Tuesday, August 29

Secret hold Senator: Ted Stevens of Alaska?

Last Sunday, in "Alaska: All Your Taxes Are Belongs To Us", I guessed that if any Senator was the one to have placed a 'secret hold' on pending legislation creating an online database of Federal funding, bringing pork projects out into the light, it would be Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska.

This concerns S.2590, the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006. It had passed the committee vote and would be ready for a vote of the full Senate, but will not be voted on as long as there is a hold on it. The hold is secret because the Senator who has put the hold on it does not want it known that he did this. Surprisingly, this is an acceptable tactic in the Senate. Sounds shady to me.

Well, this did not stop bloggers on the left and right (an amazing feat in itself!) from calling Senators for confirmation that they were not the one holding up a piece of good-government.

The list of suspects is here at Porkbusters and has quickly gone from almost all other than the sponsors to only eight; one of them being my bet, Senator Stevens. There has been no end of bloggers trying to get him on the record one way or the other. Seems like this is the best we have so far, from Red State:
Of all the senators I called, only one would not give me a definitive "no." Senator Stevens's office said he does not comment on holds and, in any event, they did not know if he had a hold. They also told me they had gotten "lots" of calls. That last bit is interesting because a friend also called the office the day before I called -- he called in the afternoon and I called the next morning. He was told the office had gotten no calls on the legislation and the office was not aware of the legislation. That does not add up. - More at Red State
Is this the end of the secret hold? Lets hope so. Too bad this will not be the end of Senator Stevens!

More here:
Alaska: All Your Taxes Are Belongs To Us - FFI

Is Senator Stevens Holding Up Coburn-Obama? - Red State
'Fess Up, Tubemeister! - Wonkette

Monday, August 28

Maritime Monday 24

Welcome to the 24th edition of Maritime Monday.

This Weeks Photos:
Here are some pictures of the dramatic rise of the COUGAR ACE. Things could have turned out differently, like as in the TRICOLOR disaster (The TRICOLOR Cars). I did run across a couple photos of damage on the car decks, but it seems that the page has since been removed or relocated. According to reports and what little I did see, many of the cars did not break their lashing straps and are not all piled up against the port side of the vessel. (Try that with a container vessel!):

(28 July)

(10 August)

(15 August)

The Official recovery website photo gallery is located here.

This weeks items:

EagleSpeak has "The illusion of security: Transportation Worker ID plan scuttled"

Sailors, Mariners & Warriors League has news (note: Page come with music) of the ordered sale of the Egyptian cargo vessel THE EDCO, which has been detained in Charleston, South Carolina for the last two months related to a problem with a sister vessel. (This is one reason why you NEVER use one company to own more than one vessel)

Counterterrorism Blog has coverage of the Iranian attack on a Romanian Offshore Oil Rig. (Interesting way of negotiation those Iranians have.)

Logistics Management has a summary of the P&O NEDLLOYD GENOA container loss. Apparently MAERSK had put out a warning to better observe cargo lashing procedures prior to the accident. As it so happens, the report on the accident, mentions that there is little room for error in the design of the lashing requirements for cargo stows. A couple of overweight containers or a missing lashing rod might be all it takes for containers to end up over the side.

DefenseTech.org has news of changes to the US Navy's mine hunting capabilities.

Engadget has the story of underwater robots assisting in the oil spill near Guimaras, Philippines resulting from the sinking of the SOLAR I.

Ocean Defenders (note: Greenpeace) has the story of meeting their own Wärtsilä generator, in pieces all over the engine room. Of course, they are all over the oil slick. Check out the crew weblog for more.

USA Today has a story on the ANDREA DORIA.

EuroNews has the sinking of (10 meter long) vessel carrying over 110 illegal immigrants off Sicily, Italy with 50 either dead or missing.

SeaSpook's Rants has word of PT 728 touring the US East Coast.

Safe Cruise has word of the US Maritime Security Expo in New York on the 19th and 20th of September, with an offer of free tickets. I would like to say 'see you there' but I am off to Europe on vacation on the 19th.

Betsy's Page notes that the US Merchant Marine Academy scored as "Least Happy Campus" in Princeton Review's College Campus Survey. (If you can't be first....)

Maritime Digital Archive has Carnival Cruise's comments concerning Alaska's new $50/passenger cruise tax, noting that the additional cost could amount to 3 cents/share.

You can read my comments on Alaska's latest attempt to gouge the rest of us here.

The Stupid Shall Be Punished (Sub Blog) has coverage of difficulties during a recent Canadian Naval Operation in their far north.

Lawyers, Gun$ and Money has the HMS RODNEY "Sunday Battleship Blogging".

The Jawa Report exposes Hezbollah's claim to sinking an Israeli warship by noting that the photo is actually of the Australian vessel HMAS TORRENS.

From Haight's Maritime Items:

IMO – emergency dumping - Canada - The IMO issued a circular forwarding a communication from the Government of Canada stating that it granted two permits for emergency dumping of fish wastes to avert causing a risk to human health resulting from a build up of these wastes ashore. LC-LP.1/Circ.3 (7/26/06).

From Fairplay International Shipping Weekly:

Japan wants dual registry with Panama - TOKYO 25 August – The Japanese government has announced plans to change domestic law next year to allow Japanese-controlled Panamanian-flagged vessels to fly the Japanese flag, as a security measure. In a move unconnected to separate efforts to establish a tonnage tax, the maritime bureau of Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MLIT) has initiated discussions with the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) to try to develop a plan to separate a vessel’s registry and its flag for security purposes. Fairplay does not currently know the exact security aspect involved. The move is supported by Japanese ship owners, who want to maintain the cost advantages of flagging in Panama while being allowed the international protection of the Japanese flag. Panama is the most commonly used registry for Japanese-controlled international trading ships, although tax-friendly flagging schemes in Hong Kong and Singapore have recently been gaining support from Japanese owners. The Japanese proposal would deprive the AMP of jurisdiction over flag state functions. In Panama, AMP deputy administrator Carlos Raul Moreno told Fairplay today that Panama's ship registry legislation allows dual registry providing the other flag state approves the conditions set in the Panamanian law. It was confirmed that Japanese officials from MLIT were in Panama recently and discussed at length with the AMP the possibility – in the event the tonnage tax were approved – of its fleet having dual registry, although nothing concrete has come from the meetings. - Lloyd's Register

Previous Editions:
Maritime Monday 1 - 23

Submission Guidelines:
Look here for more details: Submission Guidelines

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

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Sunday, August 27

Alaska: All Your Taxes Are Belongs To Us

Note: This is written about PRE-Governor Palin who assumed the office of Governor in December, 2006. This post was written in August 2006 when Frank Murkowski was Governor. (Note added 4 Oct 2008)

If any state can lay claim to being the biggest money leech, it has to be Alaska. This is the state whose Senators manage to sucker the rest of us into paying for not one, but for two bridges to nowhere.

