Wednesday, January 31

birmingham, UK Arrests - Sure Sign that Allah is Not on Your Side

I would say that police showing up on your doorstep to arrest you and your co-conspirators only days before you are set to kidnap an 'evil' muslim member of the military (that is kicking your jihadist asses in other parts of the world) a sure sign that Allah is not on your sign.
EVIL Muslim terrorists were to kidnap a British soldier on UK streets and force him to plead with Tony Blair for his life in return for a pull-out of troops from Iraq, The Sun can reveal.

The soldier would have been filmed begging the PM to withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan in a sick propaganda stunt.

Army sources said the target was a British Muslim soldier in his 20s.

He would eventually be beheaded on film in a sick mirror of the torture and savage killing of British hostage Ken Bigley if Mr Blair refused.

Senior security sources say the plot would have put the most unbearable blackmail pressure on the Premier to act.

It would also have sent shockwaves through the entire British Armed Forces - putting the fear of God into every man and woman in uniform on or off duty.

The fact that the arrests were made in Birmingham could suggest that soldiers recovering from wounds in military hospitals there might have been targeted. - The Sun
If these 'kids' want to play a serious game, they they should pay a serious price if caught. I find it sickening that people could live in a country and be willing to kill those in service to their country. News is coming out that this was no small-time operation either:
A foiled plot to kidnap, torture and behead a British Muslim soldier was orchestrated by Al Qaeda, police sources have said.

Officers suspect the mastermind behind the appalling attempt to bring the horrors of Baghdad to the streets of Britain is a senior Al Qaeda terrorist with close links to Osama Bin Laden. - UK Daily Mail
Sadly, had they succeeded, the group most likely to suffer would have been other muslims in the UK. As it is, they have long abused the rights given to them as residents and citizens in the UK to plot against their host country. At some point, they will have enough. However, for the moment, the press will concentrate on the fear in the muslim community, not of terrorism, but of being arrested by the authorities next:
“There is a fear about who is next,” said Mohammed Naseem, the chairman of Birmingham’s Central Mosque, in a telephone interview. “People will need to know the facts, but there is a longstanding perception that this climate of terrorism is being maintained to further the political aims of the government.”

Indeed, Salma Yaqoob, a member of the Birmingham City Council representing the antiwar Respect Party, said: “There’s a shock and disbelief that these arrests are being made in such a high-profile manner. People are very concerned about the social backlash.” - NY Times
For a group so eager to enforce sharia on their own people, they sure are pretty damn ignorant on what goes on in their own neighborhoods. It is not the police that are targeting their neighborhoods, it is the activities that goes on in their neighborhoods that brings the police. Thanks to Good Allah, these terrorists have been made known to the authorities and are now praying to Allah from a jail cell.

US Turns Jihad into One-Way Journey - FFI - 22 June 06

Blair blackmail terror bid foiled - The Sun
Al Qaeda was behind plot to behead soldier - Daily Mail

Sea Launch Zenit-3SL Rocket Explodes on Liftoff

Sea Launch has been covered here on this Maritime Monday post in November. On 30 January, they were scheduled to make another launch. However, this time, things did not go as planned.

(Rockets do explode on occasion)

Looking at the video, I am going to guess that the launch platform, ODYSSEY, has suffered major damage, and may either be sinking or has already sunk. There is no mention of the condition of the launch platform. There is confirmation that "All personnel are safe and accounted for." That at least is a bit of good news for such a disastrous event.

Update: 1 February 07

Good news:

A preliminary assessment of the Odyssey Launch Platform indicates that, while it has sustained limited damage, the integrity and functionality of essential marine, communications and crew support systems remains intact. The vessel is operating on its own power and is currently manned by the full marine crew.

This team is performing a comprehensive assessment of all aspects of the vessel, including its structural integrity and sea-worthiness, in anticipation of identifying and planning the next steps. The team on the Sea Launch Commander is in excellent condition and is supporting these activities. The Commander incurred no damage during yesterday's launch attempt, as it was positioned four miles from the Launch Platform at the time of lift-off. - Yahoo News

Sea Launch - Homepage

Monday, January 29

Maritime Monday 44

Welcome to this week's edition of Maritime Monday.

This Week's Photos:

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Dec. 3, 2005)--A boarding team from Anti-Terrorism Force Protection (ATFP) Team from Coast Guard Station Mayport, Fla., climb aboard the merchant vessel Guadalajara 10-miles east of Jacksonville during a random security boarding. The ATFP Team is a 16 man team that conducts random and targeted vessels entering the port of Jacksonville. The team operates as part of Operation Noble Eagle a heightened state of alert protecting more than 361 ports and 95,000 miles of coastline, America's longest border. USCG photo Donnie Brzuska

One more:

NORTH ARABIAN GULF (March 23, 2003)--Ensign Brian K. Bartlett, 23, a boarding officer off the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell, homeported in Alameda, Ca., prepares to board the Elona, a tanker ship from Dubai. Coast Guard boarding teams are searching vessels in the Gulf region for weapons, terrorists and Iraqi personnel in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. USCG photo by PA1 Tom Sperduto

This Weeks Items:

Eagle Speak has the latest Office of Naval Intelligence "Worldwide Threat to Shipping" which includes a summary of upcoming anti-whaling activities.

The International Maritime Bureau expresses optimism over the as the number of pirate attacks has decreased for the third straight year. has how the shipwreck of the MSC NAPOLI, which was carrying a thousand tons of nickel, has affected global nickel prices.

FIN24 (South Africa) reports that over 80% of the cargo on the MSC NAPOLI was bound for South Africa. 130 of the containers contained parts for a Volkswagen factory there which now will have to cut back production since the parts will not be arriving 'just-in-time'.

France's Préfecture maritime de l'Atlantique has a series of photos of the MSC NAPOLI.

Sailors, Mariners & Warriors League has the grounding of the NIJORD in Latvia where it turns out that 5 of 9 members of the crew were intoxicated.

Helsingin Sanomat covers the "Big cost overruns for Vuosaari harbour transport infrastructure." Vuosaari is Helsinki City's new Port Terminal.

Divester has the "USS ARIZONA is Wasting Away"

Freaque Waves has the loss of the fishing vessel OCEAN CHALLENGER to a freak wave.

Mary Katharine Ham at Townhall has a photo of the tombstone of US Navy sailor Edward J. Caffrey who died during WWII in '1944'.

The photo prompted Sheepdog to investigate, learning that Caffrey died while serving on the merchant ship M/S SUNOIL, which was sunk by a U-Boat in 1943. (Read the post to learn why there is a discrepancy in the dates.)

Here is a summary of the tragic end of the vessel he served on:

The BBC has the collection of cargo lost from the MSC NAPOLI by passers-by/scavengers along with the requirements for reporting your find. (The police were actually on the beach passing out forms)

Marex Newsletter has the rejection of plans to put a LNG Terminal at Long Beach Harbor. The West Coast still has no LNG Terminal.

Greenpeace's Ocean Defenders has video taken by New Zealand's Air Force of Japan's whaling fleet operating in the Ross Sea off Antarctica.

Antarctica 2007 prepares for the arrival of the annual resupply ship at the US's McMurdo Station.

