Archive for May, 2008

  Thousands Of Lobsters Perish In Boston Tragedy

Posted by Yankee Sailor on 31May08.

A bit of sad news from the Hub of the Universe this morning:

An early morning fire has destroyed a landmark seafood business on the Boston waterfront.

The cause of Friday’s blaze at James Hook & Co. was unclear. No one was in the building when the fire began and no injuries are reported. Firefighters struggled to contain the blaze several hours after it broke out about 3:30 a.m. and burned through rooms full of corrugated cardboard boxes used for shipping seafood.

Fire officials estimate the damage at $5 million, including the loss of about 27,000 kilograms of lobster.

Pardon me while I haul down my flag to half staff and wipe the tears from my keyboard….

Oh, and don’t forget to convey your condolences to Maggie .

  China Evolving In The Wrong Direction

Posted by Yankee Sailor on 30May08.

Michael A. Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute lays out a convincing case in this month’s Far Eastern Economic Review that Beijing may be successfully integrating economic reforms with their authoritarian system and becoming a “ mature facist state “. If his assertion proves to be true, it may put the lie to the neoconservative theorem that where goods flow freely across borders, peace is the result.

Nonetheless, the short history of classical fascism suggests that it is only a matter of time before China will pursue confrontation with the West. That is built into the dna of all such regimes. Sooner or later, Chinese leaders will feel compelled to demonstrate the superiority of their system, and even the most impressive per capita GDP will not do. Superiority means others have to bend their knees, and cater to the wishes of the dominant nation. Just as Mussolini saw the colonization of Africa and the invasion of Greece and the Balkans as necessary steps in the establishment of a new fascist empire, so the Chinese are likely to demand tribute from their neighbors—above all, the Chinese on the island nation of Taiwan, in order to add the recovery of lost territory to the regime’s list of accomplishments. Even today, at a time when the regime is seeking praise, not tribute, in the run-up to the Olympic Games, there are bellicose overtones to official rhetoric.

How, then, should the democracies deal with China? The first step is to disabuse ourselves of the notion that wealth is the surest guarantor of peace. The West traded with the Soviet Union, and gave them credits as well, but it did not prevent the Kremlin from expanding into the Horn of Africa, or sponsoring terrorist groups in Europe and the Middle East. A wealthy China will not automatically be less inclined to go to war over Taiwan, or, for that matter, to wage or threaten war with Japan.

Indeed, the opposite may be true—the richer and stronger China becomes, the more they build up their military might, the more likely such wars may be. It follows that the West must prepare for war with China, hoping thereby to deter it. A great Roman once said that if you want peace, prepare for war. This is sound advice with regard to a fascist Chinese state that wants to play a global role.

It is well worth your time to read the whole article. It’s also worth noting that Russia could easily make a similar transition – and is showing signs of making the attempt – and return to the world stage as a dangerous peer competitor to the U.S. and the E.U.

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  Arab Unity: Oxymoron

Posted by Yankee Sailor on 30May08.

As usual, talk of Arab unity is batrayed by the actual actions of Arab nations – or in this case, inaction .

Baghdad owes at least $67bn to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Al-Maliki, who pointed out that Saudi Arabia and Kuwait had sent only low-level officials to the one-day conference outside Stockholm, said: “So far we have not heard from the other countries that have not undertaken… to reduce the debt.”

The Stockholm conference was called to assess Iraq’s progress a year after the International Compact with Iraq (ICI), a five-year plan adopted to bring peace, prosperity and political reconciliation to the war-torn country, was signed in Egypt.

At that meeting, officials from 50 countries promised to cancel $32bn of Iraq’s foreign debt.

Western nations, Japan and commercial creditors have cancelled $66bn worth of debt over the past three years.

While it’s not surprising, it is most certainly a reminder that any talk of a plan involving an “Arab coalition” or “agreement”- with the possible exception of measures against Israel or Iran – should be viewed with extreme skepticism.

  Naval News Today

Posted by Yankee Sailor on 30May08.

Pirates hijack two freighters off coast of Somalia

Pirates have hijacked two freighters off Somalia, bringing to three the number of vessels seized in the same region this week, a Kenyan maritime official said on Thursday.

The MV Arean and the MV Lehmann Timber were seized in the Gulf of Aden on Wednesday, said Andrew Mwangura of the Kenyan branch of the Seafarers’ Assistance Program. “We have confirmed that the pirates are onboard the two vessels, but we have not received any demands for ransom,” he told AFP.

Sri Lanka Military Sinks 4 Tamil Rebel Boats

Sri Lanka’s military sank four Tamil Tiger rebel boats Thursday off the island’s northern coast after a battle that killed eight rebels and one soldier, while six civilians were killed in a rebel artillery attack, the military said.

A military official said the rebel boats were sunk when troops fired artillery at them as they attempted to attack army and naval positions in Sirutheevu off northern Jaffna.

UK Nuclear Submarines Understaffed

Britain’s nuclear deterrent submarines are starting to feel the manpower shortage that’s affecting the UK’s armed forces.

Sky News has learned that the boats including those carrying the country’s Trident missiles are putting to sea with as little as 85% of their intended crew complement.

Despite a recent pay bonus, making submariners Britain’s highest-earning sailors, a manning shortage means that across the undersea fleet more than one job in six is vacant.

Sky News’s defence correspondent Geoff Meade has been aboard HMS Trenchant, a nuclear-powered patrol boat where student captains were briefed that manpower levels were the main concern.

It’s particular acute among nuclear watch keepers who monitor the performance of the boat’s reactor. In the engine room, supervised trainees were being used to cover for qualified technicians.

The revival of Britain’s civil atom power programme is expected to worsen the scarcity as experienced operators are tempted by higher salaries and regular home life of jobs ashore.

In the week that it emerged that a British submarine had been forced to surface after colliding with a rock outcrop under the Red Sea, the Navy insists the shortages have not reached a level where they compromise operational safety.

Nigeria: Navy Not Well Funded – Minister

Ministry of Defence yesterday said it is making necessary arrangements to ensure that the Nigerian Navy was well funded by the Federal Government.

This latest move is aimed at enabling the Navy to meet up with its constitutional responsibility of protecting the nation’s territorial waters.

[Vice Admiral Ganiyu Adekeye] said some of the reasons for insurgency in the Niger Delta region was that the Nigerian Navy lacks enough boats to patrol the area.

Towards this end, the Federal Government has approved acquisition of modern platforms and training for naval personnel, as part of efforts to modernise the Navy.

Navy ship Elrod to deploy to Mediterranean, eastern Atlantic

The Navy says the guided missile ship Elrod will deploy from Norfolk Naval Station next week.

Officials say the ship will operate in the Mediterranean Sea and eastern Atlantic Ocean, participating in exercises, making diplomatic port calls and responding to emergencies.

Virginia governor seeks to preserve Hampton Roads fleet

Governor Tim Kaine is voicing his concerns over a Navy study that could lead to a shift of sailors and ships from Virginia’s Hampton Roads to Florida.

The study involves the possibility of moving warships to Mayport Naval Station in the Jacksonville area. The move would also involve the spending of $500 million to improve Mayport.

In a letter sent this week to the Navy, Kaine wrote that Virginia has “significant concerns” about any possible move of ships, sailors and their families south. He asked for more time for public comments and the study.

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