The only people who don't seem to pay taxes are the people who actually live there. Not only do they not pay state taxes, but the state rewards them with a piece of the oil revenue as a reward for not moving out of the state.

Despite receiving a fortune from oil revenue and tax money the rest of us sent to Washington, the residents of the state have now passed a ballot measure to tax any of us who actually bother to visit their state by cruise ship $50 each. That's $100 a couple. That's called gouging.

It doesn't end there either. They will also tax the cruise lines 33% on their gambling profits. Kind of rich isn't it.

Now don't kid yourself into thinking that anything good is going to be done with the money. They use Federal money for state programs, since they don't collect income tax. Worse, is that our taxes they do receive are completely wasted. Alaska can thank their two senators (the infamous Ted Stevens, Republican, and Daughter of the current Governor, Lisa Murkowski, Republican, appointed by the Governor) for their ability to bring pork back home.

One pork project that the Bush Administration cut, that Senator Murkowski has been whining about, is Alaska's Village Safe Water Program. (See more on that here: Alaska Screws over Rural Residents in Quest for Pork) It's not that the President has anything against Alaskans without running water, he has a problem with a program that the Government rates as "Ineffective."

The program is so ineffective, that earlier this month, the city of Hooper Bay, Alaska burned to the ground for lack of water to fight the fire with. Despite the safe water program spending millions on Hooper Bay, there is still no running water. You would think that the program would now work overtime to bring running water to the town. Well yes, and no:
As for the new school, the state's Village Safe Water program is pitching in there, Cowart said. The school was under construction and scheduled to be completed in December. The state program is now running work crews around-the-clock to get the job done sooner, he said. - adn.com
So they are working around the clock to build a school. No mention about running water. Sounds like money is being siphoned out of this program to cover expenses that should be paid by the State of Alaska directly. This would be in line with Federal audit findings:
Q: Are funds (Federal and partners') obligated in a timely manner and spent for the intended purpose? NO

Explanation: The legislative audit found many unexplainable purchases of services and equipment. (Evidence: State of Alaska legislative audit (2003))

Q: Does the performance of this program compare favorably to other programs, including government, private, etc., with similar purpose and goals? NO

Explanation: This program does not compare favorably to other regionally-focused drinking water and wastewater programs. While Alaska projects present special problems not faced by other water infrastructure programs, this program appears to have inadequate program management, which hinders its ability to track performance and ensure results.

Read the rest of the evaluation here.
So what about Hooper Bay, why does it not have running water? Well take the following from the Spring 2006 Edition of Alaska's Village Voices:
Construction on the water and sewer project will begin this summer and, while it is officially a city project, it likely would not be happening now if Sea Lion (note: a company in the city) had not strongly thrown its support behind the city to help them overcome some bureaucratic hurdles thrown after state officials sought to disqualify the Hooper Bay project due to a perceived shortfall of water payments from village households. “It seems like outside entities had a challenge and wanted to put our village safe water on hold,” Naneng says.
And this:
overseeing is the $43 million water and sewer construction project that is expected to begin this summer, although Murran notes that the State has thrown up obstacles before. “When I started this job four years ago, the state put on a condition that they will not operate a water and sewer plant if 50 percent of the villagers have not been paying the $25 fee (for use of the washeteria).” This was a problem, Raphael explains, because the homes of the 1,133 Hooper Bay residents are spread out over a large area. Many people have small cash incomes and sometimes haul in their drinking water from other sources and, as a result, many households had fallen behind, bringing the number to less than 50 percent.

“So we got together and our village corporation was willing to subsidize the fees.” Sea Lion was also able to help the city convince the State that water and sewer fees paid by it, the school, and the upcoming sub-regional clinic should also be factored in. This brought the total to above 50 percent.

Then the state brought it up to 75 percent.” That hurdle was met as well. “Hopefully, we will complete this water and sewer - unless they come up with another lulu,” Raphael says. Raphael estimates that the project will bring 20 jobs to the city during construction, with some laborer rotating through them in two week shifts. Once it is completed, three new full-time workers, in addition to those already employed at the washeteria, will need to be hired.

“Water and sewer will be a real benefit to the people of Hooper Bay,” Raphael says. “You won’t have all this raw sewage. It will help stop the spread of disease. We will have cleaner water, and won’t have the potential of contaminated water.” The projected fee will be $85 a month per household, and households will be required to be caught up on their recent $25 washeteria fees before they can be hooked up.
From this summary above, the Federal Government might as well just cut all the funding for Alaska's Safe Water Program because these Alaskan's are never going to get affordable running water. Really, why are we sending all this money to help the rural Alaskans when the State of Alaska makes the requirements impossible for people to actually receive the aid. Really, if they can't afford $25 a month now, how are they going to afford $85? Especially since they can get water elsewhere, just not out of a faucet. Considering the comments above, do you now see the following in a different light:
Residents in 5,000 homes in rural Alaska live without running water and sewage systems. Their bathrooms are often buckets that must be hauled to landfills or a sewage lagoon. For drinking water, people go to ponds to chip ice in the winter and collect rainwater in the summer. The Bush administration's budget proposes reduced funding for the state's Village Safe Water program by 75 percent. Ashley Gross of the Alaska Public Radio Network reports. - NPR
It's a wonder that Bush didn't kill the program entirely.

Talk about biting the hand that feeds them. Tourism has to be one of the biggest employers for the state. Sure Alaska is a big draw. My wife and I have wanted to go on a cruise there but have not as it's already damn expensive. From the East Coast you can probably expect to pay over $1,000 each for an Alaskan Cruise before all the 'extras.' Think of the alternative destinations that will now be more attractive once you factor in this additional expense.

First you have the Caribbean where most of the cruise passengers end up. Many taking multiple trips there, and none to Alaska. Then you have non-cruise options. I just bought tickets to Finland for $600 each. We will be staying with family and friends, but even if we didn't we can rent a fully furnished apartment for under $300 a week. Finland not your thing, well Iceland Air has all sorts of specials to Iceland and the rest of Europe for well under $1,000. This new tax is sure to put off some tourists from visiting. (Over at a cruise message board, many people expressed that they would go, but would be sure to curtail their shore-side spending in direct proportion to the tax.)

