Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Today's Train of Thought- Of Paramount Concern, July 31st 2013

Today's Train of Thought takes us to the Land of Lincoln, although the focal point is somewhat lost among the urban landscape of one of Chicagoland's biggest suburbs. Aurora, IL is probably best known for being the home of the fictional public-access cable show Wayne's World- a Saturday Night Live skit that would evolve into two movies.

The Illinois Railway (formerly Illinois Rail Net) has been in operation since purchasing 113 miles of former BNSF track throughout northern Illinois in 1997, including the former CB&Q Ottawa branch. By 2005, the line was acquired by Denver-based shortline holding company Omnitrax.

Not too long after Omnitrax entered the picture, locomotives from other Omnitrax properties began showing up on IR property- most noticeably SD50s from the Manitoba-based Hudson Bay Railway painted in a striking green, white and gold scheme.

Here, contributor Chris Guss caught Hudson Bay Railway SD50 #5008 leading a former Burlington Northern/BNSF SD40-2 leaser with a northbound IR unit frac sand train from Ottawa, IL through the heart of Aurora on August 28, 2011. But the train is seemingly dwarfed by some of the buildings in the scene- one notices the marquee for the Paramount Theater or faded 'shoes' sign off on the left immediately. The train soaring across the overpass or cars waiting at the stoplight seem almost secondary.

The train is actually on BNSF trackage rights between Montgomery, IL and the BNSF's Eola yard not too far from downtown Aurora.

With the advent of hydrofracture drilling (or "fracking") in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale natural gas reserves or North Dakota's Bakken oil fields, the sand mined around Ottawa and other northeastern Illinois towns has been in big demand in recent years. This has led to near-daily unit trains of frac sand for lines like the Illinois Railway or Wisconsin Northern, so it's not surprising that to learn that these massive unit trains on these smaller railroads continue to this very day.

Trade Deadline Sports Chowdah Update- Peavy Changes His Sox; Seattle Slew- Choppy Waters For Mariners in Boston

RED SOX- For the last several weeks, there was talks along the lines of not if White Sox starter Jake Peavy would remain in Chicago, but where he would end up on July 31st. So it was to hardly anyone's surprise when the ChiSox announced that Peavy had been pulled from the rotation on Thursday night.

But shortly after Tuesday night's home game against the Mariners, the Red Sox announced that they had acquired Jake Peavy from Chicago and Brayan Villarreal from Detroit in a 3-team, 7 player trade involving the Red Sox, Tigers and White Sox. In exchange, Boston SS Jose Iglesias goes to Detroit and minor league pitchers J.B. Wendelken and Francelis Montas and infielder Cleuluis Rondon to the ChiSox and Detroit sends outfielder Avisail Garcia to Chicago.

Detroit's acquisition of Iglesias has fuelled speculation that Tigers sought an infielder before the trade deadline because SS Jhonny Peralta may be facing a lengthy suspension as part of the Biogenesis Labs scandal.

Peavy, who made his major league debut with the Padres in June 2002 and won the NL Cy Young award in 2007, was traded to Chicago by San Diego in 2009. Since playing for the ChiSox, Peavy has accumulated a 36-29 record- including going 8-4 with a 4.28 ERA this season and was one of the biggest names that any team had openly expressed an interest in moving before the July 31st nonwaiver trade deadline. Peavy is halfway through a 2 year, $29 million deal with the White Sox before his contract expires at the end of the 2014 season.

Earlier this month, the Red Sox made headlines not for announcing a trade, but announcing who they retained after agreeing to terms with 2B Dustin Pedroia on a $100 million, six year contract extension.

Elise Amendola- AP

OTHER RED SOX NEWS- With all this wheeling and dealing, it was still worth pointing out that there were still some games to be played. Boston was coming off of a stinging 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday to knock them into second place. The Mariners made their first trip to Fenway this season, but it wouldn't be their first time seeing rookie Brandon Workman this season. Workman had previously given up 3 runs on 4 hits in two innings of relief against Seattle three weeks ago.

Seattle drew first blood with a 2-out Kendrys Morales RBI single in the top of the first to make it 1-0, but Workman would be working with a lead after Victorino came home from 3rd on a passed ball to tie the game up at 1-1 before Big Papi had an RBI single that brought Pedroia home to give Boston the 2-1 lead.

In the bottom of the 2nd, the Red Sox added to their lead with a pair of homers- a solo shot by Jacoby Ellsbury and 2-run blast by Pedroia into the Monster Seats to make it 5-1. Now with a sizeable lead, Workman settled down and managed to throw five shutout innings- including getting out of a bases loaded jam in the top of the 6th by striking out Michael Morse and Justin Smoak to end the Mariners threat.

Breslow, Thornton and Beato closed out the game for Boston after the Red Sox got some more insurance in the bottom of the 8th to seal the 8-2 win over Seattle.

Wednesday night's game will feature John Lackey [7-8; 3.19 ERA] going up against Hisashi Iwakuma [10-4; 2.87 ERA] with a first pitch scheduled for 7:10 . The game will be televised on NESN as well.

OTHER MLB NEWS- With so many teams still in it (or confident they're still in it), activity at the trade deadline was pretty subdued this season. Baltimore acquired Houston starter Bud Norris [6-9; 3.93 ERA] in return for sending outfielder LJ Hoes and pitcher Josh Hader to the Astros.

Meanwhile, the Arizona Diamondbacks sent starter Ian Kennedy [3-8; 5.23 ERA] to San Diego in return for left handed reliever Joe Thatcher, a prospect and a future draft picks.

