Friday, September 30, 2011

Thrice As Nice- A Rosh Hoshanah Tale From Not Another New England Sports Blog!

Because I'm not the most ambitious person in the world to start off with- plus I'll be even further out in the boonies than usual over the next couple of days- I started out thinking I'd do something similar to my blog entry last year for the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hoshanah. Basically some generic wishes peppered with some olive drab clad Rule 5-bait of the Israeli persuasion.

But while doing a search for some IDF eye candy (and lets face it, they are to women in uniform what Brazilians are to female soccer fans), I came across the tale of the very lovely and unique Orbaum Triplets, pictured above.
"The concept of 'one for all and all for one' can get pretty absurd," the late Jerusalem Post staffer and columnist Sam Orbaum wrote about his identical triplet daughters 14 years ago.

Orbaum, who passed away in 2002 at the age of 46, went on in the column, entitled "The threeness of it all," to describe life as a father of identical triplets.

Not only did he sometimes mix them up, Orbaum wrote in his well-known wry, comic style, but he was also constantly impressed by their tight bond - when for example they stood up for one another in fights in the school sandbox.

The three blond 19-year-old sisters are still sticking up for one another, although this time not on the playground but in the IAF, in which they all enlisted a few months ago, making history.

While all three are in khaki-colored air force uniforms, they don't serve together. Odelia, the oldest (born a minute before her two sisters), serves as a control officer in the IAF's underground command-and-control center in the Kirya in Tel Aviv; Nomi is an air traffic control officer at the IAF's Palmahim Base; and Donna is currently in training for a different IAF position near Herzliya.

"Even though we are, in a sense, still together since we are all in the IAF, it was still difficult to split up to different positions and offices," said Odelia.

The sisters say that they think of themselves as one person, which might not make sense - until one sees how they complete one another's sentences or give the same answers during the interview.

Since elementary school the three have been together, going on to the same high school in Jerusalem's Ramot neighborhood and then to the same premilitary academy in the Jordan Valley.

It was there that the triplets decided to enlist in the IDF and not do national service like most of their female classmates.

"As religious girls we were confused about what to do," said Nomi. "But [we] decided to enlist into the IDF since national service, like working in an old age home, is something we can always do after our military service, but military service is right now. [It's] the only time we can do it and is what characterizes the state."

Once they made their decision, all they had left was to find fulfilling jobs in the IDF. Donna said she thought about trying out for the pilot's course; Nomi thought at one point about joining the Ground Forces Command and becoming an infantry instructor.

In the end, they all made their way to the air force, albeit on different bases.

"We didn't all decide to joint the IAF," explained Odelia. "That is just how it worked out."

Nomi, the self-declared "controlling" sister, said that becoming an air traffic controller fit in very well with her personality.

"I usually make the decisions so becoming an air traffic controller was natural," she said.

While the three are not currently together, they all plan on becoming officers and hope to be in the same course at the Bahad 1 Officer Training School near Mitzpe Ramon in a few months.

If that doesn't work out, there's always the post-IDF trip overseas, which they have no doubt they will make together.

The girls also don't doubt that their father would have supported their decision to join the army. When Sam came to Israel he tried to enlist, they said, but he was exempted on medical grounds.

"He supported us in everything we did until he passed away when we were 12," Donna said. "This is the seventh year since he passed away and I think about him all the time and see his smile and know that he would have been proud of us."

The story is from late 2009, so Odelia, Kirya and Nomi are probably 21 and could very well be junior officers by now if they followed through on attending the Officer Training School together.

US Born Al Qaeda Cleric Killed in Arabian Peninsula Drone Airstrike

The good news is that you still get your virgins, Anwar. The bad news is that all 72 of them look like Michael Moore.
Anwar al-Awlaki, Al Qaeda's internet savvy, New Mexico-born propagaindist was killed in Yemen on Friday when what's believed to be a CIA drone fired a missile on a convoy.

Fluent in English, al-Awlaki is said to have inspired numerous attacks against American and Western targets, including the failed Christmas 2009 underwear bomber over Detroit, an October 2010 plot to bring down aircraft using explosive parcels. The Islamic cleric is said to have corresponded via e-mail with Nidal Hasan prior to his November 2009 Fort Hood murder spree and Faisal Shahzad's botched May 2010 attempt to set off a car bomb in New York City's Times Square.

Also in may 2010, a 21 year old unemployed woman named Roshonara Choudharay who said she was inspired by al-Awlaki's online sermons and articles stabbed Labour MP Stephen Timms at the Beckton Globe library.

Beginning in 2000, al-Awlaki preached in a San Diego area mosque where he met two parishoners who were later identified as Khalid al-Midar and Nawaf al-Hamzi- two of the 9/11 hijackers. The following year, al-Awlaki moved to northern Virginia before heading back to Yemen by way of London in 2002. From Yemen's tribal controlled hinterlands, al-Awlaki delivered sermons and oversaw recruitment for Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninusla, escaping a similar attempt on his life in May of this year.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Down to the Wire Sports Chowdah- Lavranway or the Highway in Baltimore; Buffalo Shuffles Off to 3-0 Start After Upsetting Pats

RED SOX: After dropping two out of three at Yankee stadium (their sole win in that series being decided by a Jacoby Ellsbury 3-run homer in the 14th inning late Sunday night) the Red Sox headed headed down to Baltimore for the final series of the regular season. Only the way the Red Sox had been playing in September, it could very well end up being their season finale altogether. Monday night was pretty gruesome, with the Tampa Bay Rays closing the gap, the O's roughing up Beckett and Saltalamacchia leaving the game after taking a foul ball off the throat.

Tuesday night saw ex-O Eric Bedard get the start against his former team, only lasting 3 and ⅓ innings against a persistent Baltimore offense. However, the Red Sox were even rougher on O's starter Zach Britton. In the top of the 3rd, Jacoby Ellsbury let his bat do the arguing for him in the AL MVP discussion, belting a 2-run homer to take a 2-1 lead. However, in the top of the 5th, with Big Pappi and Adrian Gonzalez on base, Red Sox rookie catcher Ryan Lavarnway would increase the lead with a 3-run shot to make it 5-1 Boston- his first big league home run. As sizeable a lead as theat turned out to be, the Red Sox would need even more as Baltimore would counter with a 2 run homer off the bat of catcher Matt Wieters to make it a 2-run game.

In the top of the 6th, Carl Crawford's 1-out triple was followed by a homer off the bat of Marco Scutaro to increase the lead to 7-3 in favor of Boston. Baltimore would respond with a solo homer off the bat of Adam Jones in the bottom of the 6th to make it 7-4.

Leading off the 8th, Lavarnway would double his career homerun total with a solo shot to make it 8-4. After 3 and ⅔ innings, Alfredo Aceves was replaced by Daniel Bard on the mound to face Baltimore. The O's managed to get two runs with two away in the bottom of the 8th to once again make it a two-run game with Boston now leading 8-6.

Things would get even more tense in the bottom of the 9th when Papelbon came on to close out the game and gave up a single to JJ Hardy. Hardy would make his way to 2nd on a Markakis groundout and then to 3rd on a Vlad Guerrero single, reaching home on a Matt Weiters bunt that Lavarnway threw to 1st for the out. Papelbon would then get JJ Hardy to ground out to end the ballgame by the final of 8-7.

It was a win they would need, too, as the Tampa Bay Rays managed to hold off a late rally by the Yankees to preserve the tie for the AL Wild Card (the Angels were eliminated from contention on Monday night).

Wednesday's game- the final of the regular season- will have Jon Lester (15-9; 3.49 ERA) going up against Alfredo Simon (4-9; 4.85 ERA). The Red Sox need a win to at least force a 1-game playoff with the Rays on Thursday- Tampa is going up against a Yankees team that's already clinched the AL East and aside from determining who makes the playoff roster doesn't have alot to play for.

OTHER RED SOX NEWS: According to gossip site, Red Sox starter John Lackey and his wife are filing for divorce. Court papers were reportedly filed in Texas last month citing 'conflict of personalities'.

ELSEWHERE IN MLB: Over in the National League, the Wild Card there hasn't been determined either. The St Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves are deadlocked for the NL Wild Card with one game remaining for each team (Atlanta has the Phillies while St Louis has the Astros). If the deadlock in the standings remains unbroken by tomorrow night, then there will be a 1-game playoff in St. Louis on Thursday night.

Reportedly, if a one game playoff is required for the AL or NL Wild card, the game will be televised on TBS. First pitch would be 4:07 PM ET in Tampa for the Red Sox and Rays and 8:07 PM ET in St. Louis for Braves/Cardinals.

