Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Kloppenburg Concedes WI Supreme Court Election to Incumbent Prosser

After a lengthy and costly recount for a judicial election that was widely viewed by many as a refernedum on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's recently passed bill limiting public employee unions ability to collectively bargain, challenger Joanne Kloppenburg conceded the election on Tuesday after a lengthy and costly recount.
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin Supreme Court challenger Kloppenburg has conceded defeat to conservative Justice David Prosser.

“The threshold for a court to overturn an election is appropriately high. David Prosser has won this election, and I have congratulated him,” Kloppenburg said.

Kloppenburg made the announcement at 11 a.m. during a news conference in Madison.

Kloppenburg's decision comes after a statewide recount reaffirmed Prosser's victory over her in the April 5 election.

Prosser originally won the election by 7,316 votes, out of 1.5 million cast. She picked up only 312 votes in the recount.

Back in April, Kloppenburg declared herself the winner before votes from Waukesha County- erroniously overlooked by the county registrar earlier- were tallied. Incumbent David Prosser went from being behind by 200 votes to winning by a margin of more than 7000 votes.

However, the total still fell within the margin for Kloppenburg's campaign to request a recount in late April. Neither side would be required to pay for the recount if the margin was 0.5% or less.

Borderline Psychosis- The Often Overlooked Northern Border Edition: GAO- Only 32 miles of Canadian Border 'Secure'; Smugglers Pipeline in Northern NY

Looking north from the Whitetail, MT border crossing- Mike Stebelton/ Daniels County Leader
A study released in February indicates that just over 32 miles of the nearly 4,000 mile US/Canadian border is considered 'secure' according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) states the threat of terrorism from the northern border is higher than from the southern Mexico border, given the large expanse of area with limited law enforcement coverage. DHS reports networks of illicit criminal activity and smuggling of drugs, currency, people, and weapons across the northern border.

The report focuses on whether federal agencies are working together to secure the vast stretches of the border owned by the federal government.

The study points out critical gaps in security along the U.S.-Canadian border that limit the ability of Customs and Border Protection to fully secure the border—gaps including a lack of interoperable communications systems and limited sharing of intelligence and information between local and federal officials.
U.S. Customs head Alan Bersin told a US Senate Subcommittee earlier this month that even though the Canadian border sees far fewer arrests than the US/Mexican border, the Canadian border is considered a 'more significant threat' by Customs and DHS.

Although certainly not marred by the bloody narco-violence like Mexico, there are concerns that radical Islamists would attempt to enter the USA through Canada to carry out attacks. In December 1999, an Algerian national was arrested at Port Angeles, WA after entering the country from Victoria, BC when a search of his vehicle turned up plastic bags filled with explosives and some homemade timing devices.

MICHIGAN: Drug traffickers flying in private aircraft have taken to making their drops at small, rural and sometimes unstaffed airports along some border states.
The bust by federal agents didn't happen on the southwestern border. It was in Michigan's rural Thumb region next to a soybean field. The remote airport here in Sandusky offers a smooth runway at any hour to anyone who needs it, a perfect landing spot for brazen drug smugglers who can cross the Great Lakes from Canada in minutes.

Beefed-up enforcement along the Mexican border has made smuggling more challenging for criminal cartels using the major southern routes, but drugs continue to flow across the porous northern border through airstrips like this one as officials look for new ways to fight back.

Tracking rogue planes at low altitude with their transponders off is “like trying to pick a needle out of a haystack,” said John Beutlich of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, who oversees air and marine operations from Washington state to Maine.

“Shoot, we're just a big cherry to pick and didn't realize it,” said Joe Allen, manager of the Sandusky airport, 145 kilometres northeast of Detroit.

He installed a fence to keep cars from meeting planes at the runway, but the property is not staffed at night. Border agents could offer just two signs asking people to call an 800 number if they see something unusual.

Canada is a significant source of high-quality marijuana and the amphetamine Ecstasy. More than 2 million doses of Ecstasy were seized on the northern border in 2009 compared to just 312,000 in 2004, the Drug Enforcement Administration said, offering a snapshot of what's popular and what gets confiscated.

Most shipments come by road. But the 2009 flight from Ontario to Michigan, the subject of a recent federal trial, provided insight into drug operations that use small planes. Officials don't know how frequent such flights are but consider the vulnerability alarming.

Matthew Moody and nephew Jesse Rusenstrom, both from Amherstburg, Ontario, were the couriers captured that night in Sandusky. Their job was to enter the country through Detroit, meet the Canadian plane and deliver the drugs to others in the U.S. They also put 27 kilograms of cocaine worth more than $500,000 on the return flight to Guelph, Ontario.

Matthew Moody and nephew Jesse Rusenstrom, both from Amherstburg, Ontario, were the couriers captured that night in Sandusky. Their job was to enter the country through Detroit, meet the Canadian plane and deliver the drugs to others in the U.S. [In addition to the 79kg of pot and 400,000 ecstacy pills they had flown in and were apprehended with] they also put 27 kilograms of cocaine worth more than $500,000 on the return flight to Guelph, Ontario.

It was just one in a series of shipments. Mr. Rusenstrom said he met the drug plane at least 10 times at other tiny airports in the Thumb region — Marlette, Ray, Lapeer — as well as in Greenville in western Michigan and an airport in Pennsylvania. The pilot activated runway lights from the cockpit, a standard practice in aviation.

Mr. Rusenstrom, testifying at the trial of an accomplice, Robert “Romeo” D'Leone, said hundreds of airports were studied on Google Maps.

“We would go around looking for airports, seeing if there was fences or cameras,” the 21-year-old told jurors.

Mr. D'Leone, who lives in the Toronto area, stopped his trial and pleaded guilty on April 14. Mr. Rusenstrom and Mr. Moody co-operated, pleaded guilty and were recently sentenced to time served in custody. The U.S. still wants to extradite four others in Ontario who are accused of major roles, including the pilot.

Some jurors were alarmed by the revelations during the D'Leone trial.

“You always hear Homeland Security has an eye on everything. It's surprising that airfields aren't manned 24 hours,” Robert Simpson, 47, told The Associated Press.

The Sandusky airport has spent $2,000 on cameras and hopes to install more.
“We're outside radar,” Mr. Allen, the manager, said, running his finger over a map of Michigan's Thumb. “You can come and go as you please. You don't even have to file a flight plan.”

The minimal help he received from border authorities — warning signs — had to be fixed before he posted them: They referred to suspicious boats, not planes.
[What is it with Homeland Security and thinking signs are the answer!?- NANESB!]

NEW YORK: Another locale popular with smugglers and organized crime on both sides of the border is the Akwesasne Indian Reservation just outside of , which straddles the borders between New York State, Quebec and Ontario along the St Lawrence River.

The area's unique geography and patchwork of jurisdictions on both sides of the border has had the attention of smugglers and bootleggers since Prohibition. In more recent years, local residents will either run contraband across the border themselves- either in snowmobiles during wintertime or motorboats when the St Lawrence is navigable- or charge landing fees to smugglers for using their property.

Illegal immigrants, hydroponic marijuana and Ecstasy are usually smuggled into the USA from the Canadian side while illegal firearms, cocaine and untaxed tobacco or alcohol make their way north. Some estimates say that 20% of Canadian grown marijuana smuggled into the USA moves through the Akwesasne/St Regis reservation.

While there are some cigarette factories on the US side of the reservation, the sale of tax free cigarettes on reservation stores has caught the attention of groups like the 'Ndrangheta, Hells Angels and Bulgarian Mafia who will often purchase cigarettes in bulk then turn around and sell the untaxed cigarettes in high tax municipalities like New York City, Montreal or Toronto.

Terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and the Real IRA have also raised funds through trafficking untaxed cigarettes in the last decade.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Not Another New England Sports Blog! Wishes You a Happy Memorial Day Weekend

(Steve Breen- San Diego Union-Tribune)
Just wanted to take this opportunity to wish everybody a good and safe Memorial Day weekend from Not Another New England Sports Blog!

