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Safe Cruise

Project Safe Cruise Press Release: See www.projectsafecruise.blogspot.com & details below. Leave a message if you have experienced incidents involving poor security & safety practices of cruise lines. Hearings are scheduled; we will provide them to Congress. We must act to insure passenger safety. The current lack of safety & security is not acceptable especially after 9/11. On 5/12/05, we were on the Carnival Destiny near Aruba when an elderly couple disappeared without a trace.

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Location: Michigan, United States

Government could save $50 billion per year by having two shifts of white collar employees work each day. Office space costs $50,000/year for each employee yet we only use space 30% of time. We can no longer afford to have banker's hours for all. With over 2 million federal employees this cost-free paradigm change could avoid lay offs/furloughs and reduce pollution. See new plan at http://whitecollargreenspace.blogspot.com/

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sleeping with the Enemy: Can We Trust the Testimony of ICCL & Cruise Lines plus Why Self-Policing Won't Work -Part 2:

Part 2:
Are the Privacy and Security of Millions of American Cruise Vacation Customers at Risk?
What kind of security procedures and privacy rights exist for customers concerning the vast amount of personal data gathered and catalogued by the cruise line and other travel companies. They not only have our Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, phone and address info but they have our spending, eating, gambling, and shopping habits as well as medical information they ask for or obtain during incidents. They also have names and phone numbers of our relatives and friends used for emergency contacts. Most worrisome of all is all of the photos and videos they have of us from the ship and sail cards and surveillance videos. Can those images be converted to face scans? Evidently they can according to this New York Times article:http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/17/us/17face.html?ei=5065&en=36580b4653017e9c&ex=1172293200&partner=MYWAY&pagewanted=print February 17, 2007 By ADAM LIPTAKDriver’s License Emerges as Crime-Fighting Tool, but Privacy Advocates WorryThis story ties in with the increase crime and lack of safety for all tourist to the Caribbean and elsewhere and the fact that entities as renowned as Citibank, UPS, and Master card cannot assure the security and integrity of our personal data as stored, organized, sold and used by all travel companies.40 million credit cards exposed Payment processor blamed in mishap By Bob Sullivan Technology correspondentMSNBC: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8260050/Are there any law firms out there that might represent American Cruise Vacation Customers in an attempt to obtain a copy of any and all records kept by the cruise, travel and theme park companies and associates and contractors? We would like a complete accounting of what personal and other data has been collected and maintained by these entities. Including but not limited to what types of systems of records were used, what security, integrity and verification procedures were and are in place. Also, what and who had access to our data and how it was used. Do they have adequate systems and personnel procedures in place? Do they perform background checks on all of the employees and contractors? What is the intangible and tangible value of our data in the context of theirs and others data files? What other data was retrieved about us from other sources such as legal, financial, and credit bureau sources. What security breaches have occurred. How much money was made from our data? What international and federal authorities have jurisdiction on the use, maintenance, and distribution of our personal data? We would wish to seek compensation for our selves and others for the use and value of the aggregate data and ask to have all of our personal information expunged, deleted, and destroyed. We would propose the establishment of a clearinghouse or ombudsman to provide all travelers and customers with a central location for everyone to access, challenge, delete, and be compensated for the high sensitive and personal data collected, maintained, used, shared, and sold by the various corporations and individuals. This could be similar to the free credit reports available for data collected about everyone’s financial dealings.Should we be putting our sensitive personal and financial data in the hands of foreign corporations with employees from mostly third world countries including those with gangs and terrorists? Can we trust an industry or be a customer of a corporation who provided money for a regime who supported terrorist groups like al Qaeda and Hezbollah whose history of horror may be second only to Hitler's.http://safecruise.blogspot.com/2006/12/blood-diamonds-blood-cruises-americans.htmlCurrently, cruise lines rely on private security guards whose first loyalty is to the cruise company. Even, though their profits are in the billions of dollars they refuse to have independent security staff on their ships. http://projectsafecruise.blogspot.com/ They flag their ships and incorporate in poor third world countries like the Bahamas, Panama, and Liberia in