Saturday, June 12, 2010

Gaza blockade violence premeditated? Turkey complicit?

Seems like a cynical attempt to stir up some sympathy for the Palestinians in Gaza.  According to the Jerusalem Post (
'Marmara' captain: I opposed violence
Report:Crew tried to stop IHH activists' violence before raid.
The captain of the Mavi Marmara  tried to convince dozens of IHH activists not to engage in violent clashes with the IDF two hours prior to the commando's boarding of the ship, reported Army Radio on Friday.

The Gaza flotilla ship's captain, Mehmet Tubal, said while being investigated in Israel that he and other members of the Mavi Marmara's staff did all they could to prevent the activists from confronting soldiers, even throwing some of the IHH member's metal pipes and chains overboard.

Another senior member of the ship's staff said that 40 IHH activists took control of the Mavi Marmara and dictated the rest of the passengers' movements.

The occurrence of violence aboard the Mavi Marmara may have been predetermined by the IHH 's purchase of the ship along with possible tacit approval from the Turkish government.

"[The] IHH acquired the Mavi Marmara ship from the AKP-run municipality of Istanbul. It is not conceivable that the IHH’s Gaza operation could have been carried out absent high-level government sanction," wrote Svante Cornell, a Swedish security expert who specializes in Eurasia, in an article published on Monday.

A journalist on-board the Mavi Marmara, described as having good links with the heads of the Turkish government and Bulent Yildirim, head of the IHH, had stated, "The flotilla was organized with the support of the Turkish government and Prime Minister Erdogan gave the instructions for it to set sail. That was despite the fact that everyone knew it would never reach its destination," according to the report.

The IHH  calls itself a "relief organization".  (--> wikipedia)  But that doesn't mean they are peaceful, it seems:
Representatives of Freedom Flotilla organizers stated that they will continue with their actions until Israel frees embargo-stricken people of Palestine.
Do I trust the Jersulem Post?

More on this here.

Friday, June 11, 2010

a frightening milestone

"...our national debt ($12.7 trillion today) is on track to exceed the size of our entire economy (about $15 trillion) in just two more years." -- Rep. John Boehner of Ohio in the Des Moines Register, March 24, 2010.

Hyperbole?  Not according to  

[Rep. Boehner's] assertion that "our national debt ... is on track to exceed the size of our entire economy ... in just two more years" is on target, according to the president's own Office of Management and Budget. So we rate his statement True.
 Relevant? I guess that's up to us to decide.

fishy oil

Alternative medicine doctors have been promoting, if not hawking, the consumption of fish oil for health for years & years.  One I've listened to is Dr. Ronald Hoffman on whose web site a search will reveal dozens of references to fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, dating back more than a decade.  Now, (finally?) there is an FDA approved Omega-3 acid product, LOVAZA.  Is it different than other fish oil you can buy?  They think so.  Because it's blessed by the FDA and has a high EPA & DHA content.  Their website says the FDA approved dosage is 4 grams/day or about 1860 mg EPA and 1500 DHA.  You'd have to take 14 of the other pills to get that dose.  I love those sorts of arguments.  Actually the fish oil pills I usually buy are 450 mg and 340 mg DHA so they are pretty comparable.  But not blessed by the government.

And not as pricey?  One analysis calculates LOVAZA to cost about $3300 per year instead about $150 per year for a Costco brand.  Thanks FDA. Thanks GlaxoSmithKline.

dire or not, who knows?

I suppose the Turks (and Hamas) need to try to justify trying to break through the Israeli blockade.
Critics of the blockade claim the humanitarian situation in Gaza is dire. But Ambassador Oren said Israel is allowing 100 to 120 trucks to cross the border daily into Gaza and he said there is no shortage of food or medicine.
from CNN International Edition

Are naval blockades legal?

Israel has had a long standing naval blockade along the coast of Gaza to ensure the Hamas there do not import arms that they would use against Israel.  Is this legit?  There seems to be popular uproar, especially when Israel enforced the blockade on May 31st with a senseless raid.

Was our blockade of Cuba in 1962 legit?

I might as well simply quote the wikipedia article:
According to the San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea, 12 June 1994, a blockade is a legal method of warfare at sea, but is governed by rules. The blockading nation must publish a list of contraband. The manual describes what can never be contraband. Outside this list, the blockading nation is free to select anything as contraband. The blockading nation typically establish a blockaded area of water, but any ship can be inspected as soon as it is established that it is attempting to break the blockade. This inspection can occur inside the blockaded area or in international waters, but never inside the territorial waters of a neutral nation. A neutral ship must obey a request to stop for inspection from the blockading nation. If the situation so demands, the blockading nation can request that the ship divert to a known place or harbour for inspection. If the ship does not stop, then the ship is subject to capture. If people aboard the ship are resisting capture, they can be attacked. It is still not allowed to sink the ship, unless provision is made for rescueing the crew. Leaving the crew in liferafts / lifeboats does not constitue rescue. If a neutral ship is captured, any member of the crew, resisting capture can be treated as prisoners-of-war, while the remainder of the crew should be released. A neutral nation may choose to send a convoy accompanied by warships. The warship can provide guarantees that the convoy does not contain contraband. in which case, the blockading nation does not have any right of inspection.
Seems like they are legit, at least as far as International Law is concerned.

BTW, did you see the video?  Who is beating whom?

Bbls of Awl (Oil)

How much oil is there coming from the broken oil well/pipe in the gulf?

A government panel of scientists released findings on Thursday saying that before the stricken well’s riser pipe was cut on June 3 ... crude oil was being released at a rate of 25,000 to 30,000 barrels a day. That range was a substantial increase from the panel’s previous estimate of 12,000 to 19,000 barrels daily, which in turn far exceeded the early 5,000-barrel figure that the Coast Guard proposed, and BP eventually deferred to, for weeks after the accident. 
(New York Times,  June 11, 2010) (link to acticle)
OK, estimates are estimates, but to be off by a factor of five or six is very suspicious, wouldn't you say?

Further updates to come?

(bbl = barrel = 31.5 US gallons or approximately 119 Liters)

Cadillac Plans and automobiles

Possible future irony:  Will the Cadillac division of General Motors exist when Cadillac insurance plans begin to be taxed in 2018?

Health Reform and the business

How does health care/insurance reform affect the insurance and health care delivery businesses? Obviate them?

Will the governments (federal & state) have systems in place in time to support these changes?

I need a whole separate page on Health Reform.  Or look at Kaiser Family Foundation


The BP oil spill is a real mess.  It's hard to know what going on in the background.  I hope something is.  There is so much politicking going on and people blaming each other and perhaps not enough invention.  Let's fix it.  Clean it.  Then let's worry about who is at fault.  Or not.  Accidents do happen.  Sometimes I think that if we were hit by a meteor that Rosie O'Donnell would need to find someone to blame.  Who did we blame for Apollo 13?  Well, some blamed N.A.S.A. for launching the thing at 13:13.  Damn numerology!