Worst Alibi Ever

I mean seriously, who doesn’t fish with automatic weapons and rocket launchers?

Somali Pirate Suspects Say They Were Fishing For Sharks

Trial began Tuesday for five suspected Somali pirates, aged between 25 and 45, on charges of attacking a vessel sailing under a Netherlands Antilles flag. The accused men say they were simply fishing for sharks and not responsible for the hijacking.

The trial, which is the first-ever European trial of suspected Somali pirates, surrounds the attacking of the Turkish freighter Samanyolu in January 2009.

Prosecutors said the men used rocket launchers and assault rifles to attack the vessel and the crew took refuge. Prosecutors’ account match up with what the vessel’s machinist said in a prepared statement.

The accused, who are facing jail terms of up to 12 years for the attack, told a Dutch court that they are innocent of the charges and were fishing for sharks in the Gulf of Aden, a stretch of sea off the coast of Somalia that has become rife with piracy.

“The intention was to fish,” defendant Farah Ahmed Yusuf, 25, told the Rotterdam district court, claiming that when their ship broke down they tried to get help from the passing Samanyolu.

See also:
‘Pirates’ claim they were just fishing for sharks… with rocket launchers
Dutch to hold first European Somali pirate trial
Somali pirates’ trial begins in the Netherlands
Dutch court scene for piracy trial
The Netherlands starts first trial of pirates in Europe
First European trial of Somali pirate suspects opens
First European trial of Somali pirate suspects opens
First European trial of Somali pirate suspects opens
Prosecutors demand 7-year sentences for piracy
First European Pirate Trial to Start
Dutch trial of five Somali pirates starts
Somalis deny piracy in landmark European trial
Suspected pirates on trial

These heavily armed “fisherman” are damn lucky they’re being tried in the Netherlands and only facing 12 years in prison. Some jurisdictions still deal with captured pirates the old fashioned way.

/Yemen court sentences six Somali pirates to death

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Seriously, Just How [Expletive Deleted] Up Is This?

How is this unimaginable travesty even remotely possible? It almost has to be some kind of perverted, totally unfunny practical joke.

Iran wins seat on UN Commission on Status of Women

Iran has won a four-year seat on the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, an influential body committed to promoting gender equality.

At a meeting at UN headquarters in New York on Wednesday, Iran was elected, through a vote of acclamation, as a member on the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).

Iran’s election to the commission came Just days after Iran announced it withdrew from a high-profile bid for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council.

When its term begins in 2011, Iran will be joined by 10 other countries namely Belgium, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Estonia, Georgia, Jamaica, Liberia, the Netherlands, Spain, Thailand and Zimbabwe to help set UN policy on gender equality and advancement of women.

The CSW, a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), is tasked with setting global standards and policies to promote gender equality, monitoring the implementation of measures for advancement of women, appraising progress made at the national, sub-regional, regional and global levels, and conducting review of cases of women rights violation across the globe.

See also:
EXCLUSIVE: U.N. Elects Iran to Commission on Women’s Rights
Iran selected for women’s rights body
Iran on UN women’s rights c’tee
Iran wins seat in UN women’s rights body
United Nations Names Iran to Commission on the Status of Women
Misogynist Regime to Help Monitor Women’s Rights Violations
No Joke: U.N. Appoints Iran to Women’s Rights
Activists in uproar after UN agrees to seat Iran on women’s rights panel
U.S. Mum During Iran Vote to U.N. Women’s Commission
United Nations Commission On The Status Of Women
United Nations Commission on the Status of Women

Iran on an international womens’ rights commission, this Iran?

/seriously, while you’re at it, why not just name Hitler the Rabbi of a Synagogue or elect Osama bin Laden Pope?

Caught Pants Down With All Our Eggs In One Basket

Remember less than a year ago when Obama and Robert Gates cancelled the F-22 Raptor progam, the world’s premier air dominance fighter, which was already in service, because it was a “waste [of] billions of taxpayers dollars”? In their infinite wisdom, the dynamic defense duo decided to gamble almost America’s entire air combat future on a single, unproven design, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, that has yet to be put into production and won’t enter service in the foreseeable future.

Well, guess what?

GAO analyst says cost overruns, delays continue to plague F-35 program

A congressional auditor said Thursday that the Joint Strike Fighter, the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons program, “continues to struggle with increased costs and slowed progress,” leading to “substantial risk” that the defense contractor will not be able to build the jet on time or deliver as many aircraft as expected.

