Archive for » December, 2011 «

LEAD: Patched up Russian fishing boat heads out of Antarctic ice

Dec 27, 2011, 22:16 GMT

Chris Henshaw of the Rescue Co-ordination Centre said the 48-metre Sparta, with 32 crew on board, was being escorted out of the Ross Sea by the Korean icebreaker Araon, which reached the stricken vessel Monday, after two other boats attempting mercy missions were forced to turn back due to thick pack ice.

He said that the two ships would take about 12 hours to get beyond the ice to open water, where they are expected to rendezvous with Sparta’s sister ship, Chiyo Maru Number 3, and then sail to New Zealand’s South Island port of Lyttelton for permanent repairs to the 30-centimetre gash punched into the hull by the iceberg.

The Sparta had been stuck in the Antarctic since December 16, when it sent out a distress message saying that it was sinking, about 3,700 kilometres south-east of New Zealand.

The Sparta was patched up after the repair mission struck a hitch and discovered a second hole on Tuesday.

The Rescue Co-ordination Centre said plans to attach a steel plate to the outside of the hull, after fuel was pumped off to raise the ship and expose the hole above the waterline, were abandoned for unspecified safety reasons, but a cement box was being secured to the inside of the shell plating to make it seaworthy.

When the ship’s bow was raised above the water level, a second hole was discovered, but that had caused only localized flooding in a small, contained space and would not stop Sparta from sailing.

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Wellington – A Russian fishing boat stuck in the Antarctic for 12 days after being holed by an iceberg was steaming to safety Wednesday after temporary repairs, with an icebreaker clearing a path through thick pack ice, a New Zealand rescue official said.

Chris Henshaw of the Rescue Co-ordination Centre said the 48-metre Sparta, with 32 crew on board, was being escorted out of the Ross Sea by the Korean icebreaker Araon, which reached the stricken vessel Monday, after two other boats attempting mercy missions were forced to turn back due to thick pack ice.

He said that the two ships would take about 12 hours to get beyond the ice to open water, where they are expected to rendezvous with Sparta’s sister ship, Chiyo Maru Number 3, and then sail to New Zealand’s South Island port of Lyttelton for permanent repairs to the 30-centimetre gash punched into the hull by the iceberg.

The Sparta had been stuck in the Antarctic since December 16, when it sent out a distress message saying that it was sinking, about 3,700 kilometres south-east of New Zealand.

The Sparta was patched up after the repair mission struck a hitch and discovered a second hole on Tuesday.

The Rescue Co-ordination Centre said plans to attach a steel plate to the outside of the hull, after fuel was pumped off to raise the ship and expose the hole above the waterline, were abandoned for unspecified safety reasons, but a cement box was being secured to the inside of the shell plating to make it seaworthy.

When the ship’s bow was raised above the water level, a second hole was discovered, but that had caused only localized flooding in a small, contained space and would not stop Sparta from sailing.


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Year in Review: Floods, heat factors in 2011 economy

A record flood took a bite out of the tourism economy of the Twin Lakes Area in the spring and summer of 2011, and the lingering effects of The Great Recession continued to appear at the Baxter County Courthouse in the number of properties subject to foreclosure.

A record emergency spill of 44,700 cubic feet per second came from the Bull Shoals Dam on May 24. During a 33-day measurement period before the record release, an average of 20 inches of rain fell onto the White River watershed. The release into White River tailwaters, already swollen from the rain, brought the river to high levels not seen since the Bull Shoals Dam began service in 1957.

Major commercial boat docks serving Gaston’s White River Resort and Stetson’s on the White River were pummeled by the swift waters. Cotter saw its first flooding in years.

Water levels in the three major reservoirs on the White River — Beaver, Table Rock and Bull Shoals — all flattened out at high levels ranging from 41.6 feet above conservation levels on Beaver Lake to 46.8 feet on Bull Shoals. Lake water levels did not return to normal conservation-pool levels until October.

Performance of a countywide 1-cent sales tax declined during the rain-and-flood months. Revenue from the sales tax ended the year down 1 percent, not as steep as the 3.7 percent decline from 2009-2011. The 2011 total was $5.82 million.

Floods were followed by excessive heat in July and August, including a record 112-degree high on Aug. 4.

The weather-related lack of performance in the sales tax revenue made for difficult budget decisions at the end of year, including cuts to some county services and no raises for county employees.

