Wednesday, March 28, 2007

British Sailors Captured and No Action Taken

England was once THE greatest military power in the world, and they certainly have the capabilities to fight a large scale conflict. However, watching the news and seeing the capture of British sailors by the Iranians and the lack of response from the English government, you really have to wonder what has happened to this country. The leaders in the British Isles have done nothing, planned nothing- when they could destroy half of Iran with the push of a few buttons. Has the socialist phony Tony Blair totally lost his balls? How can he even call himself a man? The president of Iran should have a tactical nuke dropped on his home at night- yet Blair does nothing. This will only embolden the nutcases in the Middle East.

Now Iran is negotiating the release of their prisoners being held in the U.K. for the British sailors. Will they negotiate with the terrorist lunatics?

What does this have to do with the Merchant Marine you might think? Well, historically the strength of a nation’s Navy is generally a measure of that nation’s power. Navies were created to safeguard our interests abroad. This includes merchant fleets and it affects us greatly. If the Brits are neglecting their Navy personnel what will happen when the Iranians capture merchant vessels?

We have another Hitler emerging and no one wants to say it. Everyone is being politically correct so that we don’t offend the Muslims. Our reaction should be stronger- the west should lash out and show these jackals what we can do. This goes for England and the U.S. because America must defend its allies as well.

So when your merchant vessel is captured- thank your government for strengthening the resolve of our bitter enemies- the evil rotten dictators in the desert. So write your parliament (or congressmen) and tell them to stand up to these schoolyard bullies. I say nuke them and be done with it. Between the U.S. and U.K. we should be able to get rid of this threat- U.N. rules be damned.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

International shipping school: Estonia

When I was looking at my site statistics today I saw that American visitors were ranked #1, but the interesting thing to me was that Estonia ranked #2. It made me think back to when I was a cadet and we went to Estonia and visited their maritime academy. I was very impressed with it and the cadets there. I would say that they were actually right up there with my school, Maine and the simulator they had at the time was better than ours. I was very impressed by their strong language skills which is something that we tend to lack in the U.S. It is good to know that some of our foreign counterparts are excellent merchant mariners as well, especially when there are so few American ships in the ocean these days.

So for all the Estonian visitors to my site I wanted to say hello and 'Aitah' (I think that is Thank You) for a great stay at your beautiful country and being so welcoming when we visited your maritime school.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Electronics (You'll want) at sea

I was thinking about this today because I have become a real fan of small portable electronics- and for obvious reasons. When you have been shipping for a long time you figure out what you really need and what you will actually use. When you are traveling all over the world and have to pack everything into a certain amount of luggage (in my case the smaller the better) it gets difficult to haul around a lot of electronics with you all over the place. So I have some favorite things that I thought I would share with everyone.

If you have a lot of shore time and you don't have much to do, get yourself a portable GPS and try Geocaching. I had never heard of it before until I got a handheld GPS and started surfing the web. If you join a Geocaching group you can sign up for treasure hunts- not that you will get a pot of gold at the end, but they are fun little diversion. So the next time you plan on being somewhere tropical, pick up your GPS and go hunting for buried treasure.

When I first got out of the academy I was still a video game junkie. Old school sailors (40-over) can probably skip this part. But for those of you that can't live without games- you should try some of the new portable gaming devices. I have a Nintendo DS. Love it. I don't play a lot of the traditional games anymore- but some stuff like Big Brain Academy is great for killing time. It is full of brain teasers and stuff. When you have a lot of time and nowhere to go this is awesome. You could try the PSP (PlayStation Portable) too if you don't mind spending more money.

My absolute favorite thing for the ship is my Palm Pilot Tx. It is small, sleek, powerful enough to do what I want and even comes with WiFi and expansion slots. I was taking graduate school classes while on the ship because I could get all my email messages and do my class work with the wireless keyboard and documents-to-go the program that acts like microsoft office. The Palm Tx also gives you the ability to watch movies, listen to music MP3s, and store anything you want on SD cards. Excellent. I have never tried other brands of pocket computers, but this is really an awesome way to bring all of your work and important documents with you. There are many different types- so do your homework to find out what will suit your needs. If you need a small computing device and don't want an expensive laptop- try this out and you might find your suitcase a little lighter on your next trip to Guam, the Gulf, or wherever you have to drag your stuff to... Happy Sailing

Monday, March 12, 2007

Flagging ships and paying taxes

Today in the News I heard of Haliburton moving to the United Arab Emirates to get out of paying taxes. I am personally not against corporations and I am not opposed to Haliburton per se.. Politically I am an independant that is severely right-wing with a hint of libertarianism. I think that this move will be great for Haliburton, but it sucks for the American people.