Oh yes, the purpose of the tax? It is to ensure that the cruise companies pay their fair share for 'using' Alaska's nature and the damage they do to it. Too bad they didn't bother to calculate the benefits the cruise industry contributes to their state. Funny thing is, this tax might actually reduce the 'damage' being done to the state by reducing the flow of tourists to Alaska, but at what price? (Less tourists, resulting in less ships, and less tourist dollars)

This new cruise tax is simply Taxation without Representation. I am not sure if this tax has a name or not and I could care less what they intend to call it or what they intend to do with the money (which is vague). Lets just call it what it really is, the Alaska Fuck You Tax.

If I had to guess, I would say that it is Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens who has placed a 'Secret Hold' on a bill for open accountability of spending on Government Projects. After all, with the amount of Government money that they receive, and the heat they are already getting, it makes sense that they would not be interested in more 'openness.'(Just a guess.)

Note: This is written about PRE-Governor Palin who assumed the office of Governor in December, 2006. This post was written in August 2006 when Frank Murkowski was Governor. (Note added 4 Oct 2008)

Detailed Information on the Alaska Native Village Water Infrastructure Assessment - ExpectMore.gov

(Title inspired by the Jawa Report)

Alaska Screws over Rural Residents in Quest for Pork - FFI 4 May 2006

Funds at Risk for Rural Alaskan Services - NPR 12 April 2006
In Alaska, a Fight Brews over Cruise Tax - NPR 21August 2006

Saturday, August 26

The Helsinki Complaints Choir

I saw this over at Finland For Thought and it made me feel much better.

A little background courtesy of a comment by "Hank W." at Finland for Thought.
Ah. now this is actually a community art performance. AFAIK it was a modern art performance originated by Tellervo Kalleinen ja Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen’s Birmingham First Complaints Choir in the UK. This is the Helsinki version, and they are planning to do the same in Hamburg and St.Petersburg. The idea is to ask people their gripes, and then compile a volunteer choir performance out of it. Some of that is quite funny. - FFT
The Finnish language normally sounds pretty rough, but they did a great job with this.

This is located over at YouTube.

Thursday, August 24

11 Buildings Were Hit in Qana, Lebanon

Everyone has heard of the tragedy at Qana, Lebanon. However, the building that was struck was just one of 11 buildings that were destroyed by Israel in that town. Might it be that they were right about the other ten? Could it be that they were also right about the eleventh one as well?

The blue squares are strikes on roads.

The red squares are strikes on "Building (general)" which suggests a typical building.

An orange square indicates a strike on a "Residential building." There are no orange squares on the Qana map, so what type of building was it where all the bodies were pulled from? Could the building have had a dual purpose? Is this more evidence that the bodies were staged there?

Now before you go claiming that the map makers are somewhat biased, keep in mind that this map came from the UN itself. The Organization is called UNOSAT, located in Geneva, Switzerland.

You can view the complete map from this page here.

When you look at the detail in the map, you can see how selective Israel was in its targets where buildings were completely leveled with the neighboring buildings still standing.

Here is a summary of the damage done in the Tyre region, of which Qana is a part:

With all the publicity of targeting bridges, you would have thought that they would have attacked more in the Tyre region than 11.

A possible 1 mistake out of 11 in Qana. That would mean a hit rate of over 90%. That's pretty good, especially considering that the enemy they were fighting looks just like every other Lebanese in the country.

Update: 31 August

EUREFERENDUM has total coverage of the Qana incident. The information above fits in with their coverage starting on this post, which notes:

Whether or not that route was blocked, we do not know for certain. However, via Fred Fry, we see that the UNOSAT post conflict assessment (Inset #6), using the Ikonos Satellite, shows a large part of the road and no signs of damage. Perversely, there is one bomb strike on a road marked - on the main Tyre road a few yards north-west of the junction with the alternative route. If that had impeded traffic, it would have affected access to Qana from Tyre as well - from where "Green Helmet" and many of the rescue teams came. - EUREFERENDUM

From the post is this photo which provides a reference to where the building attack was:

For reference, one of the Forum posters (PACIFIER) sent me a link to this overlay of the UN Sat photo to give context to local damage:

Pretty odd that the UN would completely exclude the location of the most contriversial strike of the conflict from their map. Not only is it not on the Qana inset, but it is not even on the general map either. (Should be directly above the right side of the inset box.) Also note that these attacks were not even in central Qana, but in the outskirts of the City.

Odd isn't it.

Appendix 1 - The "Stretcher Alley" mystery - EUREFERENDUM

Tuesday, August 22

Zimbabwe photos - Land reform

Zimbabwe has been in the news for all sorts of bad reasons, most recently for the hyperinflation of its currency. Zimbabwe's decline really started when the Government started taking commercial farms from ('native') White landowners and distributed them in pieces to native blacks for subsistence farming. Thanks to satellite imagery, we can now see the damage that has been done to the country's agriculture industry as a result of this program.

Land reform begun in Zimbabwe in 2000 was supposed to redistribute land from predominantly white-owned commercial farms to much poorer black farmers who toiled on communal lands. Proponents argued that the redistribution was necessary because commercial farms occupied the most fertile lands, leaving only dry, dusty land for communal use. This rationale reflects confusion about cause and effect regarding land ownership and land quality. In the "Before" photo below, the dry communal lands on the left are sharply delineated from the green private farms dotted with lakes and ponds on the right--so sharply that soil quality and rainfall are unlikely to explain the difference. Now click the arrow to see what happened after land reform. The dams and irrigation systems on the private farms collapsed, making them look more like communal lands, to the detriment of all. - Center for Global Development (Click to read more.)

So not only did the blacks working on the farms lose their jobs when the land were seized, but thanks to poor planning, they are also losing the land itself as it begins it's transformation into desert.

Notice how all the bodies of water are gone. This is essentially an internal matter for Zimbabwe. However, at some point the rest of us will have to pay for the criminal activity of the current Government there, while at the same time being on the receiving end of complaints that the destruction of the country was somehow really OUR FAULT and not the fault of the President of Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe. (As an aside, Zimbabwe has banned the movie "THE INTERPRETER" which is claimed based on Zimbabwe. See here.)

This is just one more failure of the International Community (the UN) to have any positive effect in countries governed by maniacs. And yes, I think we should interfere in cases like this when countries are on the path of self-destruction. If nothing is done, Zimbabwe will experience a civil war within the next year or two.

Zimbabwe used to be an exporter of food products. A bread basket of Africa. Sadly, it is now an importer of food aid. That's how Africa defines progress.

Scorched Earth in Zimbabwe: Before and After Satellite Photos - Center for Global Development

More photos - Center for Global Development

Monday, August 21

Maritime Monday 23

Welcome to the 23rd edition of Maritime Monday.

