Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cherokee Group Demands Elizabeth Warren Come Clean About Claims of Native Ancestry; Warns They May 'Pull the Plug' on Warren Campaign

Most likely NOT one of Elizabeth Warren's ancestors
While Massachusetts Democrats would like nothing more than the whole issue of Elizabeth Warren's bogus claims of Cherokee ancestry would go away, actual members of the tribe are keeping the issue alive and liberal fundraisers fear that it may be costing her campaign money.

A group consisting of more than 150 Cherokees have started up a blog and Facebook page titled Cherokees Demand Truth From Elizabeth Warren which includes a page highlighting her family's genealogy. From the 'About Us' section:
This is NOT a political group, but instead, a group that demands Elizabeth Warren and others like her understand OUR history belongs to us and no one has the right to try to rewrite it or make up fictitious stories so they can fit in it or take advantage of it. Only those who meet the requirements under Cherokee law should claim to be Cherokee. We hope to help educate the public on what is and is not true about our history and also why the false claims like Elizabeth Warren is making are harmful to the Cherokee people.
So far, Warren has replied to inquiries about whether or not she used her claims of minority status with boilerplate remarks about how she promises to help the middle class.
Also probably no relation to Warren, despite the high cheekbomes- but still worth looking at
Officials from progressive group have cautioned members that they may have to pull the plug altogether on supporting Warren's campaign, citing a shortfall of cash and a primary challenge from immigration attorney Marisa DeFranco. Should DeFranco win at least 15% of the delegate's votes at the Massachusetts Democrat Party's Convention in Springfield, MA, she'll appear on the September primary ballot. While Warren has managed to raise millions of dollars, much of it from out of state, DeFranco has yet to surpass $50,000 in fundraising.

UPDATE- 6/1: This is too good to pass up- nervous Democrat delegates are being warned not to wander from the reservation ahead of the state convention in Springfield, MA this weekend.

Meanwhile, members from the Cherokee group have made plans to protest Warren outside the convention venue on Saturday.

Canada's Parliment Expected to Pass Bill Ordering Striking CP Rail Employees Back to Work

Canadian lawmakers are expected to pass a back-to-work bill that would get Canadian Pacific [NYSE: CP- TSX: CP] trains rolling by the weekend and order striking Canadian Teamsters back to work on Thursday.

The striking Canadian rail workers have been working without a contract since December 31st. At issue when the Teamsters Canada workers called a strike last week was a new contract and pension funding reductions of up to 40%. Canada's Conservative government has previously passed similar back-to-work legislation to end strikes at Canada Post and Air Canada [TSX: AC-A] in recent years.

Trains from Canada's second-largest railway ground to a halt on May 23rd, severely curtailing CP Rail's operations on the American side of the border as well as those of shippers and railways that interchange with CP Rail.

The Montreal, Maine & Atlantic, which utilizes trackage rights over CP Rail at the western end of the MM&A system near Montreal, has temporarily laid off 59 employees and re-routed some interchange traffic to the Vermont Railway via Newport, VT. Canadian Pacific is responsible for dispatching trackage in and around the St Jean, Quebec interchange. While an agreement to keep commuter trains in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver operating during the strike had been reached shortly beforehand, the MM&A unsuccessfully sought a court injunction to allow the regional railroad to access Canadian National for interchange in Montreal.

According to Kevin Burkholder's Eastern Railroad News, CP Rail, the Montreal Maine & Atlantic and JD Irving's New Brunswick Southern have been gearing up to handle unit trains of crude oil from Saskatchewan to Irving's St John, NB refinery. Earlier this month, Canadian Pacifc was gearing up to ship 120-car trains of crude oil from the North Dakota side of the Bakken shale to refineries in the northeastern United States.

Earlier this year, Canadian labor groups were handed a major setback when EMD's parent company Caterpillar [NYSE- CAT] decided to shutter their London, Ontario plant and shift production to Muncie, IN after a months-long labor dispute with workers at the plant represented by the Canadian Auto Workers.

[Hat tip- Eastern Railroad News; Labor Union Report]

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Quickie Borderline Psychosis Upate- Caracas Connection? Fugitive Venezuelan Judge Talking to DEA; Cartels Blamed for Michoacan Arson Attacks

VENEZUELA- A fugitive judge who was dismissed from Venezuela's Supreme Court on charges of corruption and ties to Colombian drug cartels has fled the country and is reportedly talking to the DEA while in hiding.

Eladio Aponte, a former justice on Venezuela's supreme court, has been accused of giving lenient sentences to drug traffickers and ties to Venezuelan drug kingpin Walid Makled [aka 'The Turk']. Makled was arrested in Colombia and in 2011 was extradited to stand trial in Venezuela. The reputed kingpin claimed before his trial that he could provide conclusive evidence that members of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez's inner circle were involved in drug smuggling, but would only talk to American prosecutors.

In recent years, the United States has accused the Chavez regime of turning a blind eye to the drug smuggling that takes place in Venezuela. However, detailed testimony from Aponte could pave the way for a number of indictments against Hugo Chavez's domestic allies.
Aponte is one of six special witnesses cooperating with the DEA in its investigation of Venezuelan government ties to trafficking, said a former U.S. government official familiar with the situation.

The case is being handled by Group 959, a unit of DEA's Special Operations Division, according to sources with direct knowledge of the case including a former law enforcement source.

Group 959, known as the Bilateral Investigations Unit, was set up to target traffickers overseas plotting to import cocaine to the United States, even if no shipments actually arrive.

David Tinsley, a retired DEA veteran who now runs his own private intelligence agency, said Group 959 would only be involved in the Aponte case if the government felt he could deliver strong evidence.

"In the hands of 959, he would become a very effective tool," he said. "They must have wanted Aponte bad. (The division) doesn't go on fishing expeditions, they are very surgical. They know who they are going after and why."
Although Aponte has reportedly been tied to Makled, another judge who left Venezuela after a dispute with Chavez's allies in 2006 backed Aponte's claims of a judicial system pressured to give lenient sentences to criminals portected by the regime. Aponte reportedly fled to Costa Rica where he met with DEA agents before arriving in the USA on a chartered government flight in April.

Cocaine grown in Colombia is often refined and smuggled to Venezuela en route to Europe and West Africa. A number of airstrips used by drug smuggling flights in Venezuela are reportedly under military protection.
There are reports of a new cartel, dubbed the "Cartel of the Suns", after the stars worn by the Venezuelan generals who are thought to be complicit in the trade.

Colombian intelligence learned of the cartel from Feris Farid Dominguez, who was deported from Venezuela in January to face charges of drug trafficking. He told how he met senior figures in President Hugo Chavez's security forces to arrange drug shipments through Venezuela.

"The reason that some military men have become involved in drugs trafficking is because they have not succeeded in getting into Chavez's close circle so as to rob the state," read extracts from Feris's statement. "They have found their extra money in drugs trafficking."

The most senior Colombian drugs baron now in custody, awaiting extradition to America, has told investigators that Venezuela offers smugglers relative immunity.

"Venezuela is a temple of drugs smuggling," said Hernando Gomez Bustamante, alias "Scratch", who had a $5 million bounty on his head.

British officials believe that Venezuelan air force bases are being used by aircraft carrying drugs. Small planes are typically used to carry consignments on the relatively short journey from Colombia.
If they weren't Flaming Hot Cheetos before, they sure are now!
MICHOACAN- An underboss for the Caballeros Templar [i.e. Knights Templar] cartel is in custody after a number of warehouses belonging to PepsiCo's [NYSE- PEP] Mexican subsidiary were torched in central Mexico last week.
Five Sabritas warehouses and vehicle lots were attacked Friday and Saturday in the Mexican states of Michoacan and Guanajuato. Witnesses in one case described armed, masked men who tossed firebombs and torched dozens of the company's distribution trucks and some warehouses.
According to the president of Mexico's Business Coordinating Council, the firebombings represent a step up for the cartels who normally target much smaller local businesses throughout Mexico for extortion. Although some business leaders in Mexico claim that Friday's arson attacks are the first such attacks directed at a multinational corporation by the cartels since President Felipe Calderon deployed the Mexican military to crack down on the drug cartels.
Alejandro Hope, a security analyst and former official in Mexico's CISEN intelligence agency, said it was the first attack he could recall against a transnational company in Mexico. Even in Mexico's most violent city, Ciudad Juarez, the warring drug gangs have largely left alone the many foreign-operated assembly plants known as maquiladoras.