New Zealand's Environment Minister has decided that Japan's whaling vessels are not welcome in his country. He has also asked all sides to use restraint during this year's protests.

The Stupid Shall Be Punished has the discovery of the submarine USS PERCH, scuttled during WWII.

The Conservation Report notes Greenpeace's fears of overfishing due to liberalization of trade.

Lexacat's Guide to the Doom has the UK's illegal exports of garbage to China, disguised as recyclable waste.

Fairplay Daily News:

UK 'needs a port plan' - LONDON - 24 January – The UK should develop a national port plan or risk losing direct calls to rival ports on the continent, a government select committee says in a report released today. If this were to happen, goods to the UK would be delivered by feeder services adding “more costs, delays and uncertainty to the delivery of all sea-going goods to the UK,” said Christopher Snelling, from the Freight Transport Association. During the consultation process, which ended in September, the Department for Transport had highlighted the benefit of a market-led approach to a ports policy. But today’s report stressed that the “market is not an island, entire of itself”. The ports industry should be considered as part of a multi-model freight transport infrastructure. “Without this infrastructure, provided by the government, funded by the taxpayer, ports simply could not function 4. A spokesman for the Department for Transport said the report would be digested along with both the ports consultation review and Eddington report. - Fairplay Homepage

Haight's Maritime Items has:

USCG – draft MMC documents - The US Coast Guard has posted on the Internet draft copies of sample merchant mariner credentials (MMCs). The MMC-STCW would be for US mariners who may sail foreign or otherwise need evidence of their STCW qualifications (note the current draft of this document consists of 3 pages, but should be only 2 – the front and back of one piece of paper). The MMC-domestic would be for US mariners who don’t need evidence of their STCW qualifications. The MMC-continuity would be for US mariners who want evidence of their continuity of capability, but it is not valid for service. The MMC-passport style would be for US mariners desiring a document compatible with a standard passport. As noted in yesterday’s newsletter, the Coast Guard is proposing that the current merchant mariner documents (MMDs), licenses, and certificates of registry (COR) be replaced by MMCs and used in conjunction with the TWIC. (1/25/07).

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

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Friday, January 26

Walking Away From Your Problems

Americans are good at walking away from problems.

There is no shortage of examples of Americans who succeed in digging themselves out of holes against tough odds, but for every one who strives to meet his obligations, there is at least ten others who will not bother and instead will just walk away from most any problem.
  • Want some new gadget but can't afford it? No problem, just charge it.
  • Too much debt? No problem, just declare bankruptcy.
  • Accidentally get pregnant? No problem, just get an abortion.
  • Family problems? Don't even try to work it out. Just get a divorce.
  • Accidentally buy too much house? No problem, just let the bank foreclose.
  • Too much homework? Just drop some classes and stretch school out to six years.
People find it easy to walk away from problems mostly because they never bothered to take responsibility for their actions, their mistakes, and the resulting mess. It is always someone else's fault.

Now this behavior is creeping into the way that we as a country act and behave.

Most everyone (according to the polls) is against the war in Iraq, now. However, that was not so when the US went to war back in 2003. When we went to war, we were then liable to finish it. This is a tough one to walk away from. Changing your opinion does not change the fact that there are over 100,000 troops in Iraq.

Of course with a Presidential Election right around the corner, all these Congressmen with presidential aspirations are trying hard not to blatantly foster defeat in Iraq so as not to have to deal with 'cut and run' accusations while on the campaign trail.

This does not mean that they are not trying to hobble our chances even more by condemning the President's plans to send more troops and even calling to enact limits to the number of troops that can be fighting in Iraq. This is certainly a way to quit without having to say so, while at the same time making sure the President has a losing situation to deal with.

It's not enough that the US Military already has to honor rules of engagement fighting an enemy that leverages it's limited resources by breaking the very rules that we honor. All the while having the media publicizing every wrong move you make, while ignoring the crimes of those we are fighting against. The enemy has no cap on the number of terrorists that they will commit to their fight nor the amount of money that they can obtain to further their cause. Nor are they answerable to any Government or beholden to any international agreement, like the Geneva Convention for the treatment of prisoners. In fact, it is the breaking of these internationally accepted rules, such as the beheading of prisoners, that gets them the publicity they desperately seek.

One excuse from walking away from Iraq being thrown about is that the violence in Iraq is part of a Civil War. That is a load of bull. If that is so, then why are these very same people calling for dialog with Iran and Syria as one way to reduce the violence in Iraq. If it was a civil war then there would be nothing that the US or Iran could do to stop it. As we all know, it is Iran that is fueling the violence in Iraq and it has managed to produce the very result that they were seeking, infighting within the US. If anything, Lebanon is facing a civil war and there is no talk of abandoning that country. Instead, there are calls to give over a billion in aid. Why is the civil war in Lebanon different from the 'civil war' in Iraq?

This all reminds me of the opening of the John Wayne movie THE GREEN BERETS. A reporter asks about why the US should be involved in an 'internal' Vietnamese conflict. The Sergeant fielding the question then tosses a weapons and ammunition from a half-dozen Communist countries on the reporters desk to dispute the claim.

One problem that many Senators have is that they are on record voting for the war. Take this recent comment by Senator Hagel:
Yep. He said, "That's what we're going to do." But the more I look back on it, the more I think that the administration knew there was some real hard question whether he really had any WMD. In January of 2003, if you recall, the inspectors at the IAEA, who knew more about what Saddam had than anybody, said, "Give us two more months before you go to war, because we don't think there's anything in there." They were the only ones in Iraq. We hadn't been in there. We didn't know what the hell was in there. And the president wouldn't do it! So to answer your question--Do I regret that vote? Yes, I do regret that vote. - Huffington Post
In other words, the good Senator here was not doing his job back in 2003. Regret the vote all you want Senator, but you are responsible for our troops being in Iraq now. Call it a mistake if you want, but that just makes you all the more responsible for ensuring that what happens from this point is done right. Sure the President did not want to wait. But it was the Senate's vote that get him the authority to go ahead without waiting.

I wonder, what would Senator Hagel have done if the UN Weapons Inspectors would have finished their search and given Saddam a clean bill of health. Is he really insinuating that the UN was only months away from dropping sanctions on Iraq? I guess Saddam should not have fought the inspectors for years, then the inspection team just might have had those precious two months to finish their job. I guess Saddam's lying about his weapons programs also cost the inspectors some years. Bribing some of the Security Council Members also surely dragged out the sanctions and the inspections. I could go one, but why bother since nobody cares about whether Iraq was guilty, that would require taking some responsibility. However, for Hagel to suggest that the current situation could have been avoided if we had just waited two-more-months is just idiotic, even for a Senator.

Next we have Senator Clinton who claims that the Iraq War suffers from lack of Congressional Oversight:
Senator Clinton: Thank you Mr. Chairman and thank you very much general for your lifetime of service and for taking on this very difficult assignment. I want to begin by associating my remarks with those of Senator Collins.

We are in a dire situation, using your adjective, in part because the Congress was supine under the Republican majority, failing to conduct oversight and demanding accountability, and because the President and his team, particularly the former Secretary of Defense, refused to adapt to the changing circumstances on the ground.