Foreclosure

The number of foreclosure actions in Baxter County increased again in 2011 with about 180 properties added to the record of foreclosed properties. The rate of foreclosure was slightly off the trends of 2010 and 2009 when a total of 433 residential properties fell into foreclosure. Pre-recession foreclosures numbered about half that.

Financial struggles at corporate retail levels also were a part of the economic landscape in 2011. An action filed in Baxter County Circuit Court by Bank of America in April claimed borrower default on loans totaling more than $15 million. The loans were secured by properties held by Mountain Home Retail LLC in the Hometown Commons commercial tract. Hometown Commons encompasses retail stores of Lowe’s, Stage and Petco and several other smaller retailers.

The troubled housing economy also was apparent in the number of residences sold by Realtors in Baxter and Marion counties. At November’s end, 564 homes had been sold in the first 11 months of the year, compared to 557 in 2010 and 468 in 2009. The volume is about half of the trend from pre-recession years.

Manufacturing

Manufacturing in Baxter and Marion counties in 2011 showed signs of growth.

American Stitchco, with headquarters in Mountain Home and plants in Gassville and Yellville, brought new cut-and-stitch work with the acquisition in July of a quieted Capital Mercury plant in Yellville.

Steve Luelf, founder and owner of American Stitchco, said the facility would be used first as a distribution center for products made by American Stitchco. Those include the Boppy line of baby products. The Boppy work and work supporting automotive brands gave work to 220 American Stitchco employees at mid-year 2011.

American Stitchco makes the front cover for the Fiat 500, now famous for a Jennifer Lopez advertising campaign. The company also makes cargo holders for the International Space Station and an array of auto and truck equipment options that require precision cutting and sewing.

E-Z Loader Trailer Co. at Midway, led by Gary Potter, also chairman of the National Association of Trailer Manufacturers, announced in September work to develop a prototype trailer for a sea-and-land vehicle called Sealegs. The Sealegs crafts now are at work in several military and search-and-rescue operations around the world. Potter said E-Z Loader anticipates building about 100 heavy-duty trailers for Sealegs vehicles a year.

The manufacture of sport boats and sport-boat products remained off pre-recession volume in 2011. Rick Pierce, plant manager and a partner in Bass Cat Boats at Midway, announced Dec. 13 that it has acquired the Yar-Craft line of boats built in Wausau, Wis. The venture was expected to increase volume from the Bass Cat plant by 100-125 boats. The Yar-Craft boat line is built to walleye-angler needs and has a loyal customer following. Pierce said Bass Cat with five J.D. Power and Associate awards for quality in boat building expects to build on the Yar-Craft brand loyalty.

Ranger Boats, flagship of the Fishing Holdings Inc. boat brands, continued to build the boat market in 2011 with three boat brands in addition to Ranger created in its Flippin plant. An extraordinary point of pride for the Ranger name came with an order from the state of Louisiana for construction of 25 of Ranger’s biggest bay models with all state-of-art technologies needed now by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Growth in manufacturing or any other segment of the Baxter and Marion County economies was not enough to offset a rate of unemployment here in 2011. The ranks of unemployed tracked by the Arkansas Department of Workforce Security swelled from 7.9 to 10 percent during the year.

Retail

In retail trade, Big Lots bet on the Twin Lakes Area economy and a center-city location in Twin Lakes Plaza opening in September. So did Goodwill Industries, opening a big new store in Twin Lakes Plaza in November. The two stores occupy premium spaces at the east and west ends of the main mall building at U.S. Highway 62 and Wallace Knob Road.

Health care

In the health care economic sector, Baxter Regional Medical Center firmly held its position as the county’s biggest employer. Changes in policy and procedures in how BRMC provides documentation for Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements for services were credited in part for helping the hospital to a $2.2 million margin of revenue exceeding expenses. The hospital ended 2010 with an attrition-to-downsize staff reduction plan because of revenue concerns related to health care reform.

Part of the windfall was used to purchase new robotic surgical technology and one of the most advanced technologies for detection of breast cancer.


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Bounce Back: Local car, boating industries rebound in 2011 and look for smooth …

Yes here we are, on the dawn of a new year for the local automotive and marine industries in the Charleston area.

Sure it would be great to look ahead, but my crystal ball is in the shop.