Some of the more astute observers of this blog might recognize the above image as the same one I had up for Memorial Day weekend last year. Although I'll cop to being a fairly lazy individual, it wasn't laziness that prompted me to post the same image for a 2nd year in a row. I thought it was a well done piece by editorial cartoonist Steve Breen of the San Diego Union-Tribune and I figured I'd like to share it with some of the newer visitors to this blog who may not have had a chance to see it before.

If you're a veteran such as myself or just a big supporter of the troops in general, I thought I'd leave you with a couple of links to some veterans and supports organizations for your perusal.

Wounded Warrior Project

Operation Homefront

Home Base Program

Semper Fi Fund

SUDS- Soldiers Undertaking Disabled Scuba

Project Healing Waters

Today's Train of Though- Mr Sandman; May 29, 2011

Today's train of thought comes to us from the capital of the Bluegrass State [which is NOT Louisville as some people might think- NANESB!] and features a stretch of track that's seemingly seen it all over the past decade.

Since acquiring the former Louisville & Nashville Old Road subdivision from CSX in 2003, RJ Corman's 115 mile Central Kentucky lines have played host to an operational Chinese class QJ steam locomotive, Genset locomotives from RJ Corman's Railpower subsidiary and special VIP passenger trains to and from the Kentucky Derby.

Aside from the meanderings of a new genset, Chinese made steam engine or a VIP-packed Derby special, the line plays hosts to freight trains laden with limestone, corn syrup, alcohol, plastic, limestone, peanuts and fertilizer. This is on top of dedicated unit trains of aluminum ingots (made from recycled beer cans, according to the RJ Corman homepage) and sand. The sand is dredged from the Ohio River near Louisville and separated by grade before making the 80+ mile trek to Lexington, KY on the Old Road subdivision. From there, it's used locally in the construction of cement and asphalt.

Here, railpictures.net contributor Mike Mautner caught a pair of SD40T-2s RJ Corman's sharp red and silver paint scheme in charge of a loaded sand train. Here, RJCC SD40T-2 #5361 is on the point as it trundles down the middle of West Broadway St in Frankfort, KY with a loaded eastbound sand train on May 5, 2009.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Sports Chowdah W/a Shot of 7 And 7: BRUINS WIN GAME 7, ADVANCE TO STANLEY CUP FINAL FOR FIRST TIME IN 21 YEARS; Oh Yea- The Red Sox Played Today, Too

Prince of Wales Trophy Presentation- Boston Bruins Photo
NHL: WOW! Remember when Game 7s DIDN'T live up to the hype? Didn't seem that long ago, did it?

This was such a hard series to call, with the B's shutting out the Lightning one game and allowing five unanswered goals in the next. As much as I wanted to be an insufferable douchenozzle and boldly predict a Boston win, I was genuinely uncertain about the possible outcome of the series. Both teams had eerily similar circumstances heading into the Eastern conference finals as well; finishing the regular season with 103 points, playing 7 games in the first round and then sweeping their next opponent in 4.

Credit where credit is due, Philly blogger Wyatt Earp totally called it earlier this week in the comments section. I was in denial due to Boston's fairly recent (and painful) history of Game 7 choke-itude that looked set to repeat itself as the Tampa Bay Lightning held off the Bruins to win by a 5-4 final and force a decisive Game 7 at the Garden in Boston on Friday night.

With that said, Game 7 got underway at the Garden on Friday night with the Vancouver Canucks awaiting the winner.

It seemed as though the Bruins had been peppering Lightning netminder Dwayne Roloson with shots on goal almost immediately. In fact, Roloson turned aside all 29 shots he faced in the first two periods while Tim Thomas stopped 17 shots on goal in the same timeframe to make it a scoreless game in the 3rd. After the way the first two periods had gone, it was hard to believe after the Bruins gave away a 3-0 lead in Game 4, but one was left with the feeling that whoever scored first would win Game 7.

Enter Nathan Horton, who tallied the series-winning goal in overtime of Game 7 against the Montreal Canadiens. And thanks to some superb defense and Tim Thomas between the pipes, Horton's tally would be the only goal of the evening. Thomas stopped all 24 shots he faced on Friday night while Roloson very much kept the Lightning in the contest, turning aside 37 of 38 shots faced.

Total penalty minutes in Game 7? Zero.

The shutout is Tim Thomas' second of the series (and third career postseason shutout) while Nathan Horton's game-winner was his 8th goal of the 2011 playoffs.

The Eastern Conference champions will next take on the Vancouver Canucks for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, BC at 8PM ET, 5PM PT on Wednesday, June 1st. The game will be broadcast on NBC.

MLB: After scoring 14 runs in back to back games (a 14-2 win to close out the series in Cleveland and a 14-1 thrashing of the Tigers to start the 4-game series at Detroit's Comerica Park), the Red Sox were held to a mere 6 runs on Friday night, with Boston getting on the board thanks to Jacoby Ellsbury coming home on a wild pitch from Tigers starter Rick Porcello in the 1st. Although Detroit would get out to a 2-1 lead, Boston would take the lead right back thanks to a huge 3rd inning that saw a solo homer from Ellsbury, a Kevin Youkilis 2-RBI double and a 2-run homer from Carl Crawford.

Venerable knuckleballer Tim Wakefield got the start for Boston and went 7 full innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits. Papelbon would give up a leadoff single to Victor Martinez in the bottom of the 9th followed by an RBI double off the bat of Jhonny Peralta, but would get the next 3 outs to close out the 6-3 Boston win.

Clay Buchholz (4-3; 3.30 ERA) will get the start for Saturday night's game while the Tigers have called up pitching prospect Andy Oliver (4-3; 3.31 ERA with the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens this season) after starter Phil Coke went on the DL with an ankle injury earlier this week.

Granted it's not even Memorial Day, but the Red Sox have made their way into first place in the AL East with Friday night's win, one game ahead of the Yankees and a game and a half up on the Rays. Not bad after that horrendous 0-6 start that had Red Sox haters and fans alike getting ready to bury the 2011 Red Sox.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Key Jewish Donors, Unions Keeping Money on Sidelines During Obama's 2012 Bid?

I have to say that it takes a very special kind of incompetence to quash your own 'I had Osama Bin Laden killed' bounce in the polls after all of 3 weeks.

A pivotal donor for the Democrat party who's previous donations include the financing of the DNC's Washington DC's headquarters has hinted that he will be sitting on the sidelines for President Obama's 2012 re-election campaign.
Billionaire financier Haim Saban told CNBC last night that Obama hasn’t done enough to show support for Israel. He also said that he has no plans to contribute to the president’s campaign.

“President Obama has raised so much money and will raise so much money through the Internet, more than anybody before him. And he frankly doesn’t, I believe, need any of my donations,” said Saban.

“I’m very perplexed as to why the president, who’s been to Cairo, to Saudi Arabia, to Turkey, has not made a stop in Israel and spoken to the Israeli people,” he continued. “I believe that the president can clarify to the Israeli people what his positions are on Israel and calm them down. Because they are not calm right now.”

There have been reports that Obama is losing Jewish support after his clash with Prime Minister Netanyahu last week, but this development is the most significant so far. If a key donor like Saban has decided to break with the president, then there are likely others who will follow suit.

Steve Rosen, director of the Washington office of the Middle East Forum, and a former AIPAC official, said that this is part of a trend of Democrats rejecting Obama’s policy toward Israel.

“It’s not happening in isolation. It’s happening in a context in which Harry Reid broke with the president in the last two days,” Rosen told me. “I think that Saban is another step in that direction.”
And here I am with my world's smallest violin in the shop for it's 25,000 sad sad song tune-up.

And wouldn't you know it- it's a union shop!
Some of the nation’s largest labor unions are cutting back dramatically on their financial support to the Democratic Party, saying they are highly frustrated with the failure of Democrats to put up stronger resistance to Republican proposals opposed by labor.

