Thursday, January 31

World Bank Projects - Worse Than Nothing

Just imagine, if we threw enough money at the third world, we could solve poverty. So that is what they want us all to believe. Of course to get the money they need to take it away from those who already have some. Too bad that money does not solve the problem, at least not when those directing its use are the UN and the World Bank. That is a sure path to waste and fraud. The sad thing is, this money could have actually done some good, had it not been given to those institutions.

One case in point is that the World Bank has been funding the building of Hospitals in India. Sounds great right? Well unfortunately, Four new hospitals sit there unused:
In addition, four of the sites visited by the DIR were locked shut and unused, and an additional 12 sites had extensions or other portions that were locked shut and unused. The reasons for this non-use varied from incomplete work that was not handed over to the medical officer for use, to the local medical officer’s refusal to accept what he considered to be substandard work, to a lack of functional water and power, to insufficient numbers of hospital staff. But in all 16 of these cases, the locked and unused spaces were stocked with EIF and other medical supplies. - Pages 192 - 193, Civil Works
Not only are they wasting money in building poor quality hospitals and hospitals that can't be used at all, but they are also wasting money on supplies that hospitals in India currently can't use:
In its site visits, the DIR often found extra equipment lying unpacked in storage, sometimes in unsanitary conditions. For example, at PHL Meerut, 12 machines, collectively worth USD 70,549, remained packed and stored in conditions that were likely to lead to damage given the extreme humidity within the store room.

A senior analyst at PHL Bhubaneswar informed the DIR that the laboratory had received nine pieces of equipment, worth USD 15,493, for which the laboratory had no use. This equipment was also still packed in storage unused. - Page 109

And it gets worse:
In 25 hospitals, the DIR observed that EIF items procured under the OHSDP were provided in volumes that appeared much larger than the hospitals’ needs. This observation is consistent with the findings of earlier OHSDP reviews, including the Government of Orissa’s 2005 audit report, which noted procurement of EIF items in excess of project plans totaling INR 125.3 million (USD 2.8 million); and the 2006 Joint Survey of Status of Project Equipment, which noted oversupply of phototherapy units, executive chairs, and steel cupboards.306 It is possible that such oversupply resulted from poor needs estimation by ELMARC and the PMC. However, the volume and value of the oversupplied goods are so large that they suggest that ELMARC may have intentionally procured excess EIF, which is an indicator of fraud and corruption.

As a result of this oversupply, much of the procured EIF items observed by the DIR were in storage. For example, the DIR observed 22 sites in which furnishings— such as executive chairs, executive tables, floor-mounted grouting chairs, and stainless steel stools—were left in storage. Oversupply was not limited to furniture: in half the hospitals it visited, the DIR observed baby incubators unused or in storage. Further, at some hospitals the oversupply was so great that the staff stored excess EIF items in areas designated for patient treatment, thus directly impeding the project’s development goal of promoting the treatment of a higher number of patients. In AH Podagada and CHC-II Majhapada, excess executive chairs were stored in wards that otherwise would be used for patients, while inDHH Nabarangpur, two excess desks were stored in the operating theater. - Page 257

And very simply failing to complete the work:
The operating theater was locked and unused, and medical officials told the DIR that it had never been completed and handed over for their use. Renovations of other portions of the hospital also were never completed. - Page 224

The example above is somewhat insidious in that not only did they not get an operating room, but the 'addition' actually took space away from the hospital.
The diesel generator building had been constructed, but the OHSDP provided generator was uninstalled and unused, and some hospital wiring appeared unrepaired. - Page 224

Now just because you put a hospital somewhere doesn't mean you have solved the problem, because you need trained people to staff them. And when you give them advanced machinery, you need to train them how to use it. Of course the World Bank allocates funds for training as well. Too bad, much of that money was also wasted as the training was never delivered:
Similarly, at nine hospitals staff told the DIR that equipment was unused because the hospital lacked personnel qualified to utilize it in their work. The most prominent example was a lack of laboratory technicians to operate pH meters, spectrophotometers, and flame photometers, as well as a lack of technicians to operate electro-physiotherapy units and cystoscopes. Like the lack of equipment training, the Bank noted the disjunction between the state’s medical staff resources and equipment procurement levels in its project supervision reports, but the issue was never resolved. - Page 258
And wasted money on more inappropriate equipment forced on the recipients.
The DIR found that most of the -80° C Nuaire freezers were of limited use and would not have been requested had the end users been consulted, and that in one instance, both Nuaire’s -40° C and -80° C freezers were delivered prematurely before the end user was prepared to accept them.
  • According to the KGMU blood bank’s staff, the facility did not have the necessary space and blood component separation license when it received Nuaire freezers in June 2001. The hospital apparently repacked both freezers and did not use them until it obtained the license in 2005. By the time the equipment was put into use, the two-year warranty period had expired; thus, the cost of any repairs on the freezers would have been borne by the blood bank. The doctors at KGMU generally felt that NACO had “pushed” the equipment on the hospital.
  • Think that is bad, much of the equipment being supplied by contract also provided for additional service in the contract price:
    Care BioMedicals Refused to Honor Maintenance Obligations. The DIR found that one supplier of -80° C freezers, Care BioMedicals, refused to honor its AMC obligations unless it was paid an additional sum. Specifically, the Rashtrotthana Parishad blood bank, which had received a -80° C freezer from Care BioMedicals, informed HLL in January 2007 that Care BioMedicals had asked for INR 5,000 before “submitting its proposal for AMC.”144 Clause 2.1 of the Notification of Award, however, provided for a four-year AMC schedule (after an initial two-year warranty period) at no cost to the end user.145 Because Rastrotthana’s request for service fell within this four-year period,146 Care BioMedical’s request for additional compensation was in direct violation of its contractual obligations. The DIR could not determine if HLL took any action against the company.

    Disincentive to Honor AMC and Warranty Obligations. The DIR observed that the manner in which suppliers were paid may have created a disincentive for suppliers to honor their AMC and warranty obligations. The director of the KGMU Hospital in Lucknow explained that once the PSA made the 90 percent payment of the contract value to the supplier upon shipment, the supplier had little incentive to fulfill further obligations, including warranty and the AMC. - Pages 368-369
    This firm was not the only one to ignore not only their standard warranties, but also the pre-paid extended service contracts.