It’s safe to predict a few things: people will buy and retailers will sell cars and trucks and boats in 2012. Lots of them.

Look for hybrids and electric vehicles to boost their presence. Fiat may open a Lowcountry outlet at some point. And expect a surprise or two involving area car dealerships (isn’t that always the case). Gas prices will rise, and will fall. Expect rates to stay between $3 and $4 a gallon by year’s end (Wow, that’s going out on a limb).

In the boating business, look for calmer seas than in past years. Local manufacturing should pick up a bit, and dealers will boost sales. As with car outlets, boat dealers may play some merry-go-round, too.

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Provided

Tommy Baker (left), president of Baker Motor Co., and Miller Cadillac chief Sumter deBrux get together after Baker Motor acquired the venerable Mount Pleasant Cadillac dealership this fall.

OK, that’s it. My divining rod got run over by a reindeer, my tea leaves fell down the trash disposal.

All I’ve got left is a look back. In the words of a famous Japanese philosopher (Godzilla?), those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. (What’s that again? I wasn’t paying attention).

So here’s a slightly offbeat look at the wheels and waves field in 2011, using the trite but true A to Z method:

A – Anderson (and Ford F-150). In an unofficial Post and Courier contest to name the state car and truck, voters choose the kingpin F-150 as pickup and the Anderson, a well-built Rock Hill model from the 1920s, as state car. Hmm, with a little luck York County could have been the Detroit of the South. Then again, probably not.

B – Baker, buyer of Miller Cadillac. Baker Motor Co. last month took over the long-time Cadillac dealership in Mount Pleasant held by the Miller family. Baker and Miller. Is this a car dealer transaction or a food show?

C – Chump Car Series. Old Saturns from Hendrick Imports were donated to auto shops at Stratford High and Garrett Academy of Technology who fixed them up from “beaters” to fine-looking, hard-charging cars. In a race this spring in the Chump Car series for fixed-up, low cost vehicles, Garrett’s Saturn outdueled Stratford’s. No word yet on a rematch.

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Photo by Leroy Burnell

The Post and Courier

The Chevrolet Volt has a plug-in slot near the front of the electric vehicle. The Volt was among a number of high-profile EVs to come to the Charleston area in 2011.

D – Darius Rucker’s Karmann Ghia decked out in University of South Carolina colors was on display at a Mount Pleasant trade event and car show in the summer. Do I hear “History in the Making?”

E – Electric vehicles hit Charleston. Chevrolet rolled out the Volt. (Sounds shocking). Nissan follow up with the Leaf (sounds green). On the way is the Mitsubishi i, the car formerly known as MiEV. (Sounds mono-alphabetic).

F – Fireball Run stops in North Charleston. Not to be confused with the Cannonball Run or the Firecracker 400, the car rally this summer from Florida to the Gulf Coast pitted at Crews Chevrolet. Motorists in the charity fundraiser included a former NASCAR driver and an astronaut. Ricky Bobby, meet Rocket Man.

G – Gas prices. According to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge report, the average price for unleaded regular fuel in the Charleston area on Dec. 29 was $3.093. A month earlier, it was at $3.111 and a year ago it was $2.922. Remember the peak? On Sept. 17, 2008, regular unleaded reached $3.95 a gallon locally.

H – Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival and Concours d’Elegance marked its 10th year in November. It also marked the 10th year since South Carolinians found out what a “concours d’elegance” is.

I – Italian-based Fiat officially takes over Chrysler. It was more of a symbolic move when Fiat completed its purchase of Chrysler Group, makers of Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram. It’s OK, you can still say, “That thing got a Hemi?”

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Photo by Jim Parker

The Post and Courier

Teens motor around a course at Stall High School during the Ford Driving Skills for Life program this spring.

J – Jeff Gordon’s race car displayed at Bessinger’s Car Show. NASCAR legend Gordon wasn’t there, but the No. 24 car was showcased for a charitable cause. Tony Stewart was seen passing by on the way to the Sprint Cup title.

K – Keep control. That’s what Stall High School students mastered in a Ford Driving Skills for Life program. One teen racked up a fake 125 years in jail after wearing special glasses to simulate driving while intoxicated. Lucky — and smart — for him and for all the students who took part.

L – Land Rover Evoque arrives in Charleston. The streamlined Land Rover generated interets and talk, notably how do you pronounce Evoque? (Same as “evoke”).