Jailbreak Wednesday- 248 Inmates Freed in Pakistani Taliban Prison Raid

At least 13 people were killed on Tuesday after Taliban fighters attacked a prison in the north-central Pakistani town of Dera Ismail Khan in what officials are calling a well-coordinated assault. The assailants used mortars and RPGs to overwhelm guards and local police before freeing inmates from the century-old, including senior Taliban commanders.

Up to 100 attackers, some wearing police uniforms, bombarded the prison with rockets and mortars before going inside.

An ensuing gun battle raged for three or four hours.

Katherine Houreld, a correspondent for Reuters news agency, told the BBC it had been a "very sophisticated attack - they blew the electricity line, they breached the walls and they set ambushes for reinforcements".

"When the shooting started, we immediately got into an armed police vehicle and parked on the road in front of the main gate," injured policeman Hidayat Ullah told AP news agency from his hospital bed.

"After this, we heard an explosion and the main gate exploded. After this, we started shooting towards the main gate from our armed vehicle.

"During this time, maybe either a rocket launcher or a mortar shell hit the vehicle. Two of our policemen were killed on the spot, and three of us were injured. We got down from the armed vehicle, and after that I don't know what happened."

Once inside the prison, the attackers used loudspeakers to call out the names of specific inmates before rigging up booby traps around the prison to cover their escape.

The jailbreak is the third major attack in Pakistan in the span of a week- two bombs at a marketplace in the border town of Parachinar reportedly killed 57 people and 9 people were killed in an attack targeting the offices of Pakistan's ISI intelligence agency on July 24th. This is also the third major jailbreak in an Islamic majority nation in a week following a brazen prison raid in Iraq and more than 1000 prisoners being freed in Benghazi, Libya over the weekend. In May 2012, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistani freed more than 400 inmates from a prison compound in Bannu- about two hours from Dera Ismail Khan- after blowing up the front gate of the prison with anti-tank weaponry and spiriting away inmates on waiting motorcoaches.

Officials say they had received intelligence about a possible jailbreak several weeks ago and moved certain high-value inmates to more secure facilities. However, the jailbreaks have led some to question whether or not the Taliban could count on a certain amount of complicity or collusion from prison officials.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Saudi Prince- US Shale Oil Could Undermine Kingdom, OPEC Nations

A Saudi prince and business investor has warned that the kingdom and other OPEC members that their economies were under a growing threat from the 'fracking revolution' in the USA that has shaken up the energy landscape in recent years.
Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the country’s best-known global investor, said the business model of Middle East oil exporters risks unravelling rich industrial states find ways of cutting demand. “Our country is facing a threat with the continuation of its near-complete reliance on oil: 92% of the budget for this year depends on oil,” he said in a letter to Saudi oil minister Ali Al-Naimi.

Opec admits that new output from hydraulic “fracking” could chip away its dominant position in the market but the group is more worried about recession in Europe and a hard landing in China.

Prince Alwaleed said oil demand from OECD rich states is in “continuous decline”, and the Saudis will not be able to ratchet up their output from 12.5m to 15m barrels per day (bpd) to cover growing budget costs. “It is necessary to diversify sources of revenue, establish a clear vision, and start implementing it immediately,” he said.

A report last month by Leonardo Maugeri at Harvard University said US shale oil output could triple to 5m bpd by 2017, turning America into the world’s top producer once again.

If shale does deliver on its promise and keeps prices low for decades, it will be a mortal threat to OPEC states that rely on oil revenue to cover social spending and placate fast-growing populations.
Prince Alwaleed was ranked by Forbes magazine as the world's 6th richest man at one point and is most infamous for his comments urging that the United States "should re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stance toward the Palestinian cause" just weeks after the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks. Then-mayor Rudy Giuliani and other New York officials rejected a $10 million donation from Alwaleed after his remarks.

A trio of Dakota, Missouri Valley & Western units approach the Canadian Pacific interchange in Flaxton, ND as a recently-constructed oil pump works in the foreground in November 2012. Steven M Welch photo.
Hydraulic fracture drilling- also known as hydrofracking or fracking- uses a mix of water and chemically treated sand or 'mud' that's injected into the ground to get to otherwise inaccessible deposits of oil or natural gas. The 'Shale revolution'- as some have called it- has led to the formation of oil boomtowns in North Dakota and breathed new life into Rust Belt towns in Pennsylvania and Ohio. This in turn has led to increased manufacturing for components, mining for 'frac sand' and rail activity moving the supplies into the oilfields and the oil out and to refineries.

Drilling for natural gas in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale has become particularly contentious recently, with environmentalists and movie stars weighing in on the purported dangers of fracking to groundwater supplies [although some wells were contaminated decades before fracking began in the area- NANESB!]. A 2012 movie titled Promised Land starring Matt Damon as an energy company representative who has a change of heart after being sent to a struggling Pennsylvania town to secure leases for wells was financed in part by the United Arab Emirates- another OPEC member.

The shale revolution isn't just limited to the United States or Canada, either. Earlier this year, there was a massive oil discovery in Australia's outback while fracking for both natural gas and oil began in Argentina in April. Energy companies believe that Poland may contain central Europe's largest reserves of natural gas, and development of that could reduce Europe's dependence on the Russian energy giant Gazprom. Meanwhile, data from the British Geological Survey indicates that the UK's own shale gas reserves are nearly twice the size of original estimates.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Phoning It In Sports Chowdah Update- Lester Shuts Out Birds as Papi's Bat Does the Talking

Nick Wass- AP
RED SOX- Sunday's game turned out to be the rubber game of a quick 3-game weekend series against the Orioles at Camden Yard, perhaps garnering a little more attention than usual due to DH David Ortiz's shennanigans in the dugout on Saturday.

