Friday, June 29

'Matricula Consular' IDs not reliable enough for Notaries

Now that the US Senate has killed the illegal Alien Amnesty bill, here is an interesting fact from the National Notary Association, via their 'National Notary Now' email newsletter:

SITUATION: A signer comes to you requesting that you perform a jurat notarization. When you ask him for identification, he hands you a "matricula consular" card, an identification document issued by Mexican consulates to Mexican nationals outside their country. You have never seen the card before and can't seem to find anything about it in your state Notary statutes or handbook.

Is this an acceptable form of identification when identifying someone for a notarization?

ANSWER: In general, no. While the matricula consular contains a photo and address of the card bearer, it does not contain a physical description, one of the key criteria for establishing satisfactory evidence of a signer's identity. While some local government agencies and private businesses, such as banks, may accept the matricula consular as identification, it is generally not reliable enough for Notaries. There is particular concern about the quality of the screening process in issuing the cards.

Only one state currently has laws explicitly recognizing the matricula consular as satisfactory identification: Nevada. States that don't have statutory criteria for acceptable identification documents technically allow the matricula consular for notarizations by default, though a Notary always has the option in those states of not accepting it. States that do have a list of acceptable identifying documents (e.g., California, Florida) do not specify it in statute as an allowed identifier. - National Notary Association

This identity document is so questionable that you cannot use it to open a bank account in Mexico, use it as an ID in Mexico, or even use it to enter Mexico despite the fact that (in theory) it is only issued to Mexican Citizens.

So what type of identity document is a Mexican National supposed to present as a reliable form of identification?

A Passport issued by their own country and perhaps even a Mexican drivers license. Of course, a Greencard, or border crossing card issued by the US would also be acceptable, as would a US drivers license, provided they can manage to get to Maryland to obtain one. (Reminder: Half of all Mexican Nations in the US are here legally.)

I wonder what kinds of warnings US banks are ignoring by accepting these documents as forms of identification?


Rusty Beer in Latvia

Ever wonder what Soviet beer tasted like? Well then, go to Latvia, because they still have some leftover.

I drank a fair quantity of beer during my trip to Latvia and it was pretty good. Not special. Just good. All except for one draft beer handed to me about 0139 in the morning. The Swede I was at the bar with purchased it for me, as it was the 'Swedish thing to do'. That was great, until I tasted it. The taste was horrible, that is until the aftertaste which was much worse. It was kind of like getting a needle shot and all of a sudden having a metal taste in your mouth. But it was not quite metal. It was rust.

I tasted it a couple of times to be sure that I tasted what I thought I did. I asked my company how her beer was. "It sucks" was the reply. So I grabbed the two beers and brought them back to the bar.

"There is something wrong with this beer" I said to the bartender. "You don't like the beer?" was the reply. I tried to explain that I like Latvian beer, but that there was something wrong with the beer I just got. They refused to taste it. In fact, all of a sudden they could no longer understand English. Thankfully, there was another customer who was translating for me.

My ad-hock translator agreed to taste the beer. "Sorry to say, but that is how the beer is supposed to taste. In fact, this is my favorite beer." was his comment upon tasting it. I thanked him for his assistance by buying him a beer. I then got myself a can of Finnish Gin Long Drink. Which I enjoyed courtesy of my Swedish friend.

Finnish 'Lonkero'

Lonkero. Great Stuff.

I wonder how much lead was in that rusty beer?


Thursday, June 28

Being Less Poor: iPhone Madness

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

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

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

Good discipline in controlling spending can do a lot to stretch income, especially the more limited a person's income is.

Part of that discipline means avoiding products like the $600 iPhone. (The 4 gig model is only $500, but come on, your going to need the additional storage available in the 8 gig phone.) Sure, the iPhone is cool, but at the end of the day, it is still only a phone. It is not a camera or a computer.

Phones in general are cheap, as long as you are not too picky. You most likely already have one, if not more than that. So, do you really need to replace your current phone with a very expensive upgrade? Do you need the ability to read the internet wherever you are? The answer for most of you is no, especially if your driving to and from work. It is another story if you have a long commute by bus or train. Once at work, chances are your sitting in front of a computer all day long.

Still, commuting by public transport is not a reason to buy an iPhone. Just print out what you want to read on the commute home out at work. Sure, the iPhone might be useful for business users, but they probably already have a Blackberry. How much more connected do you want to get? If they need an iPhone for work, they will end up getting the thing for free.

Is it worth spending $600 to have the ability to find the nearest sushi restaurant? You probably already know where they are. Not only that, but other phones can provide that sort of service already, as can dialing information or even asking any of the people you are walking past on the street.

For most of us, the iPhone is not much more than a very expensive toy. A toy that (once you buy it) comes with a monthly bill. And if you do buy one, what are you going to do with your existing phone contract? Getting rid of your current phone agreement can be expensive as well.

Now you could use the $600 to pay off part of your credit card debt. You were planning to pay for the iPhone in cash right? Do you really want to add $600 to your credit card debt?


Update: 5 July
This phone will actually cost you around $3,000 over two years:

What happens after two years? (When your AT&T Contract expires)

There dear readers lays the moral dilemma. As it stands, unless your iPhone is connected to the AT&T network you can't use it for anything. Therefore when your contract expires, even if you hate your AT&T mobile service, you will have to keep paying a monthly phone connection fee if you want to keep your iPod. Otherwise you will have spent around $3000 including your upfront cash for a paperweight. To put it simply, this is nothing short of outrageous. - ITWire

Wow! This phone drains your cash almost as fast as a boat.

This post incorporates a good number of points already discussed in these following previous posts:

Being Less Poor - 27 October 2005
Being Less Poor: Update - 18 June 2006
Being Less Poor: Playstation 3 Flatscreen Christmas Edition - 26 November 2006
Message sent via iPhone. Get yours today.

Monday, June 25

Maritime Monday Canceled This Week (Still Traveling)

I had all sorts of intentions to publish Maritime Monday this week. However, reality got in the way. I am back in the US after spending a week in Riga, Latvia, which was great, except for their beer. (More on that in another post.) I am currently in NY but still need to drive back to Northern Virginia. That of course takes priority.

Apologies to all of you who expecting a distraction from whatever you should be doing at work. Feel free to click on the tag below to see the past editions. From there do check out the other maritime bloggers.

See you all next Monday.


Monday, June 18

Maritime Monday 64

Welcome to this weeks edition of Maritime Monday.

You can find Maritime Monday 14 here. (Published 19 June 2006)

This Weeks Photos:
I am off to Riga, Latvia today. Since Riga is a port city, here are a couple of photos from the Freeport of Riga:

(Container Terminal)

(Riga Shipyard)

(Timber Cargo)

More photos can be found on their website here.

This Weeks Items:
Today is Graduation Day at the United States Merchant Marine Academy. Senator and (open borders) Presidential Hopeful John McCain is the speaker. Marketwire has the Press Release and Maritime TV will have a live webcast of the entire ceremony, which will also be available for later viewing.

I was at a Kings Pointer wedding over the weekend and I heard from multiple people that all graduates will be/are being forced to take sailing jobs. Midshipmen upon entering the Academy agree to sail after graduation as part of their service commitment. In practice, there has not been enough sailing jobs for all graduates. (On my last ship in 94, I was one of four licensed Third Officers sailing as unlicensed ABs. The Third Officer had left Military Sealift Command because he was one of over 700 Third officers sailing in unlicensed positions.)

