano)

Note: If you want to solve the Mexico illegal alien problem, but not build a fence, then offer all Mexicans a Green card. Maybe, if all the Mexicans leave, the Mexican Government will learn to appreciate having them back at home. Then again, sending back a couple million Elvira Arellanos might be a driving force for change as well. They were so eager to protest in Los Angeles, they should be no less eager to protest in Mexico City.

Mexico is one country that would benefit from being more American.

Wednesday, August 29

Legitimate Child - Finland

Here is a screenshot of part of the application to register my son's Finnish Citizenship with the Finnish Government. (He was born a Finn and American by birth. It is just that you have to tell them of the event since it happened outside the country.)

I thought it was amusing how they were direct in their questioning of the 'legitimacy' of the child.

(Finnish Translation - Child born outside Marriage)

Here is the simple definition:

Illegitimacy is the status that was once commonly ascribed to individuals born to parents who were not married. - Wikipedia

Although, in the Case of Finland, the status is still ascribed to individuals born to parents who are not married. In some countries the legitimacy may affect things such as inheritance or even whether a child is responsible to support a child, although I doubt that is the case in Finland, where it is common for people to live together and have children without getting married. Many get engaged with no intent to get married, instead deciding to cohabitate. (Avoliito in Finnish)

In late 2005, 21% of families in Finland consisted of cohabitating couples (all age groups). Of couples with children, 18% were cohabitating. Of ages 18 and above in 2003, 13.4% were cohabitating. Generally, cohabitation amongst Finns is most common for people under 30. Legal obstacles for cohabitation were removed in 1926 in a reform of the Finnish penal code, while the phenomenon was socially accepted much later on among non-Christian Finns. - Wikipedia

Think Finland is bad in this regard? The situation is worse in the other Scandinavian countries:

In Denmark, Norway and Sweden, cohabitation is very common; roughly 50% of all children are born into families of unmarried couples, whereas the same figure for several other Western European countries is roughly 10%. - Wikipedia

I would think that if you decide that you can have children, you should be able to decide whether or not to get married. One reason to cohabitate is to permit an easy exit from the relationship. Unfortunately, that is not the best sort of commitment to have children under. I also don’t think that it is the best environment to raise a child in. (Yes, I admit that many married couples make lousy parents.)

Tuesday, August 28

Bolton - US Should Recognize Taiwan - China Will Do Nothing

Seems that my post "Let Taiwan Join the UN" fits in with former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton:

The US should restore diplomatic relations with Taiwan, former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton said yesterday, adding that Beijing would not retaliate.

Bolton made the remarks yesterday in a speech on "US global democracy strategy and cooperation with Taiwan" at the Grand Formosa Regent hotel in Taipei. Bolton is visiting Taiwan at the invitation of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy. - Taipei Times, 15 August 2007

As I said, there is not much China could do, if they were to limit themselves to only rational choices. Sure, they can invade the island, but they will just be shooting themselves in the foot. (Along with the rest of the planet.) Simply put, China needs to keep things stable so as to not disrupt their economy and the jobs that are being created, as they have millions who need jobs. Retaliating against their biggest customer, the United States, would be economic suicide.

Certainly, recognizing Taiwan will simply make official what is already the case, in that Taiwan is not under China's control.

""It is incorrect to call Taiwan a province of China because we are not," - Michael Lu, Taiwanese Foreign Ministry.

"Taiwan is an independent, sovereign state. Taiwan is not part of China." "Taiwan has never been ruled by China, nor has the Chinese government deployed any government functionaries or armed forces here" - David Huang, Taiwan Solidarity Union legislative caucus - Link"

During his speech, Mr. Bolton also criticized UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon over his handling of Taiwan's application to join the UN:

Bolton said that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was wrong to personally reject Taiwan's latest application for membership.

The application should have been referred to the UN General Assembly, he said.

Bolton also criticized Ban for saying Taiwan was "an integral part of the People's Republic of China."

"It is really beyond Ban's authority and therefore illegitimate," Bolton said. - Taipei Times

Unfortunately, the UN General Assembly probably would have rejected the application as well, but not out of merit, but out of either fear of China, or due to bribes from China. That however is not the important step. It is the US that should recognize Taiwan first. Then other steps can be made.

Bolton said the US government should restore its diplomatic relations with Taipei because it would serve US interests and reduce its costs in the Asia-Pacific region.

"Recognition would bring stability and certainty -- thus, actually lower the US' costs," Bolton said.

"It would also strengthen the US and the region by signaling to others the strength of the US' commitment to Taiwan and the region," he said.

Recognizing Taiwan would mean acknowledging reality, the best basis for a sound foreign policy, he said.

Bolton believed that Beijing would not act if Washington officially recognized Taiwan as a country.

Beijing cannot afford to break diplomatic ties with the US or launch a war against it, Bolton said. - Taipei Times

Now is the time to act on this. Once done, other countries will surely follow. Any retaliation by China will surely backfire on them as also kill off any prospects for a successful 2008 Olympic games. (Although there are a number of other issues that risk the Games.)