M – Modified Mini racer. Mini of Charleston this fall became the lead dealership in helping people modify their Minis to compete in a new sports car racing series geared to compact models. In other words, give your Mini a makeover.

N – Nissan unveils commercial van. The Nissan NV arrived in Charleston during the year, offering choices for contractors and domestic customers who want more than a minivan. The jury is out on whether it’s the “NV” of the neighborhood.

O – One hundred years for Chevrolet. Launched in November 1911, Chevrolet has joined baseball, hot dogs and apple pie in iconic status — at least in clever ads.

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Photo by Jim Parker

The Post and Courier

Steve Potts, owner of Scout Boats, talks to journalists in October at a media day at Charleston Harbor Marina east of the Cooper.

P – Palmetto Ford agrees to offer SeaFox boats for sale. The Charleston car retailer and Moncks Corner boat manufacturer got together earlier this month. Call it angling for business.

Q – Quick. That monicker belongs to Tony Ford of Charleston, who took part in the Safelite AutoGlass tournament to find the nation’s best windshield technician. Alas, he was not speedy enough to win but had a good showing.

R – Regional media get Hyundai introductions. The Korean automaker held an event for auto journalists at Charleston Place to test-drive the Accent and Genesis. Few tackled the Ravenel bridge; most liked Charleston.

S – Scout Boats rolls out new models. The Dorchester County manufacturer unveiled a slew of novel boats, offering test-drives for marine journalists in October. None fell overboard.

T – Twenty-five. That’s how long Charleston resident and retired General Motors executive George Spaulding has penned a weekly automotive column for The Post and Courier, missing only two. He says he plans to conclude the column in May 2012, unless we talk you out of it, George!.

U – USA chief Steve Cannon. Less than a month after lecturing a class at the College of Charleston, Mercedes-Benz USA marketing director Cannon was named to the president and chief executive post effective Jan. 1, 2012. Coincidence? I think … maybe.

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Provided

Zodiac, whose inflatable raft lineup includes the Cadet, offered to supply vessels to emergency personnel after Hurricane Irene this summer. The company has a plant near Summerville.

V – Vehicles, of the Police Patrol variety. Chevrolet has built a number of the so called PPVs in Australia. A handful of Caprices were shipped to Rick Hendrick Chevrolet where local police and sheriff’s departments tried them out. We’re waiting to hear if they’re as effective as Crocodile Dundee.

W – World Race 2011. At least five Charleston area car enthusiasts took part in at least portions of World Race 2011, a road rally from New York to Paris. Çonsidering maybe 30 people all told were involved, that’s a pretty high percentage from the Holy City, or should we say holy rollers.

X – X3s, from BMW. The first of the new, enlarged X3 Sport Activity Vehicles drove off an assembly line at the BMW plant near Spartanburg early this year. Xciting!.

Y – Yacht race. Comedian Stephen Colbert, who grew up in Charleston, took part in the Charleston to Bermuda yacht race this summer as a crew of “The Audi.” It was in his pre Colbert PAC days.

Z – Zodiac offers inflatable boats for Hurricane Irene victims. The storm bypassed the Charleston area but skimmed the upper East Coast, causing massive flooding. Zodiac, which has its North American headquarters in Dorchester County, was glad to help.

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542.


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Aramco tanker rescues 32 Egyptians from sinking boat

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JEDDAH: Saudi authorities have saved 32 Egyptian fishermen after their boat sunk in the Red Sea, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Thursday quoting a statement by the spokesman of the Border Guards.

The incident took place early Wednesday when the Egyptians’ fishing boat got into trouble while they were operating in international waters. They were rescued by a Saudi Aramco oil tanker sailing nearby.

“The command and control center of the border guards in Jazan received information from the Saudi Navy that they had received a SOS call from an Egyptian fishing boat named Baraka Al-Haj Muhammad,” a spokesman of the border guards told SPA.

“We immediately instructed our marine units as well as the border guards on Farasan Island to do whatever possible to save the fishermen,” the spokesman said.

The border guards then coordinated with a Saudi Aramco oil tanker, which was eight nautical miles closer to the Egyptian boat, which rescued them.

The border guards later took the fishermen on its boat to Saudi shores so they could receive necessary medical care, the spokesman said.

“We also informed the commander of the Egyptian border guards that the fishermen are safe and were being taken care of.”