The unions have cited what they see as Democrats’ tepid response to Republican efforts to eliminate collective bargaining rights for public sector workers, cut Medicare funding and require voters to show identification at the polls.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

More Tornadoes, Deadly Storms Continue to Hammer Midwest

NOAA Map Showing Tracks of Tornadoes Across Oklahoma earlier this week
Just days after a massive F5 tornado ripped through downtown Joplin, MO at least a half dozen tornadoes carved a swath of destruction throughout northern and central Oklahoma.

While not as severe or deadly as Sunday's Joplin F5 twister or the outbreak of storms that hit the South last month, at least 10 people were killed making it the deadliest in the state since an F5 struck suburban Oklahoma City in May 1999, killing 50.

Side by side satellite images of Joplin, MO before and after F5 tornado- AP
There were concerns that a storm system moving through the area could spawn additional tornadoes as rescuers were still searching wreckage throughout Newton County, but as of Thursday night, there were no additional tornadoes reported in the area.

However, rescue workers are still searching for at least 232 people still unaccounted for since Sunday's disaster and the death toll had been revised up to 125. Nearly half of the missing are said to be seniors.

For those interested in making any kind of donation towards disaster relief in Southwestern Missouri, more information can be found at the Heart of Missouri United Way, Ozark Food Harvest or Convoy of Hope. The Springfield, MO News-Leader also has a directory of regional and national relief organizations listed on their website.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Faustian Cuppa Chowdah, May 24th 2010: Sox Get Some 'Tek Support in Cleveland; Lightning Rod- Thomas Gives Up Early Goal, Shuts Out TB for 58 Min.

NHL: Just when you think you might have things figured out, guess again!

Unable to hold onto a pretty commanding 3-0 lead over the weekend, the Bruins went down 1-0 early against the Lightning on Monday night. Simon Gagne would get one past Tim Thomas just 1 minute and 9 seconds into the first to give Tampa the early lead. But unlike Saturday, that would be it.

Playing to a full house that included the C's Rajon Rondo and Pats head coach Bill Belichick, the Bruins would rally in the second, pulling even on Nathan Horton's even strength goal four and a half minutes into the period and taking the lead on a Brad Marchand tally around the 16 minute mark.

Tampa would furiously try and get one past Thomas in the 3rd to get the equalizer, but Thomas managed to turn aside all of them, even when starter Mike Smith was pulled for the extra attacker late in the 3rd. Rich Peverly would give the B's the breathing room they needed with all of 13 seconds remaining in regulation after scoring an empty-netter.

Dwayne Roloson did not get the start in net Monday- Lighting head coach Guy Boucher went with Mike Smith between the pipes. Over the weekend, Smith did not allow a goal after Roloson had given up three in the 1st period. However, on Monday Smith allowed two goals on 19 shots while Tim Thomas turned aside all but one of the 34 shots he faced.

The Bruins win Monday night by a 3-1 final and lead the series 3 games to 2. The Eastern Conference finals shifts back to Florida for Wednesday night, with a 8PM ET puck drop- the game will be televised on VS and the CBC.

WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS: The Bruins or Lightning now know who they'll be going up against once the Eastern Conference finals are wrapped up.

It might've taken double OT on Tuesday night to secure the series win against the San Jose Sharks, but the Vancouver Canucks needed all of five games to advance to the Stanley Cup finals after winning the Western Conference finals 3 games to 1.

Kevin Bieksa scored a wobbly knuckler 10 minutes into the second OT in Vancouver Tuesday night to send the Canucks to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 1994.

ELSEWHERE IN THE NHL: The Hennepin County Medical examiner's office released a report that NY Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard died from an accidental mix of alcohol and the painkiller oxycodone. Boogaard was a few months shy of his 29th birthday at the time of his May 13th death and had his season ended b a concussion earlier this year.

MLB: After getting 7 and ⅓ innings from Clay Buccholz Monday night, the Red Sox bullpen could not manage to hold onto a 2-1 lead, giving up 2 runs in the bottom of the 8th. Although JD Drew and Jed Lowrie would get 1-out singles in the top of the 9th, the game ended when OF Carl Crawford grounded into a double-play.

Tuesday night featured a matchup between Josh Beckett and Fausto Carmona that was a little more reminiscent of the 2007 ALCS.

Although the Tribe would get on the board first with an RBI single from OF Ezequiel Carrera in the bottom of the 2nd, the Red Sox would take the lead in the top of the 3rd and then add to it in the top of the 7th after Big Papi led off the inning with a double and Jason Varitek hit a 1-out homer to right field to make it 4-1.

Cleveland would get a run back in the bottom of the 9th thanks to a 1-out Travis Buck solo homer off of Papelbon. 1B Matt LaPorta belted another Papelbon offering pretty deep to left, but that ended up being out #3 and the Red Sox hang on to win by a final of 4-2.

Tomorrow's day game will wrap up the 3-game series before the Sox move on to Detroit. Jon Lester (6-1; 3.68 ERA) will get the start against Mitch Talbot (1-0; 1.46 ERA). The game gets under way from Jacobs Field (I consider 'Progressive' a slur) at 12:05 PM ET.

Today's Train of Thought- Meanwhile in Valley City; May 24, 2010

Today's train of thought brings us to an impressive span in a state that is synonymous with 'flat'. About 60 miles west of Fargo, the town of Valley City, ND also goes by the moniker 'city of bridges'.

In addition to the smaller vehicle and footbridges closer to the town center that span the winding Sheyenne River, there's the soaring former Northern Pacific Hi-Line bridge north of town. The 103 year old structure is more than 3800 feet long and 162 feet high and was built by the Northern Pacific to bypass the steep grades in and out of the valley on it's Twin Cities-Seattle mainline. In the course of traversing the valley, the bridge (now BNSF's) crosses a county highway, the Sheyenne River and the Carrington Subdivision on Canadian Pacific's former Soo Line route between the Twin Cities and the Canadian border at Portal, ND.

Above, railpictures.net contributor Bryant Kaden caught BNSF SD40-2 #6885 leading an eastbound Jamestown, ND to Fargo, ND local freight as the 2nd generation EMD locomotives come off the eastern end of the trestle on June 10, 2010. The CP Rail's Carrington Subdivision is just visible in the bottom left of the image.

As a bonus, railpictures.net contributor Jerimiah Rindahl caught the same train at the same time from a slightly different location, offering an even more panoramic view of the surrounding countryside.

I'll let you compare and contrast the two images and see which one you find more appealing.

US Supreme Court Orders California to Release up to 38,0000 Convicts From State Prisons

The United States Supreme Court ordered that the state of California must release anywhere from 38,000 to 46,000 inmates in a 5-4 decision on Monday.
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ordered California on Monday to release tens of thousands of its prisoners to relieve overcrowding, saying that "needless suffering and death" had resulted from putting too many inmates into facilities that cannot hold them in decent conditions.

It is one of the largest prison release orders in the nation's history, and it sharply split the high court.

Justices upheld an order from a three-judge panel in California that called for releasing 38,000 to 46,000 prisoners. Since then, the state has transferred about 9,000 state inmates to county jails. As a result, the total prison population is now about 32,000 more than the capacity limit set by the panel.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, speaking for the majority, said California's prisons had "fallen short of minimum constitutional requirements" because of overcrowding. As many as 200 prisoners may live in gymnasium, he said, and as many as 54 prisoners share a single toilet.

Kennedy insisted that the state had no choice but to release more prisoners. The justices, however, agreed that California officials should be given more time to make the needed reductions.

In dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia called the ruling "staggering" and "absurd."

He said the high court had repeatedly overruled the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for ordering the release of individual prisoners. Now, he said, the majority were ordering the release of "46,000 happy-go-lucky felons." He added that "terrible things are sure to happen as a consequence of this outrageous order." Justice Clarence Thomas agreed with him.

In a separate dissent, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said the ruling conflicted with a federal law intended to limit the power of federal judges to order a release of prisoners.
I'm sorry- I was just thinking that if some of these convicts that the court is so willing to spring should have to bunk at Justice Sotomayor or Kagan's place, then some of the Supremes probably wouldn't be as eager to let them walk.