This Weeks Photos:
Here are a couple of photos of the container vessel CP VALOUR which ran aground in the Azores in December, 2005. The photos are from the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB). The homepage for this accident is located here. You can find the full report there as well as a summary of the accident. Let's just say that the cause rymes with 'human error' although in the traditional European fashion, the report does not assign blame:

“The sole objective of the investigation of an accident under the Merchant Shipping (Accident Reporting and Investigation) Regulations 2005 shall be the prevention of future accidents through the ascertainment of its causes and circumstances. It shall not be the purpose of an investigation to determine liability nor, except so far as is necessary to achieve its objective, to apportion blame.”

(View from the Bridge)

This weeks items:

Sailors, Mariners & Warriors League has the story and picture of a cargo ship sinking in the Yangtze River.

The USNS MERCY recently visited Tarakan, Indonesia as part of it's 2006 deployment. Photos here.

Lloyds List has news of the world's Largest Containership, the EMMA MAERSK. This is most likely a record-breaker that will not lose it's title anytime soon, other than to another Maersk vessel. 11,000 TEU and 110,000 horsepower. Wow.

Russian News and Information Agency has the news of Russia firing on a Japanese fishing vessel suspected of fishing illegally in Russian waters, killing a crewmember.

ICC Commercial Crime Services has a warning concerning Trading frauds targeting buyers of cargo originating from China and Estonia. (from April)

Check out ICC's International Maritime Bureau's latest Piracy and Armed Robbery maps.

Far Outliers has the news of the Mexican fishermen rescued after being adrift for months.

EagleSpeak has coverage of the US Coast Guard's extensive efforts to train allied countries in Port Security. (The FBI has also been training foreign agencies for years.)

The National Terror Alert Response Center has a summary of the Port of Seattle Explosive Container incident.

Homeland Security Watch has recent developments in the ongoing TWIC disaster. (More below.)

Mukamo Philippines has coverage of the SOLAR I sinking/oil spill.

WWF has a map (jpg image) of the oil spill area off Guinaras, Philippines.

Lasting News has an interactive global oil spill map.

Echo9er has a bird's eye view of the USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN at sea.

For the latest on the COUGAR ACE recovery, check out the official recovery website.

Strata-Sphere has comments on the rehashed nuke-in-a-container threat, thanks to politics.

Seeker Blog has news of the discovery of Iranian weapons in the Iraqi Port City of Um Qasr.

Check out the Google Images of Umm Qasr.

Marex Newsletter has news of court decisions in the PRESTIGE Tanker case in favor of ABS.

The US Coast Guard Academy is having a 30 year Commemoration of Women at the Academy.

The Stupid Shall Be Punished (Sub Blog) has an explanation why US Subs sometimes make themselves noisier.

Lawyers, Gun$ and Money has the USS LEXINGTON in "Sunday Battleship Blogging".

The Dashboard Spy has a screenshot of a Marine Terminal, Yard Operations Monitoring dashboard.

From Haight's Maritime Items:

TSA – delay in TWIC implementation - The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) issued an e-mail stating that the requirement for facility and vessel owners and operators to purchase or install Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) card readers will not be implemented until after an additional public comment period. The e-mail goes on to state that the initial TWIC rulemaking will provide guidelines for the background check process and issuance of the TWIC. TSA hopes to begin issuing the TWIC cards by the end of the year. Note: Given the apparent technological problems and other issues dogging the TWIC process, this new, tentative deadline may be wishful thinking. (8/15/06).


USCG – merchant mariner credentials - extension - The US Coast Guard issued a notice stating that the expiration date of merchant mariner credentials (MMDs) for those mariners directly impacted by Hurricane Katrina is extended for up to one year. Unfortunately, automatic extension of the expiration date of the STCW endorsement is not possible. 71 Fed. Reg.. 47238 (August 16, 2006).xxx - Dennis Bryant

Previous Editions:

Maritime Monday 1 - 22

Submission Guidelines:
Look here for more details: Submission Guidelines

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

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

Feedback Welcomed!


Friday, August 18

Germany's thinking Off by 180 Degrees

Hidden behind the news of the disappearance of France's Lebanon peacekeeping forces is the small issue of Germany's problem of having their army face Israel if deployed along the Lebanese border. Take this headline in a number of papers:

German troops may face Jews

This is nothing but a lame excuse to avoid sending soldiers to enforce a ceasefire that they (and the French) pushed onto the situation with promises of contributions to the peacekeeping effort.

In reality, their thinking is all wrong in this matter. There is little need for any of the troops on that border to be facing south as there is a long history of the problem coming from the north.

All the German troops need do is turn around! Unfortunately, I suspect they would rather not, as they would then actually have to face (and deal with) the real problem at hand. At least, if they shoot someone in that direction, the chances of the target being a Jew are quite small.

No matter, word is out this morning that Germany will not be sending any troops at all other than some naval forces that are not exactly needed at all. They many, however, assist with the logistics and air transport needs for the mostly non-existent UN Force.

Perhaps the French and the Germans have no interest in being Hezbollah's newest human shields. It is slightly amusing that the biggest blame for the failure of this ceasefire will be levied on the (peacekeeping) army that didn't show up!

German troops may face Jews - The Australian

No German Combat Troops on Lebanese Soil But Navy Will Go - DW-World

Thursday, August 17

Bring President Truman Home

Outside the US Embassy in Greece stood a statue of President Truman, at least until 26 July, when a couple hundred protesters managed to pull the statue down.

The Truman statue has been toppled at least four times since it was erected on a central Athens avenue in 1963. Greek- Americans financed the monument to commemorate Truman's support for the Greek government against communist insurgents in Greece's 1946-1949 civil war. Harry S. Truman was U.S. president from 1945 to 1953. - Bloomberg
This is supposed to be an example of 'free speech.' It is sad and serves no point. It fact it is actually an insult since it was erected in thanks for a President who helped Greece in it's hour of need.

Imagine a protest in the US where the Greek Embassy is vandalized. The whole point of pulling down the statue was to publicize their protest. In this case they succeeded, to a point. Hopefully, the Embassy there was noting who was involved and has 'locked' them out of ever obtaining a visa to enter the US.
ATHENS, Greece -- Greek protesters toppled a statue of President Truman and clashed with police during demonstrations Tuesday against the fighting in Lebanon.

The ruckus began after 2,000 demonstrators, backed by Greece's largest trade unions and local anti-globalization groups, marched to the Israeli Embassy and also smashed nearby bank and storefront windows.

Several dozen youths broke away from the rally to confront riot police who had ringed the embassy. Police fire tear gas into the crowd and detained seven people. No one was injured. - Washington Post

Lets face it, there are many people who use these protests as an excuse to be violent. We have all heard the whole idiotic "proportionate response" complaint that the anti-Israel crowd had been screaming. Well how would these people explain that knocking down a statue is proportionate, especially since the US is not at war with Greece. Then where was the US response? What, no tear gas? No rubber bullets? (How about paintball guns?) Why do US Embassies still do nothing with potentially dangerous people right outside the gate? Image the outroar if the US targeted those attempting to pull the statue down with a firehose.

