Follow by Email

Friday, April 30, 2010


Information for Contractors [From the EPA]

Contractors who perform renovation, repairs, and painting jobs in pre-1978 housing and child-occupied facilities must, before beginning work, provide owners, tenants, and child-care facilities with a copy of EPA's lead hazard information pamphlet Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers, and Schools (PDF) (20 pp, 3.3MB) | en español (PDF) (20 pp, 3.2MB). Contractors must document compliance with this requirement?EPA?s pre-renovation disclosure form (PDF) (1 pp, 36K) may be used for this purpose.

Understand that after April 22, 2010, federal law will require you to be certified and to use lead-safe work practices. To become certified, renovation contractors must submit an application and fee payment to EPA.

EPA will begin processing applications on October 22, 2009. The Agency has up to 90 days after receiving a complete request for certification to approve or disapprove the application.

Contractors who perform renovation, repairs, and painting jobs should also:

  • Take training to learn how to perform lead-safe work practices.
    • Find a training provider that has been accredited by EPA to provide training for renovators under EPA's Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) Program.
    • Please note that if you previously completed an eligible renovation training course you may take the 4-hour refresher course instead of the 8-hour initial course from an accredited training provider to become a certified renovator. Click here for a list of eligible courses.
  • Provide a copy of your EPA or state lead training certificate to your client.
  • Tell your client what lead-safe methods you will use to perform the job.
  • Learn the lead laws that apply to you regarding certification and lead-safe work practices beginning in April 2010.
  • Ask your client to share the results of any previously conducted lead tests.
  • Provide your client with references from at least three recent jobs involving homes built before 1978.
  • Keep records to demonstrate that you and your workers have been trained in lead-safe work practices and that you followed lead-safe work practices on the job. To make recordkeeping easier, you may use the sample recordkeeping checklist (PDF) (1 pg, 58K) that EPA has developed to help contractors comply with the renovation recordkeeping requirements that will take effect in April 2010.
  • Read about how to comply with EPA's rule in the EPA Small Entity Compliance Guide to Renovate Right (PDF) (34 pp, 2.5MB) | en español (PDF) (34 pp, 1.3MB).
  • Read about how to use lead-safe work practices in EPA's Steps to Lead Safe Renovation, Repair and Painting (PDF) (36 pp, 878K) | en español (PDF) (36 pp, 1.5MB).
This, of course, is much more important than a 600 square mile oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico. Contractors beware, fines could be as high as $37,000 per day.


Pressure Washington and Obama to Do More!

Comment made by Sal Gagliano, who runs a boat charter company and depends on the spring fishing season for most of his livelihood: "This is where [the oil] was forecast to land, and I don't see boom number 1," Mr. Gagliano said. "We're going to be devastated."

This is on Landry, Napolitano and Obama. And yet the media and Washington are silent.

Latest WSJ Story here.

Our democratically controlled congress and the media are so enamored with Obama they can't see his failures. This is an abomination. There are literally thousands of tons of resources not being used or activated to fight this disaster. Call or email your representative to complain.


Click the NOAA Icon for the Latest News on Spill Response Efforts

Obama, Landry, Napolatano . . . Are They Doing Enough?

(click image for latest NOAA news)

I am finding Landry's, Napolitano's and Obama's response to this spill in the Gulf ineffectual at best and reprehensible at worst. They need to mobilize resources and attack this spill with warfare-like aggressiveness. They talk about a thousand people working on the problem. That's pitiful. They need ten thousand people. They talk about ten miles of booms. That's nothing. They need hundreds of miles of boom. Today they dispatched two Air Force C-130s capable of spraying chemical dispersant. Today! Nine days after the fact. And these planes are sitting on the tarmac awaiting authorization. Where are the oil recovery vessels? Where are the hundreds of crew, supply and utility boats? Where are the dracomes and the oil recovery barges and the skimmers?

The media reports that President Obama has ordered a review of the explosion. Well, that should make everything better. Meanwhile, the environmental and economic impact of this disaster continues to grow.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Administration Slow to Respond to Spill - Where is Obama?

Finally, today, the administration announced it will escalate its response to the spill. WSJ story here. Curious that it took so long for the administration to respond.

The rig exploded a week ago Tuesday and sank on a Wednesday, a full eight days ago. For eight days the rig has been spewing oil into the Gulf. For eight days industry and environmental officials have been talking about a major spill with the potential to cause one of the worst ecological disasters in U.S. history.

What has the Obama Administration been doing about it? Other than pledging to investigate the cause of the incident, virtually nothing.

How is it possible congress - which was so quick to criticize Bush for failing to respond to the hurricane Katrina disaster - can't find its public voice now?