The issue at hand is that some of these graduates are going to be forced onto foreign-flag vessels. Those very foreign-flag LNG vessels that the Maritime Administration signed crewing agreements with. Since I have been told this third-hand and have been unable to verify this, and apparently those trying to have yet to get a clear response from the Maritime Administration. It would be appreciated if a reader in-the-know could clarify in the comments section.

If true, this sounds like somewhat of a raw deal to graduating midshipmen not interesting in sailing foreign flag. (Keep in mind that it is the country whose flag flies on the stern whose laws apply on the vessel, not the US.) There is also the significant issue of stopping the flow of new graduates into shoreside jobs. That is unfair to the firms offering internships and unfair to the graduates themselves who, when they do go ashore, will end up working under graduates from the other state maritime schools.

gCaptain has this post "1/4 of LNG Crews must be U.S. Mariners" covering the Massachusetts Maritime Academy graduation ceremony where Maritime Administrator Sean Connaughton was the graduation speaker.

Senator McCain's website is here.

The US Merchant Marine Academy Website is here.


Tims Times is blogging from a new home ( and posts about encountering other mariners during a training course he attended while on vacation, and the sad fate of one who he met.

Sailors, Mariners & Warriors League has coverage of the deadly fire on the Philippine ferry MV CATHLYYN.

The International Herald Tribune has "Bottlenecks worsen at European seaports" which includes this little nugget of information:
Felixstowe and Southampton in Britain, Rotterdam and Hamburg, among the biggest ports in Europe, have all had to turn away container ships this year because of a lack of docking space, industry officials said.

Barge operators are facing delays in Rotterdam and Antwerp, Belgium, with the waiting time reaching more than two days in the Netherlands last week. Trucks that carry containers inland wait for hours in Rotterdam. - IHT
Cargo Law has photos and a summary of the '2007 Nightmare Cargo Prize Contender' M/V PASHA BULKER grounding in Australia.

I am Facing Foreclosure (the world's most hated blogger) manages to prove once again why he is so hated by scamming his way to Australia where he finds the PASHA BULKER fast aground.

Vessel Assist & Rambling Maritime Information has yet another yacht ship lift gone bad. (MV RICKMERS DALIAN?) Go and see the dramatic pictures.

Consul-at-Arms has the capsize of a boat carrying Haitian migrants, resulting in death.

Life at Sea has a summary of the tradition of Equator crossing ceremonies.

Freaque Waves has "Wave of the Day!"

CDR Salamander has the death of the Austrian Navy after 600 years.

The Pilot Boat has photos of the UK-Flag LPG carrier SUFFOLK as it heads to drydock.

The Wall Street Journal has an editorial on the Law of the Sea Treaty titled "Lost at Sea"

National Review's The Corner also trashes the Law of the Sea Treaty asking "Do We Really Want to Create Another Mini-U.N.?"

The Chicago Tribune has Russia's attempts to seize oil rights up in the Arctic before the ice melts to allow access.

San Francisco Business Times has American President Lines upcoming test of running a container ship, the APL CHINA, on shore power in it's attempt to reduce ship emissions.

Helsingin Sanomat has Russia's plans to use 150,ooo tonne tankers possible for exporting oil from St. Petersburg through the Gulf of Finland.

All has the news of South Africa maritime training centers in South Africa offering training to Angolans.

Macsmind has "Now that’s a fish!"

Maritime Compass has word of a job opening at the Sea Education Center in Woods Hole.

It is one thing for a blog like Hengineer stops posting for an extended period of time, but you have to wonder then a site like Shipping Times posts nothing in almost two weeks.

Haight's Maritime Items has:
IMO – fifth anniversary of Atlas of the Oceans - The IMO issued a news release stating that June marks the fifth anniversary of the UN Atlas of the Oceans, providing authoritative information on topics such as maritime transport, fisheries biology, ocean law, and undersea prospecting. (6/7/07). - Dennis Bryant Holland & Knight homepage (Used with Permission)
Homepage: United Nations Atlas of the Oceans

Fairplay Daily News has:
Cathlyn D reveals unsafe practice - MANILA 13 June – The inquiry into the fire on the Philippines domestic ferry Cathlyn D, and the ship's subsequent sinking, has been hindered by the usual problems of overcrowding and unlisted passengers. An initial investigation showed that there were unauthorised or unlisted passengers onboard the vessel, and several complaints about availability of life-saving appliances. Philiipine Coast Guard officials said there were at least 20 passengers on the ship no on the manifest, and several others had been "smuggled" on without tickets. These violations are issues that the Special Board of Marine Inquiry will focus on when the board convenes today. PCG commandant Damian Carlos said that Cathlyn’s authorised passengers and crew totalled 267 but a running tally of those rescued and killed (five so far) now stands at 287. He said this would be a violation of the law requiring ship captain to attest that a vessel is seaworthy and not overloaded before it leaves port. The fire, which razed the ferry while in the waters of Paluan, Occidental Mindoro, is said to have began at the vessel cargo hold number 2 where combustible boxes made of Styrofoam are being kept. Vessels are required to have lifejackets and living quarters for all passengers and sufficient safety and firefighting equipment, Carlos said - Fairplay Homepage (Used with Permission)

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.

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

Previous Editions:
Here or click on the label below 'MaritimeMonday'.


Wednesday, June 13

Empire State Building Pigeons

Here are some photos of pigeons hanging out at the top of the Empire State Building.

Somehow they made it all the way up there. And you thought that pigeons were lazy.

Photos taken during a visit in August, 2003.

Tuesday, June 12

Dedication of Victims of Communism Memorial - 12 June 2007

On Tuesday, 12 June, President Bush will dedicate a memorial to the victims of communism; which ranks as one of the greatest crimes against humanity.
At least 100 million people died at the hands of communist regimes in the 20th century. Two-thirds of them — 65 million people — lived and died in China. They were victims of forced migrations, prisons, famine, and other government-instigated catastrophes.

The Soviet Union killed 20 million people, from the Bolshevik revolution in 1917 to the Stalin purge trials of the 1930s to the ensuing decades until its collapse in 1991.

Other communist dictatorships around the world, such as North Korea, Cambodia, Cuba, and Vietnam, accounted for millions of more deaths. "Communism" was too often a 20th-century euphemism for despots who remained in power by intimidating, crippling, and killing their own people.

For the 80 years between 1920 and 2000, 100 million deaths are the equivalent of more than 3,400 persons a day. And billions more suffered. - NY Sun

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

The Victims of Communism Memorial will be dedicated on Tuesday morning, June 12, 2007, in Washington, D.C. Rep. Tom Lantos, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, will give the keynote address while Rep. Dana Rohrabacher will deliver remarks. President George W. Bush has also been invited to speak. A crowd of 1,000 including Congressional leaders, members of the diplomatic corps, ethnic leaders, foreign dignitaries, and Memorial supporters, is expected to attend the historic event.

The dedication will take place at the Memorial site at the intersection of Massachusetts Ave., N.W., New Jersey Ave., N.W., and G St., N.W., two blocks from Union Station and within view of the U.S. Capitol. A reception will follow the ceremony. - Victims of Communism Memorial

Cry 'Gitmo' all you want. Really oppressive regimes appreciate your actions that keep their crimes off the front pages.
Update: 13 June 07
More coverage, commentary and photos by Mary Katherine Ham at Townhall.

Update: 12 June 07
From the White House:

Here is President Bush's Dedication Speech:
President Bush Attends Dedication of Victims of Communism Memorial
Washington, D.C.