Something should be done. The simplest action would be to bring President Truman home. He has done too much for this country to allow idiots to disgrace his honor. It is the right thing to do since striking out at those attacking the statue is politically incorrect. Just remove the target of their aggression and put it somewhere that it will be appreciated..

While we are at it, General Macarthur's statue is still in harms way in Korea. See last August's post for more details. Peter Brookes has written a summary as well as he shares my position that it is time to bring the General back home:
This time, South Korea's anti-American crowd has gone too far.

Uncle Sam-bashing is, unfortunately, quite popular these days among South Korea's left, teachers and youth - burning the Stars and Stripes and massive anti-U.S. street protests are all too common.

But now South Korean radicals - many of them de facto North Korean pawns - are threatening to tear down the 15-foot tall statue of U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur at Inchon, the site of the intrepid landing that changed the course of the bloody Korean War.

With U.S.-South Korean relations already on the skids from disagreements over North Korea's nuclear program to the future of U.S. troop basing, it's a propitious time to bring our Old Soldier home and place him where he belongs - among other American heroes on the Mall in the nation's capital.

For the last six months, activists have gathered around MacArthur's statue above Inchon harbor for anti-American/anti-alliance hate-fests, including violent attempts to topple the monument. The latest rally was on Sept. 11, a date plainly chosen to sting Americans. - Heritage.org

What wonderful people. If only we could all live in a world as great as North Korea. Why don't these people just move to North Korea. There surely can't be a huge waiting list to do so. Of course, the US has not left. That must be the problem. Well that might be about to change.

WASHINGTON, Aug. 16 /U.S. Newswire/ -- U.S. Rep. Henry J. Hyde (R-IL), Chairman of the House Committee on International Relations, released the following statement regarding his recent visit to the Republic of Korea:

Having exchanged views with the South Korean President and reviewed the situation with regard to the status of U.S. forces and the state of the alliance, I have concluded that enough time has passed for Seoul to be up-to-speed in terms of providing for its own defense. I support a transfer of wartime operational control of the forces of the Republic of Korea to their own command at the earliest possible moment. The appropriate time has finally arrived, after more than a half century of sacrifice by United States Armed Forces in Korea. The American people welcome Seoul's expressed desire to take charge of its own defense in wartime.

As a veteran of the Second World War who served under the command of General Douglas MacArthur in the Philippines, I felt it a great honor to be able to lay a wreath at the General's statue overlooking Inchon Harbor and so to pay tribute to his memory. However, this statue stands for more than just one man, great a man though he was. It stands for fidelity. In times of war and in times of peace, the American people have stood with the people of South Korea. In times of tension and in times of calm. In times of want and in times of plenty. This is the enduring message of Inchon. - Newswire

Blah, blah. These people are not interested in listening or even reviewing history. It is time to pull out. Time for those 18-14 year old South Korea kids to participate in protecting their own country. You don't see the North using soldiers from anywhere else. If the north is not a threat, then there is nothing to worry about.

Greek Police, Anti-War Protesters Clash - Washington Post
Truman photo - Yahoo News

Bring General MacArthur Home - 15 August 2005

Monday, August 14

Maritime Monday 22

Welcome to the 22nd edition of Maritime Monday.

This Weeks Photos:
Here are some pictures of the supply vessel AMERICAN TERN during in Antarctica. The first photo is from Navsource.org here and includes a summary of the vessel. The second photo is from the website of a person who was working at the research station. His website, Images of Antarctica, contains more photos of the visit as well as of the discharge at what is probably the world's southernmost cargo terminal.

(Ice Moored, 2003)

(Approaching McMurdo Research Station in Antarctica, Photo by Seth White)

This weeks items:

Sailors, Mariners & Warriors League has a must read in the 'troubles' of sailing in the merchant marine as a transgendered person.

Macsmind has news of delivery of humanitarian aid to Lebanon, done with the assistance of the US Navy.

Japan Probe has the shocking news of Japan being accused by Australia of catching up to $2 billion in bluefin tuna over their quota over the last 20 years. There is also an update in the post where New Zealand accuses the Australians of the same level of thievery!

The Torch has the story on how repairs to one of Canada's new submarines that was damaged in a deadly fire will not start until 2010, in an effort to save money. (Note to Canada about 'boats': If you have to ask how much it costs, then you can't afford it.)

EagleSpeak has coverage of the US Navy's Military Sealift Command tug USNS APACHE coming to the rescue of the Estonian-Flag vessel TAHOMA REEFER which suffered an engine room fire just outside the port of Monrovia, Liberia. (MSC's APACHE page here.)

Make Blog has "The most powerful diesel engine in the world" which just so happens to be used in containerships. (Many more photos here.)

Argghhh! has word that the professionalism of Mexico's Navy has been rewarded with a gift of two recently decommissioned amphibious ships from the US Navy. (formerly USS Ogden and USS Cleveland)

Safe Cruise has news of an attempted robbery of $400,000 from the SAPPHIRE PRINCESS by a member of the crew.

Thomko Petro Chemical Blog has news of rising tanker rates, due to the partial closure of the Alaska Pipeline.

For the latest on the COUGAR ACE recovery, check out the official recovery website.

DailyPress.com has news of upcoming renovation work on the NS SAVANNAH.

RadiationWorks has the history of the nuclear-powered cargo ship NS SAVANNAH.

Bloodless Coup has news of the now approved scrapping of the SS FRANCE in India.

Maritime Matters has the history of the SS FRANCE.

Where will the 'toxic' Polembros tanker ALFASHIP be scrapped? Here is a Llyods List story from May.

Here is the homepage of the Basel Action Network which is against the dumping of 'Toxic ships' in third-world countries. As would be expected, they are none-too-pleased with the SS FRANCE scrapping approval.

Chippla's Weblog has a summary on Nigeria's first offshore deep-water oil production facility.

OzeLaw has a summary on Australia's decision to build a prison ship to hold suspected illegal fishermen and questions whether the action will bring Australia more in line with UNCLOS or in violation of it.

The Stupid Shall Be Punished (Sub Blog) has more information on the Submariner being held by the US Navy on espianage charges. (I posted on this story last week here.)

Lawyers, Gun$ and Money has the history of the last Imperial Russian Navy Battleship, the VOLYA / GENERAL ALEKSEEV in "Sunday Battleship Blogging".

Suite 101 suggests a visit to the Alaska Sea Grant Bookstore.

