Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Democrat Party Analysts: President Obama to Abandon 'White Working Class' During 2012 Campaign

Pretty provocative claim right there, and you're probably asking yourself 'What zany wingnutty outlet came up with THAT? Free Republic? Prison Planet?'.

Try the New York Times.
All pretense of trying to win a majority of the white working class has been effectively jettisoned in favor of cementing a center-left coalition made up, on the one hand, of voters who have gotten ahead on the basis of educational attainment — professors, artists, designers, editors, human resources managers, lawyers, librarians, social workers, teachers and therapists — and a second, substantial constituency of lower-income voters who are disproportionately African-American and Hispanic.
The fact that a man who promised to bankrupt the coal industry as a candidate before he halted drilling in the Gulf Of Mexico and punted an important decision on the proposed KeystoneXL pipeline through the upper Midwest until after the 2012 election and cancelled a mineral lease auction for energy companies drilling in the Ohio section of the Marcellus Shale as President of the United States should come as no surprise that he holds the working class of this country in low esteem.

This doesn't necessarily apply to the blue collar workers who have been working in the coal mines, oil rigs or natural gas pipelines but also the Americans whose wallets continue to take a hit as energy costs continue to go up as more and more red tape and regulatory burdens are placed on utilities and energy exploration companies.

Of course as the Obama Administration has been- to paraphrase Interior Secretary Ken Salazar- keeping their 'boot on the neck' of the oil, coal and natural gas industries, they were merrily shovelling millions of taxpayers dollars to shady 'Green Energy' ventures like Solyndra or Finnish electric car maker Fisker. In fact, as much as 80% of the recipients of $20.5 billion in Department of Energy loans and grants turned out to be top dollar donors to the Obama campaign.

As long as there have been political campaigns, it seems as though candidates have fallen over each other to try and see who could identify with working class Americans the most- no matter who's running, a hardhat seems like a mandatory prop in campaign advertisements. But according to documents from Democratic analysts Stanley Greenberg and Ruy Teixeira, the new standard bearers or working class heroes for the Democrat party and Obama 2012 campaign should be "professors, artists, designers, editors, human resources managers, lawyers, librarians, social workers, teachers and therapists" [the overwhelming majority of them belonging to a union like the SEIU or AFSCME, no doubt- NANESB!].

Despite the stark clarity this analysis by Greenberg and Teixeira offers, it only highlights the obvious about three years too late.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Today's Train of Though- Fleeting Blaze of Autumn in the Last Frontier, November 29th 2011

Today's Train of Thought takes us to the state of Alaska, where according to contributor David Blaze, the peak fall foliage season lasts all of a day or two.

However, those rather severe limitations on autumnal photography in the Last Frontier didn't prevent him from heading trackside.

With clouds scraping the peaks of the Chugach Range in the background and flanked by brilliant golden aspen trees, Alaska Railroad GP40-2s #3001 and #3011 head north past the lengthy siding at Indian, AK with a 27 car train picked up from the barge at Whittier. The cars are from Canadian National's 'Aqua Train' barge terminal in Prince Rupert, BC and are enroute to the ARR yard in Anchorage.

As a bonus, the lead unit- ARR #3001- is still sporting it's as-delivered 1970s era paint scheme while the trailing #3011 is showing off the latest paint scheme. Apparently since that ARR has no painting facilities of its own, locomotives can only be repainted while being sent to the lower 48 for rebuilding, overhaul or other heavy maintenance.

The Big Four-Oh. Nova Scotia's Boston Tree Shipping Up to Boston in 40th Year of Christmas Tradition

Truck driver Don MacLean posing w/the Boston Tree before it embarks on the ferry at Digby, NS on November 17th. MacLean works for Nova Scotia's Department of Transportation and has driven the Boston Tree each year since 1998. Jonathan Riley/Digby County Courier photo
A 44 foot spruce from the property of Ken and Donna Spinney of Argyle, NS has the honor of being Nova Scotia's annual Christmas tree to the city of Boston this year.

The tree was felled in a ceremony with schoolchildren and local officials present on the morning of November 15. The tradition goes back to the horrific 1917 explosion of a French munitions ship in Halifax Harbor that killed at least 2,000 people. A railway dispatcher named Vince Coleman was able to get word to the outside world of the impending catastrophe and stopping incoming trains short of the blast radius before he was killed in the massive explosion.

When word reached Boston, the Boston chapter of the Red Cross immediately began gathering doctors, nurses, shelters and medicine to put on board a special train from Boston to Halifax to relieve the doctors and rescue workers who had been toiling non-stop since the blast.

As a gesture of their appreciation, the province of Nova Scotia sent the city of Boston a giant Christmas tree the following year. While that apparently seemed like a one-time deal, the Lunenburg County Christmas Tree Producers Association decided to revive the tradition in 1971 as a means of promoting their product, and the city of Boston was more than happy to receive a tall tree for Boston Common.

Evan Richman/ Boston Globe Photo
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Boston Christmas tree revival. This year's tree travelled by ferry from Digby, NS across the Bay of Funday to New Brunswick and continued via highway from there.

This year's lighting ceremony is scheduled for Thursday, December 1st.

Counterfeit Parts From China Showing Up In US Military Aircraft

Sikorski SH 60-B Sea Hawk lifting off from carrier. A Defense Department audit found that the infared imaging systems in some of the Navy's fleet were using counterfeit components
Earlier this year, I came across a website called havocscope which supposedly tracks the value of black market, smuggled and contraband goods as though they were legitimate commodities traded on the open market. Instead of listing Counterfeit goods under one single category, they subdivided it into categories ranging from Counterfeit Aircraft Parts to Counterfeit Zippos. According to havocscope, the counterfeit aircraft parts trade is worth an estimated US$2 billion annually. And it seems as though some of that money, however unwittingly, comes from the Department of Defense and the US taxpayers.

The Senate Armed Services Committee announced earlier this month that it had learned counterfeit electronics which had made their way into the Department of Defense supply chain and into at least eight aircraft, some of which were deployed to Afghanistan.
The Senate Armed Services Committee found counterfeit parts -- usually from China -- on at least seven aircraft, including the Lockheed Martin Corp. [NYSE: LMT] C-130J transport plane, Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and L-3 27J Spartan transport.

“Suspect electronic parts from China were installed on military systems and subsystems that were manufactured by Raytheon Co., L-3 Communications and Boeing,” said a memo from the committee’s staff, released yesterday before a hearing today.

“There is a flood of counterfeits and it is putting our military men and risk and costing us a fortune,” committee Chairman Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, said. None of the examples found by the committee were connected to lives lost or dramatic failures causing an aircraft crash, and the companies involved cooperated with the investigation, he said.
A seperate Pentagon audit has shown that cockpit displays on two new US Air Force C-27J Spartans from L-3 Electronics [NYSE: LLL] that were deployed to Afghanistan were found to be utilizing suspect parts.
L3’s Integrated Systems unit notified the Air Force on Sept. 19 that 38 suspect video memory chips were installed in the display units on eight of the first 11 aircraft delivered.

The L-3 unit that made the displays learned of the suspect memory chips in November 2010, the memo said. The committee traced the chips to Hong Dark Electronic Trade in Shenzhen, China, which also delivered an earlier counterfeit part L-3 discovered in October 2009, it said. The display units are made by L-3 Communications Display Systems and provide pilots with diagnostic data including engine status, fuel usage, location and warning messages.

The C-27J displays were among more than 500 containing suspect Chinese parts sold to the Air Force, Navy and defense contractors for installation also on C-130J and C-17 transport and Marine Corps CH-46 helicopters, the memo said.

“Failure of the memory chip could cause a display unit to show a degraded image, lose data or even go blank,” the memo said
The Senate Armed Services committee's investigative staff reportedly compiled a database with nearly 1800 cases of counterfeiting and suspect parts. Out of 100 cases given closer scrutiny, nearly 70% were traced back to Chinese firms. The origins of some of these parts are concealed by having them pass through three or four shell companies before finding their way into the Department of Defense supply chain.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Rivalry Sports Chowdah Update- The OTHER Jets Visit Boston For 1st Time in 16 Years; Eagles Lay an Egg Vs Pats

AP Photo
NHL: Almost 16 years to the day that they last played each other in the old Boston Garden, the Winnipeg Jets came into Boston on Saturday evening.

The Jets got out to a fairly quick 2-0 lead about halfway through the 1st period, with goals from Evander Kane and Dustin Byfuglien less than 40 seconds apart. With about 3 and a half minutes to go in the first, Zdeno Chara got the Bruins on the board with a power play goal and Boston entered the 1st intermission trailing 2-1.

The Bruins would then go on to tie the contest up at 2-2 thanks to a shorthanded goal from Chris Kelly at the 7:28 mark, then take the lead on another Kelly tally at the 16:26 mark- this one was even-handed.

With the Jets still trailing with less than 2 minutes to go in the 3rd, the decision was made to pull goalie Ondrej Pavelec for the extra attacker, but Brad Marchand made them pay for that decision by getting an empty-netter almost as soon as Pavelec hit the bench to make it a 4-2 Bruins win.

Winnipeg's Onrej Pavelec stopped 32 of 35 shots faced (the empty-netter doesn't count) while Tim Thomas stopped 40 of 42 shots that the Jets put on goal Saturday night. C Chris Kelly came into the Saturday night game with 7 goals on the season and now has 9. Boston went 1 for 5 on the power play while Winnipeg went 0 for 4, including giving up a shorthanded goal to Chris Kelly.