Having allowed a total of 38 runs in nine games this season against Baltimore, the prospect of a shutout looked fairly remote- although Boston still had some momentum after Saturday night's win. After getting out to a quick 1-0 lead thanks to a 2-out EBI single off the bat of Mike Napoli, Red Sox starter Jon Lester gave up a leadoff single to O's outfielder Nick Markakis before getting the next three batters out.

It looked as though both Lester and Baltimore starter Jason Hammel were settling in by the time the second inning rolled around. However, with two away and Ellsbury on 2nd in the top of the 3rd, Hammel might as well have been throwing phones at Big Papi as Big Papi cranked a 2-0 offering from Hammel into the seats in left field for his 20th homer of the season and put the Red Sox up 3-0.

Meanwhile, Lester was cruising- not allowing anyone to get past second in seven innings of work. Hammel lasted 5⅓ innings before TJ McFarland came on in relief. The Red Sox got some additional insurance in the top of the 8th when Saltalamacchia hit a 1-out 2 RBI single after McFarland had loaded up the bases with an intentional walk of Jonny Gomes to put the Red Sox up by a score of 5-0.

Matt Thorton gave up a leadoff single to Markakis after coming out of the bullpen in relief of Lester, but got Manny Machado to hit into a double play before getting Chris Davis to strike out swinging. Pedro Beato came on in the bottom of the 9th and got the Baltimore batters out in order, giving the Red Sox a 5-0 win and taking two out of three from the birds in Camden Yards.

Big Papi went 4-4 with a homer and 2 RBI on the day while Lester went 7 complete innings, allowing just four hits and two walks while striking out eight batters. I gotta say what really left an impression on me for the last two games was the RBIs with two out- a total of six from Saturday and Sunday's games.

The Red Sox are in the middle of an unusual and unplanned part of their schedule where they'll have three opponents in two ballparks over the span of three days after Thursday's game against Tampa Bay at Fenway was postponed due to rain. Currently the Red Sox maintain a tenuous half game lead over the Rays for the AL East lead after Tampa Bay lost to the Yankees in the bottom of the 9th at Yankee Stadium on Sunday.

Monday evening's matchup at Fenway will have Tampa Bay's David Price [5-5; 3.75 ERA] going up against Felix Doubront [7-4; 3.78 ERA] with the somewhat unusual start time of 7:10 ET. Monday night's game will be televised on NESN. After the makeup game against Tampa Bay, Boston will then host the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night with a start time of 7:10 ET- Joe Saunders [9-9; 4.48 ERA] is slated to get the start against Brandon Workman [0-1; 4.40 ERA].

NCAA VOLLEYBALL- The Boston College Eagles have released their official 2013 schedule this weekend, with the season getting under way at the Western Carolina Invitational Tournament at the end of August where they'll face off against University of South Carolina-Upstate, UNC-Asheville, Western Carolina and Wright State.

Intra-conference play will begin on September 28th when the Eagles host Miami at Chestnut Hill- but even some matches against ACC opponents will have the feel of out-of-conference matches, as Notre Dame, Syracuse and Pittsburgh's volleyball programs will be making their Atlantic Coast Conference debut this season.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

More Than 1000 Inmates Freed From Benghazi Prison in Massive Jailbreak As Anti-Muslim Bortherhood Protests

Another day, another jailbreak in a troubled Middle Eastern nation racked by widespread conflict and unrest in recent years.
More than 1,000 prisoners have escaped from a Libyan jail this afternoon, it has emerged.

Libyan security officials said the mass jailbreak occurred at Koyfiya prison, near the eastern city of Benghazi.

The jailbreak happened as protesters stormed the offices of Islamist-allied parties in Libya's main cities.

Protesters had massed across the country angry over the killing of an activist critical of the country's Muslim Brotherhood group.

It is not known if the jailbreak was part of the protests or if inmates received outside help.

A security official from the prison said most of the inmates were being held on serious charges.

There was confusion initially about how many prisoners broke out, with numbers of escapees ranging as high as 1,200.

Benghazi's security situation is among the most precarious in post-revolution Libya.

Although Libyan officials say about 100 escaped inmates were recaptured after the jailbreak, there was no immediate word on the nature of the charges the prisoners were convicted of or awaiting trial for or if any of the inmates were affiliated with Al Qaeda or Ansar Al-Shari'a.

The jailbreak coincides with protests in Benghazi that saw demonstrators attack the offices of the Muslim Brotherhood. Prior to the jailbreak and demonstrations, unidentified assailants shot and killed activist Abdelsalam al-Mismari as he left a mosque after Friday prayers. Al-Mismari was a key figure in the initial 2011 uprising that eventually led to Western intervention and the toppling of the Ghdaffi regime. Al-Mismari was also the leader of the Feb 17th Martyrs Brigade and a vocal critic of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Likely emboldened by the ongoing protests and overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the demonstrators broke down the doors to the Benghazi offices of the Muslim Brotherhood's Justice and Construction party, chanting that the Muslim Brotherhood's days in Benghazi were numbered before setting fires and throwing documents from office windows.

Benghazi has been considered off limits to foreigners ever since the deadly attack on the US Consulate on the eleventh anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks. Using mortars and RPGs in a well-coordinated assault, the attackers killed American ambassador Chris Stevens and three others while setting fire to buildings on the diplomatic compound. The Obama Administration blamed the attack on a 'spontaneous' protest over a You Tube video for several weeks before backtracking about the nature of the murder of Ambassador Stevens, Information Management Officer Sean Smith and ex SEALS Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods. Meanwhile, the assailants in the September 11, 2012 consulate attacks are still at large.