The Ataka seaport in Egypt’s province of Suez said they had received an emergency message from the Baraka, saying the vessel snagged something and was damaged, Egypt’s MENA news agency reported. “All crew members were rescued and taken to a Saudi seaport,” the agency added.

Meanwhile, Wafd newspaper’s website reported that the boat sank early Wednesday morning because the crew failed to fix its inoperative engines and lost control amid hazardous weather conditions.

Wafd pointed out that the boat sailed from Ataka two weeks ago and planned to fish for one month in the Red Sea.

Syed Muhammad, captain of the fishing boat, thanked the Saudi authorities for saving the fishermen from virtual death. “Four days ago the boat was working as usual without any problem. Suddenly its engine collapsed. Although the area surrounding the boat is known for sharks, I went down to check what was wrong with the engine to save the people on board,” he said.

Muhammad said they were calling for help from other ships when he lost all hope to repair the engine. “We were running out of food and the boat started sinking. At this time we saw a Saudi ship coming closer to our boat. We thanked God for his great blessing.”

Last December Saudi Border Guards in Jazan rescued a Sri Lankan sailor after they received information from the captain of The CSCL Long Beach that he was injured during his journey from Spain to Malaysia.

The 40-year-old Janaka Susantha Balasuriya suffered a serious hand injury while carrying out his duty as a fitter on the liner. Measures were taken by the guards to provide the sailor with necessary medical care before sending him to his country.

Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Al-Ayedi, commander of Border Guards in Jazan, noted the role of marine patrol officers in providing guidance and other assistance to sailors in addition to its basic duty of safeguarding the Kingdom’s border security.

© Arab News 2011


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January sales (NW)

What they need: Newcastle fans will no doubt be disappointed at Pardew’s comments regarding a new striker. With Demba Ba leaving to play in the Africa Cup of Nations, the Magpies look short in attacking numbers. They don’t have the biggest squad and unless they add to it in Janaury, injuries in the latter half of the season could see Newcastle lose their grip on the top six. Defence is another area which needs strengthening following Steven Taylor’s ruptured achilles.

What they’re likely to get: A lot of time and effort was put into the Maiga deal, so it’s unlikely Newcastle will hastily arrange an alternative. They will definitely look to add a new central defender in January, perhaps along with one or two loan signings.

What’s been said? Alan Pardew: “I don’t think we’ll be bringing in a striker in this window after the collapse of the (Modibo) Maiga deal. We’ll go with what we’ve got, and we’ll have to do a lot of work between now and the summer to locate another striker.”

What they need: Norwich have made a strong start in their return to the Premier League and will look to consolidate their place in mid-table. They’ve scored plenty of goals, but have also conceded many and need a bit more quality in defence. As with most promoted teams, the squad is on the small side and Lambert will hope to add a few faces to avoid being dragged into the end-of-season relegation battle.

What they’re likely to get: With their budget, it will be hard to bring in any established Premier League players to take them to the next level. Lambert will likely compete with the teams around him for the best loans from the top six while continuing his summer policy of signing the best from the Championship. Norwich brought in Bradley Johnson from Leeds at the start of the season, and his in-form former teammate Robert Snodgrass could be another option.

What’s been said? Paul Lambert: “There are one or two areas I think you would look to strengthen, there is no doubt about that, but as I said sometimes it is a lot easier to say that than to go and get them in.”

What they need: QPR have scored only eight goals at home this season, and have been relying heavily on Heidar Helguson. In Joey Barton and Shaun Wright-Phillips, Warnock’s team have players who are capable of providing good service to the front men; it’s now a case of finding someone to convert the chances. Anton Ferdinand’s injury has shown their lack of squad depth and at least one more defender is also needed.

What they’re likely to get: Warnock is confident that owner Tony Fernandes will back him in the transfer window. QPR signed six players at the end of August after Fernandes’ takeover had been confirmed, and the project will continue in January. Talk of a £24million move for Darren Bent sounds frivolous, but no doubt there will be money for Warnock to spend.

What’s been said? Neil Warnock: “We will be looking to improve the squad in January. I know what I need and I will go and get them.”

What they need: Despite his crying over Man City’s riches, Pulis spent a sizeable amount himself over the summer with Peter Crouch and Wilson Palacios coming in for large fees from Spurs. The squad is fairly balanced, but Jonathan Woodgate’s recent deployment at right-back suggests that there is still room for fine tuning. Although the midfield is usually bypassed in Stoke’s style of play, they could do with more creativity in that area.

