Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Whale of A Gulf Coast Update- Massive Skimmer Moves from Virginia to Gulf; Alex Playing Havoc With Cleanup; What's in a Name?

[AP/Patrick Semansky]
The newest weapon being deployed against the Deepwater Horizon oil spill dropped anchor in Boothville, LA on Wednesday. A massive Taiwanese owned, Liberian-flagged vessel arrived at the mouth of the Mississippi River earlier today that could remove as much as 500,000 barrels of oil per day from the Gulf of Mexico. TMT's A-Whale, which was built in South Korea as an oil tanker and refitted as a skimmer in Portugal earlier this month, was in Norfolk, VA last weekend where it underwent cursory examination by Coast Guard officials and the EPA.
Edward Overton, a professor emeritus from Louisiana State University, was among the visitors at the port where the A Whale was berthed. He called the current cleanup inadequate.

"It is absolutely gigantic. It's unbelievable. We need this ship,” he told TMT executives in Norfolk. “That oil is already contaminating our shoreline.”
The contaminated water is brought in through a dozen slits on the bow, where the oil and contaminants are separated and the cleaner water is discharged back out into the Gulf. However, the EPA has taken issue with the fact that the discharged water won't be 100% clean and needs to sign off on the quality of the treated water going back.

There is also the matter of the Jones Act, which has proven to be a major obstacle for foreign offers of assistance since the Deepwater Horizon sunk, is still in full effect. US Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen insisted that the Jones Act wasn't that big an obstacle, since it didn't hinder vessels operating three miles or more offshore. While this is true, this would hinder the foreign-flagged vessel's ability to resupply and return to shore during the cleanup unless there was an explicit waiver of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (the original name of the Jones Act).

[By the way, did you know that the A Whale, the Jones Act and the 80,000 or so feet of containment boom from a Maine company are "talking points" of the vast right-wing conspiracy? You see- the president of the Maine company sent Scott Brown a $500 donation back in January, so he's obviously in on it. Oh...and some commentor on a liberal blog says LaPointe's mom gave a few hundred dollars to ultra-right wing zealot Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe over the last decade, so they're in on it. And while Mother Jones concedes that President Bush quickly lifted the Jones act in the wake of Katrina, it was only to help his Big Oil buddies move product out of damaged refineries in Southern Louisiana. Because removing a bunch of volatile and unstable chemicals and materials from industrial facilites damaged by hurricanes benefits nobody but Republicans and oil companies, apparently -NANESB!]

Elsewhere, cleanup efforts were halted because of the approach of Hurricane Alex. While the center of the storm made landfall in Northern Mexico, the outer reaches of the storm were expected to whip through the Deepwater Horizon site along with some of the coastline where cleanup efforts were under way. There was also the chance that Alex could've changed direction and moved closer towards the affected areas of Louisiana, Alabama or Mississippi. Hurricane Alex briefly gained in strength to a Category 2 storm when making landfall in a relatively sparsely area of Tamaulipas state in Northern Mexico, some 130 miles south of Brownsville, TX.

The aftermath of the oil spill took a more partisan turn when House Democrats nixed Republican Congressman Steve Scalise's (LA-1) proposed trip to fly 10 lawmakers down to the Gulf Coast to see the damaged coastal areas firsthand. The Republican Congressmen invited by Scalise wanted to use their office's spending allowance, but Democrats claim that the ever-so-effective Department of Homeland Security would not approve official visits to disaster areas (which constitute much of the Gulf Coast) and ask that trips be organized through jurisdictional committees in order to avoid having to cater to 'a ton of individual lawmakers'. Interesting how the House Democrats have magically discovered fiscal responsibility now instead of when Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was using the US Military to chauffeur around her family and running up a $101,000 bar tab. All of Louisiana's coastal Parishes are represented in Congress by Republicans.

Shortly after Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal ordered the National Guard to begin construction on some artificial barrier islands to prevent to oil from reaching further inland, the Governor's efforts at oil abatement were thwarted by the Coast Guard themselves when they ordered the shutdown of oil vacuuming barges while they were inspected for fire-extinguishers and life vests. A few days later, the dredging effort was ordered halted by the Interior Department saying that the rock, dirt and ballast for the artificial barriers were being dredged up in an environmentally sensitive area. A state official stressed that the dredging had been taking place within the original federal permit area at the north end of the Chandaleurs all month.

Another measure the Interior Department has taken in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is to change the name of the Mineral Management Services.

Yes. Really....

The agency formerly known as the Mineral Management Services will now be referred to as the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOMRE). The name change was effective June 18, 2010.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Quickie Cuppa Sports Chowdah June 27-29: Lackey's Outing Give Battered Sox Ray of Hope; World Cups Runneth Over

(Matthew West/Boston Herald)
Well, what a short but no less strange journey it's been for the Red Sox this week. After losing Pedroia and Buccholz to injury in the first two games, Victor Martinez made it a hat trick on Sunday with a broken left thumb after taking one too many foul tips off the mitt. Granted Martinez may not have lasted until the 4th inning, but neither did San Francisco's back-to-back NL Cy Young Winner Tim Lincecum. 'The Freak' gave up a solo homer to Big Papi in the first that landed in McCovey Cove before giving up a sac-fly to his counterpart Jon Lester in the 2nd followed shortly by Marco Scutaro's 2-RBI single to give Boston the lead for good. Adrian Beltre would put an exclamation point on the game with a solo homer of his own off of Sergio Romo.

Lester went all 9 innings giving up 5 hits, one earned run and struck out 9 for his ninth win of the season, giving the bullpen a much needed rest after going through eight pitchers on Saturday.

After a travel day, the Sox returned to Fenway Tuesday night to take on the 3rd place Tampa Bay Rays. The two newest Bruins- Tyler Seguin and Nathaniel Horton- threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the game.

The game remained in a scoreless deadlock between John Lackey and James Shields when Shields had Cameron on 3rd, Scutaro on 3rd, Papi in the batters box and Youk on deck- all with two out in the bottom of the 5th. Shields decided to pitch to Ortiz and was rewarded with his offering winding up in the seats behind the visitors bullpen. Varitek- filling in for Martinez- had an RBI single in the bottom of the 6th, followed shortly by Nava hitting an RBI single of his own to make it 5-0 Boston. Rays 3B Evan Longoria put the visitors on the board with an RBI single in the top of the 7th.

Lackey would go on to pitch 7 innings, giving up eight hits, two walks, an earned run and striking out six on the night nd picked up the win in Boston's 8-5 victory over Tampa. Jason Varitek didn't show any signs of rust, going 1-3 with 2RBI and a walk while filling in for a DL-ed Victor Martinez. David Ortiz also went 1 for 3, with 3 RBI and two walks. 3B Adrian Beltre was 4-4 with two runs scored as well.

Tomorrow night will see Daisuke Matsuzaka (5-2; 4.50 ERA) go up against the Ray's Matt Garza (8-5; 4.10 ERA). Tuesday night's win put the Red Sox a game out of 1st place in the AL East.

