Thursday, July 31

Update: Whose Side is Germany On?

It seems that Germany still is playing both sides:
In the first speech by a German chancellor to the Knesset, Angela Merkel earned Israel's respect in March by insisting that Iran's nuclear program must be stopped and that, if necessary, "Germany will push for further sanctions."

Oh, really? It now turns out that only a month earlier, Germany's Export Control Office had given the green light for a €100 million ($157 million) gas deal with Iran. Business interests, it seems, trump any proclaimed concerns for Israel's security.

Berlin's refusal to use its considerable economic leverage over Tehran puts it at odds not only with Washington but increasingly with its European partners in London and Paris. Following February's export approval, SPG Steiner-Prematechnik-Gastec will build three plants that turn gas to liquid fuels in the Islamic Republic, the Siegener Zeitung reported last week. Ms. Merkel's assurance that Israel's security is "nonnegotiable" is further put in doubt by the fact that her party colleague, Hartmut Schauerte, had been pushing the Export Control Office to speed up the process. - The Wall Street Journal
This is how 'evil' regimes keep going.  Sure they have Russia and China to back them up, but they still need advance technology from the west.  And it is the ever 'useful idiots' who are ready to trade international security for a couple of dollars.  For Iraq, it was France for a large part through oil-for-food.  For Iran, they have Germany.  They probably would have France to assist as well if it were not for the change in Government there.  As for Germany, their economic interests have long corrupted their stance as negotiator for the West as I mentioned back in 2005:
The E.U.3 have another problem. They are all working to get more access to Iran for French, German, and British businesses. It must be hard to push the Iranians one minute on the nuclear issue and the next minute ask for access to more business opportunities. Could the negotiators the US is depending on compromise themselves any more than they already have? - FFI
Even worse, it almost looks like Germany is taking advantage of the push to isolate Iran to advance their own business opportunities, taking advantage of the fact that other markets are closed to the Iranian regime.  This is exactly what the Soviet Union did for Nazi Germany until the Nazis blindsided them.  Now the Germans are setting themselves up for defeat again before the first shot is even fired. Unfortunately, we are going to suffer for their stupidity if nobody steps forward to stop Iran's nuclear program.

Go read my original post (here) concerning a number of mixed signals that Germany has been sending out over the years.

Berlin ♥ Iran - the Wall Street Journal

Whose Side is Germany On? - FFI - 11 Jan 2006


Tuesday, July 29

DC to Require Disassembly of Cars When Not in Use

Take this from one of Washington, DC's idiotic politicians:

If approved, Mendelson’s bill would allow residents to register handguns but it would still require them to keep the weapons unloaded and disassembled, or sealed off with trigger locks. It would allow citizens to reassemble the guns for “immediate self-defense.” - DC Examiner
Now compare that statement with what Mr. Mendelson writes on his own website:

Phil believes government should be an honest, efficient deliverer of services, that the District should help those least able to help themselves to develop the skills to become self-sufficient and end the cycle of poverty, and that government must do this without increasing the tax burdens already shouldered by our middle and upper income residents. The District, as the nation's capital, should be a model of service delivery -- in public education, public safety, and public health. - Phil Mendelson
What BS. They might as well decree that all DC car owners disassemble their cars when not in use, because cars kill people too. (As a side benefit, they can claim that this new car law will cut down on car thefts.)  As it so happens, a version of the gun bill was passed requiring gun owners to keep their weapons unloaded and disassembled, or sealed off with trigger locks

So, why don't gun owners just disassemble their guns? Well they do, to clean them. So most gun owners in the country are at least temporarily in compliance with the DC law, but definitely not by choice. Here is what my 1911-A1 looks like disassembled.  No person in their right mind keeps their gun like this, unless perhaps when there is some special reason to do so, like they are waiting for a replacement part or they are using the pistol for parts for other handguns.  How would you like to put this together in the middle of the night for “immediate self-defense.”?

Here it is partly reassembled, but still not in any way you'd want to keep a weapon unless you were afraid that the owner might go and try to shoot a criminal with it.

In this last photo, the spring here just needs to be pushed in and locked.  But there is no way I'm keeping my gun stored like this.  Oddly enough, this is probably in violation of the law because it is possible to fire the gun this way, at least once.