10:35 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all for coming. Please be seated. Dr. Edwards, thanks for your kind words. Congressman Lantos -- no better friend to freedom, by the way; Congressman Rohrabacher, the same. Members of the Czech and Hungarian parliaments; ambassadors; distinguished guests; and more importantly, the survivors of Communist oppression, I'm honored to join you on this historic day. (Applause.)

President George W. Bush addresses his remarks Tuesday, June 12, 2007, at the dedication ceremony for the Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington, D.C. President Bush, in recalling the lessons of the Cold War said, “ that freedom is precious and cannot be taken for granted; that evil is real and must be confronted.” White House photo by Joyce Boghosian And here in the company of men and women who resisted evil and helped bring down an empire, I proudly accept the Victims of Communism Memorial on behalf of the American people. (Applause.)

The 20th century will be remembered as the deadliest century in human history. And the record of this brutal era is commemorated in memorials across this city. Yet, until now, our Nation's Capital had no monument to the victims of imperial Communism, an ideology that took the lives of an estimated 100 million innocent men, women and children. So it's fitting that we gather to remember those who perished at Communism's hands, and dedicate this memorial that will enshrine their suffering and sacrifice in the conscience of the world.

Building this memorial took more than a decade of effort, and its presence in our capital is a testament to the passion and determination of two distinguished Americans: Lev Dobriansky, whose daughter Paula is here -- (applause) -- give your dad our best. And Dr. Lee Edwards. (Applause.) They faced setbacks and challenges along the way, yet they never gave up, because in their hearts, they heard the voices of the fallen crying out: "Remember us."

These voices cry out to all, and they're legion. The sheer numbers of those killed in Communism's name are staggering, so large that a precise count is impossible. According to the best scholarly estimate, Communism took the lives of tens of millions of people in China and the Soviet Union, and millions more in North Korea, Cambodia, Africa, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Eastern Europe, and other parts of the globe.

Behind these numbers are human stories of individuals with families and dreams whose lives were cut short by men in pursuit of totalitarian power. Some of Communism's victims are well-known. They include a Swedish diplomat named Raoul Wallenberg, who saved 100,000 Jews from the Nazis, only to be arrested on Stalin's orders and sent to Moscow's Lubyanka Prison, where he disappeared without a trace. They include a Polish priest named Father Popieluszko, who made his Warsaw church a sanctuary for the Solidarity underground, and was kidnaped, and beaten, and drowned in the Vitsula by the secret police.

The sacrifices of these individuals haunt history -- and behind them are millions more who were killed in anonymity by Communism's brutal hand. They include innocent Ukrainians starved to death in Stalin's Great Famine; or Russians killed in Stalin's purges; Lithuanians and Latvians and Estonians loaded onto cattle cars and deported to Arctic death camps of Soviet Communism. They include Chinese killed in the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution; Cambodians slain in Pol Pot's Killing Fields; East Germans shot attempting to scale the Berlin Wall in order to make it to freedom; Poles massacred in the Katyn Forest; and Ethiopians slaughtered in the "Red Terror"; Miskito Indians murdered by Nicaragua's Sandinista dictatorship; and Cuban balseros who drowned escaping tyranny. We'll never know the names of all who perished, but at this sacred place, Communism's unknown victims will be consecrated to history and remembered forever.

President George W. Bush addresses his remarks Tuesday, June 12, 2007, at the dedication ceremony for the Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington, D.C. President Bush, speaking on the anniversary of President Ronald Reagan’s Berlin Wall speech, said “ It’s appropriate that on the anniversary of that speech, that we dedicate a monument that reflects our confidence in freedom’s power.” White House photo by Joyce Boghosian We dedicate this memorial because we have an obligation to those who died, to acknowledge their lives and honor their memory. The Czech writer Milan Kundera once described the struggle against Communism as "the struggle of memory against forgetting." Communist regimes did more than take their victims' lives; they sought to steal their humanity and erase their memory. With this memorial, we restore their humanity and we reclaim their memory. With this memorial, we say of Communism's innocent and anonymous victims, these men and women lived and they shall not be forgotten. (Applause.)

We dedicate this memorial because we have an obligation to future generations to record the crimes of the 20th century and ensure they're never repeated. In this hallowed place we recall the great lessons of the Cold War: that freedom is precious and cannot be taken for granted; that evil is real and must be confronted; and that given the chance, men commanded by harsh and hateful ideologies will commit unspeakable crimes and take the lives of millions.

It's important that we recall these lessons because the evil and hatred that inspired the death of tens of millions of people in the 20th century is still at work in the world. We saw its face on September the 11th, 2001. Like the Communists, the terrorists and radicals who attacked our nation are followers of a murderous ideology that despises freedom, crushes all dissent, has expansionist ambitions and pursues totalitarian aims. Like the Communists, our new enemies believe the innocent can be murdered to serve a radical vision. Like the Communists, our new enemies are dismissive of free peoples, claiming that those of us who live in liberty are weak and lack the resolve to defend our free way of life. And like the Communists, the followers of violent Islamic radicalism are doomed to fail. (Applause.) By remaining steadfast in freedom's cause, we will ensure that a future American President does not have to stand in a place like this and dedicate a memorial to the millions killed by the radicals and extremists of the 21st century.

We can have confidence in the power of freedom because we've seen freedom overcome tyranny and terror before. Dr. Edwards said President Reagan went to Berlin. He was clear in his statement. He said, "tear down the wall," and two years later the wall fell. And millions across Central and Eastern Europe were liberated from unspeakable oppression. It's appropriate that on the anniversary of that speech, that we dedicate a monument that reflects our confidence in freedom's power.

The men and women who designed this memorial could have chosen an image of repression for this space, a replica of the wall that once divided Berlin, or the frozen barracks of the Gulag, or a killing field littered with skulls. Instead, they chose an image of hope -- a woman holding a lamp of liberty. She reminds us of the victims of Communism, and also of the power that overcame Communism.

Like our Statue of Liberty, she reminds us that the flame for freedom burns in every human heart, and that it is a light that cannot be extinguished by the brutality of terrorists or tyrants. And she reminds us that when an ideology kills tens of millions of people, and still ends up being vanquished, it is contending with a power greater than death. (Applause.) She reminds us that freedom is the gift of our Creator, freedom is the birthright of all humanity, and in the end, freedom will prevail. (Applause.)

I thank each of you who made this memorial possible for your service in freedom's cause. I thank you for your devotion to the memory of those who lost their lives to Communist terror. May the victims of Communism rest in peace. May those who continue to suffer under Communism find their freedom. And may the God who gave us liberty bless this great memorial and all who come to visit her.

God bless. - White House
Video of the Dedication here.


*** More on Soviet Communism ***
Russian Actions against Estonia a Reminder that the Crimes of Communism Still Need to be Investigated - 7 May

Europe's Lingering Scar of Communism - 23 January

Remembering the Soviet Union v.1 - 19 Sept 2006

Monday, June 11

Maritime Monday 63

Welcome to this weeks edition of Maritime Monday.

You can find Maritime Monday 13 here. (Published 12 June 2006)

This Weeks Photos:

Pasha Hawaii Transport Lines is a joint venture between The Pasha Group, a California-based automobile handling and logistics company, and Strong Vessel Operators LLC (SVO), a Connecticut-based ship owner and operator. The Pasha Group has been involved in cargo handling/logistics and terminal operations for nearly 60 years, with current port facilities at the ports of San Diego and Los Angeles, California, and Baltimore, Maryland. - Homepage

The company currently has one ship, the MV JEAN ANNE.

