Katrina disaster relief trucks with ice arriving in Maine?

Yes, FEMA contracted trucks hauling ice for the hurricane Katrina relief effort have started to arrive in Portland, ME to put the ice in refrigerated storage. Nobody knows why and there are more questions than answers. Clearly not an example of efficient use of taxpayer dollars. Oh, and I would not be surprised if this ice will have to be trucked back south for the Rita relief effort. WMTW news story.

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Hurricane Charley (II)

Our thoughts are with the victims. So many people have damage to their property, car, … I can’t tell you how relieved we were when our neighbor called that the hurricane had passed and our house was fine. We have a pretty solid house, but you never know. I don’t like to be away from home when there’s a big storm. You see the hurricane plotted on the map, moving over Florida and just feel powerless. I want to be able to take some precautionary measures, respond to things if at all possible. One person we know, lost his house in Punta Gorda. In the morning, you leave for work, when it’s a cat. 2 hurricane that’ll make land fall an hour away. The local forecast is rain & storm winds. In the afternoon it’s a cat. 4 heading for your house. By the end of the work day your house is ruined, disintegrated … I rounded up some links to local newspapers: Lakeland – The Ledger | Fort Myers – News-press | Orlando – Sentinel | Winter Haven – Newschief | St Petersburg Times | Sarasota – Herald Tribune | The Tampa Tribune | Naples Daily News | Port Charlotte – Sun Herald and TV stations: | Baynews9 WFLA WFTS Tampa | ABC7 WINK NBC2 Fort Myers | WESH Orlando | WTSP St. Petersburg |

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Hurricane Charley

Talk about a very humbling experience. I will very honestly admit that I could not sit still any more Friday afternoon. When tornado warnings went up for our home county, the hurricane strengthened to category 3 and would make landfall near Fort Myers; they didn’t have to draw a map for me that this thing was heading straight for our vicinity. Needless to say, I was increasingly worried. A few hours later, when they announced it was a category 4 and confirmed the new trajectory, I feared the worst. I’ve seen a few hurricanes & storms, but none this big, while away from home. All we could do from a distance is wait and hope for the best. The hurricane did pass over our home town, but the true core was just a few miles east. Our house did not sustain any damage. We only lost some fruit and my windsurfer vane went surfing a little. (retrieved by a neighbor) Many others in our neighborhood have some to considerable damage. So, we are very fortunate. Everybody we’ve been able to reach by phone is doing well. Some do have damage to their property. Getting detailed information is still hard. Throughout the day there were still wide spread power & phone outages. From the limited number of photos I saw of our hometown, I can say that our town was lucky. Only minor damage was visible. I do however fear for the surrounding communities that got a direct hit, of which I haven’t seen any images yet.

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I can only wonder

Denial is not just a river in Egypt. Regarding todays summit in Ireland on the morning news: According to President Bush, the majority of Europe supports the war in Iraq, so … Huh? Goodbye US economy? Harbor security will go into high gear next week. Every commercial ship needs to be equipped with a digital transponder and have a record of the last 10 ports of call. Without either you won’t dock. And, if one of the ports on the list is not up to snuff with new security standards, you can turn your ship around. Initially the coast-guard will inspect every incoming ship, so expect delays. It may sound like a good security move, but reportedly 80% of the world’s ports are not secure. Doesn’t that sound like a recipe for trouble? Comments on the impact made it sound like it would only hurt foreign economies (they wouldn’t be able to unload their goods and import US goods). Hello-oh?! Doesn’t America import anything? Parts? Retail goods? What about export? …

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1c down, 5c up. Got cheap fuel?

Here we go again. A new record average price for fuel at the pump. [ 1 2 ] With likely extra cuts in oil production and now another refinery gone up in smoke; we’ll be heading a little more to European prices again. Ok, it’s not that bad yet as Europeans pay about about 1 euro / liter ~ $3.5 / gallon. EU maximum prices are government controlled with about 70% taxes (about 16c fuel + 14c distribution + 70c taxes). The US at least doesn’t have such a tax base (yet?) but I don’t like the prospect. After every hike the price never drops back to normal. Driving less & switching to more fuel efficient vehicles seems like a good thing. I for one am glad we don’t have an SUV. Only: less fuel sales => less fuel tax income fore states, counties & cities + higher transportation expenses => more fuel tax => sales drop further => shrink supply further to inflate price some more … Maybe it won’t spiral that bad, but every cent spent at the pump diverts millions to billions in consumer spending from the ailing US economy right to the oil cartels. Which can’t be a good thing. I can already hear the airline industry in trouble again too. The cartels make billions & simply can’t get enough of them. Cut production, add some bogus reasons, charge more, increase revenue. Seems like a great monopoly to be in. Wasn’t one of the motivations behind the Iraq war to get a good deal on fuel? We haven’t heard much about that lately, nor what Halliburton is charging the US government (= tax payer) to import Kuwaiti fuel (while Iraq sits on one of the largest fuel reserves in the world!). Halliburton was charging $2.5+ ~ $3 / gallon while the general wholesale cost was less than 3/4 of a $. I wonder what they’re charging now and if they’ll jump on the price hike bandwagon too … Maybe it’ll be in the news again before long.

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Broadband wiretapping

This has been hanging in the air for a while already. By all means the police authorities should have the means to do their job and need to have the means to catch up with new technologies such as VoIP (internet telephony) and others. But nationwide permanent “doors” installed & integrated at all ISPs networks to capture broadband communication (“at substantial new compliance cost for broadband providers” = passed on to the consumer) and FBI approval will be required before new technologies can be introduced? What is next? Mandatary routines in the OS? An extra chip in your broadband modem? On your NIC or motherboard? It makes me think of China where they have 30.000 government employees scanning Chinese webservers & all incoming + outgoing email to enforce censorship.

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