Even if I was to assume that all 38,000+ inmates wanted to go on the striaght and narrow, there's still the fact that they're being released into a state with 12% unemployment and an already scarce job market, which would mean that it would only be a matter of time before the newly-released cons would turn back to whatever criminal enterprise landed them in the clink to begin with. Couple that with budget and personnel cuts in police departments throughout California and you are almost begging for something bad to happen.....often.

As far back as 2009, Michigan's then-Gov Granholm had proposed in a letter to California's then-Gov. Schwarzenegger that California inmates could be housed in two Michigan prisons that were slated for closure that year. Although the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania would take Granholm up on a similar offer, the deal with California ultimately fell through.

In advance of the Supreme Court Ruling, Gov. Brown had proposed transferring some 40,000 'low level' offenders to local or county jails as part an effort to meet an estimated $9.6 budget shortfall. [I can almost garuntee that most state and local politicians will stand firm on refusing to allow law-abiding Californians to obtain conceal-carry permits- NANESB!]

Exit question- what are the odds some Democrat-allied 'community organizers' are going to attempt to register as many of the newly released convicts to vote as possible?

116 Killed as Massive Tornado Strikes Southwestern Missouri

UPDATE 5/24: A badly injured 8 year old boy was pulled alive from wreckage by rescue workers nearly two days after the massive tornado ripped through the area.

However, as many as 1500 people in and around Joplin are still unaccounted for.

At least 116 people were killed and an unknown number injured Sunday evening when a massive tornado tore through the southwestern Missouri city of Joplin. Missouri governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard in the aftermath of the tornado.

The tornado touched down at about 5:30 PM CT on Sunday and made its way east through the city, narrowly missing downtown Joplin but heavily damaging St. John's Regional Medical Center and destroying many houses and businesses on the south side of Joplin as well (St. John's had to be evacuated an hour and a half later).
It was the deadliest single twister in the U.S. in nearly 60 years and the second major tornado disaster in less than a month.

Authorities feared the toll could rise as the full scope of the destruction comes into view: house after house reduced to slabs, cars crushed like soda cans, shaken residents roaming streets in search of missing family members. And the danger was by no means over. Fires from gas leaks burned across town, and more violent weather loomed, including the threat of hail, high winds and even more tornadoes.

At daybreak, the city's south side emerged from darkness as a barren, smoky wasteland.

"I've never seen such devastation -- just block upon block upon block of homes just completely gone," said former state legislator Gary Burton who showed up to help at a volunteer center at Missouri Southern State University.

Some of the most startling damage was at St. John's Regional Medical Center, where staff had only moments to hustle their patients into the hallway. Six people died there, five of them patients, plus one visitor.

The storm blew out hundreds of windows and caused damage so extensive that doctors had to abandon the hospital soon after the twister passed. A crumpled helicopter lay on its side in the parking lot near a single twisted mass of metal that used to be cars.

Dr. Jim Riscoe said some members of his emergency room staff showed up after the tornado with injuries of their own, but they worked through the night anyway.

"I spent most of my life at that hospital," Riscoe said at a triage center at Joplin's Memorial Hall entertainment venue. "It's awful. I had two pregnant nurses who dove under gurneys ... It's a testimony to the human spirit."

While many residents had up to 17 minutes of warning, rain and hail may have drowned out the sirens.

As rescuers toiled in the debris, a strong thunderstorm lashed the crippled city. Rescue crews had to move gingerly around downed power lines and jagged chunks of debris as they hunted for victims and hoped for survivors. Fires, gas fumes and unstable buildings posed constant threats.

Teams of searchers fanned out in waves across several square miles (kilometers). The groups went door to door, making quick checks of property that in many places had been stripped to their foundations or had walls collapse.

National Weather Service Director Jack Hayes said the storm was given a preliminary label as an EF4 -- the second-highest rating assigned to twisters based on the damage they cause.
Unlike last months deadly outbreak of tornadoes in the South, the devastation in Joplin was wrought by a single, massive tornado thought the be at least a three quarters of a mile wide according to some witnesses.

Unfortunately, many officials are expecting the death toll to rise as rescuers in the area will have to deal with more storms throughout the week as forecasters are warning of more severe weather in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

Once a key zinc mining center, Joplin currently is a transportation crossroads with the Kansas City Southern, BNSF and Rail America's Missouri & North Arkansas each serving the city of 50,000 via railroad. For much of the 20th Century, the famed Route 66 passed through Joplin on its way between Chicago and California. Presently, I-44 passes through the city between St. Louis and Tulsa (and onto Oklahoma City and Texas) while US 71, which runs north-south through Joplin on its way between the Ozarks and Kansas City is close to being brought up to interstate standards.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Post Armegeddon Sports Chowdah Update- Cubs Wrap Up 1st Visit to Fenway in 93 Years With Rude A-Wake-ening; Light Strikes Fast, Often

MLB: Doomsday predictions come and go, but the Chicago Cubs coming to Fenway Park? That's a once-in-a-century event!

On Friday night, Game 1 handily went to the Red Sox by a 15-5 final. Saturday was the Cubs turn to bat around, putting up 8 unanswered runs in the top of the 8th in their 8-3 win. Armegeddon notwithstanding, that left Sunday night (complete with a pregame ceremony honoring New England servicemen and women) as the rubber game.

The venerable Tim Wakefield got the start and went 6 and ⅔ strong innings, allowing one run on just four hits while getting run support in the form of a pair of sacrafice flies in the bottom of the 4th and a solo homer by Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the bottom of the 5th, all off of Cubs starter James Russell. The Red Sox would then get some insurance in the form of a 2-out, 2-RBI Kevin Youkilis triple that plated Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez in the bootom of the 7th. Papelbon would close out the Red Sox 5-1 win in the top of the 9th and the Red Sox win the first meeting between the two clubs since 2005 (and 1st at Fenway since the 1918 World Series).

The Red Sox will next travel to Jacobs Field on Monday to take on AL-Central leading Cleveland Indians where Clay Buchholz (4-3; 3.42 ERA) will get the start against the Tribe's Justin Masterson (5-2; 2.52 ERA). The game will be televised on ESPN2 with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 ET.

NHL: Two days after shutting out the Tampa Bay Lightning on the road, the Boston Bruins found themselves out to an early 3-0 lead but unable to hold off a frenetic Tampa Bay rally.

Patrice Bergeron would get two goals (one unassisted, one shorthanded) in the first along with a Micheal Ryder tally to get out to a 3-0 lead at the end of the first period (Dwayne Roloson was yanked for Mike Smith between the pipes for Tampa) but that would be it as the Lightning got on the board with a pair of Teddy Purcell goals a little over a minute apart about 7 minutes into the 2nd. Sean Bergenheim would get the game-tying goal just before the 11 minute mark and the 3rd period would close out tied at 3-3.

The Lightning would then take the lead in the 3rd on a Simon Gagne goal, also about 7 minutes in. The game would then be iced for Tampa on a Martin St Louis empty-netter to make it a 5-3 final for the Lightning.

The series heads back to Boston with things knotted up at 2-2. The puck will drop at 8:00 ET and the game will be televised on VS and the CBC

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Borderline Psychosis Complete W/ Alligator Filled Moats- Ranch Hands Massacred in Guatemala; Gulf Cartel Underboss Arrested; Cartel's AZ 'Expressway'

TEXAS: I find it noteworthy that while President Obama was telling us on how secure America's southern borders are between one-liners during a campaign stop in El Paso earlier this month, the brass casings were still hot from a bloody shootout between the Mexican Marines and drug traffickers in which 13 were killed (most of them suspected Zetas) on an island in a lake straddling the USA/Mexico border.
The Mexican naval secretariat confirmed the shootout at a Zeta encampment on an island on the reservoir used by the Zetas to stage marijuana loads to be transported by boat into the United States. The island is located less than two miles northeast of Nueva Ciudad Guerrero, Tamps., across the border from Falcon Dam.

The bloody fight ensued on Mother’s Day when marines were patrolling the area in boats when they found the camp, officials said in a statement released Monday.