(Pasha Hawaii Transport Lines US-Flag Vessel JEAN ANNE)

(The Stern Ramp)

(Painting illustrates the vessels adjustable cargo decks)

(Not just for cars)

('Oversize' cargo)

Here is a time-lapse presentation of the vessel's launch in 2004 at the VT Halter Marine Shipyard in Pascagoula, MS in 2004 shot by Maritime New Media.

The Company's Photo Gallery is located here.

This Weeks Items:

Eagle Speak has the "2007 Pirate Attack Map".

Also be sure to check out his "Sunday Ship History: Troop Transports WWI".

The Wall Street Journal has an update on the Finnish Viking Line's attempt to reflag one of it's vessels from the high-cost Finnish Flag to the low-cost Estonian Flag. (The story mentions that the vessel was reflagged, but I think that is not the case.) At the moment, things are in favor of the unions and their goal to protect Finnish-Flag shipping jobs. However, that is truly short-sighted as no shipping company in their right mind will flag another vessel in Finland unless they have no other option. The Estonian Flag is bound to win in the long run, as the money will flow to the lower cost option with the older Finnish tonnage being retired instead of replaced. (The Finland-Estonia traffic exists simply because everything is cheaper in Estonia.)

The International Herald Tribune has France's arrest of the Lithuanian-Flag Le VYTAUTAS at sea for suspected dumping of oil.

Shipping Times (UK) has "Transportation congestion will harm world economy", a warning from the CEO of American President Lines.

CDR Salamander covers the Somali hijacking of the DANICA WHITE throwing harsh criticism at the US Navy for letting the ship escape into port. (Among other things) Many other bloggers covered this event including Eagle Speak and myself, who apparently misdirected my anger at the French. Helsingin Sanomat has confirmation today that the men quietly slipped back into the United Arab Emerites.

CDR Salamander also has for his Fullbore Friday "USS Arikara (ATF-98) at D-day - the corpsman of the landing beaches."

Gates of Vienna has multiple postings concerning Somalia's piracy problem including "Q-Ships for the Somali Coast?" and "The Territorial Waters of a Failed State"

Professor Bainbridge has "Pirates and Governance"

Last week's edition included:

Pajamas Media has yet another example of Europe's treatment of migrants found in distress at sea in "Europe's Shame" where the migrants were left clinging to tuna nets for days, because nobody wanted them. - Maritime Monday 62

"Nobody" in that case was Malta and Libya.

This week Reuters has Malta's message to the EU that it will not become a dumping ground for illegal migrants rescued in the Mediterranean. (Mauritania and Spain have already promised not to assist migrants at sea again.) The Times of Malta has "The fate of 50 illegal immigrants was hanging in the balance last night, a day and a half after Libya and an Iranian cargo ship failed to go to their aid despite requests from Malta."

MarEx Newsletter has "UNHCR Asks Mediterranean Countries to Make Migrant Rescue Operations Uniform" (Yeah. Good luck with that.)

The Stupid Shall be Punished has the potential scandal of a Taiwanese Admiral, Admiral Shen, who is charged with blowing off a visit to the submarine USS SANTA FE during a fleet visit so that he could go to a strip-tease show.

gCaptain has must-see video of a rogue wave, as caught on the Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch. The show's host, Mike Rowe, has mentioned that this is probably the most requested scene from the entire series.

The BBC has "Fishing 'destabilises Black Sea'" which does a great job explaining how other species thrive when their predaters are removed from the ecosystem. The end result being nothing left but jellyfish.

The Pilot Boat has what appears to be questionable personnel transfers from supply boats in the Gulf of Mexico.

National Geographic has as it's 8 June Photo of the Day "Overcast skies portend a rough day for boats on Iceland’s Lake Myvatn."

The BBC also has Spain's sea war against Odyssey Marine Exploration as part of their claim that the company's discovery of $500 million in sunken treasure belongs to the Spanish Government. (Now if they only applied 1/10th the energy to save migrants off their coast)

Ocra Marine Services Limited has the European Commission's Green Paper on better ship dismantling for the environment.

Never Sea Land has the replica HMS ROSE/HMS SURPRISE in "the largest travel lift in the US."

Maritime Compass notes that the Battleship USS NEW JERSEY has a job opening for a Director of Education.

The Log has the deadline facing those wishing to salvage the SS CATALINA from it's half submerged position in the Port of Ensenada.

Danger Room has the story of the attack on the Argentine submarine SANTA FE during the Falklands War.

In somewhat Maritime-history related news, the Telegraph, UK has "Barometer makers lose battle over mercury".

Finally, people often ask why sailors go to sea. Itching for Eestimaa (Estonia) provides a good incentive with his post "Highway to Hell".

Haight's Maritime Items has:

National Oceans Month, 2007 - The White House released a Presidential Proclamation designating June as National Oceans Month. Among other things, the Proclamation discusses US efforts to protect the maritime environment while preserving the navigational freedoms essential to the security and prosperity of every nation. (5/31/07). - Dennis Bryant Holland & Knight homepage (Used with Permission)

Fairplay Daily News has:

Galileo hindered by Euro-squabbles - BRUSSELS 04 June – The French newspaper Le Monde reported on Saterday that Franco-German rivalry is behind disagreements in Brussels over how to proceed with the funding for the Galileo programme. EU transport ministers are due to meet later this week to agree a strategy for finding €2.4Bn ($3.2Bn) in extra public funds to keep the Galileo project afloat. However, according to Le Monde, Germany is the most reluctant of all countries for the money to be found from the EU budget – the option favoured by the Commission and most other member states, including France. A source said: "distrust between Berlin and Paris" lies behind much of the discord. Germany is concerned it will lose out from the funding review: three of the main contractors involved in Galileo, French Thales and Alcatel and their Italian ally Finmeccanica, are trying to force a review of the distribution of tasks negotiated with their biggest rival, EADS, which Berlin is resisting, demanding respect for the agreements made when the project was first launched. - Fairplay Homepage (Used with Permission)

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.

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

Previous Editions:
Here or click on the label below 'MaritimeMonday'.

Sunday, June 10

Russia's Seriously Disturbing Ticking Nuclear Time Bomb

While Russia has been very concerned about what has been going on outside it's borders (Most likely because that is where they hide their money) they have been completely ignoring a huge number of problems within their own country.

One of them is about to turn into a global catastrophe. It is the issue of nuclear waste. In this case nuclear waste from Soviet Submarine reactors:
Andreyeva Bay, also known as Installation 928-III, is the largest storage facility in the Northern Fleet for radioactive waste, particularly spent nuclear fuel. Although the storage facility was built in the 1960s, is in need of modernization, and is inaccessible by rail, it remains operational.

Reportedly, 21,000 spent fuel rods (equivalent to about 90 nuclear reactors) are stored in three concrete containers, which have been filled to capacity since early 1990. As a result of the termination of spent fuel transportation to Mayak in 1997, new deliveries of containers of spent nuclear fuel are stored at Andreyeva Bay out in the open and unprotected. TK-11 and TK-18 containers, storing 35 spent fuel rods each, are located on the grounds of the facility and may potentially develop cracks and leak radioactivity. Thirty-two such containers, which have been stored in the open, are leaking radioactivity.

During the summer of 1998, the Norwegian government spent about $800,000 on a project to direct a brook into an underground channel so that it would not run near underground pools and containers storing radioactive materials. Since 2002, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom have initiated assistance projects for Andreyeva Bay. -
Well, that does not sound good. It gets worse:
The vast amount of radioactive waste that is the legacy of Russia's nuclear-powered submarines has been known to be a looming environmental disaster - now it can be far worse.