Unlike 1996, the Bruins will see the Jets more than once this season. Since Winnipeg is still technically in the Eastern conference, they face each other at least 3 other times this season, with the next matchup coming on the road at Winnipeg's MTS Centre in about a week.

In the meantime, the B's have a home-and-away series with the Maple Leafs coming up beginning on Wednesday in the Garden and continuing Saturday night on the road in Toronto.

OTHER NHL NEWS: The Carolina Hurricanes have fired head coach Paul Maurice and are expected to replace him with former All-Star Kirk Muller. The announcement was made on Monday after Carolina had lost 10 of its last 13 games in the last month.

The announcement comes barely 90 minutes after the Washington Capitals announced that they had fired head coach Bruce Boudreau, reportedly replacing him with former Caps player Dale Hunter.

Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
NFL: Even with starter Micheal Vick out with fractured ribs, the Eagles were able to get out to a quick 10-0 lead against New England on Sunday. However, New England would come back to get on the board thanks to a sustained drive where Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis punched it in from the Eagles 4 yard line to close the first quarter trailing 10-7.

From the 2nd quarter on, it was basically all New England. The Pats first possession of the 2nd quarter was highlighted by a 63 yard quick strike between Brady and WR Deion Branch, where Branch was brought down at the Eagles 1 yard line only to have the law offices of Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis once again punch it in for New England to take the 14-10 lead.

From there on out, the Pats basically ran away with it, with the Eagles giving up a 41 yard pass and running play to WR Wes Welker and getting a Gostkowski FG for their last possession of the 1st half to send them to the locker rooms at halfine with New England up 24-13.

In the second half, the Eagles faithful began making themselves scarce as Brady and Welker connected for another TD while Wide Reciever-turned-defensive-back Julian Edelman made a key tackle on Eagles QB Vince Young to keep him outside of the end zone. Tom Brady went 24-34 with 361 yards and 3 TDs and rushing for 28 yards (his highest total since 2006) while Vince Young went 26-48 with 400 yards, a TD and an interception. Green-Ellis would have 44 yards and 2 TDs on 14 carries on the day.

The Patriots win this one pretty handily by a 38-20 final (and it wasn't even that close), setting up a Sunday afternoon showdown with the winless Indianapolis Colts next week.

OTHER NFL NEWS: Detroit Lions Defensive Tackle Ndamukong Suh was ejected from Thursday afternoon's Thanksgiving game between the Packers and Lions after stomping on Packers Center Evan Dietrich Smith long after the play was blown dead. Suh initially refused to apologize, until the Lions released a statement the following day calling his conduct 'unacceptable'. Green Bay would go on to win by a 27-15 final on Thanksgiving.

On Monday, Suh reportedly requested a meeting with NFL Comissioner Roger Goddell. A fine and suspension are expected to be handed down by the League this week.

NCAA FOOTBALL: The Rutgers Scarlet Knights headed into Saturday's game against the UConn Huskies hoping for a share of the Big East and hoping for an invitation to a BCS Bowl game.

The Huskies, however, had other plans. Getting out to the early 14-0 lead, the Huskies never really let up, taking a 24-10 halftime lead and going on to win by a 40-22 final over Rutgers. The win keeps 5-6 UConn's bowl hopes alive heading into the regular season finale against the Cincinnati Bearcats on Saturday at noon eastern time. Should the Huskies go on to win, they will be the only bowl-eligible school from New England this year.

COLONIAL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION: Two New England schools from the Colonial Conference now find themselves in the FCS playoffs this month. On Saturday, the 8-3 Maine Black Bears will take on the Appalachian State Mountaineers while the UNH Wildcats will take on the Montana State Bobcats in Bozeman, MT.

ELSEWHERE IN THE CAA: UMass wrapped up what is likely their final home game in Amherst, Ma for the foreseeable future with an unceremonious loss to James Madison by a 34-17 final last weekend. Two days after the regular season finale, UMass atheltic director John McCutcheon fired head football coach Kevin Morris. The dismissal comes as UMass finished their final season in the Colonial conference with a 5-6 record.

The Minutemen are slated to appear in games against UConn, Michigan, Indiana and Venderbilt as well as conference opponents from the Mid America conference (no word on if any matches with Temple are in the mix) for the 2012 season.

OTHER NCAA FOOTBALL NEWS: The Ohio State Buckeyes announced the hiring of former Florida head coach Urban Meyer on Monday afternoon. The announcement comes just days after the 6-6 Buckeyes 34-40 loss to #17 Michigan to wrap up their regular season- one of the few 'rivalry' games from Saturday that was actually close.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun was announced as the National League MVP last week, beating out Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Braun had a batting average of .332 with 33 homers and 111 RBI's during the 2011 season. The Brewers also won the NL Central pennant while the Dodgers missed the postseason altogether, a factor that Braun himself felt influenced the outcome of the MVP voting.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Today's Train of Though- WAAY Out There, November 27, 2011

Today's train of thought takes us to the Southeastern corner of the Granite State on the former Boston & Maine line between Billerica, MA and Rigby Yard in Portland, ME. While not part of the Norfolk Southern/Pan Am Patriot Corridor, the line has seen a marked increase in traffic over the last decade. While aggregates from Ossippe, NH bound for Boston's Big Dig as well as improved connections with CSX, Canadian Pacific and Norfolk Southern with Pan Am west of Ayer, MA no doubt accommodated an increase in freight traffic between Maine and the rest of the nation, the most high profile trains using this stretch of the Pan Am are the 5-daily Amtrak Downeaster trains departing out of Boston's North Station.

The 116-mile trip between Boston and Portland, ME consistently enjoys the highest ridership rates on the Amtrak system and is expected to undergo a 30 mile expansion east to Brunswick, ME in the near future.

With all that said, it is still freight that pays the freight on the former B&M Eastern Line. Pan-Am and Amtrak have begrudgingly learned to coexist over the last 10 years, and both railroads are better off for it.

Here, contributor Stephen Arata caught Pan Am symbol freight WAAY [WAterville, ME to AYer, MA] slowing down as it rounds a curve in Newfields, NH under a canopy of New England fall color on November 5, 2011. SD40-2 #609 and two other Pan-Am units are grinding to a halt as the freight train awaits the passage of one of the Downeaster Amtrak trains.

Borderline Psychosis Update- Calderon's 'Right Hand Man' Killed in Helicopter Crash; Knights Templar Leader Arrested; 26 Bodies Found in Guadalajara

MEXICO CITY: Mexico's Secretary of the Interior Blake Mora and seven others were killed when the helicopter they were travelling in crashed into a hillside south of the capital city on November 11th.

Mora had been described as Calderon's 'right-hand man' who favored the President's strategy of ongoing confrontation with the various cartels and considered a key member of Calderon's security team.

The helicopter was reportedly enroute to a meeting of prosecutors in Morelos when it went down. It's departure had been delayed by foggy weather and low visibility was reported around the crash site after takeoff, leading many to believe that this might've been an accident despite the significance of the passenger on board.

Mora is the third high-ranking public official in nearly six years to have been killed in an air crash. In November 2008, Secretary of the Interior Juan Camilo Mouriño and 13 other people were killed when his Learjet crashed into rush-hour traffic on approach to Mexico City's Benito Juarez International Airport. In September 2005, Public Security Secretary Ramon Martin Huerta was killed in a helicopter crash south of Mexico City as well.

As an eerie aside, Mora's final tweet from his official Twitter account read: Today we remember Juan Camilo Mouriño three years after his passing, a human being who worked to construct a better Mexico

CHICAGO: According to a 63-page filing by federal prosecutors this month, fugitive billionaire Sinaloa Cartel chief Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman allegedly laid out plans to launch a series of high profile assaults using military-grade weapons against American media, commercial and diplomatic interests in Mexico City.
At his mountaintop lair in Mexico, Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman, the head of the world’s biggest narcotics cartel, told a Chicago drug trafficker he wanted dozens of military-grade assault weapons to stage an attack in Mexico City in retaliation against U.S. authorities who were messing with their drug business, federal prosecutors said Thursday.

“This government is letting [American law enforcement] do whatever they want,” said one of Guzman’s lieutenants, Ismael Zambada-Garcia, according to a cooperator in the case, Margarito Flores. “It will be good to send [them] a message.”

“They are f**king us everywhere,” Guzman allegedly said of the government during a meeting on the mountaintop compound. “Let it be a government building, it doesn’t matter whose. An embassy or a consulate, a media outlet or television station [attack a Mexican or U.S. government or media building in Mexico City].”
Although Guzman remains at large, the claims surfaced in the 'Santaigo Proffer', a filing that reportedly offers the most detailed look at the inner workings of the Sinaloa cartel.

The filing also lists a pair of Chicago-area brothers as witnesses for the government against Guzman and other top-ranking members of the Sinaloa organization.
The newly-filed papers by the prosecution also claim they have a recording of Vincente Zambada-Niebla asking about details on procuring explosives and heavy-caliber weaponry to mount an attack against the Mexican government or American interests in Mexico nearly three years ago.
“Twin, you know guys coming back from the war. Find somebody who can give you big powerful weapons, American s**t.... We don’t need that small s**t, I want to blow up some buildings. We got a lot of grenades, we got a lot of .50 calibers, we’re tired of AKs,” Zambada-Niebla allegedly said. “You’re good with me. You want to be really good with me, get me my s**t, my guns. F**k the money, f**k the drugs, I want to blow s**t up. I want some bazookas, some grenade launchers.”
The recording reportedly dates back to November 29, 2008.