    Of course the suppliers know that the World Bank does not really care if they perform or not, so over time the violations from what is expected just gets worse. Take this supply of test kits that were one step away from being expired, not that they were any good to begin with:
    Invalid, False Negative, and/or Discordant Results with Test Kits Supplied by Monozyme. In late 2006, the Indian media reported that Monozyme had been distributing expired diagnostic test kits in West Bengal, and had in some cases been substituting pregnancy test kits for HIV diagnostic test kits. Given that the MDACS awarded Monozyme two contracts for the supply of HIV rapid test kits under the NACP II, the DIR, in light of these media reports, reviewed the performance of the test kits supplied by Monozyme, which were received by 43 facilities in Mumbai.81 The DIR discovered that five VCTCs had complained to the MDACS that Monozyme-supplied SD Bioline HIV 1/2 Rapid test kits were producing invalid, false negative, and/or discordant results. - Page 350
    This last extract sums up the whole World Bank effort. You need an HIV test kits and your given Pregnancy test kits. Now it might be a good idea to help fund projects in the third-world but it needs to be a third-world operation, not one thrust upon them from the first-world.

    World Bank Department of Institutional Integrity (DIR)

    World Bank Disgrace - WSJ
    World Bank Purge - WSJ

    World Bank Internal Fraud Investigation:
    Detailed Implementation Review, India Health Sector - WORLD BANK REPORT

    Detailed Implementation Review, India Health Sector - WORLD BANK REPORT - VOL 2

    - -

    Tuesday, January 29

    Sell Signals on Gold

    The hot mover in the markets lately has been the price of gold. When the global markets attempted a meltdown last week, gold soared. This is in addition to the boost gold had already received thanks to a declining US Dollar. But I have been wondering for a while where the limit is for gold. If you listen to the gold 'bulls' then you have heard that 'gold can only go up!' Gee, where have we heard that already? There are many people still in disbelief over how the bottom dropped out of the US housing market. Of course gold is somehow different, or is it? For starters, it is a hell of a lot more liquid a commodity than a house is. So oddly enough, one sign that gold might be reaching a peak is increased selling in India, which is one of the world's biggest markets for gold.
    India's love affair with gold is waning as savvy housewives in the world's largest importer of the precious metal opt to capitalise on rocketing prices by selling off their spare jewellery.

    With prices of the commodity, traditionally viewed as a safe haven in uncertain times, hovering close to record highs, Suresh Hundia, head of the Bombay Bullion Association, said that Indian consumers are deferring all but the most essential gold purchases. "People, households, are selling spare gold. There is zero demand at these prices in India," he said. - Times Online
    It is not just happening in India either:
    There has been very little buying interest from physical buyers from Japan, London, Hong Kong and most importantly India, said a London-based bullion dealer at CommerzBank AG.

    Most of them are on the sidelines awaiting gold to fall to the 850 usd levels, the dealer added. - Forbes
    Since people are only interested in Selling all of a sudden in India, they are willing to accept discounted prices to cash out due to a limited supply of buyers.
    Mr Hundia said that domestic sellers of scrap gold in India were cashing in at prices about 3 per cent below those quoted in the trading pits of London and New York, which remained firm today on the back of power outages in South African mines. - Times Online
    At a recent price today of $930 an ounce, that is a discount of almost $28 an ounce. Ouch!

    Now remember the saying that when the shoe-shine boy starts giving you tips, then it is time to leave the market? Well the shoeshine boy is saying "Buy!" Who is the shoe-shine boy in this case; None other than I am Facing Foreclosure housing fraudster Casey Serin. (Don't know who he is? You can find some background info on his disastrous escapade in the housing market here. At one time he was labeled the 'world's most hated blogger') Today Casey sent out an email with the subject "Millionaire By Christmas":
    I've had some great guidance and I feel bad holding back what I know. I'm going to share with you but you must act quickly!

    The FED is cutting the rates again tomorrow. Last Tuesday's history rate cut barely saved the markets from a major crash. Most people don't realize how bad things are. The dollar has been in a near free-fall for a while. All this printing of money out of thin air is only going to make it worse.

    If you're not buying gold and silver and taking physical possession of it, you are doing your family a disservice. You don't want to be poor in a likely depression or hyper-inflation. Worse, if the dollar completely collapses, having some gold and silver coins on-hand for barter will be a life-saver.

    Mining stocks is an even better way.

    Specifically PENNY mining stocks that are set to explode. You can multiply your capital 10 or even a 100 times and will buy you A LOT MORE gold and silver to hide in your back yard.

    But, unless you know what you're doing this is very risky! Remember how I rushed into real estate investing? Well, I've been blessed with some great advisors this time around. The advice has been dead-on for almost a year and I feel comfortable now to share with you.

    The company is GoldSpring. The stock symbol is GSPG.

    Since last April I'm up over 480%. I bought at 1/3 of a penny. Today it almost hit 2 cents. In the next day or two they're going to release a MAJOR report that shows you how much gold they have in the ground. I bought some more shares today ahead of the news.

    Time is VERY short to make a killing. - Extract from email sent by Casey Serin - Highlighting by Fred
    This guy is an investing disaster area. I find it rich that he's hawking a penny stock. This guy was busy praising the housing market by lying his way into multiple future foreclosures at the peak of the housing market. Too bad he didn't buy gold at that time, which makes me think that the fat lady is starting to sing when it come to gold. Casey has arrived to the market. Then again, maybe it is not gold, but the specific stock he is suggesting.

    So what about the stock. I have to say that it falls outside my self-imposed investing rules in that it is a penny stock, it is not currently profitable and does not pay a dividend. But each to his own devices. Click on the image to take a look at their latest investor update and judge for yourself.

    Maybe this is Casey's ride to becoming a millionaire. I can't say, only time will tell. One thing I am pretty certain of is that if this does become a real winner for him, I suspect that the success will be short-lived as he will just take the money and burn it in some other loser.