Michael Sullivan, the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s top analyst on Lockheed Martin’s jet fighter, also known as the F-35 Lightning II, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in a hearing that the cost of the program has increased substantially and that development is 2 1/2 years behind schedule.

The United States plans to buy about 2,400 of the fighter jets for the Air Force, the Marine Corps and the Navy. The projected cost for the program appears to have increased to $323 billion from $231 billion in 2001, when Bethesda-based Lockheed won the deal, according to Sullivan. Eight other countries — Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Norway — also plan to buy the jets.

The cost to build the plane is now expected to be $112 million per aircraft, according to a GAO auditor.

Sullivan said the program’s “negative outcomes” were “foreseeable as events have unfolded over several years.” He said that the cost increases are largely because Lockheed and the Pentagon are “trying to invent things and build them at the same time,” leading to costly changes in how the plane is being developed, built and tested. That continues to take “more time, money and effort than budgeted.”

He criticized the Defense Department, saying it “does not have a full, comprehensive cost estimate for completing the program,” and noted that it has “fallen short” of its expectations year after year. He said, “Constant program changes and turbulence have made it difficult to accurately and confidently measure progress and maturity of the aircraft system.”

See also:
Pentagon: F-35 fighter jet cost doubles
UPDATE 2-Price of Lockheed’s F-35 fighter soars
F-35 Fighters Now Double the Cost
Cost of F-35 Has Risen 60% to 90%, Military Says
Pentagon tells Senate panel that F-35 is more than 50 percent over cost
DoD: F-35 costs rise at least 50 percent
Joint Fighter Faces Critical Period
Donley: No JSF Alternatives Exist
Air Force: F-35 jet delayed by 2 years
Air Force: F-35 will be delayed, to cost significantly more
Joint Strike Fighter
F-35 Lightning II | Lockheed Martin
F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Lightning II
F-35 Lightning II
Joint Strike Fighter Program

It continues to amaze me as to how they fit all those government clowns into such a tiny car.

/as far as birds go, it’s quite clear now that one F-22 Raptor, already in the hand, is worth way more than two F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, still in the bush

The Chinese Garlic Bubble

China sees huge rise in garlic prices

Garlic prices are hitting record highs in China, the world’s biggest producer of the pungent bulbs, amid reports of a speculative bubble in the market even as people rush to buy it as a putative cure for swine flu.

The China Daily reported last week that a high school in the eastern city of Hangzhou bought more than 400 pounds of garlic and made students eat it at lunch to stay healthy.

Wholesale garlic prices in Beijing are now 15 times as high as in March, and still rising.

Jerry Lou, a Morgan Stanley China strategist who has researched the opaque market here, said speculators — fueled by the abundant liquidity sloshing around China — have moved into the small market and strategically driven up prices.

“You need a warehouse, a lot of cash and a few trucks. That’s how it works,” Lou said, describing garlic speculators’ tools of the trade. “Basically, what you do is try to arrest as much supply as possible, then you bid up the price. Moving garlic from one warehouse to the other, you make millions of dollars.”

Lou said garlic wholesalers told him that gangs that had amassed cash and credit from dealing property and stocks in other parts of the country had chosen the garlic market as their latest ruse.

See also:
Garlic outperforming gold and stocks
Hold Your Nose: Garlic Is Best Investment in China
Garlic, China’s Best-Performing Asset
Chinese Garlic Market Reeks of Speculation
Garlic run smells like speculative bubble
Garlic prices in China shoot up on flu fears
China Sees Huge Rise in Garlic Prices
Garlic Dealers Cashing In On Flu Rumours
Savvy investors pile into Chinese garlic
Strong demand for garlic in China drives up local prices
Garlic Investors Smell Money

History repeats itself.

Tulipmania

Traditionally, the buying and selling of tulip bulbs occurred during the summer months, after the flower had bloomed in May or June (depending on the type) and the bulb was lifted from the soil, to be wrapped in paper and kept dry indoors. The flower would have been viewed by then and the bulbs, themselves, inspected and exchanged before being replanted in September. A seller promised to deliver the bulb when lifted and the purchaser to pay upon delivery. In trade such as this, honor obviously was important, especially since a blossom in the summer need not necessarilty look the same the following year. Indeed, the changeability of tulips was one of their charms. But such variations could lead to deception or at least the suspicion that bulbs might not be the same as contracted.