JALISCO: The bodies of 26 young men stuffed into two vans and a pickup were discovered near the heart of Mexico's 2nd largest city on Friday. According to investigators, the bodies were reportedly bound and gagged with the words 'Los Zetas' or 'Milenio' scrawled in motor oil across their chests.

The slayings bear an uncanny resemblance to a September 2011 incident in which gunmen in Veracruz dumped more than 30 bodies from trucks in the middle of rush hour traffic. The dead in Veracruz were reportedly identified as being affiliated with Los Zetas. Shortly after the bodies were found, a group of masked men calling themselves Los Matazetas (the Zeta killers) took credit for the Veracruz slayings.

According to investigators in Guadalajara, many of the 26 bodies found on Friday were between the ages of 25-35 and killed by asphyxiation or blunt force trauma less than 24 hours prior to their discovery- although there were reports that some of the bodies had sustained gunshot wounds. Authorities have since released the identities of 14 of the dead in Guadalajara- So far only two of them are confirmed to have any sort of criminal record. Among the dead were a baker, a truck driver, a soft drink vendor and a dental technician.

The Grisly find comes two days after sixteen charred bodies, some of them handcuffed or wearing bulletproof vests, were discovered in the back of two burned-out trucks in the city of Culiacan- the capital of 'El Chapo' Guzman's home state of Sinaloa.

GUATEMALA: Officers from Guatemala's Civilian National Police arrested two Guatemalan nationals who were thought to be providing Los Zetas with arms, vehicles and safehouses in the country while helping them launder money. Authorities in Guatemala have arrested more than 70 people over the last two years on suspicion of aiding cartels and groups like the Zetas in setting up operations in the rugged northern frontier region of the Central American country.

The Zetas, former special operations soldiers themselves, are said to be recruiting from the Kabiles Special Forces unit of Guatemala's Army.

News of the arrests come shortly after Guatemala's Supreme Court authorized the extradition of former President Alvaro Colom to the USA. Federal Prosecutors contend that Colom used the American banking system to launder more than US$70 million that his administration looted from the nation's treasury.

HOUSTON: A civilian truck driver was killed and an undercover police officer in Harris County, TX was wounded after driving into an ambush that was described as a 'Zetas-style attack'.
The incident occurred in Texas' Harris County, where parts of Houston are located, when the secret operative disguised as a truck driver delivering a 300 pound package of marijuana was driving through the northwest part of the county to a rendezvous point. Out of nowhere three sport-utility vehicles carrying alleged Zetas drug cartel gunmen cut off the 18-wheeler truck and opened fire on the cab, killing the driver.
As the gunmen opened fire on the truck, law enforcement officials descended on the scene in an effort to apprehend the shooters. "Officers engaged in gunfire with the suspects. That exchange resulted in the undercover officer being shot in the leg and the death of the occupant in the 18-wheeler," a press release from Harris County Sheriffs Office stated.

So far four suspects, all believed to be Mexican, have been arrested and charged with murder.

While the men - Eric De Luna, 23; Fernando Tavera, 19; Ricardo Ramírez, 35 and Rolando Resendiz, 34 – have all allegedly admitted to an affiliation with the violent Mexico-based Zetas cartel, U.S. authorities are still puzzled as to why the group would authorize such a brazen attack on U.S. soil for 300 pounds of marijuana.

"If it was a straight assassination, there were points in this controlled delivery where he would have just been a sitting duck," a law-enforcement source speaking on the condition of anonymity told the Chronicle. "Pretty brazen to kill a man over 300 pounds of grass.”
In Mexico, low level sicarrios (gunmen) for the Zetas are known to travel in convoys of SUV's while brandishing weapons and wearing bulletproof vests.

ELSEWHERE IN TEXAS: SWAT teams from multiple agencies descended on the tiny south Texas town of Escobares as armed smugglers fled from a shootout with the Mexican military across the Rio Grande earlier this month.
The shootout reportedly began shortly after noon but details were not immediately available. Residents on the U.S. side reported seeing members of the U.S. Border Patrol and Starr County Sheriff’s Office securing the area near the border.

Border Patrol spokeswoman Rosalinda Huey said agents had been tracking a suspected drug load near La Rosita and pushed it back to Mexico.

Border Patrol alerted Mexican authorities of the suspected load and then found an injured Mexican national on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande, Huey said. Emergency crews rushed the man to an area hospital. His condition remains unknown.

The man, a suspected cartel gunman, had been shot by Mexican authorities, a separate U.S. law enforcement official said.

The official confirmed a group of as many as 15 gunmen had crossed the Rio Grande, though it remained unclear whether they were Mexican soldiers or cartel gunmen.
The November 9th incident comes after assurances from the government that the border with Mexico is the safest its ever been in decades and that concerns about spillover violnce are greatly exaggerated.

MICHOACAN: Mexican Marines have arrested a top lieutenant with the recently-formed Knights Templar cartel in the west coast state earlier this month.

Juan Gabriesl Orozco Favela is accused of masterminding the Knights Templar smuggling network and participating in the torture and murder of as many as 21 people. The Knights Templar began as an offshoot of the moribund La Familia Michoacana cartel in the last year.

Also in Michoacan, reporters and federal officials are looking into reports of voter intimidation and harassment during local elections. The charges come after a Mexican TV network aired an audio tape that was reportedly of a local underboss for La Familia making threatening phone calls to would-be voters.
"A family member will be killed of whoever votes for the PRD," Horacio Morales Baca, the No. 3 leader of La Familia, a once-strong Michoacan gang, is heard saying on the recording. If anyone protests, he added, "their houses will be burned down with their families inside."
Baca also claimed that the Knights Templar put US$2 million in the campaign coffers of the governor's candidate for the Democratic Revolutionary Party.

ARIZONA: Details leaked from a sealed federal grand jury indictment show that smugglers armed with AK-47s were 'stalking' US Border Patrol agents shortly before the shootout that led to the death of US Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2010.
Five illegal immigrants armed with at least two AK-47 semi-automatic assault rifles were hunting for U.S. Border Patrol agents near a desert watering hole known as Mesquite Seep just north of the Arizona-Mexico border when a firefight erupted and one U.S. agent was killed, records show.

A now-sealed federal grand jury indictment in the death of Border Patrol agent Brian A. Terry says the Mexican nationals were “patrolling” the rugged desert area of Peck Canyon at about 11:15 p.m. on Dec. 14 with the intent to “intentionally and forcibly assault” Border Patrol agents.
At least two of the smuggler's guns recovered on the scene were obtained through the ATF's inafmous 'Fast & Furious' gunwalking program.

NEW MEXICO: Life continues to imitate AMC's Breaking Bad in the Land of Enchantment. According to a Region II Narcotics Task Force Audit, Cartels and organized crime is further entrenching itself throughout the state of New Mexico in recent years.
[Task Force Director Neil] Haws said that for the past two years the major Mexican drug cartel operating in San Juan County has been the Juarez cartel, but recently the Sinaloa and Michoacan cartels have gained ground.

"What's happening here is reflective of what's occurring in Mexico," said Haws, adding that Region II is concentrating its investigative efforts on individuals three or four levels above the drug addicts, or those who are directly connected to the cartels.

Going deeper into how the cartels operate in Bloomfield, Haws said that four to five males are usually sent by the Mexican cartel to Bloomfield to live, and they spend 80 percent of their time in and around the city.

The cartel members bring their families with them to try to fit into the community and to be less noticeable, and do not deal directly with drug addicts, which makes them difficult to detect.

"These cartel members recruit local gang members to sell drugs to lower-level dealers, who then sell the drugs to the addicts," said Haws.

Region II agents rely on background checks and surveillance to identify cartel members, and watch for signs like tattoos and the collection of religious artifacts like shrines.

Recently, the Sinaloa cartel has added Albuquerque as a stepping stone for its drug distribution in New Mexico, and much of the drugs coming into San Juan County are coming from Phoenix, passing through Albuquerque and then being transported into San Juan County via Highway 550. Drugs continue to be transported to the area from Mexico after going through California.

Albuquerque is seeing more "enforcers," or cartel members who resort to kidnappings and violence on order of the cartel leaders in Mexico, Haws said.

While some of the drugs reaching the county stay in the area and are sold to local drug addicts, much of the drugs are further distributed to other states such as Colorado, Utah, Missouri and the Dakotas.

"We are definitely a distribution hub here," said Haws.

Addressing why our area makes a good distribution hub, Haws said that the cartel members find it easy to import the drugs via wide-open New Mexico roads and reservation lands, and storage of drugs is also relatively easy here.

Obtaining fake documentation is also easy to obtain in this area, despite Bloomfield taking away the ability of illegal aliens to obtain driver's licenses.

While Region II has seen a slight increase in the use and distribution of heroin, Haws says methamphetamine remains the drug of choice in San Juan County, and that 98 percent of the drug cases Region II works on involve meth.

What is changing, he said, is the purity of the meth coming into the county.

"The purity here in San Juan County amazes the rest of the state," he said.

"We're seeing 94-98 percent purity here, and one recent sample sent to the DEA lab was 100 percent pure. The DEA didn't even know this level of purity was possible."

One of the challenges for local cartel members is getting the drug money back to Mexico. Bulk cash smuggling is one way to do this, but a relatively recent trend is to utilize money remitters such as Western Union and local businesses.