    Keep in mind that their 2005 investor report notes "Projected to be cash flow positive during Q4 2005" Gold was trading less than half the current price back then.

    At any rate, beware because it seems that the fools have arrived to the gold market. That is a bad sign, unless your looking for the price of gold to drop. I think gold is currently suffering from a bubble so beware of it pops!

    Their website can be found here.

    - -

    Fred's Voluntary Tax Increase Suggestion Endorsed By President Bush

    I was only half listening to the President's State of the Union Address last night when I heard him comment:
    We have other work to do on taxes. Unless Congress acts, most of the tax relief we've delivered over the past seven years will be taken away. Some in Washington argue that letting tax relief expire is not a tax increase. Try explaining that to 116 million American taxpayers who would see their taxes rise by an average of $1,800. Others have said they would personally be happy to pay higher taxes. I welcome their enthusiasm. I'm pleased to report that the IRS accepts both checks and money orders. (Laughter and applause.) - White House
    Former President Clinton is one of those people who have commented in the past about the desire to pay more taxes. Hell, if I remember correct, Senator Edwards is another one. Well, I suggested back in 2005 that if they felt so strongly about it, there is a way to pay more to the Government without having to wait for a tax increase:
    Now lets give President Clinton the benefit of the doubt. From his statement, you appears eager to give up his tax cut. Well I have good news for the former President, he can donate the money back to the Government.

    From the Bureau of the Public Debt: - FAQ Pages

    How do you make a contribution to reduce the debt?

    Please follow these important steps to make a contribution to reduce the debt. Make check payable to the Bureau of the Public Debt. In the memo section of the check, notate Gift to reduce Debt Held by the Public. Mail check to -

    PO BOX 2188
    PARKERSBURG, WV 26106-2188
    In the 2005 Fiscal year people donated $792,000 back to the Government. I think 'we' can do much better. We just need to get the word out to the unhappy rich who don’t know what to do with their refund checks. - FFI
    The current total for donations for 2007 is $2,624,862.42 and I bet that none of it came from President Clinton. While an impressive number by itself is does indicate that either this option of voluntary payment is not well known or not very popular.

    Anyway the option is available to all and now thanks to the President, everyone knows about it.

    President Clinton: Put your Tax Refund where your Mouth is! - 21 Sept 05

    - -

    CO2 Capture to Result in Improved Oil Production

    One method suggested to fight global warming is to capture the CO2 emitted during the burning of fossil fuels instead of letting it vent into the atmosphere. This way we can continue to use oil and coal while limiting the amount of additional CO2 released by burying the (problem) gas underground.

    Carbon sequestration is a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It complements two other major approaches for greenhouse gas reduction, namely improving energy efficiency and increasing use of non-carbon energy sources. Interest has been increasing in the carbon sequestration option because it is very compatible with the large energy production and delivery infrastructure now in place. All three approaches will need to make significant contributions in order to meet the objective of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, that is the stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.

    There are two primary types of carbon sequestration. Our program focuses on carbon dioxide capture and storage, where carbon dioxide is captured at its source (e.g., power plants, industrial processes) and subsequently stored in non-atmospheric reservoirs (e.g., depleted oil and gas reservoirs, unmineable coal seams, deep saline formations, deep ocean). - MIT Carbon Capture & Sequestration Technologies

    Of course, this is an expensive process, mainly due to removing the CO2 from the other gases. However, leave it to ExxonMobil to embrace the technology as a way of increasing production at dying oilfields. This would increase the usefulness of the gas, better justifying the expense of collecting it.

    One method of recovering more oil from mature fields is to inject CO2 into the formation. The highly pressurized gas forces the uptapped oil through openings in the rock to waiting extraction wells. - ExxonMobil's THE LAMP Magazine (PDF Link)

    Theoretically, this could be a 'carbon-neutral' way to pump oil out of the ground depending on how much CO2 they need to pump down for each unit of oil they recover. You could say that this might even be a win-win scenario, but I bet that even Al Gore would never have expected this side benefit. Of course they still need to figure out to capture the CO2 first in an inexpensive way.

    The benefits don't end here either. This Stanford University study, Global Climate & Energy Project (PDF Report Link) suggests that captured CO2 could be pumped underground to smother coal mine fires. You did know that fires in coal mines are a main emitter of carbon dioxide right?

    Coal-mine fires in China and India could be huge culprits in global warming. In China alone, up to 200 million tons of coal go up in flames each year—which may be equivalent to America’s total carbon-dioxide emissions from gasoline. India’s mine fires waste up to 10 million tons of coal annually. The pollution has made land in both countries uninhabitable. And the problem is expected to worsen.

    Now experts are asking if controlling mine fires in Asia might be a key to reducing global warming. Economist Diana Furchtgott-Roth, for one, argues that it would likely be more efficient than offsets like planting trees or cleaning the ocean.

    So, what can be done? One possible remedy being developed in the U.S. is a nitrogen-laced foam. - Parade Magazine

    See here for a map and summary of coal mine fires around the world.

    Of course, putting out the fires also has the significant side-effect of reducing CO2 emissions and as expensive as it might be, it might be cheaper than capturing CO2:

    Although extinguishing these fires would be costly, it would reduce carbon emissions without the major disruptions to individual national economies mentioned above. And it would further benefit nations by eliminating the loss of their coal fields. As such, it might be possible to work out some international cost-sharing arrangement to attack those fires now, without waiting for all nations to agree on a wide-ranging treaty to limit carbon dioxide emissions. - Freakonomics Blog

    Sounds great. Much more so than buying carbon credits. Take the US House of Representatives. They recently spend almost $90,000 of your money on what were very likely worthless carbon credits. I am not saying that we need to capture carbon. While I agree that the earth is getting warmer, I have yet to accept that we are the cause. However, if we are going to do this, lets do it right. The issues above are two good examples of what can be done. I say, lets start with the fires.

    You have probably seen this graphic in the sidebar but never clicked on it. Well, the title of the post is "Being More Green by Being More Efficient! (Electricity Flow, 2005)" a somewhat straightforward look at reducing CO2 emissions, without having to suffer in the process.