What they’re likely to get: Junior Hoilett has been linked with an £8million move from Blackburn, and ransacking the relegation candidates would be a good option for Stoke. Pulis always makes at least one signing every window, so there’s no question that they’ll be involved in the January sales.

What’s been said? Tony Pulis: “If you gave me £240million tomorrow I would go and get a team like Manchester City’s. That is not going to happen. We have to build it gradually over a period of time and try to get better every year without being silly with finances because we cannot afford that.”

What they need: Although O’Neill has barely had time to assess his squad before the opening of the transfer window, he should have noticed that a new striker is an urgent requirement. Bobby Zamora has been linked with an £8million move from Fulham and his experience would bolster the Black Cats’ forward line. Nikica Jelavic is another option from hard-up Rangers, while a £3million bid would be enough to secure Aston Villa striker Nathan Delfouneso.

What they’re likely to get: Sunderland are vastly improved following the appointment of O’Neill and the manager can benefit from his team’s current form by not feeling the need to panic in January. A couple of new acquisitions would freshen up the squad and help to secure a mid-table position.

What’s been said? Martin O’Neill: “I don’t really know the strengths and weaknesses of my team yet. For the moment though I’m happy not to know for certain. I’m happy to give people opportunities.”

What they need: They might have one of the meanest defences in the Premier League this season, but Swansea need more goals if they are to avoid being dragged into a relegation battle. Only Wigan have scored less than the Swans, and the expected addition of Cliftonville’s Rory Donnelly is unlikely to make a difference. Preston prospect Jamie Proctor is another name on Rodgers’ shortlist but proven quality should be a more pressing concern.

What they’re likely to get: The Donnelly deal is close to completion, and ther”s a good chance Swansea will wait until the end of the transfer window to assess their position before deciding whether to splash out on a new striker.

What’s been said? Brendan Rodgers: “I am sure there will be movements in and out in January.”

What they need: Given Spurs’ current form, there aren’t many ways of improving the team. Redknapp loves nothing more than signing new players, however, and both Gary Cahill and Chris Samba have been mooted as possible defensive reinforcements. Neither fall into the category of a ‘big signing’ but as Harry admitted, it will be tough to find quality for the right price in January. If Modric remains determined to leave, Tottenham should push the boat out and bring in Wesley Sneijder.

What they’re likely to get: While Cahill appears destined for Chelsea, there’s a good chance that Spurs will get Samba from Blackburn. Redknapp has long been a fan of the giant centre-back and should be able to poach him for £8million. The stellar signing will have to wait.

What’s been said? Harry Redknapp: “If we’re going to make a signing, let’s make one big signing. That would send out a message. But it’s difficult finding that player who would make a difference.”

What they need: West Brom could do with more firepower, and Hodgson made a personal trip to see Nikica Jelavic in action in the Old Firm derby. The manager has said the injury sustained by utility man Zoltan Gera is like losing two players, one in midfield and one attack. They need to strengthen if they are to continue their rich vein of festive form.

What they’re likely to get: The signings of Shane Long and Gareth McAuley from the Championship have proved a success and the Baggies will again look to recruit the best, and most affordable, from that market.

What’s been said? Roy Hodgson: “We need our strength in the first 18. I’m pretty sure the club will do its best to make certain that we will be able to get anything we need within the parameters that we work.”

What they need: Wigan don’t score and concede a lot; they need new defenders and strikers, pronto. Hugo Rodallega may leave in January with Billy Sharp lined up as a replacement. Bordeaux’s Michael Ciani and Birmingham’s Curtis Davies are possible defensive additions for a side destined to be in the relegation battle.

What they’re likely to get: A few cheapies with the hope they will turn out to be bargains. Wigan can’t compete for quality so will scrape Europe’s bargain bucket for the best they can find.

What’s been said? Roberto Martinez: “We are trying to improve our squad. In every window we will do that. We are going to bring the right personalities and the right characters to the club.”

What they need: Wolves have already made one signing, with Hearts’ midfielder Eggert Jonsson joining on a three-and-half-year contract at the start of January. McCarthy has apparently been given a paltry £3million to try and guide the club away from the relegation zone. The loan signing of Jamie O’Hara at this stage last season was an inspired move, and one which the manager will look to repeat. Wolves have a balanced squad but need to improve the first eleven, especially in central midfield.

