Monday, February 28, 2011

Actress, Pin-Up Jane Russell Passes Away

Jane Russell, the statuesque brunette who starred in films along with Marylin Monroe, Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra, passed away in her Santa Maria, CA home from a respiratory illness at the age of 89 on Monday.
Russell was born in Bemidji, MN in 1921 before her family moved to Southern California in the 1930s. Her breakthrough role came in 1943 in the Howard Hughes-directed The Outlaw in which she's involved in a love triangle between Billy the Kid and Doc Holliday. The Motion Picture Production Code, however, took exception to the lengths in which the film highlighted Russell's cleavage and aside from a limited release in 1943, The Outlaw wouldn't see the light of day until 1946.

However, promotional photos for the yet-to-be-released film featuring a buxom Russell on a haystack garnered her popularity as a pin-up with servicemen during WWII. Bob Hope even introduced her as 'The two and only, Jane Russell" on one of his radio broadcasts.
With the release of The Outlaw being delayed by the MPPC, the movie-going public was actually introduced to Russell in March 1946 after the release of the drama Young Widow in which she played a young journalist who's husband was killed in WWII.

Russell's best-known role was co-starring with Marilyn Monroe in the 1953 film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and the latter portion of the movie features Russell impersonating her platinum blonde co-star [h/t Althouse].
The Howard Hawks directed film was a huge critical and box office success at the time. Russell famously appeared with Monroe at Hollywood's Mann Chinese Theater where both of their handprints are still encased in cement on the sidewalk in front of the theater's entrance.
After 1957, Russell only appeared in five more motion pictures before retiring to the central California coast. She was a practicing Christian who hosted bible studies and was active with the Republican party in the 1950s, attending Dwight D Eisenhower's inauguration. Adopting three children of her own, Russell founded the World Adoption International Fund in 1955.

Today's Train of Though- Spring Has Sprung, Feb 28th

Today's train of thought takes us to the Florida city that the Red Sox call home for a few weeks out of the year, but their arrival is a sign that spring is here no matter how cold it may get elsewhere.

And with the weather being as agreeable as it is for most of the year in the southwestern corner of Florida's peninsula, the Seminole Gulf railway decided to make use of its surroundings and operate some excursion trains.

Here, contributor Andrew Blaszczyk catches on of Seminole Gulf's former Long Island RR Power cars (converted from F9As) leading a short southbound River Rail Explorer excursion train across the Calloosahatchee River in Fort Meyers, FL on March 28, 2007. Both the Red Sox and the Twins would be wrapping up at their nearby spring training facilities.

3rd Helping of Western Sports Chowdah- Bruins Looking Slick vs Oilers; Jazz Hit Flat Note Against C's;

NBA: Ray Allen was looking pretty ageless on Monday in Salt Lake City, getting 25 points on the night including and a pivotal 3 pointer in Boston's 107-102 of a rejuvenated Utah Jazz. Paul Pierce had 21 points on the night while Kevin Garnett had 16 points and 14 rebounds.

The tenacious win is the Celtics 2nd in a row as they wrap up a 4-game road trip out west immediately after the NBA All Star break, going 3-1 to start off the 2nd half. The Celtics return home on Wednesday night to the Garden where they'll take on the Phoenix Suns at 7:30 PM ET.

NHL: After a pair of 3-1 wins against league leading Vancouver and a resurgent Calgary Flames club, the Bruins had to hold off a late rally to come away with a win in the capital of Alberta Sunday night.

The last-place Edmonton Oilers got on the board first against Boston with a goal from Ales Hemsky barely a minute into the game. Michael Ryder would provide the equalizer with five minutes left in the first, followed by Nathan Horton putting Boston up 2-1 with less than two minutes remaining.

New acquisition Rich Peverly would get on the board with a goal with two seconds remaining in the 2nd period to make it a 3-1 game. This would be Peverly's first tally as a Boston Bruin.

The Oilers showed signs of life in the 3rd stanza, with Gilbert Brule scoring for the Oilers about 3 minutes into the 3rd and the Bruins. Tukka Rask managed to turn aside a flurry of Edmonton shots late in regulation, but Rask held on for the win, stopping 15 of 17 shots faced. The win is Boston's 5th in a row- all of them on the road.

The Bruins road trip through Canada continues into Tuesday when the Bruins head back to the Canadian capital to take on the Senators at 7:30 PM ET.

SPRING TRAINING: Some disconcerting news out of Ft. Meyers as P Josh Beckett is reportedly exhibiting mild concussion symptoms after being struck in the back of the head by a ball during batting practice at City of Palms Park.

He left the field under his own power, but was accompanied by Red Sox trainers before being sent home to rest after being examined by team doctors. The team is awaiting a more detailed report on Tuesday.

Last Living American WWI Veteran Passes Away at 110

(Martinsburg Journal
Frank Woodruff Buckles, the last surviving American World War I Veteran, passed away at his Charles Town, WV farmhouse on Monday at the age of 110.

Buckles was 16 when he enlisted, lying about his age to an Army recruiter in Oklahoma in 1917 and worked as an ambulance driver until the armistice. After the war, he was assigned to a POW escort company that was tasked with repatriating prisoners with their home country.

At the outbreak of WWII, Buckles was working as a civilian with a shipping company in the Philippines when he was captured as a prisoner of war and spent three years at the Los Banos POW camp on the island of Luzon. Interestingly, last week marked the 66th anniversary of the US Raid on Los Banos.

After the war, Buckles married and moved to a farm in West Virginia. He continued to work on the farm until he turned 106. Buckles also served as honorary chairman of the National WWI Memorial foundation.

Rest in Peace and thank you for your service, Mr. Buckles.

Feds Arrest Saudi National in Texas Bomb Plot

A 20 year old Saudi man was arrested late last week after a chemical company in North Carolina reported suspicious purchases he had been making to the FBI.
Federal prosecutors say [Khalid] Aldawsari had been researching online how to construct an improvised explosive device using several chemicals as ingredients. Authorities say Aldawsari's diary indicated the young man had been plotting an attack for years and obtained a scholarship so he could come directly to the United State to carry out jihad.

"After mastering the English language, learning how to build explosives and continuous planning to target the infidel Americans, it is time for jihad," the student wrote in his journal, according to court documents.

In e-mails Aldawsari apparently sent himself, he listed the names of 12 reservoir dams in Colorado and California. He also wrote an e-mail that mentioned "Tyrant's House" with the address of President Bush's home. The FBI's affidavit said he considered using infant dolls to hide explosives and was possibly targeting a nightclub with a backpack filled with explosives.
Employees at Carolina Biological Supply and Con-Way, Inc. alerted the authorities after Aldawsari purchased ten 500 milliliter bottles. The tip led federal investigators to track other purchases the 20 year old Saudi made online. The North Carolina supplier sells chemicals and equipment for classroom use from kindergarten up through the university level.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Borderline Psychosis Update- US Agents Caught in Fatal Ambush; Dozens Killed in Resort City of Acapulco

SAN LUIS POTOSI: Two Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents acting as liaison officers with Mexican law enforcement were shot in an ambush as they were driving between Monterrey and Mexico City earlier this month.
Details continue to emerge after the Feb 15th attack outside of San Luis Potosi in which the two agents driving in an armoured Chevy Suburban with US Diplomatic plates were forced off the road by as many as 15 assailants following in multiple vehicles. ICE special agent Jaime Zapata was killed in the attack while special agent Victor Avila was shot in both legs and airlifted to Mexico City before being flown to Houston, TX and treated there.