WHITE SOX: White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen was released from his duties by the White Sox this week. There had been speculation that Guillen wasnt long for the organization as well as rumors that he was interested in becoming the manager of the Florida Marlins. This seemed to be confirmed by Guillen himself via twitter as he informed followers about his arrival in Miami.

NFL: For the first time since 2003, the Buffalo Bills have managed to defeat the New England Patriots. Although the Patriots managed to get out to a 21-0 lead early in the 2nd quarter, the Bills managed to whittle that down to 21-10 by halftime. Buffalo would come back to tie the game at 24-24 early in the 4th before taking the lead when CB Drayton Florence ran back a Brady INT for a quick 6 on New Engalnd's following possession.

The Patriots would then take nearly 7 minutes to march down the field, tying the game up on a 6 yard pass from Brady to Welker on 4th and goal with 3:25 left in the 4th. However, that would be enough time for Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to engineer an 80-yard drive that sputtered at the one, but all that was needed was a chip shot FG from Bills kicker Rian Lindell as time expired to give Buffalo the 34-31 win.

So heading into week 4, Buffalo stands alone atop the AFC East (Sunday's meeting was the Bills 1st matchup of the season against an division opponent). As a measure of consolation, the Jets would go on to lose against the Oakland Raiders that afternoon as well.

Speaking of Oakland, the Patriots will travel to the East Bay to take on the Raiders this Sunday. The game will be televised on CBS and kicks off at 4:15 PM ET, 1:15 PM PT.

NBA: With players not reporting to training camp at the usual time due to the lockout, the NBA has postponed training camp indefinitely and cancelled 43 preseason games. Meetings between the league and player's association ended without a collective bargaining agreement last week, putting the preseason games and possibly the start of the regular season in doubt.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Today's Train of Thought- Encounter At Eagle Bridge, September 25, 2011

Today's serendipitous Train of Thought takes us to a rural corner of Upstate New York that seems frozen in time on this particular date.

Sharing a name with the nearby Batten Kill creek, the quixotic Batten Kill Railroad was formed in the early 1980s to take over operations from the shuttered Greenwich & Johnsonville and the Southernmost 20 miles of the former Delaware & Hudson 'Slatepicker' line between Eagle Bridge, NY north to Castleton, VT. Besides operating some seasonal excursion trains, the Batten Kill might be best known for being the first railroad owned and operated by an African-American.

The rural line trundles its way through Washington County, NY, paralleling the Vermont state line for much of the way. From day one, motive power for the Batten Kill was a pair of Schenectady-built ALCo RS3s, the newest of which was built in 1952. For the last 30 years, traffic has mainly consisted of feed and grain to an elevator at Greenwich Jct. NY, although in recent years, the BKRR has also made some money storing idle flatcars around Salem, Greenwich Jct and the company headquarters in Greenwich.

The Batten Kill's link to the rest of the North American rail network is at the village of Eagle Bridge. Although the D&H had abandoned the Slatepicker line north of Salem in the 1970s and sold off the southern portion to the Batten Kill, they retained trackage rights over Boston & Maine (now Pan-Am's) Fitchburg Division between Mechanicville, NY and Eagle Bridge to interchange with the Batten Kill. Although both the B&M and D&H were supposedly indistinguishable under the Guilford umbrella, that changed in the late 1980s when the financially struggling Guilford divested themselves of the D&H. After a few years in which the New York, Susquehanna & Western was named the designated operator of the D&H, the Canadian Pacific purchased the D&H in 1991, and this whole time the D&H still retained their trackage rights over the Guilford/Pan-Am line to reach the diminutive Batten Kill.

And with that in mind, we get a glimpse of the Batten Kill's RS3 #4116 (ex D&H, same number) Still in G&J paint as it trundles by parked Delaware & Hudson GP38-2 #7312 with a cut of 5 cars at the Eagle Bridge, NY interchange. From all appearances, user Gary R. Schermerhorn could've captured this scene shortly after Ron Crowd purchased the ex-D&H line in 1982. However, this fortuitous find actually took place in May 2009, some 27 years after the founding. It's not commom practice for Canadian Pacific the leave their power overnight on another line, but according to the photographer, a fallen tree blocked the #7312 from reaching the Pan-Am line and returning back to Saratoga Springs, NY. With the tree removed, the EMD sporting the blue and grey lightning stripe scheme is awaiting a new crew for its nocturnal return to Saratoga Springs NY with local freight D44. Meanwhile, the #4116 will trundle north to the grain elevator at Greenwich Jct.

The Boston & Maine/Guilford/Pan-Am line is out of view and to the left of the trees on the left hand side of the photo.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Taiwan's Bid for Large F-16 Purchase Thwarted by Obama Administration

Legislation requiring the Obama Administration to follow through on the sale of 66 Lockheed-Martin [NYSE: LMT] F16 fighter aircraft to Taiwan was blocked by the US Senate earlier this week.
The U.S. Senate on Thursday rejected a bid to require President Barack Obama to sell 66 new F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan in addition to a $5.3 billion upgrade of its existing fleet he just approved.

Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, pushed for the sale, saying the United States had a responsibility under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act to provide its ally with the weapons it needs to defend itself against an attack from China.
Taiwan has been seeking to upgrade its inventory in the face of a military buildup on mainland China, which views Taiwan as a renegade province and has objected to arms sales to Taiwan.

An alternative proposal would see the bulk of Taiwan's already-existing F16 fleet upgraded as a part of a $5.8 billion military aid package. This is widely viewed as a stopgap and Taiwan is expected to continue pressing the USA to acquire additional new F16s.

In June 2011, the US State Department blocked a petition to submit a formal letter of request from Taiwan's Defense Ministry requesting the aircraft.

As the Obama Administration repeatedly blocked Taiwan's request for additional F16s, the People's Republic of China has introduced their latest generation stealth fighter and begun sea trials of their first aircraft carrier.

Friday, September 23, 2011

US Air Force General Claims He Was Pressured to Alter Testimony About White House Backed Sattelite Communications Network

The Commander of the United States Air Force Space Command told House members that he was pressured to change prepared testimony before Congress to benefit a communications company that had a major Democrat donor as one of its main investors.
Republicans have raised questions about whether the project pursued by the company, LightSquared, is being unduly expedited by the Obama administration, which has pushed for national wireless network upgrades.

The Virginia-based satellite and broadband communications company has plans to build a nationwide, next-generation, 4G phone network that many, including Shelton, think would seriously hinder the effectiveness of high-precision GPS receiver systems, a product used most commonly by the United States military.

General William Shelton testified before Congress last week that interference with the military's GPS satellite system due to activity from LightSquared's proposed satelite-based 4G and wireless communications network could not be mitigated.
He did testify that testing done by various agencies responsible for military GPS positioning "demonstrated empirically that the LightSquared signals interfere with all of the types of receivers in the test."

He added that mitigation would not be possible because redesigning the equipment to filter out interference from LightSquared "would involve substantial financial cost and likely degrade the accuracy of high performance receivers, which is critical to many key GPS users."

Military training that relies on precision GPS, such as dropping ordnance, potentially could cease to exist in the United States. Many farmers who also rely on the systems would also be affected. It's estimated this system is used by as many as 1 million people.

The Federal Aviation Administration has also expressed worry about the LightSquared project. The FAA is in the process of moving from a radar based positioning system to a required GPS system for all aircraft, and it has “serious concerns” about how LightSquared may interfere with that, according to FAA spokesman Laura Brown.
Since the General's testemony, another witness has come forward to claim that he was pressured to modify his testimony to rflect more favorable on LightSquared.

General Shelton's allegations come less than a month after heavily subsidised solar panel manufacturer Solyndra shut down, leaving taxpayers on the hook for $500 million in loan guarantees.

The Obama Administration reportedly pressured regulators from the Department of Energy to expedite loans to Solyndra, sat in on company meetings and touted the solar company's activities as an indication that the 2009 Stimulus was working as intended, with President Obama visiting the company's Fremont, CA facilities in May 2010.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Borderline Psychosis Update- Gunmen Dump 35 Bodies on Expressway in Rush Hour; Female Ex-Cop & Zeta Leader Arrested; Border Patrol Finds Arms Cache

VERACRUZ: In a gruesome and brazen display of force, masked gunmen in the Veracruz suburb of Boca De Rio dumped 35 corpses by the side of a busy highway in the middle of rush hour this week.
Veracruz state Attorney General Reynaldo Escobar Perez said the bodies were left piled in two trucks and on the ground at an underpass near the city's biggest shopping mall and its statue of the Voladores de Papantla — ritual dancers from Veracruz state.