[Paraguay's flag never looked so good]
WORLD CUP: well, since my one and only rooting interest in the World Cup was eliminated by Ghana over the weekend, I have very little incentive to pay attention now.

Having said that, here is a quickie roundup of the World Cup results over the last 2 days:

NETHERLANDS 2- Slovakia 1

BRAZIL 3- Chile 0

PARAGUAY 0(5)- Japan 0(3)

SPAIN 1- Portugal 0

[Yay Brazil! Wait- what? They play soccer there, too?]
So the Netherlands will take on Brazil on July 2nd while Ghana and Uruguay go head-to-head on the same day; Argentina- having defeated Mexico will take on Germany on July 3rd after the krauts sent England packing at roughly the same time Ghana bounced out Team USA and Paraguay will take on Spain later that day.
[Don't stop jumping up and down on my account- especially you on the right]
This concludes your NANESB! World Cup update.
[La Nacion]
And distraught Chileana fans such as this one (who needs to rehydrate after shedding so much tears after the 3-0 loss to the nation that will be hosting the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics) in need of consoling can reach me through this blog.

Monday, June 28, 2010

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) Says "Debt Is A National Security Threat", Proposes Defense Cuts To Bolster National Security

And no, I'm not making this up.
Democrats have long been hobbled by a public image of being weak on terror and wobbly on national defense.
Image? IMAGE?

Try 'reality'. Or are silly little things like taking at least 48 hours to acknowledge the shooting of a US soldier in Arkansas by a Yemeni-trained terrorist, warning us not to jump to any hasty conclusions regarding Major Hasan's murder spree at Ft. Hood and a full page newspaper ad by the Dems biggest fundraisers calling the US Commander in Iraq a traitor being taken out of context and misinterpreted by yours truly? Any assertion that the current Democrat majority is inept and indifferent or outright hostile towards the military or national security is poppycock and fear-mongering by that cruel mistress known as 'reality' vast right-wing conspiracy.

But fear not! After passing the stimulus, Obama's pet healthcare project and cap and trade, Steny Hoyer has rallied the troops and is going the lead the fiscally conservative Calvary charge to responsible budgetary cutting defense spending.

This echoes similar comments made by President Obama at the close of the G20 summit yesterday.

"When I start presenting some very difficult choices to the country, I hope some of these folks who are hollering about deficits and debt step up, because I'm calling their bluff," the president said at a press conference
I suspect some of those 'difficult choices' will revolve more around the Department of Defense and military contractors instead of inept Minerals Management Services bureaucrats and regulators who showed up for work drunk or high, were looking at online porn on the taxpayers dime and accepted gifts from the companies they were supposed to inspect and regulate. But don't worry! President Obama's blue-ribbon debt-reduction panel, which includes former SEIU head Andy Stern, will save the day and make recommendations for the most transparent and ethical Congress EVAH!

I'm sure the 'difficult choices' won't be limited to the Department of Defense, too, since Department of Homeland Security head Janet Napolitano thinks that securing the Southwestern border is just too much gosh-darned work.

“It’s a big border,” she said. “It’s 1,960 miles across that Southwest border. It’s some of the roughest, toughest geographical terrain in the world across that border. And so, the notion that you’re going to seal that border somehow is something that anybody who’s been involved in the actual doing of law enforcement--the front office work or the front line work of the law enforcement--would say, ‘You’re never going to totally seal that border.’” [Snip]
“The notion that you’re gonna’ somehow seal the border, and only at that point will you discuss immigration reform, that is not an answer to the problem,” she said
This from the dame who more or less saw Phoenix become the kidnap capital of the USA on her watch as governor.

Here's a thought, you jaw-droppingly incompetent dolt: How about we have enough personnel patrolling along the border along with strategically placed barriers so that drug and human traffickers sneaking into the USA unobstructed isn't a sure bet like it is now?

'Tough choices ahead' indeed....Nearly 10% of Americans are still unemployed (the 'unofficial numbers are still higher) yet Andy Stern, Steny Hoyer and Janet Napolitano still manage to draw a salary.

Go figure.

BREAKING: Senator Robert Byrd Passes Away at Age 92

Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), the current longest-serving US Senator passed away on Monday at the age of 92. Byrd had served in the US Senate since 1959 and prior to that was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1952 and was the only surviving Senator to vote for statehood for Alaska and Hawaii.

Born in North Carolina in 1917, Byrd's mother was killed in the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 and was raised by his aunt and uncle in Southern West Virginia. Byrd also joined up with the Ku Klux Klan in the 1940s, where he held the title of Kleagle and Exalted Cyclops.
I shall never fight in the armed forces with a Negro by my side… Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.

—Byrd in Letter to pro-segregationist Mississippi Sen. Theo Bilbo in 1944
I couldn't help but notice that there was no mention of Byrd's military service in his biographies or obituaries. Kind of strange for somebody who was in his early 20s when Pearl Harbor was bombed. Perhaps he didn't like the 'race-mixing' that was going on in the military with the Tuskeegee Airmen, the all Japanese-American 442nd Regiment or the Navajo code-talkers.

Byrd was also an opponent of the War in Iraq, leading to this hugely ironic quote from the [very] senior Senator in 2004:
This huge spending bill—$87 billion—has been rushed through this chamber in just one month. There were just three open hearings by the Senate Appropriations Committee on $87 billion—$87 for every minute since Jesus Christ was born—$87 billion without a single outside witness called to challenge the administration's line
Curiously, the selectively fiscally conservative Senator saw absolutely no problem with throwing 10 times as much money down a hole when he voted to pass President Obama's stimulus bill five years later. I also get the feeling that if he had his way, the Military would be deployed elsewhere with racially segregated units.

Byrd's death and the vacant Senate seat brings up the possibility of another special election in an already hotly contested election year. According to the West Virginia Secretary of State:
If the vacancy occurs less than two years and six months before the end of the term, the Governor appoints someone to fill the unexpired term and there is no election. If the vacancy occurs two years and six months or more before the end of the term, the Governor appoints someone to serve until the unexpired term is filled at the conclusion of the next candidate filing period, Primary Election, General Election and certification. The winner of that General Election fills the balance of the unexpired term. The election for the full term will be held as scheduled regardless of the date of the vacancy.

These provisions are set out in West Virginia Code §3-10-3.
Since the vacancy occurred with more than two and a half years to go in Byrd's term, that means that Gov. Joe Manchin will be required to call for a special election. In the meantime, Manchin will name a replacement to serve in the vacant seat between now and the special election.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

VP Biden Has Run-In With 'Smartass' Small Business Manager During Photo Op

Joe Biden- the gaffe gift that keeps on giving.

Biden was in the Milwaukee area stumping for Senator Russ Feingold over the weekend when he swung by Kopp's frozen custard for a photo-op. When he asks the manager "What do I owe you?" the manager- tongue in cheek- replies "Lower our taxes and we'll call it even".

Biden apparently was not amused and hilarity ensues. Presumably hilarity continued ensuing when the handlers step in front of the cameras and said "You guys are done- thank you.." to the assembled media.