    Conservation Basics for Global Warming Carbon Rookies - 23 March 07

    - -

    Monday, January 28

    Maritime Monday 95

    Welcome to this weeks edition of Maritime Monday.

    You can find Maritime Monday 45 here. (Published 05 February 2007)

    You can find last week's edition here.

    Did I miss something? Did I ignore your part of the world? Then feel free to add stories that I missed in the comments. Feel free to comment in general as well as ask questions. Really, do participate!

    This Weeks Photos:
    This weeks photos comes from German shipping fund Dr. Peters Group:

    We Provide 100% finance for shipping, aircraft or real estate projects.

    Our business partners benefit from our limited partnership financing model which we, as an expe-rienced financial services provider, have been successfully utilising for the past 31 years. The ad-vantage for our business partners is the cost-efficient and fast procurement of the entire capital needed to finance their shipping, real estate or aircraft projects without placing a burden on their own liquidity, which can therefore be used for other corporate purposes.

    A further advantage of this financing model is that we provide access to virtually unlimited equity capital. For instance, in 2006 alone, equity capital amounting to approx. € 9.3 billion was raised in Germany in the diverse sectors. Moreover we are able to respond rapidly and flexibly to individual financing requirements or needs. We achieve this by being reliable, by assuming risks on behalf of our business partners and by offering customised financing solutions based on our expertise and many years of experience. For example, we can align fixed charter rates with selected timelines and provide finance as off-balance-sheet financing without the restrictions usually imposed by banks.

    They do this by managing closed-end funds as you can read here. So, if you have some cash to put aside, you can buy a piece of a new shipbuilding.

    You can find more photos at their photo gallery here.

    This Weeks Items:

    Eagle Speak has the sad tale "Human Trafficking: Dozens of Africans Drown Off Yemen Coast"

    Also be sure to check outlast week's edition of Eagle Speak's weekly series "Sunday Ship History*: Skyhooked". This week's edition does not appear to be up yet.

    Chaotic Synaptic Activity has for his weekly series Monday Maritime Matters which covers "the story of LTjg Fogg and his floating legacy."

    Lloyd's List Newsroom Blog has "The Perils of Just in Time"

    BBC News has photos and video of washed up timber cargo from the ICE PRINCE that sank last week.

    Malta Media has news that cargo bound for Greece might be discharged in Malta due to Greek port closures as a result of a strike.

    MarEx Newsletter has "Philippines Hopes to Become Main Source of Maritime Officers for World"

    gCaptain has coverage and video of the collision between an Orange juice concentrate tanker, the ORANGE SUN, and a barge in New York Harbor in "OJ Gets Juiced in Newark". Yes, concentrated orange juice. Did I mention that concentrated orange juice might be hazardous cargo? They are still trying to work that part out. Luckily no OJ was spilled.

    Marine Accident Casebook has the podcast "The Case Of The Unfamiliar Mariner Part 1"

    When the chemical tanker Bow Mariner exploded off the coast of Virginia,USA, on February 28, 2004, 21 of its crew of 27 died. It was a tragedy born of incompetence,ignorance, intolerance and fraud. Many of the crew died because a vital piece of life preserving equipment was considered unnecessary and none had training in cold water survival.

    The Astute Bloggers has the UN's admission that the estimate by their Global Warming panel that sea levels will rise 20 feet due to melting ice sheets is a huge error and that the real estimate is more like 2.5 inches. Go read the post which documents that the 'error' was most likely a deliberate fraud.

    The US Coast Guard has a summary of enhanced LORAN, eLORAN. LORAN live on.

    The Counterterrorism Blog has "U.S. Navy Official Exaggerated Terrorist Threat to Arctic & Panama Canal Shipping"

    Robin Storm has "Waterspouts and Ships!"

    The Financial Times puts a reporter on the containership APL PEARL for an 11 day voyage from Asia to Europe. The story includes a photo slide show. (Click the photo to see more)

    Tims Times has a photo of a lifeboat drill where the crew raised the lifeboat's mainsail. The last ship I was on had sheath-screw davits and not gravity davits, but even that lifeboat had an engine. Depending on your situation, you might wish for a sail, such as when you run out of diesel. But then you need an open boat for sail. It is all about tradeoffs.

    BitterEnd has "Exxon Valdez Appeal to be heard Feb 27, 2007" and points out the catch-all rule.

    Sea * Fever has "Massachusetts Maritime Academy Cruise - Online Adventures in Training at Sea" covering all aspects of the Academy's 2008 sea training cruise.

    Mental floss has "7 Super-Sized (And Somewhat Insane) Soviet Projects" three of which are maritime-related:

    • 'The Baltic–White Sea Canal'
    • 'The World’s Largest Hydrofoil'
    • 'World’s Largest Icebreaker, the Yamal'

    Marine Buzz has the story and photos in "Four in One Australian Marine Complex"

    Marine Buzz also has the outrageous act "Sri Lankan Sea Mines to become Death Trap to Indian Fishermen"

    Marine Link has an update on the NEW FLAME salvage operations.

    Steeljaw Scribe remembers: "23 January 1968: USS Pueblo - Never Forget"

    PilotOnline has "Navy cargo handlers heading to Antarctica" in support of Operation Deep Freeze.

    The Sydney Morning Herald visits a fish market in Tokyo and notes that 'Japan eats 30 per cent of the world's fresh fish' and wonders how long the global fish supply can sustain that type of consumption.

    World Resources Institute has "Immigration Linked to Degraded Ecosystem". Illegal immigration that is.

    According to the Times article, fish populations in Senegal and from other parts of the region were once abundant enough to support livelihoods. But now, families find they are barely scraping by. Major fish stocks are dwindling because of fishing by local boats as well as international fleets, including from the European Union, China, and Russia. This crash in natural resources is encouraging northwest African nationals to attempt migration to more abundant societies. In 2007, about 31,000 Africans attempted to flee to the Canary Islands, which serve as a gateway to Europe. Of these, 6,000 disappeared or died.

    And what is the European Union going to do about it? Blame the US maybe?