If this hearing were being held three years ago, I would have a much higher degree of optimism. It has nothing to do with the loyalty, the warrior skills and the leadership of our men and women in uniform. It has everything to do with the years of lost opportunities and the failures of the Iraqis to step up and take responsibility for their own future.
A sensible person would think that the Democrats, now that they are in control, plan to solve the problem by doing the oversight they claim was lacking when the Republicans were in charge. Nope, instead of doing any oversight, they are going to instead demand withdrawal of troops because Iraq is a mess and we have 'lost opportunities'. That is just sad. The funny thing is that comments like that manage to piss of not only those who are in favor of finishing the job in Iraq, but also those who are pushing for an immediate withdrawal regardless of the cost. Not to mention our allies who are depending on us.

This is not about 20,000 more troops either. This about winning in Iraq. If we want to win, then we need to pay what it costs. And in addition to money, it will cost lives. The trick is to make sure that the money is spent smartly and that the number of lives lost is kept to a minimum. It will also cost friends around the world, but it is this type of thing that shows you who your friends are.

With all of the current discussion about Iraq, one important fact is being neglected, in that it is the terrorists who have decided to escalate their activity in Iraq, not us. So the only relevant question is whether to react to the escalation or to cede the ground to the enemy, who apparently wants Iraq more than our Congress does. One problem with walking away from problems, especially this one, is that it is sure to bring more trouble later on. Do we really want to give Iraq to Iran? Why does our Congress think that's a good idea and why would any of them do that and want to be President? Just what kind of problem do they think they are going to inherit if they win?

The piper will have to be paid at some point, and the price might be much higher if we walk away now.

Tuesday, January 23

Europe's Lingering Scar of Communism

Lets start with this quote:

In an extraordinary joint statement, more than 200 Socialist members of the European Parliament hailed the American election results (2006 Congressional Elections) as "the beginning of the end of a six-year nightmare for the world." - Breitbart

Fine. In their eyes, America under the Bush Administration is no utopia. But lets be serious, under what definition are they calling it a global nightmare? How does it compare to World War I? World War II? and the decades-long nightmare of the former Soviet Union? Or was life in the USSR some sort of intellectual 'enlightenment'? What about the horror of what is going on in Zimbabwe, in which the US is in no way responsible? What about the genocide going on in Sudan in which the US is in no way responsible? (The US is one of the only countries to actually declare the Darfur killing as Genocide.) Then we have the perennial disaster areas of Cuba and North Korea. None of these global crisis's come up on the Socialist radar scope. Only that the US is not willing to rollover and comply with their agenda.

The only problem with dismissing this type of comment outright is the mere fact of how powerful Socialism and Socialists are in Europe.

With 200 members the PES's "Socialist Group" is the second largest group in the European Parliament. - Wikipedia

This is one reason why the US traditionally has had problems with the Governments of Europe. It has little to do with Bush's actions in attacking Iraq. They hated him well before September 11 and had no intention of working with his administration. After all, the Socialist plan has problems if other plans do well, especially if the US economy does well.

It is also the reason why a recent resolution to set up "committees of 'independent experts' in Europe to investigate the crimes of Communism" was rejected:
more than half the assembly's members did not turn up at all. (A two-third's majority was required to pass) - Spectrezine
This was despite an investigation by the Council of Europe on the "Need for international condemnation of crimes of Communism.":

The need for international condemnation of crimes of communism is very important, not only to condemn crimes in the past, but also utterly important to continuously condemn the ongoing crimes in the communist countries, still at large.

So far, neither the Council of Europe nor any other international intergovernmental organization has undertaken the task of general evaluation of communist rules, serious discussion on the crimes committed in their name, and their public condemnation.

Indeed, however difficult it is to understand, there has been no serious, in-depth debate on the ideology which was, and is, at the root of widespread terror, massive human rights violations, death of many millions of individuals, and the plight of whole nations. Whereas another totalitarian regime of the XXth century, namely Nazism, has been investigated, internationally condemned and the perpetrators have been brought to trial, similar crimes committed in the name of communism have neither been investigated nor received any international condemnation.

The absence of international condemnation may be partly explained by the existence of countries whose rule is still based on communist ideology. The wish to maintain good relations with some of them may prevent certain politicians from dealing with this difficult subject.

Furthermore, many politicians still active today have supported, in one way or another, former communist regimes. For obvious reasons they would prefer not to deal with the question of responsibility. In many European countries there are communist parties which have not formally condemned the crimes of communism. Last but not least, different elements of communist ideology such as equality or social justice still seduce many politicians.

However, I am of the opinion, that there is an urgent need for public debate on the crimes of communism and their condemnation at international level. It should be done without any further delay for several reasons:

Firstly, for the sake of general perception, it should be clear that all crimes, including those committed in the name of ideology, praising the most respectable ideals like equality and justice, are condemned, and there is no exception to this principle. This is particularly important for young generations who have no personal experience of communist rule. The clear position of the international community on the past may be a reference for their future actions.

Secondly, as long as victims of communist regimes or their families are still alive, it is not too late to give them moral restitution for their suffering.

Last but not least, the communist regimes are still active in some countries of the world, and the crimes committed in the name of communist ideology continue to take place. - Goran Lindblad, Swedish Parliament

Go read the whole thing.

Since the Russians are members of the Council of Europe, they participated in the discussion. Of course they argued against any attempt to investigate the Soviet Union:
Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the State Duma's international affairs committee and head of Russia's delegation to PACE, led the fight against the report. Kosachev claimed that not all communist regimes were criminal or violent, though he did not clarify how he categorized the Soviet Union in that regard. "Not everything that's red is blood, some of it may be tomato juice, Mr. Lindblad" -- he lashed out at the rapporteur during the official debate (Interfax, January 25). Moreover, Kosachev charged that the report seeks to assign to the USSR a share of the responsibility for the Second World War and the division of Europe. Finally, he contended that Communist ideology could not be grouped together with Nazi ideology under the category of "totalitarian." Implicitly excusing the former, Kosachev insisted that the report must not place those two ideologies on the same footing. - Eurasia Daily

Now imagine if the vote concerned the US. Do you think that half of them would not show up. Take the following comments from Greek Council of Europe member Mikis Theodorakis:
In Greece public outcry against the resolution has been overwhelming, spanning the entire political spectrum from right to left. Internationally renowned composer Mikis Theodorakis said the Council of Europe has decided to “distort” history “by equating the victims with the villains. The criminals with the heroes. The conquerors with the liberators and the Nazis with the communists.”

The resolution opens the way for “the ghosts of Hitler and Himmler,” who “began their career by outlawing the Communist Parties and by locking up the Communists in death camps,” Theodorakis said.

Meanwhile the council has been silent on U.S. aggression, torture and other human rights violations, he noted. “I have but one word to address to those ‘gentlemen’: Shame!” - People's Weekly World
Yes, shame indeed! Talk about having no shame. 'Distort' history my ass.

Now the quote above from Russian Konstantin Kosachev does expose one of Moscow's fears in all of this. Being blamed for World War II and being put on the same level as Nazi Germany. More on that below.