Upon seeing the marines, Zeta gunmen opened fire. A dozen cartel members were killed in the battle. One marine died, as well.

Officials noted no arrests after the shootout, but said they seized 19 firearms, including a Barrett .50-caliber sniper rifle and a 5.56 mm machine gun. Marines also seized gun magazines, ammunition, protective vests and other field equipment that was transferred to Reynosa.

Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez said he learned of the deadly shootout when member of the local media contacted him late Monday morning. Had Mexican officials alerted their U.S. counterparts to the shootout, Gonzalez’s deputies would have been able “to react accordingly,”

The shootout capped a busy week along the northern Tamaulipas border for Mexican marines, who killed two suspected cartel gunmen Saturday afternoon in Valle Hermoso, about 25 miles south of Brownsville. Marines also seized weapons and a vehicle Thursday in Matamoros, and rescued a kidnap victim Wednesday in Camargo, across the border from Rio Grande City.
ELSEWHERE IN TEXAS: Border Patrol agents in rural Starr County found nearly 3000 pounds of marijuana in a van with Dish Network markings that they stopped and searched.
U.S. Border Patrol agents reported tha the seizure happened in the rural Starr County community of La Casita on Wednesday, April 20th.

Court records were not immediately available but Border Patrol agents reportedly spotted a Dish Network van exiting a brushy area near the Rio Grande River.

Working on a tip that are drug smugglers are now using counterfeit vehicles from well-known companies as a cover, Border Patrol stopped the van.

Border Patrol agents reported immediately noticing a strong odor of marijuana.

Investigators looked inside and found 100 bundles with close to 3,000 pounds of marijuana worth $2.3 million dollars inside.
Vehicles with counterfeit commercial markings have become increasingly popular with smugglers over the past few years, leading to the occasional moments of hilarity such as this:
In another case, a truck painted with DirecTV and other markings was pulled over in a routine traffic stop in Mississippi and discovered to be carrying 786 pounds of cocaine.

Police said they became suspicious because the truck carried the markings of DirecTV and several of its rivals. An 800 number on the truck's rear to report bad driving referred callers to an adult sex chat line.
Of course, there are concerns that more competently 'cloned' vehicles with EMS, fire or law enforcement markings could be used by smugglers to evade scrutiny from police and the Border Patrol or terrorists to gain access to otherwise secure areas.

CALIFORNIA: A former US Intelligence agent told An ABC affiliate in San Diego that the Shi'a Muslim terrorist group Hezbollah is setting up shop across the border in Mexico.
The former agent, referring to Shi'a Muslim terrorist group Hezbollah, added, "They certainly have had successes in big-ticket bombings."

Some of the group's bombings include the U.S. embassy in Beirut and Israeli embassy in Argentina.

However, the group is now active much closer to San Diego.

"We are looking at 15 or 20 years that Hezbollah has been setting up shop in Mexico," the agent told 10News.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, U.S. policy has focused on al-Qaida and its offshoots.

"They are more shooters than thinkers … it's a lot of muscles, courage, desire but not a lot of training," the agent said, referring to al-Qaida.

Hezbollah, he said, is far more advanced.

"Their operators are far more skilled … they are the equals of Russians, Chinese or Cubans," he said. "I consider Hezbollah much more dangerous in that sense because of strategic thinking; they think more long-term."

Hezbolah has operated in South America for decades and then Central America, along with their sometime rival, sometime ally Hamas.

Now, the group is blending into Shi'a Muslim communities in Mexico, including Tijuana. Other pockets along the U.S.-Mexico border region remain largely unidentified as U.S. intelligence agencies are focused on the drug trade.

"They have had clandestine training in how to live in foreign hostile territories," the agent said.

The agent, who has spent years deep undercover in Mexico, said Hezbollah is partnering with drug organizations, but which ones is not clear at this time.

He told 10News the group receives cartel cash and protection in exchange for Hezbollah expertise.

"From money laundering to firearms training and explosives training," the agent said.

For example, he tracked, along with Mexican intelligence, two Hezbollah operatives in safe houses in Tijuana and Durango.
Hezbollah has already established a presence in the tri-border region of South America, where the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay converge around Iguazu Falls. Mexico has also been home to a number of Lebanese migrants for the past century- some of whom have alerted Mexican and American intelligence to the possibility of Hezbollah operating in Mexico.

In recent years, the DEA has claimed that Hezbollah has utilized the same network of drug traffickers, gun runners and document forgers that the Mexican cartels use.

ARIZONA: An 18-month investigation by the DEA, Arizona Department of Public Safety and Tribal Police has resulted in 25 arrests and highlighting the scope of the Sinaloa cartel's operations along the Mexican border in Arizona's Tohono O'Odham Indian Reservation southwest of Tuscon.

The vast Sonoran desert is the expressway for drug smugglers to get their goods into the U.S.

DEA agent, Todd Scott says, "You've got a clear line of sight all the way here to the roads that they coordinate with smuggling loads on. Continue that way a little further that way and you've got Mexico."

Scott stood on a spot known as a spider hole. It's on the Tohono O'odham Nation where you can easily see 10 miles out on a clear day, "It allows you to observe law enforcement whether it's border patrol or TOPD , DEA anybody operating in this area from this position," says Scott.

This is where Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel hides surveillance teams. People live there 30 to 60 days at a time.

Scott says they act as air traffic controllers, "The smuggling loads come across in either human mule trains or vehicles and the scouts here use night vision goggles or binoculars coordinate those movements of those loads with the radios."

AP Photo/ Matt York
ELSEWHERE IN ARIZONA- *GILA BEND*: Two Border Patrol agents were killed in Gila Bend earlier this month when their vehicle collided with a Union Pacific freight train while pursuing suspected drug traffickers.
Early Thursday, U.S. Border Patrol agents Edward Rojas Jr. and Hector Clark were stationed near Gila Bend, on assignment with a task force, when they got a call about marijuana smugglers moving toward Interstate 8.

Even veteran officers talk about the adrenaline rush that comes with such a call, which causes a sort of tunnel vision. Rojas and Clark sped west on a frontage road parallel to railroad tracks, slightly ahead of a freight train going in the same direction at over 60 mph.

The conductor and engineer would later tell investigators that they sounded the locomotive whistle several times. Suddenly, the agents' vehicle turned left onto a private rail crossing, immediately in front of the 4,600-ton train.
Agents Clark and Rojas were the first Border Patrol agents killed in the line of duty since the December 2010 shooting of Brian Terry outside of Nogales, AZ. After the wreck, deputies from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office recovered 300 pounds of marijuana and detained eight suspects a few hundred yards from the crash site.

*PHOENIX*: The DEA is refusing to turn over a cache of semiautomatic rifles seized in a raid earlier this month to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms when a routine check on some of the weapons revealed that they were obtained under the ATF's watch as part of Operation Fast & Furious.
The federal drug agents discovered the AK-47-type assault rifles wrapped in cellophane and hidden inside two giant trash barrels. Agents believe the confiscated weapons were heading to drug cartels in Mexico. Problem is, a serial number on at least one of the weapons traces back to the ATF.
The DEA arrests took place on April 13 and the DEA has expressed an interest in keeping the seized weapons as evidence in their own case and separate from the now infamous Fast and Furious investigation.

Agencia Guatemalteca Noticias Photo
GUATEMALA: At least 27 people were massacred at a ranch in the restive northern Peten province along the borders with Mexico and Belize last weekend.
The massacre, which stretched from Saturday into Sunday, took place on a coconut farm in the lawless region of Peten province, a porous region on the Mexican border known as a gateway for drug trafficking.

It was one of the worst mass killings since the end of Guatemala's 36-year civil war in 1996, authorities said.

Police were investigating a link between the ranch killings and the murder of Haroldo Leon, the brother of one of Guatemala's biggest drug kingpins, Juan Jose "Juancho" Leon, who was killed in 2008.

Local reports said the ranch belonged to Haroldo Leon, who was gunned down with three of his body guards in another part of Peten early Saturday.