"In Ciudad Juarez, they practically never tried to blackmail the maquiladoras," Hope said. "They focused more on small businesses ... they are easier targets, and with an industrial firm, one doesn't know exactly who to blackmail. It's not as clear who signed the checks or controls the checkbook."

In a statement issued Sunday, PepsiCo said five distribution centers were damaged, but no one was injured in the attacks and the amount of the damages had not been calculated.

The company appeared to respond to emails that circulated in Michoacan, home of the Knights Templar drug cartel, suggesting the attacks were revenge for the unproven allegation that prosecutors used Sabritas' extensive fleet of delivery trucks to gather intelligence.

"We repeat that in accordance with our code of conduct, all of our operations are carried out in the current regulatory framework and our vehicles and facilities are used exclusively to carry our products to our customer and clients," the company said. The company would not say whether that statement responded to the spying allegations.

Hope said such a spying scenario sounded unlikely, if not impossible. Sabritas employs more than 70,000 people and has a nationwide delivery fleet of about 14,500 trucks that are a common sight even in the most dangerous and remote parts of Mexico.

Hope said the attacks may not represent a new stage in drug gang extortions, but rather stem from the peculiar characteristics of the Knights Templar, a pseudo-religious cartel that split from Michoacan's La Familia cartel in 2011.
Started in 1943, Sabritas distributes soda, juice and snacks throughout Mexico. By the late 1960s, the company was brought out by PepsiCo. An April 2011 Reuters article highlighted the difficulties that some mining companies have had operating south of the border in cartel-held territory, with gunmen raiding remote mining sites for equipment and ore. In recent years, well organized criminal gangs have also taken to raiding tractor trailers and freight trains. However, in those instances the theives appeared to be more interested in helping themselves to the goods from the mines, railways and tractor trailers than extorting money from the companies involved.

The Caballeros Templar was formed in late 2011 after the senior leadership of the La Familia Michoacana cartel were killed or arrested by the Mexican government after a series of raids on La Familia strongholds. Within weeks, some of the remaining members of a now fragmented La Familia reconstituted themselves as the Knights Templar and moved into territory that had been previously operated by La Familia.

Rainy Day Sports Chowdah Update- Tiger in the Tank, Sox Scuff Up Verlander Thanks to Feliz Nava-dad; 'Doc' Hits DL in Philly; Devils Egged Onto Cup Final

After dropping two out of three against the Tampa Bay Rays at home over the weekend- including a gut wrenching 4-3 loss on Sunday in which the Rays went ahead in the top of the 9th on a 2-run homer by Sean Rodriguez- the Red Sox played host to the team that swept Boston to start off the regular season.

Monday's 7-4 win over the Tigers came at a price for the Red Sox as Dustin Pedroia left the game with a jammed thumb. Although Pedroia sat out Tuesday's game while hoping to avoid a longer stint on the DL.

Jim Rogash/Getty Images
With Cy Young winner Justin Verlander on the bump against Boston on Tuesday night, runs against Detroit figured to be as valuable as the missing paintings from the 1990 Gardner Museum Heist, but Mike Aviles got the Sox on the board with an RBI groundout in the bottom of the 2nd inning.

Meanwhile, Daniel Bard put a few runners on base but was managing to pitch four innings of shutout baseball but had a grand total of one run for support until the bottom of the fourth. After allowing singles by Youkilis, Aviles and Podsednik, Verlander got Nick Punto [filling in for Pedroia on Tuesday] to pop up for the second out of the inning. With two away, into the batter's box stepped Daniel Nava. Verlander managed to get a 3-2 count on the left fielder, but Nava sent a 100 MPH Verlander offering into left field, clearing the bases with a clutch 3-RBI double.

As it turned out, the Sox would need every bit of run support. In the top of the 5th, the Tigers got on the board thanks to a solo home run from Jhonny Peralta to make it 4-1. In the bottom of the 5th, Big Papi drove home Adrian Gonzalez to once again make it a 4-run game but got thrown out at third after trying to stretch a double into a triple on the throw home.

Prince Fielder would account for the rest of Detroit's offense that night with a solo homer and an RBI single while Big Papi would hit a solo homer to once again widen the gap for Boston. Boston goes on to win by a final of 6-3, with Daniel Bard going 5⅓ innings with Hill, Atchison, Miller, Padilla coming in out of the bullpen and Alfredo Aceves notching his 12th save of the season after closing out the 9th. The game was halted by a rain delay of about 40 minutes in the bottom of the 8th- no word whether or not 1/32nd Cherokee Elizabeth Warren triggered the delay with an authentic Native American rain dance. Verlander was pulled after 6 innings, allowing 10 hits and 5 runs while striking out 7.

The win puts the Red Sox above .500 for the first time this season. While it may not sound impressive, Boston is actually all of 3 and ½ games out of first place in the AL East with Tampa Bay and Baltimore tied for first place. Game three of the four game series against Detroit gets underway at 7:10 PM ET on Wednesday. Jon Lester [3-4; 4.72 ERA] gets the start against Detroit's Drew Smyly [2-1; 3.14 ERA] for game 3 which will be televised on NESN.

OTHER MLB NEWS- Philadelhpia Phillies ace Roy Halliday is expected to miss anywhere from 6-8 weeks, landing on the 15-day DL with a right shoulder injury. Through 11 starts, Halliday is 4-5 with a 3.98 ERA.

In a seperate development, former Phillies and Astros starter Roy Oswalt signed a 1 year $5 million minor-league deal with the Texas Rangers. Last season, Oswalt went 9-10 with an ERA of 3.69 for Philadelphia although he spent some time on the DL with a bad back. Pending a physical, Oswalt is expected to start for the Ranger's AAA affiliate in Round Rock, TX.

NHL- After breezing through the Vancouver Canucks, St Louis Blue and Phoenix Coyotes, the Los Angeles Kings are heading to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since the 1993 season. The Kings will play the New Jersey Devils, who won their last Stanley Cup championship in 2003 against another Southern California team- the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. The Devils bested the New York Rangers 4-2 in the Eastern conference finals while the Kings bested the Phoenix Coyotes 4 games to 1 in the Western Conference finals.

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals is set to take place Wednesday night at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ on Wednesday night and will be televised at 8:00 PM ET (5:00 Pacific) on NBC and CBC.

NBA- While the Stanley Cup finals get underway, the NBA Conferences finals got underway over the memorial day weekend. The Miami Heat currently hold a 1-0 edge after a 93-79 win over the Celtics at South Beach on Monday night. Game 2 is set to take place Wednesday night at 8:30 ET and will be televised on ESPN.

Over in the Western Conference, the San Antonio Spurs took a 2-0 series lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder with a 120-111 on Tuesday night.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Syrian Diplomats Expelled From Western Nations After 108 Civilians Massacred in Village of Houla

In a clear indicator of the escalating violence in Syria, 108 people were massacred in a pair of opposition-controlled villages in the Houla region of Central Syria on Friday. Although there were signs that heavy artillery and armour were used- equipment only available to Bashr Al-Assad's army- the United Nations Human Rights Office said there were indications that many of the dead- which include nearly 50 children- were summarily executed.

According to local eyewitness accounts and the opposition Free Syrian Army, the Syrian army and militias loyal to president Bashr Al-Assad began their assault during Friday prayers.
Shelling of the town began at about 12.30pm after prayers and lasted about two hours.

Then, from around 3pm, groups of armed civilian militias — known as the Shabiha — began moving house to house and the killings, using knives and firearms, began.

According to both sources speaking independently, it went on for hours, family by family. Both groups say the killings continued until about 2am on Saturday.
In a UN report finished just days before the Houla killings, Brazilian diplomat and legal scholar Paulo Sergio Pinhiero accused Assad's regime of sending the Army to towns with a list of wanted opponents and executing their entire families. The Syrian regime has denied any involvement with the Houla massacre, claiming that the rebel Free Syrian Army and foreign mercenaries were responsible for the bloodbath.

Human rights groups accuse the Syrian Army and Shabiha [or 'ghost militia'- NANESB!] of handcuffing some of the children in Houla before killing them as well as setting fires to homes and businesses before using snipers to pick off residents as they flee the burning structures.