In the planting season of 1635, as prices began to rise, there was a fundamental change in how bulbs were traded in the Netherlands. Increasingly, they were sold by weight while still in the ground, with only a promissory note to indicate details of the bulb, including its weight at planting, and when it would be lifted. The bulbs, themselves, the delivery of which was months away, were not sold, only these paper promises. Weight was measured in aasen (azen or aces), an exceedingly small unit equal to one-twentieth of a gram, or less than .0018 of an ounce. Although paying by weight was a more fair way to assess price, an immature bulb costing less than a more mature one, it also increased the price of the heavier bulb. And, because a bulb planted in September or October likely would weight substantially more when lifted (after blooming) the following June or July, it encouraged speculation. Even if the price per aas did not change, the price of the bulb, itself, could increase three to five hundred percent over those nine months, depending upon weight. Heavier bulbs, too, tended to flower earlier and have more offsets, the smaller bulblets attached to the mother bulb.

Tulips grown from seed could take five to ten years to produce a flower, those from offsets from three to five years to become flowering bulbs themselves. Because a tulip bulb may produce only one or two offsets a year and then only for several years before the mother bulb, itself, dies, one found to have offsets when lifted obviously increased in value. But a grower could not afford to sell a particularly valuable bulb too soon. To do so would limit the ability to produce any more of that variety–which is why particularly desirable flowers always were in short supply.

Variegated tulips, those with contrasting markings, such as red (Rosen) or purple (Violetten) against a white ground (or bizarden, against a yellow ground), were most favored, especially those whose color was displayed as thin feathers or flames that symmetrically ran along the center of each pedal and around the edges. This vivid coloring, which so bewitched the Dutch, was caused by a virus that infected the tulip but also weakened it and reduced the number of offsets. A complete mystery at the time, the mosaic virus was conveyed by aphids, which flourished in the fruit trees that were a feature of seventeenth-century gardens. An infected flower was said to be “broken” and there was no way to determine if, or when, a flower would break. It was an unpredictable process that only added to the allure of the tulip for the Dutch.

The cultivation of new varieties in 1634 depressed prices, and tulips became accessible to a popular market. No longer the province of professional growers and connoisseurs, they now could be purchased by small buyers, such as the weaver or spinner and other crafts and tradespeople. For a modest investment, often paid for in kind, one could speculate in the more common tulips that were the stock of mass trade. Late that year, prices then swung in the opposite direction and began to rise. To meet demand, offsets were sold, which only could be separated when the bulb was lifted. Buying in the winter for delivery in the summer became acceptable and, by 1636, a futures market had developed for the bulbs, themselves. Buyers promised to pay a specified price for bulbs in the ground at a fixed time in the future, speculating that, at lifting time, they would be worth more than the promissory note, which then could be sold to a new buyer in hope of realizing a profit. As spring approached and expectation increased, this trade in tulip futures became more frenzied, and, by November and December of that year, speculation was at its height. Prices for so-called “piece” goods (the more desirable varieties) doubled or trebled, and even the most plain and common tulips, which previously had been disdained, were bought. Indeed, these “pound” goods, which were sold in bulk, rose as much as twenty-fold. Smaller lots were offered, as well, and bulbs could be purchased by the basket, the pound, or the ace. Goods in kind were delivered at once, and cows and cloth, looms and land, shops and houses paid to secure the purchase.

At the height of this tulip mania, most transactions did not even involve the exchange of goods but became purely speculative. “Everything was worth money and so current that one could get in exchange almost anything one desired,” says Gaergoedt. “And all this with promises and vouchers, when the bulbs were in the earth” (First Dialogue). Even though buyers did not have the cash amount or sellers actually possess the bulb, there still was the expectation that a succeeding sale could be at an ever higher price. But buyers must have begun to wonder if the escalating prices of the previous two months could be sustained (and been suspicion, too, that more tulips would be grown, increasing the supply). In the first week of February 1637, when investors were not willing to go higher, the market collapsed, the bulbs contracted the previous autumn still in the ground.

As Gaergoedt, who had mortgaged his house, laments: “it has been a madness.”