Hours later, heavily armed members of Mexico's Los Zetas drug gang raided the ranch, tying up their victims before killing them and then writing in blood threatening messages on the walls of the house, cops said.

One of the messages read, "Salguero, we're coming for you." Police did not say who Salguero was.

Police said that the victims - including two women and children - worked at the farm.

Late Sunday, authorities said they found one survivor of the massacre, who had pretended to be dead. Cops didn't release any other details about the survivor.
Authorities in Guatemala arrested a former member of the Kaibiles, a special operations unit of the Guatemalan Army, in neighboring Alta Verapaz province after coming across information left behind in a recently abandoned Zetas encampment in the same province where the ranch massacre took place. Hugo Gomez Vazquez was arraigned in court and charged with obstruction of justice, kidnapping, extortion and accesory to murder. The prosecution presented a recording of a telephone conversation where Vazquez was apparently negotiating a ransom after the abduction of a relative of the ranch's owner who was later killed and decapitated prior to last weekend's massacre.

Three other Guatemalan nationals suspected of involvement in the massacre were arrested in the city of Quetzalenango on Saturday.

Investigators are also looking into ties between the owner of the ranch, Otto Salguiero, and Mexico's Gulf Cartel. Peten's location along the porous borders with Mexico and Belieze make it an attractive venue for smugglers. Guatemala's president declared a state of siege in nearby Alta Verapaz province in late 2010 after the Zetas began infiltrating the region and setting up staging areas and clandestine airstrips.

AP Photo, Marco Ugarte
TAMAULIPAS: Mexican federal police arrested a leading member of the Gulf cartel after raiding his birthday party at a ranch in Reynosa, Tamaulipas.
Gilberto Barragan Balderas "is considered one of the main leaders of the Gulf Cartel" and is the subject of a $5 million reward by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, said Ramon Pequeno, head of anti-drug operations for the federal police.

Barragan Balderas was allegedly in charge of the cartel's operations in Miguel Aleman, across the border from Roma, Texas. Police captured him at a party at a ranch near another border city, Reynosa, which is across from McAllen, Texas.

Police said the party was apparently in honor of Barragan Balderas' May 19 birthday. Two alleged associates were also arrested in the raid, which also netted an assault rifle and three pistols.
According to the DEA, Balderas' duties included obtaining advanced information regarding military and state police patrols and mobile checkpoints in order to protect drug shipments for both the Zetas and the Gulf cartel prior to the organizations violent 2010 split. Since then, he was supposedly tasked with defending the territory from any Zetas incursion.

The fact that the DEA has a US$5 million reward out for Balderas is a pretty good indicator that he wasn't exactly a small fry in the Gulf organization.

ELSEWHERE IN MEXICO: Not surprisingly, human trafficking continues to be a lucrative side business for many of the drug cartels.
Smuggling in decades past was the business of small independent operators who helped migrants cross once they reached the U.S. border. But evading U.S. authorities has become much more difficult with increased border enforcement in recent years. At the same time, Mexico's migrant routes have become much more dangerous, controlled by drug gangs that see new moneymaking opportunities in kidnapping and extorting those who cross their territory.

The harder the trip, the higher the price. Guatemalan officials, who estimate 300 to 500 undocumented nationals cross the border each day into Mexico, say those migrants are paying double what they did two years ago, as much as $10,000 for the hope of gaining work in the United States.

Unlike those running drugs, guns or other contraband, people smugglers lose virtually no upfront costs when migrants are intercepted by authorities or escape.

In the case of Mexico's southern border, no one can say exactly who the organized smuggling groups are. Some say that large transport rings operate separately from Mexico's brutal drug gangs, such as the Zetas or the Gulf Cartel, who stick to kidnapping and extortion.

Some say they are all in collusion, including authorities. Both local police and federal immigration agents have been arrested in recent raids on kidnapping operations in Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, Texas.

"It's clear that they're immigration agents, federal police, Zetas, maras, the whole gamut, along with local crime groups," said the Rev. Alejandro Solalinde, a Catholic priest who runs a migrant shelter in Oaxaca. "Those who make money off migrants are all part of the same mafia."
Added to all this is the fact that organizations like the Zetas or Gulf cartel will target the migrants transiting through territory controlled by them and extort them, hold them for ransom or press them into service as drug mules.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Happy Armed Forces Day from Not Another New England Sports Blog!

Just a quick reminder that today is in fact Armed Forces Day here in the USA. And as demonstrated in Abbotabad earlier this month, they are pretty awesome- aren't they?

Friday, May 20, 2011

TGIF Quickie Sports Chowdah Update- Tiger By the Tail, Sox Sweep 2-Game Series, Await Cubs; Thomas Shuts Out Lightning

Last night was one of those nights where I consider myself fortunate to be a Boston fan, where I had to choose between the Bruins in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals or the Beckett-Verlander matchup at Fenway. For those of you wondering, I ended up flipping between both.

NHL: After scoring 10 goals in the last 2 games, it only seemed like a matter of time before the Tampa Bay Lightning would manage to find their way to the back of the net during Thursday night's Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. However, this would be a little different as it was Boston's turn to score first, getting out to the early 1-0 lead on a David Krejci goal one minute and 10 seconds into the 1st period.

And surprisingly, that was all the scoring that would take place in Thursday night's game up until Andrew Ference gave the B's some insurance at about the 8 minute mark of the 3rd period to make it a 2-0 game.

That would be the final as Tim Thomas stopped all 31 shots he faced from the Lightning. Dwayne Roloson stopped 23 of 2 in the losing effort on Thursday.

Patrice Bergeron returned to the lineup, getting just under 20 minutes of playing time on Thursday night while Tyler Seguin had about 13 minutes total.

Game 4 will get underway at 1:30 ET on Saturday afternoon at Tampa Bay and will be broadcast on NBC.

MLB: OK.....So Carl Craword is barely hitting over .200. But let is not be said that he has a flair for the dramatic.

With the matchup of Beckett and Verlander, you'd think that Thurday night's game would be the one with the 1-0 final. However, Beckett would give up a run in the top of the 2nd on an Andy Dirks RBI single and have to work out of a bases loaded jam before Boston managed to get a run of their own on a JD Drew sac fly to deep left that plated Youk in the bottom of the inning.

As the game progressed however, Justin Verlander would give up solo homers to JD Drew and David Ortiz to give the Sox a 3-1 advantage.

Beckett, however, was pulled in the 6th out of an abundance of caution on Terry Francona's part. Beckett had been compaining of neck pain earlier and with two starters already on the DL, the manager erred on the side of caution and went to the bullpen. Detroit got two back in the top of the 8th with solo homers from Brennan Boesch and Miguel bacrera to know things up at 3-3, but the Tigers were hving bullpen issues of their own when Detroit reliever Al Albuqueque loaded the bases in the bottom of the 9th with nobody out. Although he got pinch-runner Jose Iglesis out at home on a Jed Lowrie fielder's choice, that still left the bases loaded for Carl Crawford, who managed to hit it over center-fielder Austin Jackson's head for the walk-off 4-3 win.

On Firday, the Red Sox will host the Cubs at Fenway for the first time since 1918 (throwback uniforms for Saturaday's game were revaled earlier today). Doug Davis (0-1; 1.80 ERA) is expected to get the start for the Cubbies while Jon Lester (5-1; 3.28 ERA) will go for the Sox.

OTHER SOX NEWS: With Lackey and Matsuzaka on the DL and Beckett leaving Thursday's game early, it was reported the Red Sox had agreed to terms on a minor league contract with righty Kevin Millwood who had opted out of an earlier minor league deal with the NY Yankees.

On Firday, it wsa confirmed that the Sox had acquired 25 year old lefty Franklin Morales (0-1; 3.86 ERA) from the Colorado Rockies for cash or a player to be named later. To make room for Morales in the bullpen, the Red Sox designated the struggling Hideki Okajima for assignement.

International Monetary Fund Head Charged With Sexual Assault in New York City

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the IMF prior to his weekend arrest for sexually assaulting a hotel maid in New York, was released on $1 million bail and will be electronically monitored as well as being under watch by armed guards around the clock a New York judge has ruled on Firday.