In response to Friday's killings and the Assad regime's rejection of any ceasefire agreement with opposition forces the USA, Canada, Australia, UK and many European Union nations have expelled Syrian diplomatic personnel on Monday.

Proving that Democrats have never met a mass murdering dictator they didn't want to coddle, Nancy Pelosi is seen meeting Bashr al Assad in Damascus in 2007.
The massacre even prompted a rebuke from Russia- Assad's most powerful international ally and arms supplier. However, Russia is still considered unlikely to distance themselves from the Assad regime despite diplomatic efforts from the West.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Navajo Code Talker's Association VP Passes Away

Samuel Tso, the vice president of the Navajo Code Talker's Association passed away at the age of 89 this month.
Samuel was born June 22, 1922, at Black Mountain near Many Farms, Ariz., into a poor family. He was Zuni Tachiinii and born for Nakai Dine'e.

As a youth, he helped his family as a sheep herdsman, but also was interested in boxing and pursuing his education.

He attended local schools until going to a nearby boarding school, where the instructors often punished him for speaking his native language.

"Then, the nation called for him to use that same language," said Samuel's son, Ron Tso.

At 17, Samuel enlisted in the United States Marine Corps by claiming he was 21 years old, in order to be eligible for the military. He relocated to Camp Pendleton in Southern California, where he learned to be a code talker.

Samuel watched the original 29 code talkers leave for war while training. He and his unit learned the second version of the code.

"They bounced back between different versions of the code," said Ron.

Samuel loved sharing tales of the code talkers with his family and with audiences nationwide.

One of his favorite stories was when Samuel had reached Iwo Jima, an island that hosted one of the most intense battles between American and Japanese troops.

Samuel's unit reached the island just days before the battle began. While many of his comrades were overcome by fear, Samuel's concern was assuaged by a vision of a Native American maiden who told him he would return home safely.

The next day, a string of juniper beads arrived in the mail in an unaddressed envelope.

"He put [the beads] on and, as a result, he didn't have fear," said Ron.

Samuel returned from the war and went to college to pursue a career as a teacher. He attained a bachelor's degree at Utah State University and a master's degree at Arizona State University before acting as an instructor and involved youth advocate on school boards and committees.

"He advocated for the youth to get their education," said Yvonne Tso, Samuel's daughter.

Sharing the significance of the Navajo language became Samuel's mission up until his final days. His family hopes to honor his legacy by continuing his efforts to build the National Navajo Code Talkers Museum and Veterans Center to be constructed in Window Rock, Ariz.

"When I talked to my dad, I told him I would make his dream a reality," said Yvonne.
The Navajo language was used in the Pacific theater in WWII to confound Japanese codebreakers- throughtout the war, the Japanese were unable to decipher the communications being sent in the Navajo language. So effective were the Code talkers that the program remained classified for another 20 years in the event that a similar cipher program could be used in another armed conflict.

The program was declassified in 1968, and with the program no longer a state secret the Navajo Codel Talker's Association was formed a few years later in the early 1970s. Since then the Navy has even archived the Code Talker's Dictionary online.

Samuel's daughter Yvonne said that he had hoped to live long enough to see the completion of the proposed Navajo Code Talker's Museum and Veteran's Center in Window Rock, AZ completed. Currently, one of the largest exhibits on the Navajo reservation relating to the Code Talkers is presently located at a Burger King run by the son of one of the Code Talkers in Kayenta, AZ.

Donations made on behalf of Samuel Tso for the nascent Code Talker's museum can be made either online at the Code Talker's Association website or by regular mail at P.O. BOX 1266, Window Rock, AZ 86515.

Memorial Day

As I'm sure many of you have gathered by the numerous sales being offered by department stores or car dealers, this is Memorial Day weekend, which marks the unofficial start of summertime.

Of course, today is about so much more than parades, picnics and cookouts. Today is reserved for the men and women of our Armed Forces who never made it back home. If you have a moment, take some time out to buy a poppy from your local VFW post or find a veteran's organization such as the Wounded Warrior Project, the USO or the Navajo Code Talkers Foundation.

It's not often you find gems in the form of anonymous online comments, but this unattributed comment was right on the money- Today honoring veterans is in fashion. It hasn't always been that way. And when it is no longer politically useful it may not be in the future.

With that said, it's incumbent upon every last one of us to make certain that any display of honor or thanks to veterans and their families doesn't go the way of appletinis and MySpace.

Whatever else you have planned, I hope all of you have a safe Memorial Day Weekend.

Today's Train Of Thought- A Tomb With a View, May 28, 2012

Today's Train of Thought takes us to the final resting place of World War I veteran Edward Earl Price at the Hemphill Cemetary in Chicora, PA.

The Buffalo & Pittsburgh was one of the first ventures for shortline holding company Genesee and Wyoming [NYSE- GWR] outside the state of New York. Seeking to divest themselves of what they saw as a redundant and under utilized rail line, CSX sold the former Baltimore & Ohio line between Buffalo, NY and New Castle, PA to Genesee & Wyoming, who operated it as the Buffalo and Pittsburgh. The B&P saw an expansion in the 1990s when they acquired the nearby Alleghany Railroad and re-opened the dormant Indiana, PA branch.

Here, contributor Kevin Ashbaugh captured this image just a few miles outside the railroad's Butler, PA hub, Buffalo & Pittsburgh GP18 #926 trundles across the wooden trestle near the Hemphill cemetary with local freight BT-3 on May 29, 2007.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Borderline Psychosis Update- Mexico Makes Arrests in Beheadings; Zetas Bomb Hotel in Border Town; Senior Mexican Generals, Governors Accused of Cartel Ties

NUEVO LEON- Mexican authorities have arrested a Zetas underboss last week for his suspected role in dumping 49 mutilated corpses in the town of San Juan, Nuevo Leon that were discovered by the side of the highway on May 13.

According to officials, Daniel Jesus Elizondo Ramírez was tasked by his Zetas superiors with dumping the bodies and then hanging up a series of naro-banners throughout the region denying the Zetas involvement with the act spectacle in the following days. Ramírez was reportedly supposed to dump the hacked bodies in the town square, but got nervous and at the last minute disposed of the corpses by the side of Federal Highway 40- the main non-toll road between Monterrey and the border town of Reynosa.

A video posted at a Mexican website that covers drug crimes purportedly was filmed by an accomplice of Ramírez and shows him unloading dozens of bodies and unfurling a narco-banner nearby claiming responsibility. The stone archway just outside the village was marked with graffiti that read '100% Zetas'. The cameraman is said to be an accomplice who is still at large.

The banners hung up by Ramírez and other Zetas accomplices were said to be part of a ploy to distract police and the public. Ramírez is under house arrest while prosecutors are building up a case against him for the murder of those discovered outside of San Juan as well as the recent killings of members of the rival Gulf Cartel whose bodies were discovered elsewhere.

TAMAULIPAS- A hotel in the border town of Nuevo Laredo that was being used as temporary police barracks was under fire from suspected Zetas gunmen and then firebombed on Thursday, wounding 8 officers.
A Tamaulipas state official said authorities believed the Zetas cartel, one of Mexico's two most powerful criminal organizations, carried out the attack on the Hotel Santa Cecilia in Nuevo Laredo, a city across the border from Laredo, Texas.

The Zetas, founded by Mexican special forces defectors, have carried out a number of sophisticated attacks, but Thursday's assault appeared to be one of the most elaborate. It also appeared to be the first attack directed against Tamaulipas' new state police force, which took over a year ago from a municipal police force in Nuevo Laredo that was accused of ineffectiveness and corruption.

The newly commissioned officers, who hail from around the state, were staying in the hotel until permanent barracks were built. Mexican police frequently requisition hotels in the absence of official barracks, or when threats make it unsafe for them to live at home.

The attack on the hotel took place around 7:15 a.m. on one of the main streets in Nuevo Laredo, less than four hours after unknown gunmen hurled gasoline bombss at the Maranho, one of the city's most popular nightclubs. The club, which was closed at the time, was badly damaged by fire but there were no injuries, authorities said.

Minutes after the hotel attack, gunmen opened fire on the Nuevo Laredo Institute of Technology, a science-focused university.
The attacks came about a week after Federal Police and Mexican troops arrested Daniel Jesus Elizondo Ramirez on charges stemming from the dumping of 49 mutilated bodies by the side of the highway in Nuevo Leon.