Since I live in Virginia, I'm more likely to keep it like this on a shelf. (The bag being zipped shut)

Good thing too that I live in Virginia as DC seems to dislike semi-automatics regardless of being disassembled or not, so I would only be able to keep my .45 if I had owned it already illegally, or so we are led to believe.

However, my Iver Johnson .22 cal. M1 Carbine would be legal in DC, again provided that it is disassembled. But look at the number of loose parts for this rifle when taken down for cleaning:

There is nothing 'immediate' when it comes to putting this rifle back together.

While it appears disassembled in this photo, it will function as long as you keep your hand out of the way of the slide mechanism.  But that probably puts it in violation of minimum length rules, so be sure to attach the stock before shooting any criminals with it.  Better yet, just take the stock and club your intruder with it, because you are not going to have the time to do anything else.

This public service message brought to you by the District of Columbia, the nation's capital, "a model of service delivery -- in public education, public safety, and public health"

P.S. I do read the Examiner prior to using it for cleaning my guns.

DC Councilmember Phil Mendelson

There is just one other small problem:

The only time that a gun can be unlocked is when it being used for self-defense against an immediate attack; accordingly, it is illegal to remove the lock from an unloaded gun in order to clean the gun. - The Volokh Conspiracy
When will the craziness stop?


Monday, July 28

Maritime Monday 121 Posted at gCaptain

This week's edition of Maritime Monday has been posted at gCaptain.

You can find last week’s edition here.

You can find Maritime Monday 71 here. (Published 13 August 2007).

Previous Editions:
As linked below or click on the label ‘MaritimeMonday’:

1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13 - 14 - 15 - 16 - 17 - 18 - 19 - 20 - 21 - 22 - 23 - 24 - 25 - 26 - 27 - 28 - 29 - 30 - 31 - 32 - 33 - 34 - 35 - 36 - 37 - 38 - 39 - 40 - 41 - 42 - 43 - 44 - 45 - 46 - 47 - 48 - 49 - 50 - 51 - 52 - 53 - 54 - 55 - 56 - 57 - 58 - 59 - 60 - 61 - 62 - 63 - 64 - 65 - 66 - 67 - 68 - 69 - 70 - 71 - 72 - 73 - 74 - 75 - 76 - 77 - 78 - 79 - 80 - 81 - 82 - 83 - 84 - 85 - 86 - 87 - 88 - 89 - 90 - 91 - 92 - 93 - 94 - 95 - 96 - 97 - 98

gCaptain editions: 99 - 100 - 101 - 102 - 103 - 104 - 105 - 106 - 107 - 108 - 109 - 110 - 111 - 112 - 113 - 114 - 115 - 116 - 117 - 118 - 119 - 120 - 121 - 122 - 123 - 124 - 125


Tuesday, July 22

Welcome to Lucerne, Switzerland - Home of the Wallet Inspector!

Remember the 'wallet inspector' thief from The Simpsons?

  • Nerd: "Don't worry, Mr. Simpson. We'll be fine."

{Snake comes up to them}

  • Snake: "Uh, wallet inspector."

  • Doug: "Oh, well. Here you go. I believe everything's in order."

  • Snake: "Woah. I can't believe that worked!"

  • Homer: "I am so smart. I am so smart. I am so smart. S-M-R-T....Uh, I mean S-M-A-R-T." - Simpson's Wiki

Well it seems that some visitors to Lucerne, Switzerland are also being suckered by wallet inspectors.

Wrong policemen as thieves on tour
Be cautious there are wrong policemen in town.

They act as follows:
One perpetrator introduces him to you and tells you to be a tourist.  He involves you into a dialog.  After a while the other two perpetrators in plainclothes identify themselves as policemen.  They tell that they have to control the wallets.  First, the accomplice shows them his wallet therefore you will think to do the same and will hand them out your purse.  The wrong policemen will get the purse back to you and they will tell you that everything is all right… But your money will be stolen unseen.

And all these Europeans are supposed to be so smart and sophisticated. How about executing fake policemen? That would be a good way to fight that crime.