The agents were unarmed during the attack, as Mexico prohibits foreign law enforcement officers from carrying weapons inside the country. Investigators discovered as many as 83 bullet casings at the scene of the shooting.
Zapata and Avila stopped at a Subway along the highway for lunch. As they left the restaurant, an SUV closed in on their Suburban from behind, tailing the agents.

Zapata tried to speed up, but the SUV kept pace and pulled up side-by-side. The passengers flashed assault rifles at the agents and sped ahead down the highway, out of sight.

A second vehicle came from behind, tailing the agents until they met the first SUV they’d seen minutes before.

The two vehicles had boxed in the agents on the highway and crawled to a stop. Gunmen surrounded the agents’ Suburban.

“They were screaming ‘Get out! Get out! Get out!,” one U.S. law enforcement official, briefed but unauthorized to speak on the case, told The Monitor.

The agents showed their U.S. diplomatic papers to the gunmen, showing they were federal agents. But the gunmen refused to relent.

Zapata shifted the vehicle in park, which automatically unlocked its doors. The gunmen tried to pull the agents from the vehicle. But they managed to close the doors.

Zapata’s window was open a crack, allowing the gunmen to stick an AK-47 assault rifle and a pistol through the opening. They “shot indiscriminately,” the official said, striking Zapata several times in the abdomen and Avila twice in the leg.
Within a week of the deadly ambush, soldiers from the Mexican Army arrested six Los Zetas members in San Luis Potosi.

Zapata Espinoza, aka 'el Piolin' or 'Tweety Bird' because of his short stature, was identified by Mexican military officials as a leader of a Los Zetas hit team based around San Luis Potosi.

A spokesman with the Mexican Army said that Espinoza claims to have mistaken the Suburban as a vehicle for a rival cartel, despite the diplomatic plates and Zapata and Avila identifying themselves as US Agents. Members of Mexico's Armed Forces have arrested the local leader of Los Zetas in Coahuila over the weekend.

Special Agent Zapata was laid to rest on Feb 22nd in Brownsville, TX.

GUERRERO: Gunmen in the resort city of Acapulco targeting taxicabs killed at least a dozen people last weekend- nine cabbies and three passengers according to officials. Police in the state of Guerrero arrested four suspects carrying guns, grenades and a machete that they believe was used to decapitate some of the victims.

Gang members in Acapulco have been known to recruit cabbies to transport narcotics or simply extort money from them. The attacks came just hours before a popular international tennis tournament was set to take place in Acapulco.

Authorities had also recovered the bodies of four men whose hands and feet were bound with duct tape from near the Guerrero state capital of Chilpancingo. Judging from the bruising on the victim's bodies, its thought they gang members tossed them from a 600ft tall bridge while they were still alive.

2nd Helping of West Coast Sports Chowdah: C's Clip LA's Other Team, 'Lucic! I'm Home'- B's Triumph in Vancouver; Hall of Famer Snider Passes Away

NHL- As far as the Bruins are concerned, I'm liking the road trip out west.

The B's came into Vancouver on Saturday night winners of 3 in a row. Of course, two of those wins were tallied against dysfunctional team like the NY Islanders or Ottawa Senators. Calgary was a much better test which they managed to pass, but on Saturday they were up against the league-leading Canucks.

The night before, Vancouver native Milan Lucic was honored by a local junior hockey club. The following night, he ends up scoring the game-winning goal for the B's against the NHL team with the best record.

Vancouver got on the board first with a tally from C Manny Malhotra in the 1st period before Boston would get the equalizer off the stick of Nathan Horton midway through the 2nd.

With dozens of friends and relatives watching in the stands, Lucic scored the go-ahead goal with 4:38 remaining in regulation and with just under two minutes remaining, Patrice Bergeron gave the B's some insurance with an empty netter after the Canucks pulled Roberto Luongo for the extra attacker.

This makes it four wins in a row and the 2nd consecutive game where Boston has won 3-1. Tim Thomas stopped 27 of 28 shots faced while Roberto Luongo faced 24 shots, stopping 22.

The Bruins next game is on Sunday night at Edmonton- puck drops at 5PM Pacific, 8PM Eastern.

NBA- After Thursday's 85-79 loss to a Carmello Anthony-less Denver Nuggets, the western road trip hasn't been as kind to the Celtics as it has the Bruins, but the C's managed to wrap up all of Saturday's NBA action with a win at staples Center against the Clippers.

Kendrick Perkins was sent to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for F Jeff Green and C Nenad Ksrtic and the Clipper's 1st round pick in the 2012 NBA draft. Saturday night would mark the Boston debut of the two new acquisitions. Despite the sluggish and lethargic 1st half where Boston was trailing 47-40, the C's would come right back and make a game of it.

Paul Pierce led the scoring for Boston with 24 points while Ray Allen had 22, Kevin Garnett had 16 and Glen 'Big Baby' Davis came off the bench for 10. Krstic started with 9 points and 6 rebounds while Green came off the bench for 7 points and one rebound in Saturday's 99-92 win over the Clippers- G Randy Foye had a 32-point night in the losing effort for the Clippers.

The C's next game will be on Monday night against the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City at 9PM Eastern- 7PM Mountain time.

MLB: Hall of Fame Brooklyn Dodgers outfielder Duke Snider passed away at a Southern California Convalescent hospital, according to a statement from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, which released a statement on behalf of Snider's family. According to Snider's family, he had been ill for several months and was being cared for at an Escondido, CA convalescent hospital.

Snider batted a career .295 and hit 407 homeruns in a career that started in 1947 with the Brookly Dodgers and saw him win an elusive World Series Title with 'dem bums' and play his home games in Los Angeles when the Dodgers moved across the country. He finished his career in 1964 with the San Francisco Giants.

Snider retired to an avocado farm in Fallbrook, CA after his playing career. In the 1990s, he faced legal troubles because he failed to report revenue from signing autographs, appearances and memorabilia sales to the IRS.

The Dodgers retired Snider's number in 1980, the same year he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

ELSEWHERE: The Red Sox will kick off Spring Training with a 'home and away' series against the Minnesota Twins on Sunday (while, curiously enough, never leaving the city of Ft. Meyers, FL). Opening pitch is 7PM Eastern Time.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Dairlyand Drama Drags On- NY Teamsters Hop Bus To Wisconsin; Indiana Dems Skip Town

Does anybody else remember this chick from last year? Not only is she a Democrat, she's also on the Executive committee of the Milwaukee County Democrat party.

Odds are, she's a byproduct of Wisconsin public schools. Time to start contemplating if you're really getting any bang for your buck as far as the public schools are concerned, Cheeseheads.

As the protests got underway last week in Madison, an estimated 40% of the teachers in Madison staged a sickout, cancelling classes. As the teacher's protests against Gov. Scott Walker's measures in a bill limiting public employee unions ability to collectively bargain continued through the week, the teachers apparently continued to call in sick.