ELSEWHERE IN TAMAULIPAS- Officials from Mexico's Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) have announced that they have suspended the membership of former governor Tomas Yarrington this week.

Although Yarrington hasn't been formally charged with any crime, US Prosecutors have filed two civil forfeiture cases aimed at confiscating poperties he holds in both Mexico and Texas. Yarrington is suspected of accepting substantial payoffs from drug cartels and investing some of the funds into real estate.

The PRI's Enrique Peña Nieto currently leads polling in the Mexican presidential elections, but the issue of crime and corruption may be an achilles heel for the PRI. The last three governors of Tamaulipas- all three of them from the PRI- are accused of recieving payoffs from the Gulf Cartel.

MEXICO CITY- Last week, a Mexican judge issued preliminary detention orders against four high-ranking retired and active duty officers in the Mexican military- including the second-ranking official in the Defense Ministry- stemming from evidence obtained by military prosecutors and the Attorney General's Office.
Officials haven't said why the men are being held. But according to the men's relatives, a person familiar with the legal proceedings and media accounts citing unnamed sources in the Attorney General's Office, the four are being questioned over allegations they were in the pay of one of Mexico's leading organized crime groups, the Beltran Leyva cartel.

"I regret and condemn that a few individual members [of the armed forces], according to evidence found by the Attorney General's Office and the military prosecutors, have taken part in illicit acts," President Felipe Calderon said this week. "The only thing that is clear here is that my government won't tolerate illegal acts, regardless of who commits them."

It is the biggest drug-related scandal since Mr. Calderon took office in December 2006 and deployed roughly 45,000 soldiers to different parts of the country to take on the drug gangs.

The highest-profile detainee is Gen. Tomas Angeles, whom Mr. Calderon appointed the second-ranking official in the Defense Ministry in 2006. Gen. Angeles served until he retired in 2008.

The detentions come just two months before presidential elections in July, spurring speculation in Mexico's press and among many analysts that the detentions may have to do with presidential or barracks politics.

Gen. Angeles, who served as Mexico's military attaché in Washington, was considered to be angling for a top security job if Enrique Peña Nieto, the candidate of the former ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, wins the presidency.
Angeles is reportedly very popular among his subordinates in the military, and the families of the accused back claims that the detentions are politically motivated.
Linking Gen. Angeles to a drug cartel makes little sense given his ambitions of becoming secretary of defense, said Raúl Benitez, a security analyst at Mexico's National Autonomous University. Such aspirations would have put the general in the position of being closely watched by both U.S. and Mexican intelligence services, making it likely that the general would have taken care not to associate with drug traffickers, Mr. Benitez said.

"If you are ambitious, the last thing you do is mess with narcos," he said. "It's suicide."
Another accused general is Brigadier Gen. Roberto Dawe, who until recently was part of President Felipe Calderon's security detail before being reassigned as a military commander whose jurisdiction included the Pacific Coast state of Colima.

According to a 2009 US Diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks, the State Department suspected a Mexican Army officer who was part of Felipe Calderon's security detail of leaking military intelligence to the cartels as well as training hitmen and facilitating the transfer of arms.

In April of this year, a retired Mexican general who had previously been convicted of having ties to the Juarez cartel was shot dead by unkonwn assailants in Mexico City. Gen Mario Arturo Acosta was convicted in 2000 of having ties the Juarez cartel and recieved a sentence of 16 years in prison in 2002. However, Acosta was exonerated five years later and in 2010 survived an attempt on his life.

COAHUILA- Acting on an anonymous tip, Mexican Marines raided a clandestine factory in the border city of Piedras Negras that made counterfeit military uniforms on Thursday.
They seized hundreds of combat trousers and shirts, as well as body armour, some with the Marine logo.

A Navy spokesman said the find showed "criminal groups wanted to discredit the Navy" by wearing their uniforms while committing crimes.

Over the past months, the security forces have arrested a number of alleged cartel hitmen wearing counterfeit uniforms.

Officials said the uniforms were used by Mexican drug cartels to set up road blocks and carry out kidnappings.

They said the uniforms made it easier for criminals to approach their victims, who did not realise they were being targeted until it was too late.

Marines found the workshop in the northern town of Piedras Negras across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas, after receiving an anonymous tip-off.
Zetas sicarios thought to be behind the disappearence and murder of hundreds of bus passengers in and around the village of San Fernando, Tamaulipas were reportedly wearing military-style fatigues when they pulled their victims off of intercity buses.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Meet Convicted Bomber, Drug Trafficker and Democrat Activist Brett Kimberlin

Why is it that the progressives in this country seem to go out of their way to embrace murderers and terrorists like Bill Ayers or Mumia Abu-Jamal?

While not as high profile as the Weather Underground terrorist-turned-college-professor or the convicted Philly cop-killer, this deboinaire fellow above is convicted drug trafficker, unrepentant bomber and progressive attack dog Brett Kimberlin.

During September 1978, the Indianapolis suburb of Speedway, IN was rocked by a series of bomb blasts including one that gravely injured Vietnam veteran Carl DeLong outside of Speedway High School and another that destroyed a parked Speedway Police cruiser.

Investigators were able to piece together enough evidence that led them to the store that sold the device that was used as the timer- clerks who were able to identify Brett Kimberlin from a photo array. Kimberlin ran a vegetarian resturant called to Broad Ripple that local police believed was a front for drug trafficking.

In late July 1978, 65-year old Julia Scyphers was shot to death by a man who knocked on the door of her Speedway home. While looking for a motive, police learned that Scypher's daughter, Sandra Barton, worked at the Broad Ripple. A few weeks prior to the murder family dispute, Scyphers had expressed concern that one of Sandra's co-workers expressed an inordinate interest in her 10 year old granddaughter Julia. Police suspected that Kimberlin was involved in the shooting and had set off a series of bombs in Speedway as a distraction.

That September, a Speedway print shop notified the United States Army after a suspicious customer requested that a quantity of military ID cards be reproduced. On September 20, the customer returned wearing a security guard's uniform with a Department of Defense insignia. The customer turned out to be Brett Kimberlin and the DOD insignia was fake. An Army Criminal Investigative Divison investigator was in the shop waiting for Kimberlin and arrested him for wearing the bogus DoD badge. Local police investigating the Speedway bombings obtained a search warrant for the car that Kimberlin had driven to the print shop. In the trunk, they found traces of Tovex- the water gel based explosive used in the Speedway bombings- and four devices similar to the timers used. Although investigators felt that they had their man, they didn't immediately pursue charges because they needed to further bolster their case.
A few months later Kimberlin got himself arrested again. He was in Texas with another man, trying to rent a small airplane. Investigators down there soon found out that the men had also rented construction equipment with which they'd built a small landing strip in the desert. On the night of Feb. 16, 1979, federal agents watched as a plane loaded with Colombian marijuana approached the little airstrip. But there was a heavy fog that night and the pilot radioed that he could not land at the makeshift airport and would have to set down at real airport nearby -- but that meant he had to dump the cargo from the air. The men on the ground, and the agents observing them, converged in the desert. Nine men were arrested, including Brett Kimberlin.
Although investigators couldn't conclusively tie Kimberlin to the murder of Julia Scyphers, in 1980 prosecutors charged Kimberlin with the Speedway bombings. Although the first trial ended in a hung jury, Kimberlin recieved a 12 year sentence for impersonating a DOD security guard on top of his 4 year sentence for drug smuggling in Texas. After a second trial in Indiana, Kimberlin was convicted of illegal posession of explosives while a third trial resulted a conviction for the Speedway bombings and a 50 year prison sentence.

While in prison, Kimberlin kept busy studying up on the law before fabricating stories about selling pot to then vice-president Dan Quayle and suing the Federal Bureau of Prisons for depriving him of his right to play electric guitar while incarcerated. While Kimberlin was incarcerated, Carl DeLong committed suicide due to the injuries he recieved from the bomb Kimberlin left outside of the Speedway High School.

In 1983, DeLong's widow won a $1.6 million judgement against Kimberlin in a civil suit. After serving only 13 years of his 50 year prison sentence, Kimberlin was paroled in 1994. However, his parole was revoked in 1997 after he made no effort to pay the DeLong judgement. By 2001, Kimberlin was once again released from prison.

