Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Report: Head of Liberal Super PAC Accused of Bugging Sen McConnell's Campaign Office Visited White House

Shortly before a liberal Kentucky political action committee launched a social media campaign against incumbent Republican Senator Mitch McConnell (as well as his Taiwanese wife), the group's head had visited the White House and met with President Obama's chief fundraiser.
According to both White House visitor logs and the twitter account of one of the men accused of illegally recording a staff meeting at McConnell's newly opened campaign headquarters, Progress Kentucky head Shawn Reilly met with White House officials and a leftist think tank in Washington DC.
Reilly and Curtis Morrison are currently under investigation by the FBI for illicitly taping a campaign conversation between McConnell and a handful of his advisors. During the conversation McConnell and his aides discussed the potential candidacy of actress Ashley Judd — including using her mental health problems against her.

For days, Democrats in the state and nationally have sought to cast the duo as a pair of bungling amateurs who simply got in over their heads and made a series of bad decisions. But the White House visit suggests the distance from Reilly to his party's leaders may not have been quite that far.

The White House visitors log, showing Reilly met with administration officials Dec. 5th, appears to have been signed in by Victoria McCullough, a staff assistant to Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett.

According to Reilly's Twitter feed, his trip to Washington included stops at the White House to discuss the fiscal cliff and a meeting at the Center for American Progress.
Although its fairly unlikely the White House was coordinating the wiretapping of McConnell's office with Progress Kentucky from inside the beltway, Reilly's visit to the White House in and of itself undercuts any claims from the Democrats that Progress Kentucky was a pair of bungling amateurs who were in over their head.

According to the White House visitor logs, visitors that day also included Obama fundraiser Matthew Barzun and retired Louisville Courier-Journal editor Keith Runyon. Reilly was also a delegate for Kentucky to the 2012 Democrat National Convention in Charlotte, NC and has rubbed elbows with every major Democrat officeholder in the Bluegrass State.

Boston Strong SportsChowdah Update: Lackey's Back....ey, Houston Runs into Texas-Sized Problems at Fenway; Senators Veto Bruins Chances At Clinching Northeast Division Title; Celtics Avoid First Round Sweep;

Marty Schwalm- AP Photo
RED SOX- After a promising start to the series, the Red Sox came into Sunday afternoon hoping to close out a 4-game sweep of the visiting Houston Astros. Sunday afternoon's game was also noteworthy because it was the first start for John Lackey since leaving the 5th inning of a game against the Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre on April 6th. Since then, the Sox have shuffled the lineup using either Alfredo Aceves or Allen Webster as the fifth starter.

But with both Aceves and Webster sent down to Pawtucket, there would be no shuffling and Lackey would make only his second start since 2011 on Sunday. Although Lackey struggled somewhat out of the gate- allowing a 2-out RBI single from Ronny Cedeno for Houston to take the early lead- the Red Sox tied things up at 1-1 thanks to a Big Papi RBI single in the bottom of the first, although the Sox would leave the bases loaded to end the inning.

However, in the bottom of the 4th and with two away, SS Stephen Drew cleared the bases with an RBI triple to break the deadlock and give Boston a 3-1 advantage. That would actually be all the Red Sox would need for the day, but Dustin Pedroia and Mike Carp each had RBI doubles to give Boston a 5-1 lead.

Lackey struggled a bit in the 6th, allowing 3 straight singles with only one away, but the Astros were unable to capitalize after Lackey got the next two batters out. In the bottom of the 7th, Big Papi added to the Boston lead with an RBI double. From there, the Red Sox would cruise to a 6-1 win over Houston, sweeping the four game series at Fenway. Boston has now won 7 out of  their last 10 games and have already tied the club record for wins in April with a total of 18. They have a chance to surpass that high water mark on Tuesday night when they start a six game road trip with three apiece in Toronto and Texas.

Jon Lester [4-0; 2.27 ERA] will get the start on Tuesday night at the Rogers Centre against the Blue Jays Brandon Morrow [0-2; 5.27 ERA]. First pitch is scheduled for the somewhat random time of 7:07 ET and the game will be broadcast on NESN and Rogers Sports Net.

OTHER RED SOX NEWS- Red Sox reliever Joel Hanrahan will return to the Red Sox lineup on Tuesday. Hanrahan last appeared in the 9th inning of the April 13th home game against Tampa Bay and was relieved by Koji Uehara after walking the first two batters he faced.

Hanrahan has reportedly lost out to Andrew Bailey as the Sox closer. Currently Hanrahan is 0-1 with 3 saves and an ERA of 11.57 on the season.

Steven Senne- AP
NHL- The rest of the NHL was waiting for the Bruins to finish up their regular season on Sunday evening in a matchup against Ottawa that was originally scheduled for Patriot's Day, but was postponed due to security concerns in the wake of the Boston Marathon bomings.

Despite the Bruins clawing back to tie Sunday's game at 2-2 in the 3rd period, the Senators scored two unanswered goals to give them a 4-2 lead and the win in the regular season finale. Coming into the game, it was already established that both teams would be in the Stanley Cup playoffs, it was just a matter of determining who they would face. With either a regulation win or overtime loss, the B's would have been facing either the NY Rangers or NY Islanders in the first round.

Instead, the Bruins finish up one point behind Montreal in the Northeastern division standings and fourth overall in the eastern conference- behind Pittsburgh, Montreal and Washington [despite having more points than the Capitals- NANESB!].

Either way, there was at least a 66% chance that the Bruins would be facing another Original 6 team for the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The regulation loss on Sunday earns them a series with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Game one of the first round series between the Leafs and B's is set to take place on Wednesday night at 7:00 PM ET with the game being televised on NESN and the CBC.

ELSEWHERE IN THE NHL- The complete first round matchups of the Stanley Cup playoffs will look a little like this:

Los Angeles Kings @ St Louis Blues- Game 1 starts on 4/30 at 8:00 ET

Minnesota Wild @ Chicago Blackhawks- Game 1 starts on 4/30 at 8:00 ET

Detroit Red Wings @ Anaheim Ducks- Game 1 starts on 4/30 at 10:30 ET

Toronto Maple Leafs @ Boston Bruins- Game 1 starts on 5/1 at 7:00 ET

NY Islanders @ Pittsburgh Penguins- Game 1 starts on 5/1 at 7:30 ET

San Jose Sharks @ Vancouver Canucks- Game 1 starts on 5/1 at 10:30 ET

Ottawa Senators @ Montreal Canadiens- Game 1 starts on 5/2 at 7:00 ET

NY Rangers @ Washington Capitals- Game 1 starts on 5/2 at 7:30 ET

NBA- Well, it took overtime, but the Boston Celtics managed to avoid a first round sweep at the hands of the New York Knicks on Sunday.

After taking the first three games of the series, the Knicks had managed to erase a 20-point deficit in the 3rd quarter at the Garden on Sunday afternoon to tie the game up at 84-84. Jason Terry- who was 7-10 in FGs and had 18 points on the night- helped Boston pull ahead with a crucial 3 pointer with about 50 seconds to go in OT.

The Celtics would go on to win by a final of 97-90 in OT, avoiding an embarrassing sweep at home at the hands of their Atlantic Division rivals. Despite going 9-20, Paul Piece led the scoring for the Celtics with 29 points while Jeff Green went 9-22 with 26 points on the night.

Game 5 is set to take place Wednesday night with a start of 7:00 and will be televised on TNT.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Doing the Jobs that Most Italians Won't Do- Italy Facing Shortage of Pizzamakers

Wow- this is kind of depressing.