As absences from faculty increased, school district administrators warned that teachers would be docked pay for the days they were absent. However, University of Wisconsin Medical Center doctors were passing out doctors notes excusing absences to passersby on their way to or from the protests last week, standing next to handwritten placards with a red cross that read 'The Doctor is In- Come Get a Note'

Meanwhile. Union Locals from the New York metropolitan area, including the Teamsters Local 237 and Transportation Union Workers Local 100 promised to bus in hundreds of members to join the protesting teachers in Madison this week [after acquitting themselves so wonderfully during January's blizzard in NYC, it must be nice to have a government position with enough job security to skip several days for a bus trip to Wisconsin with no apparent repercussions- NANESB!].

Earlier this week, a 'journalist' named Ian Murphy managed to prank Gov. Walker by calling and saying he was one of the Koch Brothers and lulling him into a rather boring conversation that was supposedly scandalous and revealed his duplicitous side. For the record, Murphy's previous works include a lengthy 2008 screed directed at the US Military and veterans called 'Fuck The Troops'.

On Friday, the Wisconsin State Assembly had passed Walker's contentious budget bill after several days of heated debate on the House floor, but the 14 AWOL state senators prevent the measure from being taken up in the Wisconsin State Senate

I also thought it might be worth mentioning that at it's peak, crowd size for the protests in Madison was in the neighborhood of 70,000 last weekend, and that included several thousand counterdemonstrators from the Tea Party supporting Gov. Walker arriving on short notice. The total population of Dane County Wisconsin (which is where the Midwestern liberal bastion of Madison is located) is thought to be in the neighborhood of 491,000. For all the attempts by some of the media to portray this as a wildly popular spontaneous uprising in Dairyland, there's the undeniable fact that Union leadership and Obama's Organizing for America have taken an active role in coordinating much of the protests, despite media claims that the White House is distancing itself from these battles.

With such large, politically connected and well financed groups mobilizing against Gov. Walker, you'd think they wouldn't have to bus people in from out of state if these proposed budget cuts were so unpopular. But who knows? They could be just warming up for other states.....

In Indiana, a similar situation has developed earlier this week when 37 of the 40 Democrat state representatives also fled to Illinois to avoid a quorum on Right to Work legislation. About 3500 Union workers converged on the capitol to protest as House Bill 1468 passed the Indiana House, Labor and Pensions Committee and was supposed to go the the floor of the State House for a full debate.

[hat tip- Lonely Conservative; Jammie Wearing Fool]

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Today's Train of Thought- At A Glacier's Pace; Feb 24, 2011

Today's rather snowy train of thought takes us back to Big Sky country before winter fully kicks in. The weather outside didn't look that frightful as contributor Rick Newton caught BNSF #7923 leading a quintet of BNSF SD40-2s as they grind to a halt just outside of Browning, in Glacier County Montana.

This stretch of the old Great Northern between Minneapolis-St Paul and Seattle was completed in 1893 and featured the Empire Builder as the premier passenger train (who's latest incarnation is being run by Amtrak). The stretch in northwestern Montana skirts the southern boundary of Glacier National Park as westbound trains begin their assault on the Rockies.

Here, the cascade green of Burlington Northern, Santa Fe 'Bluebonnet' and BNSF's Great Northern-inspired orange and Pullman green paint scheme are all represented on five SD40-2s handling an eastbound manifest freight as it grinds to a halt in a siding just outside of Browning, MT on a snowy October 6, 2007 day. The eastbound has just made its way through the difficult terrain and weather at the higher elevations and is entering a siding to let a westbound through.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Horn of Africa Update: Four Americans Murdered by Somali Pirates; 17 Killed in Mogadishu Truck Bombing

Somali pirates shot dead four American yachters while the commandeered vessel was being shadowed by the Destroyer USS Sterrett on Tuesday.

U.S. forces boarded the yacht Quest after one of the pirates fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the Sterrett. The grenade missed, but gunfire erupted from inside the Quest. Several pirates appeared on the deck of the Quest ready to surrender. As the Navy SEALS boarded the yacht, they found two pirates dead from small arms fire and killed two more below decks in close quarters combat.

Below decks, the SEALS also found the bodies of Scott and Jean Adam of Laguna Beach, CA and Bob Riggle and Phyllis Mackay of Seattle, WA. The four Americans were airlifted to USS Enterprise where they were pronounced dead. The Navy also took 15 of the surviving pirates into custody at that point.

The yacht Quest was registered to the Adams, who had spent the past few years sailing the world and passing out bibles along remote seaside villages in Alaska, Central America, Fiji and Polynesia.

Reportedly this pirate attack was different from others in that the pirates boarded and seized the Quest directly from one of their 'mother ships' instead of sending out gunmen in small skiffs to seize the vessel. The four Americans were reportedly sailing off the coast of Oman when they were accosted by the pirates [As a side note, does anybody else find it somewhat disturbing that when this DOES get mentioned by the mainstream media, it's as though the bibles might've played a role in their death, not the dozen or so gun wielding Muslim men from the failed state who actually commandeered their ship and pulled the trigger? NANESB!].

As navies from various nations have stepped up patrols in international waters off the coast of Somalia, Somali-based pirates have pushed further and further eastward into the Indian ocean, striking vessels closer to the Indian Ocean island nations of the Seychelles or Maldives or even India than the Horn of Africa.

The massacre of the 4 Americans comes about a month after South Korean commandos successfully raided a tanker that had been seized by pirates and freed the crew who were being held hostage. In May 2010, Russian Naval commandos carried out a similar operation, freeing the crew of the MV Moscow University.

ELSEWHERE: A truck bomb detonated outside of a police training center in Mogadishu on Monday, killing at least 17 people. The Somali Islamist group Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack.

Guards shot at the vehicle as it sped towards them from a busy intersection near the port before it exploded, killing several pedestrians and destroying nearby homes. The police academy was located some 1600 feet from Mogadishu's busy port.

In response to the bombing, Somali troops backed by African Union peacekeepers fanned out through Mogadishu claiming to have captured three Al Shabaab bases on Wednesday.

Besides mounting an insurgency campaign against African Union peacekeepers presently in Somalia, Al Shabaab had also claimed responsibility for twin suicide bombings in the Ugandan capital of Kampala in July 2010.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Quickie Western Sports Chowdah Update- Flames Turn Up Heat Late Against B's; Celtics Golden vs Warriors

Dave Sanford- Getty Images
There's been a Tim Thomas sighting in Alberta, everybody!

The Bruins started off the Western portion of their 6-game road trip at Calgary's Saddledome on Tuesday night. Like the first two, things went Boston's way. However, unlike the first two, this one would be a much closer game against a better opponent.

The Flames came into Thursday night's game winning their last 3 in a row and garnering at least one point in 13 of their last 14 games [including a 4-0 shutout of Montreal on Sunday; just sayin'- NANESB!]. The Bruins took a 1-0 lead with one minute remaining in the 1st when Milan Lucic managed to get the puck past Miikka Kipursoff.

That's the way the scoreboard would look until 5:55 had gone by in the 3rd when Brad Marchand would make it a 2-0 game. However, Calgary would get a late power play when Patrice Bergeron was sent to the bin for slashing with just over 3 minutes remaining in the 3rd. Curtis Glencross was able to beat Thomas with just under two and a half minutes to cut the Bruins lead in half. However, after pulling the netminder Kipursoff and a few quality chances for the Flames, the Bruins got the dagger in the form of an empty-netter from Milan Lucic at the 19:31 mark to seal the game for Boston by a final of 3-1.