So why the lack of enthusiasm to properly record the crimes of the Soviet Union and Communism in Europe? First, when you compare the two ideologies of Communism and Socialism, you will see that they are very much similar, and for good reason:
Communism is an ideology that seeks to establish a classless, stateless social organization, based upon common ownership of the means of production. It can be classified as a branch of the broader socialist movement - Wikipedia - Communism
The main difference in the two ideologies is to the level that one should go in order to attain the goals. So if you attack the ideals of one, then you are in fact attacking the ideals of the other. And if there is a serious investigation of the crimes of the Soviet Union, a number of current members of Socialist parties may be implicated in those crimes as well as some of the Communist and Socialist parties currently active in European Politics.

Now the Socialists are quick to distinguish themselves from Communists, but the two ideologies are closely related. In fact some Socialist political groups in Europe are the offspring of former Communist groups. Take Finland's Left Alliance (Vasemmistoliitto):
The party was founded as a result of a merger between the Finnish People's Democratic League (SKDL), the Finnish Women's Democratic League (SNDL), and the Communist Party of Finland (SKP). The founding meeting was held in April 1990 in Helsinki, following the publishing of the April Declaration, which emphasised the need for a party that would promote the ideals of the French Revolution - liberty, equality, and fraternity - in addition to peace and environmental values.

The party's short history has been characterised by internal disputes and bickering, as it was formed by people with very different views on society. There have been several large-scale defections from the Left Alliance to the Social Democratic Party and the newly formed Communist Party of Finland (Unity). In 2005, the party's former secretary and SAK's assistant head Matti Viialainen formed a society to promote a merger between the two largest Finnish left-wing political parties, the Left Alliance and the Social Democrats. This caused an outrage within the Left Alliance, and Viialainen was condemned of wanting to break up the party. - Wikipedia
Their actions as listed above certainly blurs the distinctions between Communism, Socialism and even the liberals.

While living in Finland I was warned a couple of times to be careful what I say when criticizing the Soviet Union as "Many people here supported the Soviet Union" and that I might hurt some feelings if I was too critical. It is even more amusing when these very same people who warn me about criticizing a confirmed failed ideology are so quick to criticize the US and President Bush, about anything.

This is an important issue because it appears that Socialists and ex-Communists are busy trying to erase the past, rewrite history, and even glorify Communism. Take the following:

Tampere city council to name park after communist Finnish civil war leader - 7.12.2004 at 16:03

The Tampere city council on Tuesday decided to name a park after Hugo Salmela, the Red Guard officer who led the defence of the communist stronghold in the 1918 civil war.

The initiative came from councillor Taavi Lintunen, a communist.

Hugo Salmela, an actor by trade, was in charge of the Red Guards as the government troops, led by then General C G E Mannerheim, approached the industrial city, built on a narrow isthmus between two lakes.

Mr Salmela was an anomaly among Red Guard commanders as he proved his military prowess in the battle. He died in an explosion before the city was sacked by Gen Mannerheim.

The city commission tasked with place names felt that the city should commemorate the Red leader in the name of equality [You have to be kidding me.] as the board in the summer decided to name another park in memory of Marshal Mannerheim.

Despite - or because of - the fact that Tampere was the key battleground of the civil war, the city does not want to cast its mind back to those events 86 years ago.

The sacking of Tampere destroyed the city and Gen Mannerheim's troops exacted terrible retribution, including executing thousands of prisoners.

Somewhat controversially, the city fathers in 1956 vehemently rejected the idea of erecting a statue of a White Guards general in the centre of Tampere. Marshal Mannerheim's statue to this day stands in the middle of a forest.

The wounds of the war are slow to heal in the city. Before Independence Day - 6 December - the statue was once again smeared with red paint and the word 'lahtari', butcher, painted on it. /STT/ - Virtual Finland 2004

Go here to see a picture of the Mannerheim Statue in the Forest. For those who are not familiar with Mannerheim, not only was he a Finnish General, he also served as President of Finland at the end of WWII. So just where does he rank in terms of 'Greatness':

Mannerheim was deservedly voted as the greatest Finn ever, thanks to saving 5 million people from communism - twice. That kind of achievement is hard to beat. - Purpose and Scope

The first time he saved Finland from Communism was during the Finnish Civil War that happened when the country declared independence from Russia. You can see why he might not be a hero to the Communists. While his statue is desecrated with being called a butcher, no such accusations were ever made by the Finnish Government against their former neighbor.

That story is nothing. Would you believe that Russia is even denying that they occupied Estonia, and I would think that they probably would deny that they occupied any nation at the end of World War II:
Estonia was occupied by the Nazis in World War II and then ruled by Moscow for five decades.

Russia denies the Soviet years amounted to an "occupation" of Estonia. - BBC
No, of course not. You see, the Soviets 'liberated' Estonia, the other Baltic States, Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe from the Nazis. OK, I will give them that. Unfortunately, they then forgot to leave, in essence, replacing the Nazis. This current disagreement between Estonia and Russia stems from Estonia's plans to both ban Communist symbols as well as remove a Soviet-era memorial.
Moscow described plans in Estonia to criminalize Soviet symbols like the hammer and sickle - effectively equating them with the Nazi swastika - as "blasphemous".

The president of Estonia has signed into law a bill allowing the removal of a controversial Soviet war memorial from the centre of the capital Tallinn.

The bronze statue of a Soviet soldier, erected in 1947, is regarded by many as a symbol of Soviet occupation. However, the large ethnic-Russian population in Estonia see it as a symbol of liberation from the Nazis.

The decision has angered Russia too. The Russian parliament is expected to adopt a statement denouncing the law. The soldier has become a symbol of the divisions in Estonian society, says the BBC's Baltic correspondent Laura Sheeter.

The Soviet Union annexed Estonia at the end of World War II, and it remained a Soviet republic until the collapse of the USSR nearly 50 years later.

'Lack of respect'

After clashes at the monument between Estonian nationalists and ethnic Russian activists last year, the government decided that it should be taken down, and moved to a less controversial location. [How about moving it to Moscow? ed.] To that end they proposed two bills - one which allows them to move monuments which glorify any occupying power, and the other, which was passed on Wednesday - which allows for the exhumation and reburial of soldiers' remains. It is thought that several soldiers are buried underneath the monument, and the government argues that it is impossible for their graves to receive the proper respect, when protesters gather and fight at the site. - pro2
The story fails to point out that the Large ethnic Russian population in Estonia was not 'liberated' from the Nazis. They were implanted by the Soviets after the war to ensure that Estonia would not revolt from Soviet rule. (While deporting, the locals, or worse.)

(The Soviets left behind when the Soviet Union fell apart were not kicked out of the Baltics and Estonia when they became independent again. They were given an opportunity to join their new home country. Many have so far declined to take the steps to do so. Then again, they have also not bothered to move back to mother Russia. At least they are not that stupid....)

Thankfully, the Baltic states are ignoring the critics, starting with Russia, and slowly trying to undue the damage done by both Nazi and Soviet occupation. There are even calls that Russia compensate the countries that they forcibly occupied at the end of World War II:
Vytautas Landsbergis is one of the most active politicians, who urge Russia to compensate Lithuania and other post-Soviet republics for damage done to them during their occupations. - Wikipedia, Vytautas Landsbergis
Unfortunately, in addition to Socialists, there is no shortage of active Communists in Europe to this day:

In January 2005, Professor Landsbergis, backed by another Member of the European Parliament from Hungary, urged a ban on the Soviet and Nazi symbols. He also sent a letter to Mr. Franco Frattini, the European Commissioner of Justice and Internal Affairs, where he suggested that in case the EU decides to ban Nazi symbols, Communist symbols should be banned too. The Commissioner became interested in this proposal and said: "I am ready to join this discussion. The Communist dictatorships no less than the Nazi ones are responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of people". A bit later, however, the Commissioner under pressure from Italian communists backed off his initial statement.