Today's Train of Thought- A Berry Special Edition, July 28th, 2013

Best known as the land of LL Bean and otherworldly horrors visiting quaint New England towns courtesy of horror author and native son Stephen King, Today's Train of Thought takes us Down East.

Despite Pan Am aggressively courting oil and intermodal traffic in recent years, paper remains a significant source of traffic for Pan Am and other regionals within the state of Maine- both the chemicals used in papermaking and the finished product have traditionally moved by rail. This remains true despite the fact that many companies in the paper and forestry industry falling on hard times themselves.

Still, even with the paper and forestry industry in decline lately, Pan Am operates a near-daily train between the former Maine Central Rigby Yard in Portland and the mill town of Rumford, ME to the north. The trek between the western Maine mill town and Portland has been a ritual that predates the advent of Pan Am or Guilford by decades.

Here, contributor Dan Nelson caught Pan Am GP40 #307 leading southbound RUPO [RUmford to POrtland, ME- NANESB!] under Route 115 in Yarmouth, ME on July 22nd, 2010. The photographer did an excellent job of framing the southbound freight, which is fairly close to its final destination, with some (and likely inedible) berries off to the right.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Quickie Sports Chowdah Update for July 27th: Drew Calling- Slumping Shortstop Comes Up Big While Papi Gets the Phone; Mountaineers On the Move

Gail Burton- AP

RED SOX- With Thursday night's game against the Rays at Fenway rained out, the Red Sox would have to wait until Monday's make-up game if they were to try and salvage a split from the series [still a pretty quick turnaround time to reschedule a rainout nonetheless- NANESB!]. With the wet weather in Boston putting a damper on things, both the Rays and Red Sox moved on to drier pastures in the AL East, with Tampa Bay facing the Yankees in the Bronx and the Red Sox travelling down to Camden Yards in Charm City for a weekend series against the O's.

The series got off to a less than stellar start on Friday night when the Red Sox were shut out 6-0 by Baltimore. On Saturday night, the Red Sox got on the board relatively early when SS Stephen Drew came home from 3rf after Victorino hit into a fielder's choice in the top of the 3rd, giving Boston the early 1-0 lead. That would not be the last we'd see from the light-hitting Drew on Saturday night as Dempster would be getting some run support as the game went on.

O's starter Scott Feldman looked as though he was cruising through the 4th, getting Big Papi to fly out to center field and Mike Napoli to strike out swinging. However, back to back 2-out singles from Carp and Saltalamacchia put two runners on base for Drew, which led to this:

And in case the embedded video wasn't working, that's Drew hitting a 3-run homer into the right field seats at Camden Yard with two out to give Boston a 4-0 lead over the O's.

After Baltimore got on the board with a Brian Roberts RBI single in the bottom of the 5th to make it 4-1 Boston, Troy Patton would come out of the Baltimore bullpen in the top of the 6th. Patton allowed a leadoff single to Carp before getting Saltalamacchia to hit into a fielder's choice when Drew came up to bat again. Care to guess what happened next?

Drew Belted Patton's 1-0 offering to deep right-center field where it caromed off the top of the groundskeeper's shack. Carp came home to score as Drew was caught in a rundown between 3rd and home before scoring on an errant throw to the catcher. After the umpires conferred and reviewed the video replay, it was ruled a 2-run home run to make it a 6-2 Boston lead.

The Red Sox didn't let up when Jairo Acensio came in to replace Patton on the mound in the top half of the 7th. Victorino led off the inning with a solo homer to the walkway behind Camden Yard's right field seats to make it 7-2. But that wouldn't be the play from the inning that had most people talking. After a 3-0 count, Big Papi struck out for the second out of the inning and had some words with home plate umpire Tim Timmons on his way back to the dugout. What happened next really has to be seen to be believed.

For lack of a more diplomatic term, Ortiz freaked the fuck out and was ejected from the game apparently after deciding the visitors dugout in Camden Yards were in dire need of remodeling. Papi took his bat to one of the phones to the bullpen and started smashing away at them before stepping out of the dugout to yell some more at Timmons while Farrell and bench coach Torey Lovullo were doing there best to restrain him. Once back in the dugout, Pedroia was seen tersely exchanging words with Big Papi before the DH headed to the showers [full disclosure- I love Big Papi, and I could ALMOST understand this display if it were late in a one run game with the based loaded or something, but he could've injured teammates or personnel with that display- and it's not like he's a rookie who needs to be reminded to check himself before he wrecked himself- NANESB].

Baltimore would get a run back in the bottom of the 8th, but Junichi Tazawa would close it out in the bottom of the 9th to make it a 7-3 Boston final. Ryan Dempster gets the win, allowing two runs on six hits and striking out four in 5⅓ innings. Stephen Drew- who was flirting with the Mendoza line- goes 3 for 4 with 2 homers and 5 RBI while Shane Victorino went 1-5 with 2 RBI on the night.

The rubber game is all set for Sunday afternoon with Jon Lester [9-6; 4.50 ERA] going up against Jason Hammel [7-7; 5.20 ERA]. First pitch is scheduled for 1:35 PM ET and the game will be televised on TBS.

NCAA FOOTBALL- Two NCAA football FCS powerhouses are getting set to make the jump to the NCAA Football Bowl subdivision. Both Appalachian State and Georgia Southern University announced that they would be moving to the Sun Belt Conference starting in the 2015 season. Both the Georgia Southern Eagles and Appalachian State Mountaineers currently play in Southern Conference. The Mountaineers won three consecutive Division 1AA/FCS titles in 2005, 2006 and 2007 while the Eagles have six FCS/NCAA Division 1AA titles to their name [the UMASS Minutemen's most recent title came against Georgia Southern in 1998- NANESB!].