Motorists caught in the horrifying scene Tuesday afternoon posted warnings on Twitter that masked gunmen in military uniforms were blocking Manuel Avila Camacho Boulevard and pointing their guns at civilians.

"They don't seem to be soldiers or police," one tweet read. Another said, "Don't go through that area, there is danger."

Escobar said police were reviewing surveillance video recorded in the area.

Local media said that 12 of the victims were women and that some of the dead men had been among prisoners who escaped from three Veracruz prisons on Monday, but Escobar said he couldn't confirm that.

At least 32 inmates got away from the three Veracruz prisons. Police recaptured 14 of them.
The bodies were dumped less than a mile away from where Meixo's top prosecutors were scheduled to meet on Wednesday. A banner left behind at the scene claimed that the dead bodies were the handywork of 'The New Generation', a Jalisco-based gang reportedly allied with Sinaloa Cartel head Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman.

The Gulf cartel had control of smuggling and distribution in and around the port of Veracruz until 2010, when they were usurped by their former enforcers- Los Zetas. At least a dozen of the corpses have been identified as having a criminal background, reportedly working with the Zetas.

NUEVO LEON: Mexican Marines arrested a female underboss for the Zetas in the northern part of the state last week.
Mireya Moreno Carreon is the first woman linked to the Zetas leadership who has been arrested by authorities, the secretariat said.

Moreno Carreon managed drug sales in San Nicolas de Los Garza, a city in the Monterrey metropolitan area.

She apparently took over from Raul Garcia Rodriguez, who was arrested by marines last month in Monterrey, the capital of Nuevo Leon, the secretariat said.

Moreno Carreon was arrested in the Colonia Santa Fe Oriente section of San Nicolas de Los Garza, thanks to "intense intelligence and urban operations work," the Navy Secretariat said.

The suspected drug trafficker was armed with a revolver and driving a stolen vehicle at the time of her arrest, the secretariat said.
Carreon- aka La Flaca- was a former policewoman in Monterrey until 2010 when she was dismissed by supervisors for a "lack of confidence. Reportedly she was wounded by flying glass in a 2009 shootout between police and extortionists that left a kindergarten class pinned down in the crossfire.

TAMAULIPAS: The bodies of a man and a woman left dangling from an overpass in the border city of Nuevo Laredo last week included handmade signs explicitly threatening bloggers and internet.

Not only have social networking and microblogging sites like Twitter demonstrated themselves to be quicker than local media in most cases, but organized crime has succeeded in intimidating local media into silence throughout much of Mexico. Odds are that Twitter users knew about the 35 bodies being dumped on the expressway outside of Veracruz before the local authorities did, as many witnesses were using smartphones to warn motorists of the gruesome spectacle.

"This is going to happen to all the internet busybodies, Listen up, I'm on to you" one placard read. It was signed with a 'Z', presumably for Los Zetas. Two of the blogs mentioned in the threats- Frontera Al Rojo Vivo and El Blog Del Narco [caution, the latter isn't the least bit squeamish about posting graphic crime scene photos- NANESB!] have shown no signs of letting up. The two victims found in Nuevo Laredo have yet to be identified

TEXAS: US Border Patrol agents discovered an abandoned black bag containing six automatic rifles, a grenade launcher, a rocket launcher and three packages of whats believed to be C4 explosive along the Rio Grande outside of Fronton, TX last week.
Agents found the weapons on Tuesday in a black bag along a quiet stretch of the Rio Grande near Fronton, a small community about 210 miles south of San Antonio. No arrests have been made.

The weapons are similar to those reported used in the borderland drug wars and smuggled south from the U.S. into Mexico, and were found in an area of the river that is easily crossed and close to a Mexican cartel battleground.

But authorities stopped short of making any direct link between the guns and the drug cartels, saying only that they signaled a threat to public safety in both Texas and Mexico.

"These deadly weapons could have had a devastating impact on communities on both sides of the border and to our agents and other law enforcement officers," Rosendo Hinojosa, head of Border Patrol's Rio Grande Valley sector, said in a statement.

Officials theorized that the guns were waiting to be smuggled across the border into Mexico, but said that was just speculation.
The discovery took place about 10 miles south of Falcon Lake and on the other side of the border where Los Zetas and the Gulf cartel are locked in a bitter struggle over lucrative smuggling routes.

WASHINGTON DC: In a series of secretly recorded audio tapes dating back to March 2011, an ATF field agent disclosed to an Arizona gun dealer the existence of a 3rd weapon recovered from the December 2010 shootout between the Border Patrol and armed smugglers north of Nogales, AZ that killed Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.
Court records have previously only mentioned two weapons: Romanian WASR "AK-47 type" rifles. Both were allegedly sold to suspects who were under ATF's watch as part of Fast and Furious.

Also, a ballistics report turned over to Congressional investigators only mentions the two WASR rifles. The ballistics report says it's inconclusive as to whether either of the WASR rifles fired the bullet that killed Terry.
The third weapon was reportedly an SKS purchsed from a Texas gun shop.

The recordings were obtained by CBS news as well as copies being turned over to the Office of Inspector General and Congressional investigators.

In other Fast & Furious news, before stepping down this month, US Attorney Dennis Burke had opposed the Terry family's motion to qualify as crime victims in the eyes of the court.

[Hat Tip Support Your Local Gunfighter; Friends of Ours; Pat Dollard]

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cup Half Empty Edition of Sports Chowdah- Pats Withstand Late Charge; O No! Sox Swoon Against Baltimore; Mo Sets Record; Star Sets on Modano's Career

NFL: Well now- the home opener was almost as gratifying as the season opener in Miami. The San Diego Chargers managed to keep Tom Brady to under 500 yards on Sunday, but not by much.

After a pre-game ceremony honoring the late Myra Kraft, New England was able to march the ball down the field for a TD on their opening posession. San Diego quarterback Phillip Rivers was able to answer in kind on the Chargers second posession.

With things knotted up at 7-7 early in the 2nd, New England was once again able to drive deep into Chargers territory, although the San Diego defense would hold them to a Gostkowski FG to make it 10-7 New England. On the following posession, the Chargers started out on their own 39 yard line and managed to move all the way down to the goal line, but were unable to punch it in, turning the ball over on 4th and 1. That set up a situation eerily reminiscent of Monday night's game in Miami where Brady connected with Welker, although this time around it was a pickup of a mere 12 yards. That would be the beginning of a 10 play, 5 minute and 99 ½ yard drive culminating in a 10 yard pass from Brady to TE Rob Gronkowski to put the Patriots up 17-7.

What happened on San Diego's next posession when they had moved the ball down to the New England 29 yard line was undoubtedly the highlight of the game for many.

330 lb Defensive Tackle Vince Wilfork got a paw on a Rivers pass and managed to bring it in, rumbling back for nearly 30 yards before being brought down (altho' 10 yards would be brought back on a penatly after the INT). And as a Patriots fan, do you know what the best part was? There was more to Wilfork's INT and runback than the novelty of seeing one of the big linemen running like the chuckwagon was on the other end of the field and he just happened to have the ball. Nope- thanks to two very quick strikes from Brady with 9 seconds left in the half, New England was able to move to within FG range. And as time expired in the 1st half, Gostkowski nailed a 47 yards FG attempt to put San Diego up 20-7. So as novel as Wilfork's INT and return was, the pivotal thing was that the Patriots got points off of his efforts.

After a scoreless 3rd quarter, the Chargers pulled to within a touchdown after Rivers connected with TE Vincent Jackson to make it a 20-14 game. After moving the ball to midfield on the ensuing posession, the Pats failed to convert on 4th and 4, handing the ball back to San Diego mid-field. Three plays into the San Diego drive, the Chargers coughed up the ball on a Mike Tolbert fumble at the Pats 39 yard line.

Brady would then connect with Deion Branch and Wes Welker to move the ball to the San Diego 17 before connecting with Gronkowski again for a 17 yard TD reception. Danny Woodhead would then go on to make good on a 2 point conversion to put New England up 28-14.

The Chargers would then start off from their own 20 and march downfield to find paydirt on a 3 minute drive where Rivers connected with Vincent Jackson on a 26 yard pass to make it 21-28 New England and to bring San Digo to within a TD.