OK liberals, keep reminding me on how the USA really and truly dodged a bullet by not having a moronic, vapid, empty headed, inexperienced Vice President in Sarah Palin and instead went straight to the moronic, vapid, empty-headed inexperienced Community Organizer Commander in chief with the intellectual juggernaut that is known as Joseph Biden in the #2 slot.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Douchebag Anarchists Behaving Badly- Stores Looted, Bank Windows Smashed and Police Vehicles Torched by 'Protestors' in Toronto

(Craig Robertson/Toronto Sun)
Wow...who didn't see this coming? The 'Rage Against my Allowance' set of anarchists went on a rampage in downtown Toronto, smashing windows, looting stores, throwing rocks, bricks and bottles at police and torching at least four police cars. The Toronto subway and GO transit lines into downtown Tornto were shut down and several downtown businesses and banks were trashed by the protestors.

Police arrested at least 130 demonstrators Saturday and officers in riot gear and on horseback moved to aggressively disperse crowds of stragglers clustered outside of Queen's park.

Knight's Watch should have an update and firsthand accounts of the riots by this time tomorrow.

(Reuters/Mark Blinch)

Sports Chowdah Update, June 25-26- Ghana Baby, Gone; Giant Problems Ahead for Sox?; Feeling Another Draft?

WORLD CUP: Extra time giveth, extra time taketh away. After advancing on a last-minute goal by Landon Donovan on Wednesday against Algeria, team USA faced Ghana earlier today. And while that game wasn't settled in regulation either, things didn't go team USA's way this time around. Ghana's Asomah Gyan scored the deciding goal three minutes into the overtime of their first elimination game, giving Ghana a 2-1 win. Landon Donovan scored the only goal for team USA, giving them a game-tying goal on his penalty kick in the 62nd minute.

It was a good effort by team USA, but they fell into a hole one too many times throughout the tournament. Ghana will advance to take on Uruguay next week after the Uruguayans beat South Korea 2-1 earlier today.

Elsewhere in the World Cup: Authorities in Zimbabwe say they have arrested two Pakistani men using fake passports at the South African border; one of them reportedly involved in planning the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks that killed 166. The men- which included Imram Muhammed who is sought by Pakistani and international authorities for his role in the mass-casualty attacks on India- were detained in the southern border town of Beitbridge last Sunday according to Zimbabwe's state-controlled Herald newspaper [A Bobby Mugabe mouthpiece, so caveat emptor, NANESB! readers- NANESB!]

AP/Boston Herald
MLB: While I was bracing for the worst in Tim Wakefield's start last night, it was a much closer game than I anticipated. Wake held the Giants to 3 earned runs (plus one unearned) over 7 innings- although he did give up 11 hits and had a costly throwing error with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 2nd. Londonderry, NH native son Brian Wilson came on in the 8th to close out the game for San Francisco and got some insurance (that he would need in the 9th) on a sac-fly that plated Nate Schierholtz to make it a 5-3 game for San Francisco. Youk would belt a triple to deep center with 2 outs in the 9th and get driven home on a Victor Martinez single before an Adrian Beltre single and Bill Hall walk would load up the bases , but Darnell McDonald would ground out to short to finish up the ballgame.

Just to make matters even more suck-tastic, Dustin Pedroia left the game in the 3rd inning on Friday night after fouling a ball off his foot in the top of the inning. X-Rays on the foot showed a non-displaced fracture on the navicular bone of his right foot earlier today and he was placed on the 15-day DL.

If that wasn't enough, things were looking as though they'd take a turn for the even-worse to start off earlier today. While Darnell McDonald kicked things off with a solo homer in the 1st inning, Clay Buccholz hyperextended his knee while running the bases after getting his first career base hit in the top of the 2nd. Scott Atchison came in and pitched two-and-one-third innings of relief starting with the bottom of the second, followed by Ramon Ramierez, Manny DelCarmen, Dustin Richardson, Hideki Okajima and Daniel Bard among others. The bullpen got alot of help from Mike Cameron- both with his bat- a 3-run homer in the top of the 2nd (Cameron's first with the Red Sox)- and his glove- a running, weaving catch on a well-hit Pablo Sandoval fly ball that looked like Cameron had lost in the sun before he slid into the outfield wall. The centerfielder was 1 for 3 on the day with the 3 RBIs on the day while Scott Atchison was credited with the win and Papelbon closed out the game with a 1-2-3 ninth inning good for the Red Sox 4-2 win and Pap's 17th save of the season.

The rubber game of the series tomorrow promises to be pretty interesting as Jon Lester (8-3) will start against 2-time NL Cy Young winner Time Lincecum (8-2). First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM Pacific time and 4:05 Eastern.

Other Red Sox news: Boston acquired infielder Eric Patterson from the Oakland A's this weekend in exchange for minor-leaguer Fabian Williamson. Patterson is batting .204 on the season with 4 home runs and 9 RBIs.

Elsewhere in MLB: It took 149 pitches, but we have another no-hitter for this season. Arizona's Edwin Jackson looked so wild at times that it was doubtful he could even get out of the inning, let alone go the distance without surrendering a hit. Jackson gave up eight walks and zero runs while striking out 6 in the Diamondback's 1-0 win over Tampa Bay Friday night. Jackson threw 149 pitches and faced 30 batters without giving up a hit. This is the fourth no-hitter of the season with the perfect games by Philadelphia's Roy Halliday and Oakland's Dallas Braden and the first no-hitter of the 2010 MLB season thrown by Colorado's Ubaldo Jiminez barely 2 weeks into the season.

NHL: The Tyler Segiun era has begun in Beantown. The Bruins selected the 6ft 1 Center from the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL as the second overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft at a much-more-serene Staples Center this weekend. The B's got the high pick from Toronto when they traded Phil Kessel last offseason. The Edmonton Oilers had the #1 pick of the draft and went with Taylor Hall of the OHL's Windsor Spitfires.

Private William Andrew Long: June 26 1985- June 1 2009

Today marks what would've been the 25th Birthday of US Army Pvt. William 'Andy' Long of Conway, AR.

On June 1st, 2009, Long and Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula were both shot outside a Little Rock, AR US Army recruiting center in broad daylight. Long was killed while Ezegwula was hospitalized and survived. American Muslim convert Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad- nee Carlos Bledsoe- was arrested the same day and confessed to the shooting.

The shooting took place one day after abortion provider Dr. George Tiller was gunned down in his Wichita, KS church, vindicating an earlier Homeland Security report naming gun owners, military veterans, the tea party and pro-life groups among others as potential domestic terrorists in the eyes of the Obama Administration and their unquestioning supporters on the left and in the mainstream media.

Almost immediately in the wake of Tiller's murder, Attorney General Eric Holder sent US Marshals to protect an unspecified number of abortion clinics. However, it took more than 4 days for Holder or the Justice Department to publicly comment on the shooting of Pvt. Long. The White House did issue a brief statement approximately 48 hours after the Little Rock murder took place, but if the media wasn't busy attempting to portray every last granny as a potential domestic terrorist, they were waiting in breathless anticipation for the President's June 4, 2009 speech to the Islamic world from Cairo's Al-Azhar University.

