Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sunken Cruise Ship Parbuckled Off Coast of Italy

Posted By on Tue, Sep 17, 2013 at 12:07 PM

The Costa Concordia, with its damaged starboard decks. The ship was capsized off the coast of Italy for more than 20 months.
  • CBS News
  • The Costa Concordia, with its damaged starboard decks. The ship was capsized off the coast of Italy for more than 20 months.

After a 19-hour operation, the Costa Concordia is now back afloat, more or less, reports CBS News.

The cruise ship slammed into a reef just off the coast of the island of Giglio Jan. 13, 2012, when its captain steered it too close to the shore. In the ensuing capsizing, 32 died, and two bodies were never recovered.

Italy's Civil Protection agency conducted the parbuckle, which is a standard method of righting capsized ships, though the Costa Concordia is the largest vessel to be righted in such a way. The agency says that no environmental spills have been detected as a result of the parbuckling operation.

"A perfect operation, I must say," said Franco Porcellacchia, a project manager for Costa Crociere SpA, the company that owns the Concordia.

In spring 2014, the ship will be floated to a recycling yard and reduced to scrap.

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Otter on fed stimulus: It's complicated

Posted By on Thu, Jan 8, 2009 at 3:16 PM

Gov. C. L. "Butch" Otter, addressing a media scrum assembled by Boise's Associated Press shop this morning, said that he's not sure he'd vote for an "economic stimulus" package were he still in Congress today.

"If I were in Congress and I looked at it, someone would have to be more convincing than they have been and I probably would say no," Otter said.

Still, Otter spoke at length about his priorities should Congress pass a bunch of cash to the states for infrastructure projects. The state has assembled some $2.4 billion [EDIT A spreadsheet provided by Otter's office indicates just under $2 billion in projects] in "shovel ready" projects that could use an infusion of federal dollars, though estimates for Idaho's share of the stimulus now hover around $75- to $100 million. The Idaho Transportation Department yesterday, put together its own wish-list, which in some cases did not jive with Otter's.

President-elect Barack Obama offered some further justifications for massive borrowing and spending today: “Only government can break the vicious cycles that are crippling our economy–where a lack of spending leads to lost jobs, which leads to even less spending,” Obama said, as quoted by the Christian Science Monitor.

Obama's proposal, which could total $800 billion according to the CSM, but may be shrinking by the day, will include money for alternative energy projects, broadband and computerized medical records.

“Yes, we’ll put people to work repairing crumbling roads, bridges, and schools by eliminating the backlog of well-planned, worthy and needed infrastructure projects. But we’ll also do more to retrofit America for a global economy," Obama said.

Many states are going right for new asphalt in their lists, ignoring the calls for repair work. Idaho Smart Growth executive director Rachel Winer suggested yesterday that the state consider using the money for transportation projects aside from just road building, including upping the percentage that goes to repair already crumbling roads.

Winer gave Idaho credit for making its stimulus request public, one of only 16 states that has done so.

Otter was asked whether this anticipatory federal stimuli might be used as an excuse by certain lawmakers to stave off road funding needs for another year, to which he responded: "I was always looking for a way to say no to an increase in taxes..." And then added that no, the stimulus will be one-time projects and Idaho Transportation Department still needs new revenue sources.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Idaho bank gets bailout

Posted By on Mon, Dec 22, 2008 at 12:30 PM

With almost $200 billion in federal bank bailout funds out the door and another $47 billion approved as of Dec. 22, the official U.S. Treasury Department position remains “trust us.”

The Troubled Asset Relief Program, that $700 billion bill that Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed in October, was intended to encourage banks to start extending credit again. But no one has tracked what the banks are doing with the money.

“Each financial institution’s circumstances are different, making comparisons challenging at best, and it is difficult to track where individual dollars flow through an organization,” said Treasury official Neel Kashkari earlier this month, according to, an investigative news site that is tracking bailout funds.

But that ‘s more than Curt Hecker, CEO of Intermountain Community Bancorp, pictured above, is saying.

Hecker, whose Sandpoint-based bank is the only Idaho bank to receive bailout funds to date—$27 million—did not return repeated phone calls to citydesk over the course of a week.
Intermountain, a holding company for Panhandle State Bank, the largest locally owned state bank in Idaho, applied for the TARP money and was approved Nov. 7.

“Our concern in this is what are we getting for the money? There’s no requirement for the banks to lend the money,” said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, which is researching each of the banks that has taken bailout money.

Panhandle’s original mission was to invest community money back into the local economy. But its holding company, Intermountain, now has branches as far flung as Sandpoint, Nampa and Gooding.

So where’s your TARP money going, Hecker?

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Minnick, Sali Agree; Sort Of

Posted By on Mon, Sep 29, 2008 at 5:02 PM

Turns out both Republican Rep. Bill Sali and his Democratic congressional challenger Walt Minnick agree on one thing: The proposed Congressional bailout of the faltering economy was a bad idea. The two political competitors just have very different reasons.

Sali joined the majority of the House of Representatives on Monday, Sept. 29 when he voted against the proposed $700-billon bailout plan—a decision that sent the Dow Jones spiraling downward in its worst single-day loss in history­.

For Sali, the issue is putting the burden on taxpayers. Instead of having the government buy up the bad investments slogging the national and global credit system, he is in favor of providing tax incentives to encourage private industry to do it instead.

“We need a solution that does not jeopardize taxpayers and does not fundamentally change the relationship [between government and business],” said Sali’s spokesperson Wayne Hoffman.

Sali is part of a bipartisan coalition working on its own plan. Among the possibilities is eliminating or reducing taxes on private investors willing to buy bad investments.
Hoffman said the coalition is also looking at ways to modify fair-value accounting, but said the details of that option are still being worked through.

“There’s a lot of really fresh ideas out there that weren’t considered before, that need to be considered,” Hoffman said.

And while Minnick agrees that the proposal before congress was a poor one, he still believes that the government needs to step in to protect the integrity of markets both in the United States and around the world. The key to that, is providing liquidity, allowing financial institutions to continue the lending cycle, Minnick said.

But rather than a pay-out, Minnick supports short-term loans “not taking bad assets off of questionable banks.”

If the loans aren’t repaid on time, he feels the corporations should be treated like everyone else, and the loan should be foreclosed. He also strongly believes that the CEOs of companies that opt for governmental help should not receive any financial benefit.

“If the taxpayers were going to be asked to step in and help, the CEOs shouldn’t have a plug nickle in termination pay,” Minnick said. “There’s no termination pay for a CEO who has ruined the company.”

Minnick, two large companies, including serving as CEO of Trus Joist, said he would never have expected to benefit if he had ruined one of his companies.

“If I had ruined my company, the board would make sure I was ousted on my ear,” he said.
Adding larger regulatory reform is also imperative to any plan, Minnick said. Among his suggestions is consolidating the number of agencies which have oversight of the financial industry and making sure every aspect of the industry has some federal regulation.

“It’s very hard to get regulatory reform through Congress,” he said. “If you miss this train out of the station, it’s going to be very hard to get it through later.”

Minnick said Sali’s idea of tax incentives for private industry “sounds like nonsense” and doesn’t address the current issue. “We need to keep the banking industry functioning,” he said.

Both Minnick and Sali agree that something needs to happen soon. Hoffman said Sali and other coalition members are working as fast as they can and will hopefully have a new proposal available to the public soon.

Minnick believes time is imperative to stopping the situation from getting any worse.

“We are in a recession,” he said. “We need to act quickly [to] prevent a global depression.”

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