Tim Thomas faced 29 shots on the night and stopped all but the Glencross PP goal. Miikka Kipursoff stopped 26 of 28 shots faced for Calgary.

It's interesting to note that unlike the games against Dallas or Montreal, the Tuesday night game at the Saddledome had a grand total of 8 penalty minutes. By way of comparison, the February 3rd game against Dallas had 91 penalty and the epic February 9th home game against Montreal had 182 total penalty minutes assessed. [On a side note, way to represent Boston faithful! I heard alot of cheering for Thomas when the three stars of the game were announced and the Flames broadcasters confirmed this- NANESB!].

The Bruins don't play again until Saturday when they face off against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena in Vancouver B.C. at 10PM ET, 7PM Pacific. The game will be broadcast on both NESN and CBC.

NBA: After nearly a week off, it would only be natural to worry that the C's might come out of the All-Star break looking a little rusty. And when they headed up to the San Francisco Bay area on Tuesday night, they did indeed look a little slow and lethargic.........for all of three minutes in the 2nd when the Warriors had managed to pull ahead by 5 points.

With things knotted up 60-60 at the half, the C's would go on to pull ahead in the second half and win by the final of much for 'rust'! Kevin Garnett would have 24 points and 12 rebounds on the night while Paul Pierce would have 23 points and Rajon Rondo would get 19. Glen Davis would come off the bench for 12 points and 10 rebounds in Tuesday night's game.

The C's continue their Western road trip with a game at Denver against the Carmello Anthony-less Nuggets at 10:30 PM ET, 8:30 PM Mountain on Thursday, which will be broadcast on TNT.

OTHER CELTICS NEWS: The Boston Globe is reporting that C Shaquille O'Neal is rehabbing his injured leg in Florida, not too far from his residence in the Sunshine State. Head Coach Doc Rivers says that he doesn't expect Shaq to rejoin the team until after their west-coast road trip.

ELSEWHERE IN THE NBA: The Denver Nuggets have traded forward Carmello Anthony and guard Chauncey Billups to the NY Knicks in a complex 3 team, 13 player trade involving Denver, New York and the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Christchurch, New Zealand's South Island Rocked by 2nd Quake in Less Than 6 Months

For the second time in less than 6 months, the Canterbury region of New Zealand's South Island was struck by a powerful earthquake.

Prime Minister John Key had confirmed that at least 65 people were killed on Tuesday when a Magnitude 6.3 quake that struck just before 1 PM local time. Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said it was likely the death toll would rise.

While the temblor wasn't as strong as the September 2010 quake, the epicenter apparently was closer to the surface and only 10km outside of the city center of Christchurch. Buildings collapsed onto cars and buses on the streets and there were at least 30 people trapped when the 4-story Pine Gould Corp office building collapsed.

Christchurch's Cathedral, already damaged from the September 2010 quake, had its spire knocked off in the Tuesday afternoon. Although power to parts of Christchurch and elsewhere in Canterbury had been partially restored,

Both domestic and international flights were grounded throughout New Zealand in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake. New Zealand's national air traffic control center is headquartered in Christchurch and remained closed after the earthquake while the facilities were being inspected for damage.

Kiwi Rail has also shut down service on the South Island after the quake derailed a coal train in suburban Christchurch. The return trip of the TranzAlpine express passenger train was cancelled until the line between Greymouth and Christchurch could be inspected for damage, with more than passengers staying overnight in Greymouth. Although there were scattered reports of damage to tracks and bridges in the Christchurch area, there were no injuries to passenger or personnel.

Libya on the Brink? Reports of Defections From Libyan Military As Ghadffi Orders Crackdown on Protestors

Reuters is reporting that two Libyan Air Force colonels fled the country on Monday after disobeying orders to bomb antigovernment protestors. The Maltese Foreign Ministry confirmed that two single-seat Mirage F1 fighters from the Libyan Air Force landed at the island country's international airport outside the capital of Valetta. Upon disembarking, the pilots then identified themselves and requested asylum according to local news reports.

The asylum request came amid reports of Libyan soldiers siding with antigovernment demonstrators in Libya's 2nd largest city of Benghazi and the capture of African mercenaries flown in by the Ghdaffi regime. On Sunday afternoon, Libyan security forces loyal to Ghdaffi and mercenaries opened fire on a funeral procession for demonstrators killed in earlier clashes in Benghazi.

Libyan military jets have reportedly begun indiscriminate aerial bombardment of targets in Tripoli and Benghazi. In the capitol of Tripoli, the Austrian Army is reporting that the airspace over the city is closed after sending a C-130 transport as far as Malta to evacuate European nationals from Libya. However, the attempt was delayed upon finding that only a handful of European nationals were able to reach the airport at Tripoli.

Libyan leader Mummar Ghdaffi appeared briefly on TV Monday to quell rumors that he had fled to Venezuela. Communications in and out of Libya appear to have been cut, including mobile phones and social networking sites like Facebook. Foreign journalists have also been banned from Libya, although even prior to the unrest in that country, the movement and activities of foreign reporters were tightly controlled and monitored by the Ghdaffi regime.

The following is a capsulized version of developments in Libya in the last week or so:
Feb. 15-16:

- Police in Benghazi use force to disperse a sit-in protesting against the regime.

- Protesters demand the release of a lawyer representing the families of 1,000 prisoners gunned down in a Tripoli prison in 1996.

- At least two protesters reported killed by security forces in Al-Baida.

Feb. 17:

- Eight reported killed in clashes between demonstrators and security forces; calls go out on Facebook to turn the day into A Day of Rage against Gadhafi's regime.

- At Zenten several people arrested and a police station and public building torched.

- Feb. 18: Death toll is estimated to pass 40. Clashes reported in the east, notably Benghazi, where a radio station was burned down.

- The "Islamic Emirate of Barqa" hangs two policemen trying to disperse the crowd.

- Social-networking site Facebook blocked in Tripoli.

Feb. 19:

- Death toll passes 80, says Human Rights Watch (HRW).

- At least 12 reported killed as the army fires on a Benghazi crowd storming a barracks.

- Clashes spread to Misrati. Feb. 20:

- HRW says the death toll is at least 223; a hospital official is quoted saying it is 200.

- Authorities arrest dozens of Arab nationals from a "network" they say aims to destabilize Libya.

- Witnesses in Benghazi say Libyan security forces backed by "African mercenaries" have been shooting at crowds "without discrimination."

- Dozens of lawyers join a sit-in outside a Tripoli court, protesting against repression.

- Libya warns European Union president Hungary's ambassador to Tripoli that the bloc must stop fanning pro-democracy protests if Libya is to continue to co-operate against illegal immigration.

- Attempt by saboteurs to set fire to oil wells is foiled.
[Hat tip: Pundit Press]

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Yet Another All Star Sports Chowdah Update: Wheeler and Dealing- Busy B's Snap Skid; BC Helps Themselves to Another Beanpot; Little Rhody's Home Plate

NHL: The Boston Bruins acquired defenseman Tomas Kaberle from Toronto on Thursday in exchange for prospect Joe Colborne and a pair of draft picks (1st round in 2011 and 2nd round in 2012). This comes around the same time Boston sent RW Blake Wheeler and defenseman Marc Stuart to the Atlanta Thrashers in exchange for C Rich Peverly and defenseman Boris Valabik.