Long's death was considered to be the first time since the Septeber 11 2001 attack on the Pentagon that terrorists killed an active-duty member of the military on American soil.

The family, understandably distrustful of the media, has been mostly reluctant to talk to the press- although the William's father did do an interview with Little Rock's KATV and William's uncle penned an op-ed for the Racine, WI Journal -Times earlier this month.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Today's Train of Thought Sure Does Suck- June 25, 2010

Actually, I think this picture by contributor Tom McNair has alot going for it in terms of composition and activity.

But having said that, it still sucks. Allow me to explain- take a close look at that one-car train on the bridge. That's an Iowa Interstate Maintenance of Way special, and on the flatcar behind the IAIS GP38-2 is a vacuum truck being used to clean up the right of way along the Government Bridge, linking Rock Island, IL with Davenport, IA. Since much of the bridge is inaccessible to the truck, the Iowa Interstate figured it would be just as effective if it put the truck on a flatcar and towed it out across the span. Besides the rail line, the span also features a two lane roadway (visible on the lower deck) and the middle span swings out to accommodate river traffic.
Closer to us is Burlington Northern Santa Fe's Barstow Local with GP38-2 #2034 leading an impressive 6-unit lashup as it tiptoes under Government Bridge utilizing trackage rights over the Canadian Pacific/Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern. The motive power consists of former Burlington Northern and Conrail units as it makes its way south on June 24, 2010.

Democrat and Arizona SB 1070 Opponent Needs Geogrpahy Lesson

Meet Milwaukee County Supervisor Peggy West. She's one of many municipal politicians who's against Arizona's SB 1070 and is in favor of some sort of symbolic boycott. This chick is to geography what AG Holder and Homeland Scurity head Janet Napolitano are to reading.

Her reasoning? "This [Arizona] is a state that's away- removed from the border"Yes- really. The sound you're hearing is a few thousand of my brain cells committing seppuku.

She also went on to describe how a cursory Google search will show articles and pictures of Gov. Jan Brewer's meeting with President Obama and she even alludes to Obama sending 1200 National Guardsmen to the 'Arizona border'. Did she think that maybe they were there to try and keep the NEW Mexicans out?

Let the Good Times Roll: Man with Axe, Crossbow, Chemicals Detained Near G20 Venue in Toronto

Toronto Police and the RCMP took into custody a 53 year old Ontario man after a traffic stop near one of the upcoming G20 summit venues. A search of the man's car turned up an axe, some baseball bats, a crossbow and some arrows as well as some fuel canisters.

A Hazmat team was brought in to further search the car before it was towed away. The driver of the Hyundai was arrested on weapons charges and did not resist.

For those of us who can't make it to Toronto to see the G20 summit and ancillary freakshows firsthand, Paladin Phil's Knight's Watch blog has you covered.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

2007- "Petraeus or BETRAY US!!!?": 2010- "OMG! Petraus is our Guy!"

Above is the 2007 full-page print ad that self-parodying left-wing professional whiners placed in the New York Times impugning General David Petraeus' service and charachter while he was to appear before congress asking for a troop surge in Iraq, claiming that he was "a military man at war with the facts" and closing with "General Petraeus is likely to become General Betray Us".

When Sen John Cornyn (R-TX) drafted a resolution that condemned for the ad, then Senators Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden voted against it. Then Senator Barak Obama was absent from the roll-call, but was quoted in a New York Times article as calling Cornyn's resolution "a stunt".

Mr. Obama said, “By not casting a vote, I registered my protest against these empty politics.”
The resolution ultimately passed the senate by a 72-25 margin, with Senator barbra Boxer (D-CA) authoring a seperate resolution that condemned the ad without mentioning Obama and the Dems most faithful cheerleaders by name that never made it out of committee.

But with McChrystal's 'resignation' over some comments in a magazine article, the Obama Administration has suddenly hoped the rest of us have all forgotten about that full-page ad in the Times (apparently at a discount) that his fanboys took out not even three years ago.

The career whiners at sure as hell want you to forget, since they've scrubbed all images or mention of the ad from their website now that he's the Obama Administration's pick for US Commander in Afghanistan.

However, much to the chagrin of groups like or Think Progress, some of us have a very long memory when it comes to their slurs and libel against the US Military.

[H/t Weaselzippers for archiving the ad and's accompanying promotional blurb]

Sports Chowdah Update- USA Advances At the Last Minute; Sox Road Trip off to Rocky Start; Anybody Else Feeling a Draft?

Well- that was a close one. I actually caught my first televised 2010 World Cup game on Tuesday; Mexico versus Uruguay. Tuned in just in time to see Uruguay's Luis Suarez score the only goal of the match right before halftime before getting distracted and losing interest. I was quite disappointed to learn Tommy Smythe wasn't calling the game for ESPN- as it turned out the diminutive Irishman was broadcasting with ESPN Radio for Wednesday's USA/Algeria game. I tuned in fairly late for that one (vuvuzelas and all) and it appeared for all the world that the USA would be eliminated from the tournament with a scoreless draw. And that's how it would end in regulation- but there was three minutes of injury time remaining and throughout the second half, the announcers were commenting on how tired the Algeria players were looking. Algeria's goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi gave up a rebound in the 91st minute when USA Midfielder Landon Donovan finally booted one past Mbolhi for the only goal of the game. The win means that Team USA advances to play Ghana in the next round on Saturday.

Elsewhere in the World Cup: Argentina took down Greece 2-0 Tuesday in the 'self-inflicted-economic-ruin' Pool of the FIFA World Cup.

In a schadenfreude-tastic moment, Portugal beat the ever lovin' shit out of North Korea by a total of 7-0 on Monday. Apparently the Kim Jong Il endorsed Juche ideal of insular self-reliance is no match for a moderately talented (and well fed) team from a Western European liberal democracy. It reportedly got so bad that at one point, the Chinese fans the North Korean regime paid to travel to South Africa renounced their North Korean citizenship that they never had.

MLB: After dropping the first two games against the Colorado Rockies in Denver, the Red Sox managed to avoid the three game sweep in extra innings on Thursday night [better at this late date than in October 2007, I suppose- NANESB!]. Papelbon failed to seal the deal in the bottom of the 9th, giving up a one out 2-RBI single to Brad Hawpe to tie the game at 11-11. Having said that, there's something in the Colorado air that seems to agree with Dustin Pedroia.

Dustin Pedroia put the Sox up 13-11 with 2-out 2 run homer in the top of the tenth off of Huston Street- Pedroia's 11th inning dinger was his third of the night, going 4 for 5 with 5 RBI on the night. 3B Adrian Beltre was a respectable 3 for 4 with 3 RBI and a homer of his own. Papelbon had a 1-2-3 bottom of the tenth to hang on for the win.