What they’re likely to get: Along with most clubs in the bottom half, McCarthy will look to the Championship to try and find the right additions. If Wolves sign Mohamed Diame – whose contract runs out in the summer – from Wigan, it would bolster their own options as well as weakening a relegation rival.

What’s been said? Mick McCarthy: “We only signed one player (Roger Johnson) in the summer. Jamie (O’Hara) had been here since Christmas. It would be nice to freshen it up and change things around, if you can.”

Matthew Stanger writes for Football365.

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Aramco tanker rescues 32 Egyptians from sinking boat

By P.K. ABDUL GHAFOUR | ARAB NEWS

JEDDAH: Saudi authorities have saved 32 Egyptian fishermen after their boat sunk in the Red Sea, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Thursday quoting a statement by the spokesman of the Border Guards.

The incident took place early Wednesday when the Egyptians’ fishing boat got into trouble while they were operating in international waters. They were rescued by a Saudi Aramco oil tanker sailing nearby.

“The command and control center of the border guards in Jazan received information from the Saudi Navy that they had received a SOS call from an Egyptian fishing boat named Baraka Al-Haj Muhammad,” a spokesman of the border guards told SPA.

“We immediately instructed our marine units as well as the border guards on Farasan Island to do whatever possible to save the fishermen,” the spokesman said.

The border guards then coordinated with a Saudi Aramco oil tanker, which was eight nautical miles closer to the Egyptian boat, which rescued them.

The border guards later took the fishermen on its boat to Saudi shores so they could receive necessary medical care, the spokesman said.

“We also informed the commander of the Egyptian border guards that the fishermen are safe and were being taken care of.”

The Ataka seaport in Egypt’s province of Suez said they had received an emergency message from the Baraka, saying the vessel snagged something and was damaged, Egypt’s MENA news agency reported. “All crew members were rescued and taken to a Saudi seaport,” the agency added.

Meanwhile, Wafd newspaper’s website reported that the boat sank early Wednesday morning because the crew failed to fix its inoperative engines and lost control amid hazardous weather conditions.

Wafd pointed out that the boat sailed from Ataka two weeks ago and planned to fish for one month in the Red Sea.

Syed Muhammad, captain of the fishing boat, thanked the Saudi authorities for saving the fishermen from virtual death. “Four days ago the boat was working as usual without any problem. Suddenly its engine collapsed. Although the area surrounding the boat is known for sharks, I went down to check what was wrong with the engine to save the people on board,” he said.

Muhammad said they were calling for help from other ships when he lost all hope to repair the engine. “We were running out of food and the boat started sinking. At this time we saw a Saudi ship coming closer to our boat. We thanked God for his great blessing.”

Last December Saudi Border Guards in Jazan rescued a Sri Lankan sailor after they received information from the captain of The CSCL Long Beach that he was injured during his journey from Spain to Malaysia.

The 40-year-old Janaka Susantha Balasuriya suffered a serious hand injury while carrying out his duty as a fitter on the liner. Measures were taken by the guards to provide the sailor with necessary medical care before sending him to his country.

Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Al-Ayedi, commander of Border Guards in Jazan, noted the role of marine patrol officers in providing guidance and other assistance to sailors in addition to its basic duty of safeguarding the Kingdom’s border security.


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Fawcett Boat Supplies appoints new general manager

December 30, 2011
Filed under News

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Fawcett Boat Supplies appointed Bill Griffin as the new general manager this month. Griffin has many years of experience in various positions with Fawcett Boat Supplies, including recently as an outside sales rep.

With Griffin’s new position as general manager, the company is looking for two outside sales reps to replace Griffin on the road as well as additional sales reps for the in-store staff. Potential applicants should contact Bill Griffin at Fawcett.

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Congo bans Chinese fishing boats

The Republic of Congo has banned 69 Chinese fishing boats from its waters for illicit activities, Fisheries Minister Dieudonne Kiessiekiaoua said Friday.

Commerical fishing boats moored in Hong Kong in 2010. The Republic of Congo has banned 69 Chinese fishing boats from its waters for illicit activities, Fisheries Minister Dieudonne Kiessiekiaoua said Friday.