After his release, Kimberlin involved himself with a number of progressive organizations while maintaining that he was exonerated of his crimes in a some secret and undisclosed deal with the government. Kimberlin co-founded a left leaning organization called Velvet Revolution with liberal blogger Brad Freidman, as well as another group called the Justice Through Music Project. Both organizations recieved substantial donations from singer Barbara Streisand and the George Soros-funded Tides Foundation. Some of the victims of Kimberlin's lawfare theorize that the lawsuits are attempts by the domestic terrorist to secure the names and home addresses of additional bloggers to harrass and stalk.

Since at least 2010, Kimberlin reportedly put his jailhouse lawyer expertise to not only threaten conservative bloggers with nuisance lawsuits and baseless criminal complaints, but also calling employers and families of bloggers and making thinly-veiled threats. The basis for these lawsuits? The bloggers pointed out Kimberlin's extensive criminal background, which is a matter of public record.

More disturbingly, those who have run afoul of Brett Kimberlin or Brad Freidman have found themselves on the recieving end of a malicious prank known as 'Swatting' where an anonymous individual dials 911 claiming to have murdered somebody before giving the dispatcher the victim's home address, prompting an armed response from a SWAT team. The caller generally uses Skype and remains anonymous after hiding behind anonymous IP proxies while making the call.

In his final interview before his February 2012 death, conservative web publisher Andrew Breitbart mentioned in passing a 2011 incident in which an LA County Sheriff's SWAT team was summoned to the home Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney and conservative blogger Patrick Frey in the middle of the night. A similar incident reportedly took place in New Jersey the same week. Frey, who blogs under the monicker Patterico posted audio of the 911 call on his blog.

Earlier this month, Kimberlin apparently contacted the wife of blogger Robert Stacy McCain's employer. As a precaution, McCain and his family vacated their home before a convicted bomber could come a-knockin' or send a SWAT team to his house under false pretenses. The Other McCain continues blogging from an undisclosed location after alerting the authorities of Kimberlin's attempts to communicate with him.

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said that Kimberlin's lawfare and harassment of conservative bloggers comes as no surprise. The senior senator from the Beehive state said that he and a staffer were on the recieving end of a civil suit from Kimberlin in 1999 claiming that Hatch's office involved itself in his 1997 parole hearing.

In response to Kimberlin's escalating lawfare, harassment and attempts to stifle the first amendment rights of right-leaning bloggers and social netorking users such as The Other McCain, Liberty Chick, Patterico and Ace of Spades a number of conservatives on twitter and the blogosphere have declared May 25th as 'Blog About Brett Kimberlin Day'. Not only is this an attempt to bring the disenfectant of sunlight onto Kimberlin and his Democrat supporters in hacker group Anonymous and the Occupy Wall Street movement, but it should also raise the very valid question of why exactly Speedway bomber Brett Kimberlin is a free man.

[hat tip- The Lonely Conservative; Ace of Spades; Patterico]

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Blue State Graft Watch- FBI Arrests New Jersey Mayor and Son For Hacking Opposition Website

The Democrat mayor of West New York, NJ along with his son were arrested by the FBI on Wednesday on charges that they hacked a website calling for the mayor's recall and intimidated people who were associated with the page.

The FBI alleges that Joseph Roque, Mayor Felix Roque's 22 year old son, was able to successfully hack into an email account of one of the unnamed victims and then use the email account to cancel the registration of the domain name
After was taken down, the criminal complaint says, Roque placed a telephone call to the proprietor of the website — “Victim 1,” a government official in Hudson County, N.J. — to say that the page had been taken down by “high government officials and that everyone would pay for getting involved against Mayor Roque.”

Roque also allegedly tried to intimidate those involved with the website, telling “Victim 1” that he had a friend on the CIA: “A friend of mine. he works in the — I can’t tell you — three letters — CIA. You know. That’s how I get information. So what I’m doing is not very kosher.”
The mayor of the city of 50,000 and his son are expected to appear in federal court on Thursday where they will face charges of gaining unauthorized access to computers in furtherance of causing damage to protected computers; causing damage to protected computers; and conspiracy to commit those crimes.

Roque himself attempted to gather signatures for a recall of then-incumbent mayor Silverio Vega in 2010, but half the signatures he gathered were deemed invalid.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Pakistani Doctor Who Helped USA Confirm Bin Laden's Location Recieves 30+ Year Prison Sentence For Treason Against Pakistan

A Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA and US Navy SEAL commandos pinpoint the whereabouts of Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden recieved a 33 year prison sentence for treason against the state of Pakistan on Wednesday.

Dr Shakil Afridi ran a vaccination program in which he was able to collect DNA from the fugitive Al Qaeda leader and confirm that he was hiding at a compound in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbotabad. Bin Laden, his son and an al Qaeda courier were killed and three of his wives were captured along with a treasure trove of intelligence after President Obama authorized the Navy SEAL raid on Bin Laden's Abbotabad compound in May 2011.

The unilateral raid was considered an international embarrassment for Pakistan, since Bin Laden's compound was located less than a kilometer from the front enterance to Pakistan's military academy. While senior Pakistani officials claimed to not know of Bin Laden's whereabouts, many analyists speculate that the Pakistani Interservices Intelligence Directorate (ISI) aided in harboring the fugitive Al Qaeda leader.

Afridi's conviction comes at a sensitive time because the U.S. is already frustrated by Pakistan's refusal to reopen NATO supply routes to Afghanistan. The supply routes were closed six months ago in retaliation for American air strikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

Afridi was detained sometime after the May 2, 2011, raid, but the start of his trial was never publicized.

He was tried under the Frontier Crimes Regulations, or FCR, the set of laws that govern Pakistan's semiautonomous tribal region. Human rights organizations have criticized the FCR for not providing suspects due process of law. There is no right to legal representation, to present material evidence or cross-examine witnesses.

The verdict was handed down by a Khyber government official in consultation with a council of elders, according to Nasir Khan, a government official in the Khyber tribal area, where the doctor was arrested and tried.

A senior U.S. official with knowledge of counter-terrorism operations against al-Qaeda in Pakistan said the doctor was never asked to spy on Pakistan.

In addition to the lengthy prison term, Afridi was also fined the equivalent of $3500 and may get an additional three years added to his sentence if he is unable to pay his fine.

One can't help but come to the conclusion that the plight of Dr. Afridi serves as a powerful disincentive for foreign nationals to provide the CIA with critical intelligence now that he has been identified and imprisoned by his home country. I'm also wondering why the Obama Administration and the State Department weren't prepared to whisk Afridi and his family out of Pakistan at a moment's notice.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Training Day Sports Chowdah Update- O No! Red Sox Hope For Different Results Against Baltimore; C's Strong 4th Quarter Deep Sixes 76ers; Lights Out- Matt Light Calls it a Career

Amtrak train (probably NOT carrying the Red Sox) crossing trestle at Perryville, MD on the Northeast corridor between Philadelphia and Baltimore. Mitch Goldman photo
RED SOX- After taking two out of three from the Philadelphia Phillies in the first interleague series of the 2012 campaign, the Red Sox hopped a train from Philadelphia to Baltimore to resume play against an American League East opponent on Monday.

After getting swept at Fenway the last time they met- including a 17 inning loss that had position players from both teams as pitchers of record- the Red Sox headed to Camden Yards in a game that pitted Boston's Clay Buchholz against the O's Tommy Hunter. Although the Red Sox would get out to a 2-0 lead on an RBI single by Mike Aviles and a Dustin Pedroia sac-fly that plated Marlon Byrd, the O's would take the lead in the bottom of the 3rd after loading the bases with nobody out after Buchholz walked in a pair of runs and gave up a single before ending the inning on a double play followed by a groundout to make it a 4-2 Baltimore lead.

It would be a 5-2 O's lead after 1st baseman Chris Davis belted a solo homer in the bottom of the 4th, but the Red Sox would come right back in the top of the 5th to tie the contest up at 5-5 thanks to a solo homer by Big Papi, a sacrifice fly from Daniel Nava that plated Adrian Gonzalez and moved Will Middlebrooks to 3rd before coming home on a Tommy Hunter balk to tie the contest up at 5-5.