The move would bring the total number of football teams in the Sun Belt conference to 10 by 2015: the Mountaineers and Eagles in addition to Arkansas State, Georgia State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, South Alabama, Texas State, Troy and Western Kentucky.

Dozens Killed in Spanish High Speed Derailment

At least 80 people are feared dead after an express train derailed at high speeds in the northwestern Spanish region of Galicia on Wednesday. Dramatic images from a trackside security camera show cars beginning to lift off the rails as the train enters a curve on outside of Santiago de Compostela at a high rate of speed before the locomotive plows into the camera sideways.
The train derailed shortly before 9pm local time as it sped along a curve in the tracks approaching the cathedral city of Santiago de Compostela, in Spain’s northwestern region of Galicia.

Even several hours after the accident rescue crews were still trying to reach passengers trapped in the wreckage. Photographs of the scene showed rows of corpses covered in blankets on the ground next to derailment site.

The accident occurred on the eve of the feast of St James, a regional bank holiday in Galicia, and a festival which attracts hordes of pilgrims to the ancient city.

The train and track were operated by Spain's state-run RENFE rail network. While the train in Wednesday's derailment is not part of Spain's high-speed AVE [Alta Velocidad Española- NANESB!] fleet, the conventional trainset is capable of reaching speeds of 155 MPH.

Investigators combing through the wreckage have found the train's black box/event recorder and the Guardia Civil is also questioning the driver, who escaped the train wreck with relatively minor injuries. Pope Francis extended his condolences and Spain's King Juan Carlos visited some of the survivors who were being treated at a hospital in Santiago de Compostela on Thursday.

This week's derailment is the worst rail disaster in Spain since a 1945 collision between a passenger train and a freight train in Las Acubillas, south of Madrid.

Friday, July 26, 2013

California Democrat Party Told Assemblywoman to Keep Quiet About Filner's Conduct As Four More Women Accuse San Diego Mayor of Sexual Harassment

Former California Assemblywoman and congressional candidate Lori Saldaña said that she told the state's Democrat Party's leadership about then-congressman Bob Filner's conduct in 2011 after talking to six San Diego women had been physically or verbally harassed by Filner. Instead of taking any action against Filner, party officials made it clear that any candidate who didn't support Filner's mayoral bid wouldn't get any backing from the Golden state's Democrat party.
Saldaña said that in summer 2011 six prominent women in local politics, business and education told her that Filner had physically or verbally harassed them. Saldaña had been exploring what turned out to be an unsuccessful bid for Congress and the conversations came in the context of the 2012 elections.

Saldaña said she contacted former party Chairman Jess Durfee with the allegations and Durfee was among a group of Democratic leaders who met with Filner to discuss them that summer. She said nothing happened.

Saldaña said she contacted former party Chairman Jess Durfee with the allegations and Durfee was among a group of Democratic leaders who met with Filner to discuss them that summer. She said nothing happened.

“As disgraceful as Bob’s behavior has been, it’s been tolerated by our Democratic Party leadership,” she said.

Saldaña said Filner never personally harassed her and declined to say who alleged to have had run-ins with the mayor. She said former City Councilwoman Donna Frye, who is calling for Filner’s resignation over unspecified sexual harassment allegations, inspired her to talk.

Party leaders, she said, made it clear that if people didn’t support Filner they wouldn’t receive their support again.

Despite being in the same party, Filner and Saldaña are said to have had a contentious professional relationship over a proposed border sewage treatment project that would've been in Filner's district which never came to fruition. Despite the accusations that she thought were credible, she endorsed Filner for mayor last year. In 2012, Saldaña ran as a Democrat in California's newly-redistricted 52nd Congressional District but lost in the primary.

Saldaña's version of events was confirmed by former San Diego County Democrat Party chair Jesse Durfee in an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune earlier this month.

Meanwhile, four more women have come forward to accuse the San Diego Mayor of making unwanted sexual advances as Filner announced that he would be taking a leave of absence for two weeks to undergo behavioral therapy (in lieu of resigning).

As pressure mounted on Filner to step down over a hail of sexual harassment allegations leveled at him this week by several women, the 70-year-old Democrat and former congressman said he would enter a counseling clinic on August 5 to undergo "intensive therapy."

During his two-week leave, Filner said he would be in counseling at the clinic on a full-time basis and would be briefed on city activities every morning and evening.

Filner's accusers include a former college dean, a retired US Navy Admiral and his former press secretary. So far, Filner has resisted calls to step down, including demands from the San Diego County branch of his own party to resign this week.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Al Qaeda Detainees Among Hundreds Freed in Deadly Jailbreak of Two Iraqi Prisons

Marwan Ibrahim/AFP
Senior members of Al Qaeda in custody were among hundreds of inmates who were set free from multiple jails- including Baghdad's infamous Abu Grahib prison- in a pair of brazen nighttime raids that was carried out earlier this week.

According to Iraqi officials, suicide bombers drove vehicles into the front gates and detonated before a second wave of gunmen swarmed into the prison, opening fire on the guards with mortars, RPGs and machine guns and setting inmates free. Meanwhile, accomplices positioned themselves on the road leading to the jail and ambushed reinforcements as they were on their way to aid the besieged guards. The Abu Grahib and Taji prisons were only re-taken after Iraqi officials sent in helicopter gunships and special operations soldiers.
One security official told Reuters on condition of anonymity: "It's obviously a terrorist attack carried out by al Qaeda to free convicted terrorists with al Qaeda."