    Well, Conservatives in the European Parliament are pointing the finger when it comes to the fisheries mess in "50th birthday of 'disastrous' Common Fisheries Policy"

    Fisheries Spokesman for the Conservatives in the European Parliament, Struan Stevenson MEP, labelled the policy "disastrous", as he and colleagues continue their campaign to end the disgraceful by-catch and discards problem, which is a key consequence of the TAC (Total Allowable Catch) restrictions and quotas regime of the CFP. Up to a million tonnes of healthy fish - simply undersized, immature or out of quota - are thrown dead over the side of fishing boats in European waters every year.

    Maybe they can solve the by-catch discards problem by selling it all to the Japanese.

    Daily News (Sri Lanka) has more fisheries news in "USAID Improves livelihoods of Kirinda Fishermen"

    The Jawa Report has lots of video "Teh Brutal: U.S. Navy SEAL Training". They have the whole series posted. If you haven't seen it, you should, if your interested in how they build SEALS.

    The Sydney Morning Herald also has the seizure of the Australian Customs enforcement vessel TRITON by some members of the civilian crew as part of a wage dispute.

    Cruise Bruise has "Passengers Angered By Deliberate Path Into Cyclone - P & O Cruises Pacific Star - January 20, 2008" Maybe P&O is targeting the wrong passengers. They need the ones who complain when port calls are canceled due to bad weather.

    Shipping Times (UK) has "Unions discuss FOC shipping with Irish ministers - ITF presses for collaboration over access to vessels..." noting that 'the number of seafarers who disappear without a trace – some 1,500 annually.'

    BoingBoing has a photo of a "Rusting cargo ship wreck on the Great Barrier Reef"

    Life at Sea has "The Deep Blue Monsters"

    MEMRI has posted a commercial from which illustrates shipping's possible role in Global warming. Good graphics. Pure Propaganda. More coverage at FoxNews.

    Haight's Maritime Items has:

    UK – MSC NAPOLI update - The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) issued a press notice stating that the accommodation block on the stern of the wreck of the MSC NAPOLI has been removed. The only remaining major part of the wreck is the underlying stern section, which is listing 30 degrees to starboard. Discussions are underway to decide the timetable and method for its removal, which is expected to commence in April. In the meantime, a 500 meter total exclusion zone remains in effect. (1/18/08). - Dennis Bryant Holland & Knight homepage (Used with Permission)


    DOT – wounded warriors to serve at USMMA - The Department of Transportation issued a news release stating that the US Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) at Kings Point, New York will be opened to US Navy and Marine Corps veterans recovering from combat injuries. Participating veterans will be eligible for light duty assignments such as classroom instruction and mentoring. (1/24/08). - Dennis Bryant Holland & Knight homepage (Used with Permission)

    Fairplay Daily News has:

    Flu outbreak leaves chickens at sea - QATAR 22 January – Hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of chicken and poultry products are stranded on ships in the Arabian Sea after a bird flu outbreak, according to local reports. Qatar in the Persian Gulf and Oman on the Arabian Sea have banned Indian poultry imports after the incidence of avian flu in West Bengal, according to Middle Eastern media. The two states' ports have now denied entry to ships in transit with poultry product cargoes such as eggs. The MidEast states are primary importers of Indian poultry products and imposed the ban on the advice of veterinary experts. Poultry products from Iran have also been banned, although no reason has been given. Commodity Online says that about 4% of India's daily egg production – about six million eggs a day – are exported to the Middle East and Africa. Alternative export destinations are being sought in Kyrgyzstan, Albania, Afghanistan, South Africa, Sierra Leone and Angola. - 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, January 23

    South Africa - Zimbabwe in Slow Motion

    Everybody knows what a disaster Zimbabwe is. Many who can flee the country already have, with a good portion of them going to South Africa. What most people do not know, is that South Africa is headed down the very same path:
    As probably the whole world knows by now about Robert Mugabe and the White Farmers in Zimbabwe, probably very few know that the exact same thing is happening in South Africa. The only difference is that the practise of seizing farms is on a much smaller scale, and the media keeps relatively quiet about it, and so does the Government. - Anamnesis
    It is not easy to find stories about land reform in South Africa, other than a couple of them that heap praise on the process, which it very well might deserve, as long as your comparing their process to how land reform being done in Zimbabwe. But I did find this one story confirming the violence:
    More than 1,500 white farmers have been murdered over the past decade of peaceful majority rule in South Africa. - BBC
    And they aren't just being murdered; They are often first tortured and then butchered to death. This story and others have comments from blacks encouraging South Africa to speed up the 'reform' more along the lines of how Zimbabwe has proceeded. Seeing how well that has worked for Zimbabwe, it makes me wonder just how smart the Government of South Africa really is. Sure Apartheid is over, but it makes no sense to destroy an industry in the spirit of 'reform'. What kind of reform is it anyway? In almost all cases, the land is lost to all practical farming use once it is taken away from the professional farmer. Often the recipient often does little to farm the plot. Even if some do, they are only working a small piece of the original farm and they will produce little more than what is needed for home use. Land 'reform' is also destroying businesses that were providing employment and salaries to local workers and turning those workers into new slaves, tied to the land that has been given to them.

    Africa can be great, but first they need to stop looking back constantly. While something has to be done to help lift the black populations of 'colonial' Africa out of poverty, it makes no sense to punish the whites in the process and by that I mean that they should not dismantle the farms. Instead they should try to build on their success. How about starting more farms with the workers being shareholders of them? (How about making the mine workers shareholders of the mines they work.) How about more vineyards? Along with that there is a need to build up an education infrastructure. Land does not make a person a farmer. Education, knowledge and experience does.

    Why is the UN Pleading for Food for Zimbabwe? - 2 Aug 07
    Zimbabwe photos - Land reform - 22 Aug 06

    More links:
    Land Reform, Africa - Wikipedia
    South Africa, Agriculture - Wikipedia

    Tuesday, January 22

    Thompson 2008 - Now What?

    As you already know, Fred is out. The big question many are asking now is who will the Fredheads support now? The media seems to be hoping that we'll now all blindly move over to either McCain or Huckabee. I find that highly unlikely. As for myself, I know more who I won't support than who I will.