Sunday, July 20

Hello - I'm in Switzerland


I have not been posting so much lately as I left on a last-minute work trip to Z├╝rich, Switzerland last Monday.

I'll be back in the US on Friday.  Until then I will be enjoying the local beer, bratwurst and wiener schnitzel, after work of course.  Blogging I can do anywhere.  I am only in Switzerland for a couple of days, so I plan to enjoy it.  (Especially considering that the worst task of the trip was accomplished Friday.)

Thursday, July 17

Now the US Government Has A Problem With Short Sales?!?!?!

It is funny how all of a sudden the US Government takes an interest in something once it becomes liable for the cost.

Takes this news item:

US regulators will take emergency action to stop abusive short-selling in shares of financial institutions such as mortgage financiers Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Lehman Brothers.

Christopher Cox, Securities and Exchange Commission chairman, told legislators yesterday that the agency would issue an emergency rule to stop so-called "naked" short-selling of shares in significant financial entities. The SEC will also consider new rules to extend those trading limits to the rest of the market.

In "naked" short-selling, traders aim to profit from selling shares they do not own and have not borrowed. The emergency rule would require any person making a short sale to borrow the securities before the short sale is effected and deliver the securities on the settlement date. -
So now that the US Treasury might be dealing with the collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac stock, they have a problem with short sales of stock, especially in cases of naked shorting. Keep in mind that up to this point the Government and stock market regulators have basically dismissed ALL complaints about stock market short sale abuses.  But now, not only do they appear to admit that there is substantial naked shorting, but that there is also 'abusive' naking shorting as well.

Still, this is pretty damn short sided since it only applies to certain large companies specifically named in the order. I guess it is still ok to abusively short other stocks.  This limited order might oddly push abusive short sellers to other stocks increasing the effect on them of this abusive practice. Lets forget naked shorting for a minute and just concentrate on the shorting of stock.

A person ‘shorts’ a stock by borrowing it and then selling it. He then hopes to make a profit by buying the stock back at a lower price. Short selling is normally defined as an ‘accepted’ practice in the Stock Market.

Short selling:
An investor who sells stock short borrows shares from a brokerage house and sells them to another buyer. Proceeds from the sale go into the shorter's account. He must buy those shares back (cover) at some point in time and return them to the lender.
Shorting has the effect of increasing the total number of shares available. Imagine a company that has ten shares of stock. I own five of the shares and you own five. Your shares are borrowed by a broker who then sells them. The end result, I own five shares, you own five shares, buyer ‘x’ owns five shares. That totals fifteen shares. The way the professionals reason that this is ok is because somewhere there is shorter ‘y’ who owes fives shares. In this basic example, the total number of shares available was increased by 50%. However, there are plenty of stocks with five and even ten percent of the stock ‘float’ shorted. That increases the number of shares available by millions.

Not very fair is it?  Now this situation is with the shares being properly 'borrowed'.  I question the validity of being able to short a stock. Unfortunately for stockholders, shorting a stock has the result of increasing the amount of shares that are available for sale.

A result of short sales is an increase in the supply of shares available to be sold at every price level and reducing the pressure on the stock price to rise in order to meet a demand for the shares, even if all the stockholders have no intention of selling, since others are willing to take your shares and sell them (for you.) It is almost if the system is stacked to the side of selling.

Now imagine the increase in the available pool of shares when brokers start naked selling them.

Let’s say that none of a company's stockholders are interested in selling their stock and none are available to borrow to short, but a broker has a client (if not himself) who is just dying to short it. This brings us to the practice/abuse of ‘naked shorting.’

Naked shorting is when a stock is sold short but the ‘borrowed share’ is never delivered three days later at settlement time. Essentially, the broker sold the share without ever buying or borrowing it.