On the ice, there was bound to be something of a letdown after that Montreal game last week- and that was evident when the Bruins went on a 3 game skid, getting swept in the home & away series against the Red Wings and losing to before beating the Islanders 6-3 at Nassau County Colosseum on Thursday night. Not a bad way to start off your 6-game, 2-nation road trip, right?

On Firday night, the B's travelled to the Canadian capital to take on the Mr Carrie Underwood-less Ottawa Senators, with somewhat predictable results. No Tim Thomas in net for the games against the Islanders and Senators- giving Tukka Rask back to back wins.

Bobby Butler got the Sens out to a 1-0 lead in the 2nd, but Boston came right back with four goals- 2 from Brad Marchand, one from Dennis Seidenberg and one from Nathan Horton to put them up for good and give them the 4-2 win over the struggling Sens on Friday.
The Bruins next game will be on Tuesday night, 9 PM ET against at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary against the Flames.

NCAA HOCKEY: Just like round one of the Beanpot, Boston College would ultimately prevail, but it would require OT to do so.

This was a wild one at the Garden on Monday night, with Northeastern tallying the game-tying goal with 1:46 to go in the 3rd to make it a 6-6 game. 6 minutes into the OT, BC's Jimmy Hayes scored to give the Eagles the 7-6 OT win, good for Boston College's 16th Beanpot title.

NBA: To hardly anybody's surprise, the C's easily handled the NJ Nets in their last game before the All Star break on Wednesday. Paul Pierce had an impressive 31 points in the 94-80 win over the Nets, leaving the Celtics and Miami Heat in a virtual tie headed into the All Star break.

Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen spent the weekend in Los Angeles for the 60th NBA All Star game (which the West downed the East by a final of 148-143). The rest of the team will make their way out for the West Coast in time for Tuesday night's game against the Golden State Warriors.

MLB: most of you I'm sure are no doubt looking around and can't help but feel that the world is going to hell in a handbasket.

But fear not! Pitchers and catchers have reported to their respctive MLB training camps in Florida and Arizona, and with the rest of the team to follow, that can only mean Spring Training is around the corner!

There? See...that should put all those riots in the Middle East into perspective.

RED SOX: A Rhode Island state representative has submitted legislation that would authorize the Rhode Island DMV to issue Boston Red Sox liscence plates.

Representative Brian Kennedy (D- Hopkinton) has once again submitted legislation that would allow the liscense plates to bear the trademark Red Sox logo. Similar legislation was stalled in the RI State general assembly over concerns that the funds raised ($40 on top of the normal registration fees) were being directed out-of-state. However, in 2009 the General Assembly approved of special New England Patriots plates with the teams logo, with the proceeds going to Rhode Island chapters of charitable organizations like Meals on Wheels.

[hat tip: Providence Journal]

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wisconsin Democrats Flee State Ahead of Budget Vote

All 14 of Wisconsin's Democrats on the State Senate fled the state on Thursday in a bid to derail a GOP bill that would severely limit collective bargaining for public employee unions.
In a last-ditch effort to stop the passage of Gov. Scott Walker’s controversial budget repair bill by depriving the Senate of a quorum, all 14 Senate Democrats staged a walkout Thursday, leaving the state to avoid a forced return to the Capitol and a doomed vote against the bill.

The missing legislators traveled across the state line, spending at least part of the day at the Clock Tower Resort in Rockford, Ill. — far enough away that state troopers could not force them to return. They then spent the afternoon in a cat-and-mouse game with members of the media, sometimes speaking by cell phone but not revealing their locations.

The move stalled the vote, and the Senate adjourned Thursday afternoon without taking up the matter. Senators, however, are expected to come back into session Friday for another run at passage.

The drama here began at 11:30 a.m., when a roll call revealed none of the Senate Democrats were there. Soon after, Republican Senate President Mike Ellis announced a “call of the house” to send officers to force errant Democrats to return to the chamber.

Twenty senators are required to vote on fiscal bills, more than the Republican senators could muster alone.

Assembly Democrats joined the protest Thursday morning, entering the Assembly floor together wearing orange T-shirts reading “Assembly Democrats fighting for working families!” The lawmakers later broke for party meetings.

It’s unclear when debate on the bill will actually begin. The Assembly, where the measure is expected to pass, may take up the bill first if the Senate Democrats don’t return, according to a spokesman for Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, R-Horicon. Late Thursday night the Assembly recessed until 9 a.m. Friday, meaning they wouldn’t act on the bill overnight.
For the record, this is where the runaway Wisconsin Democrats were staying for at least part of Thursday. If I were a Badger state taxpayer, I'd have to wonder if lawmakers skipping town and staying in an out-of-state resort on my dime while technically on the job is the best use of taxpayer money.

No word on whether or not Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn or Chicago mayor Richard Daley would offer the fugitive cheeseheads asylum.

Apparently one of the lawmakers on the lam had the unmitigated chutzpah to call CNN with what amounts to a 'list of demands' for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. State Senator Mark Miller, a member of the missing band of Wisconsin Democratic lawmakers who fled Madison Thursday to avoid a vote on a budget bill, called into CNN with the group’s list of demands for Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
Miller, a state senator since 2004, would not disclose where he and his colleagues were hiding out, saying only “we are in what we consider a secure location outside the capital. We are not all in one place at this time.”

Miller’s demands focused on the collective bargaining portions of the bill.

“We demand that the provisions that completely eliminate the ability of workers… to negotiate on a fair basis with their employers be removed from the budget repair bill and any other future budget,” Miller said

Asked about the deficit the state is facing, Miller said Walker is ignoring the economy’s recovery, which makes reigning in union benefits unnecessary.

“The economy’s recovering and the governor is completely ignoring the fact that we have a… recovery going,” Miller said. “The only thing that hasn’t recovered has been the rate of unemployment.”
[OK- what did I say back when this blog wasn't even a month old? Call 9% or 10% unemployment the 'new normal' and then insist that the nation is in the midst of a robust economic recovery and there is really no fiscal harm in continuing the platinum plated benefits to some of your most entrenched donors while other segments of the economy wither and die- NANESB!]

The walkout came amid protests where Teachers and public employee union members surrounded the homes and offices of Republicans in the Wisconsin State Senate- blocking them in some cases. Not surprisingly, the Democratic National Committee's Organizing for America website- a remnant of President Obama's 2008 campaign- is actively and openly organizing on behalf of the protesters in Madison.

UPDATE 2/18- White House Plans closed-door meeting with AFL-CIO 'war council' [oh my! violent and uncivil discourse- NANESB!]

Remember that 'civilian national security force' Obama mentioned in his 2008 campaign? I think he's itching to deploy it to Madison.

[hat tip: Weasel Zippers; Althouse; Redstate]

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day From 'Not Another New England Sports Blog!

Wouldn't you know it? Valentine's Day is upon us once again upon us. And while some of us aren't sold on it as a holiday, more than enough couples take this opportunity to lavish that special someone with gifts like roses, chocolates, jewelry, a trip to the spa or even naming a roach after their sweetie.

Granted I'm somewhat cynical about Valentine's Day, but apparently nowhere near as cynical as the Malaysian government.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- Malaysian Muslims debated Sunday whether to shun Valentine's Day after the government warned that the celebration was a "trap" that could trigger indecent behavior.