Bush signed a $10.5 billion dollar relief bill within 4 days of the hurricane's landfall. Louisiana National Guard troops were boots-on-the-ground with relief supplies within one to two days. And still congress, following their illustrious leaders Reid and Pelosi, cried their crocodile tears.

It has been eight days since this rig started leaking oil into the Gulf. And it's only now that the administration is mobilizing, if you can call it that. Where is Obama? What has he been doing for eight days? You want to know? Well, take a look below:

April 22, 2010. Wall Street, Earth Day.

Obama cancelled his trip to Asia in order to stay in Washington to help pass a national health care bill. But in the wake of this particular environmental disaster, he first went on a weekend vacation to North Carolina, then to a funeral for the miners killed at Upper Big Branch, then he received the World Champion Yankees at the White House . . . he pushed financial reform at a town hall meeting, lambasted Wall Street and then went to a fundraiser to raise money for the DNC at a memorial service for civil rights activist Dorothy Height.

Excuse me, but where are all the critics?


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

There's No Such Thing As Free Energy!

Washington announced today that it has approved the Cape Cod Wind Farm project. Coincidence? I think not!

This is hidden-agenda politics and another example of knee-jerk governance. There is no such thing as free energy.


Oil Spill Threatens Louisiana Coast - Biggest in U.S. History?

The White House, with its knee-jerk, anti-U.S. business stance, has been quick to promise a thorough investigation of the rig explosion that claimed the lives of eleven and now threatens a section of pristine U.S. coast with spilled crude. This should come as no surprise. The White House has come down hard on the mining industry, on Wall Street, on the auto-industry, on the real estate industry, on health insurance and other insurance companies, and on business in general. The only interests the White House won't come down hard on are government entities, non-profits, unions and lawyers.

This spill is more proof that our government is writing checks and setting policy beyond its capability and understanding. In this case, as has been true for awhile, drilling and pumping technology far exceeds recovery and remediation technology. It's like building a ten story building in your town without adding an aerial ladder truck to your fire department.

I suspect that when all is said and done, there will be some questions asked of the U.S. Coast Guard. Did the Coast Guard respond in a timely and decisive manner or did they simply wait for industry professionals do begin a capping operation that has never before been attempted at this depth. It seems to me a lot of time went by before significant remedial action was authorized. Even now, you have to wonder if enough is being done. There is talk of setting sections of the spill on fire. Well, what are they waiting for? Set it ablaze already. Deploy chemical dispersants. Mobilize more oil recovery vessels. Reportedly there are a thousand or more people working to contain and control the spill, and supposedly BP-Plc, the company leasing the well, is spending $6 million a day to try and correct the situation.

As is the case with any spill, large or small, the ones tasked with correcting the problem can't make a movie without permission or authorization from the Coast Guard. We heard yesterday they were thinking about a controlled burn. How much time has passed since, and why aren't we starting to burn?

If you ask me, there's some major pussyfooting going on at the Coast Guard.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Navy Admiral Supports Arming Merchant Ships

Navy Adm. Mark P. Fitzgerald, commander of U.S. naval forces in Europe and Africa and of NATO’s Allied Joint Task Force, told reporters he thinks merchant ships should arm themselves against pirates.

Three cheers for Admiral Fitzgerald.

Answering questions at the Pentagon, Fitzgerald said it was impossible for even a fleet of warships and patrol vessels to cover the areas currently under siege by pirates. He believes merchant ships should be armed. He also believes something needs to be done about our current catch-and release-policy. Currently there are about 35 international warships patrolling the area. has more on the story here.

Let's hope shipping companies take the advice and begin arming their ships and training their crews accordingly. And while they're at it, they can be providing hazardous duty pay to crews transiting dangerous waters.

I'm not completely unsympathetic to the troubles in Somalia and the desperation and disenfranchisement that accompanies abject poverty. But life-threatening, antisocial criminal activity, no matter what it's source or motivation, should have dire consequences. At present, the rewards for this activity far outweigh the risks.


Cheonan Sinking Continues to Spur Media

The South Korean ship, the Cheonan, which blew-up and sank mysteriously in waters bordering North and South Korea, and killed 46 South Korean sailors, continues to feed the media with stories of increased tension between the two countries. A recent statement from a South Korean military official mentioned something about a torpedo blowing up under the vessel. Presumably, this statement was made because investigators concluded the ship was destroyed by a concussive column of water brought about by a non-contact type explosive.

I have no special insight into what happened, nor am I here to circumvent the investigation being conducted by dozens of international salvage investigators, but this incessant talk of military options and growing tension are nothing but the media's transparent attempt at generating viewership and readership. Why does the media have to feed this monster time and time again? Never mind, I know the answer. It's because instead of just reporting the news they're taking their cues from the Hollywood playbook. Make it tense, make it thrilling, hype it up to the hilt.