order to avoid taxes, regulation, and oversight of their health and safety and security practices relating to passengers and crew. We know they don't care about their passengers with over 70 people going overboard since the year 2000 and:14 Month Old Baby Drowns When Star Cruises Crew Refuses To Give Baby A Proper Life Jacket http://www.cruisebruise.com/Neuna_Shah.htmlCruise lines have little or no legal obligation to settle because they are not regulated. RCCL is incorporated in Liberia and for many years they flagged their ships in Liberia. A country with a dysfunctional legal court system and no regulations or laws to protect cruise line employees, customers, or stockholders. The Cruise lines have poured millions of dollars into lobbying efforts, at times using lobbyist closely connected to Jack Abramoff and we know what kind of tactics he used. cruiselinelobbyistrelatedtoabramoff blog That along with many thousands of dollars of campaign contributions has kept congress from passing any meaningful regulations. Cruise ships are giant gambling operations. Kind of like a floating crap game. And I have never known anyone who ran a crap game to be concerned with those gambling. Its used to be the only thing you could lose is your money, but with over 70 individuals missing or gone overboard, fires, and viruses since the year 2000, you could lose your life or your health or your personal or financial identity.
How and Why Did Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Help Liberian Dictator, Charles Taylor Brutally Kill over 300,000 Individuals in Africa during the 1990's? 1.5 million individuals were made homeless or became refugees.
Charles Taylor has been described, as the third most wanted war crimes suspect in the world -- after Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic
In recent years the region, particularly Liberia, has harbored al Qaeda operatives, senior Hezbollah financiers and a plethora of transnational criminal organizations. Hezbollah might not be as strong as it is today if not for Charles Taylor and fees paid by Cruise Lines.
[ http://www.douglasfarah.com/articles/conflict-diamonds.shtml ]
The American Public should demand that Cruise ship deaths be given as much attention as a serial killer case. There are about 200,000 beds on the cruise ships. If there were 60 disappearances in six years, or about 9 per year in the same neighborhood and no changes were made in security, we would quickly fire the police chief and people would no longer go to that neighborhood. In fact, there is a serial killer on cruise ships; it is the total lack of independent law enforcement and regulation. Currently, cruise lines rely on private security guards whose first loyalty is to the Cruise Company. Law enforcement should treat 60 disappearances like they would a serial killer case. They should crosscheck all available data to see if there are any common elements such methods, circumstances, or the same passengers or crewmembers being present. Any thread of commonality could help solve some of the disappearances and prevent others.
Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruise Lines operate cruise ships that were registered or flagged in Liberia. As recently as April 8, 2002 when ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISES LTD (RCL) filed Form 20-F with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for the period ending December 31, 2001, a majority of their ships were registered in Liberia. Royal Caribbean Cruises LTD and most of its many subsidiaries are still incorporated in Liberia per Form 10-K filed with the SEC on February 24, 2006 for the year ending December 31, 2005.
Statement Of Congressman Frank Wolf Before House Armed Services Committee Special Oversight Panel On The Merchant Marine Vessel Operations Under "Flags Of Convenience" And National Security Implications
http://www.house.gov/wolf/news/2002/06-13-flags.html Which brings me to the issue at hand for this committee -- the relationship between Charles Taylor’s criminal state and the Liberian flag registry and its implications on our national security. The United Nations and several news reports have revealed that the revenue obtained from the Liberian flag registry and the company that runs the registry, the Liberian International Ship and Corporate Registry, known as LISCR, made payments that violated the UN sanctions on Liberia. Also, the United Nations has reported that LISCR was set up precisely so that Charles Taylor would have immediate access to the flag registry funding. While estimates vary, according to the October 2001 UN report, the flag registry accounts for approximately 50 percent to 75 percent of Liberia’s annual revenue. Liberia’s people, the UN reports also indicate that the lack of transparency surrounding Liberian finances may have troubling national security implications for the U.S. government as well. For instance, the UN reports document how certain portions of the flag registry revenue were channeled to the notorious arms dealer, Victor Bout, who has connections to the Taliban, al Qaeda and Abu Sayyeef, the radical Muslim group in the Philippines.
In recent years the region, particularly Liberia, has harbored al Qaeda operatives, senior Hezbollah financiers and a plethora of transnational criminal organizations. [ http://www.douglasfarah.com/articles/conflict-diamonds.shtml ]