"The cartels know how to stay under the radar, and they'll repeatedly wire $999 back to Mexico to avoid reporting requirements. Since no reporting is required for this amount, the transfers are hard to detect."
Statewide, there has been a noticable uptick in kidnapping, assault and extortion, although the perpetrators attempt to single out ilegal aliens, confident that they would be reluctant to go to the authorities.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Sports Chowdah W/ A Side of Triptothan Update: No 11th Heaven For Bruins; BC Rocks Miami Like a Hurricane; The Longhorn Goobye

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
NCAA FOOTBALL: Boston College closed out the regular season on Friday with a trip to Miami to take on the struggling (altho' not as badly as the Eagles) Hurricanes.

The game seemed almost secondary to developments within the Miami program- it was decided that even if the Hurricanes were bowl-eligible that they would not accept any invitations due to an ongoing investigation and possible NCAA sanctions regarding former booster and Ponzi scheme mastermind Nevin Shapiro and the uncertainty on the status of football head coach Al Golden.

And I gotta say, despite getting out to the 14-10 halftime lead, Miami played like a team with other things on their mind in the 2nd half. Boston College got had the 1st possession of the 2nd half and after starting off on their own 20 yard line, managed to march down 80 yards in 3 minutes and 7 seconds to take a 17-14 lead on a 32 yard completion from QB Chase Rettig to TE Chris Pantale.

To open up the 4th quarter, the Eagles would get some much-needed insurance when BC linebacker Luke Kuechly picked off 'Canes QB Jackory Harris for a 45 yard return to the end zone to make it a 24-14 Boston College lead. The defense would then seal the deal by shutting down Miami's offense thanks in no small part to a number of takeaways. Harris would then go on to throw two more picks in the 4th quarter before Miami settled a late FG to make it a 24-17 game with 21 seconds left. The Hurricanes would attempt the onside kick, but it would go out of bounds to end the game and wrap up both the Eagles and Canes respective seasons.

Chase Rettig went 13-17 with 196 yards and 2 TDs while TE Chirs Pantale had 4 catches for 79 yards and 2 TDs. Miami's Jacory Harris went 23-39 with 245 yards, a TD and 4 interceptions on the day, three of them coming in the 4th quarter.

I wish I could take credit for this quote, but an anonymous netizen who was clearly paying attention to the game said that The Canes and Jacory Harris were making Boston College look like a top tier SEC team.

Boston College finished the 2011 campaign with a 4-8 record while the Miami Hurricanes wrap things up with a 6-6 record. Apparently wanting to send the crowd home happy in Miami, it was announced that Al Golden received an 8-year contract extension with the Hurricanes with about 12 minutes remaining in the game.

I gotta say, as disappointed as I've been with Boston College this year, it was still very gratifying to seem them beat the Hurricanes and win two out of their last three. I keep thinking back to that Freese FG attempt from point-blank range that clanged off the upright against Duke in week 3 and how much different this season could've been if the kick was good. Don't get me wrong, there were a number of other issues, but that seemed to be a backbreaker way too early for BC.

This would be the first time since 1999 (back when the Eagles were still in the Big East) that the BC Eagles were ineligible for a Bowl game, so that streak comes to an end this season.

For 2012, the BC Eagles are tentatively scheduled to have Army, Northwestern, Notre Dame and Maine as non-conference opponents, although an official, finalized schedule has yet to come out.

TEXAS: Thursday night marked the end of an era in the Lone Star state when the Texas Longhorns and Texas A&M Aggies faced off for the last time in the foreseeable future thanks to the Aggies moving to the SEC starting next season. The rivalry's apparent finale was broadcast live on ESPN from Kyle stadium in College Station, TX.

The Aggies/Longhorns Rivalry dates back to 1894 and the two football teams have met each other in 118 total games since then.

A&M got out to the early 10-0 lead in the first quarter while the Longhorns were unable to get a 1st down until about 8 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

The Longhorns headed into the locker room down 16-7 at the half, but started out strong in the 2nd half, with Longhorns CB Carrington Byndom picking off a pass from Aggies QB Ryan Tannehill to close within two points. Although the Aggies would keep the Longhorns out of the end zone on their next possession, they managed to take the 17-16 lead on a chip shot 25 yard FG. Texas would then pad their lead on a short TD run from RB Cody Johnson to make it 24-16 Longhorns.

But after kicking a 32 yard FG in the 4th, the Aggies would come back late to take the lead on a 16 yard completion from Tannehill to WR Jeff Fuller to make it a 25-24 Aggies lead. But with 1:48 remaining Case McCoy was able to march the Longhorns down the field and into Aggie territory, including a mad 25 yard scramble from 1st and 10 on the Aggies 48. Well within FG range, the Longhorns allowed the clock to go down to 3 seconds before bringing on Justin Tucker to kick a 40 yard FG, which sealed to 27-25 Longhorns win.

ELSEWHERE IN NCAA FOOTBALL: Pretty busy black Friday out there as far as College football went.

Despite a sloppy 1st half in Baton Rouge, the top ranked LSU Tigers came back strong in the 2nd half, blowing the #3 rated Arkansas Razorbacks out of they Bayou by a 41-17 final going on to win by a 41-17 final. Undefeated LSU will next face the #13 Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship game on December 3rd.

The #8 Houston Cougars handled Tulsa pretty easily on the road 48-16 to remain undefeated heading into next weekend's Conference USA Championship game, which they will host. The undefeated Cougars will likely face either Southern Mississippi or Marshall for the title game.

Other 'rivalry' games on Friday included the West Virginia Mountaineers rallying past the Pitt Panthers, scoring 14 unanswered points in the second half to win by a 21-20 final.

NHL: After rallying past a Buffalo Sabres team determined to assert their physical presence in a shootout Wednesday night to extend their winning streak to 10 in a row, the Boston Bruins played host to the Detroit Red Wings on black Friday.

Elsa/Getty Images
Once again, the Bruins rallied from behind to tie the game on an unassisted goal from Patrice Bergeron to tie the contest up at 2-2 and force OT. After the scoreless OT, Pavel Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi managed to get the puck past Tukka Rask in the OT while Nathan Horton had the lone shootout goal for Boston.

All good things must come to an end and the Red Wings snap the Bruins winning streak with their 3-2 shootout win, although Boston does get the one point for forcing the contest to overtime. This is actually the B's first shootout loss of the 2011-12 season, so at

For the first time in 16 years, the Bruins will host the Winnipeg Jets at the Garden on Saturday night. Back in November 1995, the Bruins managed to beat the Jets in regulation by a 5-4 final (and would actually sweep the season series with a 5-3 road win against Winnipeg a month later). The 9-9-4 Jets are coming off of a 3-1 at Carolina and the game gets under way at 7PM ET and will be broadcast on NESN and CBC.

NBA: Reports are circulating as of late Friday night that owners and the NBA players association have tentatively agreed to a new labor deal that would allow the regular NBA season to resume on Christmas Day.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Not Another New England Sports Blog! Wishes You a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving

Just a quick post to wish all of you safe travels and a happy Thanksgiving holiday.

For whatever it's worth, I consider myself somewhat fortunate to have found exactly two pin-ups depicting pilgrims, who weren't exactly known for their flirtatious and outgoing nature to begin with.

Of course, lets not forget that the Pilgrims of the Plymouth colony had company that first Thanksgiving as they were visited by Chief Massassoit of the Wampanoag tribe and about 90 of his men. Massassoit had earlier given the burgeoning colony stores of food from his inventory and provided ample venison to go with the fowl and fish served for the occasuion.

Some 300 years later (and curiously, just a few miles up the road from Plymouth) an aspiring artist named Peter Drieben would enroll in art school in Boston and after studying at the Sorbonne in Paris, would return to the USA to become the most prolific pin-up artist of the 20th Century. Drieben's works routinely appeared on the covers of magazines with names such as Wink, Flirt, Whisper and Titter. Perhaps most famously, Drieben did a series of publicity artwork for the 1941 Humphrey Bogart film The Maltese Falcon as well as posters for various Braodway shows.

Drieben's subjects have also included the flag-raising at Iwo Jima and a portrait of a young Ronald Reagan a few years before his 1968 death.

Given the sheer volume of Drieben's body of work, the a cursory search regarding above image (possibly of a Wampanoag maiden spying the Thanksgiving feast over the next rise) does not yield a title or a date, but apprears to have been published in the late 1940s or early 1950s.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Spanish Conservative Party Ousts Socialist Zapatero in Landslide Election

Spain's conservative Popular Party won at least 186 of the 350 seats in Congress during elections throughout Spain over the weekend, sweeping aside the Socialist government of Luis Zapatero. Zapatero had been PM since shortly after the deadly 2004 terrorist attacks on Madrid's commuter railways that killed 191 people.

Incoming Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy tempered his party's win with caution, stating that "there will be no miracles" in dealing with Spain's ongoing economic crisis. The wide margin of victory- the most lopsided since Spain resumed elections in the 1980s- is seen as giving the incoming Rajoy government a mandate to implement new austerity measures and avoid any kind of a bailout altogether.

Last weekend's elections took place amid a backdrop of Spain having the EU's highest unemployment rate- nearly 23%. Last week, Spain's borrowing costs spiked to their highest levels since 1997.

Earlier this year, Portugal's socialist PM Jose Socrates resigned and his party lost the majority in Parliament after snap elections gave the PSD Social Democrats the majority.