Not merely content to let the clock run out on a long, sustained drive, the Patriots started off from their own 20 and handed off to the Law Offices of Ben Jarvus Green Ellis more than once as well as a 29 yard connection between Brady and Gronkowski to put the ball on the Chargers 24. After a short run from Green-Ellis and a Chargers penatly, the running back of many names (all of them his) would go on to find the end zone from the Chargers 16 to make it a 35-21 game.

And that is the final the Patriots in their 2011 home opener by. Tom Brady went 31-40 with 423 yards and 3 TDs and was sacked twice while on the other end of the ball, Phillip Rivers went 29-40 with 378 yards, 2 TDs, 2 sacks and 2 INTs. Deion Branch had the most yardage for a New England reciever (10 catches for 172 yards), while Rob Gronkowski hauled in 4 catches for 86 yards and two TDs.

Next week, the 2-0 Patriots will travel to Orchard Park, NY to take on the 2-0 Buffalo Bills who are coming off a dramatic 4th quarter win against the Oakland Raiders at their home opener in Orachard Park last weekend.

Currently, three out of the four teams in the AFC East are off to a 2-0 start this season, as the NY Jets manhandled the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

MLB: The way the Red Sox have been playing in September, I almost want to go on forever about the Patriots first two games.

After Beckett's strong start on Friday night, the Red Sox dropped two straight to the Tampa Bay Rays to close out the season series, with Tampa closing the gap in the Wild Card chase. The gap narrowed even further when the Red Sox split a doubleheader on Monday between the Baltimore Orioles (Boston won game 2 by a 18-9 margin) before the offense squandered a number of offensive opportunities and the bullpen imploded, including Papelbon coming on early only to give up a bases-loaded double in the top of the 8th in Tuesday night's 7-5 loss to the O's.

Wednesday night's game will close out the regular season at Fenway with Beckett (13-5; 2.50 ERA) going up against Baltimore's Tommy Hunter (4-4; 4.81 ERA) with first pitch at 7:10 ET.

ELSEWHERE IN MLB: The Yankees pursuit of the AL East pennant was almost an afterthought on Monday when Mariano Rivera closed out a 6-4 win over the Minnesota Twins for career save #602. That save put him past former San Diego Padres and Milwaukee Brewers closer Trevor Hoffman for all-time saves. In 2010, Hoffman became the first MLB closer to reach the 600 saves mark, closing out a 4-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on September 8, 2010. Rivera's save against the Twins on Monday in the Bronx is the 43rd of the season.

NCAA FOOTBALL: Where have you gone, Steve Aponavicius? As bad as September has been for the Red Sox, at least they've won a few games. However, I cannot say the same about the Boston College Eagles, who were trailing late against Duke University at Chestnut Hill 20-19 on Saturday afternoon. With 2:32 left in regulation, the Eagles managed to drive down the field all the way to the Duke 5 yard line where they failed to convert on a 3rd and 1. With 47 seconds left, the field goal unit came on for a chip shot FG attempt- bascically a point after attempt- which subsequently bounced off the upright, giving the Blue Devils the ball back to run out the clock for their first win of the season.

This sets up an intra-state meeting with the 2-0 UMass Minutement in Chestnut Hill on Saturday. The Minutemen are coming off a 36-21 road win against Rhode Island on Saturday.

NHL: The puck drops on the Boston Bruins preseason Wednesday night north of the border. The Ottawa Senators host the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins at Scotiabank Center at 7:30 PM ET.

OTHER NHL NEWS: After 21 years in the NHL, former Dallas Stars C Mike Modano has called it a career. With 561 career goals and 1374 points, the Michigan native was the highest scoring American born player in the NHL. Modano was the last active member of the Minnesota North Stars to play in the NHL- the team moved to Dallas in 1993 and won the Stanley Cup with Dallas in 1999.

Modano married singer/songwriter Willa Ford in 2006 and opened up a resturaunt in Dallas with former teammate Brett Hull in 2008. In 2010, Modano played briefly for the Detroit Red Wings- for the first time, departing the Stars/North Stars organization.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Avast! Today Be International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

It also be me day off, so contact with other people be pretty minimal (Arr!).

The 'poster girl' for this year's talk like a pirate day is actually from artist Earl Moran. This 1956 work is appropriately enough titled Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum. Moran, like Normal Rockwell, Fredrick Remington and Gil Elvgren, Earl Moran signed a contract with St. Paul MN-based advertising firm Brown & Bigelow in the 1930s and was featured in a 1940 Life magazine article entitles 'Speaking of Pictures'.

As famous an artist as Moran was, one of his models was even more renown. In 1946, Moran was approached by an aspiring star and divorcee named Norma Jean Dougherty (nee Mortenson), who in a few short years would go on to be known as Marylin Monroe.

Monroe would later credit Moran's artwork with enhancing her appearence, as she thought her legs looked too skinny in real life.

But where was I? Oh yeah...back to the Piracy. It isn't neccecarily a good era in which to be a pirate right now- the Pittsburgh Pirates just came off a humiliating 15-1 loss to the LA Dodgers the other night, fading fast after a scorching hot start earlier this season. The East Carolina Pirates of Conference USA are off to an 0-2 start on the NCAA Football season, losing 17-10 to Virginia Tech last weekend.

And let's not even start on the Somali pirates, either.

Of course, with that in mind, some pirates have managed to land on their feet.

Today's Train of Thought- Haven't the Foggiest, September 19, 2011

Today's Train of Thought takes us to the bayous right outside of the Big Easy on a foggy Louisiana morning.

Here, the motive power seemingly tries to blend in with the enveloping morning mist as it leads a southbound merchandise freight past Milepost 853 on Kansas City Southern's New Orleans Subdivision.

The rather self-explanatory New Orleans Subdivision traverses Louisiana diagonally between Shreveport and New Orleans by way of Alexandria and Baton Rouge, LA and is one of five lines that radiates from Kansas City Southern's Shreveport, LA hub. Lines also head east to Meridian, MS, north to Kansas City, MO, west to Dallas, TX and south to the Houston area.

Here, Brian LaFleur (aka 'Pork Chop') caught Kansas City Southern SD40-2 #661 rounding a curve at Almedia, LA in August 2004, just outside the train's final destination of New Orleans.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Government Files Suit Against Trucking Company For Dismissing Alcoholic Driver

A North Carolina based trucking company is being taken to court by the government for firing an alcoholic truck driver- a move the US Equal Employment Opportunities Commission claims is in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990.

Thomasville, NC-based Old Dominion Freight Line [NASDAQ: ODFL] dismissed a driver in June 2009 based in an Arkansas service center. The driver, Charles Grams, had approached company supervisors and informed them he had a drinking problem

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit this week arguing that Old Dominion Freight Line discriminated against Charles Grams by stripping him of his position and offering him a demotion even if he completed a substance abuse counseling program

Instead, the EEOC argued, the North Carolina-based company, which has a service center in Arkansas, should have complied with the law, known as the ADA, while ensuring safety.

“The ADA mandates that persons with disabilities have an equal opportunity to achieve in the workplace,” said Katharine Kores, director of the EEOCs Memphis District Office, which covers Arkansas. “While the EEOC agrees that an employer’s concern regarding safety on our highways is a legitimate issue, an employer can both ensure safety and comply with the ADA.”

The EEOC says alcoholism is a recognized disability under the ADA and that the company violated the law with its policy that bans any driver who admits alcohol abuse from driving again.

The EEOC wants the company to reinstate Grams and another affected driver to their previous positions and provide them with back pay, compensatory and punitive damages and compensation for lost benefits. The EEOC is also seeking to block the company’s alcohol-related policy.

Joel McCarty, general counsel to Old Dominion, wouldn’t comment on the details of the pending litigation. But he told, “We intend to vigorously defend our position.”

When asked to respond to EEOC’s comments and rationale behind the lawsuit, McCarty said, “Obviously, we disagree with their position totally.”

“Our concern is safety,” he said. “And that’s why we intend to defend the policy.”

According to the EEOC’s suit, Grams, who had been with Old Dominion for five years without incident, informed the company in June 2009 that he believed he had an alcohol problem.

The company suspended him from his driving position, which paid him nearly $22 per hour, including benefits. In compliance with U.S. Transportation Department regulations, Grams met with a substance abuse professional who notified the company that Grams would participate in an outpatient treatment program and could return to work.

But Old Dominion told Grams that he wouldn’t be allowed to drive again for the company and instead offered him a part-time position as a dock worker as soon as it became available. The position paid $12 per hour without benefits, the lawsuit alleges.