    For starters, Giuliani is not an option. I wrote about my problems with him here. Then there is Huckabee, who as Fred (Thompson) commented is pursuing a Democrat agenda, making him equally unacceptable. (Not to mention his whoring of religion for votes)

    I'm left with Romney and McCain.

    My first thought is to write in Thompson. No, that's not right. Not unless there is some sort of massive write-in organized, and that will never happen. So I guess I will vote for Romney. Now I just need to get excited about it. Well it will be excitement enough if he beats whoever the Democrats push forward. And when that happens, there will be no shortage of lost marbles on the left. That has to be worth a good laugh.

    Rusty at The Jawa Report expresses a strong case for supporting Romney in his post "Fredheads, It's Time to Support Mitt". Thanks Rusty.

    I can already see one immediate benefit. There is no way I'm going to donate any campaign money his way being the millionaire that he is. To bad it's illegal for him to buy my vote. Not that I would sell it, but it would be nice to get an offer. Well, stopping earmarks would be nice payback. If not, then how about earmarking some funds for FFI.


    More 2008 election posts here including:

    Giuliani 2008 - Here's Your 'Lazy' Presidential Candidate - 6 Jan 08
    Giuliani 2008 - 24 Aug 07

    Previous Fred Thompson:
    Thompson 2008 - 28 Dec 07
    Thompson 2008 Update - "doing it for the right reasons" - 29 Dec 07
    Thompson 2008 - Go Fred - 5 Jan 08


    Monday, January 21

    Maritime Monday 94

    Welcome to this weeks edition of Maritime Monday.

    You can find Maritime Monday 44 here. (Published 29 January 2007)

    You can find last week's edition here.

    Did I miss something? Did I ignore your part of the world? Then feel free to add stories that I missed in the comments. Feel free to comment in general as well.

    This Weeks Photos:

    Wavefield Inseis ASA:

    Wavefield Inseis ASA is a Norwegian company providing a range of proprietary and non-exclusive Multi-client marine geophysical services using highly specified vessels and the latest seismic equipment.

    From our main offices in Bergen and Oslo, Norway, and our other locations in London, Houston and Perth, Wavefield Inseis has a global reach, with activities in the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

    Equipped for success
    Wavefield Inseis ASA was founded by a number of the most experienced people in the geophysical industry in order to provide a high quality range of services aimed at increasing the exploration success of its clients and to assist them in maximising production from their existing reservoirs.

    All of the founders of the company, and all key staff, have a common recent history and know the strengths that a dedicated, highly flexible and responsive team can bring to any project. Not only in conventional towed streamer surveys, but also with complex projects that involve feasibility studies, front-end engineering and bespoke equipment design and processes - projects such as permanent seismic array installation, deep water OBC surveys, and one-off shallow water and source vessel rigging.

    Our range of proprietary and non-exclusive Multi-client services includes long offset 2D, high capacity 3D, 4D, Multi-azimuth and Wide-azimuth data acquired with highly specified vessels and the latest seismic equipment. We are also a full service permanent 4D acquisition provider and will, through a number of strategic alliances, bring new technologies to market to further accelerate and de-risk the replenishment of our clients' reserves. - Website






    You can view the fleet here.

    You can also see photos of the inside of the GEOWAVE MASTER taken by 'Colin' and posted to Picasa here including this one of the server space:

    "loads of computers, 18Tb is just for us, all the kits uses about 2.5GW of power (ish)"

    You could say that the data collected is the cargo.

    This Weeks Items:

    I receive an Honorable Discharge from the US Navy.

    Eagle Speak has "Capturing real live pirates and how they whine" covering the capture of two Sea Shepherd pirates by a Japanese whaling vessel. (Eagle Speak promises to publish his weekly series Sunday Ship History later today, so check out his homepage for updates. You should be doing that anyway, since he covers maritime issues all week long.)

    The Nelson Mail (NZ) has "Maritime law may be on the whalers' side"

    Seems that I am not the only one to notice that shipping has been taking a real beating so far this year. Robin Storm posts about it in "January 2008 A Interesting Start to the Maritime New Year!"

    Chaotic Synaptic Activity has for his weekly series Monday Maritime Matters the WWII contributions of the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company located on the Great Lakes, covering the problems they faced from building submarines with no previous experience to the long journey to get them to the open sea once completed.

    gCaptain has the amazing post "Windoc Incident - Story Behind YouTube’s Most Chilling Video". You saw the video, now get the story.

    gCaptain also has the news of a contest to name Royal Caribbean's first Genesis-Class cruiseship, which when launched will by far be the world's largest.

    Tugster has no less than five posts full of photos covering the PEKING Drydocking. He even managed to get aboard during the return voyage to South Street Seaport. So go to his homepage and scroll through the related posts.

    Sea * Fever has more on the PEKING in "The return of the (Pe)King". He also has posted the 'second part of Irving Johnson’s amazing video Round the Horn on Peking'. The first part he posted here. This is a video of extremes. Not only is there some truly classic crazy sailing footage, but it also seems to draw out the extremes in men and women. The men who really enjoy watching it and the women who see it as boring.

    The Horse's Mouth has photos of the ICE PRINCE sinking in a post titled "See You Later Alligator." The crew managed to safely abandon ship well before she went down.

    SAILORS, MARINERS & WARRIORS LEAGUE has this week's must read for anyone who either wants to attempt a solo Atlantic crossing or anyone who doesn't think that boat insurance is important in "Sailor Sends Mayday To His Local Bar". Actually, just go and read it. This story has a little something for everyone, especially if you think your having a bad day. It is Monday, isn't it?