Professor Landsbergis' proposal caused quite a stir in Italy where Italian leftists, in the beginning of February 2005, strongly protested against such a move. The reformed Communist Party and Italian Communists were outraged at Landsbergis' proposal. The Professor's proposal became the center of the Italian media's attention. One of the most influential Italian dailies, La Repubblica, even published an interview with Professor Vytautas Landsbergis outlining his proposal. It was the first time when the daily allocated a full page for a politician from Lithuania.

Nevertheless, Landsbergis' proposal found few supporters among Italian politicians. However one who did, Alessandra Mussolini, a grand-daughter of former Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini commented: "To implement the proposal of the Members of the European Parliament regarding Communist symbols is our moral duty".

The proposal of Professor Landsbergis did not go by without a response from the Russian Parliament as well. The First Vicespeaker of the Russian State Duma called Professor's proposal "abnormal". Another Russian MP, a communist, commented by saying that "somebody in Europe became insolent and forgot who saved them from the fascists".

However, the debate came to an end when, in the beginning of February 2005, the European Commission rejected calls for a proposed Europe-wide ban on Nazi symbols to be extended to cover Communist Party symbols as well. EU Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini said it would not be appropriate to include the red star and the hammer and sickle in a draft EU law on racism.

Finally, at the end of February 2005, the European Union dropped proposals to ban Nazi symbols across its 25 member states. Luxembourg withdrew the plan when it became clear that members could not reach a consensus on which symbols to ban. There were also concerns that the proposed ban was a threat to freedom of expression. - Wikipedia

Since when has the hammer and sickle become a symbol of Communism? It was the symbol of the Soviet Union. Notice the outrage that the Soviet Union might be compared to Nazi Germany. This seems to be the biggest 'outrage' that Communists have about criticism of the Soviet Union. Forget the gulags, the forced relocations, the artificial food shortages, etc. How dare you compare the Soviet Union to Nazi Germany. After all, it was the Army of the Soviet Union that liberated Europe. Just look at the reactions of some European MPs:

The Belgian Communist party, the PCB, called the motion "a violent attack on history, present and future of communism". The Greek KKE called it "a declaration of war and persecution against all communist parties", and Germany's PDS said it was "neo McCarthyism".

Mikis Theodorakis, the Greek composer, said: "In the name of our dead comrades, of those who passed through the hands of the Gestapo and the death camps ... shame on those who want to turn victims into executioners, heroes into criminals and communists into Nazis."

French communists said the motion "banalises the Holocaust" and "ignores the communist role in fighting fascism".

André Guerin, a Lyon MP, told Le Figaro that the council's idea was to "definitively bury the values of communism" and "make believe they are outmoded and that the only alternative is capitalism". - Guardian

Well, that of course forgets these inconvenient facts:

Stalin's Intervention to ensure Hitler's Election in Germany:
During the critical 1932 German elections, he forbid the German Communists from collaborating with the Social Democrats. These parties together gained more votes than Hitler and could have prevented him from becoming Chancellor. - Wikipedia
Alliance with Hitler / Nazi Germany

The Soviet Union had Hitler's back at the start of World War II by agreeing to split Europe amongst themselves drawing a line right through Poland. (Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact)

It is common knowledge that Nazi Germany attacked Poland (on 1 September 1939) but not so common knowledge that the Soviet Union attacked Poland from the East. (On 17 September 1939)

Support of Nazi Germany

From the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in August, 1939 through almost the end of the first half of 1941, Stalin and the USSR fed and equipped Hitler and Germany as Germany invaded Western Europe and then attacked Great Britain by air. - Wikipedia

Partially Responsible for World War II

According to the Historian Richard Pipes, the Communist states share some responsibility for World War II. Both Hitler and Mussolini used the Soviet Union as a model for their own totalitarian states and Hitler privately expressed that Stalin was a "genius". In turn, Stalin expressed desire for another great war that would leave his enemies weakened and allow Soviet expansion. He allowed the testing and production of German weapons that were forbidden by the Versailles Treaty to occur on Soviet territory. - Wikipedia
Surely the Communists of today have simple explanations for all this. However, until Europe decides to face up to examining the crimes of the Soviet Union, we will not hear them. Unfortunately, nor will we be able to properly document the crimes that were committed.

In response to the quote by the Socialists at the top of this post, I leave you with this from the website of the yet unveiled Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation:
A Moral Blind Spot - It is a great moral failing for a free society to misunderstand the extent of Communism's atrocities. While the horrors of Nazism are well known, who knows that the Soviet Union murdered 20 million people? Who knows that China's dictators have slaughtered an estimated 60 million? Who knows that the Communist holocaust has exacted a death toll surpassing that of all of the wars of the 20th century combined?

Just as we must grasp Communism's brutality, we must understand the true cause of this era's most significant event: the fall of the Soviet Union. As Vaclav Havel said, "The fall of the Communist empire is an event on the same scale of historical importance as the fall of the Roman Empire." The West's triumph over the "evil empire" was no accident of history. It was the result of a calculated strategy by a grand alliance of political, military, religious, business and labor leaders. These leaders deserve credit for the victory over Communism many thought impossible. - VCMF
How sad to know that a Soviet Citizen during WWII was more likely to be killed by his own Government than the Nazis. That's how bad the Soviet Union was.

(Proposed Memorial to the Victims of Communism, Washington, DC)

The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation
Council of Europe Resolution 1481 - Wikipedia
Homepage - Socialist Group in the European Parliment

Russia and Estonia in Soviet spat - BBC
Estonia to remove Soviet memorial - BBC
Carnival of German-American Relations - Atlantic Review

Monday, January 22

Maritime Monday 43

Welcome to this week's edition of Maritime Monday.

This Weeks Photos:
So, you have a tanker full of fuel but no terminal to discharge it? That's when you call in the Offshore Petroleum Discharge System (OPDS).
Transport Tankers T-AOT

Description: SS Chesapeake is one of the two Military Sealift Command Prepositioning ships carrying petroleum products for the Defense Logistics Agency, that operates out of Guam and Saipan.

Features: SS Chesapeake and SS Petersburg are outfitted with offshore petroleum discharge systems (OPDS). The ship can deliver 257,000-barrel of JP-5 fuel from up to four miles offshore through its integrated OPDS.

Background: SS Chesapeake was built in 1964 and was acquired by MARAD in 1991. SS Petersburg was build in 1963 and was acquired by MARAD in 1994. These ships are maintained by the U.S. Maritime Administration and operated by IUM. - US NAVY Fact File

(The barge on deck is actually a Single Point Mooring)

(Dischaging the Anchor)
This photos as well as an in-dept write-up can be found at "Exercising Ship-to-Shore Logistics in Korea." (From the Winter 2001 edition of Asia-Pacific Defense Forum)

This Weeks Items:

Eagle Speak has US Navy Visit, Board, Search and Seizures (VBSS) training in the Chesapeake Bay, done in cooperation with the US Naval Academy.

