Thursday, April 30, 2009
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
- The first US Death from swine flu was reported today.
- Researchers believe they located the first case of swine flu in the city of LaGloria, in Veracruz. And the first victim (a child) survived the illness.
- Every public business in Mexico is closed until May 6th. To their credit, the Mexican government is clearly taking serious measures to deal with the crisis.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
The Barker Ranch (above) was made famous as the hide out for the Charles Manson Family/cult in the 1960's. The ranch is the same now as it was when Manson lived there. Nobody has lived there since and it's one of many abandoned places in Death Valley. It's about a day's walk - maybe two - from Ballarat. The Mansons kidnapped two girls who escaped down the mountain to Ballarat and notified authorities. Days after we left, somebody found another human skeleton not far from the house. After the cult killed people they kidnapped, they buried them in the hills in unmarked graves.
There are a large number of odd things in Death Valley. This is a crossroads where people began leaving tea kettles. I don't know when the practice began, but when you go (and it's in the middle of nowhere), you are obliged to add to the collection.
There's nothing but old mining roads for hundreds of miles. Death Valley is a very big place.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
This article appeared in the Daily Telegraph, Sydney, AUS and also appeared on WoFat's blog yesterday. He scooped me but I had to include it here for all of you:
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Of course not, check your local hospitals. Liability claims eat 40% - 60% of the typical hospitals budgeted allocations now. As standards further deteriorate and lawyers sue, these allocations will certainly rise. Lawyer job security, it seems, is destined to improve regardless of economic crises.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
- Keep an Amphibious Ready Group in the straits between Yemen and Somalia to protect US interests and to support our NATO allies as required.
- Avoid the temptation to engage the Somali clans on the ground (either the pirates or al-Qaeda win) because there is absolutely no winning strategy there. Somalia is one of those hell holes that's not worth one American life.
- Establish a proactive stance at sea where Somali pirate ships are engaged at will by US forces. (more or less shoot first and ask questions later at sea) The presence of armed Somali civilian craft in the area constitute a clear and present danger to shipping.
Monday, April 20, 2009
During the 1980's Viet Nam went through a period of ethnic cleansing during which time Vietnamese people who had ethnic Chinese roots were encouraged to leave the country. These refugees were the so-called "boat people". Though statistics are not precise, they numbered between 500,000 and 600,000.
The Tamil people's liberation (terrorist) movement (LTTE) is currently foundering after a forty year effort to break off from Sri Lanka (Island of Ceylon). The government of Sri Lanka has pushed them into the northern portion of the country and the armed resistance is using the civilian population as human shields as the are they control is diminished and as the apparent end draws nigh.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
"There is not in all America a more dangerous trait
than the deification of mere smartness
unaccompanied by any sense of
Pres. Theodore Roosevelt
- a speech made at Abilene, KS, May 2, 1903
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Piracy is important in international law as it is commonly held to represent the earliest invocation of the concept of universal jurisdiction. The crime of piracy is considered a breach of jus cogens, a conventional peremptory international norm that states must uphold. Those committing thefts on the high seas, inhibiting trade, and endangering maritime communication are considered by sovereign states to be hostis humani generis (enemies of humanity) [source Wikipedia].
In the United States, criminal prosecution of piracy is authorized in the U.S. Constitution, Art. I Sec. 8 cl. 10: The Congress shall have Power ... To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations.
In English admiralty law, piracy was defined as petit treason during the medieval period, and offenders were accordingly liable to be drawn and quartered on conviction. Piracy was redefined as a felony during the reign of Henry VIII. In either case, piracy cases were cognizable in the courts of the Lord High Admiral. English admiralty vice-admiralty judges emphasized that "neither Faith nor Oath is to be kept" with pirates; i.e. contracts with pirates and oaths sworn to them were not legally binding. In 2008 the British Foreign Office advised the Royal Navy not to detain pirates of certain nationalities as they might be able to claim asylum in Britain under British human rights legislation, if their national laws included execution, or mutilation as a judicial punishment for crimes committed as pirates. (Huh?)
Pirates were legally subject to summary execution by their captors if captured in battle. In practice, instances of summary justice and annulment of oaths and contracts involving pirates do not appear to have been common.
Since piracy often takes place outside the territorial waters of any state, the prosecution of pirates by sovereign states represents a complex legal situation. The prosecution of pirates on the high seas contravenes the conventional freedom of the high seas. However, because of universal jurisdiction, action can be taken against pirates without objection from the flag state of the pirate vessel. This represents an exception to the principle extra territorium jus dicenti impune non paretur (the judgment of one who is exceeding his territorial jurisdiction may be disobeyed with impunity).