Bolton says China would not act if US recognized Taiwan - Taipei Times

Past FFI Posts:
Taiwan is an independent Nation - 21 April 2005
Taiwan is an independent Nation: Update - 4 Oct 2005
Let Taiwan Join the UN - 22 July 2007

Monday, August 27

Black Culture Update

There are many truths on this planet that are not nice to hear about. Often it is easier to simply accept the excuses provided. Back in May I wrote about problems in the black community in "Is Black Culture behind the DC AIDS Epidemic?" where I connected black culture to Washington, DC's AIDS epidemic, which is the highest in the US and is one of the highest in the World. A relevant part of the damaging culture being the idiotic and suicidal 'Stop Snitching' movement.

'Stop snitching' does not seem to bother the black community, nor does it seem do murders. No, the black community is busy chasing after people who try and point out the basic problems of the black community, like the cartoonist who drew this cartoon"

Here is the reaction of the Jacksonville Leadership Coalition to the cartoon:
racist, culturally insensitive and degrading to African-American women. - News 4 Jax
This is their concern? What about the friggin dead guy? What about the murderer and his 'stop snitching' BS who is the real problem? What kind of future is this little girl going to have in an environment like this?

How much of a problem is the stop snitching movement? Huge:
Those rules are making it much harder for the police to catch killers, according to Professor David Kennedy of The John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Kennedy works with communities and police departments all over the country. Nationwide, he says, police are able to arrest a suspect in about 60 percent of the homicide cases they investigate. That’s known as the "clearance rate."

But Kennedy says in some neighborhoods the rate is much, much lower. "I work in communities where the clearance rate for homicides has gone into single digits."

The unwillingness to come forward, Kennedy says, lies at the core of the problem. - 60 Minutes
I wonder, are the community 'leaders' so pissed off not because of the name calling, but because of the attention that it brings to the real problems that they are refusing to address.

Oddly enough, Blacks are already overrepresented in the prison population. Just imagine how many blacks would be in prison if the stop snitching movement was not protecting criminals from arrest. Then again, if they knew that they were going to get caught, then maybe they wouldn't commit the crime in the first place.

That however will not be the case as long as BS like this continues to happen.

And until black communities decide that criminals are not going to define their community, they will never tackle their AIDS and crime problems. Problems of their own making.

Sure the cartoon was disrespectful. But, it is only documenting the total lack of respect in the black community for others and for the law.

H/T to THE ASTUTE BLOGGERS whose post "FORBIDDEN REALITY" is the inspiration for this post. Go and read his take of events.

My original post on this subject:
Is Black Culture behind the DC AIDS Epidemic? - 4 May 2007

Maritime Monday 73

Welcome to this Weeks edition of Maritime Monday.

You can find Maritime Monday 23 here. (Published 21 August 2006)

You can find last week's edition here.

This Weeks Photos:
This was the 13 August 'Picture This' at Spiegel Online.

A training vessel used by the German navy sails past an enormous iceberg in Newfoundland's Gulf of Saint Lawrence. The ship is scheduled to visit a number of Canadian and US cities -- if there's wind, that is. - Spiegel Online

They don't name the ship but I Guess that this is a photo of the German Training ship GORCH FOCK. Which happens to be a replica of the GORCH FOCK built in 1933.

See this Wikipedia page for a summary of the GORCH FOCK class and their fates at the end of World War II. The GORCH FOCK's sister ship, the HORST WESSEL, was taken by the US as a War Prize and commissioned as the US Coast Guard Cutter EAGLE.


Here is a photo from the German Navy's website titled "GORCH FOCK vs. Barry"

Here are two photos I took while visiting the vessel in 1998. Sorry, I can't find any better photos that I took, like any of the whole ship:

Sea-Fever demonstrates that it is dangerous to let blog material fester too long as he too blogged about the same picture in "German Tall Ship Gorch Folk sailing amidst icebergs". (I had done this photo section on August 13 upon seeing the photo at Spiegel.)

This Weeks Items:

The Jawa Report has coverage of the FBI alert looking for details on two suspicious passengers seen on Seattle Ferries, who, as of this morning, still appear to be missing.

Seattle PI explains why they have refused to publish the photos while in the same article, they state "a Justice Department report named the Washington State Ferry system as the No. 1 target for maritime terrorism, sharing that status with Gulf Coast petroleum tankers."

Atlas Shrugs has a post on a recent show of force at one Seattle Ferry. (Not bong related.)

You can read my post on this issue here.

Call the FBI's Seattle office at 206-622-0460 if you know anything about these two guys.


Eagle Speak has news of the release of the MV DANICA WHITE which was being held by pirates in Somalia. He follows up with coverage of a Saudi editorial condemning the Danes for admitting that they paid a ransom for the vessel's release. (This might as well be out in the open. It's not like the pirates don't know this. This might also benefit other sailers, as the pirates will be more included to target Danes.)