Although no laws prevent Malaysia's Muslim majority from marking the occasion with dinner dates and roses, officials have mounted a campaign insisting that such romantic gestures might tempt young people into having premarital sex.

Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said late Saturday that the government was not trying to demean Valentine's Day, but stressed that it was "not suitable" for Muslims, who comprise nearly two-thirds of Malaysia's 28 million people

In recent years, authorities have sometimes searched hotel rooms on the night of Feb. 14 to catch Muslim couples having premarital sex. According to Malaysia's Islamic Shariah laws, unmarried Muslims who meet in private can be charged with "khalwat," or "close proximity," which carries fines and prison sentences of several months.
Hmm- I choose to be a cynic when it comes to this particular holiday. Elsewhere in the world, I guess governments take it upon themselves to decide for the people. Guess I shouldn't be too surprised.

This vintage cutie shown above (appropriately enough from a 1958 Al Buell work titled Real Cute) decked out in red and clasping a rose seems to have no such compunctions that the Malaysians do.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Egyptain Army Suspends Constitution, Dissolves Parliment; Antiquites Ministry Reports 18 Ancient Artifacts Missing from National Museum

Ed Ou- New York Times Photo
The Egyptian Army dissolved the nation's parliment and suspended the constitution this weekend in a move to dismantle some of the trappings of Hosni Mubarak's authoritarian legacy.

Now while a military junta stepping in and forcing the civilian president to resign while suspending the constitution and dissolving parliament could be instinctively viewed as an ominous development, a number of the protesters applauded the move. The announcement came after protest leaders met with the caretaker government and Egyptian military leaders.
The 18-member Supreme Council of the Armed Forces allayed some concerns by dismissing the legislature, packed with Mubarak loyalists, and sidelining the constitution, used by Mubarak to buttress his rule. Activists said they would closely watch the military to ensure it does not abuse its unchecked power -- something that is clearly starting to make some uneasy.

The council "believes that human freedom, the rule of law, support for the value of equality, pluralistic democracy, social justice, and the uprooting of corruption are the bases for the legitimacy of any system of governance that will lead the country in the upcoming period," the Council said in a statement.

"They have definitely started to offer us what we wanted," said activist Sally Touma, who also wants the release of political prisoners and repeal of an emergency law that grants wide powers to police.

The military council, which has issued a stream of communiques since taking power, said parliamentary and presidential elections will be held, but did not set a timetable. It said it will run the country for six months, or until elections can be held.

It said it will represent Egypt in all internal and external affairs and proclaimed the right to set temporary laws. It was expected to clarify the scope of its legal authority as the complex transition unfolds and the role of the judiciary remains unclear.

It said it was forming a committee to amend the constitution and set rules for a popular referendum to endorse the amendments.

Protesters are demanding that the constitution be amended to impose term limits on the president, open up competition for the presidency, and remove restrictions on creating political parties. Others want an entirely new constitution.

Judge Hisham Bastawisi, a reformist judge, said the military measures "should open the door for free formation of political parties and open the way for any Egyptian to run for presidential elections."

Hossam Bahgat, director of the non-governmental Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, said the steps were positive but warned that Egypt was on uncharted legal ground.

"In the absence of a constitution, we have entered a sort of 'twilight zone' in terms of rules, so we are concerned," he said. "We are clearly monitoring the situation and will attempt to influence the transitional phase so as to respect human rights."

Both the lower and upper houses of parliament are being dissolved. The last parliamentary elections in November and December were marked by allegations of fraud by the ruling party, which was accused of virtually shutting out the opposition.

The military council includes the chief of staff and commanders of each branch of the armed forces. It took power after protesters' pleas, and promised reform. The institution, however, was tightly bound to Mubarak's ruling system, and it has substantial economic interests that it will likely seek to preserve.

The caretaker Cabinet, appointed by Mubarak shortly after the pro-democracy protests began on Jan. 25, will remain in place until a new Cabinet is formed -- a step expected to happen after elections.
In a related development, the Supreme Council of the Egyptian military said that they will continue to honor all international and regional treaties.

CAIRO (AFP)- Egypt will remain committed to all its regional and international treaties, its ruling military council said on Saturday, implicitly confirming the nation's peace deal with Israel would remain intact.

"The Arab republic of Egypt will remain committed to all its regional and international treaties," the Supreme Council for the Armed Forces said in a televised address.

The announcement was part of "Communique Number 4," issued a day after veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak handed power to the military.
ELSEWHERE IN EGYPT: An Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities audit has found that looters managed to abscond with at least 18 ancient Egyptian artifacts in the chaos surrounding the uprising that forced Hosni Mubarak into retirement.
On Jan. 28, as protesters clashed with police early on in the turmoil and burned down the adjacent headquarters of Mubarak's ruling party, a handful of looters climbed a fire escape to the museum roof and lowered themselves on ropes from a glass-paneled ceiling onto the museum's top floor.

Around 70 objects -- many of them small statues -- were damaged, but until Sunday's announcement, it was not known whether anything was missing.

Antiquities Minister Zahi Hawass said the museum's database department determined 18 objects were gone. Investigators searching for those behind the thefts were questioning dozens of people arrested over several days after last month's break-in.

The most important of the missing objects is a limestone statue of the Pharaoh Akhenaten standing and holding an offering table. Akhenaten is the so-called heretic king who tried to introduce monotheism to ancient Egypt.

"It's the most important one from an artistic point of view," said museum director Tarek el-Awady. "The position of the king is unique and it's a beautiful piece of art." During Akhenaten's so-called Amarna period, named after his capital, artists experimented with new styles.

Also gone is a gilded wooden statue of the 18th Dynasty King Tutankhamun, Akhenaten's son, being carried by a goddess. Pieces are also missing from another statue of the boy king wielding a fishing harpoon from a boat.

"We have the boat and the legs of the king, but we are missing other parts of the body," el-Awady said. "We are looking everywhere for them -- around the museum, outside, on the roof, from where the thieves got into the museum."

He said none of the missing objects was from the gated room containing the gold funerary mask of Tutankhamun and other stunning items from his tomb in the Valley of the Kings -- the museum's chief attractions. The looters did not break into the room, he said.

The other missing items are a statue of Nefertiti making offerings, a sandstone head of a princess and a stone statuette of a scribe from Amarna, a heart scarab and 11 wooden funerary statuettes of the nobleman Yuya.
Egyptian soldiers had arrested some 50 individuals attempting to break into the museum earlier this month.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Congressman Chris Lee (R NY-26) Crashes and Burns at Ludicrous Speed

That didn't take long. Seriously. discovered some shirtless pictures Congressman Chris Lee of New York's 26th District sent of himself to a woman he met on craigslist (while the married Congressman described himself as a 'divorced lobbyist') and broke the story at about 2:30 PM Eastern time on Tuesday. By 5:00 PM that day, the Congressman from the district that went between the southwestern suburbs of Rochester to the eastern Suburbs of Buffalo had submitted his resignation.
A married congressman abruptly quit Congress Wednesday after revelations that he had sent flirtatious messages and a bare-chested photograph of himself to another woman on a prominent Internet site.

Republican Representative Chris Lee, 46, issued a statement apologizing for his actions, but did not directly mention an Internet report about his communications on the popular Craigslist Web site with a woman who was not his wife.