In the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) of 1982, and the International Maritime Bureau define "maritime piracy".
Today NATO/Dutch forces rescued twenty fishermen from pirates who launched the latest attack today, but then they let the pirates go because they had no authority to arrest/detain them.
Please, somebody tell me what I'm missing here. I understand that I may not be bright enough to grasp the concept of freeing hostages and then releasing the pirates who seized them on the high seas.
Pirates took a Belgian-flagged ship carrying 10 foreign crew near the Seychelles islands and have started hauling it toward Somalia today.
AP reporters quoted London based piracy expert Roger Middleton who told them, "There isn't a silver bullet" to solve the problem. He said it's common for patrolling warships to disarm then free brigands because they rarely have jurisdiction to hold/try them. Middleton, the U.K.-based piracy expert, said NATO sees its "main role as deterring and disrupting pirate activity" — not prosecuting brigands.
Pirates have attacked more than 80 boats this year alone, nearly four times the number assaulted in 2003, according to the Kuala Lumpur-based . They now hold at least 18 ships and over 310 crew hostage, according to an Associated Press count.
The first attack Saturday occurred in the pre-dawn darkness, when pirates hijacked the Belgian-flagged SS Pompei a few hundred miles (kilometers) north of the Seychelles, said Portuguese Lt. Cmdr. Alexandre Santos Fernandes, who is traveling with a NATO fleet patrolling further north in the Gulf of Aden.
Belgium officials said the ship sounded three alarms indicating it was under attack as it headed toward the palm-fringed islands, a high-end tourist destination, with a cargo of concrete and stones. The dredging ship had 10 crew: two Belgians, one Dutch, three Filipinos and four Croatians, Fernandes said.
As pirates steered the ship slowly northwest toward Somalia, 430 miles (700 kilometers) away, a Spanish military ship, a French frigate and a French scout ship all steamed toward the area to try to intercept it.
In Brussels, government officials held an emergency meeting to discuss the situation and possible intervention. "There is no contact with the pirates, not with the crew, not with any other parties," Jaak Raes, director general of the Belgian Crisis Center, told reporters. "We are sure that the ship now is heading to the coast of Somalia."
In a second attack later Saturday, pirates on a small white skiff fired small arms and rockets at a Marshall Islands-flagged tanker. Fernandes said the ship, the SS Handytankers Magic, issued a distress call shortly after dawn but escaped the pirates using "speed and maneuvers."
The attack occurred in the Gulf of Aden, a vital short cut between Europe and Asia and one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.
A Dutch frigate from the NATO force responded immediately to the distress call and trailed the pirates to a Yemeni-flagged fishing dhow the brigands had seized Thursday, Fernandes said. The bandits were using the Yemeni vessel as a "mother ship," a larger vessel that allows the pirates' tiny motorboats to hitch rides hundreds of kilometers off the Somali coast, greatly expanding their range.
The pirates climbed into the dhow and Dutch marine commandos followed soon after, freeing 20 fishermen whose nationalities were not known. Fernandes said there was no exchange of fire and Dutch forces seized seven automatic weapons and one rocket-propelled grenade launcher.
Pirates plucked from the sea by foreign militaries are being tried abroad. French soldiers take pirates who have attacked French citizens to Paris; pirates who have attacked other nations are hauled to Kenya, such as the 11 seized Wednesday when the French navy found them stalking a Lebanese-owned ship. India took 24 suspects to Yemen, since half were from there. The Dutch took five suspects to Rotterdam, where they probably will be tried next month under a 17th-century law against "sea robbery."
And Wal-i-Musi, the Somali teen who was one of four pirates who tried to hijack the SS Maersk Alabama this month, will be sent to New York to face trial. The three other pirates with Wal-i-Musi were shot dead by U.S. Navy snipers who freed the ship's 53-year-old captain, Richard Phillips, in a dramatic rescue a week ago.
The vast majority of detained pirates are set free to wreak havoc again because of legal barriers to prosecuting them. It can be difficult or impossible for prosecutors to assemble witnesses scattered across the globe and find translators. Many countries are wary of hauling in pirates for trial for fear of being saddled with them after they serve their prison terms.
Why aren't they tried, hanged and then buried at sea in a weighted sack?