Despite a prolonged recession and high unemployment, Italy is facing a shortage of pizzaioili- pizza makers who knead dough and stoke fires in the ovens that cook the iconic Italian dish. The shortage of workers has led to a number of immigrants in Italy to take up work as pizzaioili, with some of them even opening up their own pizzrieas. Many Italians holding out hope for cushy office work or secure public sector jobs and consider the work too demanding for the modest wages it pays.
Italians may be reluctant to get their hands dirty by stoking ovens and kneading dough, but foreign immigrants have no such qualms and are now filling the gap, producing an increasing share of the three billion pizzas that Italians eat each year.

Egyptians have shown themselves to be particularly adept at mastering the art of the perfect pizza and now run many of the pizza restaurants and hole-in-the-wall takeaways in big cities like Rome, Milan and Turin.

"I would say about 80 per cent of Egyptians who come to work in Italy end up as pizza makers," Amadeo Al-Wikel, who emigrated from Cairo to Rome 12 years ago and now runs his own pizzeria on a street corner near Rome's Trevi Fountain, told The Daily Telegraph.

"We are good at it because we are prepared to work hard. Italians, in contrast, want a nice comfortable office job where they can work six hours a day, five days a week, in air-conditioning. They're not prepared to work 10, 12 hours a day." Alessandro Rossi, who runs another pizzeria in Rome, is also surprised that Italians refuse to take up an occupation that is part of their cultural DNA, especially as unemployment among young people has reached 35 per cent.

"The Italian mindset is that being a pizza-maker is humiliating, it is a manual labour job," he said. "Young Italians want to own 40,000 euro cars and wear nice clothes but they are not prepared to work for it. So the gap is being filled by the Egyptians, the Filipinos and the Arabs."

They now play a key role in many of Italy's 25,000 pizzerias, with around 100 Egyptians training as pizzaioli every year. "The Egyptians are supplanting Italians, it's true," he said.
Although pizza pies aren't as culturally ingrained in the USA as they are in Italy, traditional pizzamaking in most of the non-chain restaurants has been handled by staff from Brazil, Mexico, Greece or Colombia. In the northeast, some family-run pizzareias are run by first or second generation immigrants from Greece or the Middle East.

[Hat tip- Sea of Syrah]

Today's Train of Thought- It's In The Cards, April 29, 2013

Today's Train of Thought takes us to the Gateway City and the home of perennial NL pennant favorites, St Louis.

Taking up much of the real estate of the old Busch Stadium, the St Louis Cardinals christened their new home [the new Busch Stadium- NANESB!] with a World Series win against the Detroit Tigers in 2006. The conveniently located downtown ballpark is blocks away from the city's Amtrak depot [more of an Am-shack, really, as the original Union Station is now home to a series of upscale shops- NANESB!] and St Louis' Metro Link light-rail links the stadium to both the Amtrak depot and St Louis' Lambert International Airport about 12 miles west of downtown.

Railroad tracks crisscross the area just south of downtown, most of them elevated well above street level on trestles and girders. In addition to the CSX, Union Pacific, Norfolk Southern, BNSF, Kansas City Southern and Amtrak plying their trade in the St Louis area, there are also local shortlines and terminal railroads like the Alton & Southern, Central Midland, Terminal Railroad Association of St Louis and Foster-Townsend Logistics, which took over rail duties from Anheuser-Busch subsidiary Manufacturers Railway in 2011.

Here, railpictures.net contributor Jake Branson caught BNSF SD75M #8223 leading a freight eastbound past the new Busch Stadium on October 15, 2011. The #8223 is still in its as-delivered red and silver 'warbonnet' paint scheme- the last scheme for the Santa Fe before its 1996 merger with the Burlington Northern to form the BNSF.

As for the Cardinals, they had just beaten the Milwaukee Brewers the night before by a 7-1 final in front of a packed Busch Stadium in Game 5 of the NLCS and would go on to close out the series the following night and clinch a World Series berth on the road the following night.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Elvis Has Left the Building- "Ricin Elvis" Released From Federal Custody

In a massive blow to those who enjoy numerous corny puns with their current events, a 45 year old Elvis impersonator suspected of mailing poisoned letters to President Obama and other elected officials earlier this month is now a free man.

Federal authorities released Elvis impersonator Paul Kevin Curtis from custody this week after the Mississippi man was charged with mailing ricin-laced letters to President Obama and Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker earlier this week.

While the man dubbed 'ricin Elvis' was no doubt all shook up, a thorough search of Curtis' property turned up no traces of ricin or the ingredients to make ricin. Instead, investigators followed through on the defense's claim that he was framed by a business rival of Curtis' brother.

Although Curtis was no doubt all shook up over the arrest, the FBI's suspicious minds soon turned to another Tueplo, MS man. 41 year old Taekwondo instructor, Everett Dutschke was doing the jailhouse rock this weekend as he was arrested without incident and investigators in hazmat suits searched the man's home and Taekwondo studio.
J. Everett Dutschke was picked up around 12:50 a.m. Saturday, according to a release from FBI spokeswoman Deborah Madden.

"Dutschke was arrested, without incident, at his residence in Tupelo ... by Special Agents of the FBI," the release reads, then directs requests for further information to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

He has been charged with knowingly developing, producing, stockpiling, transferring, acquiring, retaining and possessing a biological agent, toxin and delivery system, for use as a weapon, and with with attempting, threatening and conspiring to do the same, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Dutschke appeared to have slipped police surveillance twice last week, but both times reappeared as officials searched his studio and a hunting cabin that belonged to a friend of his. Basham claimed that Dutschke had been cooperative throughout the investigation.

Dutschke already had legal problems. Earlier this month, he pleaded not guilty in state court to two child molestation charges involving three girls younger than 16. He also was appealing a conviction on a different charge of indecent exposure.

Some of the language in the letters was similar to posts on Curtis' Facebook page and they were signed, "I am KC and I approve this message." Curtis' signoff online was often similar.

And Dutschke and Curtis were acquainted. Curtis said they had talked about possibly publishing a book on a conspiracy that Curtis insists he has uncovered to sell body parts on a black market. But he said they later had a feud.
A local judge, who presided over a 2004 assault case in which Curtis was the defendant, also recieved a ricin-tainted letter shortly before the ones to the US Senate and White House were recieved. However, the judge's son is a state representative who Dutschke unsuccessfully ran against in 2007.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Montana Senator Max Baucus Announces He Won't Seek Re-Election in 2014

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) announced that he planned on retiring rather than seek re-election next year. Baucus, who has represented Big Sky country in the Senate since 1978, making him one of the longest-serving Senators currently in office.

In 2009 and 2010, Baucus played a key role in authoring Obamacare. Despite an opaque process and widespread opposition from the public, Obamacare narrowly passed a Democrat-held House and Senate in 2010. However, Baucus himself described the Affordable Care act as a "huge train wreck coming down" during a budgetary hearing with the Health and Human Services chief earlier this month.
"I just see a huge train wreck coming down," Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., told Obama's health care chief during a routine budget hearing that suddenly turned tense.

Baucus is the first top Democrat to publicly voice fears about the rollout of the new health care law, designed to bring coverage to some 30 million uninsured Americans through a mix of government programs and tax credits for private insurance that start next year.

Normally low-key and supportive, Baucus challenged Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at Wednesday's hearing.

He said he's "very concerned" that new health insurance marketplaces for consumers and small businesses will not open on time in every state, and that if they do, they might just flop because residents don't have the information they need to make choices.

"The administration's public information campaign on the benefits of the Affordable Care Act deserves a failing grade," he told Sebelius. "You need to fix this."

Responding to Baucus, Sebelius pointedly noted that Republicans in Congress last year blocked funding for carrying out the health care law, and she had to resort to raiding other departmental funds that were legally available to her.