In the top of the 7th, the Red Sox broke the 5-5 deadlock thanks to an Adrian Gonzalez sac-fly with the bases loaded and a Middlebrooks RBI single that plated Dustin Pedroia to make it 7-5. In the 8th, recently called up outfielder Che Hsuan Lin got his first MLB hit with two away with a single. This was followed up by Mike Aviles striking out on a wild pitch but reaching first base nonetheless after the ball got by O's catcher Matt Weiters. This brought up Dustin Pedroia, who drove in Lin from 2nd with an RBI single

As it turned out, Boston would need some of that insurance after Baltimore got a run back in the bottom of the 8th on a Weiters RBI single to make it 8-6. However, Vincente Padilla managed to pith out of a jam and Aceves came on in the bottom of the 9th for a 1-2-3 save opportunity to preserve the 8-6 win.

The win is Boston's first of the season against current AL East division leading Baltimore Orioles. Although the Red Sox have gone 8-2 in their last 10 games, they remain tied with the Yankees for last place in the AL East. However, as of Tuesday, both the Red Sox and Yankees are at .500 and only 5 and a half games out of first place.

For Tuesday night, the Sox will send Felix Doubront [4-1; 4.09 ERA] to the mound against the O's Brian Matusz [3-4; 5.36 ERA]. The game is scheduled to get underway from Camden Yards at 7:05 PM ET and will be televised on NESN.

OTHER RED SOX NEWS- Fenway Park PA Announcer Carl Beane suffered a fatal heart attack earlier this month while driving home from appearing on a morning radio show in Palmer, MA. The 59 year old's booming baritone had been announcing lineups and batters at Fenway since the 2003 season- including two games each during their 2004 and 2007 World Series championships. Beane also lent his voice to the Baseball hall of Fame's The Baseball Experience in Cooperstown, NY as well as a number of audiobooks.

Born in Agawam, MA, Beane's had lent his voice to sports broadcasting since 1972 after graduating from the Career Academy School of Broadcasting and briefly served as an instructor at the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. A diabetic himself, Beane was also a spokesman for the American Diabetes Association.

Beane is survived by his wife Lorraine, his daughter Nicole and grandaughters Maddie and Genna.

EVEN MORE RED SOX NEWS- With 3B Will Middlebrooks tearing the cover off the ball for the Red Sox in the 18 games he's appeared in, Boston faces something of a dilleman when Youkilis is expected to return off the DL soon. In his 18 games for the Red Sox so far, Middlebrooks has been batting .297 with 5 homers and 16 RBI. However, the Red Sox are expected to activate Youkilis shortly, leaving the corners crowded between Youkilis, Middlebrooks and Gonzalez over at first. NESN is reporting that the Red Sox are considering the idea of moving Gonzalez into the outfield to make room for Youkilis at first.

NBA PLAYOFFS- Although trailing early in Monday night's game to the 76ers, the Celtics hung around long enough to open up a lead against Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference semifinals- outscoring Philly 28-16 in the 3rd period alone and really starting to pull away in the 4th quarter.

Brandon Bass led the scoring for Boston with 27 points as well as 6 rebounds and an assist while going 9-10 from the free throw line. Kevin Garnett had 20 points and 6 rebounds in Tuesday night's 101-85 win over Philly as they really began to pull away in the 4th quarter.

Boston currently leads the series 3 games to 2 with Game 6 scheduled for Wednesday night at 8:00 ET on ESPN from Philadelhpia. Boston can close out the series with a win.

OTHER NBA NEWS- The LA Lakers season is over after their 106-91 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night. Less than a month after Ron Artest's elbow to the head of Oklahoma City's James Hardin, Oklahoma City got the last laugh by finishing off the Lakers in the Western Conference semifinals 4 games to 1 and will advance to take on the San Antonio Spurs in the Conference finals.

PATRIOTS- Offensive Lineman Matt Light has announced his retirement at the age of 33 earlier this month. Light, along with Tom Brady, are among only five players to have started in five Super Bowls in NFL history.

Light said although he felt he could still play, he felt as though he was taking a little longer to recover and thought he should leave the game while he was still 'upright and feeling good'.

A three time Super Bowl champion and Pro Bowl selection, Light was one of the few remaining active players from new England's 2001-02 Super Bowl Championship.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Post Partisan- Washington Post Suddenly Interested in Background of Presidential Candidates Four Years Too Late

The day after President Obama expressed his support for gay marriage in an interview with ABC News last week, the Washington Post published an article about presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney's high school days that had many observers saying 'Well that certainly was convenient'

According to the May 10th article, a couple of Mitt Romney's former classmates at Cranbook- some of whom worked on Obama's 2008 Presidential campaign- recounted some pranks and incidents that the Washington Post described as 'disturbing'.

The highlight of the article was a 1965 incident where Romeny allegedly held down and shaved the head of schoolmate John Lauber, who the Post described 'preseumed homosexual'. If the timing of the article about what Romney allegedly did to a 'presumed homosexual' classmate doesn't smell like a truckload of fish left by the side of the road, how about the fact that one of Romney's classmates gave conflicting accounts over whether or not he witnessed the alleged incident in a seperate ABC interview?

Although Lauber passed away in 2004 from liver cancer, his family has weighed in on his behalf, saying they were unaware of any such incident while he was at Cranbrook. One of Lauber's sister released a statement shortly after the Post story broke last week.

Betsy Lauber, one of John Lauber’s three sisters, spoke with ABC News Tuesday night regarding the accuracy of the story.

“The family of John Lauber is releasing a statement saying the portrayal of John is factually incorrect and we are aggrieved that he would be used to further a political agenda. There will be no more comments from the family,” she said.

For his part, Romney admitted to pulling several pranks while at the prestigous Michigan school and apologizing for them while not remembering the incident mentioned in the Post article.

Interestingly, polls indicate that a majority of Americans believe that Obama made last week's announcement for political reasons rather than his self-described 'evolution' on the issue of gay marriage. Although an average of one in six of Obama's campaign bundlers is reportedly gay, the issue hasn't changed anybody's mind and may cost him in the polls.

Exit question- Isn't it rather odd that the Washington Post decides to start looking into the formative years of a Presidential candidate now instead of back in 2008?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Borderline Psychosis Update- 49 Headless Corpses Dumped by Highway; Gunmen Open Fire on Tamaulipas Newspaper; Mexican Official Arrested in Texas

NUEVO LEON- Authorities in the Nuevo Leon town of San Juan made a gruesome discovery early Sunday morning as 49 mutilated and headless corpses were found strewn along the highway linking Monterrey and the Texas border. Every one of the bodies- 43 men and 6 women- also had their extremities hacked off while some of the corpses reportedly had tattoos of Santa Muerte [Holy Death], a venerated figure in Mexico's criminal underworld.

The bodies of the 43 men and six women were found in the town of San Juan on the non-toll highway to the border city of Reynosa at about 4 a.m. (5 a.m. EDT), forcing police and troops to close off the highway. Nuevo Leon state security spokesman Jorge Domene said at a news conference that a banner left at the site bore a message with the Zetas drug cartel taking responsibility for the massacre.

Domene said the fact the bodies were found with the heads, hands and feet cut off will make identification difficult. The bodies were being taken to Monterrey for DNA tests.

De la Garza said the victims could have been killed as long as two days ago at another location, then transported to San Juan, a town in Cadereyta municipality, about 105 miles west-southwest of McAllen, Texas, or 75 miles southwest of the Roma, Texas, border crossing.

On a nearby archway, was graffiti that reportedly read '100% Zetas'. Cartels have been leaving mutilated corpses of slain rivals in public places in an attempt to intimidate competing cartels, police and the public. In September 2011, masked gunmen held up rush hour traffic outside of Veracruz as 35 corpses were pulled from a truck and dumped in the highway.

The bloody scene in Nuevo Leon comes less than 10 days after 23 bodies were hung from overpasses or stuffed in garbage bags and iceboxes in the Tamaulipas border town of Nuevo Laredo, across the Rio Grande from Laredo, TX. Last month, fugitive billionaire Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman reportedly announced an agreement with the Gulf Cartel to go after the Zetas- themselves former paramilitary enforcers for the Gulf cartel- who were staedily encroaching on territory previously held by both the Gulf cartel and Guzman's Sinaloa cartel.

