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Old June 25th, 2008, 06:04 PM
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Default Cruise Safety Bills

Today the california state legislative panel defeated a bill that would have put "ocean rangers" onto cruise ships. I personally think the bill was half-baked and deserved to go down in flames. Basically, it was written by a state senator who apparently saw an easy way to gain favor with all people who identify with "victims" by taking on a corporate bad guy (the cruise industry).

The bill called for putting people who are dual-certified as investigative forensic experts and marine biologists on every ship to:

1) monitor what ships do environmentally in the California waters
2. serve a peace-keepers (policemen) onboard and also assist in investigations whenever there is an allegation of crime.

The vote was two "for" and two "against" and three abstentions. I assume it needed a mojority to get onto the floor. Why three lawmakers abstained is not known, but their votes essentially worked as "no" votes.

Meanwhile - John Kerry held his congressional hearings last week. And I just watched the two-hour video of it. I have to admit that based on his initial statements in press releases by Kerry before the hearing I expected a hatchet job from him of the sorts we saw with Matsui and Shay in the house hearings last year.

Instead, I found Kerry to be very balanced and reasonable in the way he conducted the hearings, and I believe he will not come up with any outlandish proposals such as putting robo-cops on cruise ships.

The usual anti-cruise-aders were there; Kendall Carver and Ross Klein. Why the U.S. Senate would allow a Canadian to testify before a US committee on "cruise ship crime" is beyond me.

To summarize Klein's testimony, lets just say he ran through the same litany of spurious "statistics" which by all indications he spends hours bending and refining, like a prism, to make his case look most colorful instead of giving the facts any real "light of day" exposure.

It was obvious by Kerry's response to him that no one was impressed with the way he was able to present his case because he so obviously obfuscated his presentation with arcane interpretations of what should have been simple facts.

Meanwhile, the only new case to even come up for discussion was the one about the woman on NCL who slipped while trying to cross balconies. Kerry quickly shot them down for bringing that up by saying "wasn't there a video of her slipping?" to which they all said "yes."

What gets me about these anti-cruise-aders is that it is the same cases as have been presented in all the hearings for the last three years. Yet they keep insisting the cruise industry is rampant with crime and cover-up. If it is, where are all the new cases?

I must give Kerry a great deal of credit, unlike Shays and Matsui, for not jumping on the sympathy bandwagon and really keeping everything in perspective. He never criticized the cruise industry at all. He did ask them to admit that the specific cases of the "anti-cruises-aders" had been handled badly, which Terry Dale of CLIA did. But beyond that, he expressed respect for the industry and said he hoped he could come up with a solution that was workable for everyone.

What is obvious is that the "cruise victims" truly seem to be more hell-bent on payback than aiding victims. Just like Ross Klein's books where he does nothing to present both sides of any story, they seemingly only want to play a "tattle-tale" role where the cruise industry is always the bad guy" "liars, criminals, self-interested."

The problem is that they have nothing new to add to any of their claims whenever these hearings come along. How many times do we have to hear about Laurie Dishman, whose case is tragic, but is but one case in the last three years when some 35,000,000 people have cruised from the U.S, alone?

California Congresswoman Matsui gave Ms Dishman a medal of honor for her role in "exposing the criminal underbelly of the cruise industry" just a few months ago, yet the California anti-cruise bill still went down in flames.

I am sorry these people had unfortuante incidences concerning cruise lines. But these are but a few cases out of millions of people.

The latest person to join "International Cruise Victims" is the mother of Ashley Barnett who died on a cruise ship when she apparently accidentally drank her boyfriends methadone. OK, she dies on a cruise ship, but HOW is that the cruise line's fault? Her boyfriend smuggled it on board in a nyquil bottle. She apparently drank it herself, either by mistake or on purpose. How could the cruise line have prevented this from happening?

Carnival responded within 3 minutes once notified she was found not breathing. They held the boyfriend in custody until the FBI interviewed him. They apparently turned over all kinds of materials to her mother to aid in any investigation she wanted to do, and they flew her mother to Miami to do so.

And now this woman is on the political bandwagon to place the cruise industry in the role of "ne'er-do-wells" Where is the logic in that?

In any case - now Kerry is looking into the industry, and as noted, I was happy to see he was very balanced. He got both sides to admit that they could be less confrontational. He got Terry Dale of CLIA to admit there could be a better system in place for preserving forensic evidence on a cruise ships, and he also told the victims group that he frankly was not impressed with their statistics.

For the first time, I am encouraged that someone with some sensibility is looking into this issue. And at the same time, I can almost guarantee you that no matter what he decides to do, the "cruise victims" will say it is not enough.
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