From Haight's Maritime Items:

Domestic intermodal shipment controlled by COGSA, not Carmack - The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled that, in the absence of a separate domestic bill of lading covering the inland leg of an intermodal shipment, the Carmack Amendment does not apply to a maritime contract covering a shipment from a US possession to an inland US location where the intermodal bill of lading specifically incorporates the Carriage of Goods at Sea Act (COGSA). In the instant case, plaintiff shipper arranged with defendant maritime carrier for the shipment of a container of cigars from Puerto Rico to Tampa via Jacksonville. The bill of lading called for the container to be transported overland from Jacksonville to Tampa, incorporated COGSA, and extended the application of COGSA to the overland carrier. The container was stolen during the overland portion of the shipment. The cargo owner brought suit against the maritime carrier, who then brought in the overland carrier. Suit was brought more than one year after the cargo was scheduled for delivery. Defendants moved for summary judgment, contending that the one-year statute of limitations in COGSA applied. Plaintiff argued that the two-year statute of limitations in the Carmack Amendment applied since the loss occurred during the overland portion of the shipment. After reviewing various cases holding that, with regard to international shipments, the COGSA provision is controlling where there has not been a separate domestic bill of lading, the court decided that the same logic applied to domestic intermodal shipments. Altadis USA, Inc. v. Sea Star Line, LLC, No. 05-14988 (11th Cir., August 7, 2006). - Dennis Bryant

Previous Editions:

Maritime Monday 1 - 21

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Sunday, August 13

Iran: Recruitment drive for suicide operation volunteers

Exactly just how concerned should we be about this?

Translation (and the original ad) found on IranFocus.com:


In the Name of God, the Most High

“Martyrdom-seeking operations embody the pinnacle of a nation’s greatness and the apex of its epics”

His Eminence the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Statement for Recruitment of Martyrdom-seeking Forces

In order to achieve all-round readiness against the enemies of Islam and the sacred Islamic Republic and to protect the foundations of Islam, the Lovers of Martyrdom Garrison plans to organise “a martyrdom-seeking division” for each province in the country from the martyrdom-seeking and brave popular forces of that province and give them specific and specialised training. We therefore request all our pious brothers and sisters, who are committed and determined to defend Islam, if willing, to submit two photographs of themselves, a copy of their identity cards, and the filled-in application form below to the following address, so that preparations for their organisation and training could begin:

P.O. BOX 16535-664, Tehran

It should be noted that for the forces of the martyrdom-seeking division from each province, the training and preparations for martyrdom-seeking operations will be implemented in that province.

Membership request application

I, ……………, son/daughter of ………… ID number………… Date of Birth …………
Address: …………………………………………… Telephone: ……………………
Request membership in the Martyrdom-seeking Division in the province of …………..

Signature: ……………

This was posted on their website on the 23rd of July. I wonder if people really fill out these applications. Perhaps they go and volunteer their freinds. I wonder what other kind of mail that postal box gets. I might have to add it to my post card distribution list.

A quick Google search found this posted at Little Green Footballs, from February:
Tehran, Iran, Feb. 13 – A senior commander of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) vowed that following the printing of insulting cartoons of Islam’s prophet Muhammad in European dailies, the Islamic Republic’s suicide volunteers abroad were being placed on readiness alert to attack Unites States and Israeli interests.

Mohammad-Reza Jaafari, the commander of Iran’s “Lovers of Martyrdom Garrison” and a Brigadier General in the IRGC, said, “Now that America is after gaining allies against the righteous Islamic Republic and wants to attack our sanctities, members of the martyrdom-seeking garrisons across the world have been put on alert so that if the Islamic Republic of Iran receives the smallest threat, the American and Israeli strategic interests will be burnt down everywhere”.

He was speaking to a group of suicide volunteers in Shahr-Rey, on the outskirts of Tehran, on Saturday evening.

Jaafari defended recent comments by Iran’s hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad regarding the Islamic Republic’s suspected nuclear weapons program. “Ahmadinejad’s speech in Bushehr reflected the words of the Imam [Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini], the Supreme Leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei], the beloved martyrs and the victorious, brave, and martyrdom-seeking nation of Iran”.

The only tool against the enemy that we have with which we can become victorious are martyrdom-seeking operations and, God willing, our possession of faithful, brave, trained and zealous persons will give us the upper hand in the battlefield”, he said.

“America and any other power cannot win in the unbalanced war against us”.

Upon receiving their orders, our martyrdom-seeking forces will be uncontrollable and a guerrilla war may go on in various places for years to come”, Jaafari said. - Little Green Footballs
So it seems that the ad(s) back up the threats of the Iranian Government. Then we have this 'response' coming from the Iranian President at the end of August to the UN Security Council Resolution. Who can guess what kind of response he's planning. I would think that if he was going to attack Israel or anyone for that matter, he would have used the fighting in Lebanon as an excuse already. Maybe they plan to go nuclear by exploding a nuke. Perhaps it is something less dramatic like pulling out of the non-proliferation treaty. If that were the case, they could have done that weeks ago already. So it's not very likely. One thing for sure, it is probably not going to be pretty.

Could it be that Iran had knowledge of the UK liquid explosive plot? The latest word was that the attacks were to start on the 16th, but the date was pushed forward due to the capture of one of the planners. Might the original date have been set for the end of August? If not, all we can do is hope that Western Intelligence is aware of what he's up to and are prepared to stop it.

Notice the logo in the ad. Doesn't it look somewhat like the Hezbollah logo?

August 22 - Opinion Journal

Friday, August 11

British Legal System straining under Ever-Growing List of Terror Cases

With the arrest of 24 ‘suspected’ terrorists, the UK’s legal system now has 24 more terror cases on it’s hands. So it made me wonder what happened to the four London bombers that were captured after their backpacks full of explosives failed to blow them to Allah as they had planned. Seems like not much of anything has happened:

A GAGGING order may be imposed to prevent media coverage of the trial of four men accused of attempting to carry out suicide bomb attacks in London a year ago today.

Defense lawyers for the alleged July 21 bombers are expected to apply for stringent reporting restrictions when the case next comes before the Old Bailey in October.

They are also likely to seek an adjournment of the trial of Muktar Said Ibrahim, 27, Ramzi Mohammad, 23, Yassin Omar, 24, and Hussain Osman, 27. If the applications are successful the full story of the events of July 21, when explosive devices failed to detonate on three Tube trains and a bus, will not be told until late next year. Another
terrorism trial due to begin at Woolwich Crown Court in the autumn has already been made the subject of a wide ranging order. - TimesOnline

Looking at their attempts to stall and delay, you would think that these guys wished that they were in Gitmo instead of headed to court. So we now have four people who did not believe in British Society now doing their best to use the rules of the society against itself. It would not be a big issue by itself, but they are not the only ones gumming up the works:

Delays and secrecy surrounding terrorism trials are prompting concerns about the way in which the criminal justice system handles such cases. More than 60 suspected terrorists are in British jails awaiting trial and most face long periods of detention on remand before their cases come to court.