The administration is asking for $1.5 billion in next year's budget, and Republicans don't seem willing to grant that either.
Last week, Baucus was one of five Democrat Sentaors to vote against legislation authored by West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin and Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey that would mandate background checks for all private firearms transfers. The bill, which required 60 votes to pass, fell short by four votes in the Democrat-held senate earlier this month.

President Obama spent considerable political capital attempting to get any sort of gun control passed in the wake of the Newtown, CT school massacre. However, Baucus represents a state with a high number of gun owners and there were concerns from gun owner's rights groups that the Toomey-Manchin bill would establish the framework for a nationwide gun registry and criminalize hunters and relatives borrowing guns. The defeat in the Senate spurred a press conference by petulant Obama where he denounced the Senate's 'shameful' vote while flanked by families from Newtown. Veiled threats about ending the political careers came from gun-control groups after the vote, but an ad buy in Montana from Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns wouldn't have affected Baucus in Montana. The senior senator from Montana had an A+ rating from the NRA.

Montana Republicans have been bracing for a tough campaign against the entrenched Baucus in 2014. However, now the list of candidates for either side has been thrown into flux. One possible name for the Democrats is former governor Brian Schweizer, who unsuccessfully ran for US Senate in 2000.

Friday, April 26, 2013

THIS IS OUR F*CKING CITY Sports Chowdah Update- Boston Strong in Homestand Against the AL West; Rask Makes An Effective Lightning Rod; Patriots Trade First Round Pick to Minnesota

Looks like I have a bit of catching up to do- although given the events of last week, I hope people will understand the delay.

RED SOX- With last Friday's home game postponed due to the largest-ever manhunt in Massachusetts, the Red Sox played their first home game since the April 15th terrorist attacks at the Boston Marathon on Saturday April 20th. The daytime matchup against the Kansas City Royals included a pregame ceremony honoring the first responders and victims. Back from a rehab assignment with AAA Pawtucket, Red Sox DH David Ortiz had some choice words for the people behind the attacks.

The Red Sox would go on to beat the Royals by a 4-3 final on Saturday afternoon, but the Royals would go on to sweep the doubleheader on Sunday. The Oakland A's were next to come into Fenway, and the Red Sox took two out of three from Oakland [Oakland not only chased starter Alfredo Aceves from the mound in their 13-0 win on Tuesday, but chased him all the way down to AAA Pawtucket- NANESB!].

For Thursday night's game, I had to remind myself it wasn't an interleague matchup with the Houston Astros coming to town. The Astros made the jump to the AL West this season after nearly 20 years as a part of the NL Central.

The Red Sox drew first blood early, getting on board with RBI singles from Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz before RBI's from Mike Carp and Jarrod Saltalamacchia added to the Boston lead, making it a 4-0 game. That would be all the Red Sox would need as Clay Buchholz would allow 6 hits and two earned runs over 7⅔ innings and would get some additional run support thanks to a Big Papi solo homer in the 3rd and RBI singles from Saltalamacchia and Will Middlebrooks to give Boston a 7-2 lead. Andrew Miller and Daniel Bard would close out for the game for the Red Sox, preserving the 7-2 win.

Friday night's game will have Ryan Dempster [0-2; 3.38 ERA] against former Red Sox and Orioles starter Eric Bedard [0-1; 6.17 ERA]. First pitch will be at 7:10 PM and the game will be televised on NESN.

NHL- Twice in less than a week, the crowd at the TD Garden took over singing duties from Boston Garden icon Rene Rancourt. Last Wednesday's game was the first professional sporting event to take place in Boston since the Patriots Day bombings at the Boston Marathon while Saturday afternoon's game was the first since the slaying of MIT campus police officer Sean Collier and arrest of the surviving Marathon bombing suspect.

Interestingly, the Bruins clinched a playoff berth in a pretty anticlimactic manner- the one point they earned from the April 17th shootout loss against Buffalo was all they needed, despite once again blowing a late lead by allowing a power play goal in the final two minutes of regulation.

Coming into Thursday night's game against Tampa bay, the Bruins had been 1-2-1 since Patriots Day, including the emotional post-Marathon game that saw them blow a late lead to the struggling Buffalo Sabres. The B's were hoping to turn things around on Thursday night when they hosted the Tampa Bay Lightning.

All of the scoring would come in the second period, with goals from Dennis Seidenberg and Danny Paille to give Boston a 2-0 lead.

That would be all the Bruins needed as Tukka Rask shut out the Lightning, stopping all 30 shots he faced on Thursday night. The Bruins went 0-1 on the power play while Tampa Bay was scoreless on their three power play opportnunites.

The Bruins will travel to the beltway for their next game on Saturday when they take on the Washington Capitals. Puck drops at 7:00 ET and the game will be televised on NESN and may also be in the NBC Sports network lineup as well.

AP Photo/Jason DeCrow
NFL- With former Patriot guard Joe Andruzzi on hand to honor the victims and first responders of the Boston Marathon bombing, the 2013 NFL draft got underway in New York City on Thursday night.

In a somewhat anticlimactic move, the Patriots waited about three and a half hours before deciding to trade their first round pick (29th overall) to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for four picks in the later round. The Pats obtained picks from Minnesota in the second, third, fourth and seventh rounds this year. Heading into this year's draft, the NFL had a grand total of five picks- their fewest in team history. The trade with the Vikings gives them a grand total of eight picks- none of them in the first round, however.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Boston Marathon Bombing Update- Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Hospitalized, Charged With Using 'Weapon of Mass Destruction'; Waltham Police Looking at Tsarnaev Bros for Unsolved Triple Homicide; Slain MIT Police Officer, 8 year old Martin Richard Laid to Rest Over the Weekend

A little less than a week after Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was taken into custody after a dramatic chase and shootout, several new facts about the two brothers are coming to light from investigators and victims alike.

Although Tamerlan Tsarnaev had sustained multiple gunshot wounds during last week's chase and shootout, he was reportedly brought down by his own kid brother who ran him over in a stolen vehicle while attempting to flee the police.
Chief Deveau also disclosed dramatic details of the shoot-out, in which Tamerlan was killed, and revealed how, in the chaos, his death was caused by Dzhokhar.

A single officer was first to encounter the fugitives at 12.30am local time on Friday in a residential street in Watertown, a suburb of Boston.

They were in two separate vehicles, including a four-wheel-drive Mercedes they had carjacked.

Chief Deveau said: “They jump out of the cars and unload on our police officer. They both came out shooting. Shooting guns, handguns. He’s under direct fire, very close by.

“He has to jam it in reverse and try to get himself a little distance.”

As five other officers arrived, 200 shots were fired in 10 minutes. One of the brothers threw exploding devices including a pressure cooker bomb which landed on a car.

Tamerlan then broke cover and walked directly at officers firing a gun. The police chief said: “They were having a gunfight 10 feet apart. And then for us, thank God, he ran out of ammunition. He runs out of ammunition, the bad guy, and so one of my police officers comes off the side and tackles him in the street.”

As they tried to handcuff him, Dzhokhar drove the Mercedes straight at them but missed the police, hitting his own brother and dragging him 20ft before racing off.

Chief Deveau said: “The officers dive out of the way and he (Dzhokhar) drives over his brother and drags him a short distance down the street.”

Doctors said Tamerlan had injuries “head to toe”. There were so many they did not know which one had killed him.

The brothers were found to have had six improvised explosive devices including a satchel bomb, handguns, a rifle, 250 rounds of ammunition, and home-made grenades.
This has led to a number of Boston-area sports stations referring to Tamerlan as 'Speed Bump'- a practice that I shall likely emulate.

When their identities were first revealed to the world last week, media outlets had reported that Speed Bump complained on social media that he had no American friends while living in Cambridge. Some had pointed out he had one American friend from the gym, but he was brutally killed a few years ago in an unsolved triple homicide. This was brought up in the context that the murder might've contributed to Speed Bump's increased isolation while in America, even though circumstantial evidence is indicating that Speed Bump may have butally murdered his only American friend along with two others.