He was serving his second two-year term in the House of Representatives, representing a district in western New York state.
And you know what that means- Special election time! Although Gov. Cuomo has yet to set a date, this would make the it the 4th special election for a U.S. House seat in upstate NY since 2009.

The Lonely Conservative- who seems to be perpetually flanked by Congressional districts with a special election- has more on some of the early GOP favorites for NY 26 (and there are plenty!). One thing mentioned was that the sheer number of candidates willing to step into the breech on the Republican side seems to indicate an enthusiasm gap and lack of confidence that the Democrats can take this one back.

NY State Senator George Maziarz (R- Niagara County) had been mentioned as a possibility, but that would mean that the Republicans would relinquish their majority in the state Senate in Albany prior to redistricting and NY State Senate majority leader Dean Skelos (R- Rockville Centre)has put the kibosh on any speculation that Maziarz is running for the vacant seat.

For the Democrat side of the aisle, the only candidate I can think of off the top of my head is Matt Zeller who had unsuccessfully campaigned against Corning, NY mayor Tom Reed for the US House seat in NY-29 left vacant by Congressman Erik Massa's abrupt resignation following allegations of inappropriate conduct towards male staffers last year. By some accounts, Zeller actually listed his residence with family in the Rochester, NY area (outside the NY-29 boundaries) but basically camped out at the Monroe County Democrat Party headquarters while running for the vacant seat in the 29th disrict.

Today's Train of Thought- Treading Lightly in River City; Feb 11th, 2011

Today's train of thought brings us back to Chattanooga, TN under somewhat chillier circumstances. Although it can get cold in Tennessee, snow in that part of the Volunteer state is fairly uncommon.

I'm not sure what the roads would've been like that day, but that didn't stop contributor Mark S Wurst (aka the idiot railfan) from venturing out in the white stuff in December 2009 to see what he could find in the winter wonderland.

Here, he managed to catch Norfolk Southern SD60 #6700 negotiating a sweeping curve through a cut with Chattanooga, TN-Rome, GA local G38 on December 5th, 2009. The train is enroute to Chattanooga's DeButts yard to swap out some cars.

Mubarak Steps Down as President of Egypt

I have to say that if you don't like the Obama Administration's handling of this, then just wait five minutes- They're sure to change their position on something.

After a number of false-starts this week, the octeginarian president of Egypt has called it quits- handing over power to the Egyptian Army.
CAIRO – Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has stepped down and handed control of the country to the military, Vice President Omar Suleiman said Friday in an address on state television.

The announcement touched off a wave of jubilation throughout Cairo's Tehrir Square, where tens of thousands of anti-government protesters had gathered demanding Mubarak's ouster hours after he failed to announce his resignation in an address on Thursday.

"In these difficult circumstances that the country is passing through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to leave the position of the presidency," Suleiman said. He has commissioned the armed forces council to direct the issues of the state."

Hours later, President Obama said "Egypt will never be the same."

No word on whether or not those shirtless photos Mubarak took of himself that he sent to this chick he met on Craigslist contributed to his decision to step down.

Naturally this begs the question: 'what next?' Even before Mubarak stepped down, there were those in the Obama Administration who sought to soft sell the Muslim Brotherhood as a 'largely secular organization'.

In a way, former IAEA head Mohammed El Baradei getting any position of power would be worse than the Muslim Brotherhood, since he would be a figurehead Western dupes could point to and say 'Of course he's a moderate! Just look at that Nobel prize he won!' as the Muslim Brotherhood begins to implement shari'a law, prepares for war with Israel and continues the persecution of Coptic Christians with the approval of the state.

On a personal note, I seem to have gotten an increase in traffic from Egypt over the last week or so- despite my minimalist approach to the fluid and fast-breaking series of events there. To those of you in Egypt who took the time to visit my humble blog with the 'internet kill switch' hanging over you like an electronic sword of Damocles, I thank you.

And, you know, if you're a Egyptian model, actress or bellydancer who might need asylum in the USA, then by all means you can get a hold of me via this blog.

However, if you're reading this, I would also caution you against replacing Mubarak with something even worse- look no further than Iran and see how they dealt with the protestors over there not even two years ago; most of whom were asking for the same things you were. Of course, I'd also be mistaken in assuming that at least some of you weren't aware of that- I guess it would be incumbent upon you to convice other Egyptians as well.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hot and Cold Sports Chowdah Update- Black and Bleu at the Garden; Lakers Drain Celtics; Stirring the Beanpot

Two Boston sports institutions going up against arch rivals in the regular season, but with buzz- both before and after- more reminiscent of the postseason.

Did I already mention how fortunate I consider myself to be a New England sports fan at this point in history?

The undercard
NHL: If there was only one B's game to be nationally broadcast this whole season, Wednesday night's home game against arch rival Montreal would've been the one.
Apparently last week's game against Dallas was just a warm-up. Nothing like some Original 6 brawling- and not just figuratively- to get the blood going, huh?

With Montreal starting to close the gap in the Northeast division, the folks over at VS network thought Wendesday night's game was important enough to be boradcast on their network coast-to-coast (even though they were just carrying the TSN feed).

And man oh man was I glad I was able to tune in.

A good chunk of the first period seemed to feature the Bruins spending a disproportionate amount of time in Montreal's end of the ice, but with Montreal getting the better shots on goal (however infrequent). My perceptions changed somewhat after the 13 minute mark in the 1st when Brad Marchand and Dennis Seidenberg each scored 22 seconds apart (Seidenberg's tally coming off of a high bounce that the Montreal defener tried to corrall by swatting at with a stick). So Boston heads into the 1st intermission with a 2-0 lead.

Now on most nights, you'd be in pretty good shape if you could manage to get two by Montreal's Carey Price- especially if your own backstop is shutting them out. Not so on Wednesday night. The following video clips say it much better than I could-

For those of you who want to jump straight into the fisticuffs, was thoughtful enough to archive the melee towards the very end of the 3rd.

Most teams have every reason to expect to come out on top in a contest where they get six past Tim Thomas, but not Wednesday night. Both teams combined for 14 goals and 182 penalty minutes- nearly twice what was assessed in last week's game vs Dallas. As you can see from the video evidence, it's no exaggeration when I say that Boston absolutely beat the Habs down by a final of 8-5. The brawl at the end was simply the exclamation point.

The save percentages of both Price and Thomas also took a beating, with the Montreal backstop stopping 26 of 34 shots faces and Thomas stopping 27 of 33 shots faced. Micheal Ryder had two goals (one of them on the power play) and Milan Lucic had two goals (one of them shorthanded) and an assist on the night while Marchand, Seidenberg, Nathan Horton and Adam McQuaid also had tallies for the B's.

The win gives Boston a little bit more breathing room against the Canadiens (still the next closest team in the Northeast standings), and the Bruins lead over Montreal in the Division standings after Thursday night was 3 points after Montreal lost in a shootout to the NY Islanders but still got the 1 point.

The original 6 mania will continue this weekend when the Bruins have a home-and-away series against the Detroit Red Wings, with the first half taking place in the TD Banknorth Garden on Friday night at 7PM ET and be broadcast on NESN and the NHL Network.

The second half of the weekend series will take place at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit on Sunday afternoon, 12:30 PM ET- this game will be nationally televised on Comcast's NBC network.