The Sox will head back to sea-level tomorrow night where they take on the San Francisco Giants in the City (and ballpark) by the Bay. Tim Wakefield (2-5; 5.33 ERA) is expected to go up against Jonathan Sanchez (5-5; 2.90) for Friday night's game.

Other Red Sox News: 20-year old Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland, along with his rather Ron and Sox GM Theo Epstein, spoke to reporters in a conference call. Westmoreland announced that he does plan on returning to baseball and has taken an "all-business" approach to rehab. Ron Westmoreland said that Ryan was able to walk around on his own power the day after his surgery on a cavernous malformation of his brain back in March. The Westmorelands have actually attended games at Fenway Park and Pawtucket's McCoy stadium this season.

WIMBLEDON: Like the World Cup and soccer, I don't normally follow tennis that much. Having said that, the match between the USA's John Isner and Frenchman Nicholas Mahut was one for the ages as Isner defeated Mahut by a final of 70-68 in the fifth set, with the match clocking in at 11 hours and 5 minutes spanning over three days. On the first day, the match was suspended on account of darkness and was eventually moved to one of the courts on the periphery of Wimbledon. Three-time Wimbledon champ John McEnroe was present for all 20 of Thursday's games between Isner and Mahut.

This epic matchup broke pretty much every record in the book on the very same day the Queen of England visited Wimbledon for the first time in 33 years.

NBA: The Celtics chose Texas guard Avery Bradley with their first round (19th overall) selection in the 2010 NBA Draft. Notre Dame forward Luke Harangody was selected in the second round- 52nd overall.

Not Another Gulf Coast Update: New Orleans Judge Strikes Down Moratorium.

President Obama's brilliant stratagem of screwing the pooch on Afghanistan and McChrystal to distract from his screwing the pooch on the Federal response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has worked for all of one day.

A New Orleans federal judge struck down President Obama's 6-month moratorium on offshore drilling on Tuesday. Almost immediately, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said he would issue a new ban on offshore drilling, claiming the new moratorium would be more detailed and justify the White House's original moratorium.

Almost as soon as the ruling was issued, some intrepid Internet gumshoes discovered the New Orleans judge who overturned the moratorium owned some $15,000 worth of shares in Transocean, LTD [NYSE: RIG] and another $15,000 in shares and notes from Hercules Offshore, Inc [NASDAQ: HERO], ATP Oil & Gas [NASDAQ: ATPG] and Parker Dilling [NYSE: PKD]. I guess this is supposed to get me worked up into some sort of spittle flecked self-righteous outrage, but if you stop and think about it, just about anybody who's invested in most 401(k), IRAs or mutual funds is invested to some degree with 'big oil'. I'd be interested in seeing the same online sleuths track down where that $787 billion in stimulus spending all went.

Meanwhile, the roughnecks and rig workers who are now out of work thanks to the moratorium are trying to find employment elsewhere. Many of the tens of thousands of idle rig workers are heading to Grand Isle and Venice, LA as part of the cleanup effort. The securities firm Raymond James estimates that as many as 50,000 jobs associated with Gulf Coast drilling and that the moratorium could last ell into 2011.

The cap capturing some of the oil gushing from the ruptured pipeline was accidentally bumped by a deep sea submersible the other day. Crews operating the submersible by remote control were able to put another cap on after 10 hours of work.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Gen. McChrystal Expected to Step Down Over Remarks Made in Rolling Stone Article

Hmm.....remarks in the article that seem to have gotten the attention of our thin-skinned Commander in Chief.
President Barack Obama said Tuesday that McChrystal displayed "poor judgment" and summoned him to the White House on Wednesday to hear from him first-hand and consider whether to fire him.

"I think it's clear that the article in which he and his team appeared showed a poor — showed poor judgment," the president said Tuesday, surrounded by members of his Cabinet at the close of their meeting. "But I also want to make sure that I talk to him directly before I make any final decisions."

According to two senior administration aides, McChrystal informed his superiors that he is prepared to offer his resignation but had not done so, NBC News reported.
Does anybody else see the irony of our golfing, concert-going, lawsuit-happy commander in chief saying that somebody else expressed 'poor judgement'? Gee, if only the Rolling Stone article had been published back in October- when McChrystal was asking for a troop surge in Afghanistan- maybe then he could've met with the President for more than 30 minutes while Air Force One was on the tarmac at Copenhagen.

The bankrupt-in-more-than-one-way Newsweek is calling for McChrystal's head on a pike, which is all the more reason for me to give the General the benefit of the doubt. According to the article, the General bluntly referred to a counterterrorism strategy advocated by vice-president Joe Biden as 'short-sighted'- the same Joe Biden that said the Iraq war was lost in 2007, opposed the troop surge and then took credit for the turnaround in Iraq.

Outside of the insubordination aspect, I really fail to see the controversy here. And truth be told, I don't remember Newsweek or other Democrat Party Mouthpieces mainstream media outlets working themselves into a frothy, self-righteous outrage over General Shinseki's undermining the civilian leadership during the Bush Administration.

This all smacks of a nice big juicy distraction while oil continues to gush into the Gulf of Mexico and the Mexican smugglers and cartels traffic narcotics and humans into this country unimpeded- issues that the current commander in chief has failed miserably at even addressing, let alone solving.

UPDATE: McChrystal has officially stepped down.

Vuvuzelas Prompt Voluntary Evacuation From District 9

Prolonged exposure to the noise emanating from the plastic monotonic wind instrument has prompted some of the residents of Johannesburg's District 9 to voluntarily evacuate the alien-only enclave. Interestingly, although the South African government and private parties such as Multi-National United (MNU) had made arrangements for new quarters in District 10, many of the alien visitors opted to return to the stranded mothership or self-immolation.

One unidentified alien (known locally as 'prawns') was quoted as saying "skcch sch skkkkch scristch" which was roughly translated as "I would gladly welcome death's sweet embrace before listening to another second of those damned plastic trumpets".

MNU is already considering adding the vuvuzela to it's already considerable arsenal to maintain order among the alien districts.

Other World Cup News: Dr. Stephan Coetzee, the director for South Africa's National Vuvuzela Philharmonic Orchestra, has recently complained of soccer games between internationally ranked teams breaking out in the middle of his Orchestra's performances. Spontaneous matches have marred every concert since the start of the Vuvuzela Philharmonic's opening performance on June 11.

Team Uruguay is feeling confident heading into their match with Mexico. At a press conference the other day, Uruguay's team captain confidently declared "We'll eat them alive". When it was pointed out that the team that was stranded in the Andes and had to resort to cannibalism after surviving a plane crash was in fact a rugby team, not a soccer team the captain withdrew his statement, but expressed that he was confident his team was better prepared and would emerge victorious.

Monday, June 21, 2010

More Borderline Psychosis- Mexican Cartel Issues Threat to American Police.

Two weeks after off-duty Nogales, AZ police officers on horseback encountered drug smugglers trying to bring marijuana across the border, drug cartels have issued a threat to off-duty police that the Nogales Police Department learned about through informants. The smugglers were able to flee back to Mexico with some of their contraband, but had to abandon half their cargo after running into the police officers.