Most have specialist lawyers who have successfully argued for adjournments, and have extended trials by several months. As a result the legal aid bill is soaring and the courts face the task of finding juries to sit on lengthy cases. Similar difficulties have already hampered a number of fraud cases. – TimesOnline

Only now they are getting concerned? Did you know that there were more than 60 suspected terrorists in UK jails? This does not include the additional 24 added yesterday. Why do the cases have to be so long? How long does it take to prove that these four terrorists went into the metro system with explosives on their back intending to blow themselves and everyone around them to pieces? It not like we had examples already of how terror suspects terrorize the court system. Take Zacarias Moussaoui's antics during his two-year trial. It only ended once he got tired of playing games and turned around and plead guilty.
But overall, this is not a big issue right? Court cases always take time. Think again:

Counter-terrorist agencies believe that administrative delays, gagging orders and the sub judice rule, which bans pre-trial reporting, mean that the country is ill-informed about the terrorist threat.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, the head of the Scotland Yard Anti-Terrorist branch, highlighted concerns about the justice system this year. Mr. Clarke said: “Much of the debate and comment about counter-terrorism in the UK has been either skewed or lacking in important detail because of the length of time it is taking
cases to reach the point of trial. It is obviously vital that all parties should have time to prepare thoroughly for these important cases, and nothing must be said or done which might prejudice the ability of a defendant to receive a fair trial. But there has nevertheless been a price to pay. And that price, put simply, is that the British public have not been able to make fully informed judgments

Last week the Home Affairs Select Committee criticized some defense lawyers in terrorism cases. It questioned the activities of one unnamed small firm of solicitors representing large numbers of defendants.

The MPs’ report said: “We doubt whether those suspects were represented to the highest legal standards: this of course raises questions of whether justice has been properly served.” – Times Online

It has been known for a long time already that the legal system is either not prepared to handle these types of cases or they are the wrong place to try these cases. If these terrorists are conducting war, then perhaps a regular trial, and especially a jury trial, is the wrong way to deliver justice to these criminals.

The four 21 July bombers are:
Muktar Said Ibrahim - Wiki
Yasin Hassan Omar - Wiki
Ramzi Mohammed - Wiki
Osman Hussain - Wiki

As they have yet to go to trial, we will have to wait until at least 2007 before we learn if there were any connections between this group and the July 7 bombers who did manage to carry out their attack. It is now being reported that some of the bombers caught in this latest plot have connections to the 7 July bombers (US News) and it seems that one may even have connections to George Galloway. (Not to suggest that he knew what they were up to, but more to infer who they look up to...)

As for the newest 24 terror bombers, I think they should get what they wanted, to fall from the sky without parachutes. Unfortunately, this is not possible, as the July 21 metro bomber Muktar Said Ibrahim pointed out at his very public arrest:

"I have rights, I have rights!"

Well, so do the rest of us. That includes the court system and the jurors who are asked to judge you. With all this in mind, there should be serious consideration of special tribunals as well as harsh punisments for these types of crimes. By that I mean the death penalty. After all, you can never safely release these people back into society. So you might as well dispose of them and use their execution to serve as an example to the others the Western Society does have limits. We too have rights and our rights are probably best protected by executing this lot.

Lawyers may seek gagging order for July 21 plot trial – Times Online
21 July 2005 London bombings - Wiki

Thursday, August 10

It is NOT OK to let your son go to Pakistan

Word is out that at least two of the terrorists arrested in the UK had recently returned from Pakistan where they had received some training.

When are muslim parents going to learn that IT IS NOT OK TO LET YOUR SON GO TO PAKISTAN.

It dosn't matter if they are in their thirties, twenties and especially in their teens, you should not allow them to go. Whatever the excuse:
- Attend a wedding
- Religious school
- Visit distant relative
- Do humanitarian work
The excuses are all lies. Chances are, they are up to no good and chances are they will be watched by the US, the UK and every other first-world nation they come in contact with.

Once you understand that, then perhaps you might want to find out why they are spending so much time at the mosque.

Not all muslims are terrorists but it seems that most terrorists are muslims. As long as that is true and your son considers foreigners his 'brothers' and not his fellow countrymen, then he will be watched and treated differently. (and rightly so!)

Shaving Cream, Deodorant and Terrorists bombing Airplanes

It did not make sense at the time, but with the news of terror arrests in the UK related to a plot to bomb airplanes over the Atlantic, I now understand why my bag was searched on July 1st.

I spent a week in Amsterdam for a conference. As is normal, when I checked in, KLM had to clear me for the flight because either I or a person with my name is on a no-fly watchlist. This has been going on for years and I am familiar with how each airline deals with it.

When I arrived at JFK, I noticed that the plastic ties I use to close the zippers were removed from two of the pockets. Missing was my deodorant and my shaving cream can.

I can understand confiscating these items from my carry on bag, but they took them out of my checked in bag.

Clearly, there was some sort of notice out to the airports to be suspicious of these items. Makes you wonder what other plots are still out there.

Unfortunatly, even thoug the plot appears to have been stopped, they still managed to make traveling more inconvient for the rest of us.

Unfortunately, even though this plot appears to have been stopped, they still managed to make traveling more inconvenient for the rest of us.

NO LIQUIDS OR GELS OF ANY KIND WILL BE PERMITTED IN CARRY ON BAGGAGE. ITEMS MUST BE IN CHECKED BAGGAGE. This includes all beverages, shampoo, sun tan lotion, creams, tooth paste, hair gel, and other items of similar consistency.

Exception: Baby formula and medicines must be presented for inspection at the checkpoint. - TSA

Looks like this latest plot was serious and just a step away from actually being carried out.

Lets see how long before the US left starts claiming that this is a Bush/Rove plot to effect the upcoming elections!

Threat Level Change for the Aviation Sector - TSA 10 Aug 06

Wednesday, August 9

Saudi Paper Claims US Sailor Spied for Israel

US Navy Submariner Ariel Weinmann has been held in a brig for four months already. The mystery surrounding his case was noted in a recent Maritime Monday. Now we are starting to learn some of the details.

The news is now reporting that Weinmann was spying for Russia:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A sailor facing espionage and desertion charges has been held at a Norfolk, Virginia, brig since March, the U.S. Navy said Wednesday.