Research now indicates that the enormous tanks holding discarded submarine fuel rods in the Andreeva Bay may explode at any time, creating a nuclear nightmare for Northern Europe.

Norway and other Western authorities have argued for years that the stockpile of highly radioactive nuclear waste on the Kola peninsula poses an environmental hazard to the local population and for Norway. - Aftenposten
The problem here has been that they have been arguing with Russia who really does not give a damn. That's why this waste is dumped in the far corner of Russia.

This radioactive waste is a growing threat because salt water has seeped in and is breaking down the waste, in effect concentrating some of it.
Anatomy of a chain reaction
As a consequence of the concentration of salt in the water (some 1500 milligrams per litre) and chloride (some 400 milligrams per litre) holding the spent fuel elements at Andreyeva Bay, the fuel itself is degrading into small granules and particles.

According to the scientists who wrote the report, a chain reaction will occur when the concentration of fuel particles reaches 5 to 10 percent.

The shedding of fuel particles in stationary conditions occurs slowly. However when fuel casings are unloaded, the shedding can drastically increase. The time it take for a mixture of particles to reach 5 to 10 percent the total volume of fuel waste held in a container is not able to be calculated, meaning it could happen very slowly or very quickly – a literal game of Russian Roulette. - Bellona
That last paragraph is disturbing in itself as it means that the very act of cleaning up the site might be the trigger causing the accident. How is that for a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation.

One would expect Europe to be up in arms over this mess in Russia. However, they are too busy dumping their own nuclear waste there.
It is known that since 1996, from 130 to 290 tons of depleted uranium hexafluoride has been shipped annually to АЭХК for enrichment under contracts with the Dutch/German/British company Urenco and the French company Eurodif SA.

Ecologists assert that “enrichment of uranium tails” is just a covert method for bringing nuclear waste into Russia: after enrichment, only 10% of the nuclear material is returned to Europe, while 90% remains essentially stored for free in Russia. - Robert Amsterdam
One could say that Russia's acceptance of their nuclear material is some sort of bribe against Europe pushing them to resolve this issue. This is not to say that the West is not trying. Millions is being allocated by Western Countries and the United States (Which paid for the decommissioning of the KURSK submarine) for the purpose of securing and cleaning up Russia's Soviet nuclear mess. However, the Russian's are in the driver's seat and our concern has yet to translate into action on their part. It just might be that nature is about to force their hands.

Andreyeva Bay, Russia - Google Maps
Andreyeva Bay is a ticking bomb, Bellona’s documents prove - Bellona
Norway concerned about possible nuclear explosion at Andreyeva Bay - Bellona


Here is Bellona's Open Letter to President Putin:

To the President of the Russian Federation
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin
Oslo, 07.06.2007
Dear Mr. President,

We consider it necessary to bring to your attention information about the situation that has come to pas with the storage of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) at Andreyeva Bay located on the Kola Peninsula 100 kilometres from Murmansk and 45 kilometres from the Russia-Norwegian border.

An emergency situation has developed with the aged storage facilities for SNF at Andreyeva Bay, which in the opinion of scientists, could lead to a spontaneous nuclear chain reaction. The storage facility holds some 32 tons of SNF, which contains 22,000 spent nuclear fuel assemblies. According to research carried out by scientists, these spent nuclear fuel assemblies, which have been kept in alarming conditions for about 25 years, are degrading, decaying, and nuclear fuel in the form of small particles create in the water in which the assemblies are stored a homogenous mix in which, under certain circumstances, could cause a spontaneous nuclear chain reaction.

According to Rosatom estimates, and uncontrolled chain reaction, the maximum effective radiation does expected to hit the area's population at the boundary of the of the sanitary protection zone of 100 metres – in the worst imaginable weather conditions taken into account – will not exceed 40 microsieverts in the first year after the accident. This dose is two times as high as the acceptable contamination level.

In Bellona's opinion, these estimates are impossibly optimistic because there is no guarantee that an explosion in one storage compartment will not trigger an explosion in a neighbouring compartments, which could result in 20 million Curies worth of fallout released into the environment, contaminating both huge sections of the territory Russia and surrounding states, including Norway.

According to Rosatom plans, work will be carried out to remove the SNF. This project will be carried out over the next 15 years, which in Bellona's opinion is completely unacceptable.

The crisis condition of the storage facility and the SNF stored there demands urgent measures aimed at liquidating the emergency situation, correcting plans and deadlines for removing the SNF and the application of effective technology.

Dear Mr. President, we are turning to you, the highest ranking official in the Russian government, in accordance with the Federal Law “On the use of atomic energy,” to decide on questions of caution and liquidation of the consequences of emergency situations during the use of nuclear energy, and to adopt necessary measures for the liquidation of emergency situations concerning spent nuclear fuel at Andreyeva

Frederic Hauge
President of the Bellona Foundation - PDF Letter
Clearly, President Putin does not give a damn about his legacy if this is the type of mess that he plans to leave behind, just like all the Russian and Soviet leaders before him.


Saturday, June 9

Now that the Illegal Alien Bill is Dead, How about Securing the Border

The immigration bill that just died in the Senate was not the solution to our illegal alien problem. If anything, that bill if turned into law would have made our illegal alien problem much worse. So what should be done to combat illegal immigration?

First, almost everyone agrees that we need to improve border security. So how about a simple bill to fix that problem. It should be a bill that stands on it's own two legs and addresses one main issue, securing the border.

With that, law enforcement should be able to do their job without fear of charges that they are targeting illegal aliens, as so often happens at drunk-driving checkpoints which often catch illegal aliens, while not drunk, are unable to provide a valid drivers license or proof of insurance. To do this, Congress also needs to remove suspensions on laws, such as the one that excludes the Mexican Consulate's Matricular Consular Identity Card as a valid form of ID. The law was passed, but then suspended. Why? (The ID is so questionable that it is not even accepted in Mexico. So why is it acceptable here?) I am not saying to target and round up illegal aliens. I am just saying that when you find some, you deal with them, according to the law.

Once that is done, how about addressing the issue of legal immigration. If there is such a demand for low-skilled labor, as claimed, how about increasing the number of Green Cards available each year. Or how about introducing another type of residence permit such as a 'Blue Card', or whatever color that strikes their fancy, that permits a person to come and work but not collect unemployment, welfare, or any such benefits, as is normal in most countries for resident foreigners. This is a valid option instead of the often discussed 'temporary worker' visa which does not take into account that these workers have families and while they work here they also build roots and become part of American society. At any rate, the number of legal immigrants permitted yearly should probably be increased. The limits are already some of the most generous quotas in the world, but they nowhere nearly meet the demand. There should be some hope of legally migrating to the US, other than having to marry an American.

With increased legal immigration, American Companies that hire illegal labor need to be confronted/charged with the crimes that they are committing. There is no change in the laws that will stop employment of illegal aliens, simply because many of those jobs will not exist if they are forced onto the books. First, the employees are going to want a raise to compensate for the taxes and FICA that are being deducted from his pay. Then they employer is going to have to make contributions as well. There are many other companies that are employing illegals on the books. They are known to the IRS as the social security numbers provided are either invalid or used many times over. Some companies have hundreds of workers with problematic tax data.

Once all of these issues are addressed, then we should decide how to handle those who are living here illegally.