Grams then decided he couldn't afford treatment because he believed he would have to pay for it upfront and be reimbursed by his insurance company only if it approved the treatment. Instead, he joined Alcoholics Anonymous. Old Dominion fired him in July for job abandonment.

The EEOC contends that the company's actions deprived Grams and other affected drivers of "equal employment opportunities and otherwise adversely affect their status as employees, in violation of the ADA."

"Grams is a qualified individual with a disability under ADA ... who can perform the essential functions of a driving position," the suit says, adding that Grams and other employees wouldn't need treatment to perform non-driving duties.
Does anybody else remember that King of the Hill episode where Hank hires this seemingly clean-cut guy to work at Strickland Propane only to learn that he's a drug addict? Then once he's hired, he's next to impossible to get rid of because he's a drug addict?

So this begs the question if Alcoholism is covered under the ADA, what about drug use? I mean the potential ramifications of a driver operating a commercial vehicle impaired and over the road is no different if that driver's been knocking back Jack Daniels or snorting cocaine. And moreover, the government is ordering that the company assume the risk and liability that comes with a driver with a history or alcohol or substance abuse.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Illegal Immigrants Taken Into Custody in Vermont Traffic Stop; Governor Demands Investigaton- of State Trooper

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin demanded an internal probe of the State Police stemming from traffic stop on Interstate 89 in Middlesex, VT involving two illegal aliens who were taken into custody this week.

After reading this account from the Burlington Free Press, I'll let you guess Gov. Shumlin's political affiliation.
Gov. Peter Shumlin on Tuesday night ordered an internal investigation of a Vermont State Police traffic stop earlier in the day involving migrant farm workers that later led to a protest at the Middlesex state police barracks.

Two passengers were detained in the traffic stop on Interstate 89, including a leader of the Vermont Migrant Farmworker Solidarity Project.

“The governor is concerned by accounts of the incident and ordered an immediate internal investigation to determine the facts of what happened and if Vermont State Police bias-free policies were followed,” a news release issued by Shumlin’s office stated.
How exactly does 'bias-free policing' work, anyway? If a policeman pulls over a motorist wearing a Lone Ranger Mask, Hamburglar shirt and bags marked with dollar signs next to him, does he refrain from asking the motorist a few basic questions for fear of having some sort of 'bias' complaint lodged against him?
Vermont State Police Director Tom L’Esperance said a state trooper stopped a vehicle for going 88 mph on the interstate in Middlesex. The trooper followed the vehicle for a short distance before pulling it over, police said.

During the traffic stop, the driver provided valid identification and faces a civil citation in connection with the vehicle’ speed. But the trooper became aware that two of the passengers might not have been in the country legally, L’Esperance said.

The two passengers taken into custody were determined to be in the U.S. illegally, said Mark R. Henry, operations Officer at the Swanton Sector of the U.S. Border Patrol.

They were later processed at the U.S. Border Patrol station in Richford, Henry said. Henry said both men — whose names and nationalities were not made public – were most likely to be released with an order to appear for a hearing at a later date.
I find it quite telling that the Vermont State Trooper in question did nothing out of the ordinary, yet Gov. Shumlin demanded a probe of the traffic stop that very day. In 49 other states, I think what that State Trooper did would be considered basic police work.

Good to see that in less than a month, Vermont has sufficiently recovered from the worst flooding in nearly 80 years for the good governor to investigate why the State Police are doing things like pulling over speeding motorists and taking people who are in violation of the law into custody.

Don't worry- it gets even better!
After the traffic stop, state police took the two suspects to the Middlesex barracks, where an incident took place involving supporters of the men who were in the car. When the Border Patrol attempted to leave with the two illegal-immigration suspects, five people attempted to block the federal officers, state police said. Troopers ordered the individuals to move, and three did not, police said.

Those three individuals were arrested on charges of disorderly conduct. The individuals are accused of forming a shield, said Capt. Dan Troidl, commander of Troop A, which covers five northwestern counties.
I'm guessing that at some point during either the traffic stop or at the Middlesex barracks, the phrase 'Do you have any idea who you're dealing with?' was uttered- and not by anybody in uniform.

Well, the good news is that the Governor of Vermont's term lasts two years instead of the four years that is typical in most other states, so Shumlin could be looking at an ouster for this Bloomberg-caliber micromanaging as early as next year. The bad news is that this is Vermont, and odds are enough people will either see no problem with this or think Shumlin didn't go far enough that he will remain safely ensconced in Montpelier after November 2012.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Cup Half Full of Sports Chowdah for September 16- Beckett's Performance Offers Ray of Hope; Cyclones Move Into Connecticut

RED SOX: After Wakefield's 200th career win earlier this week, the Red Sox continued to struggle- splitting their 2-game series against Toronto and dropping this weekend's series opener against the Rays on Thursday night.

With Red Sox nation teetering on the brink of all-out panic (OK- slight exaggeration) Friday night's game marked Beckett's first start since leaving early in the September 5th game against the Toronto Blue Jays with a sprained right ankle.

Friday night's game also left them without Youkilis in the lineup, after Terry Francona announced that the hobbled third baseman would be sitting out Friday night's game- and possible Saturday's as well. Youkilis had been sidelined with a sore hip and sports hernia earlier this month.

While not a must-win game just yet, the Red Sox had only won a grand total of three games in the month of September and the Rays had gained considerable ground on them in the Wild Card standings last week. All this bad news seemed to be compounded when with a runner on in the top of the 1st, Rays 3B Evan Longoria launched a 2 run shot to immediately put Tampa Bay up 2-0. However, Boston would come right back in the bottom of the first with the equalizers in the form of a pair of RBI singles (one from Pedroia and one from Big Papi) off of Rays starter James Shields to tie things up at 2-2.

In the top of the 3rd, the Rays would once again pull ahead thanks to Longoria, this time in the form of a less dramatic RBI single. However, in the Red Sox half of the frame, Big Papi would once again knot the contest up thanks to an RBI double, leaving things at 3-3.

Acquired at the trade deadline from Kansas City and filling in for Youkilis at the hot corner, Mike Aviles couldn't have picked a better time for his first home run as a member of the Red Sox in the bottom of the 4th inning. Aviles' solo homer hit the first 'O' in the middle of the Sports Authority sign to give the Red Sox the 4-3 lead.

And that was all the offense either team could muster. Beckett would go 6 innings, striking out 6 and walking one while Aceves and Bard would hold the lead for Papelbon to come on in the top of the 9th. Although the first two outs came pretty easily, Papelbon gave up a 2-out single to OF BJ Upton, bringing up Evan Longoria as the possible go-ahead run. After the Rays 3B fouled off a couple of offerings, Papelbon managed to strike him out to preserve the 4-3 win

The Red Sox needed this one on a couple of different levels- obvious implications about the AL East and Wild Card aside, Boston's bullpen needed to demonstrate that they could hold a lead in a close ballgame against a capable offense in a meaningful game.

Meanwhile, the Yankees lost in Toronto, making it a 3 ½ game division lead for the Bronx Bombers in the AL East while the Angels lost to Baltimore, so Anaheim fails to gain any ground on Tampa Bay in the Wild Card standings.

ELSEWHERE IN MLB: The Detroit Tigers have won their first division title since 1987 on Friday night with a 3-1 road win against the Oakland A's. The Tigers advanced to the World Series in 2006 after clinching the Wild Card only to lose to the St Louis Cardinals. The Tigers become the first team in either the AL or NL to clinch a division title int he 2011 season.

NCAA FOOTBALL: The UConn Huskies lost their second game in a row, this time to the undefeated Iowa State Cyclones. The Cyclones went ahead by a score of 24-20 at around the 9 minute mark of the 4th quarter and managed to run the clock out to go 3-0. UConn is now 1-2 and will travel to Buffalo next week to take on the Bulls (currently 1-1) at 6PM ET.

ELSEWHERE IN THE NCAA: #4 Boise State dispatched the Toledo Rockets of the Mid America conference pretty easily by a 40-15 final on Friday night while #3 LSU took down #25 Mississippi State on Thursday.

BIG EAST: According to reports in the New York Times, two schools from the Big East are in talks with the Atlantic Coast Conference about a possible move there. Syracuse, a founding member of the Big East, and Pittsburgh were reportedly in discussions with ACC officials earlier this month.

UPDATE- 9/18: At Least 3 Killed, 50 Injured After World War II Era Plane Crashes Into Crowd At Nevada Air Show

UPDATE 9/18- The death toll in the Air Races crash has been raised to nine.