A simultaneous attack on another prison, in Taji, around 20 km (12 miles) north of Baghdad, followed a similar pattern, but guards managed to prevent any inmates escaping. Sixteen soldiers and six militants were killed.
Although officials said some of the escapees were quickly recaptured, the majority of the Al Qaeda commanders in custody are said to be at large. Interpol has issued a regional alert for the escapees, saying its working with Iraqi police to obtain pictures of photographs of the fugitives.

Al Qaeda-allied Sunni insurgents have stepped up attacks on Iraqi civilians, policemen and soldiers in recent weeks, killing hundreds. Perhaps the single deadliest single attack in Iraq this month occurred on July 12th, when a suicide bomber blew up a café in Kirkuk as patrons were marking the end of the day's fast for Ramadan, killing at least 38 people.

On Thursday, Sunni gunmen reportedly had set up a roadblock on a highway outside of Kirkuk and executed 14 Shi'ite truck drivers.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Today's Train of Though- (Iowa) Interstate Love Song, July 24th, 2013

Today's Train of Thought takes us to the Hawkeye state and features the somewhat quirky Iowa Interstate Railroad. The 580 mile regional got its start in late 1984 from the ashes of the Rock Island, operating between Chicago and Council Bluffs, IA.

For nearly 20 years, motive power for the IAIS consisted of primarily former Illinois Central Gulf GP10s and GP8s along with former CSX GP16s, ex-Providence & Worcester M420s and ex Illinois Central SD20s showing up long enough to get a coat of paint before being scrapped or re-sold.

By 2003, with traffic on the rise thanks in no small part to the growth of ethanol and the fleet of IAIS rebuilt geeps were beginning to show their age, the units were gradually replaced with former Conrail GP38-2s purchased through LLPX leasing, followed by ex-Reserve Northshore Mining SD38-2s also purchased through LLPX.

The motive power selection for the Iowa Interstate only got more interesting after the acquisition of the 6-axle EMD's- by the summer of 2006, the IAIS purchased two 2-10-2 QJ Class steam locomotives from China's national railways for use in excursion service. Two years later, the Iowa Interstate broke with tradition and purchased brand new ES44AC GEVOs from General Electric- joining Montana Rail Link and Indiana Railroad in purchasing new locomotives from GE or EMD instead of using secondhand power purchased from Class 1 lines or other regionals.

Here, contributor BA Tiemann caught Iowa Interstate SD38-2 #150 leading mixed freight ICCR [Iowa City to Cedar Rapids- NANESB!] around the curve on the former Milwaukee Road line between Cedar Rapids and the interchange with the IAIS Council Bluffs-Chicago line at Homestead, IA on May 9th, 2007. The line is actually owned by the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, but is subleased to the Iowa Interstate and is the IAIS access to interchanging with the CRIC, Canadian National and Iowa Northern in Cedar Rapids.

While the lead unit has been repainted, some of the trailing units are still in their blue and white Reserve Northshore mining colors. Although the CRIC originally had a more direct former interurban line between its namesake cities for interchange with the IAIS, it was surprisingly hilly considering that its Iowa and is seldom used to this day. Today, the much newer GEVOs are likely to appear on the Iowa City-Cedar Rapids run either in solid sets or working in tandem with the older 6-axle EMDs.

Well Rested Sports Chowdah Update- Lester Looking Sharp After Having Start Pushed Back; Laser Show Here To Stay; K-Rod to Charm City;

Elise Amendola-AP

RED SOX- After being shut out by the white-hot Rays on Monday night, the Red Sox saw their lead in the AL East whittled down to merely half a game heading into Tuesday night's contest.

Jon Lester- who was originally slated to start the Sunday night game against the Yankees- had his start pushed back two nights so he could get some additional rest. After opening up the game with a 1-2-3 inning, Lester gave up a leadoff homer to Will Meyers to give the Rays the early 1-0 lead in the top of the second. The Red Sox came back with a run of their own in the bottom of the 2nd thanks to a Mike Carp single after Rays starter Roberto Hernandez gave up singles to Ortiz and Napoli to start off the inning (although Big Papi was thrown out trying to advance to third), tying the game at 1-1. The Red Sox would take the lead in the bottom of the 3rd with runners on first and third and Big Papi at the plate. Pedroia would steal second and Rays catcher Jose Molina's throw hit Pedroia, allowing Victorino to score and giving Boston a 2-1 lead.

The Red Sox would pad their lead with a Pedroia sac fly in the bottom of the 5th to make it 3-1, which is just as well, since Evan Longoria blasted a solo homer to lead off the top of the 6th for the Rays to once again make it a one-run game. However, Boston would get some run support in the bottom of the 8th with two outs and two on when Stephen Drew hit an RBI single followed by a Jose Iglesias single that managed to clang off the gloves of Rays 3B Evan Longoria and SS Yuniel Escobar as two more runs came in for the Sox to give them a 6-2 lead [Even though it was officially scored a 2-RBI single, Iglesias alertly moved to third on the throw home which rolled to the dugout- NANESB!].

Koji Uehara came out in the top of the 9th and had a 1-2-3 inning to preserve the Boston win, and one night after being shut out by the Rays, the Olde Towne Team goes on to win by a 6-2 final. Lester goes 6⅓ innings, allowing 7 hits and two earn runs while striking out 8. Jose Iglesias went 1-4 with 2 RBI and Dustin Pedroia was 0-2 with 1 RBI on Tuesday night. The win by the Red Sox snaps a 6 game winning streak for Tampa Bay that carried over from the All Star where the Rays leapfrogged past the Yankees and Baltimore for 2nd place in the AL East.

The series continues Wednesday night at Fenway with Felix Doubront [7-3; 3.76 ERA] taking the mound against Tampa Bay's David Price [4-5; 4.03 ERA]. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 ET and for the second time since Sunday, the game will be nationally televised on ESPN while the MLB Network and NESN will carry Thursday night's season finale.