Police in Waltham, MA suspect that Tamerlan- the older of the two brothers- may have been responsible for a brutal 2011 triple slaying in that town. The bodies were found on September 12th, 2011 and all three victims had their throats cut. Police say there was no signs of forced entry and the assailant was let in by somebody in the apartment that likely knew the killer. They also ruled out robbery as a motive after the killer left behind several thousand dollars in cash and marijuana at the scene.

One of the victims in the 2011 murders, Brendan Mess, knew the older Tsarnaev brother from the Boston gym where they worked out and was reportedly interested in helping transition Tamerlan from boxing to mixed martial arts. The other victims included Raphael Teken and Erik Weissman. Weissman was a jew and the bodies were discovered the day after the 10 year anniversary of the September 11 attacks [acquaintances and classmates had described Dzhokhar as a happy-go-lucky pothead and Mess was known to have sold pot out of his apartment- leading me to wonder if sometime after had Speed Bump found Allah and decided to kill Mess thinking he sold pot to his kid brother- NANESB!].

Speed Bump wasn't present for Mess' funeral either, which friends and acquaintances thought was unusual at the time. Speed Bump then reportedly flew back to visit family in the Dagestan region of southern Russia a few months after the murders. Mess' ex-girlfriend was initially a suspect, but was out of town when the slayings took place. The Middlesex Country DA's office is reportedly pursuing any leads from the Boston Marathon bombing case that are related to the 2011 Waltham triple murder.

It was also believed that Dzhokhar had apparently attempted to take his own life while he was hiding on a boat surrounded by police at a backyard in Watertown, MA. The younger Tsarnaev brother reportedly sustained a gunshot wound to the throat as well as being shot in the leg- however, they're uncertain whether the throat wound came from police gunfire or if it was an unsuccessful attempt to kill himself as police closed in.

The wounded Dzhokhar was reportedly arrested by the FBI's Hostage Rescue Unit and a Massachusetts State Police Sepcial Tactics and Operations (STOP) unit and remains under guard at Beth Israel Deaconess hospital. Although he is unable to speak, he is said to be responding to written questions from investigators.

Investigators are beginning to piece together the events from the chaotic chase and shootout last week. The two Chechen brothers had reportedly ambushed MIT Campus Patrolman Sean Collier in his cruiser, killing him because they decided they needed an extra gun- although they never were able to figure out how to unholster the slain officer's service pistol.

Almost as chilling was the account from the carjacking victim- he said the two brothers told him they were the Marathon bombers and said the only reason they considered letting him live was because he wasn't American. The carjacking victim said one brother carjacked him and met up with the second brother.
“They basically said we did the Boston Marathon bombing, but the rest of their conversation is in Russian,” Miller said. ”Now, the carjack victim doesn’t speak much English and he doesn’t speak any Russian. So, he was debriefed very carefully about ‘what else could you hear they said?’

“He said the only word I recognized was Manhattan. That tripped a lot. That’s why we saw last week stopping the trains from Boston to New York, searching the trains, and the NYPD flipped on it’s network of license plate readers at all of the bridges and tunnels coming into the city and loaded all of the license plates associated with these guys, because if they were headed to New York, they wanted to make sure that that tripped before they got in.”

Miller told WBZ NewsRadio 1030 the brothers told him, “we’re not going to kill you, because you’re not American.”

The brothers then forced the victim to make several stops to pick up bombs and cash before he could escape at a gas station.
Officials in New York City believe that Times Square or other New York landmarks were potential targets for the Tsarnaev brothers before police in Massachusetts intercepted them.

Questions also abound over where the two brothers had practiced their bomb-making craft. Although its likely they received some sort of training on one of their trips back to Dagestan, Chechnya or another troubled region in southern Russia, police in Hanover, MA were responding to reports of homemade bombs being set off along Route 53 in late March, just weeks before the Marathon bombing.

The bombs were fashioned using pressure cookers packed with explosives, nails and ball bearings for maximum effect at close range. Similar devices have been used by terrorists and insurgents in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. In 2010, British SAS commandos raided a Taliban bomb factory in Afghanistan. Among the devices recovered were bombs fashioned out of pressure cookers.

Perhaps most infuriatingly, Speed Bump reportedly collected welfare and unemployment benefits from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts even as he and his kid brother were plotting to kill Americans.

Meanwhile, 26 year old MIT campus police officer Sean Collier was laid to rest over the weekend over the weekend and thousands of mourners and police officers gathered around for a memorial service on Wednesday.
One of the last known images of 8 year old Martin Richard (blue oval). Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (red circle) is seen walking away from a backpack (red oval) believed to carry one of the two deadly bombs that tore through the crowd gathered to watch the Boston Marathon on April 15
Eight year old Martin Richard was also buried in a private funeral for his family in Dorchester on Tuesday. Richard was the youngest of the three victims from the April 15th and his sister Denise was also maimed in the attack. Photos released on twitter and by the FBI show a black backpack believed to carry one of the bombs a few feet away from Martin as he's watching the marathon and man in a white hat identified as Dzhokhar is walking away moments before the deadly bombings.

Friends and classmates also turned out to bid farewell to BU student Lu Lingzi at a memorial service on campus on Monday evening. The funeral for 29 year old Krystle Campbell- the third fatality from the April 15th bombings- was held over the weekend in Medford, MA. Members of the Teamsters Local 25 had gathered across the street to shield the mourners from unwelcome intrusions upon hearing rumors that the hateful freakshow known as the Westboro Baptist Church would be picketing the funeral.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Today's Train of Thought- Mile High Club, April 24th 2013

Today's Train of Thought takes us to the Mile High City and features the final steam locomotive ever ordered for the Union Pacific.

Union Pacific took delivery of  4-8-4 #844 from the American Locomotive Company in 1944. After operating on passenger trains like the Overland Limited and Portland Rose, the 844 spent its final two years of revenue service between Cheyenne, WY and Omaha, NE before being withdrawn from service in 1959- but was saved from the scrapper's torch in 1960 as it was selected by the Union Pacific to handle company excursions. The UP also set aside massive 1943 ALCO-built 4-6-6-4 Challenger #3985 to handle similar duties around the same time, but the #844 holds the distinction of being the only steam locomotive that was never retired by a class one railroad [although it was renumbered  to #8444 for awhile to accommodate diesels on the UP's active roster- NANESB!].

In addition to lengthy, interstate trips through several states like when the #844 travelled from its Cheyenne home base to Arizona and New Mexico for those state's centennials last year, the #844 and #3985 can be found closer to home in July shuttling VIPs between Denver, CO and Cheyenne for the Wyoming capital's Frontier Days.

Here, rrpicturearchives contributor Kevin Andrusia caught the #844 pulling ahead past Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies, in downtown Denver after dropping offer passengers at Denver's Union Station on July 22nd, 2010. The Rockies were not playing at Coors that day- instead they lost to the Florida Marlins in Miami by a 3-2 final that day- between the All Star Break and an 11-game road trip, there would be very little baseball in Coors Field at the time.

Behind the big 4-8-4 (and the yellow water tender) is Union Pacific DD40AX #6936- the massive 8-axle diesels were the largest single-unit diesel locomotives ever made. Union Pacific was the only customer and by 1986, most of these behemoths were retired, although like the #844 and Challenger, Union Pacific retained one for use on special trains.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Canada Arrests Two in Alleged Al Qaeda Inspired Plot to Blow Up Passenger Train in Toronto Area

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested two men on Monday afternoon who were charged with an Al Qaeda sponsored plot to blow up or derail passenger trains in the Toronto area.
“Had this plot been carried out, it would have resulted in innocent people being killed or seriously injured,” Royal Canadian Mounted Police official James Malizia told reporters in Toronto.