In the end, tulips are tulips and garlic is garlic. Just like the Tulipmania of the mid 1630s, the Chinese garlic bubble will also collapse and all the latecomers to the speculative garlic frenzy will be left holding the clove, financially ruined.

/Devil Take the Hindmost

Better Living Through Piracy

That ain’t piracy, that’s the way you do it, asylum for nothing, travel for free. Come for the trial, stay for the citizenship.

Somali pirates embrace capture as route to Europe

Pirates captured after attacking a Dutch vessel have gone on trial in the liberal Netherlands and at least two of them have declared their intention to stay on as residents.

Geert-Jan Knoops, an international criminal law attorney and professor at the Royal University of Utrecht, has suggested that the Dutch trial might encourage pirates to surrender just in order to seek a better life in Western countries.

“The Dutch Justice department must be cautious. I cannot imagine the five alleged pirates would voluntarily return to Somalia after their conviction.”

The five Somali pirates were arrested off the coast of Africa in January by Danish marines after attacking the Samanyulo, a Dutch-flagged cargo ship.

But since Somalia has a record of international human rights violations it will be almost impossible to deport the men after their conviction in the Netherlands.

“Life is good here,” said one of the defendants, named Sayid, about his experience in a Dutch jail.

“I appeal to the government not to send me back to Somalia. The people who live here respect human rights. I wish to settle here.”

Willem-Jan Ausma, a Dutch defence attorney who is representing another pirate, described his client’s relief to be in a Western prison.

“My client feels safe here. His own village is dominated by poverty and sharia [Islamic law] but here he has good food and can play football and watch television. He thinks the lavatory in his cell is fantastic,” he said.

Mr Ausma has told the Somali that he will be considered for a residence permit after serving his sentence, expected to be a maximum of four years in prison.

“He intends to send for his wife and children as soon as he is released from prison. He knows he cannot easily be sent back to Somalia. He loves it here in the Netherlands,” Mr Ausma told the NRC Handelsblad newspaper.

Mr Ausma has also warned that ongoing piracy trials in the Netherlands, France and the United States will encourage pirates to commit crimes, for the purpose of being captured, rather than deterring attacks on Western flagged vessels.

“Anything is better than Somalia,” he said.

See also:
Somali pirates to request asylum in Netherlands
Netherlands: Somali pirates thinking of immigrating
Somali pirates find safety at last in Dutch prison cell
Somali pirates on trial in Netherlands
Somali Pirate Suspects Appear In Dutch Court
Try pirates in Africa, Netherlands says

You just can’t make this [expletive deleted] up. Hey, you arrest ’em, you own ’em! How long before this asylum tactic spreads to the al Qaeda terrorists at Guantanamo? I’m pretty sure they’d love to live in the United States.

/just another good reason why Obama’s plan to close Guantanamo and bring the terrorists onto U.S. soil proper is a really bad idea

Catch And Release

Seven pirates freed over legal technicality

Seven pirates who were captured after a chase by NATO, U.S. and Canadian forces have been freed because a country cannot hold and prosecute them if an attack is not against one of their own vessels, the Associated Press reports.

The release followed a dramatic, hours-long pursuit Sunday of the pirates, who were trying to hijack a Norwegian-flagged tanker in the Gulf of Aden.

NATO forces disarmed and interrogated the bandits, then freed them, citing legal issues over arresting them, the AP says. Lt Cmdr. Alexandre Santos Fernandes, a spokesman for the NATO alliance, says the pirates were released because Canadian law did not allow their prosecution if they committed no crimes against Canadians or on Canadian soil.

The United States and the Netherlands say they will seek authority for NATO to arrest pirates operating off the coast of Somalia, the Associated Press reports. In a joint news conference with the Dutch foreign minister, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says the two countries will raise the issue soon with NATO. She says releasing pirates “sends the wrong signal.”

See also:
NATO frees pirate hostages, Belgian ship seized
Arrr! Pirates Freed in Legal Snafu
Pirates attack tanker; NATO frees 20 fishermen
NATO forces foil pirate attack on tanker
Clinton sees NATO release of pirates sending wrong signal
High time for piracy tribunal, experts say
Lack of legal system thwarting anti-piracy efforts

So, they’re sailing around chasing down pirates but they don’t have the authority to arrest them? Who’s brilliant idea was that? Now they’re going to seek arrest authority?

/gee, you’d think someone would have thought about this minor detail already