Also be sure to check out his weekly series, starting with this week's edition "Sunday Ship History: Steam Heat" coving early steam powered ships.

Maritime Accident Casebook covers pilot error in "The Case Of The Baffling Bays"

Maritime accidents cost the shipping industry a million dollars a day* and too many happen when the vessel should be safest, when it's under the conduct of a pilot who knows his domain** and ship's officers who know their ship. But who's in charge when a pilot is on the bridge? Who's really at fault when the pilot gets it wrong? And how can a pilot get it so wrong? Maritime Accident Casebook ( takes on the issue of pilot error and ships' officer's responsibilities in its latest podcast episode - The Case of the Baffling Bays.

The Daily Mail (UK) has the sad story "Tuna Wars: The ruthless tuna pirates who are driving these majestic creatures to extinction".

Science Daily has a related story in "Where Have All The Dolphins Gone This Summer?" noting that there is not much left in European waters for dolphins to eat.

Marine Log has posted its August Edition online:

(Click the image to open the magazine)

The Pilot Boat is one year old.

Information Dissemination has "Taipei Times Reporting US Will Build Submarines For Taiwan"

gCaptain has a post searching for your 'Favorite Maritime Books'. The classic, 'Looking for a Ship' was already suggested, so try and come up with something else. I suggested the book 'Iron Coffins' by Captain Herbert Werner.

MarEx Newsletter has a fire on the semi-submersible oil rig OCEAN GUARDIAN in the North Sea.

Tugster has coverage of the '15th Annual NYC Tugboat Race & Challenge' and of the 'Tugboat Vote'.

Robin Storm has "NOAA INCREASES U.S. TSUNAMI WARNING CAPABILITY". NOAA doing to work other countries don't care to do for themselves.

Sea-Fever has the US Coast Guard helicopter rescue of rower Roz Savage who thought that it would be a good idea to row from the US West Coast to Hawaii.

Life of a Sea Wife has her husband headed back out to sea. (For 28 days, which is not really all that bad.)

Alaska Report has "Palin urges government to not list Beluga whales as endangered".

WBUR.Org has the discovery of the resting location for the WWII submarine USS GRUNION in the Bering Sea.

Professional Mariner remembers the fiery 1973 collision between the CV SEA WITCH and the oil tanker ESSO BRUSSELS.

Captain Kelly Sweeney at Professional Mariner Magazine covers the world of shipboard smoking rules. It's a little different at sea since the rules apply to you 24/7 since your workplace is also your home.

Neptunus Lex has "The sword of Isaac Hull". Isaac Hull was the former Commander of the USS CONSTITUTION, back in the early 1800's. The sword was given to the vessel by a relative. (The CONSTITUTION is the oldest commissioned naval vessel afloat.)

Tim at Tims Times still appears to be out of touch at sea so take a look at this post from his archives which has great pics of the Elbe River Pilot's swath (Small Waterplane Area Twin Hull) Pilot boat.

Sailors, Mariners & Warriors League has comments by Russia about returning to a permanent presence in the Mediterranean Sea.

Greenpeace's Making Waves blog has Iceland's decision to stop commercial whaling.

Meanwhile, Mainichi Daily News has "Whale harpooned, hauled in by Japanese boat in front of whale-watching tourists".

The Monitor (Canada) vents in "Transport Canada's Website from Hell" and gives a good example of one reason why a ship might not be in compliance with some rule, somewhere.

Engadget has the delay in an underwater power generation project off Northern Ireland.

All Africa has another offshore oil discovery for Ghana.

Never Sea Land has the mermaid statue in Playa Esterillos, Costa Rica. Just make sure you don't go looking for it at high tide as it will be underwater.

English Russia has photos of an accident on a St. Petersburg street between a car and an old ship anchor. No word on how the anchor got there in the first place.

Haight's Maritime Items has:

DOJ – shipping company fined; four crewmembers rewarded - The US Department of Justice issued a press release stating that a shipping company was fined $1 million after pleading guilty to maintaining false records regarding the dumping of oily waste water and making false entries in the ship’s oil record book. The company will also pay $300,000 to fund community service projects and serve 30 month’s probation, during which time it will implement an environmental compliance program. The ship’s second engineer was assessed a fine of $1,000 for making false statements to the US Coast Guard. Four crewmembers received monetary awards for providing information leading to the conviction. The ship’s wiper and cook were each awarded $230,000, while two third engineers were each awarded $20,000. (8/16/07). - Dennis Bryant Holland & Knight homepage (Used with Permission)

Fairplay Daily News has:

Gdansk fights EU for its future - BRUSSELS 22 August - The future of Poland’s Gdansk shipyard is under threat after a clash between the Polish government and the European Competition Commission over EU cash demands that could close the iconic site. The row started when the EU told Poland to close two of the shipyard’s three slipways or pay back state aid that had been used to prevent it going under. Warsaw refused and sent the Commission a 200-page rescue package with its own plans to sell two slipways and close the third. “We aim to reply to the Polish government in a few days,” Commission spokeswoman Amelia Torres told Fairplay. The shipyard where Solidarity began in 1980 has been talking to potential buyers for several months. Fairplay understands that two investors Donbass, the Ukrainian steel-maker that owns 5% of the shipyard, and the Italian shipbuilder FVH are interested in taking 75% stakes in the slipways, which together are valued at £100M. - Fairplay Homepage (Used with Permission)

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Saturday, August 25

Truck with Roof Peeled Off - Photo

Here is a photo taken on a highway in Pennsylvania the day after Thanksgiving in 2002.