More recently, Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi resigned after the Italian Parliament approved his austerity package while Greece's socialist PM George Papandreou stepped down to make room for a new coalition after narrowly winning a no-confidence vote from Parliament the second week of November. Papandreou's resignation came a few days after his defence minister dismissed senior level Greek military commanders from their respective posts.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pre-Thanksgiving Sports Chowdah Update: Eight is NOT Enough- B's Drop Canadiens for 9th Straight Win; FAIL to the Chiefs; Upset-a-palooza

Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images
NHL: Fresh from a convincing 6-0 win against the New York Islanders this weekend, the Bruins headed north to Montreal to try their 9th consecutive win Monday evening.

The Bruins got off the the early 1-0 lead in the 1st after Andre Ference managed to get the puck past Habs netminder Carey Price. And that would be it as far as the scoring from either side was concerned- Tim Thomas would turn aside all 33 shots he faced while Carey Price turned aside 17 of 18 shots faced. The Bruins even managed to kill a double-minor that was assessed to them late in the 2nd period.

The last person to score against the Bruins was the Blue Jacket's Derek MacKenzie in the 2nd period of the November 17 game against Columbus. Tim Thomas now has a career regular season total of 29 shutouts (after heading into this past weekend with 27). Monday night's win also puts the Bruins in 1st place in the Northeastern Conference (tied with the Sabres for points, but Boston gets the tiebreaker after winning the only head-to-head matchup so far).

Speaking of Buffalo, the Bruins will travel next to western New York to take on the Sabres who are coming off a 4-2 loss to Phoenix over the weekend. The puck drops at 7 PM Eastern time and the game will be televised on NESN and the MSG network.

I have to say, I figured it would only be a matter of time before the Bruins broke out of their slump and got their proverbial shit together- but this was taking place much sooner than I anticipated. Nothing puts that crappy October in the rearview like a 9-0 November.

ELSEWHERE IN THE NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins Center Sidney Crosby returned to the ice for the first time since January on Monday night, tallying 2 goals and 2 assists in the Penguins 5-0 win over the Islanders at Pittsburgh's Consol Energy Center.

Crosby was sidelined with concussion-like symptoms after receiving multiple hits to the head on two different nights in January of 2011.

Jim Rogash/Getty Images
NFL: As it tuns out, week 11 was bookended by a couple of games that were pivotal to the AFC East playoff picture.

Heading into Monday night's game, the Patriots were well aware that they could increase their lead on the Jets after their Thursday night loss at Denver. New England had an AFC West opponent of their own on Monday Night's nationally televised game as they took on the 4-5 Kansas City Chiefs.

When they scheduled this game, they probably figured it would be some sort of reunion between former Kansas City QB Matt Cassell and some of his former teammates in New England. However, Cassel ended his season after breaking his hand last week, with the Chiefs starting Tyler Palko instead.

The Kansas City defence, beset by similar injury woes as the Patriots, were able to pressure Tom Brady, occasionally giving extra coverage to receivers like Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. After a penalty inside the Patriots 10 pushed them back, the Chiefs would get on the board first with a 25 yard FG from Ryan Succop to give KC the early 3-0 lead.

Feeling pretty aggressive, the Chiefs attempted an onside kick, only to hand the ball to New England after one of the Chiefs players touched it before it had travelled the minimum of 10 yards. The Patriots would get as far as the Chiefs 30 before Brady was sacked and KC recovered the fumble, although nothing came from their ensuing possession.

The Patriots finally got on the board with 4:18 to go in the 2nd quarter after Brady connected with Rob Gronkowski at mid-field before he ran along the sidelines to put New England up 7-3. New England would then get good field position after CB Kyle Arrington intercepted a tipped pass from Tyler Palko and returned it for 28 yards. The Chiefs, however, managed to lock things down after the Patriots got as far as the KC 3 yard line, meaning that New England had to settle for a short FG with 10 seconds remaining in the 1st half to make it a 10-3 Patriots lead.

You know that tired and worn-out phrase "A tale of two halves"? It actually applies here. Kansas City simply went away and New England scored 24 unanswered points in the 2nd half to make it a 34-3 final. Brady went 15 for 27 with 237 yards and 2 TDs while Rob Gronkowski had 4 catches for 96 yards and 2 TDs in the (second-half) blowout against Kansas City.

The win further opens up a gap in the AFC east with Buffalo and the Jets. New England will next take on the Philadelphia Eagles from Lincoln Financial Field in Philly on Sunday with a 4:15 ET/ 1:15 PT kickoff.

MLB: The saga of the 2011 Red Sox continues to unfold like a country western song where the crooner loses everything nearly two months after their late season implosion. If the loss of Epstein in the front office, Francona in the dugout and Papelbon in the bullpen wasn't enough, it's looking as though NESN sideline reporter Heidi Watney will be departing Boston to work the sidelines and pregame shows for Time-Warner Cable in Southern California [which could very well include the Lakers if they ever have a season- NANESB!].

A California native and graduate of the University of San Diego, Watney arrived in 2008 from an ESPN radio affiliate in Fresno, CA replacing Hazel Mae who was leaving for the then-nascent MLB network.

OTHER RED SOX NEWS: Former New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine formally interviewed with the Boston Red Sox this week. Valentine was an unexpected candidate for the position that Dale Sveum, Sandy Alomar Jr, Gene Lamont and others had interviewed for in the past couple of weeks.

Leon Halip/Getty Images
OTHER MLB NEWS: One week after being announced as the American League Cy Young winner, Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander was named the AL MVP for 2011. This makes him the first pitcher to get the AL MVP since Oakland's Dennis Eckersley got the nod in 1992.

During the 2011 regular season, Verlander went 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA and 250 strikeouts.

ELSEWHERE IN MLB: Seattle Mariners outfielder Greg Halman was found stabbed to death by Dutch police in his Rotterdam residence. Police and paramedics were reportedly called to Halman's home and found him bleeding from stab wounds, but were unable to revive him.

A police spokeswoman said that Halman's brother is being held as a suspect, although they aren't allowed to disclose his name under Dutch law.

NCAA FOOTBALL: Well, the tough defensive slog giveth, the tough defensive slog taketh away.

The #22 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish managed to hold off a late rally from Boston College at South Bend on Saturday, recovering an onside kick with 2 minutes to go after the Eagles had closed to within 2 points late in the 4th. Trailing 16-7 with about 3 and a half minutes to go, Boston College started out on their own 22 yard line and managed to take all of 1:41 off the clock before punching it in from the Notre Dame 7 yard line to make it a 16-14 game before attempting the onside kick. However, the Irish recovered at the Eagles 48 yard line, and although they went 3 and out, the ensuing punt pinned Boston College deep in their own end. Not even a series of laterals as the clock ran out could help the Eagles as they went on to lose by a final of 16-14.

For the season finale, Boston College travels to Miami to take on the University of Miami Hurricanes on Friday, November 25th at 3:30 PM ET.

ELSEWHERE IN NCAA FOOTBALL: After Oklahoma State's loss to Iowa State on Friday night, it turns out there were some more top 10 upsets in the works.

Fresh off their loss to Boston College, the NC State Wolfpack simply steamrolled over #7 Clemson by a 37-13 final.

The fourth-ranked Oregon Ducks are no longer a one-loss team after missing a last-second field goal attempt in the final seconds of regulation against the USC Trojans, losing by a 38-35 final.

Sarah Glenn/Getty Images
For the first time in 20 meetings, the Baylor Bears figured out a way past the #5 Oklahoma Sooners in a thrilling contest Saturday night, with the Baylor Bears snapping a 38-38 deadlock with a quick drive capped off by a pass from QB Robert Griffin to WR Terrance Williams to give Baylor the 45-38 win (which now further complicated the Big 12 playoff picture).

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Syrian Army Defectors Attack Assad's Ruling Party Headquarters and Air Force Base

Syrian Military withdrawing from Hama over the summer- AFP Photo
In what has been the most high-profile attack against Basar Al-Assad's regime since widespread antigovernment demonstrations began earlier this year, defectors from the Syrian military attacked a military compound and fired rocket-propelled grenades at the Damascus headquarters of the ruling Ba'ath party this week.

On Wednesday, there were reports of explosions and gunfire in the Damascus suburb of Harasta as the Free Syrian Army claimed to have attacked and heavily damaged an Air Force Intelligence compound. Despite the name, Syria's Air Force Intelligence Directorate deals with matters unrelated to the air force, including harassing, intimidating and torturing political opponents at home and abroad.

Although there were no reported casualties in Wednesday's attack, the group of defectors from Syria's military calling themselves the Free Syrian Army (FSA) claimed they chose the Air Force Intelligence compound against the intelligence arm of Assad's ruling Ba'ath party as a symbolic target.

In the early morning hours of Sunday, rocket propelled grenades slammed into the headquarters of Assad's ruling Ba'ath party in Damascus.
Witnesses reported hearing two explosions before seeing smoke rising and fire trucks rushing to the scene early this morning.

It is thought the attack was carried out just before dawn when the building was mostly empty. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

Thabet Salem, a journalist who lives close the party building, told Al Jazeera: "This is a clear-cut escalation of what's going on ... It will bring us into a dangerous phase."
Besides pressure from the West, Syria faces additional pressure from the 22-nation Arab League as a deadline to either end the military crackdown or allow international monitors into the country passed over the weekend. Syria's membership in the Arab League was suspended earlier this month and Assad's regime may now face additional diplomatic and economic sanctions from once-allied nations in the region.