    Maritime Accident Casebook has "Cargo Ship Sinks Off Philippines"

    The Pilot Boat covers an engine casualty on the MT NEW VISION in "Places of Refuge"

    Helsingin Sanomat has "Initiative for new sea centre to support marine research" in the Baltic as well as "Herring develop a taste for feared waterflea invader"

    MarEx Newsletter has "Federal Lawsuit Challenging Legality of Rebuilt Matson Ship Stirs Up Jones Act Arguments Anew"

    The Jones Act is simply a huge can of worms. It spans the full spectrum of manning, building, registration and a host of other variables. Thanks, in part, to the U.S. Maritime Administration, we are on the cusp of placing U.S. maritime cadets on board foreign-flag tonnage in a planned -- and substantial -- fashion, which hopefully will eventually follow with the wholesale manning of foreign-flag tonnage with U.S. professionals. This type of promising development, opening up worldwide opportunities for U.S. mariners, also opens up another Pandora’s box. I’m not aware, as of yet, that anyone has fully looked at the implications of U.S. nationals on foreign ships, and what their "Jones Act" rights might be under these conditions, down the road.

    Hawaii Vacation Connection podcasts from the Hawaii Superferry in "A Great Ride on the Hawaii Superferry"

    Cargo Law has a photo collection of the reefer container stack disaster on the JEPPESON MAERSK.

    Bitter end observes the 50th anniversary of AMVER and notes the 230th anniversary of Captain James Cook's arrival in the Hawaii Islands. He was the First European to do so.

    Financial Times has "Shipping challenges negative image" which covers the new industry website Container Shipping Information Service which includes interesting fact and a couple photos.

    It is estimated that on average a container ship emits around 40 times less CO2 than a large freight aircraft and over three times less than a heavy truck. Container shipping is also estimated to be two and a half times more energy efficient than rail and 7 times more so than road. - CSIS

    Container ship in Suez canal

    The BBC looks back at the MSC NAPOLI grounding with an update on the looting and looters.

    Lloyds List has "European ship recycling industry 'not feasible'" while their Newsroom Blog has "Safer ship recycling"

    Marine Buzz has "Sea Launch Successfully Launches Thuraya 3 Satellite" including video of the launch and "Australian Kayakers Successfully Paddled across the Tasman Sea". It took them 62 days.

    Tree Hugger has "Coral Reef + Cruise Ship= Conservation?"

    Tims Times spies the REPUBBLICA DI GENOVA from afar.

    Auto Unleashed has "370 BMWs damaged in cargo ship incident". The story includes photos of the victims:


    AutoBlog names the ship as the M/V COURAGE. The damage was due to the ship 'tipping'. No mention of the cause, but surely it is stability-related. No mention of any injuries which is somewhat amazing considering that the accident most likely happened after the longshoremen removed the lashing straps and before they were discharged.

    Shirlaw News Group has "Two Killed After 'Chemical Leak' On Ship"

    The Monitor posts "Unwanted vessel motion causes more problems than seasickness"

    The US Navy appears to not be the only ones having problems with their shipbuilding Program. EndofEmpire - The Independent Eye has problems for Russian Navy Shipbuilding.

    A couple of the pleasure sailor bloggers (and the like) have been running an ongoing theme of 'Fish on Fridays'. Never Sea Land has decided to put all the other sites to shame with a gallery of over 200 photos. Seems to be safe for work. Then again, that assumes that the people in charge are rational and that your not sitting there for an hour checking out the photos. If you are confronted with charges that you were looking at NSFW content, just point out they are the ones who are very sick for even thinking that.

    Nepunus Lex covers the attempt to rid the US Naval Academy of one of some tradition involving plebes climbing the 'Herndon Monument' in an attempt to make the Academy safer and more P.C.

    Gizmodo has images and story of "NYC Installing Gigantic 120-Foot Waterfalls Under the Brooklyn Bridge, in the East River"

    Freaque Waves has "Aloha, Huge waves roar!". Those rough seas have resulted in a number of canceled sailings for the Hawaii Superferry.

    Mad Mariner covers "Boating at Night Brings Intensifies the Dangers and Challenges. Preparation is the Key."

    CDR Salamander is searching for an UNCLASIFIED Powerpoint on the National Security Frigate authored and being passed around by Northrop Grumman. So go and help him out if you have a copy.

    The Private Islands Blog has "The King of Mann".

    In the John Goodman movie "King Ralph" an American accidentally becomes King of England.

    In a real-life reprisal of the circumstances of the movie, and American discovered he was heir to the long dormant title of "King of Mann". This is the title of the former monarchs of the Isle of Man, a British possession in the Irish Sea. - Link to the rest of the story


    I included this photo found on Never Sea Land for the enjoyment of you electrical engineers out there:

    The plugs look Finnish. But the beer bottles suggest some other location in Europe.

    Haight's Maritime Items has:

    Canada – longshore workers must apply for security clearances - The Federal Court of Appeal of Canada issued an order denying a motion by a longshore workers’ union for a stay from the regulation requiring maritime workers in Canada to apply for security clearances. The court ruled that, for a stay to be granted, applicants must show: (1) that there is a serious question to be tried; (2) that irreparable harm will be suffered by the applicants if the stay is not granted; and (3) that the balance of inconvenience favors granting of a stay. The court found that this was a serious question, but that any harm that might be suffered was not irreparable and that the important public interests involved outweighed any inconvenience to the applicants. The application for a stay from the requirement of these workers to apply for a security clearance under the Marine Transportation Security Clearance Program (MTSCP) was denied. Note: this Canadian program is similar to the US Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program. International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 517 v. The Attorney General of Canada, 2008 FCA 3 (1/7/08). - Dennis Bryant Holland & Knight homepage (Used with Permission)

    Fairplay Daily News has:

    Operators turn backs on Nigeria - ONNE 15 January – AP Møller-Maersk is stopping all its ship calls to Onne, south of Port Harcourt, because of the continued violence and insecurity in the region, while French operator Bourbon has halted all activity in the Bonny River area for similar reasons. Maersk, which runs supply vessels and container ships into Onne, was quoted by Reuters yesterday as saying that no Maersk ship will visit the port until security is “demonstrably re-established”. Bourbon’s fast support and invervention vessel Bourbon Leda, under charter to Shell, was among a convoy attacked on the Bonny River by gunmen on 9 January, and two of its crew injured. The company says on its website that it has put upgraded security procedures in place and, along with other (un-named) oil operators, has “decided to suspend all activity in this area until further notice”. In Port Harcourt last night, a policeman was killed and two others seriously injured after escorting a Nigerian Ports Authority official home. Unknown persons tossed an explosive into the police car, press agencies report. Elsewhere in Rivers State, another offshore supply vessel was attacked by suspected militants yesterday, according to Afriquenligne. No further details were reported. - 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'.