Sailors, Mariners & Warriors League has "Canada's Navy Out of Money." All sorts of projects are currently at risk including maritime fishery patrols. Not at risk as the moment is Canada's sizable operations in Afghanistan which "is eating money like you wouldn't believe". (Now contrast Canada with France, which apparently cannot afford to help in Afghanistan or operate a Coast Guard of their own. Just what do they do with all their tax revenues?)

The BBC has reader-submitted pictures of the MSC NAPOLI as it was grounded to prevent the vessel from breaking apart and sinking. The Washington Post has a summary of the vessel casualty. has a photo of the vessel from better days. Eagle Speak has coverage of the amazing helicopter rescue of the ship's crew after they abandoned ship. As of this morning, Cargo Law also has 'real-time' coverage.

Nothing To Do With Arbroath has the story of a possum that survived a six week trip from Australia to the UK as a stowaway.

Shadow Warrior has the discovery of illegal air rifles and korans hidden in a shipment of furniture from Dubai to India.

Captain Peter at has an amazing photo of the SEGESTA JET after it was in a collision with the SUSAN BORCHARD which resulted in the death of four seafarers on the bridge. More pictures, both before and after, and the story about the accident at Sailors, Mariners & Warriors League.

MarEx Newsletter has the approval for the US Coast Guard to proceed with an Automatic (Vessel) Identification System.

Doc or Die has comments about the improved flow of information in shipping allowing you to find out that your 'just-in-time' shipment will be a little late, allowing you to adjust your operations.

(Soon to be canceled by owner AOL) Divester has Australia's Environment Minister's decision to ban Japanese whaling vessels from Australian Ports. (Divester apparently does not bring in enough advertising revenue for AOL to continue it. How many bloggers would kill to have Divester's level of ad revenue? Clearly AOL has no concept of what a blog is.)

Marine Link has news of a new maritime rescue agreement to improve rescue coordination off Southern Africa.

The Pilot Boat has photos of the C E C HUNTER missing its rudder.

Alaska Report has an editorial by Terry Haines on Alaska's Fishery Management.

Daily Pundit has a commentary on the falling price of oil and signs that it will drop further, such as full tankers with no place to discharge.

St. Petersburg Times covers questions about Fishery Management in Florida.

Secular Blasphemy has an example of why you should not take voice instructions from your GPS too literally. Once again, just spending one second of paying attention would have prevented this accident. Why not just hook the damn thing up as an autopilot if your not going to think. (That is now two incidents in Europe. What about the American drivers?)

Car Automotive has a summary about shipping your car internationally.

Haight's Maritime Items has:

Vessel sinking leads to Refuse Act prosecution - The US Attorney for the District of Massachusetts issued a press release stating that a local fisherman was convicted of violating the Refuse Act by intentionally sinking his fishing vessel off the coast of Gloucester. He was sentenced to one year of probation, a fine of $2,000, restitution of $1,928 to the Coast Guard for responding to the sinking, and a public apology. (1/16/07).

Fairplay Daily News has:

Report urges holistic view of fatigue - CARDIFF 16 January – Fatigue-inducing working conditions may be leading many young seafarers to leave the sea at an early stage; similarly, the relatively short careers of many seafarers may reflect a reduced ability to cope with fatigue later in their careers. These suggestions form part of a call to take a holistic view of fatigue, proposed in a new report from Cardiff University’s Centre for Occupational and Health Psychology. Despite many examples of work-related death, injury and ill-health among seafarers pointing to fatigue as a cause, the issue is not being properly tackled, the report states. “Manning levels need to be addressed in a realistic way that prevents economic advantage accruing to those who operate with bare minimums.” Levels should take into consideration the need for maintenance, recovery time, redundancy and the additional burden of paperwork. “It is essential that existing guidelines are enforced with mandatory provisions and that effective measures are taken to overcome the problem of false record-keeping … As long as seafarers feel compelled to falsify records of their hours of work, the problem will be hard to address,” the report concludes. The ITF-commissioned report, Adequate Manning and Seafarers’ Fatigue – the International Perspective, is to be presented to the IMO’s Standards of Training and Watchkeeping sub-committee annual meeting on 23 January. - Fairplay Homepage

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Please submit articles for inclusion in next week' edition using the following submit form at Blog Carnival. You are also welcome to email photos for inclusion in future editions as well as suggest area of coverage.

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Thursday, January 18

Condi Rice's Personal Price in the War in Iraq / War on Terrorism

Senator Barbara Boxer is one of 100 Senators who is supposed to be taking the country's best interest at hand, or at the least, the best interest of her state. This is supposed to include the War on Terrorism and the War on Iraq. But no, unfortunately, the Democrats, who are now in control of Congress (along with a 'select' group of republicans), are going to do what it takes to ensure that Iraq is a failure, right to the point of questioning the Bush Administration on their right to even make decisions concerning this war (other than the decision to withdraw.) Take the now famous Boxer comment to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice:
"Who pays the price?" Boxer (D-Calif.) asked Rice, who is unmarried and has no children. "I'm not going to pay a personal price. My kids are too old, and my grandchild is too young. You're not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, with immediate family. So who pays the price? The American military and their families." - Washington Post
I thought that one of the great aspects of the US Military is that it is controlled by a civilian, not self-controlled by the military. It does seem that Senator Boxer wishes to put additional requirements on who decides foreign policy, especially policy that might lead to the use of military force.

Secondly, I thought we had a volunteer military. Of course, some Democrats have suggested reinstating a draft, but damn, that still would not punish Secretary Rice who managed to outsmart the Democrats by not having any children.

Finally, Senator Boxer's comment completely disregards the Secretary of State's own personal 'stake' in all of this.

Take a look at this picture. Sure, you can recognize Ms. Rice. But who are these other fellows?
Secretary of State's Protective Detail - The Secretary of State's Protective Detail provides security for the Secretary of State seven days a week, 24 hours a day, everywhere she travels in the world. The detail works closely with other offices in the Department of State, and other federal, state, local, and foreign security and law enforcement organizations to ensure that the Secretary of State is able to carry out American foreign policy safely and securely. - US State Department

The people with Ms. Rice are charged with protecting her. They are protecting her because she is a terror target. She does not have to travel to Iraq, Israel, or wherever, to be in danger. She is a target wherever she goes. At least members of our military can get rotated out of Iraq and be removed from danger. This is not an option for Ms. Rice. So instead of putting (her) child at risk she is taking the risk herself. Then again, if she did have children, the mere fact of holding the position she has would put her family in danger. That is why the President's children have Secret Service protection.

Ms. Rice is also somewhat responsible for those who protect her, first and foremost as their boss. While they are protecting the country, and the position she holds, they are protecting her and in doing so, they are risking their own lives. This goes for all who work in the State Department, both at home and overseas. The entire Department received a reminder earlier this month when some terrorist fired a rocket propelled grenade into the US Embassy in Greece.