The RCMP said it had arrested Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, of Montreal, and Raed Jaser, 35, of Toronto in connection with the plot, which authorities said was not linked to the Boston Marathon bombings, but likely had connections to al-Qaida.

“The RCMP is alleging that Chiheb Esseghaier and Raed Jaser were conspiring to carry out an al-Qaida-supported attack against a VIA passenger train,” Malizia said.

U.S. officials said the attack would have targeted a rail line between New York and Toronto, but Canadian police did not confirm that.
The arrests come a week after the terrorist attack that killed three people and injured nearly 200 others at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, leading up to a chaotic chase and running gunfight in the Boston area just hours after the FBI released images showing two of the bombers from surveillance footage on Thursday. Some reports that the two Chechen brothers behind the Boston Marathon attack were part of a larger sleeper cell. However, the RCMP claims that today's arrests are likely unrelated to the Marathon bombings.

The two suspects are not Canadian citizens, although their respective countries of origin weren't disclosed at Monday's news conference.
The plan received “direction and guidance” from an element of al-Qaeda based in Iran, said the force, refusing to elaborate. That connection with the Islamic terrorist organization made the plot particiularly significant, said Asst. Supt. Malidza.

However, officers said there was no evidence the plan was in any way “state-sponsored.”
Earlier this year, two Canadian nationals who were on the radar of Canada's intelligence agency were among the hostage-takers killed at a natural gas plant in southern Algeria when the Algerian military raided the facility. At least 23 hostages and more than 30 terrorists were killed in the January attack.

It's National Pin Up Day!

You must be this hot for entry onto the rides

Never mind this fake "Earth Day" holiday started up by homicidal hippie Ira Einhorn- April 22nd shall always be the birthday of the incomprable Bettie Page in my mind's eye.

Born in Nashville, TN in 1923, the scorching, raven-tressed southern belle achieved notoriety in the 1950s and was Playboy's Playmate of the Month in January 1955. Beginning in the late 1980s and early 1990s, vintage and iconic images of Paige enjoyed a resurgence in the goth and rockabilly subcultures. Often imitated but never duplicated, Page was living in obscurity and unaware of her newfound popularity until relatively late in life. Page's heyday was dramatized in the 2006 biopic The Notorious Bettie Page where Gretchen Mol played the titular pin-up [Page reportedly said the film took way too many liberties about her early life- NANESB!]. Paige passed away at age 85 in December 2008.

Perhaps the most iconic of Bettie's images are of her posing with leopards (in a leopard-print swimsuit) at a south Florida safari-themed park. The photographer of those images was a pin-up herself, but was on the other side of a camera lens a number of times with Paige.

The Miami-based Yeager did work for numerous men's magazines at the time and sometimes included herself among the models. Yeager still resides in Florida and released a biography in 2012 called Bunny Yeager's Darkroom that includes recounting some of the shoots with Paige. As you can see above, Yeager herself is no slouch in the looks department.

There's another birthday of note in the vintage pin-up world that's worth some attention- April 19th marks the birthday of blonde bombshell Jayne Mansfield.

Interestingly, she was named Playboy's Playmate of the month from 1955- one month after Page. The buxom platinum blonde was about 10 years younger than Page and tended to be more exhibitionist than Paige.

Mansfield also was not above contrived publicity stunts, including those that highlighted her considerable bust [reportedly 40D, although that was subject to fluctution- NANESB!] including this above image where she upstaged Sophie Loren at a Hollywood dinner in the Italian actresses honor. She also was said to have pioneered the 'wardrobe malfunction' (however contrived) by allegedly intentionally wearing dresses too small to accomodate her ample bust to various Hollywood events and making sure the beseiged garment would slip or tear with photographers present.

Unfortunately, Mansfield was killed in 1967 after a collision with a tractor-trailer in Louisiana. Three of her children survived with relatively minor injuries.

One of the survivors of that car wreck was daughter Mariska Hargitay, who would go on to become an actress herself- most noably in NBC's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

See? Isn't this much nicer than some fake holiday started by a hippie who murdered his girlfriend, stuffed the body in a trunk and fled to France?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Report: Gunman Exchange Fire With Security at Tennessee Valley Authority Nuclear Plant

Just in case a massive deadly explosion in Texas, an Elvis-impersonating conspiracy theorist mailing poisoned letters to elected officials or terrorists bombing the Boston Marathon wasn't enough to set you on edge, federal officers and local police are searching for a gunman who opened fire on a Tennesee Valley Authority security officer at the Watts Bar Nuclear Power Plant in Spring City, TN in the early morning hours Sunday.
The suspect fired multiple rounds at a Tennessee Valley Authority security officer who was on a routine patrol near the banks of Chickamauga Lake about 2 a.m. Sunday, TVA spokesman Jim Hopson said.

The officer encountered the suspect in a clearly marked restricted area several hundred yards from the site’s protected area, which houses the reactor and power production facilities, but still within the plant property.

When the officer confronted the person, “The individual fired on the officer, striking the officer’s vehicle,” said Hopson. “The officer returned fire, and as the officer was calling for backup, the individual fled the scene.”

Both parties fired multiple rounds, he added. The security officer was not hurt and, as of yet, authorities have found no evidence that the gunman was struck either, according to Hopson.

The FBI responded, along with personnel from the Rhea and Meigs County sheriff’s offices, who searched both sides of the lake for the suspect. The plant is located on the Rhea County side of the lake, south of Watts Bar Dam.
The facility, which is located about an hour northeast of Chattanooga, was placed on heightened alert into Sunday afternoon. Officials from the Tenessee Valley Authority [NYSE: TVE] said it was the first such incident since the plant opened in 1996 [This weekend's incident could be much ado about nothing or an attempt to probe the plant's security- NANESB!]. The TVA had agreed to a contract with the Pinkerton agency from around the time the Watt's Bar plant opened until 2008 when they replaced the Pinkertons with their own in-house security.

The TVA is a federally-owned corporation that provides electricity generation, navigation and flood control services throughout the Tennessee Valley and owns 11 coal-fired power plants, 3 nuclear stations, 11 natural gas-fired power plants and 29 hydroelectric plants.

Ricin Son- Mississippi Man In Custody After Allegedly Mailing Ricin to President Obama and US Senator

You know it's been a hell of a week when an Elvis-impersonating conspiracy theorist tries to poison the President of the United States and a US Senator was maybe the fourth or fifth most newsworthy item of the week.

An envelope addressed to Sen Ron Wicker (R- Mississippi) tested positive for the lethal poison ricin twice on Tuesday, according to the FBI. The fact that it came so soon after the Boston Marathon bombings heightened concerns over terrorism.
"This matter is part of an ongoing investigation by the United States Capitol Police and FBI," Wicker said. "I want to thank our law enforcement officials for their hard work and diligence in keeping those of us who work in the Capitol complex safe."

Terrance W. Gainer, the Senate sergeant-at-arms, said in an emailed message to Senate offices that the envelope to Wicker, a Republican, had no obviously suspicious outside markings and lacked a return address. It bore a postmark from Memphis, Tenn.

Mail from a broad swath of northern Mississippi, including the Memphis suburbs of DeSoto County, Miss., Tupelo, Oxford and the northern part of the Mississippi Delta region is processed and postmarked in Memphis, according to a Postal Service map. The Memphis center also processes mail for residents of western parts of Tennessee and eastern Arkansas.
Preliminary tests on a letter mailed to President Obama that was intercepted at an off-site facility later that day had also indicated traces of ricin. At a press conference in Tupelo, MS on Wednesday night, the Lee County Sherriff said that a local judge had also recieved a similar suspicious letter.