In the U.S., in order to sell stocks short, the seller must arrange for a broker-dealer to confirm that it is able to make delivery of the shorted securities. This is referred to as a "locate", and it is a legal requirement that U.S. regulated broker-dealers not permit their customers to short securities without first obtaining a locate. Brokers have a variety of means to borrow stocks in order to facilitate locates and make good delivery of the shorted security. The vast majority of stocks borrowed by U.S. brokers come from loans made by the leading custody banks and fund management companies (see list below). Sometimes, brokers are able to borrow stocks from their customers who own "long" positions. In these cases, if the customer has fully paid for the long position, the broker can not borrow the security without the express permission of the customer, and the broker must provide the customer with collateral and pay a fee to the customer. In cases where the customer has not fully paid for the long position (meaning, the customer borrowed money from the broker in order to finance the purchase of the security), the broker will not need to inform the customer that the long position is being used to effect delivery of another client's short sale. - Wikipedia
This is not an acceptable way to run a market. Not only that but the “locating” of these shares is deceptive. Take a look at how the regulators define locating stock to short:
Question 4.1: How should broker-dealers determine “reasonableness” to satisfy the locate requirement of Regulation SHO?

Answer: Rule 203(b)(1)(ii) permits a broker or dealer to accept a short sale order in an equity security if the broker-dealer has reasonable grounds to believe that the security can be borrowed so that it can be delivered on the settlement date. “Reasonableness” is determined based on the facts and circumstances of the particular transaction. What is reasonable in one context may not be reasonable in another context. The Commission provided some examples of reasonableness in the Adopting Release. (69 FR at 48014 and Footnotes 58, 61 and 62).
Why on earth is the settlement day for trades still three days later when we have electronic trading? How is it possible for a broker to sell shares of a stock that it does not have, without landing in jail? This is criminal behavior.  It only the regulations that permit this sort of behavior. How is it that a broker is permitted to sell short shares if he has a reasonable certainty that he will be able to locate shares to borrow? How is it that I cannot buy actual shares unless they are sure I have the funds in my account before I even place the order, let alone let me provide funds on the settlement date. The rule should be simple; you cannot short a stock unless you have the borrowed shares in-hand.

Better yet, they should do away with short selling of stock.  If you want to sell a stock, you should buy it first!

Previous Related Posts:
"the biggest global margin call in history"20 Aug 07
You should not be trading on Margin - 9 Jan 2006 (READ)
Congress Should Investigate Short Selling Records - 9 June 2006
Are Brokers 'Screwing' Stockholders through Short Selling? - 6 April 2006
Criminal Charges for Hedge Fund Over Naked Shorting - 9 Dec 2006
Morgan Stanley fined $2.9 Million for Rogue Trading - 26 Oct 2006
Do You Know If You Have A Margin Account? - 2 May 2007


Wednesday, July 16

Maritime Monday 119 Posted at gCaptain

This week's edition of Maritime Monday has been posted at gCaptain.

You can find last week’s edition here.

You can find Maritime Monday 69 here. (Published 30 July 2007).

Previous Editions:

As linked below or click on the label ‘MaritimeMonday’:

1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13 - 14 - 15 - 16 - 17 - 18 - 19 - 20 - 21 - 22 - 23 - 24 - 25 - 26 - 27 - 28 - 29 - 30 - 31 - 32 - 33 - 34 - 35 - 36 - 37 - 38 - 39 - 40 - 41 - 42 - 43 - 44 - 45 - 46 - 47 - 48 - 49 - 50 - 51 - 52 - 53 - 54 - 55 - 56 - 57 - 58 - 59 - 60 - 61 - 62 - 63 - 64 - 65 - 66 - 67 - 68 - 69 - 70 - 71 - 72 - 73 - 74 - 75 - 76 - 77 - 78 - 79 - 80 - 81 - 82 - 83 - 84 - 85 - 86 - 87 - 88 - 89 - 90 - 91 - 92 - 93 - 94 - 95 - 96 - 97 - 98

gCaptain editions: 99 - 100 - 101 - 102 - 103 - 104 - 105 - 106 - 107 - 108 - 109 - 110 - 111 - 112 - 113 - 114 - 115 - 116 - 117 - 118 - 119 - 120


Saturday, July 12

USA Today: McCain Beats Obama

There is an interesting poll in today's USA Today web edition:

In a barroom drinking challenge, which candidate would throw in the towel first? - USA Today (located in the sidebar of this post)

As you can see, at the time of posting, about 89 percent of those voting agree that Obama would be the loser of a barroom drinking challenge with McCain.