“These boats are suspended until further notice from industrial fishing in Congolese territorial waters, because of a failure to respect the laws and regulations in force,” Kiessiekiaoua told AFP.

The banned boats, which belong to three Chinese companies named as Lulu, Rong Chang and Huayi Jinri, were fishing in a prohibited zone up to six nautical miles offshore, which is set aside for reproduction and renewal of fish stocks.

In August, Kiessiekiaoua said that Congo had acquired a satellite surveillance system to watch over boats and better control its waters. The central African country also recently banned fishing with explosives and with fine-meshed nets.

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Writer: AFP News agency
Position: Agence France-Presse



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Zynga in same boat as other 2011 tech IPOs

By John Shinal

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — As we expected, Zynga has so far not been a stock you wanted to buy on its first trading day, not if you were hoping to make a quick buck.

We advised against buying its shares in a column that ran just before the stock began trading publicly, because we believed (and still do) that it will be cheaper sometime early next year.

What we didn’t expect was just how cool a reception Zynga shares


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 would get. After two weeks of trading, the stock is where it finished its first day, down 5% from its $10 IPO price.

On the surface, that compares poorly with LinkedIn


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-0.71%



, which doubled on its first trading day, and Groupon


/quotes/zigman/7212269/quotes/nls/grpn GRPN
-4.68%



, which rose 31%. Even Pandora


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+2.42%



, which like Groupon has yet to figure out a way to make a profit, eked out a 9% first-day gain.

But if you’re thinking about actively trading any of these stocks, keep in mind why the Zynga IPO fizzled. Remember also that the prevailing technical trend for all of these stocks has been down.


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The market didn’t go for the play by Zynga CEO Mark Pincus to go big out of the gate and sell 14% of the company’s shares — significantly more than either Groupon’s or LinkedIn’s first-day float, as a percentage stake.

Those thin floats help keep a stock artificially high — but not forever. (
Read our previous column on that topic here.

)

LinkedIn’s slumping secondary

Still, Zynga’s post-IPO performance is better than that of LinkedIn’s shares, since the latter company’s Nov. 17 secondary offering. The stock is down 13% since that issue, which doubled the company’s float to near 20% of its outstanding shares. During that same time, the Nasdaq


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 has been treading water.

While LinkedIn is still above its IPO price of $45, both its chart and its fundamentals suggest it will be back near that level soon enough. In case you forgot, the stock’s price-to-earnings ratio is north of 200.

Groupon, which is not expected to be profitable in the near future and so has no P/E, is struggling to stay above its IPO price of $20, even though it sold less than 6% of its shares.

Pandora, meanwhile, is nearly 40% below its IPO price.

This trading data shows us one thing clearly. Whereas the worth of these companies were going up when they were trading in opaque private markets, being bought by lemming-like venture capitalists and other inexperienced investors hoping to put a marquee name in their portfolios, the harsh light of public disclosure is driving their market caps back down where they belong.

We wrote in early October that tech start-up valuations had already peaked and would be heading down, and the charts of these companies suggest that’s not going to change soon. (
Read that column here.

)

Zynga CEO Mark Pincus needs the money to continue the company’s massive marketing push. All of those “do you want to help me buy a fencepost?” emails sent to Farmville players’ Facebook friends cost money.

But it’s not the only one of this year’s crop of newly public tech companies to face high costs. Groupon also spends a large percentage of its revenue on email-marketing costs. And given the size of Groupon’s workforce, it will continue to face rising labor costs as insurance and other benefit packages get more expensive.

The fact that some crazy fool bid $11.50 for Zynga shares on their first day of trading shows that volatility will create trading opportunities for these stocks. That means savvy traders who do their homework will have a chance to make money on both up and down moves.

The trading desks of the tech investment banks that executed these IPOs still control a large percentage of their traded shares, however, so trying to short them, if you can acquire any to do so, is quite risky. But as more shares become available, as happened after the LinkedIn secondary sale, so will the opportunities to make money by betting against them, either through short sales or option contracts.

Until the price of these companies’ shares are in line with their prospects, that looks like a better strategy than going long.

In the next column, we’ll look at Zillow


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-1.22%



 and HomeAway


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+0.52%



, two Internet IPOs from the class of 2011 that focus on very different parts of the real-estate business.

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John Shinal, a former technology editor of MarketWatch, is based in San Francisco.


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