Authorities reportedly traced back the letters to a 45 year old Corinth, MS man named Paul Kevin Curtis who was arrested at his home by federal agents.
The letters to Obama and Wicker said: "To see a wrong and not expose it, is to become a silent partner to its continuance." Both were signed, "I am KC and I approve this message."

Ricky Curtis, who said he was Kevin Curtis' cousin, said the family was shocked by the news of the arrest. He described his cousin as a "super entertainer" who impersonated Elvis and numerous other singers.

"We're all in shock. I don't think anybody had a clue that this kind of stuff was weighing on his mind," Ricky Curtis said in a telephone interview.

Ricky Curtis said his cousin had written about problems he had with a cleaning business and that he felt the government had not treated him well, but he said nobody in the family would have expected this. He said the writings were titled, "Missing Pieces."
In 2000, Curtis was fired from the North Mississippi Medical Center and since then has claimed that he had uncovered a conspiracy by the hospital to harvest organs and body parts and sell them on the black market. Not surprisingly, NMMC denies the allegations made by the suspected ricin mailer.

According to The Hill Curtis once performed at a party attended by Wicker [who represented the district in the House at the time- NANESB!] and when Curtis' activites were less threatening.

Curtis- a registered Democrat- could face up to 15 years on charges of sending mail threatening the President and sending mail "containing threats to injure the person of others".

Friday, April 19, 2013


A man stepping outside of his Watertown, MA home for a cigarette on Friday afternoon provided the pivotal lead for authorities in the largest-ever manhunt in the city of Boston.

The city of Boston was under lockdown on Friday morning after a chaotic police chase from Cambridge to Watertown, MA and shootout where two men identified as suspects in the Patriot's Day bombing of the Boston marathon opened fire on police and lobbed grenades at them as they were pursued.

The chaos began on Thursday night when an MIT Campus police officer responding to reports of a disturbance was shot and killed and a motorist in Cambridge was carjacked by two men.
Tarek Ahmed, 45, told Fox News that the victim, whose Mercedes-Benz was reportedly stolen by Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was a young Caucasian man between 20 and 25 years old. Ahmed claimed that he was working at gas station on Memorial Drive, when the man ran into his store screaming, “Call the police! Call the police! These people are trying to kill me!”

"I thought he was drunk. I didn't believe him when he came in, it just sounded very crazy," Ahmed said. Despite his skepticism, Ahmed let the man, who has not been identified, inside to use his phone.

"He came very fast and was nervous and was afraid of the guy. He said they pushed him out of car," he said. "He went inside and closed the door. He was shaking and very nervous. I only believe him when the cops came."

Ahmed said that police collected surveillance videos from the station when they arrived, and also took photos from another store across the street where the suspects might have gone inside to purchase something. Police later released photographs of Dzhokar Tsarnaev exiting a Bank of America ATM in Watertown, Mass., at 11:18 p.m., where he withdrew $800, according to the NY Times.

Ahmed, who told reporters that he believed that the suspects had shoved the man out of the car after stopping to withdraw the money, said he was very shaken up after the encounter.
The gunmen were chased by police into a residential area of nearby Watertown- the FBI later claimed that at least five explosive devices were thrown at pursuing officers and the suspects and officers exchanged more than 200 rounds. One suspect, identified as 27 year old Tamerlan Tsarnaev was hit and later pronounced dead at Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. The other, known as Suspect 2 since Thursday Afternoon's FBI Press Conference, was identified as 19 year old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the younger brother of Tamerlan. During the firefight, MBTA Police officer Richard Donahue is struck and wounded- he remains in critical-but-stable condition as of Friday night.

Police immediately set up a perimiter around the Laurel Street area in Watertown and began searching for the subject. Gov Deval Patrick ordered MBTA buses, subways and commuter rail service closed down and area residents were warned to stay inside. Schools in the area- both public schools and the numerous colleges- were shut down as a precaution and a number of events scheduled for Friday night, including both the Bruins and Red Sox home games, are postponed.

By early Friday evening the lockout was lifted and the Massachusetts State Police hold a press conference where they infer that Dzhokhar has likely escaped the dragnet, but was likely still in the state of Massachusetts. That's when Dave Henneberry stepped out for a smoke in the backyard of his Franklin Street home and noticed that one of the straps covering the tarp on his boat was askew and went in for a closer look. That's when he noticed blood streaked along the side of the boat that was parked on a trailer in his backyard. After grabbing a stepladder, Henneberry grabbed the tarp and peered inside, spotting more bloodstains and reportedly seeing a body crumpled inside.

That's when Henneberry retreated back into his house and dialed 911. Not only had Dzhokhar been wounded in the shootout with police, but the 19 year old reportedly ran over his wounded brother in an attempt to get away.
By 8:58 PM ET, the following message was sent over the Boston Police Department's twitter account:

The announcement led to widespread spontaneous celebrations throughout a city that had been on edge since Monday.

The two brothers were identified as ethnic Chechens from southern Russia. According to the FBI, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was interviewed by the FBI at the behest of a foreign agency in 2011- many speculate Russia owing to the longstanding conflict between Moscow and the breakaway, predominantly muslim Chehcen republic in the south. Tamerlan had reportedly returned to the area 10 years ago using a passport from the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzistan while Dzhokhar was sworn in as a US citizen on September 11, 2012. The brothers had reportedly been in the country since 2003.

With one suspect dead and the other in custody, police in New Bedford took three people into custody for questioning and searched off-campus housing at UMass-Dartmouth on Friday on reports that the younger Tsarnaev brother may have resided there at one time.

Monday's bombing killed 29 year old Krystle Campbell, 29, of Arlington, MA, Eight year old Martin Martin Richard of Dorchester, MA and a 23 year old BU grad student from China named Lu Lingzi.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


AP Photo
Hours after an FBI press conference in which they showed photos and video of the two individuals considered suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing, a MIT police officer was shot and killed by assailants on campus. The shooting was followed by a robbery, carjacking and cross-town pursuit where the gunmen opened fire on police with guns and grenades before crashing their stolen vehicle in nearby Watertown, MA.
WCBV-TV said the suspects threw and detonated explosives during a car chase with police.

Police were working to apprehend a young male with a hat on who was reportedly pulling on vehicle doors, according to police scanner traffic.

An FBI official told Fox News early Friday that one person was in custody and an officer was down but said it was too early to tell if the police activity in Watertown or the MIT shooting were related to the Boston Marathon bombing.

Dozens of officers and National Guard members descended on Watertown shortly after the shooting outside a building on MIT's campus in Cambridge, according to the Associated Press.

Authorities were calling for somebody to get on the ground and put their hands up and a loud thud was heard after someone shouted "fire in the hole," the news agency reported.

Witnesses told The Associated Press they heard multiple gunshots and explosions at about 1 a.m. Friday. Dozens of police officers and FBI agents were in the neighborhood and a helicopter circled overhead.

State police spokesman David Procopio told news agency, "The incident in Watertown did involve what we believe to be explosive devices possibly, potentially, being used against the police officers."

Fox News reporters on the scene cannot yet confirm these reports.

Earlier Friday, Cambridge police and the Middlesex District Attorney's office said the MIT officer was responding to a report of a disturbance when he was shot multiple times late Thursday. He later died at a hospital. His name was not immediately released.

Procopio said the shooting took place about 10:30 p.m. outside an MIT building. The area was cordoned off and surrounded by responding law enforcement agencies, according to a posting on the university's website.

Procopio said authorities were searching for a suspect or suspects. No arrests have been made.