Some have speculated that the public will see an escalation of these gruesome narco-slayings and displays in the weeks leading up to the July 1st Mexican Presidential election in an attempt to affect the outcome. Since taking office in 2006, Mexican President Felipe Calderon has committed to using Mexico's military to go after the various drug cartels. However, with more than 50,000 casualties since he took office, public support for Calderon's campaign has waned and his PAN political party is currently trailing in polls.

TAMAULIPAS- The offices of Nuevo Laredo's El Mañana were raked by heavy caliber gunfire and a grenade on Friday night.

Staffers at El Mañana in Nuevo Laredo were working late Friday night when gunmen sprayed the building with high-caliber ammunition and tossed a homemade grenade at the building. No injuries were reported, said co-owner Ramon Cantu Deandar, and the staff was able to finish the edition and returned to work Saturday, stoically though terrified.

"I'm honored to work alongside brave men and women who are an example of how we won't allow ourselves to be intimidated," he said.

In 2006, El Mañana made a public vow to censor itself following a similar attack on its building that partially paralyzed a reporter. Before that incident, the city editor was stabbed to death. The newspaper has largely kept its pledge not to report on cartel crime.

Mexico has become one of the world's most dangerous countries for journalists, with at least 51 killed in the past two years. Four were killed in the last two weeks, all in the state of Veracruz, including investigative journalist Regina Martinez of the newsmagazine Proceso.

Since the escalation of Mexico's narcoinsurgency in the last decade, reporters and editors have been targeted by the cartel's sicarios in an attempt to silence them from reporting on any cartel activities.

COAHUILA- Mexican Marines arrested two suspected members of the Zetas cartel and rescured 18 migrants in the city of Piedras Negras.

Antonio Camacho Soria and Martin Molina Vazquez were arrested on May 5 on charges that they were holding the migrants hostage, the secretariat said.

Marines seized firearms, marijuana, a substance that could be cocaine, cash and communications gear in the operation.

Camacho Soria and Molina Vazquez confessed that they were holding several illegal immigrants at a house.

The marines went to the house and found the migrants there, the secretariat said.

The migrants, whose nationalities were not released, were handed over to federal prosecutors in Piedras Negras, the secretariat said.

Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, known as “El Lazca,” deserted from the Mexican army in 1999 and formed Los Zetas with three other soldiers, all members of an elite special operations unit, becoming the armed wing of the Gulf drug cartel.

In recent years the Zetas have diversified their operations from drug trafficking to human trafficking and collecting fees from migrants and smugglers who operate through territory controlled by them. The Zetas are thought to be responsible for the August 2010 massacre of 72 migrants and the 2011 mass abduction and murder of bus passengers in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas.

TEXAS- US Authorities have arrested a commander in the Tamaulipas State Police and cousin of the state's former governor. Gilberto Lerma Plata was named in a sealed indictment filed in Washington DC last year that accused him of consipiring to smuggle cocaine and marijuana into the USA.

Gilberto Lerma Plata, 50, was arrested as he attempted to cross the Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge late Friday night, a former federal agent confirmed Tuesday.

Lerma, who has U.S. citizenship, is not formally tied to any Mexican drug cartel in a federal indictment unsealed Monday. But he reportedly has had ties to the Gulf Cartel at least since 2002, when a Mexican newspaper quoted Mexican intelligence reports that stated he provided criminals with information on police movements.

Lerma had been serving as the Tamaulipas State Police commander in Miguel Alemán, across the Rio Grande from Roma, upon his arrest, the former agent said. Lerma previously served in the same capacity in Reynosa.

Lerma is the cousin of former Tamaulipas governor Manuel Cavazos Lerma, an Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, politician who served from 1993 to 1999 and candidate for senator from Tamaulipas in Mexico's upcoming federal elections.

Lerma joined the Tamaulipas State Police after his cousin was first elected governor in the state.

A 2002 report in El Universal newspaper named Lerma as a Gulf Cartel member who used his police ties to provide information on police movements against the cartel. The report outlined how Osiel Cárdenas Guillén, the former Gulf Cartel leader now serving a federal prison sentence in the U.S., had direct contact with commanders of state and federal law enforcement in many of Tamaulipas’ major municipalities.

Lerma's arrest comes less than two months after another person linked to a former Tamaulipas governor has been the focus of a federal investigation in the United States.

Federal authorities arrested Antonio Peña Arguelles in February in Laredo. In a criminal complaint filed in federal court in San Antonio, Peña is accused of funneling cash from the Zetas drug cartel to former Tamaulipas governor Tomas Yarrington, a PRI member who served from 1999 to 2004.

Three of Tamaulipas' former governors are being investigated for corruption and aiding and abetting drug cartels in the state.

ELSEWHERE IN TEXAS- Thanks to a guilty plea for extortion and money laundering in federal court, the US Government may become stakeholders in a proposed prequel to Mel Gibson's 2004 blockbuster The Passion of the Christ.

In a real-life case of drugs and extortion that could itself make a pretty good screenplay, federal prosecutors have forced a Mexican drug trafficker to turn over his stake in a planned prequel to Mel Gibson's 2004 blockbuster "The Passion of the Christ."

If the movie gets made, the U.S. government will receive a cut of the profits.

Some of the big names behind the Hollywood project include megachurch pastor Joel Osteen, who had no idea about the script's unsavory backstory.

"When you get a script, you just don't think to say 'Hey, was this script ever tied to a Mexican cartel?'" said Donald Iloff, a spokesman for Osteen's Lakewood Church in Houston. The script was already being handled by a legitimate production company when Osteen got involved.

Jorge Vazquez Sanchez pleaded guilty this week in federal court to extortion and money laundering in a deal that required him to give up a 10 percent stake in future profits of "Mary, Mother of Christ," which is scheduled to begin production this year and includes Osteen as an executive producer.

The script was written by the same person behind "The Passion of the Christ," which became a worldwide smash and earned more than $611 million.

Aloe Entertainment, the Los Angeles-based production company that paid more than $900,000 for the script, said it knew nothing about Vazquez, who was sentenced to seven years in prison.

Had Vazquez kept his stake, "we don't know what would have happened," the company said in a statement. "We have assembled an amazing team to bring it to the big screen. Now the American taxpayers can be part of this incredible project."

The screenwriter, Benedict Fitzgerald, had to give control of the script to a company called Macri Inc. after it foreclosed on a loan to Fitzgerald, said Richard Rosenthal, attorney for Aloe.

Then Vazquez and one of his co-defendants extorted Macri's owner, a San Antonio businessman named Arturo Madrigal, to wrest the script away. At one point, the conspirators even kidnapped Madrigal's brother in Guadalajara, Mexico, according to court documents.

Vazquez, a Mexican citizen identified in court documents as a drug trafficker who laundered money, acquired the screenplay in 2008.

Aloe, known at the time as Proud Mary Entertainment, then paid one of Vazquez's co-defendants $925,000 for the script, believing it was held by a San Antonio real estate mogul.

Before the company issued a payment, Aloe executives hired an entertainment copyright attorney who spent more than three months researching the screenplay's origins. Federal prosecutors contacted them last year seeking documents for the transaction.

When prosecutors moved to seize Vazquez's assets, the stake he had retained in the film's profits was included. Vazquez's lawyer, Donald Flanary, said his client did not contest the forfeiture.

If the movie becomes a reality, it will probably be "the first time that a major motion picture was made in which 10 percent of the profits went to the American taxpayers," Rosenthal said. "It would be an incredibly unique story."

The film Mary, Mother of Christ is already listed on the Internet Movie Database as having a 2013 release date.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Sports Chowdah Update- Felix the Cat; Yankees Rivera Out for Season; Cole Minders- Philly Starter Gets 5 Game Suspension

RED SOX- Heading into Thursday night's series opener at Fenway against the Cleveland Indians, the Red Sox had won exactly two games since the April 28th pitchers duel between Jon Lester and White Sox starter Jake Peavy- including an excruciating 17 inning affair at Fenway that saw the O's cap a sweep of the BoSox and Baltimore infielder Chris Davis get the win over Red Sox outfielder Darnell McDonald last Sunday. Yes- by the time the 17th inning rolled around, both Boston and Baltimore had depleted their bullpens and were using position players; the first time two teams had put a position player on the mound since George Sisler of the St Louis Browns went up against Detroit's Ty Cobb on the final day of the 1925 season.