Stauss-Kahn, who was considered by many to be a challenger to current French president Nicholas Sarkozy in next year's presidential elections, was arrested NY Port Authority officers at JFK International airport while on board a Paris-bound flight before it departed from JFK International.

According to the NYPD, a hotel maid entered Strauss-Khan's suite on the 28th floor of Manhattan's Sofitel hotel thinking it was vacant. It was there that the 62 year old Strauss-Khan chased her down and pulled her into another bedroom in his suite before sexually assaulting her. The IMF head apparently left in such a hurry that he left his cell phone and a number of personal items behind at the scene after the victim had escaped and called 911. Strauss-Kahn resigned as IMF head earlier in the week (some members of the Brazil-Russia-China-India bloc are hoping the new IMF head coupld be replaces with somebody from one of the aforementioned nations).

The accuser was identified as a 32 year old immigrant from the West African country of Guinea. It was also learned this week that the maid's address was an apartment block in the Bronx that is rented out exclusively to tenants that are HIV positive.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

President Obama calls for Palestinian State Along pre-1967 Borders

In a display that clearly indicated there was no American ally he wouldn't be willing to stab in the back, President Obama has endorsed long-standing Palestinian demands that a Palestinian state be set up along pre 1967 borders in a wide ranging speech regarding Middle East policy earlier today.
He also warned Palestinians that “efforts to delegitimize Israel will end in failure” and that they would “never realize their independence by denying the right of Israel to exist.”

He also chastised both sides for taking steps that don’t help the peace process.

“Israeli settlement activity continues. Palestinians have walked away from talks,” he said. “The world looks at a conflict that has grinded on and on and on, and sees nothing but stalemate.”
[Umm....earth to Barry, the Palestinians have done MUCH worse than walking away from peace talks (or even building new apartments) in the past few weeks- NANESB!]

Should Israel go back to their pre-1967 borders, that would leave the Jewish state only 8 miles wide in some places, bordered by a belligerent Palestinian government seeking to unify with terrorist group Hamas (the same Hamas which condemned the killing of the islamic 'Holy Warrior' Osama Bin Laden) and replete with terrorists acquiring longer-range weapons with the Israelis holding less territory.

The only reason I'm not saying President Obama is throwing Israel under the bus is because the Palestinians have this tendency to blow up buses.

Not surprisingly, Israeli leaders are lukewarm on the President's suggestion. Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Obama's proposal, saying that the boundaries would make Israel 'militarily indefensable'.

Israel has attempted 'Land for Peace' before, unilaterally withdrawing from the Gaza strip in 2005, only to be rewarded with a near-constant bombardment of southern Israeli border towns by Katusha rockets fired from the Gaza strip since then.

Exit question- What on God's green earth would make anybody who has been paying attention for the last 6 decades think that Israel should expect any semblance of peace from the Palestinians after giving up even MORE land?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mid Week Cuppa Sports Chowdah- Bruins Catch Seguin Wind, Even Series at 1-1; Here There Be Tygers; Twins Legend Killebrew Passes Away

RED SOX: As it turned out, Tuesday night's home game against Baltimore was rained out, so those of us interested in seeing how Wakefield would fare as a starter this season would have to wait a little longer.

On Wednesday night, it looked as though the weather would continue to play havoc with Boston's schedule a fairly dense fog moved into the area before the ballpark was hit with a deluge late in the scoreless game against the Detroit Tigers. The grounds crew rolled out the tarp in the top of the 8th, but barely a half hour later the game resumed. After relieving starter Clay Buccholz, Daniel Bard threw exactly one pitch before the game was suspended but came right back out and retired the side in order.

Carl Crawford managed a 2-out walk in the bottom of the 8th and went from 1st to home when Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a double to left center to score the game's only run. Like the weather, Papelbon's 9th wasn't pretty but it was good enough for the save in the 1-0 game.

Buccholz threw a career high 127 pitches in 7 innings of work while Detroit starter Phil Coke (who hadn't allowed a Red Sox batter past first base) needed only 78 pitches for as many innings.

Thursday night's game has all the makings of a pitcher's duel as Josh Beckett (3-1; 1.75 ERA) goes up against Detroit's Justin Verlander (4-3; 2.91 ERA) who no-hit the Toronto Blue Jays earlier this month for his second career no-hitter.

OTHER RED SOX NEWS: Daisuke Matsuzaka went on the 15-day DL this week with what Red Sox medical staff are calling a sprained elbow ligament. The Japanese right-hander will be re-examined after 2 weeks and could miss up to a month.

Sports Illustrated photo
ELSEWHERE IN MLB: One of the first-ever Minnestoa Twins, hall-of-Famer Harmon Killebrew, passed away from esophegeal cancer at his home in Scottsdale, AZ on Tuesday. The 74 year old was born in Payette, ID and was said to have built up his strength by hauling around paint and 10 gallon pails of mils on the family farm in Idaho.

Killebrew is 11th on baseball's all-time home run list and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of fame in 1984 some 10 years after calling it a career.

The Twins will hold a public memorial at Target Field on May 26, while a public service will be held in Peoria, AZ on Friday. Killebrew will reportedly be laid to rest in his Idaho hometown in a private service on May 23rd.

BOSTON BRUINS: Tuesday night's game started off with that sinking 'uh-oh!' feeling for Bruins fans when the Tampa Bay Lightning got one past Tim Thomas 13 seconds into the game for the quick 1-0 lead. The Lightning would head off to the 1st intermission holding a 2-1 lead, with Nathan Horton getting a rare power play goal for Boston.

However, the second period saw Boston rally thanks in large part to a pair of goals from first round draft pick Tyler Seguin, who notched the game-tying tally not even 50 seconds in. David Krejci would put the B's up 3-2 while Seguin managed to add to the lead with his 2nd goal of the night some 4 minutes later. Vinny LeCalvier would then score to bring the Lightning back within 1 goal, but Micheal Ryder would notch an even strength goal at the 16:16 mark and a power play goal with 19 seconds left in the 2nd to make it a 6-3 game.

Although playing with a lead was still something new and novel for the Bruins in the Eastern conference, it was starting to look as though that 3 goal lead might not be enough in the third when Steven Stamkos and Dominic Moore managed to score for the Lightning to make it a 1-goal game. However, the Bruins would hang on to win by a final of 6-5. However, the Bruins were able to run off the clock and hang on to win by the 6-5 final, evening up the Eastern conference finals at 1-1.

Tim Thomas stopped 36 of 41 shots faced while Dwayne Roloson was yanked after allowing the 6th goal. With Patrice Bergeron out of the lineup, Tyler Seguin stepped in and had 2 goals and 2 assists while Micheal Ryder had 2 goals and an assist.

As many other NHL observers have pointed out, this creates something of a dilemma for when Patrice Bereron is ready to come back- do you continue riding the hot hand in Seguin, or go with the veteran? Good problem to have, at least...

The series resumes on Thursday night at the St Pete Times Forum in Tampa, FL. The game will be carried on VS and gets underway a 8:00 PM ET.

ELSEWHERE IN THE NHL: 28 year old NY Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard was found dead in his Minneapolis apartment over the weekend. Boogaard had sustained a season-ending concussion a few months earlier. A cause of death has yet to be determined, as the results for an autopsy are expected to take two more weeks.

BOSTON CELTICS: Head coach Doc Rivers travelled to Florida to undergo surgery, returning to Boston on Tuesday. The team said that the operation was to remove a benign polyp from Rivers' throat and that doctors have declared him cancer free.

Mississippi Flooding Update: More Flood Gates Opened at Morganza Spillway; Mississippi River Closed to Shipping

AP Photo
The Army corps of Engineers announced that they had opened a 16th lock on the 125-bay Morganza spillway on Wednesday, sending an estimated 108,000 cubic feet of water per second gushing through the flood control structure.