Friday, June 8

Chinese Food and Lead

There has been lots in the news about problems with food products coming out of China recently. This is something that I have been expecting for a while and why I have been avoiding all food products labeled as coming from China.

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has branded a U.S. warning against using its toothpaste as irresponsible, saying low levels of diethylene glycol (DEG) were not harmful.

"So far we have not received any report of death resulting from using the toothpaste. The U.S. handling (of this case) is neither scientific nor responsible," China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said in a statement posted on its Web site over the weekend. - Reuters

So according to China, it's perfectly ok to brush your teeth with antifreeze as long as it does not kill you. Why don't they take the step and use it as a marketing program against US-made toothpaste that fails to include the amazing cleaning power of "DEG".

The comment by the Chinese official is even more irresponsible since Chinese DEG has killed people in South America after being added to mouth wash. In fairness, the mouth wash was made in South America. The DEG was added (in error) as a result of the product being mislabeled by the manufacturer to infer that it was something that it was not. This poisonous ingrediant most likely ended up in the recalled toothpaste as a cheap replacement for a similar food-grade ingredient.

The problem with Chinese food products as I see it, is that the (Communist) Chinese culture is one that will do more to conceal problems than correct them. When was the last time you heard of the Chinese doing a voluntary recall?

My concern with Chinese food has to do with lead poisoning. I think at some point we are going to find out that some Chinese food products contain high levels of lead. I got this thought one day when I noticed that a can of mandarin oranges was 'made in China'. It was a name-brand product, but once I saw that little note stating where it came from, the package no longer looked so shiny or appealing.

The funny thing with lead, is that you are often more likely to get it from something other than food. World Net Daily has this timely piece:

WASHINGTON – In the wake of scandals involving tainted food and toothpaste from China comes word of a new concern from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission as well as the Food and Drug Administration – toys, makeup, glazed pottery and other products that contain significant amounts of lead.

While lead poisoning among children was once mainly caused by old paint, U.S. manufacturers long ago banned the ingredient. Today, a new rash of high lead levels in the bloodstreams of American kids is being caused by foreign products – mainly from China. -

So perhaps my lead fear was misplaced. No matter, there is clearly a problem with food products coming out of China. Now, in addition to the food products, I also need to be concerned about everything else coming out of China. (Go read the whole World Net Daily story and then read their other China story "Seafood imports from China raised in untreated sewage")

In general, I always check to see where a product is made.

And yes, I often choose the higher-priced US-made product over a foreign-made one. There just might be a good reason why that other product costs more.

China says U.S. warning on toothpaste irresponsible - Reuters

Thursday, June 7

Ron Paul 2008

Who the hell is Ron Paul?
Right now “Ron Paul” is among the top-searched terms on Technorati, the popular site that tracks blog posts. According to the community Web site, Eventful, there are more than 16,000 outstanding “demands” for Paul to appear in cities across the country – that’s up 11,000 from just one week ago, leapfrogging him over Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York. Ron Paul video clips get plenty of play on YouTube and there is no shortage of blogs devoted to his support.

What do these numbers mean? How do you reconcile that support with the national poll numbers? In virtually every scientific national poll — generally regarded as the best measurement of public support for a political candidate — Paul registers, at most, between 1 and 2 percent. Do the debate numbers reflect something different than the national polls? Is it too early to tell? - CNN
This Congressman's 'supporters' have been gumming up every poll they can find on the internet. Take this:
June 5th GOP Presidential Debate
Ron Paul participated in the June 5th debate hosted by CNN.

CNN gave Paul less than 6 minutes of airtime out of the two hours of the debate. CNN instead decided to focus more on the more mainstream "big 3" candidates Mitt Romney, John McCain and Rudy Giuliani. Regardless, according to over 75,000 respondents to an MSNBC online vote, Paul won the debate. - Wikipedia
That of course does nothing but perhaps give people a reason to look deeper at that candidate.

That however will not be enough to help once we have had the first primary and he places dead last. By that point his supporters will most likely be out of tricks. That is, provided Congressman Paul remains in the reace that long.

Now he might be a good option for President, but frankly his supporters freak me out. That is reason enough to be glad that someone else will win the Republican nomination.

Ron Paul - Wikipedia

Click the 2008 label below form more Presidential opinion.

Congress Should do Nothing About Illegal Aliens

Be careful what you wish for. That has always been a good statement to always have in the back of your mind.

Many Americans have been wishing for Congress to take care of the illegal alien problem for years. Well we now have Congress's attention and boy do they mean to fix illegal immigration.

For starters, if your Congressman is in favor of this bill to legalize illegal aliens in the US, then he is lying to you about it.

Most members of Congress are denying that this bill will grant illegal aliens amnesty. That is not exactly true. Not only is this an amnesty bill, it is a huge Christmas present for every illegal alien already here as well as many more who are planning to come here in the near future to take advantage of this amnesty. (See loophole 12 below)

Sure, they will have to pay a fine, but in return the Government is going to pay their legal costs to get themselves legalized. That is a huge benefit and one that I was not able to afford when applying for legal status for my wife. (See loophole 13 below.)

Then there are tax credits (See loophole 11), no requirement to pay any back taxes from work done prior to applying for the Amnesty visa (See loophole 18) and Social Security credits for work performed despite no taxes being paid (See loophole 19). In addition, this planned amnesty will permit illegal aliens who are ineligible to immigrate legally due to criminal issues to be allowed to stay, including gang member and convicted child molesters. (Loopholes 6 and 8)

And Yes, this is amnesty. After all, those who came here illegally will be allowed to stay and get in line for Citizenship. Those who have been trying to come here legally do not. So not only are they getting amnesty, they are also cutting in line in front of those who respect our laws.

So it is probably best to do nothing about the illegal aliens in the country now. Even by doing nothing they are being rewarded with citizenship for their children. How much more do you want to give them? In my view, an illegal alien should never be eligible for Citizenship. The very most they should be able to hope for is permenant residency and that only after the boarder has been secured. In addition, an illegal alien should never be eligable for Government Aid. In many countries, including this one, legal resident aliens are not eligible for social services.

Now, while Congress should let the illegal alien issue lie dormant for now, they should get off their asses and fix the problems at the border to stop the illegal alien problem from growing bigger. There is nothing wrong with a fence that has a gate to permit legal entry. They should also have a nice blunt talk with the Mexican Government. Illegal aliens are running away from their own country as much as they are running to the US. (See: Mexico and the US Governments are the Immigration Problem)


Here are some posts covering last years Amnesty Bill:
Senator Kennedy to illegals: "You are the Future of America" - FFI 11 April 2006
The Senate Immigration Bill Is an Amnesty Bill - 26 May 2006


Keep in mind the following when you read the loopholes in this year's Amnesty Bill listed below. This bill will not change my status:

I am legally responsible for a legal immigrant, my wife.

This means the following:

I can be prosecuted by the US Government if my immigrant wife receives ANY Government Aid such as unemployment, Welfare, etc. as I agreed to fully support my wife unless one of the three following conditions is met:

1. My wife works and pays social security taxes for 10 years.
2. She permenantly moves back to her home country.
3. I die.
After being married for two years, my wife can divorce me and continue to live in the country and I am still responsible for supporting her here.
Now lets take a look at what Congress is planning to do for those who came here illegally:


Press Release of Senator Sessions
Sen. Sessions Releases List of 20 Loopholes in the Senate Immigration Bill

Monday, June 4, 2007

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) released a list of 20 loopholes in the comprehensive immigration bill today which reveals that the bill is fatally flawed and will not establish a functioning immigration system in the future.