    Saturday, January 19

    Nigeria Lottery Scam Live (Video)

    This is not only a great commercial, but a great example of how stupid many people are for not using a little common sense and reason when presented with a situation that one would hope is true, but in all reality cannot be true at all:

    - Video Link -

    Than again, who knows, it can be real. All of the people scammed in these emails thought so, at least a little. Surely, there is 'lost' money out there and from what I have seem, there is lots of it. Many people believe these scams to be true thanks partly to the high rate of corruption and 'stolen' fortunes in the third world. However, these people ALWAYS have other people that they can turn to in order to get the money moved to their secret bank accounts. They also have the means to move the money that is just not available to you and me, such as hidden inside diplomatic pouches. (From stories I have heard, at least one shipment involved truckloads of cash moving back into Eastern Europe under diplomatic pouch.) Another thing to keep in mind is that these people do move the money out of the countries they steal it from.

    As part of my job, I sometimes see problems like this from the other side and by that I mean I see people who are trying to document that they are the owners of bank accounts and other assets worth millions and in at least one case a family dealing with claiming over a billion dollars in assets left behind by brothers from the Middle East who had since died after setting up corporations to hold the assets for 'safekeeping'. However, in every case it is family members who are involved in trying to reclaim the money. (This often happens while the thief is alive, with the others attempting to hijack the family's jewels.) One reason is because they knew of the existence of the money in the first place. Really, like who does not know that Putin is looting billions from Russia. And he is not showing up at a bank counter in Switzerland to deposit it. He has others managing his loot. They will be the first in line to steal it if the opportunity arises, and they are not going to need your help.

    The 'Rose Household Textiles' Nigeria Scam - 21 Dec 06

    - -

    Thursday, January 17

    Honorable Discharge

    I first submitted my resignation request in April of 2007. I received a confirmation a couple of months later that my discharge was 'in process'. Then about a month ago, I received a nasty-gram advising that I was not 'current' in the Reserve Program and either needed to (a.) Get back into good standing with the Navy, (b.) Resign or (c.) Do nothing and be transferred to the inactive reserves. The first choice was no longer an option for me as my continued participation in the program required a valid US Coast Guard License and mine had since expired. So I submitted a second resignation request and just received confirmation that I have been Honorably Discharged from the United States Navy.

    So ends a relatively short Navy career. I started my training in the summer of 1990 and was commissioned an Ensign in 1994. I think the most notable accomplishment of my Navy 'Career' was obtaining my STCW 95 training to allow me to upgrade my (STCW 78) Third Mate License. It might not sound like much, but it was for me. Oddly enough, I never served on a Navy ship. I did go 'overseas' to Panama to participate in a large training operation. That was very interesting and fun, especially considering that I was working with those who were running the operation. My last active duty assignment was in a 'Crisis Command Center' in Washington, DC during Operation Iraqi Freedom tracking ships and cargo around the globe.

    As with everyone else, I have had my fair share of difficulties with Navy administration. It took the Navy two years before they realized that I was not in their main (DEERS) database. I was in Panama at the time attempting to get a new ID card, which they refused to issue because I was not in the system. Things got worse when my unit told them that I was not one of theirs. Eventually that got sorted out when the Chief requested that they check again as I was standing in front of him, with orders that they had issued. Then there was the task of getting a 'five-year physical'. It was at that time that I learned that I failed my commissioning physical.

    I have been awarded no medals, not even 'National Defense' which as one friend told me, everyone gets. Yes they do, but someone has to award it to you when you qualify, which never happened in my case. I don't like the idea of having to chase people down to give me an 'award'. No matter. As long as I don't have aspirations to run for President, then it's not an issue.

    Ever since I was a child I had wanted to be in the Navy. Strange enough it was having my own children that killed off any illusion I had of continuing as an active Reserve Officer. That's a shame as I always looked forward to going on active duty.

    [Note: This is by no means a full summary of my involvement with and contributions to the Navy. So feel free NOT to pass judgement unless your another Merchant Marine Reservist. It's also good to keep in mind that opportunities were much fewer and far between both in the Navy and Merchant Marine in '94, when I got out of school.]

    Wednesday, January 16

    (Finland's) Taxpayer Data Available Online

    In terms of violation of privacy, Finland's publishing of taxpayer data has to rank as one of the biggest first-world violations of personal privacy around.

    Many people feel like they are losing control of their right to privacy. Just imagine how pissed off you would be to see your tax data published like this:

    (Last Name, First Name, Earned Income, Investment Income, Wealth)

    This is what socialism gets you. You see, the thinking here is that you can check up on your neighbors and compare their reported earnings against their lifestyle. Just to make sure that nobody is cheating on their taxes or at the very least to see that your neighbor isn't earning much more than you are.

    However, as far as a tool for discovering fraud, this is pretty useless. Not only that, but people who have reported income of under 10,000 Euros are not included in the list. This is a group very likely to cheat, compared to the others, as they are most likely to be collecting public welfare. Oddly enough, while they are big on publishing earned income, there is no list of those who are receiving benefits so there is no public review to out fraudulent beneficiaries. So much for fairness.

    There is another problem in trying to track down fraud this way. There are other ways to afford things than by straight income. Houses and cars are financed by loans and for the rest there is the credit card. For the longest time I heard how irresponsible Americans were with their credit cards. Well it turns out that Finns were more responsible because it was very difficult to get a credit card there and much more expensive if you actually wanted to use it. That is now changing and surprise, Finns are finding themselves in debt. That is a number that the tax authorities don't publish. Only now to convince them not to publish the other numbers either. This information has no right being in the public domain where anyone can download it from BitTorrent. (Most likely the information was illegally uploaded to BitTorrent, but the upload was of publicly available data.)

    Veropörssi 06 - Pirate Bay BitTorrent download of Finland's Taxpayer Data