26 parishes (counties in Louisiana) have been declared disaster areas, with E. Felicicana, LaFourche, Franklin and Richland parishes being added recently. Parts of St. Martin's Parish- just east of Lafayette, LA- are under a mandatory evacuation order on Wednesday in advance of the approaching flood waters.

Further downstream (but north of New Orleans), the Corps of Engineers said they had opened up nearly 330 of the 350 bays on the Bonne Carre spillway, sending water from the Mississippi River rushing through at a rate of 316,000 cubic feet per second into Lake Pontchartrain.

To the north, the US Coast Guard had closed down the Mississippi River around Natchez, MS to shipping earlier this week over concerns about additional strain on the levees from barges and river traffic. However, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that the Coast Guard was allowing barges loaded with coal, timber, iron and steel to pass through at the minimum speed.

Local officials on both sides of the river from Mississippi town of Natchez breathed a sigh of relief as the Coast Guard and NOAA revised their estimate for the floodwater's crest from 63 feet down to 62 .5 feet. The crest is expected to be reached on Saturday- the previous high water mark dates back to 1937 at 58.4 feet.

Pat over at And So it Goes in Shreveport has much much more.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Today's Train of Though- A Beehive (State) of Activity, May 17 2011

Today's train of thought brings us to a truncated remnant of the old Denver Rio Grande and Western in Utah.

Here, railpictures.net contributor James Belmont caught Union Pacific GP15-1 #Y555 (the 'Y' designates that it's normally assigned to Yard service on UP) leads another GP15-1 and a couple of boxcars as they tiptoe down the jointed rail of the former DRG&W Tintic Branch (now Union Pacific's Tintic Industrial Lead) in Springville, UT on a sunny August 2010 afternoon.

The line was built in stages between 1891 to 1896 from Springville to Eureka, UT (some 40 miles) to access the gold, silver, lead and zinc deposits of the Tintic Mining district. Although as recently as within the past decade the line had traffic from a grain elevator operated by the Church of Latter Day saints as well as limestone traffic, the line had pretty much been cut back to five miles.

Waiver Mania! HHS Awards Over 200 Obamacare Waivers Including High-End Businesses in Congresswoman Pelosi's District, Entire State of Nevada

Pelosi getting pointers on governing from Bashr Al Assad, circa 2007
Still taking what's been described by some as a 'victory lap in a clown car' over the successful raid on Bin Laden's Pakistani compound, the Administration quietly announced on Friday that the Department of Health & Human Services had granted more than 200 additional waivers for HR 3590, also known as Obamacare.
The Obama administration approved 204 new waivers to Democrats’ healthcare reform law over the past month, bringing the total to 1,372.

The waivers are temporary and only apply to one provision of the law, which requires health plans to offer at least $750,000 worth of annual medical benefits before leaving patients to fend for themselves. Still, Republicans have assailed the waivers as a sign of both favoritism and of major problems with the law.

“The fact that over 1,000 waivers have been granted is a tacit admission that the healthcare law is fundamentally flawed,” Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said in March. Upton is one of three House committee chairmen who has used new oversight powers to investigate the annual limit waivers.
Of the 204 new waivers issued by HHS, at least 38 went to upscale San Francisco resturants, hotels and nightclubs in Congresswoman Pelosi's disctrict. According to the Daily Caller, this is in addition to 27 new waivers for healthcare or drug companies and 31 waivers for unions in San Francisco.

Also given a partial waiver from 0bamacare- the entire state of Nevada after it appeared as though implementation would force insurance companies doing business in the Silver State to pull up stakes and leave.

Interestingly, while Harry Reid was an ardent backer of 0bamacare in the US Senate, his son Rory Reid was running for governor of Nevada last year. Rory had claimed that the healthcare legislation could end up hurting Nevada during a gubernatorial debate in October 2010.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sports Chowdah Update for May 16- Bronx Bummers For Yanks as Sox Sweep; Lightning Strikes Thrice- Take Game 1 of Eastern Conf. Finals; C ya Later

A-Rod: D'OH!
MLB: After their horrendous 0-6 start last month, the Red Sox have finally reached the .500 mark on Sunday night after comleting a 3-game sweep of the New York Yankees in the Bronx.

Friday night's game was something of a cliffhanger, with the Sox fending off a late Yankees rally to close out a 5-4 win. The following day, the Red Sox scored late and scored often in a 6-0 rout that pitted Josh Beckett against CC Sabathia. However, that gem was apparently overshadowed by the controversey surrounding Yankkes cathcer-turned-DH (and batting .165) Jorge Posada taking himself out of the game after it was announced he'd be hitting 9th in the lineup.

Sunday night's affair in the Bronx had Jon Lester on the mound against Freddy Garcia. The Yankees got to Lester pretty early, starting off with a Mark Teixeria RBI single in the first and giving up home runs to Andruw Jones and Curtis Granderson in the bottom of the 2nd to give the Yankees a 4-1 lead. However, the very next inning, Kevin Youkilis belted a 3 run homer to tie the game up at 4-4 while Big Papi hit a solo shot to right in the 5th to give the Red Sox a 1-run lead.

Of course, given the potent Yankees offense, a 1-run cushion didn't feel like it was enough but the Sox were able to add to that when Pedroia went home an a fielding error by Alex Rodriguez to make it 6-4.

The Yankees would get one back in the bottom of the 7th, but Jarrod Saltalamacchia cranked a solo homer to right field in the top of the 8th to make it 7-5, and Papelbon would come on in relief of Bard to close out the game, giving Boston not only the win, but a sweep of the weekend series at the Bronx and putting them at .500 for the first time this season.

Even though Daisuke Matsuzaka had an off night on Monday, the Red Sox came from behind and won on 1B Adrian Gonzalez's 1-out 2 RBI walk off double in the bottom of the 9th at Fenway to put the Sox over .500 for the first time this season. Meanwhile, the Yankees woes continued with a 6-5 loss against Tampa Bay on Monday night. The loss puts them a game under .500.

The Sox will close out their quickie two game series against Baltimore on Tuesday when they face rookie southpaw Zach Britton (5-2; 2.42 ERA). Tim Wakefield (0-1; 5.40 ERA) is expected to fill in as starter for Tuesday's game.

OTHER RED SOX NEWS: John Lackey, who was the scheduled starter for Tuesday's game against Baltimore, has been placed on the 15-Day DL with a right elbow strain. Although the team recalled Scott Atchison from AAA Pawtucket, it is expected that knuckleballer Tim Wakefield will get that start on Tuesday.

OTHER MLB NEWS: Hall of Famer and Minnesota Twins slugger Harmon Killebrew announced over the weekend that he will no longer treat his esophageal cancer and has entered hospice care. The 74 year old announced back in December that he was battling cancer. Killebrew's major league career spanned 21 years with the Washington Senators, Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals, with 13 of those seasons being spent in the Twin Cities.

Killebrew had a career batting average of .256 with 573 home runs and 1584 career RBI and was named to the baseball hall of fame in 1984.

NHL: All that time off for the Bruins led to some concerns about 'rust' and it showed on Saturday night when the Bruins gave up 3 even strnegth goals in less than 90 seconds (Sean Bergenheim, Brett Clark and Teddy Purcell) in the first period.

Altho' Tyler Seguin would score late in the 1st, Tampa would get some insurance in the 3rd and skate to a pretty easy 5-2 win for Game 1 of the Eastern conference finals.

Game 2 gets underway on Tuesday night at 8PM ET at the Garden and will be televised on Versus

OTHER BRUINS NEWS: Although head coach Claude Julien declined comment on his availability for Game 2, Patrice Bergeron returned for his first full practice since sustaining a concussion on May 6.

NBA: And just like that, it's over. Despite Rajon Rondo's gritty performace with a dislocated elbow in Game 3 and forcing overtime in Game 4, the Celtics season is over after the Miami Heat cruised to a 97-87 win on May 11 to win the series 3 games to 1.

The Heat now face the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference finals (and now trail 0-1 after Sunday night). Out west, the matchup will feature the Dallas Mavericks against the Oklahoma City Thunder in what I'm sure some columnist or blogger will call the I-35 series.