As you can see the trailer met up with a low underpass, peeling most of the roof off.

Oddly enough, one of the trailer tires is missing. I think the rim is there because it is needed to secure the inner tire to the axle.

Friday, August 24

Giuliani 2008

I like Rudy Giuliani. As person who grew up on Long Island, I really liked that he cleaned up New York City when he was mayor.

But for some reason, I am not excited about him being President. Don't misunderstand me, its not like I would vote for a Democrat over him. It is just that there is no spark of excitement in voting for him.

The biggest reason I see for voting for Rudy, over other Republicans, would be his taking New York State in the election over the Democrat candidate. As a New Yorker, and former mayor of New York City, you would think that he would have a decent chance of winning the city, and with it the State and the country overall. After all, they did vote for him for mayor. Unfortunately, for some reason, poll numbers don't see this as a likely outcome.
In a hypothetical all-New York presidential race, Sen. Hillary Clinton wins with 43 percent of voters statewide, followed by former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani with 29 percent and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg with 16 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

In a head-to-head matchup, Sen. Clinton tops Giuliani 52 - 37 percent
, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds. - Quinnipiac University, 20 June 2007
So, we can't depend on Rudy taking NY from Clinton, or from other Democrats according that that poll. That shows you how grateful the City is for all he did for them. Besides that, there are two huge negatives I see, the first being his position on gun control:
"My position for many years has been that just as a motorist must have a license, a gun owner should be required to have one as well. Anyone wanting to own a gun should have to pass a written exam that shows that they know how to use a gun, that they’re intelligent enough and responsible enough to handle a gun. Should both handgun and rifle owners be licensed...we’re talking about all dangerous weapons." - The Jawa Report
My basic position on guns is that they should be licensed in some way and that there are some people, like convicted criminals, who should not be allowed to own a gun. HOWEVER, I am completely against Federal licensing of guns, simply because the Government will royally F*ck it up. As it is, they can’t properly enforce existing gun laws. Rudy's position as he states it is a gift-wrapped load of bull. Take the following story about the process of getting a handgun in New York City:
I DIDN'T want to be Bernie Goetz. I just wanted a handgun. Legally. Something to keep at home. A move within Manhattan had taken me away from the comforts of doorman security (you know how it is). A little extra protection seemed prudent, 911 calls can take a while to answer, and Rudy isn't going to be mayor forever. Should be pretty straightforward, I thought. In my native Britain it would be impossible. But this is the United States, home of the Second Amendment, land of liberty.

Government knows its place. They do things differently in America.

But then there's New York City, a place where the old constitutional certainties have been replaced by the rules of the NYPD, License Division. If you believe that this is a local problem, a Big Apple nightmare that could never apply to you, think again. A dozen states already insist on handgun permits. Citing as always "the children," it is clear that Candidates Gore and Bradley want to expand on this at the federal level. The Brady Act was not enough. There's earnest talk of licensing, registration, additional checks to which, allegedly, only the unreasonable could object.

But the unreasonable have a point. New York City's licensing system has turned a right into a privilege. Like all privileges, it's enjoyed only by the few. There may be more than 7 million people in the five boroughs, but only 40,000 have valid handgun permits. Licensing isn't the thin end. It is the wedge. If you want to find out what that modest-sounding licensing requirement can mean in the hands of a bureaucracy that doesn't want you to have a handgun, come here, to the City. - National Review
Go read the whole story of his 8 month adventure into getting a gun.

A process that a President Giuliani would want to thrust upon all of us. Even if it was not an agenda of his, the Democrats in Congress will surely show up at his doorstep with a Federal handgun 'license' control bill that he would agree to sign. (And by the way, the application fee for a NYC handgun permit costs close to $500.)

Lets all be thankful that it is New York State, and not New York City that licenses NY drivers.

Guns aside, there is now his vow to end illegal immigration. I just don't see him as the one to do it, other than the traditional redefining of an illegal into a legal alien.

Now Fred Thompson is the type of candidate that I can get behind. I bet Fred can tackle the problem of illegal immigration. We just have to wait for him to declare his candidacy to get all the details. They better be good, as my expectations are high.

Thursday, August 23

China Pushes US to Weaken its Lead Restrictions

One way for China to solve its lead problem in toys is to push the US to increase the permitted amount of lead that can be in toys.

This of course would be a huge step backwards for the US. After all, we already went through the painful process of eliminating lead from our society. From our gas, our products and from our paints. Lead paint is still out there and there is lead contamination in the ground from leaded gas, but all the time the threat is reduced as we are not adding more into the environment like we did before.