Although the road trip to Kansas City got off to a promising start, the Red Sox dropped the next two games at Kauffman Stadium and then dropped the opening game against the Tribe after returning to Fenway. Beckett went up against former Red Sox starter Derek Lowe and lasted all of 2⅓ innings as the Indians teed off against him for 7 earned runs before he was pulled. Turns out the Tribe didn't even need Danielle Peck as a distraction for Beckett's most recent start

NOT a factor in Thursday night's fiasco against the Indians
Instead, it was Beckett's golf game was at the fore when after being scratched from the lineup with a sore lat muscle in his back. Yet, on his day off, Beckett was able to get in a game of golf- sore back and all. Beckett stood by his golf game, insisting that what he did on his day off was his business.

After good start by Clay Buccholz where he went 6⅓ innings and allowed 3 earned runs on 8 hits and 3 walks, the Red Sox managed to hang on for the 7-5 win on Friday night. Saturday's game saw Felix Doubront go up against Zach MacAllister and was a much more brisk and lower scoring affair than Friday's game. The Red Sox got on the board in the bottom of the third on RBI doubles from Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz. Mike Aviles would bring in another runner with an RBI sac fly to make it 3-0 Boston in the bottom of the 4th. Indians 2B Jason Kipnis would put the Tribe on the board in the top of the 6th to make it a 3-1 game, but the Red Sox would make it a 3-run game once again thanks to a booming solo homer that cleared Landsdowne St off the bat of Cody Ross.
Alfredo Aceves would come out of the bullpen for a 1-2-3 ninth inning and preserve the Red Sox win- their first back to back wins since their torrid 6-1 road trip at the end of April.

The Red Sox try for the win of the 4-game series on Sunday afternoon with Cleveland starter and former Red Sox product Justin Masterson [1-2; 4.89 ERA] will go up against Daniel Bard [2-4; 4.83 ERA]. First pitch is scheduled for 1:35 PM ET and the game will be televised on NESN.

OTHER RED SOX NEWS<- The Red Sox have acquired outfielder Scott Podsednik from the Philadelphia Phillies for cash considerations on Friday. A member of the 2005 World Series Champion White Sox, Podsednik was a non-roster invitee to the Phillies spring training. After spring trainin, Podsednik was assigned to the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs where he's been batting .203 with six stolen bases so far. The transaction will have the sppedy outfielder sent to Pawtucket first and reportedly includes an opt out provision if Podsednik isn't called up by this time in June.

OTHER MLB NEWS- New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera is out for the season after tearing an ACL during batting practice before the Yankees hosted the Kansas City Royals last week. Rivera was carted off the field and is scheduled to undergo surgery and has been taking blood thinners for a recently discovered blood clot in his right leg.

ELSEWHERE IN MLB- Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels has recieved a 5 game suspension from MLB for throwing at Washington Nationals rookie Bryce Harper. Hamels admitted to intentionally throwing at Harper during the May 6th game inside the Beltway. Harper got a measure of revenge by stealing home in the Nationals 9-3 loss to Philadelphia that night.

Hamels is scheduled to return to the mound on Sunday at Citizens Bank ballpark on Sunday night against the San Diego Padres and starter Jeff Suppan. Interestingly, Harper survived Hamels' plunking only to risk injury at him own hand a few days later after throwing a fit in the visitor's dugout in Cincinnati. After going 0-5 against the Reds, Harper slammed his bat against the wall before it shattered, with part of it catching him right below the eye. This resulted in a gash that required 10 stitches and he was sporting a bandage for Saturday night's game against the Reds.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Just in Time for Mother's Day- Entire Montana Town for Sale for $1.4 Million

Stuck for gift ideas for mom, dad or the graduate in your life? Flowers, neckties and gift cards have pretty much been done to death- so why not try something out of the ordinary and bid on an entire town?

The southern Montana town of Pray will be hitting the auction block next month and is expected to fetch an asking price in the neighborhood of $1.5 million. Now, I know this isn't the first time I suggested purchasing an entire town as a gift idea. However, unlike Currie, NV, the town of Pray has about 10 full time residents and is not considered a ghost town.

Barbara Walker owns all five acres of Pray, Montana. She collects rent from the ten other people who live there.

"I'm a one woman show," Walker said. "So I decided OK, if I have to be the maintenance man and garbage man and sanitarian then I'm going to be the mayor too!"

Founded in 1909, Pray is named after a Montana congressman. Walker's family has run it since 1953, and not much has changed. The general store seems frozen in time. Before a new highway was built, this was a popular stop on the road that leads to Yellowstone National Park.

Walker lost her husband Johnny to cancer in 2006. Trying to revive the town alone was just too much work. She's selling the entire town, including her house at action next month.

Pray is like a lot of frontier towns, built on big hopes as the railroads pushed west. Many of those towns are now long gone, but Pray has kept its name on the map for one single reason - the post office.

"A zip code. That's it, plain and simple," Walker said. "It was the reason for Pray becoming Pray in 1909 and that's the reason it's called a town today."

When you pull into the tiny town of less than a dozen people, the post office is the first thing you notice. The zip code on the front of the building is a point of pride for people

Pray is located to the north of Yellowstone National Park and about 20 miles south of Livingston, MT- a railroad town and flyfishing destination. Some 40 miles northeast of Pray is the college town of Bozeman, home of the Montana State University campus.

Pray is not the first town in the region to be put up for sale. The tiny town of Buford, WY sold to a Vietnamese buyer in an online auction for $900,000 back in April. During the summer of 2011, a Filipino church purchased the South Dakota Badlands town of Scenic for $700,000.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Massachusetts Backing Away From Proposed School Bake Sale Ban

With new nutritional standards from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Departments of Public Health and Education set to go into effect that would basically outlaw school bake sales beginning in August, the state legislature and Governor Deval Patrick have reportedly backed away from the proposed guidelines.

The state legislature was also drafting a budget rider that would leave the decision regarding bake sales and sweets up to the individual school districts

The regulations were reportedly drawn up to curb childhood obesity and would prevent sweets from being sold on school grounds while classes were in session. Gov Patrick and Commonwealth Public Health Commissioner John Auerback said that the ban will be reversed before its even set to take effect. The regulations will apply to sweets sold in school cafeterias during lunchtime.

State Senator Michael Knapic (R-Westfield) also noted that the proposed guidelines will also have an adverse effect on Bay State dairies since they also are applied to chocolate milk.

"The dairy farmers say they’re not equipped to make the type of milk (the state is asking for) and it could turn into a total ban on chocolate milk,” Knapik said, adding that legislators also are considering intervening on behalf of chocolate milk.
Although school health officials said they supported even further limiting access of sweets to schoolchildren to battle childhood obesity, word of the regulations once again made the Bay State a laughingstock and poster child for government overreach by liberal busybodies

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Today's Train of Thought- Gypsum Rose, May 8, 2011

Today's Train of Thought takes us to the rolling hills and grasslands of southwestern Oklahoma and tiny Hollis and Eastern shortline. The 15-mile pike got its start in the late 1950s after purchasing the former Missouri-Kansas-Texas (MKT) line between Altus, OK and Wellington, TX, ripping out the rails on the line between Hollis, OK and Wellington, TX almost immediately. Besides grain from elevators along the line, the major source of traffic for the Hollis and Eastern has been the wallboard plant at Duke, OK. In 1971, the Republic Gypsum company purchased the Hollis and Eastern and by the late 1990s, both the Hollis & Eastern and the Duke plant were purchased by American Gypsum. With imported Chinese wallboard cutting into the Duke plant's production during the latter part of the first decade in the 21st century, American Gypsum decided to divest themselves of the 15 mile pike in 2009. After soliciting bids for operating the Hollis & Eastern in early 2010, WATCO's Stillwater Central was selected as the new operator of the Hollis & Eastern. Prior to WATCO's takeover, the Hollis and Eastern also interchanged with Farmrail and the Witchita, Tillman & Jackson in Welon and the BNSF and Stillwater Central in Altus. Here, contributor Chris Paulhamus caught Hollis & Eastern GP10 #8710 trundling past some wildflowers at Martha, OK with heads east with a trainload of wallboard on a sultry July 6, 2006. The #8710 is half of the Hollis & Eastern motive power fleet, with an SW1 handling switching duties at the gypsum plant in Duke.