The Assad regime's ongoing crackdown, however, did not deter them from being accepted by the UN on the UNESCO organization, which oversees issues relating to human rights.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Today's Train of Thought- Southern Belle Calendar Girl, November 19, 2011

Today's train of thought takes us to the Ozarks near the Arkansas/Oklahoma border. Apparently when shooting their company calender, the Kansas City Southern had the change of season in the Ozarks in mind when the railway's F units and office cars were repainted into the striking 'Southern belle' paint scheme reminiscent of KCS's earlier diesels- although F9A #KCS1 was purchased from VIA Rail Canada.

Here, contributor Michael Biehn caught the A-B-A combo of brightly painted F Units as they made their way through Howard, AR, seemingly trying to one-up the surrounding fall foliage for their calendat shoot on a sunny November 8, 2007.

The F units are a few days out of the paint shop, having made their debut by hauling an intermodal train over the KCS Vicksburg subdivision. The paint scheme seems to have stuck, with subsequent units from brand new ES44AC GEVOS to rebuilt, lower emissions 2nd generation locomotives like the GP22ECO

Friday, November 18, 2011

Sports Chowdah Update for 11/18- B's Smoking Jackets in Shootout; Jets Can't Buck Downward Spriral Against Broncos; Got Woody? Oklahoma State Doesn't

NHL: After a frenzied 4-3 win over the New Jersey Devils earlier this week, the Bruins were set to continue their torrid November by closing out their homestand with a home game against the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets.

This one turned out to be a pretty light-scoring affair, with a scoreless first period. Early in the 2nd period, Blue Jackets C Derek MacKenzie got Columbus on the board with a power-play goal while a little over 2 minuets later, Adam McQuaid got one past Curtis Sanford on an even strength goal to make it 1-1.

Of course, a scoreless 3rd period means overtime, and the scoreless overtime means a shootout! Tukka Rask stopped two out of three shots faced while Sanford allowed goals from David Krejci and Rich Peverly. Rask made the game clinching save on a shot from the Jackets' Antoine Vermette to end the shootout and send Boston to its 7th consecutive win, sweeping the 5 game homestand.

Rask had 30 saves on 31 shots faced while Columbus' Sanford stopped 26 of 27 faced. The Bruins had only one power play opportunity which they didn't capitalize on, while the Jackets went 1 for 2 with the man advantage. While the Bruins had won an earlier shootout on Oct. 15th at Chicago, this is the first shootout win for Tukka Rask on the season.

The defending Stanley Cup Champions (who are starting to play like it) will next travel to Long Island where they will take on the 5-8-3 New York Islanders on Saturday Night. The puck drops at 7PM ET and the game will be televised on NESN.

OTHER BRUINS NEWS: Quebec's director of criminal prosecutions announced that they had declined to pursue charges against Boston Bruins captain Zdneo Chara over a March 2011 on-ice hit against Montreal's Max Pacioretty that sent him into stanchion and left him with two fractured vertebrae.

Chara had received a game misconduct penalty, but no further sanction from the NHL in the last 8 months since the hit.

NFL: Last week's Thursday night all-AFC West game was of some interest simply because it was the first Thursday night game since the season opener between the Packers and the Saints at Lambeau Field[for some reason, I also dug the ad that showed a Jets fan making his way to his favorite watering hole after being crowded and jostled on a subway car while (presumably) thousands of miles away, a Broncos fan was finishing up at a ranch and making HIS way through the a remote, rutted high plains dirt road in an old Suburban before arriving at his respective tavern (which appeared to be the only structure around for miles) to watch the same game as the Jets fan- NANESB!].

As a New England fan, this week's Thursday night game was of some interest because it featured the Denver Broncos taking on the Patriot's next closest division rival, the New York Jets. The game from Sports Authority Field at Mile High got off to a slow start, with each team trading field goals and heading into the half tied at 3-3.

The Jets would then come out and score a TD on their first possession of the 2nd half to take a 10-3 lead. However, the Broncos would come right back to tie things up at 10-10 after Broncos CB Andre Goodman intercepted a Mark Sanchez pass and returned it 26 yards for the pick-6. The Jets would re-take the lead early in the 4th quarter after a 45 yard Nick Folk FG attempt was good to make things 13-10. With 5:54 remaining in regulation, the Broncos got the ball back on their own 4 yard line, starting QB Tim Tebow ended up calling his number plenty, with five carries for 37 yards (as well as a pass to Dante Rosario and a run by Lance Ball) to set up 3rd and 4 from the Jets 20 yard line with a minute and 6 seconds remaining in the game, setting up this:

With that, the Broncos took the late 17-13 lead over the Jets. Mark Sanchez would get the ball out as far as the Denver 44 yard line before the clock ran out.

The Broncos win this one by a final of 17-14, knocking the Jets down to 3rd place in the AFC East. The Patriots will close out week 11 with a Monday night game against the Kansas City Chiefs from Foxborough, MA.

NCAA HOOPS: Duke Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski this week surpassed his mentor and former Army head coach Bob Knight to become the winningest Division I Men's Basketball coach of all time.

'Coach K' secured career coaching win #903 this week when Duke University beat Michigan State by a 74-69 final at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night. Krzyzewski has been Duke's head coach since 1980, leading them to four NCAA titles.

OKLAHOMA STATE: Oklahoma State women's basketball head coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna were killed in a plane crash on a recruiting trip to Arkansas. The single-engine plane was owned and piloted by Bransetter- he and his wife were also killed in the plane crash.

Budke and Serna had been with Oklahoma State since 2005. The NTSB is investigating the cause of the crash.

SYRACUSE: Just weeks after the Penn State child molestation scandal shocked the college sports world, a former Syracuse Orangemen ballboy is accusing assistant coach Bernie Fine of molesting him and his stepbrother over a span of several years starting in 1984.

Bobby Davis and Mike Lange allege that they were molested by Fine at Syracuse practice facilities and on road trips. Fine denies the charges by the two men, who are now 39 and 45 respectively.

The Syracuse chancellor said that they were contacted in 2005 about allegations he had previously reported to police regarding Fine. The University claims that it conducted it's own internal investigation and that people the accuser said would support his claims denied any knowledge of wrongdoing on Fine's part. Syracuse police declined to pursue the case because the statute of limitations had expired.

NCAA FOOTBALL: A little like the NFL, although most of the action is typically supposed to take place over the weekend, we were treated to some pretty good televised games throughout the week.

BIG 12: Undoubtedly the biggest shock from this week's slate of weeknight games came on Friday Night with Iowa State upending the Oklahoma State Cowboys bid for a perfect season before the December 3rd Bedlam game against the Sooners.

The game took place in Ames, IA and had the Cyclones trailing 17-7 at the half, only to fall even further behind after the Cowboys scored on their first possession of the 2nd half to make it 24-7. From there, however, the Cyclones would go on to score 17 unanswered points, tying the contest up at 24-24 with 6 minutes left in the 4th on a 7 yard Jared Barnett pass to Albert Gary for the game-tying TD, forcing overtime.

For the first OT, the Cyclones and Cowboys traded TDs, while Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden was picked off to start off the 2nd OT. With the short field, Iowa State's backup RB Jeff Woody rushed for the game-winning TD to give the underdog Cyclones the 37-31 win against #2 (and previously undefeated) Oklahoma State.

Depending on what happens to the #5 Sooners, who travel to #25 Baylor this weekend, the December 3rd Bedlam game could very well determine the Big 12 title.

ACC: After falling behind early to the North Carolina Tarheels, #9 Virginia Tech managed to put up 24 points in the 2nd and 3rd quarter before having to hold off a late rally from the Tarheels in the 4th.

The Tarheels would score 2 TDs in the 4th, including a Bryn Renner pass to WR Erik Highsmith. After scoring a TD to make it a 24-21 game, the Tarheels attempted an onside kick that they did recover, but it didn't travel the required 10 yards, so Virginia Tech got the ball back and pretty much ran out the clock.

The win, coupled with a Virginia loss to #23 Florida State this weekend, would give the Hokies the ACC Coastal Division title.

MAC: Pretty good game on Tuesday night between Ball State and Northern Illinois. The NIU Huskies fell behind early by a 14-0 margin, but were able to come back and win by a 41-38 final. Meanwhile, the Ohio Bobcats got by the Bowling Green Red Falcons on a Field Goal as time expired to win by a 29-28 final. Both the Bobcats and Huskies are sporting identical 8-3 records, although NIU has the better in-conference record of 5-1.

PENN STATE: Another curious wrinkle in the Penn State child molestation scandal surfaced when former Nittany Lions head coach Joe Paterno transferred full ownership of his home to his wife for $1 months before the allegations of former coordinator Jerry Sandusky molesting young boys at Penn State facilites and elsewhere.

Some observers interpret this as Paterno attempting to shield himself from civil suits stemming from Sandusky's actions. However, since Paterno is also well into his 80s and this could've been seen as a fairly benign manuever as part of an estate tax shelter of some sort were it not for the timing.

Paterno's son Scott also announced on Friday that the 84 year old former Penn State coach was also diagnosed with treatable lung cancer.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Attack of the Cobalt Crustaceans! Electric Blue Lobster Pulled From Scottish Waters

An azure lobster pulled from the waters off the east coast of Scotland has found a home at the London Aquarium after being purchased from a fish market.