The list of loopholes includes flaws effecting border security, chain-migration and assimilation policies. The list exposes the lack of serious attention given to ensuring that the legislation fixes America’s failed immigration system.

“I am deeply concerned about the numerous loopholes we have found in this legislation. They are more than technical errors, but rather symptoms of a fundamentally flawed piece of legislation that stands no chance of actually fixing our broken immigration system,” Sessions said. “Many of the loopholes are indicative of a desire not to have the system work.”

For example, one loophole in the “enforcement trigger” fails to require the U.S. VISIT system – the biometric border check-in/check-out system established by Congress in 1996, but never implemented – to be fully functioning before new worker or amnesty programs begin. Without the system in place, the U.S. has no method of ensuring that workers and their families do not overstay their visas.

Another flaw in the legislation prevents the benefits of merit-based immigration from taking full effect until 2016. Until then, chain migration into the U.S. will actually triple, compared to a disproportionately low increase in skill-based immigration. As a result, the merit-based system in the bill is only a shell of what it should have been.

A third loophole in the bill allows immigrants to avoid demonstrating a proficiency in English for more than a decade. Illegal aliens are not required to learn English to receive full “probationary benefits” of citizenship. Passing a basic English test is only required for the third Z-visa renewal, twelve years after amnesty is granted.

Sessions will highlight many of the loopholes contained in the list this week during Senate debate on the immigration bill.

A full list of the 20 loopholes is attached.

20 Loopholes in the Senate Immigration Bill

Loophole 1 – Legal Status Before Enforcement:

Amnesty benefits do not wait for the “enforcement trigger.” After filing an application and waiting 24 hours, illegal aliens will receive full “probationary benefits,” complete with the ability to legally live and work in the U.S., travel outside of the U.S. and return, and their own social security card. Astonishingly, if the trigger is never met and amnesty applications are therefore never “approved,” the probationary benefits granted to the illegal alien population never expire, and the new social security cards issued to the illegal alien population are not revoked. [See pp. 1, 290-291, & 315].

Loophole 2 – U.S. VISIT Exit Not In Trigger:

The “enforcement trigger,” required to be met before the new temporary worker program begins, does not require that the exit portion of U.S. VISIT system – the biometric border check-in/check-out system first required by Congress in 1996 that is already well past its already postponed 2005 implementation due date – to be in place before new worker or amnesty programs begin. Without the U.S. VISIT exit portion, the U.S. has no method to ensure that workers (or their visiting families) do not overstay their visas. Our current illegal population contains 4 to 5.5 million visa overstays, therefore, we know that the U.S. VISIT exit component is key to a successful new temporary worker program. [See pp. 1-2].

Loophole 3 – Trigger Requires No More Agents, Beds, or Fencing Than Current Law:

The “enforcement trigger” does not require the Department of Homeland Security to have detention space sufficient to end “catch and release” at the border and in the interior. Even after the adoption of amendment 1172, the trigger merely requires the addition of 4,000 detention beds, bringing DHS to a 31,500 bed capacity. This is far short of the 43,000 beds required under current law to be in place by the end of 2007, or the additional 20,000 beds required later in the bill. Additionally, the bill establishes a “catch, pay, and release” program. This policy will benefit illegal aliens from countries other than Mexico that are caught at the border, then can post a $5,000 bond, be released and never show up for deportation hearings. Annual failure to appear rates for 2005 and 2006, caused in part by lack of detention space, doubled the 2004 rate (106,000 – 110,000 compared with 54,000). Claims that the bill “expands fencing” are inaccurate. The bill only requires 370 miles of fencing to be completed, while current law already mandates that more than 700 miles be constructed [See pp. 1-2, & 10-11, and EOIR’s FY2006 Statistical Yearbook, p. H2, and The Secure Fence Act of 2004].

Loophole 4 -- Three Additional Years Worth of Illegal Aliens Granted Status, Treated Preferentially To Legal Filers:

Aliens who broke into the country illegally a mere 5 months ago, are treated better than foreign nationals who legally applied to come to the U.S. more than two years ago. Aliens who can prove they were illegally in the U.S. on January 1, 2007, are immediately eligible to apply from inside the U.S. for amnesty benefits, while foreign nationals that filed applications to come to the U.S. after May 1, 2005 must start the application process over again from their home countries. Last year’s bill required illegal aliens to have been here before January 7, 2004 to qualify for permanent legal status. [See pp. 263, 282, & 306].

Loophole 5 – Completion of Background Checks Not Required For Probationary Legal Status:

Legal status must be granted to illegal aliens 24 hours after they file an application, even if the aliens have not yet “passed all appropriate background checks.” (Last year’s bill gave DHS 90 days to check an alien’s background before any status was granted). No legal status should be given to any illegal alien until all appropriate background checks are complete. [See pp. 290].

Loophole 6 – Some Child Molesters Are Still Eligible:

Some aggravated felons – those who have sexually abused a minor – are eligible for amnesty. A child molester who committed the crime before the bill is enacted is not barred from getting amnesty if their conviction document omitted the age of the victim. The bill corrects this loophole for future child molesters, but does not close the loophole for current or past convictions. [See p. 47: 30-33, & p. 48: 1-2]

Loophole 7 – Terrorism Connections Allowed, Good Moral Character Not Required:

Illegal aliens with terrorism connections are not barred from getting amnesty. An illegal alien seeking most immigration benefits must show “good moral character.” Last year’s bill specifically barred aliens with terrorism connections from having “good moral character” and being eligible for amnesty. This year’s bill does neither. Additionally, bill drafters ignored the Administration’s request that changes be made to the asylum, cancellation of removal, and withholding of removal statutes in order to prevent aliens with terrorist connections from receiving relief. [Compare §204 in S. 2611 from the 109th Congress with missing §204 on p. 48 of S.A. 1150, & see missing subsection (5) on p. 287 of S.A. 1150].

Loophole 8 – Gang Members Are Eligible:

Instead of ensuring that members of violent gangs such as MS 13 are deported after coming out of the shadows to apply for amnesty, the bill will allow violent gang members to get amnesty as long as they “renounce” their gang membership on their application. [See p. 289: 34-36].

Loophole 9 – Absconders Are Eligible:

Aliens who have already had their day in court – those subject to final orders of removal, voluntary departure orders, or reinstatement of their final orders of removal – are eligible for amnesty under the bill. The same is true for aliens who have made a false claim to citizenship or engaged in document fraud. More than 636,000 alien fugitives could be covered by this loophole. [See p. 285:19-22 which waives the following inadmissibility grounds: failure to attend a removal proceeding; final orders of removal for alien smuggling; aliens unlawfully present after previous immigration violations or deportation orders; and aliens previously removed. This appears to conflict with language on p. 283:40-41. When a direct conflict appears in a statute, the statue is interpreted by the courts to the benefit of the alien.].

Loophole 10 – Learning English Not Required For A Decade:

Illegal aliens are not required to demonstrate any proficiency in English for more than a decade after they are granted amnesty. Learning English is not required for an illegal alien to receive probationary benefits, the first 4-year Z visa, or the second 4-year Z visa. The first Z visa renewal (the second 4-year Z visa) requires only that the alien demonstrate an “attempt” to learn English by being “on a waiting list for English classes.” Passing a basic English test is required only for a second Z visa renewal (the third 4-year Z visa), and even then the alien only has to pass the test “prior to the expiration of the second extension of Z status” (12 years down the road). [See pp. 295-296].