Now China wants to ruin our progress by dumping all sorts of leaded products into our country.

This problem is not limited to lead either. They have also complained about the US's reaction to antifreeze in toothpaste, claiming that the amounts in the toothpaste were too small to do harm. Then there are all the chemicals and antibiotics being found in Chinese fish.

In all fairness, the US is not asking any higher standards than it does for domestic products. That is fair, and China needs to get off its ass and work to meet those standards.

That however, is not their plan. For the moment, they are looking to create a loophole to legally open the US market to lead toys.

Take this undated Chinese document. (Data within the document mentions "Children's Jewellery Containing Lead ANPR, Comments CH-07-1-1 through CH-07-1-40, as of March 14, 2007")
Comments from China on USA Notification G/TBT/N/USA/232
Children's Jewellery Containing Lead ANPR

Dear Sir or Madam,
We appreciate the opportunity to submit comments on this regulation proposed by
Consumer product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Enclosed please find comments in English and Chinese.

' Please acknowledge receipt of comments by e-mail to

Thank you very much in advance for Consumer product Safety Commission (CPSC)
taking our comments into consideration.

Best regards

Guo LiSheng
Deputy Director General
China WTOITBT National Notification & Enquiry Center
No. 9 Ma Dian Dong Lu, Hai Dian District, Beijing
Post Code: 100088
Tel: 86-10-8226061 110618
Fax:86- 10-82262448

Children's Jewellery Containing Lead ANPR

The Government of China appreciates the USA Government for allowing other Members to make comments on Notification G/TBT/N/USA1232. After reviewing the notified regulation, we would like to give our comments as follows:

1, The draft stipulated that the lead in the children's metal jewelry must be less than 0.06 percent, but we consider this request is insufficient from scientific standpoint.

For example: if the lead exist only in the substrate, but not in the coat, the content of lead may exceed the limit of 0.06%. Otherwise, actually the lead protecting by the coat will be emerged from the substrate difficultly, and do little harm for children. In addition, it is known that the content of soluble lead is not equal to the total content of lead in the exposed metal substrate. Usually, the content of soluble lead is much less than the content of total lead. So, the limit of 0.06% is not strict and unreasonable.

In summary, according to Article 2.2 of TBT Agreement, "Members shall ensure that technical regulations are not prepared, adopted or applied with a view to or with the effect of creating unnecessary obstacles to international trade. For this purpose, technical regulations shall not be more trade-restrictive than necessary to fulfill a legitimate objective, taking account of the risks non-fulfillment would create. Such legitimate objectives are, inter alia: national security requirements; the prevention of deceptive practices; protection of human health or safety, animal or plant life or health, or the environment. In assessing such risks, relevant elements of consideration are, inter alia: available scientgc and technical information, related processing technology or intended end-uses ofproducts" , We suggest USA make a sufficient risk evaluation on all lunds of preconditions, to avoid the unnecessary obstacles to trade.

Otherwise, we suggest USA cancel the provision.

2, It is provided in the draft that the content of lead in the children's metal jewelry is measured by the percent of total lead. However, there is an existing determination method about lead content in the international standard IS08124. Furthermore, it is more reasonable to use the lead dissolve output target for expressing the degree of lead harm to the children. According to Article 2.4 of TBT Agreement "Where technical regulations are required and relevant international standards exist or their completion is imminent, Members shall use them, or the relevant parts of them, as a basis for their technical regulations ", we suggest USA adopt the lead dissolve output target described in toy security standard-IS08 124 to institute the limit.

3, We agree with the viewpoint of USA of protecting the children's healthy and safety. And we consider that the method of stick warning mark on the children's metal jewelry, which will enhance the parents' direction of Security guardianship, may be more efficient than setting the limit of lead content. Therefore, we suggest USA use the warning mark in terms of age group according to the toy service conditions.

4. The definition and range of the children's metal jewelry are not specific in this draft, ' this may lead to an expanding range of correlative products, and increase the cost of producing and inspection of the manufacturers of children's metal jewelry, and bring unnecessary obstacles to trade. According to Article 2.2 of TBT Agreement,"Members shall ensure that technical regulations are not prepared, adopted or applied with a view to or with the effect of creating unnecessary obstacles to international trade. ",we suggest USA further clarify the definition of children's metal jewelry, the reasonable range and sort of the covered product. - (Link to PDF Document Located at NY Times (Text in HTML))

What a load of bull. What you just read above is China's solution to their lead in jewelry problem. That we should change how we test for unsafe levels of lead and add warning sticker on jewelry containing lead.

The testing suggestion above is particularly dubious. Their suggestion that the content of lead not being important as opposed to the leaching of the lead from the product. Take this chromed Reebok bracelet.