“As a result of that,” Kirkham said, “our officers have received threats from the cartel that they are to look the other way if they are off-duty, or they will be targeted by a sniper or by other means.”
Following the threats, Kirhkam said, NPD notified the Border Patrol and other federal law enforcement agencies, which responded by stepping up manpower and surveillance in the area where the off-duty bust occurred.
The border town of about 20,000 is located on the US/Mexican border some 60 miles south of Tuscon and to the south and east of land that the BLM has considered off-limits.

Elsewhere in the Narcoinsurgency: At least 11 Mexican soldiers carrying out anti-trafficking duties were killed when their helicopter crashed in San Miguel De Alto, Durango. A spokesman for Mexico's ministry of National Defense said that the preliminary data indicated inclement weather played a role in the fatal crash.

Last week, 12 Mexican Federal Judicial Police officers were killed in an ambush in the state of Michoacán, a stronghold of the La Familia cartel. An unknown number of officers were wounded and the hospital they were being treated at was under 24/7 guard by heavily armed Federales.

The following day in Taxco, 15 suspected cartel gunmen were killed after a 40-minute firefight with Mexican soldiers. It was not immediately known if the ambush in Michoacán and shootout in Taxco were connected.

You might remember the southern town of Taxco as being home of the abandoned silver mines where the cartels dumped their victim's corpses. As it turns out, Authorities have pulled out 30 additional bodies this month from the mines-turned-mass-graves.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

1600 Pennsylvania Ave- Stuck on Stupid For Awhile Now

Lieutenant General Russel Honore- Where Are You?

Anybody else remember this guy berating reporters in New Orleans at a press conference shortly after Hurricane Katrina? The briefing was supposed to be about the approaching Hurricane Rita, but the press kept tossing the General questions about the government's response to Katrina.

I won't even pretend to be an informed expert on the caustic layer-cake of issues facing the Gulf Coast region thanks to the Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill right now, and to be honest, I think that the now-retired Lieutenant General Russel Honore would be the first to tell us he doesn't know that much about subaquatic drilling and extraction. If the President was even halfway serious about wanting to know "whose asses to kick", he should've picked up the phone and given Gen. Honore a call to co-ordinate containment and recovery planning between BP and the feds.

Where is Gen. Honore these days, anyway? Besides the occasional speaking engagement these days, I wonder what he's up to?

Oh look! I found took me all of 20 seconds.

Having said that, I think the cleanup effort could really use somebody with the Lt. General's leadership acumen calling the shots. This is somebody who doesn't have to jet off to attend a concert by Paul McCartney, go to a Barbara Boxer fundraiser or hit the links with Joe Biden [although he could if he wanted to, since Gen. Honore is now retired- NANESB!].

Two months of platitudes, concerts, obfuscation, finger-pointing, solicitation, speeches, mea culpas, photo ops, spin, Potemkin cleanup, golfing, grandstanding, fundraising, bungling, subpoenas, moratoriums, litigation, yachting, press conferences, indecision and feeble attempts to change the subject still hasn't 'plugged the damn hole'. And you know it's bad for the Obama administration when their most loyal and unthinking cheerleaders start ripping him apart for his tepid address from the Oval Office.

As badly botched as the initial response to Katrina was, the public seemed to rally around Gen Honore. He spoke his mind to New Orleans officials, a glib media and even his own men, caring more about outcome than opinion.

Sadly- almost 5 years later, there is no Gen. Honore on the Horizon so far.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sports Chowdah Update- LA Lakers win NBA title- LA Hardest Hit; Can't Dodge Papi-Manny Reunion; FIFA Robbery in South Africa; Utah to Leave Mtn. West

Well...the Lakers beat the Celtics in a come-from-behind 83-79 win in a decisive Game 7 of the NBA finals Thursday night. But instead of relying on my description of it, let's go straight to the highlights....i.e the torching and rioting of downtown LA by celebrating Lakers 'fans'.

Well, besides this looted shoe store, the trash bins, newspaper stands and kiosks torched, the smashed storefront and restaurant windows, buses and light rail trains pelted with rocks, bottles and more trash bins there was also the taxi driver who was assaulted and had his cab torched by 'rowdy' Lakers fans. But don't worry! There's going to be a parade or something.

In the meantime, the cabbie (who actually works for a living- a foreign concept to the genius arsonists posing for the cameras) is going to be out at least $10,000 thanks to the numerous braindead thugs and shitstains chanting 'light it up!'. Anybody who can identify the persons seem setting the blaze is asked to call the LAFD Arson section at (213) 485-6095.

In the meantime, I'll just cry myself to sleep over the 17 or so banners hanging up in the gahden.

Not that I'm bitter or anything. Congratulations and stay classy, LA- good luck with that Arizona boycott!

Elsewhere in the NBA: Manute Bol- the 7ft 7 Sudanese shot blocker who spent a decade in the NBA before working on humanitarian causes in his native country- passed away at the University of Virginia hospital in Charlottesville, VA Saturday. Bol, 47, was being treated for liver and skin problems at the facility. A spokesman for the nonprofit Sudan Sunrise aid group said that Bol was working to complete construction of a school in his home village of Turalei in southern Sudan and the organization was aspiring to build 40 more schools throughout the strife-torn country.

MLB: one Boston-LA series didn't go our way, but there's always the MLB and inter-league play. Which as you know, means the long-awaited Papi-Manny reunion at Fenway. Papi held up his end of the deal, getting a 2-run homer in the bottom of the first along with JD Drew's solo shot in Friday's game. PawSox call-up Felix Doubront pitched five innings, giving up 3 earned runs on 6 hits (as well as two unearned runs on Doubront's 3rd inning error) good for his first Red Sox win while Manny went 1 for 5 with a run scored and two strikeouts while Papi went 1 for 2 with 2 RBI. Boston took Game 1 of the series 10-6 on Friday.

Saturday's game was a little closer and Manny managed to generate some offense for the Dodgers. Tim Wakefield got the start and went 5 innings giving up 3 earned runs, including a solo home run from Manny to cut the Boston lead to 4-2. LA would tie it up in the 7th with a Bill Hall fielding error on Blake DeWitt's double and a Matt Kemp sac-fly.

Garrett Anderson had a leadoff single off of Papelbon to start off the ninth, but Pap left the pinch-runner Reed Johnson on third after getting Blake DeWitt to ground out and Matt kemp to fly out. In the bottom of the ninth, Daniel Nava reached on a fielder's choice and scored from second on Dustin Pedroia's single off of Jonathan Broxton for the walk-off 5-4 win.

Tomorrow's series finale will feature Hiroki Kuroda taking the mound for the Dodgers against Clay Buccholz. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN. The Red Sox have won 5 in a row heading into Sunday's game.

WORLD CUP: Damn- first I miss the USA's 1-1 tie with England (which apparently isn't the powerhouse everybody expected it to be) and then I miss Team USA getting robbed of a come from behind win over Slovenia thanks to rookie Mailian referee Kouman Koulibaly disallowing what would've been the go-ahead goal for team USA in the 86th minute of Friday's game against Slovenia. It's probably worth noting that the equalizer for USA came off of Micheal Bradley- the son of USA coach Bob Bradley- in the 82nd minute as well.