At least three people were killed and more than 50 injured when a P-51 Mustang crashed into a crowd during an air show in Reno, NV on Friday night.

Photo: Reno Gazette-Journal
Investigators were scrambling to determine what caused a powerful World War II vintage racing plane traveling at up to 400 mph to plunge toward spectators at the fabled Reno air races late Friday afternoon, leaving a shattered trail of twisted debris and broken bodies.

At least three people were confirmed dead, including the pilot, and more than 50 were injured, about 15 of them critically. Because of the number and the extent of the injuries, the death toll could rise, officials said.

"I did have an opportunity to visit the site, and it is horrific," Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval said after the nation's premier aviation race turned swiftly into a disaster scene for onlookers seated near the path of the deep-throated planes hurtling 400 feet overhead.

"As I saw the plane coming directly at us, I dove," said Nick Sorrentino, 19, an audio technician who was standing just below the stands when the plane hit. "It was mass chaos. People running. People on the ground. Body parts all over the ground."

The National Championship Air Races in Reno feature some of the fastest racing planes in the world traveling at breakneck speed around pylons on a course suspended above Reno-Stead Airport, about 15 miles north of the city.

Danger is an expected part of the program for pilots — 19 others have died in the races since 1964. But Friday's accident was the first to involve spectators, race president Mike Houghton said.
The pilot was identified as 74 year old Jimmy Leeward, a veteran stunt pilot who appeared in movies and ran the Florida-based Leeward Air Ranch. Eyewitness accounts said that the plane attempted to steer away from the VIP grandstand section at the last minute, possible indicating some sort of mechanical failure.

On This Date, President Obama's Pastor Delivers Sermon Justifying September 11 Attacks on USA

There's been a school of thought out there for awhile that President Obama is some sort of clandestine Muslim based on some of his foreign policy statnces as well as his background. I refuse to believe that for a number of reasons- for starters, I actually believe that there are a number of patriotic Muslims in the USA who love this country and have valued the rights and opportunities afforded them and in some cases even served it honorably in some capacity [the Persians who fled Iran during the rise of the Ayatollahs had a firsthand glimpse of what a totalitarian regime based on Islamic supremacy looks like, for instance- NANESB!].

Also, I think the truth is much more sinister that the 'Obama is a seekrit Muslim' claims that have been circulating. Obama is not a secret Muslim, but rather he was simply paying attention to the bigoted, anti-Semitic, homophobic hate-preacher Jerimiah Wright all this time. Paying attention and possibly taking his words to heart.

But you might be asking- Fenway, you bigoted right-wing neocon dupe, this was all settled in the 2008 campaign during the primaries. Why are you bringing it up right now? This came to my attention because of the date of one of the racist preacher's sermons at the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.

The nation just recently observed the 10 year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 that killed nearly 3000 Americans. This sermon, which at times approvingly repeats statements from Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda justifying 9/11 and previous attacks, took place at Obama's Trinity Church on September 16th, 2001; not even five whole days after the single deadliest attack against the United States. Now it goes without saying that this is a free country and that this ebony Fred Phelps is entitled to his opinion, but lets provide a little bit of context- for those of you who were bitching in 2008 about how the sermon was 'taken out of context'.

On September 16, 2001, first responders from the NYPD and FDNY along with other agencies were breathing in God-knows-what and still sifting through tons of still-burning rubble to try and recover remains of Americans who were crushed and incinerated when the towers collapsed. Instead of any sincere condolences or prayers to those who were brutally murdered, Obama's pastor laments that there isn't enough introspection over his version of American history and foreign policy [which seems to have significant overlap with Al Qaeda's- NANESB!].

This begs the question of whether or not then state Senator Barack Obama was in attendance at Wright's church that weekend. It would not be out of character for Obama to appear at the church only occasionally and ahead of an election to try and lobby the parishioners for his vote.

Moreover, if Obama found the content of Wright's sermons so objectionable [apparently the 'God Damn America!' sermon came at a later date- NANESB!], why did he only choose to distance himself from the man and his words some 7 ½ years later during a contentious Presidential primary challenge with New York Senator Hillary Clinton? Maybe it's just me, but if I were one of Wright's parishioners, I don't think it would take me several years to repudiate him or his anti-American sermons. In fact, I'm sure there are other houses of worship in Chicago- if I was truly disagreed with what Wright had to say, I'm sure I could've made my way to another church.

And ten years later, there really seems to be nothing to disprove that Obama hadn't taken the race-hustling Wright's sermons to heart, only distancing himself from the preacher and his words when it was politically expedient. And now that he won the Presidency, all things Jerimiah Wright-related seemed to have gone away aside from the occasional embarrassing flare-ups in the early going.

On April 4, 2011, President Obama announced the start of his 2012 re-election campaign. I was never convinced he deserved a first term, but since he's seeking four more years in the Oval Office, I think this issue needs to be revisited just in case the first 2 ½ years of America under the Obama Administration wasn't enough to convince you.

Badger State Civility Update- Deranged Progressive Stalker Assaults State Lawmaker With Beer

Not even two weeks after Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa called on union members to "Take these sons of bitches out" in a speech followed up by a violent attack on a Washington state grain unloading facility, a Racine, WI activist stalking State Republican lawmaker Robin Vos and dumping beer on his head during a shouting match at a Madison, WI tavern.
A report from the Madison Police Department identifies the victim as a 43-year-old state lawmaker from Burlington, a description that matches Rep. Robin Vos (R-Burlington), co-chairman of the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee. Vos' office confirmed he was the victim but would not say anything else about the matter, since it was being investigated by police.

The incident happened at the Inn on the Park, 22 S. Carroll St. Witnesses said a man came into the tavern and swore at three lawmakers, calling them criminals. A bartender said the man used the words to the effect of "money" and "damn Republicans," according to the police report.

Another man was recording the incident with a video camera when the bartender asked him to stop. That's when the person who had been yelling dumped the beer on Vos' head, according to the report.

The police report says beer splashed onto two other lawmakers, Rep. Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford) and Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette).

Vos told police that the man has been harassing him since February, though previous encounters had not involved physical contact. The representative did not know the suspect's name, but a female State Capitol employee, who was with the group, gave police a name and said Capitol Police would have his contact information, according to the report. Police believe he's a 26-year-old.
Madison police say that 26 year old Miles Kristan turned himself in to police and was cited for disorderly conduct before being released without incident.

News of the confrontation was met with approval by progressives and union activists on Twitter. [Wonder how they would feel if somebody from the Tea Party did the same thing to one of the Democrat lawmakers who fled the state earlier this year?- NANESB!]

[Hat tip- Lumberjack in a Desert; Gateway Pundit]

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Obama Administration Launches 'ATTACK WATCH' Website

Internet responds with howls of laughter.

Apparently the Obama Administration's latest tactic for their 2012 re-election bid involves pre-empting any opponents bid to portray him as amateurish, petty and thin skinned by....well, acting amateurish, petty and thin skinned.

The latest such example this week is the launch of a website paid for by Obama for America called Attack Watch.
Attack Watch,a website started by President Obama's campaign organization, was intended to be a repository for supporters to report "attacks" on Obama's record and get the facts. But its rollout has been met with scathing mockery by conservatives, who call it a second-rate version of previous Big Brother sites created by Team Obama

Conservative critic Mark Steyn, a native of the U.K., then cheered that he was the only foreigner with a designation on

Both were met with comment after comment from readers offering the type of "attacks" they were going to report to the Obama re-election site. The #attackwatch Twitter page was immediately spammed with tweet after tweet heavy on sarcasm regarding the president's stimulus and jobs creation plans.

"hey #AttackWatch I heard the only good 'Cash For Clunkers' did was get all the obama stickers off the roads, thank you," tweeted @speedyjerry.

"Hey #attackwatch, I saw 6 ATM's in an alley, killing a Job. It looked like a hate crime!" wrote @thorninaz.

Obama campaign spokeswoman Katie Hogan told the Washington Post that 100,000 people had signed up for the site in the first 24 hours.

"This site is a tool providing our supporters with the facts they need to fight back against lies and distortions about the president's record," she told the newspaper.

But syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin said this site, the fourth one launched in three years attempting to respond to political attacks, has backfired on the Obama team.

"What this is really about is some sort of campaign against their opponents, and it's not working anymore," she said.

"Back in 2008, the Obama campaign had claimed this mantle as the tech savvy geniuses, and what's happened is that conservatives on Twitter and on YouTube and all the social networks have been able to strike back, and humor is always the best revenge," she said.