The bracelet contains high levels of lead. Their thinking is that this should not matter as long as the outer coating prevents the lead from leaching out. In theory it sounds nice, but does not take into account the various ways that the products are handled. Over time, coatings do wear off, especially plated jewelry. Young boys destroy these items and children swallow them. It was a piece of a bracelet like this one that a young boy swallowed. He died of acute lead poisoning. (Click on the photo above for details)

Reebok has received a report of a death caused by lead poisoning of a 4-year-old child from Minneapolis, Minn. The child reportedly swallowed a piece from one of these bracelets. - CPSC.Gov

The only thing stickers will do is keep these products from children which is what the US is currently doing by recalling these products. After all, you don't let your child play with something that might be dangerous. Parents will just choose jewelry that does not need a lead-content warning sticker attached to it. Then the Chinese will complain that the labeling is being treated unfairly as a scarlet letter.

Not that the Chinese already have enough problems, but the issue of lead exposure is about to be revisited as it seems the current limit might be too high:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintain that blood lead amounts under 10 mcg/dl (micrograms per deciliter) are well below the "level of concern." But recent medical evidence has shown that even with lead levels less than 10 mcg/dl, a child can lose roughly seven IQ points. And once these points vanish, they don't come back. A population-wide average loss of seven points, Sanghavi observes, would place tens of thousands of kids below the general threshold for mental retardation. As a solution, Sanghavi proposes "zero-tolerance lead policies, which would mean nationwide de-leading of unsafe homes." - Foreign Policy Passport

The goal should be no exposure to lead. All lead is bad. (within reason) Who is going to tell the Chinese? The sad thing is, China has the most to gain from removing lead from its environment. That is a long-term benefit for the health of their population. Too bad that China seems so concerned about the short-term implications as they relate to employment.

China has argued that they should be given some leeway as they industrialize from a third-world country. It was this excuse that earned them a pass with the Kyoto Global Warming Convention. There is a difference in that China is able to learn from the mistake of those who came before them and take advantage of technology that has been created as a result of industrialization. Lead poisoning is a perfect example of a mistake that has been learned already. There are alternatives to lead available. They just need to take advantage of the information available to them.


Wednesday, August 22

US Cargo Moves by Rail - EU Cargo, by Truck

This is not something you would expect to see in Europe, cargo moving by truck. There are two reasons this is a surprise. First, moving cargo by rail is much more efficient than by truck, which releases more global warming gases as a byproduct. Secondly, by my experience, the road network in Europe is not as good as the Interstate road network in the US.
Europe’s dependence on trucks stems from the failure of its vaunted passenger-rail network to provide a cheap, efficient alternative for cargo.

Between 1995 and 2005, the percentage of European goods shipped by truck rose to 73% from 68%, while rail’s share fell to 17% from 20%. The rest goes by canal or, in the case of oil and gas, pipelines.

In the U.S. in 2005, 42% of freight was moved by train and 33% by truck. - Wall Street Journal
Apparently, Europe's rail network was not built to withstand cargo traffic or does not have the capacity to add cargo traffic. There is also the issue that you can't move a train from one country in Europe as easily as you can a car. This is not a problem in the US when traveling from one state to another. Score one for Federal power trumping that of states.

So, at least in terms of land transport, it is Europe that needs to catch up to the US.

Russia Detains Woman for Acquiring "USSR state honors illegally"

Back in late 1999 I got to spend a week in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Like everyone else who visits Russia I bought souvenirs. One item was a huge Soviet Naval Flag. Since we had one the Cold War, I wanted my trophy, and this was it. There were all sorts of Soviet-era items for sale at the flea market, including literally thousands of medals. In addition to the flag, I got some money. I did not get any medals because frankly, they were of pretty poor quality, literally crap. Clearly, the Soviet Union had been awarding medals for anything and everything.

Lucky for me that I was not searched when leaving the country. Seems that the Russians have a problem with their citizens selling USSR trinkets to foreigners:

A Chilean graduate student at the University of Missouri-St. Louis has been detained in Russia for more than two months after customs officials found several Soviet medals and currency she bought from a street vendor. Roxana Contreras, 29, faces up to seven years in prison, her supporters say. She "acquired USSR state honors illegally" and attempted to export them, according to Russian court documents. Supporters in the United States say the physics student was visiting friends in the southern city of Voronezh and probably did not realize she was doing anything wrong when she bought the six military medals, currency and coins for $66 (€49) and tried to bring them on the plane home with her. "They were being sold by a street vendor, so she had no idea they were not supposed to be taken out of the country," said Sonya Bahar, the director of the Center for Neurodynamics at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. - La Russophobe

I had no idea that you were not allowed to take those items out of the country. Looking at how she was charged makes me think that this is nothing more than bogus law enforcement. After all, she was not charged with smuggling or attempting to export anything, just that she acquired the goods illegally. Even that is a stretch, since any 'honors' that were awarded with the medals were awarded by the Soviet Union, and not Russia and are not transferred to any future holder of a medal. Of course the money has no official value at all, let alone any honors attached to it.

Her situation gets even worse, since you need to have a valid visa to get out of Russia and the authorities don't want to extend it. So once she does get permission to leave, she might just get detained at the airport again, for being in the country without a valid visa.