The USA had to settle for a 2-2 tie with the Slovenes and face a must win scenario against Algeria next week if they want to advance [the conspiracy theorist in me thinks that this was arranged by FIFA to see if the USA would have it's 1st ever full-fledged soccer riot, but that's just me- NANESB!].

NCAA FOOTBALL: More moving and shaking going on out West. With the addition of Boise State to the Mountain West Conference, the Utah Utes announced they'd be leaving for the Pac 10 conference effective 2011. The Utes football program last played in the increasingly less-sucky Poinsettia Bowl at San Diego in December 2009, getting a 37-27 win over the Cal Golden Bears.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Parts of Arizona Considered Under Control of Mexican Cartels and Smugglers: Feds Respond With Lawsuit Against Arizona

The Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management has taken to posting warning signs regarding the potential dangers of encountering human and drug smugglers along lands under their jurisdiction in Southern Arizona last week. While not an outright prohibition of entering BLM lands, the signs warn about encountering armed criminals and smugglers in unusually blunt terms.

The signs were posted over a month after a Pinal County Sheriff's Deputy was shot by suspected drug traffickers while patrolling the area around the junction of Interstate 8 and Arizona Highway 84. Last week, two bodies belived to those of drug mules were found shot to death in the same area where the deputy was ambushed. Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said in an interview Tuscon's KGUN TV that the cartels are in increasing control of parts of Arizona, including Pinal County.
The sheriff admits the cartels are operating in his county and without the federal government's help they can't get control. KGUN 9 News asked Babeu flat out if cartels control parts of Arizona. "Absolutely, they have in terms of the remote areas in the drug corridors in the desert here in west Pinal County. Our government has even erected signs warning citizens to beware this is a known drug corridor," Babeu said.
But don't worry! The Obama Administration is on the case! Besides fighting the spillover from Mexico's narcoinsurgency the blue state way (gun control and blanket amnesty for illegal aliens), US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton let slip in a June 8 interview with Ecuador's NTN24 News that the Department of Justice will be filing a lawsuit against Arizona over their recent anti-illegal immigration bill [still wondering if anybody from the DOJ has actually read it yet- NANESB!]. This was confirmed on Friday by White House officials.

*WHEW!* Good thing all those other problems along the US/Mexican border have been taken care of so that the Obama Administration and the Justice Department can take on one of the 57 states (and a red state his 2008 Presidential opponent currently represents as a senator).

Here's an exit question for you, gentle NANESB! reader- if President Obama wanted to give the middle finger and say 'You don't matter' to red states like Louisiana and Arizona, what would he do differently?

Obama's Unilateral Cowboy Diplomacy and Go-It-Alone Approach in the Gulf of Mexico

Hmm.... isn't this the exact sort of thing he campaigned against?
WASHINGTON (AFP)— More than 20 countries, from Canada to Japan, have offered assistance to the United States over the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, very little of which has been accepted, the State Department has said
Among the 22 nations offering assistance include the Netherlands, Canada, Norway, Qatar, Ireland, Japan, Croatia, Mexico, South Korea, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, Russia, Spain, the UK and China. Many of these offers were through the United Nations' International Maritime Organization, which has sent out bulletins to all 169 member nations regarding the spill.

While few offers have been outright rejected, most offers from foreign nations and companies are reportedly "still under consideration" by the State Department.

So far more than 13,500 feet of boom from Mexico, 10,000 feet (2 miles) of boom from Canada, skimmers and a trio of sweeping arm systems from Holland and 8 skimmers as well as more boom from Norway have been accepted.

Don't think it's just foreign outfits that have been rebuffed by the State Department, tho'. An Auburn, ME packaging company that has already manufactured some 80,000 feet of containment boom over the last month was also initally rebuffed by BP and the Feds.

As badly as the Bush Administration bungled the immediate post-Katrina response, he did temporarily waive the Jones Act that placed restrictions on shipping along the US coast for foreign-flagged vessels (also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920). It has taken the Obama Administration more than 7 weeks to announce any sort of waiver or easement of the Merchant Marine Act.

Blue State Graft Watch- 'Community Organizer' Turned Mayor Guilty of Corruption, Extortion Charges.

Gosh....who would've thought that electing a former gang member, sympathiser of Puerto Rican socialists and 'community organizer' would have this outcome?

A jury in Hartford, CT found former gang member and community organizer turned Hartford mayor Eddie Perez guilty on five of six felony counts today, including bribery, extortion and fabricating evidence.

Perez, who spent his formative years as a member of the Puerto Rican gang Ghetto Brothers, would go on to become a community organizer and be elected as Hartford's first Hispanic mayor in 2001, running as a Democrat [as detailed as the Hartford Courant's articles are on Perez's corruption case, they seldom mention his or his accomplices political affiliation- NANESB!]

In 2007, Perez had his home remodeled by contractor Carlos Costa for no charge in exchange for Perez directing city contracts his way. In September 2009, Perez was arrested on extortion related charges in a separate incident where Perez and an influential supporter, Abraham Giles, tried extorting $100,000 from a developer over a no-bid parking lot deal.

Throughout the trial, Perez was advised not take the stand himself. Sentencing is set to take place in September, although there is no official word yet on whether or not Perez will step down as mayor between now and then. It's also worth mentioning that this fine, upstanding community activist and leader is a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition.

There was also this from after the verdict was announced:
[Perez] was asked if he had anything to say to the community, and he said "yes we can" in Spanish.
As Samuel Johnson once said "Patriotism Obama Campaign Slogans is the last refuge of a scoundrel". What's really striking to me is that Perez is dumb enough to try and still hitch his wagon to Obama's campaign with that reference when personal appearances by the same President couldn't save the fortunes of Martha Coakley or John Corzine.

UPDATE: Perez will resign.

Economic Recovery, Obama Style!

I have to say that in my experience so far, part of the 'Obama Economy' apparently involves my making the acquaintance of some 'Help Wanted' ads and job opening posted online- at least when I'm not bouncing from temp job to temp job.

While some folks have me pegged as an anti-government extremist (I was in the same ZIP code as a Tea Party, after all), as a veteran of the United States Army, it's not completely unheard of for me to draw a paycheck from Uncle Sam.

So mostly out of curiosity, I was going through the USA Jobs website to see what kind of openings they had- in alot of places, the government seems to be the only place that's hiring. It seems there are a number of openings that were posted this month with the Department of the Interior's Mineral Management Service- the agency that's (theoretically) responsible for inspecting offshore oil rigs.