The university described the situation late Thursday as "active and extremely dangerous." People were urged to stay away from the Stata Building, a mixed use building with faculty offices, classrooms and a common area.
Officers from numerous agencies and reportedly exchanged gunfire and pursued the two suspects on foot- one of them was wounded and taken into custody while the other was still at large in the overnight hours. Police from Boston, Watertown, Cambridge, the MBTA, Boston College and the Massachusetts State Police quickly set up a perimeter and began an intensive search for the remaining suspect, with federal agents quickly arriving to aid in the search for the suspect and additional explosive devices he may have left in the area.

WFXT-TV and Boston Police commissioner Edward Davis had confirmed that the suspect in custody died at Boston's Beth Israel after the confrontation.
It is unclear whether or not the deceased suspect died from a gunshot wound or from one of the detonated explosive devices- an MBTA police officer is hospitalized after exchanging gunfire with the suspects after carjacking an SUV at a gas station adjacent to the MIT Campus in Cambridge.

The identities of the two bombers remain something of a mystery after conflicting reports overnight. Various social media users speculated that one of the bombing suspects is bore an uncanny resemblance to a Brown University student who has been missing for about a month, but NBC News indicated that the suspected bombers had unspecified foreign military experience.

FBI Photo
Police are urging area residents to remain indoors and only answer the door if they see a uniformed police officer knocking. Authorities have also made a decision to shut down MBTA service in the area to prevent the remaining suspect from fleeing or detonating any remaining explosives as people were waiting for trains or bus service.

4/19 UPDATE - FOX News and the AP have identified the fugitive bombing suspect as a 19 year old Chechen named Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev who apparently entered the country legally and has been residing in Cambridge, MA for the last year. The slain suspect is reportedly his older brother.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Former Prime Minister Thatcher Laid to Rest

With soldiers in dress uniform acting as pallbearers, mourners bid farewell to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at a service in St Paul's Cathedral in London on Wednesday. In attendence was Queen Elizabeth, who was attending the first funeral of a British leader since Winston Churchill's 1965 funeral.

In attendence were Thatcher's son and daughter-in-law Mark and Sarah as well as her grandchildren Michael and Amanda. However, it was Amanda Thatcher's poised reading of Ephisians VI, 10-18 that caught the attention of the British tabloids.

When news of Thatcher's death broke last week, Britain's far left reacted with impromptu celebrations in the street that even some of Thatcher's political adversaries decried as crass. The leftist revelers had also promised to picket her funeral- apparently taking a page from the hate-filled morons of the Westboro Baptist Church. However, supporters lined up outside St Paul's drowned out any jeers or taunts from protesters as Thatcher's casket, draped in a Union Jack, was carried from the cathedral to a waiting hearse.

British entertainers also weighed in on the former PM's passing- although many people on social netwroking sites like Facebook or Twitter were born long after Thatcher had vacated 10 Downing Street and had literally never heard of her. Former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell praised Margaret Thatcher's rise from grocer's daughter to Britain's most powerful woman through her official twitter account upon hearing of the former Prime Minister's passing last week, but quickly deleted it after facing a sharp backlash from social network users. However, she later posted on her website that she eventually regretted the decision and her unwillingness to stand by what she had said, pointing out that Thatcher was willing to stand by many of her statements no matter how unpopular they might have been with her colleagues or public.


Multiple explosions have at a fertilizer plant in north-central Texas has destroyed scores of homes and prompted the evacuation of a town of about 2700 people just outside of Waco.
Tommy Muska, the mayor of West, which is a community north of Waco, said at a news conference he did not know yet how many people were injured or killed.

KWTX reports dozens have been killed citing a hospital official, but Fox News has not confirmed the report.

MyFoxDFW.com reports as many as 300 people were taken away from the scene with injuries.

Among the damaged buildings was the West Rest Haven Nursing Home, from which first-responders evacuated 133 patients, some in wheelchairs. "We did get there and got that taken care of," Muska said.

Information was hard to come by in the hours after the blast, with even Texas Gov. Rick Perry saying state officials were waiting for details about the extent of the damage.

"We are monitoring developments and gathering information as details continue to emerge about this incident," Perry said in a statement. "We have also mobilized state resources to help local authorities. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of West, and the first responders on the scene."

Aerial footage showed fires still smoldering in the ruins of the plant and in several surrounding buildings, and people being treated for injuries on a flood-lit local football field, which had been turned into a staging area for emergency responders.

Debby Marak told The Associated Press that when she finished teaching her religion class Wednesday night, she noticed a lot of smoke in the area across town near the plant, which is near a nursing home.

She said she drove over to see what was happening, and that when she got there, two boys came running toward her screaming that the authorities ordered everyone out because the plant was going to explode.

She said she drove about a block when the blast happened.

"It was like being in a tornado," Marak, 58, said by phone. "Stuff was flying everywhere. It blew out my windshield."

"It was like the whole earth shook."

She drove 10 blocks and called her husband and asked him to come get her. When they got to their home about 2 miles south of town, her husband told her what he'd seen: a huge fireball that rose like "a mushroom cloud."

The explosion caused the roof of what appeared to be a housing complex of some kind to collapse. In aerial footage from NBC's Dallas-Fort Worth affiliate, KXAS, dozens of emergency vehicles could be seen amassed at the scene. Entry into West was slow-going, as the roads were jammed with emergency vehicles rushing in to help out.

Authorities set up a staging area on a flood-lit high school football field, where the injured were being treated or taken to area hospitals via road or helicopter.

Glenn A. Robinson, the chief executive of Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center in Waco, told CNN that his hospital had received 66 injured people for treatment, including 38 who were seriously hurt. He said the injuries included blast injuries, orthopedic injuries, large wounds and a lot of lacerations and cuts. The hospital has set up a hotline for families of the victims to get information, he said.
Reports from the area incidate volunteer firefighters from the town of West were at the West Fertilizer plant fighting a blaze shortly before the first massive blast. First responders had initially set up a triage center at the local high school's football field, but had to evacuate further away to the West community center due to concerns over toxic fumes from the plant and secondary explosions. In fact, the FAA has placed a temporary flight restriction over the site of the blast and firefighters were reportedly steeting clear of the blast site early Thursday morning due to the fumes. To further complicate things, thunderstorms are expected to move into the area overnight.

There have been no firm estimates of casualties from the explosions, but one public safety official said they could expect at least 60 killed in the initial blast. Six firefighters are also unaccounted for- although there has been no word on which agency.

Ammonia-based fertilizer can be used as either an explosive in addition to its intended use as a fertilizer. Most infamously, domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh used a truckload of ammonia-nitrate to blow up the Alfred P Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995. The explosion comes within days of two infamous events in Texas and Oklahoma- McVeigh's bombing in 1995 and the deadly 1993 FBI raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Elk, TX, just outside of Waco and some 20 miles away from West.

The blast also coincided with the 66th anniversary of the Texas City explosion, where a fire on board the French flagged Grandcamp docked in Chambers County detonated more than 2000 tons of ammonium nitrate in the cargo hold, killing more than 500 people.

The town of West itself is located about 20 miles north of Waco along Interstate 35 and the Union Pacific's mainline between Austin and the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

The Show Must Go On Sports Chowdah Update- Tribe Tribe Again, Red Sox Road Trip Start Off Road Trip With Win In Cleveland; Garden Spot Bruins Game Postoponed, Celtics Game Cancelled in Wake of Marathon Bombing;

This was something I meant to wrap up on Monday, but as you can imagine, events of that day understandably put any update on the back burner. Sports are an integral part of Boston's social fabric and whoever placed those bombs along the Marathon route clearly took that into account long ago when they were selecting their target. I also want to take this opportunity to thank those of you who were asking about the well-being myself and my family and friends- everybody is OK [some even joking that they knew I was safe since a marathon route was the last place on earth anybody would expect to find me- NANESB!].

For the time being, I'll be posting any developments on the Marathon bombing as a seperate matter- and there have been a number of developments since Monday night.

