Thursday, August 9, 2007

Coast Guard Court May Find New Home

This story should really hit home with anyone who has been in trouble with the US Coast Guard. I frequently find articles on mariners being tried for various offenses- often substance related- or for accidents. In an article by the Baltimore Sun there are many allegations that are quite serious and may have effected the fair treatment Merchant Mariners:

  • In two internal memos obtained by The Sun, Ingolia issued private instructions telling other judges how to rule, a practice legal experts and judges from other agencies call inappropriate, and a possible violation of federal laws that require judicial rules to be published and subject to challenge.

  • Attorneys on the chief judge's staff and an attorney on the commandant's staff who helps write appellate decisions have met privately with prosecutors about open cases, according to internal e-mails and court records, an ethical breach that defense attorneys and legal experts are calling obstruction of justice.

  • Records at the Coast Guard's docket center in Baltimore are rife with complaints from defense lawyers who describe hostile hearings, with judges behaving as advocates for the Coast Guard and taking over the interrogation of mariners.

  • One judge expressed fear for his job if he didn't rule in favor of the Coast Guard, despite his belief that the mariner had offered compelling evidence of his innocence, according to court records.

Currently there is Bi-partisan support in the senate to investigate this thouroughly and possible remove the courts from the Coast Guard control. There is also a hearing coming up in which three former judges are going to testify against the organization to the unfair treatment of mariners. Judge Jeffie J. Massey, who retired this year, said in a sworn statement that she was told by Chief Judge Joseph N. Ingolia to always rule in the Coast Guard's favor and came under intense pressure when she did not. Analysis of the court's records reveal a striking imbalance in the decisions of its judges. Mariners have lost virtually every case before the court over the past eight years. Of more than 6,300 charges filed by Coast Guard investigators since 1999, mariners have prevailed in only 14 cases - three of which the agency is still pursuing; trying to reverse the initial decision on appeal. Including dismissals, the Coast Guard wins or reaches a settlement in 97 percent of its cases.

Here is the original story by the Baltimore Sun,0,3992043.story
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Get ready for some Lobsta bub!

Yeap... Discovery Channel has done it again. They had a hit with The Deadliest Catch... so now they are going to put the lobstermen on TV. It is only fair right? Well, I personally am sitting here watching this show right now and I have gotta say- this ain't entertainment.

Then again, I didn't see the appeal of Deadliest Catch either. One thing they fail to mention on these shows is that there are other mariners out there that have to put up with all these wingnut fishermen. Talk about a dangerous job! Throw in the sail boaters that are drunk and sleeping in their cabins and you've got yerself some fun mid-watches.

I went to Maine Maritime, so I had friends who were into the lobstering work during breaks from school. I believe I have a classmate or two that might be running their own boats. I just don't think that this makes for good TV. If you have watched TV in the last couple of years though, you may have noticed that there are a lot of copy cat shows of other shows that probably shouldn't be on the air anyways.

Take a good look at the Discovery Channel Network... you have Discovery, TLC, Animal Planet, Travel Channel, and Discovery Health. These channels all offer a wide range of mind numbing drivel- such as What not to Wear (My wife has this on from time to time), Flip that House, House Hunters, and just about anything else that can get them promo bucks from Home Depot.

So before you get caught up in watching this new Lobstering show... remember what you are really watching. Deadliest Catch 2. Just more garbage in the TV wasteland.

Oh, and if you didn't hear already- the TV show Man vs Wild- the host, who is supposed to be a real tough-guy suvivalist was reported to have been staying in cushy hotels during the tapings- his crew had rigged many of the survival 'tricks' to make them easier for him to handle.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Congratulations Coast Guard on One Million Lives Saved!

This is probably one of the best stories I have seen in a long time. All the negative news that we see about the number of people killed in Iraq, the death of Pat Tillman, and the failing conflicts, the military seems to get a lot of negative press these days.

Well, cheer up! The United States Coast Guard is making good news! But, only Maritime Bloggers seem to be covering it. Today I got a message from John Konrad over at gCaptain ( telling me about the landmark story.

Here is the Story from gCaptain
---------------------------------------------> Re posted for your convenience

While we were celebrating our numbers and sending you to Robin Storm’s post on recent Coast Guard rescues yesterday the saviors of the sea were reaching their own, much larger, milestone; 1,000,000 Rescues!

In a press release today Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff wrote:
“What began as a revenue enforcement agency with a fleet of ten cutters established by Alexander Hamilton more than 200 years ago has evolved into the world’s premiere multi-mission, maritime and military service. It’s fitting that we celebrate
the Coast Guard’s 217th birthday this August 4th as we recognize its brave men and women for saving more than 1 million lives over the course of its long and storied history.”

How were the numbers calculated?
The number of lives saved was calculated by the Coast Guard historian’s office through research of logs and records from the Coast Guard, the
Revenue Cutter Service, the US Life-Saving Service, the Lighthouse Service and other agencies that eventually became the modern Coast Guard. In addition to tallying the total number of lives saved, the historian’s office has compiled a list of the top ten rescues in the Coast Guard’s history. The list shows the breadth of the Coast Guard’s efforts to save lives in peril on the seas for over 217 years.
Very Impressive, especially considering these heroes do it knowing “Ya gotta go out but nobody said anything about having to come back!”

Visit my friends at gCaptain and Robin Storm for more great stories!
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One quick note- I just saw on the news that there is another major recall from China. This time? Well this time it is toys that have been painted with toxic paints.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Toy-maker Fisher-Price is recalling 83 types of toys -- including the popular Big Bird, Elmo, Dora and Diego characters -- because their paint contains excessive amounts of lead.

The worldwide recall being announced Thursday involves 967,000 plastic preschool toys made by a Chinese vendor and sold in the United States between May and August. It is the latest in a wave of recalls that has heightened global concern about the safety of Chinese-made products.
Read the whole story here ::::CLICK HERE::::

Our country is open to serious danger just through our own open market. Our supply chain is at risk because of the large number of products we receive from China. If we were to ever have a serious conflict with China, I would not be suprised if they attack us at home through the use of poison in packaged foods and other dangerously defective products.

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