Ariel Weinmann, 21, is suspected of having worked on behalf of Russia, said military sources close to the case. - CNN

This would explain why he has been held 'without charges' for four months. Besides the desertion, here is a tell-tale sign that he was up to no good:

The fire control technician third class, assigned to the submarine USS Albuquerque, attempted on three occasions to pass classified information to foreign agents, according to the charges against him.

Those times include March 2005 in Bahrain; October 2005 in Vienna, Austria; and March 2006 in Mexico City, Mexico, according to the charges.

People join the navy to see the world. I would call international travel like that suspicious and it probably set off all sorts of alarms once he went A.W.O.L.

A Saudi newspaper appears to have different sources:

A US Navy sailor, Ariel J. Weinmann, is suspected of spying for Israel and has been held in prison for four months, according to an article published Monday in the Saudi daily Al-Watan. It reported that Weinmann is being held at a military base in Virginia on suspicion of espionage and desertion.

According to the navy, Weinmann was apprehended on March 26 "after it was learned that he had been listed as a deserter by his command." Though initial information released by the navy makes no mention of it, Al-Watan reported that he was returning from an undisclosed "foreign country." American sources close to the Defense Department told Al-Watan that Israel was the country in question. - JPost

Did the Saudi paper have a bad source or did they just change the country to Israel as part of the propaganda war against Israel? Looking at all the anti-Israel bias lately, propaganda has to be a possible motive for the details in the story. (The newspapers covering the Israel angle, are quoting this one paper.)

So far the Navy has not released information on the country he was spying for. This Navy Times has in their story posted today:

The Navy has not said which nation or nations are involved. A story in Wednesday’s Jerusalem Post alleged that one of the countries involved is Israel. A Navy official, who asked not to be identified due to the sensitive nature of the charges, said Wednesday that it is “definitely not Israel.” - Navy Times

Lets see who has to issue corrections once the real details are released. Then again, who reads those.

The stories linking Israel to the story are also mentioning convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, who, despite the efforts to release him, continues to serve out his sentence in a US jail. (as he should.) He is probably mentioned to point out that Israel has already been proven to spy against the US. The big question is, what kind of threat to the US is Russia?

Sources: Navy sailor suspected of spying for Russia - CNN
Report: US sailor spied for Israel - J Post
Sailor charged with espionage - Navy Times

Jonathan Pollard Was No Jewish Patriot - Eric Margolis

Tuesday, August 8

Lucky AP and AFP Photographers in Lebanon?

OK, my turn to explore the world of MSM photo fakery. I chose to take a look at some of the missile pictures taken in Lebanon. For starters we have this photo by AFP photographer Hassan Ammar:

Hezbollah militants fire a missile from the southern Lebanese city of Tyre. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has arrived in Beirut calling for an urgent ceasefire in the Lebanon conflict even as Israeli troops were locked in deadly combat with Hezbollah.(AFP/Hassan Ammar) - AFP Yahoo News
This is a great shot. The photo is clear and the missile itself is sharp and not just a blur. I would say that he managed a lucky shot. I would think that you would have had to plan ahead to catch a picture like that. Make sure that you have the right settings on the camera and if you are using a film camera, have the right speed film loaded to take this kind of picture. After all those missiles are quick. I would even think that you need to be expecting the missile and have your finger on the shutter. Even still you would need a good deal of luck (or someone to advise you of the attack earlier). In his case, his luck did not end here. You see, this was his second missile photo of the morning. This photo has a time of 0705AM on 24 July. The first photo was posted at 0614.

Hezbollah militants fire a missile from the southern Lebanese city of Tyre. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has headed to the Middle East calling for an "urgent" ceasefire in the deadly conflict in Lebanon, where fierce fighting erupted as Israeli troops pushed deeper into the territory.(AFP/Hassan Ammar) - AFP Yahoo News
That is amazing. He managed to catch two missiles launching from apparently different locations. Well, in both photos it appears that the missile in the photo is not the first in the salvo, giving him a heads-up in order to take the picture. But wait, are these two separate photographs or just one? Look at what you get when you superimpose one over the other: (Click to enlarge)

Wow, they appear to be parts of one and the same photo. Now, there is nothing in the photo postings that these are two separate launches. However, I wonder if the smaller picture was darkened to go with the earlier time of day for the posting of the photo. I can't tell if these were supposed to be taken on the 24th or the 23rd as AFP did not state the day that the photo(s) were taken.

Is this dishonest? By itself perhaps not. Then again, how were these photos marketed/sold to AFP? What story did the photographer send with these pictures? I naturally assumed that they were two separate events. It was only once I discovered how few live missile shots were actually out there and after I found this photo that I suspected that something was not right:

This is actually the following two photos superimposed, with the smaller one cropped slightly by me to the point of the smoke on the left and the building on the bottom right in order to better line up the two photos.

Rockets fired by Hezbollah guerrillas from an open area are seen in the sky as they head towards Israel close to ten kilometers (six miles) from the port city of Tyre southern Lebanon, Sunday, Aug. 6, 2006. Hezbollah guerrillas killed 12 soldiers at a meeting point for reservists going to Lebanon, and pounded the city of Haifa with a heavy barrage that crushed residential buildings and caused dozens of casualties, witnesses and hospital officials said. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer) - AP Yahoo News (AP - Sun Aug 6, 4:05 PM ET)

Katyusha rockets are fired from the outskirts of the southern Lebanese port city of Tyre into Israel. At least 15 Israelis were killed and dozens wounded by Hezbollah rocket fire as Israel faced its bloodiest day on the homefront since launching its offensive in Lebanon.(AFP/Samuel Aranda) - AFP Yahoo News (AFP - Mon Aug 7, 4:56 AM ET)
The lights of the missiles would indicate that the lower picture was taken first with the second photo following quickly behind. Did I mention that these two photos taken within a second of each other were taken by two different photographers? Just imagine that two photographers both manage to be in the same/right spot to get a picture of a missile attack with only seconds to react, that they manage to both react within a second (or two) of each other. It makes me wonder, did someone guide these two to this specific spot. If so, who? If they were brought there by Hezbollah, why was this not disclosed.

Not for anything, but the foreground in those last two photographs just doesn't look right. Unfortunately, the photos are too small for me to investigate that further.

No need to believe me, download the photos and play with them yourself. Then draw your own conclusions.

One more thing. I thought that UNIFIL peacekeepers were unarmed:

Does this guy look unarmed to you? Not only does he have the weapon he's holding, but there is another slung behind him.
A UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) member stands guard in the southern Lebanese port city of Tyre. The UN Security Council failed to agree a statement condemning the killing of four UN military observers in an attack by Israel in Lebanon, diplomats said(AFP/Hassan Ammar) - AFP Yahoo News
Is this a breech of the UN UNIFIL mandate? (I don't think he cares.)

More here:

Reuters Fakery - Only the Beginning