And concerning lives, Congress really has no perspective concerning the lives lost in Iraq. While each one is a tragedy, especially to their family, there have been relatively few US lives lost, taking and holding Iraq over the last three years. One common statistic points out that thousands die in car accidents every year. In fact, a US Navy sailor is more likely to die in a car accident back home than in Iraq.

Here are the facts based on statistics for a recent year presented by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA): 42,116 total fatalities involved 57,480 drivers, of which 7,400 were known to have had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over the legal limit. Thus, 12.87% (or 7,400) of the drivers involved in fatal crashes were legally intoxicated. Therefore, drunk drivers were associated with about 5,422 traffic fatalities. - Drunk Driving deaths

Where is Congress in this issue? More people were killed by drunk drivers in the US in one year than in three years in Iraq? More to the fact, Congress and those against the Iraq War seem to think that 3,000 lives would not have ended had we not invaded Iraq. This way of thinking completely dismisses the possibility that actions in Iraq and Afghanistan have actually saved lives. Too bad Congress is only interested in counting lives 'lost' and public opinion.

See the rest at Day by Day Cartoon.

As for Senator Boxer's children, maybe they are too old now to join the army but at some point they certainly were not. Were they too old for the first Gulf War? Were they too old for Somalia? How about Bosnia? So, did any of her children join any of the Services when they were of recruiting age? If not, then why should we believe that they would now, provided that they were not too old. Personally, I do not think they have the responsibility to do so, that is why we have a volunteer military. So they should not be forced to enlist, even if their parent is a member of Congress.


Monday, January 15

Maritime Monday 42

Welcome to this weeks edition of Maritime Monday.

This Week's Photo:
Here is a photo of what is left of the MS SERVER in Norway. (Link to story below.)

Photo found at the Norwegian Coastal Administration.

This Weeks Items:
The US Maritime Administration has a biography of Captain Hugh Mulzac, who was the first African-American Captain of an American ship with an integrated crew. He was given his ship in 1943, twenty years after obtaining his Masters License.

Eagle Speak has two cases of defective anchors. You can find the US Coast Guard Press Release here. (How much does it cost to air freight a ship anchor?)

Sailors, Mariners & Warriors League has coverage of the Cyprus-Flagged, Greek-Owned, MS SERVER which has split in two after running aground, in Norway. (Photo above.)

Sailors, Mariners & Warriors League also has the best coverage of the VINDO, which was adrift in the North Sea, passing between offshore oil platforms. This is the same vessel that was listed in Maritime Monday 26 when it was involved in a collision in the English Channel. (Talk about a string of bad luck.)

California conservative has Iran's Threat to block the Strait of Hormuz "if the West continues to threaten Iran’s economy over its nuclear program."

Navy Newsstand has a Boarding Officer Training Conference in the Northern Persian Gulf.

Marex Newsletter has news of a harbor pilot's laptop being tampered with by a foreign-flag vessel's captain. Also noted are two other maritime laptop incidents all involving the same unnamed foreign country.

Japan Probe has the Sea Shepherd Foundation's latest preparations to attack Japanese Whalers in the Antarctic. The story mentions that the vessels have lost their Belize Registration and are currently sailing under no flag other than their own. Sea Shepherd's website here.

The Guardian has word of what will be one of the largest class action lawsuits to be heard in the UK. It involves the PROBO KOALA Ivory Coast toxic dumping incident.

Bellona has Russia's denial of reports of a missile fuel leak from a Pacific-based submarine.

The BBC has coverage of the Nation-State of SEALAND off the UK being offered for sale. Engadget has word that a Swedish file-sharing website is dreaming of buying the island-nation in order to protect itself from copyright violation lawsuits.

Ocra Worldwide has the European Commission's lodging of two cases with the Court of Justice against Portugal for failure to respect EU legislation in the field of maritime safety.

Gateway Pundit has coverage of the Democrats drive to ban offshore oil drilling while the Chinese prepare to drill a mere 70 miles from Key West. (Dear Congress. Offshore oil means jobs. Both ashore and at sea. Many more than if drilling on dry ground.)

The Stupid Shall Be Punished has coverage of the USS NEWPORT NEWS submarine collision with the Japanese Flag tanker M/V MOGAMIGAWA. has Alaska's attorney general's office filing criminal charges against Wild Alaskan Seafood Co. LLC and Jeremy Oliver concerning conditions that resulted in 400 tons of Alaskan Salmon rotting.

The Monitor has another mishap for Canada's BC Ferries.

Little Green Footballs correctly predicts that the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) will enter the Miami 3 trucker drama. has CAIR's press conference including their consideration of filing a lawsuit. Funny how they have no problem communicating now. (Until Cair got involved, these three were anonymous to the rest of us. That apparently was not good enough for them so they had to go and have a press conference about it. So here are their names; the driver Al-Hadad, his brother, Hussain Al Hadad, and friend, Hassan El Sayed.)

(Do they look like victims to you?)

Debbie Schlussel (who has also termed them the 'Miami 3') has a great overview of their criminal backgrounds including felony convictions, asks why would they drive a container all the way to Miami from Michigan, and yes, notes that the driver does not have a commercial license. Surely, their lives appear to be full of 'misunderstandings'.

Speaking of criminals, Fairplay Daily News has:

Union to sue convicted officials - MIAMI – The new leadership of the American Maritime Officers union has agreed to sue the group’s former president and secretary-treasurer for misappropriated funds. The announcement was made late yesterday by the group’s new national president Thomas Bethel, who was appointed following the resignation of Michael McKay, who was convicted on Friday of racketeering. "The initial actions taken today by the national executive committee and national executive board will help AMO overcome the difficulties linked to the federal government’s prolonged investigation of AMO and the AMO Plans and the indictment, trial and conviction of Michael McKay and Robert McKay ... We take our fiduciary responsibilities seriously, and will do whatever is necessary under US law and regulation and the AMO National Constitution to protect AMO’s interests," Bethel said in a statement posted on the web site. Litigation will also be filed against his brother Robert, who lost in his bid for re-election as national secretary-treasurer last month and who was also convicted of racketeering. The brothers have been denied access to union offices. - Fairplay Homepage

Haight's Maritime Items has:

UK – master fined for ship grounding - The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) issued a press notice stating that the master of a small cargo vessel was fined £2,500 for not having an adequate lookout on the ship when it grounded at night in the Pentland Firth. The ship had a crew of seven. The chief mate fell asleep while on watch. The lone seaman on board was utilized for day work, rather than as a watchstander. Note: one wonders about the Safe Manning Certificate. (1/11/07). - Dennis Bryant (Electronic Letter Homepage)

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Sunday, January 14

DC Protesters: "Withdraw Now. Cut and Run Later"

A couple weeks ago I passed by some protesters by the Watergate Building in Washington, DC. The sign they had with them said:

"Withdraw Now. Cut and Run Later."