In an opinion article published in the International Business Times, Nadine DeNinno argues the site is pointless, saying it is counterproductive and has become a laughingstock.

"The website has become simply an instrument used by opponents to rail the president by conservatives, using it as their personal punching bag," she wrote. "The people who monitor the site will be quite busy, as Attack Watch only warrants more attacking."

She also wondered how many jobs the site created, "or how long it took to conceive, in which case jobs could have been created instead?" She then quoted @BradThor who tweeted, "If only the #Obama administration could create an atmosphere where jobs materialized as quickly as #attackwatch jokes!"
This video began circulating on conservative blogs within a day of Attack Watch's rollout.

OK- I'll go ahead and ask- what was the Obama 2012 brain trust thinking when they came up with this? "Hey, I know! Let's create a webpage encouraging citizens to inform on one another. And let's use colors and an austere layout evocative of a totalitarian regime!" I'm wondering in what parallel universe might this even be in the same area code as a good idea.

I did go ahead and check it out for myself- truth be told, the parody video wasn't that far off. There's a subcategory called Gun Control Gossip in which Attack Watch claims former UN Ambassador John Bolton and others are spreading false rumors that President Obama will sign on to a UN Small Arms treaty that could lead to firearms confiscation here in America [frankly, I think this particular rumor is at least as old as the internet and given new credence when a politician from a city priding itself on strict-but-ineffective gun control regulations is in the White House- NANESB!].

Interestingly, there's no mention of his executive order requiring sales of multiple long guns in US states bordering Mexico be reported to the ATF. The order comes after revalations in the media and sworn testimony before the House Oversight committee that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms ordered field agents to allow guns to 'walk' into Mexico from the USA and beyond the jurisdiction of US federal agents.

Also, while on the topic of gun control, I noticed that Attack Watch hedged his support of gun owner's rights with the following requisite boilerplate:
President Obama believes in common sense gun control laws compatible with Second Amendment rights.
Public figures have made outlandish claims that President Obama is planning to use a United Nations treaty to take away legal firearms from gun owners in the US.
Notice the rather odd qualifier of 'legal firearms'. During the Clinton years, entire categories of firearms with certain design features were declared illegal with the stroke of a pen thanks to President Clinton's executive order. It's a little like the rationale behind the felon-infested Mayors Against Illegal Guns- give it a benign sounding name, but continue to implement laws and regulations incrementally on the local level that make owning just about any kind of firearm legaly untenable and nearly impossible, and pretty much all guns are illegal by default [see Chicago or Washington D.C for an example of this kind of logic in action and its overall effectiveness in preventing crime- NANESB!]

To go with the Attack Watch website is the official Attack Watch twitter account, which has been noticably quiet since the avalanche of ridicule began cascading down on late Tuesday afternoon. I must confess that I'm a little late to this particular party, but that hasn't stopped me from having fun with it.

Remnants of Tropical Storm Lee Flood New York's Southern Tier, Parts of Pennsylvania

Floowaters from an already saturated Susquehanna river topped levees and retaining walls in Broome County, NY inundating downtown Binghampton as well as nearby Johnson City, Endicott, Vestal and Owego in the wake of Tropical Storm Lee. Many evacuees in the area took shelter at Binghaton University's events center.

To the south, mandatory evacuation orders were in place in the Wilkes-Barre, PA area due to concerns that the Susquehanna would top levees there.

The flooding also shut down two highways in the region- I-88, which links Binghamton with the Albany, NY area and NY-17, which goes west to Elmira, Corning and further west to Erie, PA. For the second time in two weeks, both CSX and Canadian Pacific experienced disruptions along their lines south and west of Albany, NY. A Canadian Pacific Spokesman said that the former Delaware & Hudson line between Binghamton and Albany NY was washed out in two locations, but that crews were going to work on them when the floodwaters receded.

Lee was the second major storm to strike the area in two weeks. Many businesses and schools were attempting to reopen after sustaining flood damage from Tropical Storm Irene moved through the area at the very end of August. Much of Vermont and the Mohawk River valley in New York state were hit particularly hard by fast moving floodwaters that destroyed homes, businesses, schools, roads and bridges. Damages from the two storms are estimated to cost at least $100 Million in New York state alone

Sour Grapes: Much to Miss France's Chagrin, Miss Angola Wins 2011 Miss Universe Pageant

25 year old Leila Lopes, an Angolan presently living in the UK, won the Miss Universe title at the 2011 pageant in Sao Paulo Brazil this week. The business student, originally from rhe seaside city of Begeula, is the first Angolan to win the pagent's title.

Miss Ukraine- 22 year old law student Olesya Stefanko from Odessa (above), was named the pageant's runner-up.

Ms Lopes replaces last year's Miss Universe winner Jimena Navarette (Miss Mexico- above) .

The decision to crown Lopes Miss Universe didn't sit too well with some of the other contestants pageant. Miss France (above)- 20 year old Laury Thilleman- was particularly critical in comments to French magazine Premiere.
“She was the only girl I didn’t know very well. We didn’t see her much; she was very discreet. She was often in jeans and not wearing makeup. We were all surprised by her win. Many girls made efforts that were not rewarded. I don’t know, something is missing in her temperament. The fact that the competition was held in Brazil surely played a role.”

Miss Brazil- 25 year old Priscilla Machado (above)- was actually named second-runner up in the 2011 Miss Universe tournament.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

GOP Sweeps Pair of Special Elections, Including Anthony Weiner's Former District

Republican candidates turned in a pair of victories on Tuesday night in special Congressional elections in New York City and Nevada.

Former Nevada state senator Rick Amodei cruised to a lopsided win over the Democrat in the race, current Nevada state treasurer Kate Marshall in the special election in Nevada's 2nd congressional district. The district, which includes most of the state of Nevada outside of Clark County, was left without representation when Congressman Dean Heller was appointed by Gov Brian Sandoval to replace Senator John Ensign back in late April when Ensign resigned due to a sex scandal.

Nevada's 2nd district leans heavily Republican since it was created about 30 years ago and the outcome (if not the margin of victory) was hardly a startling development.

More surprising was what happened 2500 miles to the east on Tuesday night in the special election for New York's 9th Congressional district. This was the seat formerly occupied by Anthony Weiner before he was forced to resign over sending sexually explicit pictures of himself to certain followers on Twitter. The NY-9 contest was between Democrat NY state assembly member David Werpin (Assembly district 24, Queens) and retired cable TV executive Bob Turner, running as a Republican.

NY-9 has been held by Democrats since 1923, but polls a few days out from the special election indicated that Werpin was in trouble. On Tuesday night, Republican Bob Turner won the NY-9 special election by a 53% to 47% margin. Interestingly, both candidates seemed to be running against President Obama.

The 9th Congressional district encompasses parts of Brooklyn and Queens and has a large Jewish population. The Obama administration's terse meetings with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and calls for Israel to withdraw back to pre-1967 borders was seen as a factor in alienating some Jewish voters in the USA. Democrat former New York mayor Ed Koch ended up endorsing Turner in the special election based in large part on the president's handling of Israel.

While Werpin attempted to distance himself from President Obama, he and his campaign committed a series of gaffes late in the campaign. In one Q&A session, he said the national debt was $4 trillion (closer to $14 trillion) and a campaign ad showing an animated jet buzzing the Manhattan skyline came out shortly before the 10 year anniversary of 9/11.

As an assemblyman, Weprin also voted in favor of New York's recent vote on same sex marriage and also voiced support of the controversial Ground Zero mosque, issues that likely didn't go over very well with the Jewish and Catholic voters in NY-9. In the immediate aftermath of Turner's win, DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D; FL-20) claimed that the same seat Representative Weiner won by 60% just 10 months ago was a 'difficult' district for the Democrats to win [only under your illustrious leadership can districts where registered Democrats outnumber GOP voters 3-1 can be considered 'difficult', Deb- NANESB!]

While there's still a possibility that NY-9 could still be redistricted out of existence soon, this would be the New York city area's third Congressional seat currently held by the GOP. Pete King represents part of Nassau county for NY-3 while Micheal Grimm represents Staten Island in NY-13.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

200th Helping of Sports Chowdah- Wakefield Stops Sox Bleeding, Pats Have Huge Night in Miami to Kick Off Season

As disappointing as the first week of September was for Boston fans, the last 24 hours seemed to have offset that nicely.

Ordinarily, a record setting performance by Tom Brady in the regular season opener against an AFC East opponent on Monday Night Football would get top billing, but not after Tuesday night in Fenway.