Elise Amendola-AP

OTHER RED SOX NEWS- It's official.

Prior to last night's game, the Red Sox announced last night that Dustin Pedroia has signed an 8 year, $100 million contract extension that would keep the hard-charging second baseman in a Red Sox uniform through 2021. Peroia's current contract would have expired at the end of the 2014 season. The former Sun Devil was named AL Rookie of the Year in 2007 and AL MVP in 2008 in addition to two gold gloves and being selected to the All Star game twice.

Currently, Pedroia is batting .306 with 6 homers, 58 RBI and 14 stolen bases. Throughout his career, Pedroia has a .303 batting average with 96 homers and 116 stolen bases.

ELSEWHERE IN THE AL EAST- The Baltimore Orioles took a big step towards addressing one of their (few) weaknesses on Tuesday by acquiring Milwaukee Brewers closed Francisco Rodriguez in exchange for infielder Nick Delmonico from the Frederick Keys- Baltimore's Carolina League affiliate.

Rodriguez- aka "K-Rod"- is 1-1 with 1.09 ERA and has had 10 saves for the Brewers this season. K-Rod has been with Milwaukee since 2011

PITTSBURGH PIRATES- The resurgent Pirates got a scare in the 9th inning of Monday when closer and NL Saves leader Jason Grilli left the 9th inning of their game against the Washington Nationals. While the injury may not be as severe as the Pirates organization had feared, Grilli was put on the 15 DL with a strained right forearm on Wednesday.

On Monday night's game, Grilli allowed a leadoff walk to Washington's Adam La Roche in a 6-3 contest. This was followed up by a Jason Werth homer that made it a 1-run game. With one away, the Nationals Denard Span doubled off of Grilli before the Bucs closer got Nats catcher Wilson Ramos to strike out and was then pulled from the game. Vin Mazzaro then came on for Grilli and managed to get the final out, preserving the Bucs 6-5 win on Monday night.

After missing the playoffs for more than 20 straight years, the Pittsburgh Pirates have gotten off to a strong start both this season and in 2012. However, the second half of the Bucs 2012 campaign saw them gradually fade from playoff contention by Labor Day. Fans are hoping to avoid a repeat of last season's swoon in the Steel City. Currently, the Pirates are only a game and a half behind the St Louis Cardinals for the lead in the NL Central.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Former Congressman and New York City Mayoral Candidate Anthony Weiner Admits to Sending More Sexually Explicit Texts After Resignation

If you're a writer for one of the late-night TV talk shows, there's just not other way to put this: Anthony Weiner is simply the gift that keeps on giving.

It was two years ago that then-Congressman Anthony Weiner had resigned in disgrace after admitting to sending lewd photographs of himself to women on social networking sites like twitter and then lying about it to a media that seemed ready to give him the benefit of the doubt. The announcement took place shortly after conservative blogger and publisher Andrew Breitbart co-opted Weiner's press conference.

Since then, Weiner and his allies in the Democrat party who thought his political prospects could be salvaged began rehabilitating his image, with an emphasis on his wife- former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin. His former District- NY-9- went Republican in a special election before it was redistricted out of existence. Less than two years later, Weiner's name kept coming up as a potential candidate for Mayor of New York- as though the original Weiner-gate had never taken place to begin with.

After a couple of fairly puffball interviews where Weiner contritely claimed he had learned his lesson and was going to a better husband and father from here on out, the Weiner for Mayor talk moved beyond punchlines and double entendre and into reality. However, the rollout of the Weiner for Mayor Campaign website was not without problems after Pittsburgh's skyline was used on the page instead of New York City's.

However, texts and images between Weiner and an unidentified woman surfaced this week on a tabloid blog called The Dirty. During a press conference on Tuesday, he admitted that not only were the pictures of him, but that the images and explicit texts were sent to the woman after his resignation and a number of sympathetic interviews where he swore he was a changed man.
The woman claims on the blog that she first started talking online with Weiner in July 2012 and it became intense by August 2012, when he offered to find a Chicago condo where they could meet up.

She also alleges that they had phone sex and that they exchanged nude photos of each other. She claims she received photos from Weiner of his penis sent from a Yahoo email account under the “Carlos Danger” name. The purported image was later posted on

Weiner released a written statement on Tuesday afternoon, which he read again at the press conference,admitting to additional raunchy conversations.
The unidentified woman, who approached The Dirty with Weiner's raunchy correspondence, said that the disgraced pol had offered her a job at Politico if she deleted the pictures and texts that he sent.

So far, Weiner has steadfastly maintained that he isn't dropping out of the mayoral race.

Panama Seizes North Korean Vessel Carrying Heavy Weaponry and Components

Panamanian Troops stand guard aboard the seized North Korean vessel Chong Chon Gang as police cadets prepare to search the ship's cargo hold for additional weapons and military hardware. Carlos Jasso photo

Authorities in Panama discovered a cache of Cold War era weaponry after seizing and boarding a North Korean cargo vessel that was approaching the Panama Canal. Panamanian authorities became suspicious when the vessel approached the canal with its maritime transponder shut off and believed the vessel was carrying drugs.

The captain of the North Korean-flagged dry-bulk freighter Chong Chon Gang reportedly had a heart attack and attempted to kill himself as Panamanian soldiers boarded the vessel while the crew resisted arrest before the vessel was redirected to the Caribbean port of Colon. A search of one of the cargo holds turned up Soviet-era surface to air missiles and guidance system components buried among tons of sugar. The ship's crew and captain were detained by Panamanian troops on charges of violating national security and transporting undeclared weapons.