And this is happening in a country that has been awarded the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. For those who care, that's right next to Chechnya.

If you are not familiar with La Russophobe and their critical reporting of Russia's neo-soviet activities, go and take a visit, especially if your thinking of traveling to Russia.

If you want to buy Soviet Medals or other USSR Trinkets, go take a trip to eBay instead. (eBay Search: USSR)

(Order of the October Revolution)

The Order of the October Revolution (Russian: Орден Октябрьской Революции, or Orden Oktyabr'skoy Revolyutsii) was instituted on October 31, 1967, in time for the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution. It was awarded to individuals or groups for services furthering communism or the state, or in enhancing the defences of the Soviet Union. It ranked second amongst the Soviet orders, after the Order of Lenin. - Wikipedia

Cool medal. I want one.

Thinking of Traveling to Russia to See the Sights? One word: Don't do it - La Russophobe

Tuesday, August 21

FBI Searching for Suspicious Seattle Ferry Passengers

The FBI is looking for these two men.

They consider it important enough to release their photos to the press in hopes that somebody can identify who they are.

I found this story on the Jawa Report. Which is a good thing since the Seattle Post Intelligencer thought it was not fair to post the photos of the two they were looking for, since they have not been convicted of anything, yet:

FBI seeks help identifying 2 men seen aboard ferries
'Unusual behavior' cited, but no hint of terrorism

The FBI is asking the public for help in identifying two men who were seen behaving unusually aboard several Washington state ferries.

About four weeks ago, the FBI fielded several reports from passengers and ferry workers about the men, who seemed "overly interested in the workings and layouts of the ferries," Special Agent Robbie Burroughs said Monday.

The FBI also publicized photos of the men, which were taken by a ferry employee, Burroughs said.

The Seattle P-I is not publishing the photos because neither man is considered a suspect nor has either been charged with a crime. - Seattle PI

Of course there is 'no hint of terrorism'. You think these guys, if terrorists, would run around telling everyone what they were up to. Whatever they were up to, they caught the eye of a number of people, including a ferry worker who was so concerned he took the photo above. (More at the Jawa Report) That is a feat in itself considering that there are thousands of people who travel on Washington State Ferries without attracting this sort of attention.

So let's see if these two people step forward and confirm that this is all one big misunderstanding. Failing to come forward will not mean that they were up to no good, but it would be one more reason to wonder what exactly they were doing on the ferries. If they stayed on the ferry when it called the US, maybe it was just for a tour of the waters. But why do it multiple times?

Didn't these two enter the country or did they just stay on the ferries when it called the US? If they entered, why can't Immigration identify these two? Not only that, shouldn't Immigration have some of their fingerprints?

You see, these ferries run to Canada. It might be that these ferries are being targeted because the terrorists do not have to get into the US to do that. Remember the Millennium Bomber? He was detained after getting off the ferry. The story would have been completely different had his target been the ferry itself instead of just using it as a route into the US.

Call the FBI's Seattle office at 206-622-0460 if you have any information about these two.

Update: Suspicious activity on Seattle Ferries

See this post from Atlas Shrugs:

Something a little strange happened today, as I got on the ferry just north of Seattle, Wa. A whole bunch of Coast Guard personnel were hanging around a large blue van at the end of the pier, and they were armed to the teeth. All were wearing side arms, 9 mm Berettas in tactical holsters slung to the thigh, and clearly evident on each holster was a tactical fighting knife. Each of the Coasties was wearing an ammo vest, with from 6 to 8 pouches of extra magazines for the pistols. - Atlas Shrugs

Go read the whole story.

Update: 23 August
Here is a link to the FBI Press Release:
The Jawa Report: Terror Dry Run on Seattle Ferries?

Update: Why are the left's conspiracy theories so complicated?

Last summer I wrote a post debunking moonbat conspiracies, mainly concerning 9/11. I consider these people crazy to a certain degree, especially those who truly believe that the US Government orchestrated the attacks. I also think that they are also somewhat dangerous. This is why I have had the following links in my sidebar:
9/11: Debunking The Myths - Popular Mechanics
9/11: A Boeing 757 Struck the Pentagon - ATS
9/11 Conspiracy Theorists are Full of Sh*t - NIST
Nothing any of us say is going to change their minds. The idea of linking to the information is to allow people to find it as part of killing any hopes the 'truthers' have of recruiting anyone else into their conspiracy sickness.

Now, the History Channel is airing a special aimed at debunking these frauds.
9/11 Conspiracies: Fact or Fiction - Examines the various conspiracy theories espoused on the Internet, in articles and in public forums that attempt to explain the 9/11 attacks. It includes theories that the World Trade Center was brought down by a controlled demolition; that a missile, not a commercial airliner, hit the Pentagon; and that members of the U.S. government orchestrated the attacks in hopes of creating a war in the Middle East. Each conspiracy argument is countered by a variety of experts in the fields of engineering, intelligence and the military. The program also delves into the anatomy of such conspiracies and how they grow on the Internet. - History Channel
The show is a great primer into the arguments of the conspiracy theorists. While the show really did not slam the theories as I would have liked, they did reject every one of them as bogus, explaning why, and them moved on to the next 'theory'.