Loophole 11 – Earned Income Tax Credit Will Cost Taxpayers Billions In Just 10 Years:

Current illegal aliens and new guest workers will be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, a refundable tax credit designed to encourage American citizens and legal permanent residents to work. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that this loophole will cost the U.S. taxpayer up to $20 billion dollars in just the first 10 years after the bill’s enactment. To be consistent with the intent of the 1996 welfare reforms – which limited new immigrants from receiving public benefits until they had been legal permanent residents for five years – the bill should withhold EITC eligibility from amnestied aliens until they become legal permanent residents. Closing this loophole will save the taxpayers billions of dollars. [See p. 293 after S.A. 1190 was adopted, p. 307, p. 315, §606. All that is required for EITC eligibility is a social security number and resident alien status. Nothing in the bill’s tax provisions limit EITC eligibility. The issuance of social security numbers to aliens as soon as they apply for amnesty will ensure they are able to qualify for the EITC.]

Loophole 12 – Affidavits From Friends Accepted As Evidence:

Records from day-labor centers, labor unions, and “sworn declarations” from any non-relative (acquaintances, friends, coworkers, etc) are to be accepted as evidence that the illegal alien has satisfied the bill’s amnesty requirements. This low burden of proof will invite fraud and more illegal immigration – even aliens who are not yet in the U.S. will likely meet this burden of proof. DHS will not have the resources to examine whether the claims contained in the “sworn declarations” of the alien’s friends (that the alien was here prior to January 1, 2007 and is currently employed) are actually valid. [See p. 293: 13-16].

Loophole 13 – Taxpayer Funded Legal Counsel and Arbitration:

Free legal counsel and the fees and expenses of arbitrators will be provided to aliens that have been working illegally in agriculture. The U.S. taxpayer will fund the attorneys that help these individuals fill out their amnesty applications. Additionally, if these individuals have a dispute with their employer over whether they were fired for “just cause,” DHS will “pay the fee and expenses of the arbitrator.” [See p. 339:37-41, & p. 332: 37-38.]

Loophole 14 – In-State Tuition and Student Loans:

In-state tuition and other higher education benefits, such as Stafford Loans, will be made available to current illegal aliens that are granted initial “probationary” status, even if the same in-state tuition rates are not offered to all U.S. citizens. This would normally violate current law (8 U.S.C. §1623) which mandates that educational institutions give citizens the same postsecondary education benefits they offer to illegal aliens. [See p. 321: 8-31].

Loophole 15 – Inadequacy of the Merit System:

The “merit system,” designed to shift the U.S. green card distribution system to attract higher skilled workers that benefit the national interest, is only a shell of what it should have been. Though the merit system begins immediately, it will not increase the percentage of high skilled immigrants coming to the United States until 2016, 8 years after enactment. Of the 247,000 green cards dedicated to the merit based system each year for the first 5 years, 100,000 green cards will be reserved for low-skilled guest workers (10,000) and for clearing the current employment based green card backlog (90,000). From 2013 to 2015, the number of merit based green cards drops to 140,000, and of that number, 100,000 green cards are still reserved each year for low-skilled guest workers (10,000) and for clearing the current employment based green card backlog (90,000). Even after 2015, when the merit system really begins (in 2016) by having 380,000 green cards annually, 10,00 green cards will be reserved specifically for low skilled workers, and points will be given for many characteristics that are not considered “high-skilled.” For example, 16 points will be given for aliens in “high demand occupations” which includes janitors, maids, food preparation workers, and groundskeepers. [See p.260: 25 – p. 261: 20, p. 262, & The Department of Labor’s list of “occupations with the largest job growth” available at].

Loophole 16 – Visas For Individuals That Plan To Overstay:

The new “parent” visa contained in the bill which allows parents of citizens, and the spouses and children of new temporary workers, to visit a worker in the United States is not only a misnomer, but also an invitation for high rates of visa overstays. This new visa specifically allows the spouse and children of new temporary workers who intend to abandon their residence in a foreign country, to qualify to come to the U.S. to “visit.” The visa requires only a $1,000 bond, which will be forfeited when, not if, family members of new temporary workers decide to overstay their 30 day visit. Workers should travel to their home countries to visit their families, not the other way around. [See p. 277:1 – 33, and p. 276: 38-43].

Loophole 17 – Chain Migration Tippled Before Being Eliminated:

Though the bill will eventually eliminate chain migration (relatives other than spouses and children of citizens and legal permanent residents), it will not have full effect until 2016. Until then, chain migration into the U.S. will actually triple, from approximately 138,000 chain migrants a year (equal to 14% of the 1 million green cards the U.S. currently distributes on an annual basis) to approximately 440,000 chain migrants a year (equal to 45% of the 1 million green cards the U.S. currently distributes on an annual basis). [See pp. 260:13, p. 270: 29 – pp. 271: 17]

Loophole 18 – Back Taxes Not Required:

Last year’s bill required illegal aliens to prove they had paid three of their last five years of taxes to get amnesty. This year, payment of back taxes is not required for amnesty. The bill requires taxes to be paid at the time of application for a green card, but at that time, only proof of payment of Federal taxes (not state and local) is required for the years the alien worked on a Z visa, not the years the alien has already worked illegally in the United States. Though Senator McCain’s S.A. 1190, adopted by voice vote, claimed to “require undocumented immigrants receiving legal status to pay owed back taxes,” the amendment actually only required proof of payment of taxes for “any year during the period of employment required by subparagraph (D)(i).” Since the bill does not contain a subparagraph (D)(i), nor require any past years of employment as a prerequisite for amnesty, the amendment essentially only requires proof of payment of taxes for future work in the U.S., not payment of “back taxes.” [See p. 307, and p. 293 as altered by S.A. 1190, amendment p. 2: 19-20.]

Loophole 19 – Social Security Credits Allowed For Some Illegal Work Histories:

Aliens who came to the U.S. on legal visas, but overstayed their visas and have been working in the U.S. for years, as well as illegal aliens who apply for Z visa status but do not qualify, will be able to collect social security credits for the years they worked illegally. Under the bill, if an alien was ever issued a social security account number – all work-authorized aliens who originally came on legal visas receive these – the alien will receive Social Security credits for any “quarters of coverage” the alien worked after receiving their social security account number. Because the bill requires social security account numbers to be issued “promptly” to illegal aliens as soon as they are granted “any probationary benefits based upon application [for Z status]” (these benefits are granted 24 hours after the application is filed), an illegal alien who is denied Z visa status but continues to work illegally in the U.S. will accumulate Social Security credits. [See pp. 316:8 – 16, and pp. 315: 32-39]

Loophole 20 – Criminal Fines Not Proportional To Conduct:

The criminal fines an illegal alien is required to pay to receive amnesty are less than the bill’s criminal fines for paperwork violations committed by U.S. citizens, and can be paid by installment. Under the bill, an illegal alien must pay a $1,000 criminal fine to apply for a Z visa, and a $4,000 fine to apply for a green card. Eighty percent of those fines can be paid on an installment plan. Under the bill’s confidentiality provisions, someone who improperly handles or uses information on an alien’s amnesty application can be fined $10,000. Administration officials suggest that the bill’s “criminal fines are proportionate to the criminal conduct.” Why, then, is the fine for illegally entering, using false documents to work, and live one-tenth the fine for a paperwork violation committed by a government official? [See p. 287: 34, p. 317: 9, p. 315:6-8, & remarks made by Secretary Gutierrez on Your World with Neil Cavuto, 4:00 May 31, 2007]


The loopholes were found as posted on The Jawa Report.