OTHER BRUINS NEWS: Marc Savard is expected to miss the remainder of the season with a concussion. Savard had been sidelined with another concussion after being hit by former teammate Matt Hunwick in the Jan 22nd game against Colorado.
ELSEWHERE IN THE NHL: Eureka! I think the Nashville Predators have devised one of the most devious and effective methods of luring NHL talent to Music City- it's even more effective than the Underpants gnomes' business model!

Phase one would be to send out fetching starlets along the lines of Carrie Underwood to romance forwards like....oh...I dunno....Mike Fisher. Then, after the wedding, honeymoon, and a few atrocious seasons in the division's basement playing in the Canadian capital, you're hot, popular and musically talented spouse gets it in your head that perhaps you would be better off elsewhere- maybe somewhere closer to where she spends a good deal of the year. Like....oh...say Nashville, TN. And since your team is dead last in the conference, and Nashville happens to have a team that's doing pretty good this season (trailing the Red Wings by 5 points for #2 in the Central divison and 5th overall in the Western conference) it sounds like to good a deal to pass up.

Well played, Predators.....well played. [Now all that's left is to convince them that Nashville is in dire need of lazy, talentless bloggers and I'm sure a stampede of country music starlets will be stampeeding a path to my doorway- NANESB!]

The Predators acquired Mike Fisher in a trade that will send a 1st round draft pick and a conditional pick to Ottawa. Fischer was tied for the lead in scoring for the Sens with 14 goals and 10 assists in 55 games this season, and the Predators are hoping he'll be ready in time for Friday night's game against Colorado.

NBA: I have to confess, I was intentionally holding off on doing another sports update until after Thursday night's Lakers/Celtics game- a move that didn't pay off despite getting off to a promising start.

Most noteworthy was Ray Allen surpassing Reggie Miller to become the NBA's all time career leader in 3 pointers, with 2,561 on Thursday night (see above). After hat, it was kinda downhill for the C's.

Although Boston took a 53-45 lead into halftime, Kobe Bryant scored 20 of his 23 points in the second half as LA rallied to come from behind after trailing by as many as 15 points in 1st. Pau Gasol had 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers while the only player in green on Thursday to score more than 15 points was Ray Allen- with 20.

The lack of offense in the 2nd paved the way for a 92-86 Lakers win at the Garden. This is Boston's 2nd loss in a row after losing 94-89 at Charlotte on Monday night. The Celtics will next host the Miami Heat on Sunday afternoon at the Garden, 1 PM ET on ABC. The C's and the Heat are tied for first place overall in the Eastern conference.

NCAA HOCKEY: The 2011 Beanpot got underway on Monday, with Northeastern making their presence felt in a 4-0 thumping of Harvard in the opening game.

This was immediately followed by the BC Eagles getting by the BU Terriers in OT thanks to Eagle's Junior Tommy Cross scoring the game winner 3:17 into the extra period.

The games Monday set up a BC/Northeastern final for the 2011 Beanpot on Valentine's Day.

AHL HOCKEY: Following the lead of the NHL and the Syracuse Crunch, the Connecticut Whale (formerly the Hartford Wolfpack- the NY Ranger's AHL affiliate) has set up an outdoor rink at UConn's Rentschler Field in E. Hartford, CT. The rink will be used for outdoor junior and high school games as well as a Whalers/Bruins alumni game leading up to the Feb 19th game where the Whale will host the Providence Bruins.

OTHER AHL NEWS: A Connecticut judge has ordered an East Hartford man to apologize and 10 days of community service after he tackled and punched Pucky, the Whale mascot.

MLB: Never mind that rodent in Pennsylvania! Truck Day was this week, which means that Spring was right around the corner. The 'official' Red Sox truck (which, unsurprisingly, has a corporate sponsor) carrying the team's equipment left Fenway for Ft, Meyers, FL on Tuesday.

NCAA FOOTBALL: This video of UConn reserve quarterback Johnny McEntee has been circulating around the web. Heavily edited showboating or an appeal to get more playing time- what's your call?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Senators Webb (D-VA), Conrad (D-ND) Won't Seek Re-Election in 2012

In a blow to Democrats efforts to retain control of the Senate in the upcoming 2012 election cycle, Democrat Senator Jim Webb of Virginia has announced that he will not seek re-election next year. A Vietnam Vet, Webb served as Secretary of the Navy during Ronald Reagan's second term and in the 1990s would find work as an author and screenwriter.

Although Webb came into office on a sweeping Democrat wave and President Obama won Virginia by 6% in 2008, the state began tilting back towards the Republicans not even a year later when Bob McDonnell beat Democrat nominee Creigh Deeds by a 17% margin in the 2009 gubernatorial race. This was followed by the 2010 GOP 'tsunami' where the Republicans picked up three Congressional seats, leaving them with 8 of Virgina's 11 Congressional districts.

Webb's announcement comes less than a month after North Dakota Democrat Senator Kent Conrad announced that he would not run for a fifth term. This would leave the GOP in an advantageous position to pick up the senate seats from both Virginia and North Dakota.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Queensland Assesses Damage, Rebuilds After Cyclone Yasi Cuts Swath Through North

Still reeling from last month's floods, the Australian state of Queensland was dealt the other half of a one-two punch from nature when the most powerful cyclone to hit Australia in nearly a century made landfall south of Cairns on Feb. 3rd.
Getty Images- Daily Mail
Cyclone Yasi made landfall at Mission Beach, Queensland on the morning of Feb 3rd as a Category 5 storm (stronger than Hurricane Katrina when she made landfall in 2005) bringing with it winds of more than 180 miles an hour and storm surges more than 20 ft high.
Yasi ripped across the coast near Cairns on Wednesday night, tearing apart dozens of homes and damaging hundreds more, cutting power to tens of thousands of people and flattening millions of dollars worth of crops.

Police and army personnel moved through the storm-savaged coastal town of Tully Heads on Saturday, going door-to-door accounting for residents.

Officials spray painted "No Go" as a warning on the worst-hit homes. A few houses were reduced to rubble. A layer of brown sludge covered the ground, leaving a sickening smell wafting throughout the community.

The massive surge of water ripped through homes, taking out walls and pushing resident's belongings into other people's houses and yards.

Residents spent Saturday sifting through the wreckage and dragging people's possessions back to their owners.
Rob McCarrol- The Australian
Amazingly, there were no reports of fatalities in the aftermath of Cyclone Yasi. But with the flooding throughout Queensland in January causing an estimated $5 Billion in damages to the region's economy before Yasi was even fully formed as a storm, the cyclone dealt another blow to Queensland, flooding highways and railroad tracks and cutting off entire towns from the rest of the country.
Suart Mceveoy- The Australian
Mining activity was shut down throughout much of Queensland in anticipation of Yasi's arrival, but most of the state's main zinc, copper and coal mines escaped relatively undamaged from the cyclone. However, nearly half of the state's sugarcane crop was thought to have been destroyed and as much as 75% of Queensland's banana crop was wiped out in the storm. With widespread damage to roads and structures, tourism in Queensland will decline as well.

Australia's military has been pressed into service to help clear debris, reopen highways and bring in emergency supplies to those left without food, shelter or fresh water. Some 500 troops were already stationed in nearby Townsville when the cyclone hit and another 3500 are ready to mobilize.