North Korea has denied any involvement in the sinking. Well, OK. Obviously, that doesn't mean much. They don't have to be telling the truth. Why should they admit it? But if they're not telling the truth, what does it mean?

1. Somebody at the border deliberately hit a launch trigger without authorization.

2. It was an accident caused by the North Koreans. Nobody meant to do it.

3. It's part of a long term strategic plan to weaken South Korea without anybody knowing it.

4. They really didn't do it.

5. They did it. But they're not going to say they did it because they were testing a new underwater R.O.V. type weapon that they don't want anybody to know about.

I have said this before. It was an errant, old mine. Let me repeat: It was an old mine. (It's the beauty of blogging. I can say whatever I want without proof or consequence.) Meanwhile, U.S. and South Korean authorities are insistent that all the mines from the area had been cleaned up. Yeah, right. We still have mines and other unexploded ordnance is waters of the continental U.S. How can we be sure the Yellow Sea is mine-free?

Could it have been a remote detonated mine? Of course. Could it have been a mini-suicide sub or an underwater R.O.V. Of course. Could it have been something the North Korean's were testing that they don't want us to know about? Yup. But if it were any of these things, there would be parts of it around, material evidence, and so far, nothing of the sort has been found. Also, this is a border area. If North Korea had deployed a weapon in a no-mans area of the Yellow Sea, wouldn't somebody in South Korea have known about it? It's called surveillance and due vigilance. I can see my bedroom window from a satellite over my house. Why can't the South Koreans and the U.S. see what's going on in the waters between South and North Korea?

Only an old mine could explode into virtual nothingness. Maybe some very powerful active pinging detonated it.

Anyway, if the U.S. and South Korea let this situation devolve into a wider conflict then there truly is no logic in government. (What am I saying? Logic in government. That's funny.)

The Iranian President has threatened our friends with nuclear annihilation. He thumbs his nose at his neighbors, defies international law, supports and arms terrorists and is building nuclear weapons factories. He's engaged in an unprecedented military build-up. These are known facts. What are we doing about Iran? Nothing. Seeking an international consensus.

So what if it turns out I"m wrong and the North Koreans have committed an act of unforgivable aggression? We may have to send them a very scary warning. And if that doesn't work, we'll be seeking an international consensus against them, too.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Suspected Pirate Vessels Courtesy of the ICC

International Maritime Bureau Piracy Reporting Center

The IMB issued a report on international piracy yesterday. Their conclusions: The total number of reported acts of piracy has decreased, 67 incidents in 2010 compared to 102 in the same period last year. However, these acts have become bolder and are taking place farther and farther from shore. In fact, there have been at least two incidents where pirates have mistakenly fired on warships.

These conclusions could be interpreted to mean that international patrols and countermeasures are forcing pirates to become more bold and/or desperate in their search for targets. Or it could be a coincidence. It's possible the huge ransoms being paid out are giving the better trained and more determined pirates greater flexibility and breathing room. In other words, the smarter ones are laying back and enjoying the fruits of their labors, while what we're seeing more of now are opportunistic neophytes cutting their teeth on this type of high seas crime.

I still see a pervading attitude of non-belligerency in the international community regarding this problem. Navies and patrol vessels are reactive rather than pro-active, and rules of engagement against pirates remain handicapped by fears of legal repercussions.

Just the other day a French Navy ship that was fired on responded with warning shots only. The French vessel did track down and sink the pirate mother ship and detain a few pirates but I doubt this did much if anything to stem the desire for wealth and adventure. And herein lies one of the main criticisms: We intern these criminals for a short period of time and then we send them back to launch more attacks. We have given them little if anything to fear. In this environment we're creating - absent a cohesive and aggressive anti-piracy policy - we are in effect turning a blind eye to the spawning of a new pirate culture. Some of the pirates we're seeing of late, the ones who can't tell the difference between an armed and dangerous warship and a harmless and defenseless merchantman, represent the first bloom of this new culture.

For more information, as well as live reports of criminal activity on the high seas, go to the International Maritime Bureau's Web Site and/or the International Criminal Services Division of the ICC.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Three Thai Ships Seized by Pirates Over Weekend

Reuters TV/Video Screen Grab of Somali Pirates

Somali pirates hijacked three Thai fishing vessels over the weekend in what is definitely one of their boldest ventures ever. The ships were hit about 1,200 miles from shore, struck at a range that until now was beyond the scope of their meager resources. But these vagabond groups of thieves, terrorists and sub-human opportunists have used their ill-gotten gains to buy bigger vessels with greater endurance. What is this telling us? It's telling us that the world's response to piracy is pitifully inadequate.