With the Red Sox winning all of two games for the month of September, Tim Wakefield's Groundhog Day-esque quest for career win #200 seemed like an afterthought. After the 3 game sweep in Florida by the Rays over the weekend to give them new life in the Wild Card race, what Boston needed was somebody to stop the bleeding.

Drafted as a first baseman in 1988 by the Pittsburgh Pirates, Wakefield developed his knuckleball while with the Salem Buccaneers of the Carolina League. He was called up to Pittsburgh in 1992 and even won Games 3 and 6 of the 1992 NLCS (both starts against Billerica, MA native Tom Glavine of the Atlanta Braves).

He struggled the following season and was released by Pittsburgh in 1995 during the player's strike. The Red Sox picked him up a few days later and he saw service in Pawtucket and then Boston, filling in for an ailing Roger Clemens.

On July 24, 2011, Time Wakefield recorded career win #199 against the Seattle Mariners. Thanks to an unfortunate series of lackluster starts on his part or the bullpen imploding in close games, the knuckleballer was stuck at #199 for more than 7 weeks. This could've been almost comical if it weren't for the fact that the Red Sox were already swooning in pivotal series against the Yankees, Rangers, Blue Jays and Rays- the latter completing a 3-game sweep of Boston on Sunday, September 11.

After an off night Monday, Wakefield got the start against the Blue Jays at Fenway on Tuesday night. In the early going, Wakefield would give up the Red Sox lead thanks to a 3-run homer off the bat of Jays catcher JP Arencibia in the 2nd and a 2-run homer to Jose Bautista in the 3rd.

With the Jays leading 5-4 in the bottom of the 4th, the Red Sox would take the lead on back to bac solo homers from Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia. Unlike last week's game against the Blue Jays, this would hold up with Wakefield getting out of a two-on and nobody out jam in the 5th and having a 1-2-3 bottom of the 6th as the Red Sox would continue adding to their lead in the 6th, thanks to a leadoff double from Carl Carwford and a 3-run blast from Dustin Pedroia to make it a 10-5 game.

From there, the Red Sox bats would continue to break the game wide open, giving Wakefield plenty of run support for his 6 innings of work. Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury made fairly convincing arguments about their inclusion in the AL Most Valuable Player balloting, with Pedroia going 4-5 with 5 RBI and two homers while Ellsbury would go 4-5 with 3 RBI and a solo homer. The Sox would go on to win by an 18-6 final, at long last giving Wakefield career win #200.

This sets a matchup between Ricky Romero (14-10; 3.01 ERA) and John Lackey (12-12; 6.30 ERA) for Wednesday afternoon's game. First pitch will be at 1:35 PM Eastern time at Fenway.

Boston's recent skid has meant that not only have the Yankees started to pull away, but that the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Angels still have a shot at the Wild Card. While the Yankees had a rough go of it in Southern California dropping two out of three to the Angels, the Bronx Bombers would go on to take the first two games against the Mariners at SafeCo, including closer Mariano Riviera notching career save #600 on Tuesday night. Meanwhile, in Baltimore, the O's rallied against the Tampa to win by a 4-2 margin. So currently, there's 4 games separating the Red Sox and Yankees in the AL East while there Rays are 4 games out from Boston's Wild Card berth. To make things a little more interesting, the Angels are a game and a half behind Tampa for the Wild Card standings and three games behind Texas in the AL West standings.

OTHER SOX NEWS: Just as Kevin Youkilis was coming back form the DL with bursitis and a sports hernia, David Ortiz say out Tuesday's game after experiencing back spasms.

Relief pitcher Bobby Jenks has been diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism on Tuesday and is out for the season.

Josh Beckett pitched a side session on Monday and is expected to start Friday night's game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway. Beckett had missed his last start with a sprained right ankle.

PAWTUCKET RED SOX: After winning a division title to close out their regular season, the PawSox were swept from the International League playoffs by the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, dropping the deciding Game 3 by a 3-1 final.

OTHER MLB NEWS: Former Indians, Red Sox and Dodgers slugger Manny Ramirez was released from a Florida jail after posting $2500 bond on Tuesday. Ramirez faces domestic abuse and battery charges

NFL: What a game! If you thought Thursday night's opener between New Orleans and Green Bay was something, apparently they saved the best offensive performance for last.

On Monday Night, QBs Tom Brady and Chad Henne decided to dwarf the combined total of more than 700 yards between Brees and Rogers.

Miami got the ball rolling with a nice sustained drive for a TD on their opening possession to take the early 7-0 lead. Miami led the NFL in scoring percentage on their opening drive last season, so apparently some of that carries into this season as well.

Brady would respond on the following drive, marching New England down the field, including a 46 yard completion to WR Matthew Slater and capping the drive with a short Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis TD run to tie things up at 7-7. The Pats would take a 14-7 lead into halftime (Gostkowski missed a FG attempt from mid field right before the end of the half).

Miami managed to tie the game up after a Brady lateral attempt was tipped and picked off by Miami DT Jared Odrick at mid field and run back 39 yards, giving the Dolphins 1st and goal from inside the New England 10. Miami managed to tie the game at 14-14 on a short pass from Henne to WR Brian Hartline.

Going with the no-huddle offense, New England got the ball back and Brady found Deion Branch for some quick pickups before pulling ahead for good on a short pass to Wes Welker to make it a 21-14 game.

The Dolphins would start on their own 11 on their next possession, but move the ball down into the New England red zone and settle for a Dan Carpenter FG to cut into the New England lead and make it 21-17.

Brady would find Aaron Hernandez twice on the next possession, once for a 30 yard pickup into Miami's red zone and once for the TD to make it 28-17 (Gostkowski would add to the lead with a chip shot field goal to make it 31-17 early in the 4th).

Late in the 4th, Miami would put together a drive that started on their own 12 yard line and move down the field, only to sputter on 4th and goal at the New England one yard line. What happens next is pretty much the dagger for Miami (not to mention pretty awesome!).

Welker's 4th quarter TD run ties and NFL-long record for 99 yards and iced the game for New England. Tom Brady went 32-48 with 517 yards and 4 TDs (plus the one interception). The Dolphin's Chad Henne went 30-49 with 416 yards and 2 TDs in the losing effort. The Pats win this one by a 38-24 final.

Interestingly, Buffalo won their season opener against Kansas City and despite trailing most of the night, the Jets were able to pull off the win in their home opener against Dallas, making Miami the only Winless team in the division.

The Patriots will next play their home opener will take place on Sunday at 4:15 PM against the San Diego Chargers.

ICE HOCKEY: Alexander Galimov, the last surviving Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey player on board the ill-fated charter flight that crashed last week has died from his injuries. Galimov, a Yaroslavl native, had burns over 80% of his body when he was moved to Moscow for treatment. Flight Crew member Alexander Sizov, who was also airlifted to Moscow, is the sole survivor of the crash.

BOSTON BRUINS: Forward Marc Savard will get his name on the Stanley Cup after all. Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli made the announcement at a charity golf tournament on Monday.

Under NHL rules, in order for a player to get their name on the cup a player must play 41 regular games or one game in the Stanley Cup final. However, Savard played in only 25 games due to post-concussion syndrome. However, a 1994 provision in the rule allows the team to petition the NHL to add a the name of an otherwise ineligible player to the Cup. The Bruins petition on behalf of Savard was approved.

A hit from Colorado's Matt Hunwick on a January 22nd game resulted in Savard's 2nd concussion in 10 months.

The Boston Bruins and NY Islanders played a pair of rookie games this week with the Bruins winning Game 1 by an 8-5 final, but getting blown out of the rink by a final of 7-1 on Tuesday night.

Also worth noting that auditions for the Bruins Ice Girls continued into this week- this round was invitation only.

NCAA FOOTBALL: Offensive Coordinator Kevin Rogers is taking a leave of absence form the team due to health reasons, leaving tight-ends coach Dave Brock to fill in on an interim basis, according to BC football head coach Frank Spaziani.

The news comes just days after the Eagles lost starting cornerback CJ Jones, who would be undergoing surgery after being injured on the opening series of Saturday's 30-3 loss to Central Florida.

The winless BC Eagles will next play the Duke Blue Devils (also winless) at Chestnut Hill this Saturday at 12:30 PM ET.

Over the Big East, UConn lost a close one to the Vanderbilt Commodores, with Vandy coming from behind late to win by a 24-21 final. The 1-1 Huskies will next play the undefeated Iowa State Cyclones at E. Hartford. Kickoff is at 8:00 PM ET.