I like listening to talk radio. I am a big fan of Micheal Savage. Here is a link to his website and there is also his news source in here- for a few days at least. Haliburton is doing what a lot of shipping companies do. They are going 'foriegn flagged' now- what does this mean? Most US companies that have foriegn flagged ships are still US based companies that pay taxes. But when the company relocates to another country it no longer pays tax. Nothing. NO CORPORATE TAX.

Should they continue to get US contracts? Think about this really hard before you answer. Haliburton is the LARGEST US defense contractor. A large amount of tax dollars go to them to pay for their services. But now they will not pay taxes. The US is going to lose a lot of money because there will be a large outflow of money and nothing is coming back.

Ships that are foriegn flagged are generally excluded from government contracts. So should Haliburton be excluded from government contracts?

What about security? Do you want the radical islamists working for Haliburton making the parachutes for our paratroopers? Putting anthrax inthe MRE's?

Now part of me wants to be good to the corporations because they are the bread and butter that keeps our economy running. BUT- This is bad for America and I am against anything that is bad for you and me. Libertarians generally believe that you can "do what you want as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else."

This kind of thing will hurt us.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

How can we secure the coasts when our borders are wide open?

This is important to me. The borders of our country are in terrible shape and need to be secured if we are going to have any chance of stopping terrorists from getting through. Our border on to Mexico is large but is nothing in comparison to the borders that we call 'coastline'

How can any politician even begin to talk about securing the ports when we cannot control our borders?? As mariners many of you have probably had the experience of being boarded by the Coast Guard and Customs. Ships are not given much slack when it comes to entering the US. So why have American ship crews line up in the galley of their ship like criminals and get the shakedown by our authorities when the borders are a mess??

I don't see how we are making anything safer? I appreciate the Coast Guard (except when it comes to renewing my license) for all that they do, TRYING to secure our coast!!! BUT isn't it all for nothing when everyone knows that it is easy to get through in Mexico or Canada.

How many terrorists are in our country already? How many have come through our weak borders in the north and south?

Next time you are coming back into the country whether it is by ship or plane- watch the security shaking down our countrymen but letting the arab pass so it doesn't look like racial profiling!!! It is insane. There is no reason for this to be going on.

All I can say is that the younger generation is going to have to take power and change things for the better and get rid of all the pothead liberals that are stuck in the Vietnam era. Pray for your friends and family and hope that they are not in the next Skyscraper the muslim radicals take down.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Starting a business is rough

Well the site has been launched early- for tests and working the bugs out. Not many people have found it yet, but I haven't advertised much yet either. It is looking pretty good, but it is a work in progress (and always will be). Someday this will be the most beautiful site. But, of course none of our staff are professional web designers.

Starting up MaritimeLinks has been fun I must say. I don't mind the work. But some companies and government offices I have had to deal with have been awful. I won't mention any names yet, but one business I went to to get the logo for the website- AWFUL service. I guess you get what you pay for and I think they want more money just for speaking to me.

So I cancelled with them and made the logo for myself. Not too bad if I do say so myself.

So for all you businesses out there, I will try my best to be a good business owner and talk to you and give good service to everyone I deal with. I know how awful it can be to have this type of thing happen to you when you don't even hear back from the company that is supposed to be working for you!

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Cargo Screening Bill Shot Down By Business Owners

Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Robert Menendez, D-N.J. offered up a proposal as an amendment to a bill to implement recommendations of the 9/11 Commission that would have required 100% cargo screening at terminals worldwide by the Department of Homeland Security.

The National Association of Manufacturers wrote in an open letter to senators. "A 100 percent scanning requirement could strangle commerce and have a significantly damaging impact on American manufacturers and cost jobs." Businesses across the country would inevitably have to absorb the costs associated with the screening through some form of taxation.

Fortunately, the Republican senators and a handful of Democrats shot down this amendment that would have required humongous increases in TSA screeners across the globe. The time and effort required to screen all cargo coming to the US would be extremely costly and would slow down our economy, each container shipment waiting on TSA approval. Our economy would slow to the speed of an airport security terminal leaving storefronts with empty shelves.

Editors Opinion-
Hopefully a realistic solution to the problem can be implemented that will enable security screeners to protect our country without strangling us with high costs. I imagine that it will require new technology that will allow some sort of "drive-by" screening, something that can see in the containers and show potential dangers to a screener. Then that screener could investigate the situation more thoroughly.

If Senators like Schumer and Menedez had their way we would be waiting in line for toilet paper like those of the former USSR, all for a false sense of security. I think we need to start thinking outside the box and developing new devices that would allow for security AND efficiency. Our shipping industry in the US has already suffered at the hands of our lawmakers and any more restrictions on US vessels will kill our ability compete with the foriegn markets.

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