The buyer, Rex Goldsmith, said he paid market price for the pastel lobster at a London fish market, but rather than cook it, he contacted researchers from the Natural History Museum who confirmed that it was a European Lobster but developed the darker blue tone due to a rare genetic variant. The European lobsters are fairly common and can be found in the Atlantic waters anywhere from the UK and Norway to the Azores and Morocco. However, they are normally a much darker shade of blue- almost indistinguishable from grey or light black.

In 2009, a cobalt-blue lobster was caught off the coast of New Hampshire before being turned over to the New England Aquarium. Researches at the New England aquarium attributed the odd hue to an antioxidant known as astaxanthin that bonded with the lobster's shell.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

NYPD Begins Clearing Zucotti Park of #OccupyWallStreet Encampment; #OccupyDC Protester Opens Fire on White House? Neo-nazi Liason in Oakland?

Mary Altaffer / AP
At least 70 protesters from the 'Occupy Wall Street protests were arrested by NYPD officers in the early morning hours of Tuesday as they moved to clear the park of squatters.

At around 1 AM, officers began circulating bulletins from Brookfield Property Management- owners of Zucotti Park- asking that those camped out on the property begin gathering up their personal items and leave.

Mayor Bloomberg, NYPD Commissioner Kelly and Brookfield property management [NYSE: BPO] decided that after weeks of unsanitary conditions, assaults, noise complaints and rapes that the park should be cleared of the demonstrators. As soon as the police removed the last of the holdouts (some of whom had chained themselves to trees) New York City sanitation workers began moving through the park cleaning up tents, garbage and other belongings left behind.

The Occupy Wall Street demonstrators vowed to return and shut down lower Manhattan with acts of civil disobedience on the 2-month anniversary of the '#Occupy' movement. One Zucotti park occupier was arrested after his videotaped rant promising arson attacks against Macy's and other New York businesses went viral.

Although a court ruling issued later on Tuesday would allow the Occupy Wall Street protesters to return to Zucotti park, the ruling stipulated that would not be allowed to bring sleeping bags or tents back into the park.

Over the weekend, police in Portland, OR acting on orders from mayor Sam Adams, dismantled two campsites for #OccupyPortland in Chapman and Lownsdale Squares, resulting in one officer injured by a projectile and one protester arrested. By ( AM on Sunday Morning, both parks had been cleared of the occupiers and tents.

In Dallas, local TV stations are reporting that The City Hall Park encampment which #OccupyDallas set up was cleared of demonstrators with little incident, as many of the 'occupiers' had left in advance of the Dallas police moving in.

Over in the nation's Capital, an Idaho man suspected of firing at the White House reportedly spent time with #OccupyDC protesters. After the White House was peppered with rounds from an AK-style rifle (President Obama was en route to Hawaii for an economic summit), the rifle was found in an abandoned car shortly afterwards.

Pennsylvania state Police arrested the suspected gunman, 21 year old Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez of Idaho, at a hotel a few hundred miles away in Indiana, PA. Ortega-Hernandez reportedly had prior convictions for domestic abuse, drug possession and assault.

Meanwhile in Oakland, CA- which had seen some of the fiercest clashes between demonstrators and police, it appears that aides to Mayor Jean Quan were using a neo-nazi as an intermediary to communicate with #OccupyOakland. Two of Mayor Quan's top aides have resigned since clashes between #OccupyOakland protesters and Oakland police.

Hat tip- [Ace of Spades; Verum Serum]

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Blast Kills 17 at Iranian Revolutionary Guards Arms Depot

The hits just keep on coming for Iran.

Iranian state media is reporting that at least 17 people, including a commander pivotal to Iran's missile development, were killed in an explosion at an arms depot some 30 miles northwest of Tehran. The blast took place in a facility belonging to Iran's Revolutionary Guards near the city of Keraj.
Windows in nearby buildings were shattered and the blast was heard in central Tehran, 40 km away.

Two hours after the explosion a fire still raged and there were traffic jams on nearby roads, a local reporter said.

The death toll was revised down from an earlier figure released by the Revolutionary Guards of 27.

Revolutionary Guards spokesman Ramezan Sharif did not say what had caused the "accident" in the village of Bidganeh, near the city of Karaj.

"Some of the casualties are reported to be in a critical condition," he said.

An emergency worker said that 12 people had been taken to hospital.

Karaj resident Kaveer told the BBC's Newshour programme that the sound was "deafening".

"We were kind of shocked. I just ran out of the house and looked around," he said.
General Hasan Moghaddam was among the 17 Revolutionary Guardsmen killed in this weekend's blast. Moghaddam was described as being one of the architechts of Iran's long-range missile program and was buried with full state honors at a funeral attended by Ayatollah Ali Khameni this week.

Although state-controlled media outlets report that the blast was an accident, reports suggest the Ayatollah Khameni's inner circle believe it was an act of sabotage carried out by Israel's Mossad intelligence agency.

The blast came just days before another computer virus targeting Iranian military computer networks was discovered. The virus is called Duqu by computer security experts and shares similar charachterisitics with the earlier Stuxtnet worm that disabled the centrifuges Iran was using to enrich uranium.
"We are in the initial phase of fighting the Duqu virus," said Gholamreza Jalali, the head of Iran's civil defence program. "The final report which says which organisations the virus has spread to and what its impacts are has not been completed yet. All the organisations and centres that could be susceptible to being contaminated are being controlled."

The Stuxnet virus altered the speed at which the enrichment centrifuges spun until they were out of control. It was so sophisticated that experts said it must have been the work of an advanced, probably national, sabotage program. Duqu operates differently, though using some of the same code to infiltrate computers, sending back information to its handlers rather than breaking down systems. The virus was spread through an infected Microsoft Word document.

Symantec, the computer security firm, which has led investigations into Stuxnet and Duqu, said the new virus seemed to be intended to gain remote access to computer systems.
Happening almost concurrently with the Keraj explosion, the son of former Revolutionary Guard commander was found dead in his Dubai hotel room.
Numerous Iranian media on Sunday reported the death of Ahmad Rezaie inside Hotel Gloria, a four-star hotel in the coastal United Arab Emirates city.

Khalil Ebrahim Al Mansouri, head of the Dubai police's criminal investigations department, said there is no criminal suspicion surrounding the man's death. Al Mansouri, quoting the dead man's brother, added that Ahmad suffered from epilepsy.

Yet Tabnak, a website owned by the dead man's father, Mohsen Rezaie, claimed that Ahmad "was killed under suspicious circumstances."

The same site noted that the death was "concurrent with the martyrdom of Mohsen Rezaie's comrades in arms" on Saturday, referring to an explosion at a military base near Tehran.

The Tabnak report did not elaborate on what connection, if any, existed between Ahmad Rezaie's death and the deadly explosion.

Shahram Gilabadi -- a spokesman for Iran's Expediency Council, of which Mohsen Rezaie is secretary -- told Tabnak, "The death is currently being investigated."

The semi-official Mehrs News Agency reported that Ahmad Rezaie died from an electric shock.

Mohsen Rezaie served for years as head of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard.
Iran's Revolutionary Guards operates independently from other branches of the Iranian military, answering to the ruling clerics, commanding the 90,000 strong Basiij militia and controlling a financial portfolio thought to be worth US$8 billion of both military, civilian and black market assets.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Today's Train of Thought- A Leisurely Run for the Border, Nov 14th 2011

When one thinks of parts of this country that have an abundance of fall colors, one doesn't usually think of Iowa. But the northeast corner of the Hawkeye state features rolling hills and valleys as well as forests along the Mississippi River. And it's through this somewhat un-Iowa-like landscape that the former Milwaukee Road line between Minneapolis-St Paul and Kansas City traverses. There's a line to Chicago that branches off across the Mississippi river at Sabula, IA. Over the last 25 years, the line has seen no fewer than five different owners (Milwaukee Road; Soo Line; I&M Rail Link; Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern and Canadian Pacific) with the most recent change of ownership coming in 2008 when DM&E parent company Cedar American Holdings sold the combined DM&E/IC&E system to Canadian Pacific.

For the most part, CP doesn't seem to be in any particular rush to assert its corporate identity over its latest acquisition. While the blue and yellow EMDs of the IC&E and DM&E have occasionally been showing up on CP Rail's system as far east as the D&H in northern New York state, trains over this recently acquired part of the Canadian Pacific are for the most part powered by second generation standard-cab EMDs from both the IC&E/DM&E fleet as well as similar lease units.

Here, on a clear, gorgeous autumn afternoon in October 2010, contributor FJ Grizel caught a mixed freight decelerating after crossing the mighty Mississippi from Savanna, IL into Sabula, IA. The lead unit- SD40-2 #6367- is no stranger to these parts having started out life as Milwaukee Road #206 and having been dubbed 'City of New Ulm' by the DM&E.

Streaky Sports Chowdah Update- Brady, Pats Soar in Meadowlands, Stymie Sanchez & Jets; Miller, Sabres Rattled in Boston; Wilson Ramos Safe at Home

NFL: If it feels like forever since the Patriots last won a game, that's probably because the last time they actually won a game was on October 16th against Dallas. Since then, New England has had a bye week and Sunday afternoon losses to the Steelers and Giants, setting up a pivotal prime-time matchup between them and the Jets- each team sporting an identical 5-3 record heading into Sunday night.

New England was also coming into Sunday night's game at New Jersey's Meadowlands with an injury-depleted defense after releasing lineman Albert Hainesworth (who was eventually picked up by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers).