However, Barack Obama just beat out John McCain in the more popular barbecue guest contest by 52 to 45 percent. (Obama or McCain better barbecue guest?)

So I guess it all depends on the type of company your looking for.  Then again, the only contest that matters is the election in November and I already have my prediction on how that one will turn out.  After all, your not going to spend any time with either of these guys in a bar or at a barbecue. (But they are both welcome to come on out with me! I run a mean grill...)


McCain Beats Obama - FFI 04 June 08


Friday, July 11

Do Fake Missiles Increase the Chance for War?

You know, the Iranians must be either really smart or really stupid.  I guess that all depends on whether they expected us to find out that they faked part or all of their recent missile tests:

On the surface, these guys really tried to bluff their way into being big dogs, but it didn't take too long for Little Green Footballs (as well as other near the same time) to point out some deceptive photoshopping:

So is this a huge propaganda ploy gone bad?  If they were truly trying to show their military strength in some sort of attempt to ward off an attack, then they just showed the world that they got nothing.  I would think that this might actually increase the likelihood of an attack on Iran.  If that's what is being considered by anyone.

The unanswered question is, is that what the Iranians are trying to avoid or make certain?



Thursday, July 10

Update: Why Obama and the Democrats Now Want FISA Passed

Well the Democrats have finally gone and passed FISA legislation to the consternation of their more-radical followers. These Democrats in Congress appear to acknowledge that there is a real terrorist threat out there that their followers either simply want to ignore or want to escape capture by the US. Than again, I guess they can't really explain to their followers that they passed this now because they are sure that Obama will be the next president, and they want to make sure that he and they have the power to spy on their followers, at least those who make international phone calls.  As I suggested before:

Simply put, they all think that Obama is going to be the next President. So giving it to Bush for six months is an acceptable price to them for then giving an Obama Administration the power to wiretap international calls without a warrant.  Plus, they can get past all of the furor now, prior to him taking office, effectively blaming Bush. (Once again.) - Me, on 27 June
One point missed in all of this 'outrage' is what makes any of these moonbats think that the government on the other side of the phone conversation isn't listening in on their phone conversations as well? The discussion so far only concerned wiretaps on the US end of the line.  Some of those countries that have worse places than GITMO. The US Government listening in on your phone calls is the least of your problems.  When was the last time you made an international call?  For those who do, get over yourselves, the government is not interested in you, unless you work with an NGO that spends their time defending suspected terrorists.  As the ACLU admitted before, they were communicating with people "likely to have been targets of the wiretapping."  And just what kind of people might those be?

Why Obama and the Democrats Now Want FISA Passed - 27 June 08
ACLU - The Company You Keep - Update - 23 Feb 08
ACLU - The Company You Keep - 18 Jan 06


Wednesday, July 9

DC's Independence Day Parade - Photos

Here are some photos from Friday's Independence Day Parade in Washington, DC. Unfortunately, I missed the first 5-10 minutes, so I have no clue what I missed. Still it took two hours for the rest of the parade to pass by.

- Iwo Jima -

-Jewish American War Veterans -

- USO Canteen -

- Young Marines -


- Underdog flying low -

- "Female Re-Enactors of Distinction" -

- DC Boy Scouts (I hope that there are lots more than 6!) -

- Miss DC -

- Lots of marching bands from across America -

- Cooper Boone! -


- The West Virginia 'Dairy Princess' -

- DC's Firemen Support our Troops -

- DC Police Bike -

- US Park Police -

- Firemen from a Firehouse in Pennsylvania that was established in 1799 -

- Uncle Sam -




- Garfield -

- Hello Kitty (Japanese American?) -

- Philippine-Americans -




- Vietnamese American -

- Vietnamese Vietnam Veterans -





-Bolivian-American Folkloric Group 'PACHIMAMA' -

- Pachimama Dancer -


- Can't get much more American than McDonalds! -

- Mexican Americans -

- Marching Band from Baltimore -

- 'Marching' Band from Baltimore -

- Falun Gong - 


Even the Falun Gung had a band.

The whole day I only saw one protester:

You know that the parade is over when you start seeing Hare Krishnas....

- Hare Krishnas -

Hope everyone had a great holiday and remember all the sacrifices made to keep the country free...