As it turns out, there were a number of openings with the MMS. The job? Offshore Operations and Safety Inspector. The listing is pretty ambiguous on how many positions are available, but there's this quote from the USA Jobs page:
Multiple Vacancies in various District Office Locations: Jefferson, LA, Houma, LA, Lake Charles, LA, Lafayette, LA, Clute, TX.
Yes....all these openings seem to be along the Gulf of Mexico for some reason. Go figure. This must be those 'Jobs saved or created' that Obama was talking about in his State of the Union address.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Toyota Resumes Construction at Mississippi Facility; UAW Bitches and Moans

Toyota motors announced this week that it's resuming construction on a nearly-complete factory in northern Mississippi. The Blue Springs, MS plant is expected to start producing Corolla sedans beginning in 2011 and will hire an estimated 2000 new workers- As far as I know, these aren't Census jobs. Construction on the plant halted in late 2008 during the economic crisis when new car sales plummeted.

Despite hiring new workers in a state that has an unemployment rate as high as 11.5%, the UAW reacted to Toyota's announcement by bitching and moaning about how Toyota plants in the USA are non-union [because I'm sure that sticky accelerator problem would never have happened if Toyota's workers signed up for the UAW- NANESB!].

UAW President Bob King claims that Toyota pulled out of a joint venture with GM in California so they could open up a non-union plant elsewhere. Toyota said they couldn't operate the plant alone after GM's bankruptcy forced them to pull out of the venture.

Toyota's announcement came on the same day that GM announced that it would be keeping nine of its eleven North American assembly plants open throughout the summer to accommodate increased demand.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

IRON HORSE ROUNDUP: May-June 2010 Edition

EMD: Perhaps the biggest news of the month (if not the whole year) is the acquisition of locomotive manufacturer Electro-Motive Diesel by Caterpillar's Progress Rail Services from private equity firms Berkshire Partners and Greenbriar Equity LLC in a deal believed to be worth 820 million. Started in the 1930s as the Electro Motive Company and acquired by General Motors by the end of the decade, EMC started out making small, low horsepower switchers before graduating to the FT series. The introduction of the distinctive FT series in 1939 was seen as start of the demise of the steam locomotive while ushering in the streamliner-era.

Immediately after WWII, EMD's locomotive manufacturing faced competition from steam locomotive manufacturers ALCo, Baldwin and Lima-Hamilton and their early entries into the diesel locomotive market- the most resilient of which (ALCo) lasted until 1969. By that time, the EMD brand was introducing successful locomotives along the lines of the SD40 but was also facing competition from GE's burgeoning diesel manufacturing. Even with orders for the popular SD70MAC and SD70ACE from Class I haulers CSX, BNSF and Canadian National coming in, General Motors sold off their EMD subsidiary to Berkshire and Greenbriar in 2005.

Several overseas companies manufacture EMDs locally as well. India's Diesel Locomotive Works manufactures EMD engines and parts under licence, with EMD having a 50 year presence in India. Sweden would produce locomotives with EMD components up until the 1970s through Nydquist & Holm while Australia's Clyde would manufacture EMD products for the state-run railways throughout Australia as well as the privately-run ore-haulers in Western Australia.

As a side-note, a half-dozen Clyde Built SD50S that had worked for Western Australia ore-hauler Hammersley Iron were exported to the USA when they were replaced by American-made C44-9Ws a decade ago. The Clyde-built locos [which after nearly 2 decades of hauling ore in the Australian outback could hardly be described as 'gently used'- NANESB!] roamed the country briefly as loaners before being purchased by the Utah Railroad. Here, Aussie import Clyde #6064 is seen in it's distinctive Genesee & Wyoming orange paint while between assignments at Utah Rail's Midvale, UT yard in April 2009.

( Jeff Terry)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN: Before purchasing EMD outright, Caterpillar subsidiary Progress Rail Services was busy re-engineing and refurbishing EMD locomotives approaching the end of their service life. In addition to the Progress Rail PR30Cs being tested extensively by Florida East Coast for much of the last year, Norfolk Southern was testing a pair of higher-horsepower Progress Rail rebuilds on their Illinois lines. The units were rebuilt from SD60s Norfolk Southern was withdraing from service, designated PR43Cs (PR for Progress Rail, 43 for 4300 HP and C for 6 axles) and worked mainly around the Peoria, IL area- headquarters of Progress Rail's parent company Caterpillar in case any servicing was required.

(Photo: Henry Dralle)

One can only learn so much about a locomotive's performance on the flat-as-a-tabletop terrain of Illinois, so in February, the Norfolk Southern decided to bring them to Virginia to test their capabilities in hillier terrain. Secondhand reports indicate that both PR43Cs handled the 1.58% Starkey Grade on the line out of Roanoke, VA with about 50 loaded hopper cars and the test car quite well. Norfolk Southern would also bring in Kansas City Southern's EMD GP22ECO mother/slug set and Brookville Equipment Corporation's 'co-generation' hybrid locomotive for road testing and evaluation in the Roanoke area over the spring.

Genesee & Wyoming subsidiary Buffalo & Pittsburgh is also reportedly interested in looking at the KCS GP22ECO rebuilds.

ARIZONA: Passenger service returned to the restored 1916 depot in the Arizona mining town of Globe for the first time in 77 years with the Copper Spike excursion. The excursions have been operating since late 2008 and the newest addition is Arizona Eastern E8A painted in a scheme reminiscent of Southern Pacific's 'Black Widow' livery. The Copper Spike's consist also includes a dome car and a rebuilt Illinois Central coach that's now a club car. The Arizona Eastern normally hauls freight between Miami, AZ to the Union Pacific interchange at Bowie, AZ- a distance of 130 miles. In 2008, AZER also gained trackage rights over UP's former Southern Pacific Sunset Route between Bowie, AZ to Lordsburg, NM and acquired the former Espee branch between Lordsburg and Clifton, AZ. The Arizona Eastern is a wholly owned subsidiary of Iowa Pacific Holdings, LLC.

MICHIGAN: The Escanaba & Lake Superior filed a request with the Surface Transportaton Board to abandon 43 miles of trackage between Ontonagon and Frost in Michigan's upper peninsula. Smurfit-Stone Container, the largest shipper on that line, and the Ontonagon Economic Partnership have agreed to draft a joint letter to the STB requesting a stay. Both the board and Smurfit-Stone are in talks with outside parties to sell the currently idle paper plant. In anticipation of the pending abandonment request, the E&LS began moving equipment off the line and elsewhere as early as November 2009- when contributor Dean Sauvola caught E&LS SD9 #1224 and SD40-2 #501 hauling a string of empty boxcars stored at the mill across the Ontonagon River. Hit particularly hard by the recession, Ontanogon County MI has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation.

INDIA: At least 145 people were killed and another 250 injured when suspected Maoist terrorists in West Bengal sabotaged a stretch of track that the the Gyaneshwari Express was travelling on, derailing the train and knocking some of the passenger cars into the path of an oncoming freight train. Indian Railways minister Mamatma Banerjee said that rebels removed a 50cm section of rail and timed it so that the Gyanshwari Express would collide with another train. Local investigators found Naxalite literature at the scene, although they wouldn't identify which specific group. According to the Ministy or Railways, the engineer had just left the station in the Paschim Medinipur district when the train hit the sabotaged portion of track, derailing 13 cars from the Gyanshwari Express.