Bob Dickinson, president of Carnival Cruise Lines, threw his hands up in the air and said he was annoyed that they were even discussing the Smith case, calling it a "non-event." *"It has nothing to do with safety on cruise ships, and the fact that we need to get up here and defend our safety record is absurd," Dickinson said. *Hell with taking any action to improve cruise ship safety and security, they don't even want to discuss it: Dickinson suggested the panel refrain from discussing the Smith case. "I hate to see you talk about it because you're giving it legs," he said about the story.**Any action they take will be geared towards improving their public image: Royal Caribbean International President Adam Goldstein said the industry has been giving travel agents "talking points" to emphasize ship security, if customers ask about the Smith case and other safety matters.**
Well, Mr. Dickinson. We're annoyed that 75 people have gone overboard since the year 2000. We're annoyed that hundreds of family members have been treated with no respect or no real concern. We're annoyed that 93% of the sexual assaults have gone unprosecuted. We think it is absurd that the cruise ship companies have not been charged and arrested for destroying evidence and tampering with crime scenes. Mark our words: business as usual for the cruise lines will be a "non-event." We will not stop until "Sea Marshals" or another type of independent, trained, experienced security/law enforcement staff are aboard each ship.

Safe Cruise: Royal Caribbean IS PROUD (and enriched) to be UnAmerican:



I would bet that over 95% of the passengers on RCCL are Americans. I would not call that "incidental." Maybe if we all got dual citizenship between the U.S.A. and Liberia, we could all avoid paying income taxes. Since Royal Caribbean and Carnival are exempt from paying income taxes to the U.S., should they also be exempt from receiving free services from the U.S. Coast Guard, the FBI, Customs, U.S. health agencies, U.S departments that maintain the safety and security of the ports, etc? I believe we should be charging all cruise line companies some hefty fees for all of the American services they receive for free. Avoiding American income taxes lets Carnival and Royal Caribbean keep another half billion dollars in profits, giving these foreign corporations more money to interfere with the American political process by funneling millions of dollars into lobbying efforts and campaign donations. This prevents any meaningful legislation from being passed that might increase their taxes, port fees, or safety and security responsibilities. That's why they have little liability for the 47 people who went overboard since the year 2000 and why few if any of the hundreds of sexual assaults or robberies ever result in indictments or convictions.

On his MSNBC show Joe Scarborough stated that Cruise ships should be required to be flagged in the United States if they have American Ports of call. Unfortunately, this will never happen. They don’t even pay taxes. Will Carnival provide better safety and security for those housed on board the ships contracted by FEMA for six months than they do for regular cruises? It might be worth interviewing some of the people staying on board for several months. Carnival, which is headquartered in Miami but incorporated for tax purposes in Panama, paid just $3 million in income tax benefits on $1.9 billion in pretax income last year, according to company documents. This is the same as if I made $100,000 last year and only had to pay $75.00 in taxes. "That's not even a tip," said Robert S. McIntyre of Citizens for Tax Justice. U.S.Companiess in general pay an effective income tax rate of about 25 percent, analysts say. That would have left Carnival with a $475 million tax bill. No wander the FBI does not want to investigate incidents on Carnival ships. If Carnival paid the $475 million in taxes they should pay, the FBI could afford to have an agent on each cruise to monitor safety and security. (Personally, I believe that state, local, and Federal government agencies should not give any contracts for Hurricane repairs or anything else or do business with any companies that have headquarters outside the United States and funnel their profits off shore to avoid taxes)

$236 Million Cruise Ship Deal Criticized
By Jonathan Weisman , Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 28, 2005

...the Carnival deal has come under particular scrutiny. Not only are questions being raised over the contract's cost, but congressional investigators are examining the company's tax status. Carnival, which is headquartered in Miami but incorporated for tax purposes in Panama, paid just $3 million in income tax benefits on $1.9 billion in pretax income last year, according to company documents. "That's not even a tip," said Robert S. McIntyre of Citizens for Tax Justice. U.S. companies in general pay an effective income tax rate of about 25 percent, analysts say. That would have left Carnival with a $475 million tax bill.
Carnival's public records boast "that substantially all of our income in fiscal 2004, 2003 and 2002 . . .Is exempt from U.S. federal income taxes," largely because it maintains that its operations are not in the United States but on the high seas.
Carnival does not want to see that tax status jeopardized just because three major ships are clearly operating in the United States. After it won the FEMA bid, Carnival appealed to Treasury Secretary John W. Snow for a waiver of U.S. taxes. "We do not want to jeopardize our tax exemption, nor do we want to interrupt our relief efforts for failure to secure this assurance from the Treasury Department," wrote Howard Frank, Carnival's chief operating officer.
Cruise line council President Crye said the company will reduce its billings under the contract by the amount of income taxes forgiven. The waiver would spare Carnival and its employees the paperwork of filing tax returns.
But critics say Carnival deserves to be treated no differently than a hotel housing relief workers under a FEMA contract. "Carnival should be contributing to the relief effort just like all other taxpayers are," McIntyre said. "Why should they be singled out for special treatment, just because they've been so good at tax avoidance in the past

{The following statement appeared in the Form 10-K filed by Royal Caribbean (RCCL} with the Security and Exchange Commission on February 24, 2006}

A change in our tax status under the United States Internal Revenue Code may have adverse effects on our income.

We and a number of our subsidiaries are foreign corporations that derive income from a United States trade or business and/or from sources within the United States. Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, our United States tax counsel, has delivered to us an opinion, based on certain representations and assumptions set forth in it, to the effect that this income, to the extent derived from or "incidental" to the international operation of a ship or ships, is exempt from United States income tax pursuant to Section 883 of the Internal Revenue Code. We believe that most of our income (including that of our subsidiaries) is derived from or "incidental" to the international operation of a ship or ships.


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3/26/2007 5:56 AM  

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