Jim Davis- Boston Globe photo
The Jets opening drive got off to a promising start, beginning on their own 33 and moving down the field to inside the New England 10 yard line while taking barely two minutes, but after a 3 yard rush at the Patriots 10 and 2 straight incompletions from QB mark Sanchez at the 6, the Jets had to settle for a 24 yard FG attempt, which Jets kicker Nick Folk missed.

For their first two possessions, the Patriots would make their way into Jets territory, but be held to FG attempts each time (Gronkowski would make both attempts- one from the 50 and one from the 36 yard line- to make it a 6-0 Patriots lead).

The Jets would get on the board at the 4:44 mark of the 2nd period after Pats QB Tom Brady fumbled on their own 8 yard line, then get assessed a 5 yard penalty on their own 5 for a Jets safety to make it a 6-2 game with New England on top.

The Jets would then start their next drive from their own 35, taking all of 1:18 off the game clock to find the end zone to take a brief 9-7 lead over the Patriots when Sanchez ran the ball in from the Patriots 2 yard line.

However, even in some of their earlier losses, the Patriots offense has demonstrated a certain resiliency and ability to strike quickly and the final minute and 20 seconds of the 1st half on Sunday night's game was no exception. Starting on their own 20, New England managed to drive all the way down to the Jets 16 yard line when they found the end zone for the first time in the evening when Brady connected to Rob Gronkowski with 9 seconds left in the half to go up 13-9.

New England would get the ball to start off the 2nd half, although the Pats and Jets would trade 3 and outs on their first possessions. The Patriots managed to pad their lead on their second possession after Joe McKnight fumbled a Zoltan Mesko punt and New England recovered, coming away from the Jets 9 yard line with another Gostkowski FG to show for it to make it 16-9 New England.

The Jets followed that up by starting on their own 40 yard line and getting as far as the Patriots 37 before linebacker Rob Ninkovich intercepted a thrice-tipped Mark Sanchez pass and ran it back for 18 yards, giving New England the ball back on their own 43. With the shorter field, New England marched right down and Brady found Gronkowski for another TD pass to really start to break things open with a 23-9 lead with 4:44 to go in the 3rd. The Jets would come right back with a lengthy drive of their own to make it a 23-16 game early in the 4th. However, the Patriots offense would answer with another scoring drive of their own, hitting paydirt when Brady connected with Deion Branch for an 8 yard TD run to make it a 30-16 game.

The backbreaker would come on the following possession when the Jets were pinned deep in their own end and Ninkovich picked off Mark Sanchez again, returning the INT 12 yards for a pick 6 to put the game away at 37-16 with 7:45 to go in regulation.

This was a pretty big road win for New England, breaking a deadlock in the AFC East and regaining some momentum that had been missing for nearly a month. Just when it looked like the rest of the NFL seemed to have Brady figured out, he goes 26-39 with 329 yards and three TD passes and no interceptions.

Sunday night's win puts Brady and Belichick as the winningest coach & QB tandem since the AFL/NFL merger in 1966, breaking a tie with Miami's Dan Marino and Don Shula. New England also has not lost three consecutive games since 2002.

For next week's matchup, the Patriots find themselves in the prime time limelight when they host the Kansas City Chiefs and former Pats QB Matt Cassel at Foxbourough, MA on Monday night football.

NCAA FOOTBALL: For better or worse, all eyes were on Happy Valley Satuday afternoon for some actual football amid the Penn State sex abuse scandal when the Nittany Lions would take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers for the first time in 46 years without Joe Paterno.

Nebraska got out to an early 10-0 lead in the first half before adding to that lead in the 2nd half to make it 17-0. The Nittany Lions would get on the board late in the 3rd to make it 17-7 and close the gap to 17-14 with 6 minutes to go in the 3rd, but the Lions final drive sputtered and fell flat on a 4th and 1 on Penn State's own 46 as time expired.

AP Photo
ACC: Speaking of low-scoring NCAA Football games, both Boston College QBs played a role in the Eagles 3rd win (2nd against an ACC opponent) of the season on Saturday against the North Carolina State Wolfpack. Backup Josh Bordner got BC on the board in the first with a 3 yard TD run to make it 7-0. After the Wolfpack fot on the board with a 32 yard FG, Eagles starting QB Chase Rettig then returned to the game and connected with WR Colin Larmond for a 17 yard TD catch.

Surprisingly, that was all the would need. Although they allowed an NC State touchdown early in the 3rd quarter, the Eagles defense pitched a shutout and Boston College hangs on to win by a 14-10 final.

Next week, the BC Eagles will travel to South Bend, IN to take on #24 Notre Dame on Saturday. The Fighting Irish won the last contest between the two Catholic institutions last year at Chestnut Hill by a 31-13 final.

Babineau/ photo
NHL: Wow- so much to love about Saturday night's affair at the Garden that the game itself seemed like a mere afterthought.

For the pregame ceremony before the Sabres and Bruins got underway at the Garden. the Bruins arranged for Daron and Lori Jacobs of Pembroke, MA do the ceremonial puck drop. Their son is a Lieutenant in the Massachusetts National Guard and had recently deployed to Afghanistan, but unbeknownst to them was in the building Saturday night to join them in time for the pregame ceremony. For those of you who missed it, NESN thoughtfully tweeted a link to this embeddable video over the weekend.

Both Buffalo and Boston were going into Saturday night's game riding a 4-game winning streak. The Sabres got the only goal of the first period on a Thomas Vanek tally 5 minutes and 38 seconds. However, the most talked about moment from the first period was Milan Lucic's hit on Ryan Miller when he ventured out of the crease to play the puck as it bounced off the boards. The hit sent Miller on his backside and his mask flying while earning Lucic a trip to the sin bin for charging.

At the 7:40 mark of the 2nd period, Rich Peverly got Boston on the board, beating Ryan Miller to tie the game at 1-1. Boston would then score two goals in sixteen seconds from Tyler Seguin and Nathan Horton to make it 3-1.

The Bruins would then blow it open in the 3rd, scoring three more goals (including Seguin's second of the night) while Buffalo would get a late power-play goal after the game was basically decided. The Bruins go on to win their 5th in a row and are above the .500 mark after downing the Sabres 6-2.

The postgame talk, however, centered around not only Lucic's hit on Miller, but Buffalo's response- or lack thereof. There was no retaliation from any of Buffalo's enforcers and on Monday, it was announced that there would be no further punishment from the NHL against Lucic for the hit.

The 8-7-0 Bruins homestand continues on Tuesday night against the 8-6-1 New Jersey Devils. Puck drops at 7 PM and the game will be televised on NESN.

MLB: Just 51 hours after his abduction, Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos was freed from his captors after a prolonged shootout between his kidnappers and police at a remote hideout.
Washington Post Image
According to a statement from Venezuelan investigators, six suspects were taken into custody when Ramos was freed and five Colombian nationals- thought to be accomplices- were held for questioning on Monday.

The rescue operation took place in a remote area of western Venezuela's mountainous Carabobo state where police and soliders either had to hike in or be flown in by helicopter. Ramos was reuinted with his family in Valencia by 3 AM the following morning.

Also on Monday, it was announced that Ramos finished 4th overall in balloting for National League Rookie of the Year.

RED SOX: The Jonathan Papelbon era in Boston has officially come to an end with the free agent closer reaching a 4 year, $50 million deal that includes a vesting option for 2016. This would be the most lucrative contract for a closing pitcher on record.

CARDINALS: After interviewing Ryne Sandberg, Terry Francona and Jose Oquendo, the St Louis Cardinals have named former catcher Make Matheny as their new manager. Matheny was behind the plate for St Louis when they were swept by the Red Sox in the 2004 World Series. The catcher won 4 gold gloves- all of them with the Cardinals- before signing with the San Francisco Giants in 2006 as a free agent and ultimately retiring as a player due to post concussion syndrome.

MARLINS: Amid much fanfare, the Marlins unveiled their new 2012 uniforms and official name-change to the Miami Marlins to coincide with the scheduled opening of their new ballpark in Little Havana.

The Marlins have also reportedly been in talks with free agent 1B Albert Pujols, although there's no indication that those talks have gone anywhere yet.

ASTROS: There could be another realignment in the works as prospective Houston Astros owner Jim Crane has reportedly agreed to switch from the National League to the American League as early as 2013.

The move must get the approval of other MLB franchise owners, but it's thought the move could save Jim Crane a discount of almost $50 million on the Astros purchase price.

NBA: As negotiations between the team owners and Players association continue to wither on the vine, Yahoo Sports is reporting that a number of disgruntled players gathered for a clandestine conference to decertify the NBA Players association.

As it stands, even if the dispute were resolved tomorrow, there would be no NBA games until mid-December at the earliest. However, it looks like the season is pretty much dead as it is.

Reuters Photo
NCAA HOOPS: As indifferent as I am about College hoops, I still thought this was pretty cool.

Before a crowd of about 7000 including President Obama on board the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, the NCAA Basketball season got underway when #1 North Carolina took on Michigan State on a basketball court set up on the carrier's deck while she was in San Diego.

Play was a little sloppy because there was intermittent wind and drizzle, making the court slick and 3 pointers problematic at times, but North Carolina bested the Spartans by a 67-55 final.

The game drew favorable comparisons to the NHL's now-annual New Year's Day Winter Classic outdoor game, and there is talk of not only a second 'Carrier Classic' next November, but also making it a doubleheader or adding some women's games.