This, my friends, is the Democrat playbook from Vietnam. First we withdrew our troops, and then later on, Congress cutoff funding for the South Vietnamese Government. It was this final act that doomed the South to defeat. While the US was busy divesting itself of Vietnam, the Soviet Union was busy ensuring victory for their side:
The truth about Vietnam that revisionist historians conveniently forget is that the United States had not lost when we withdrew in 1973. In fact, we grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory two years later when Congress cut off the funding for South Vietnam that had allowed it to continue to fight on its own. Over the four years of Nixon's first term, I had cautiously engineered the withdrawal of the majority of our forces while building up South Vietnam's ability to defend itself. My colleague and friend Henry Kissinger, meanwhile, had negotiated a viable agreement between North and South Vietnam, which was signed in January 1973. It allowed for the United States to withdraw completely its few remaining troops and for the United States and the Soviet Union to continue funding their respective allies in the war at a specified level. Each superpower was permitted to pay for replacement arms and equipment. Documents released from North Vietnamese historical files in recent years have proved that the Soviets violated the treaty from the moment the ink was dry, continuing to send more than $1 billion a year to Hanoi.

The United States barely stuck to the allowed amount of military aid for two years, and that was a mere fraction of the Soviet contribution.Yet during those two years, South Vietnam held its own courageously and respectably against a better-bankrolled enemy. Peace talks continued between the North and the South until the day in 1975 when Congress cut off U.S. funding. The Communists walked out of the talks and never returned. Without U.S. funding, South Vietnam was quickly overrun. We saved a mere $297 million a year and in the process doomed South Vietnam, which had been ably fighting the war without our troops since 1973. - Gateway Pundit
Keep this all in mind in the coming months when Congress pushes to kill our operations in Iraq. Hear all the chatter about a 'civil war' in Iraq. That is the setup to cutting funding after they force the US to withdraw. (If it's a Civil War, why aren't they attacking the Government?)

Thursday, January 11

Being More Green by Being More Efficient! (Electricity Flow, 2005)

Take a look at the following diagram. It illustrates energy flow, from the flow of raw materials to generate electricity. The raw materials being coal natural gas, nuclear, and green renewable energy sources to where the electricity is used and what portion of the raw materials is wasted:

At the bottom, you can see the flows to Residential, Commercial, and Industrial. Notice how the three are dwarfed by that big arrow on the top right labeled ''Conversion Losses." What exactly is conversion losses? Take this explanation from the report:

Energy Consumption by Sector
Note. Electrical System Energy Losses. Electrical system energy losses are calculated as the difference between total primary consumption by the electric power sector—see Table 2.1f—and the total energy content of electricity retail sales—see Tables 8.9 and A6.

Most of these losses occur at steam-electric power plants (conventional and nuclear) in the conversion of heat energy into mechanical energy to turn electric generators. The loss is a thermodynamically necessary feature of the steam-electric cycle. Part of the energy input-to-output losses is a result of imputing fossil energy equivalent inputs for hydroelectric, solar, and wind energy sources, since there is no generally accepted practice for measuring those thermal conversion rates.

In addition to conversion losses, other losses include power plant use of electricity, transmission and distribution of electricity from power plants to end-use consumers (also called "line losses"), and unaccounted for electricity. Total losses are allocated to the end-use sectors in proportion to each sector's share of total electricity sales. Overall, approximately 67 percent of total energy input is lost in conversion; of electricity generated, approximately 5 percent is lost in plant use and 9 percent is lost in transmission and distribution. (2005 Annual Energy Review, Page 102)

The conversion losses are almost equal to all the coal and natural gas used to generate electricity. That is a huge amount of waste! Go ahead, open it up and take a good look at that energy flow diagram. Now there's your Global Warming problem.

So technically, we can switch to nuclear and renewable energy, provided we can get a grip on the conversion losses. That is not going to happen any time soon, but at the very least, any improvement in the efficiency of power generation and transmission will result in either less coal used, or an increase in the amount of electricity we can generate for the coal that has been consumed. That means that older less efficient, polluting plants can be retired with much more efficient, cleaner and smaller power plants. The current coal process itself is so inefficient that it is in our best interest that the process be improved. Think about it. Two of every three tons of coal are wasted. If we must use steam turbines to generate electricity, then why not use nuclear since conversion losses in nuclear power plants do not contribute to global warming.

There is lots of talk about 'alternative energy.' Looking at the graph above, I would think the nation could drastically reduce its demand for oil and coal if we can reduce the amount of energy that is lost in the conversion process. How hard is it to improve efficiency? It can be easier than you think. Part of the problem is that it really has not been addressed in the past because the fuel was so cheap that it was much cheaper to just burn more coal than to improve efficiency. This resulted in no real serious effort to improve the process.

Since the current system is SO INEFFICIENT, it is possible to find all sorts of small ways to improve it. Luckily, the research on how to do this has already been done:

Advanced coal-fired, power-generation technologies can achieve significant reductions in CO2 emissions while providing a reliable, efficient supply of electricity. Significant improvements in reducing CO2 and other emissions have been demonstrated via efficiency improvements and cofiring of coal and biomass.

Achieving the efficiency improvements and reducing emissions must be accomplished in a cost-effective manner. While current power plant efficiencies are about 33%, increasing efficiencies ultimately to 60% or more will reduce CO2 emissions by more than 50% per unit of electricity. Future development of CO2 sequestration could reduce carbon emissions to near-zero levels. - US Climate Change Technology Program (Links to PDF Document)

Part of improving the efficiency of power generation will require new power plants. Other improvements can be applied to the existing infrastructure, such as making use of the waste heat that normally goes right up the stack as exhaust gas. In many cases heat exchangers or 'waste heat' boilers can reclaim some of that energy.

Some factories, like paper mills, are installing the technology to take advantage of the waste heat generated in their production processes to generate electricity as a side product, which in turn is used to power the plant.

A new power plant is very expensive, so that the improved efficiency must cover the cost of building the plant. Luckily, research is being done to improve the efficiency of power generation. This program is called Vision 21, the Ultimate Power Plant Concept.

Vision 21 is a futuristic energy concept unlike any power plant that exists today.

Under development by the Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy, the concept envisions a virtually pollution-free energy plant. Unlike today's single purpose power plants that produce only electricity, a Vision 21 plant would produce multiple products - perhaps electricity in combination with liquid fuels and chemicals or hydrogen or industrial process heat. It also would not be restricted to a single fuel type; instead, it could process a wide variety of fuels such as coal, natural gas, biomass, petroleum coke (from oil refineries), and municipal waste. It would generate electricity at unprecedented efficiencies, and coupled with carbon sequestration technologies, it would emit little if any greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

- Coal-fueled: >60% HHV
- Gas-Fueled: >75%
- Combined Heat & Power: 75-80% thermal Emissions
- Air/Wastes: Zero
- CO2: Zero (with sequestration) - DOE

So, before we all turn our backs on using coal, we should give using coal a serious look, especially the ways to make using coal greener.

Of course efficiency at the time of power generation is one way of being greener. Another way is to reduce consumption. According to EcoGeek, about half of the energy we use in out homes is used for climate control. So better insulated houses will result in reduced electricity demand. That reduction is carried over times two as a reduction on the waste side of the flowchart above. People should understand that. While turning off one light bulb sounds so insignificant, what the person is doing is really saving three times the fuel they think they are saving because they do not take into account the inefficiency of generating and transporting electricity. So while your in Walmart (or wherever) consider picking up a couple of energy-efficient light bulbs.

We can think about Being Green or we can Be Greener!

High Effeciency Engines and Turbines - DOE (PDF)
Electricity Flow, 2005