We need a proactive anti-piracy stance that includes a strategy of aggressive countermeasures. Anything less, and this cancer grows and spreads. It will spread geographically and culturally. These people have no moral code. They have no sense of right and wrong. They are praying on the innocent and the unarmed. One day in the not too distant future they will procure weapons much more capable than what they have presently at their disposal. If we keep paying ransoms, one day they'll be in the market for an old diesel submarine. Maybe they'll buy it from North Korea, and maybe they'll modify it to fire a Iranian missile with a very nasty warhead. Maybe they'll want to check out the Cliffs of Dover or maybe even the Statue of Liberty. Suddenly, the aims of the pirates, the terrorists and the rogue states aren't so incompatible.


Friday, April 16, 2010

VHF DSC Automatic Channel Switching Safety Alert!

The USCG has issued a safety alert to mariners using DSC-equipped VHF radios with Automatic Channel Switching. The concern is that important communications can be interrupted by the Auto-Channel Switching feature when a DSC emergency call comes in. For example, if a mariner is engaged in communications with regards to the safe navigation of his or her own vessel, or if the mariner is communicating with the Coast Guard or another vessel with regards to his or her own emergency situation, the Auto-Switching feature will interrupt comms and automatically switch the channel on the radio operator in order to give priority to a DSC message comming through on channel 16. If this happens, it might happen uknowingly, and/or it might be difficult re-establishing comms.

For more information on what radios and/or manufacturers are impacted by this alert go here.

I have long been a critic of these types of brainless innovations, brainless because they assume we have no brain. Automatic Channel switching is like the automatic car door that locks when you turn the ignition key. I don't need my car telling me when to lock my door and I sure don't need the radio manufacturers telling me what channel I need to listen to and when I need to listen to it.

Meanwhile, the Coast Guard is recommending that mariners turn off the Automatic Channel Switching feature in radios if they are so equipped.


South Korean Warship Struck by Mine? (Updated May 19)

Part of the South Korean ship that blew up and sank in waters bordering South and North Korea has been salvaged. South Korean Investigators are now pointing to an external explosion. The CNN World article is here.

My problem with the article is that it suggests the potential for nuclear engagement between the two countries instead of providing details of the salvage or the investigation. Apparently, CNN prefers to trade in tension, strife, fear and anxiety than straight news. Ooh, what can we expect South Korea to do? They have six nukes.

Chances are the thing hit an old mine or torpedo. It might have been South Korean. It might have been North Korean. If it's a old mine, who cares whose it is?

I doubt the explosion and sinking were caused by a North Korean torpedo or missile. And I doubt South Korean authorities think otherwise. But CNN has to make it sound like the beginning of a war or how ever would they compete with the all-action F/X Channel and their reruns of The A-Team?

[Today, May 19, the Wall Street Journal reports that S. Korea will officially blame N. Korea for sinking the vessel with a torpedo fired from a submarine.]

It's dangerous sailing around in war-ravaged waters. There are all kinds of unexploded ordnance. It happens. It's unfortunate. Soldiers die on routine patrols. They die watching the gates. They die when they're not supposed to. Let's not turn this thing into the beginning of WWIII or make idiotic comparisons to what happened with the U.S. spy ship Pueblo.

Shame on you CNN.


Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Dealing With Pirates: The Dutch Way...

This is how it's done.

Daily Mail story here.

Nuff said.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

USS Nicholas Nabs Three Pirates; Sinks PIrate Skiff

OK, this report (CNN Story Here) has me scratching my head a little. Not that there's a lot to go on, but think about it: A U.S. warship returns fire when shot at by three men in a skiff. This happens at night. Nobody gets hurt. The pirates are eventually captured and the skiff sunk. Not far away, the crew of the Nicholas find the skiff's mother ship. They capture it and take custody of a few more pirates.

We have a fairly substantial warship with a great deal of firepower letting loose on a skiff with three guys in it. What happened? Did they miss? Were they firing warning shots? How does a "skiff" (we still don't have details on the type or size of craft but we can assume it's pretty small by comparison) survive such an onslaught? How do the three pirates manage to survive?

While I'm asking questions, who are these three, lightly armed pirates in a skiff attacking a U.S. warship? Are they mentally challenged, drunk, senile...? Had they just watched Peter Sellers in the movie "The Mouse that Roared"?

So now the international maritime lawyers will get into the act, and maybe even the U.N. What will happen to the pirates? Will they be jailed somewhere? Where? Who will want them? More than likely they will be sent bank to the place from which they originated. And more than likely, after a brief internment, they will get another skiff and try to hijack another vessel. Maybe next time they'll try for an aircraft carrier.