Mark Duncan- AP Photo
MLB- Monday's deadly marathon bombing took place within 45 minutes of the conclusion of the Red Sox game on Patriot's Day- the Rays were reportedly already on their way to the airport and the Red Sox were still in the clubhouse when the bombs went off along Boyleston Ave.

Security was stepped up at ballparks across the league on Monday night, including LA's Dodger Stadium for Jackie Robinson Night, and by Tuesday, MLB and many teams were showing their support for the city of Boston in the deadly bombing.

Most notably, the arch-rival New York Yankees flew a banner on their stadium with dual Red Sox and Yankees insignias that read "We Stand United"". Fans also were sporting Boston jackets and handmade signs showing their support for the people of Boston, and in the 8th inning, Yankees fans sang along to Neil Diamond's 'Sweet Caroline' as it was played over the PA system- a Fenway tradition. Throughout the night, the scene was repeated in Milwaukee, Atlanta, Chicago, Oakland, Seattle, Los Angeles, Cleveland and Miami- the Brewers reportedly added the extra touch of including the Cheers theme song.

RED SOX- The weekend series at Fenway against Tampa Bay included Friday's game getting postponed due to rain, Clay Buchholz taking a no-hitter into the 8th inning on Sunday and blowing a 2-1 lead in the top of the 9th only to win thanks of a walk off Napoli RBI-double in the bottom of the 9th on Patriots Day.

On Monday afternoon- in the immediate aftermath of the deadly Maraton bombing- the Red Sox left town to play their first game against a team outside the AL East this season. Appropriately enough, the matchup featured a familiar face- former Red Sox manager and ESPN analyst Terry Francona, who was announced as the Cleveland Indians new manager in the offseason.

The pitching matchup featured Ubaldo Jiminez against Felix Doubront and the Red Sox pounced on Jiminez early as the bases were loaded up with one out before allowing a bases loaded walk to David Ross, and then a sac fly to Pedro Ciricaco, an RBI single to Jacoby Ellsbury, a walk to Victorino to re-load the bases, a bases loaded walk. Cody Allen came in to relieve Jiminez and immediately gave up a bases-clearing double to Mike Napoli. Although Middlebrooks struck out to end the inning, the Red sox jumped out to a 7-0 lead.

Doubront was starting to struggle in the fifth inning, allowing a run to come home on a passed ball as well as a sac-fly in the bottom of the 2nd. Although his pitch count was close to 100, he managed to get out of the inning and was able to turn it over to the bullpen, which was able to preserve the five run lead. The Red Sox win their first non AL-East contest of the season by a 7-2 final and Doubront stayed in the game long enough to earn the W.

Interesting side note, this is the second night in a row that the Red Sox players all wore the #42 in honor of Jackie Robinson. The Red Sox wore them to mark the occasion in their Patriots Day game against the Rays. Since Cleveland had Monday night off, they observed Jackie Robinson night on Tuesday.

For Wednesday night, former Red Sox starter Justin Masterson [3-0; 0.41 ERA] will go up against Alfredo Aceves [0-0; 6.75 ERA]. First pitch is at 4:05 ET and the game will be televised on NESN.

NHL- Coming into Monday night, the Bruins were riding a two game skid [against the Islanders and Hurricanes- teams I thought they'd have a better showing against] and were scheduled for a pivotal tilt against the Ottawa Senators when the bombs along the Boston Marathon route struck.

The deadly attack resulted in the Bruins to postponing that important Monday night contest- the game is now scheduled for night of April 28th at the garden. Wednesday night's home game against the Buffalo Sabres is still slated to take place as scheduled with the puck dropping at 4:30- the game will be televised on NBC Sports Network.

Monday, April 15, 2013


John Tlumacki/Getty Images
Boston police are reporting that at least 2 people have been killed and 23 injured after multiple blasts at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday afternoon. However, that is just a preliminary estimate and some media outlets are reporting a much higher number of fatalities.
The first explosion took place at the finish line across the street from the Boston Public Library while the second explosion took place 10 seconds later and about 500 feet to the west on Boylston Street- the final approach to the Marathon's finish line. Smoke hung in the air and blood was visible on the sidewalk as runners, spectators and marathon officials scattered and first responders rushed to evacuate the wounded. Spouses, family members and friends of the wounded rushed to area hospitals to try and reunite with their loved ones.

The race had already finished about three hours earlier [Ethiopia's Lelisa Desisa Benti was the men's winner while Kenya's Rita Jeptoo won the women's race- NANESB] but thousands of runners had yet to cross the finish line when the explosions took place. The Red Sox, who traditionally play a day game to coincide with the running of the Boston Marathon, rallied in the bottom of the 9th to beat Tampa Bay some 40 minutes before the blasts.

There were reports of additional explosions after the area had been cleared Boston Fire and Boston Police, although a police spokesman said that at least two of those were controlled blasts designed to disable suspicious devices that were found in the area. EOD units were called to the UMass-Boston's JFK center for reports of an incendiary device found there. The Boston Police is treating the UMass-Boston device and that devices at the marathon as related. Police have also advised people in the area to stay off cellphones, concerned that additional devices could be triggered via cellphones.

Meanwhile, the MBTA announces they were suspending service on the B and C lines, which runs underneath Copley Plaza. Reports were circulating that an unnamed 20 year old person of interest was under guard at an unnamed Boston-area hospital and that authorities are also searching for a Penske rental van that was reportedly turned away from the area shortly after the blast. The FAA has established a no-fly zone over the site of the explosion.

The FBI is treating the marathon explosions as a terrorist incident and the NYPD has reportedly beefed up security around New York area landmarks. A White House official said that the President was being appraised of developments in Boston and has offered Gov Patrick and Mayor Menino any neccesary federal assistance as the Secret Service and National Parks Police stepped up security around the White House and other government installations in Washignton DC.

The fact that the bombing took place on April 15th has led some media pundits to speculate the explosions were the work of unspecified right-wing groups. However, between the marathon and Red Sox day game, Boston is virtually shut down for Patriot's Day. Patriot's Day takes place on the third Monday in April and commemorates the Battles of Concord and Lexington- it just happened to fall on April 15th this year.

Patriot's Day is a state holiday in Massachusetts and a huge sports holiday in Boston with a morning Red Sox game followed by the Boston Marathon wrapping up- with the occasional Boston Bruins home game at night [this would normally be time for the Stanley Cup playoffs, but that was delayed due to the NHL lockout- NANESB!]. The Bruins announced that Monday night's home game against the Ottawa Senators at the TD Garden has been postponed.

UPDATE 1- WHDH is reporting that at least one of those killed in the explosions is an unidentified 8 year old.

UPDATE 2- FOX News is reporting that ball bearings were found at the blast sites at the finish line, indicating that the devices were designed to maximize casualties in the immediate area.

UPDATE 3- The Boston Globe posted this video of the explosions taken from the finish line. The second blast is briefly visible in the background at the 21 second mark.

UPDATE 4- Gabriel Gomez, the Republican Candidate for the US Senate seat left vacant when John Kerry resigned to serve as Secretary of State, ran the Boston Marathon today and reportedly crossed the finish line shortly before the first blast.

UPDATE 5- Boston police and federal agents are now combing through surveillance videos and asking witnesses and survivors for any footage that they may have filmed at the time. Bomb sniffing dogs from the Air Force and Amtrak Police department have been brought in to help clear the remainder of the marathon route of any suspect parcels.

UPDATE 6- Police and federal agents from the DHS and Immigration are searching an apartment in nearby Revere, MA. Eyewitnesses report crime scene technicians from the Boston police were hauling away potential evidence in bags. A Revere fire engine and ladder was also on hand at the complex. Authorities declined to specify whether or not the raid was related to the Marathon bombing.