Go read my original post where I ask why the hell are these conspiracy theories of the truthers so complicated. It took me only minutes to come up with much better (read: Plausible) conspiracy theories, which are equally bogus but at least they probably better match how the Government might do what they suggest.

One thing I don't understand, if they truly believe that the Government would do this, why aren't they afraid that the Government will just take them away one day where they end up in a secret section of Gitmo, or die under mysterious circumstances like all these reporters in Russia have the bad fortune of experiencing.

If you happen to be reading this and thinking that I am the one who needs to wake up, go see a psychiatrist because you have mental problems. Don't bother posting, trying to argue against the standard explanation for 9/11. I am not going to argue on this subject. It would be like arguing against someone who says that I am not white. As far as I am concerned, all truthers suffer from truth denial. You might not like the truth, but that does not give you an excuse to distort it.

Why are the left's conspiracy theories so complicated? - 6 June 2006

Monday, August 20

"the biggest global margin call in history"

I had written a while back about the dangers of having a margin account. Looking at the last week's activity in the stock market, I know that people were getting burned simply by trading on margin and not being able to survive the market swings. Had I had my investments in a margin account, I would have been forced to sell or my broker surely would have sold due to margin call issues. That would have been unfortunate, since at the opening of the market on Friday, my account had not only gained back the losses, but also triggered a sell order as the stock opened much higher than the day before, closing a successful investment. An investment that was down thousands of dollars only two days earlier. (And the stock is now down $2.50+ from that sell point, simply due to moving with the market .)

NEW YORK - They are dreaded words on Wall Street, and they're becoming more common: margin call.

More money invested in the stock market is borrowed from brokers than ever before, and some investment houses are asking for theirs back through what are known as margin calls. It's one of the reasons why Wall Street has sold off so sharply in recent days.

"It's being referred to as the biggest global margin call in history," said Hugh Johnson, chairman and chief investment officer of Johnson Illington Advisors. A flood of margin calls is typical in a market correction, he said, and "it can turn small declines into large declines. That's why leverage is dangerous." - TBO

For some reason 'investors' only see the benefits of trading on margin, the possibility of increased profits. However, the possibilities also extend to increased losses, up to wiping out your entire investment.

To reinforce my belief that you should not be trading on margin, comes the news that even professionally-managed hedge funds are getting margins calls.

Why is a hedge fund like Global Alpha affected by events in markets far removed from its bread-and-butter exposure? The root of the problem is high leverage. For example, when this debacle hit, one of Goldman's funds was leveraged 6 to 1, so every dollar of investor capital claimed six dollars of positions. This is the dry kindling for a market firestorm. When things go bad for a highly leveraged hedge fund, it gets a margin call and has to sell assets to reduce its exposure. Naturally, as it sells, prices drop. The falling prices mean a further decline in the fund's collateral, forcing yet more selling. And so goes the downward cycle.

Hedge funds that hold the toxic CDOs (collateralized debt obligations) can easily undermine those that don't. It can be difficult to sell the stuff that's causing the problem; those markets are beyond redemption. So if you can't sell what you want to sell, you sell what you can sell. The fund looks at its other holdings, focusing on the more liquid positions and reduces its exposure there. This causes pressure on these markets, markets that have nothing to do with the original problem, other than the fact that they happened to be held by the fund that got in trouble. Now that these markets are feeling the heat, other highly leveraged funds with similar exposure will have to sell. This leads to another cycle of selling, but in what was up to that point a healthy market unrelated to the initial turmoil. - Time

There is an important difference between you and them getting a margin call. They can go and borrow money to pay their margin call. Part of the recent Fed action was loans made for this purpose. You unfortunately, will have to pony up the money yourself, if you have it. Chances are, given the severe declines recently, your broker did not give you time to meet your margin call and sold some/all of your holdings before you could even react.

Margin accounts make you an investing partner with your brokerage. Unfortunately, their goals are not always the same as yours, and that can really cost you.

Feel free to add in the comments your own experience as there is not much information available on what is happening to small investors.


One issue that apparently has increased the volatility of the market has been a change in the rule for shorting stocks. Before, to short, you could only do so on an up-tic, meaning that the stock just traded up. That rule is now gone. This now allows brokers to short a stock while it nosedives, adding their shares to the pile of those already looking to sell. As supply increases....

Previous posts:
You should not be trading on Margin - 9 Jan 2006 (READ)

Congress Should Investigate Short Selling Records - 9 June 2006
Are Brokers 'Screwing' Stockholders through Short Selling? - 6 April 2006
Criminal Charges for Hedge Fund Over Naked Shorting - 9 Dec 2006
Morgan Stanley fined $2.9 Million for Rogue Trading - 26 Oct 2006
Do You Know If You Have A Margin Account? - 2 May 2007