The freighter was returning from Cuba and the government of Raul Castro claimed that the weapons found were Cuban and being sent to North Korea for refurbishment, despite an international arms embargo against the secretive Marxist regime. A further search of the Chong Chon Gang's cargo hold has also turned up two MiG 21 fighter jets in addition to 15 engines- also concealed among two tons of sugar. Officials estimate there are a total of 27 container under the sugar in the Chong Chon Gang's cargo hold and are awaiting the arrival of a team of UN inspectors to further examine the ship next week.

Under current sanctions, all U.N. member states are prohibited from directly or indirectly supplying, selling or transferring arms, missiles or missile systems and the equipment and technology to make them to North Korea, with the exception of small arms and light weapons.

It also lets countries inspect cargo destined for North Korea if a state has credible information the cargo could violate Security Council resolutions.

The discovery aboard the freighter Chong Chon Gang was expected to trigger an investigation by the U.N. Security Council committee that monitors the sanctions against North Korea.

If Cuba wanted to send the weapons for repairs and have them returned, it would have needed to get a waiver from the Security Council committee monitoring the North Korea sanctions.

According to maritime blogger Convenient Flags, North Korean merchant ships appearing in Panamanian waters is relatively rare, with a grand total of five traversing the Panama Canal since 2010. The Chong Chon Gang passed through the Panama Canal on its way to Cuba earlier with a load of sheet metal- Panamanian authorities inspected the vessel then. The seized freighter's route and ports of call were similar to that of the 2012 voyage another North Korean vessel made in 2012- only the O Un Chong Nyon Ho's voyage didn't attract as much attention at the time.

Cuba had told Panamanian officials that the outbound cargo on board the Chong Chon Gang was a 'donation' of sugar to North Korea and both North Korea and Cuba have called for the ship's release. Former Colombian president Alviro Uribe also speculated that the arms on board could be destined for a third party if they were on their way to being refurbished by North Korea- Uribe says he believes Ecuador or one of the nations that was part of Hugo Chavez's Bolivar Axis was a likely destination.

[I maintain that the ship's final destination was actually Mike Bloomberg's New York, and the contraband sugar would've been smuggled in by hiding them among the MiG jets and surface to air missiles- NANESB!]

Monday, July 22, 2013

Quickie Sports Chowdah Update- Napoli Ever After; Prodigous Blast Ends Extra Innings Deadlock; Trouble Brewing For Milwaukee's Braun

Michael Dwyer- AP Photo
RED SOX- After a two day break that felt like a mini-offseason, the Red Sox (along with the rest of MLB) finally came out of the all-star break on Friday. Right out of the gate, the Red Sox would open up the second portion of their season with a series of pivotal matchups against opponents with the AL East matchup, starting with the Yankees on Friday night. Thanks to homers by Jacoby Ellsbury and Johnny Gomes and a solid 6⅓ innings from Felix Doubront, the Red Sox went on to win the series opener by a 4-2 final.

In Saturday afternoon, the Yankee's Hideki Kuroda pitched 7 shutout innings in New York's 5-2 win over Boston, setting up the rubber game of the series to be televised nationally on ESPN's Sunday night baseball with CC Sabathia going up against Ryan Dempster. I actually had some misgivings about that, considering the last time the Red Sox were on Sunday Night baseball, they were shut out by the Angels. But then again, I've pretty much had it with people who complain about Red Sox/Yankees games being nationally televised given how relatively few Red Sox games have been nationally televised this season.

The Yankees jumped on Ryan Dempster early, jumping out to a 3-0 lead by the second innings. Sabathia seemed to be cruising through the first couple of innings, but the wheels started to come off in the bottom of the 3rd. Jacoby Ellsbury led off the inning with a double and moved to 3rd on a sacrifice by Shane Victorino before coming home on a 1-out Pedroia RBI single to put the Red Sox on the board. Big Papi would then single, bringing up Mike Napoli- who knocked a 1-2 Sabathia offering clear out of the ballpark. Never mind Landsdowne Street- Napoli's 3rd inning blast likely came down on Elliot Street in Exeter, NH. The three run shot put the Red Sox up 4-3.

In the bottom of the 4th, Sabathia managed to load the bases with nobody out. Shane Victorino made him pay with a 2-RBI single to put the Red Sox up 6-3. Johnny Gomes led off the bottom of the 5th with a solo homer that cleared the Monster seats in left field to make it 7-3 Boston.

However, the Yankees whittled down Boston's lead to 5-7 in the top of the 6th with RBI singles from OF Brett Gardner and 2B Robinson Cano after chasing Dempster from the mound. The Bronx bombers then managed to tie the contest up 7-7 in the top of the 7th thanks to a costly throwing by Iglesias and Luis Cruz grounding into a fielder's choice with a runner on 3rd and only one out.

The Yankees bullpen, however was nearly perfect against the Red Sox after Sabathia left, giving up just one hit against Boston before forcing extra innings. In the top of the 11th, Pedro Beato came out of the pen for the Sox and got two quick popouts from Wells and Lilibridge before giving up a single to shortstop Eduardo Nunez. However, Saltalamacchia gunned down Nunez when he attempted to steal second to end the inning [even though it looked like Nunez had come in before Pedroia's tag and was safe on a replay- NANESB!].

Adam Warren came on in relief for the Yankees and got Pedroia to fly out and Big Papi to hit into the shift. It looked like Warren would have a 1-2-3 inning and had a 3-2 count on Mike Napoli when this happened:

And just in case I botched embedding the video, Mike Napoli belts a solo homer to the deepest part of the park to give Boston the 8-7 win over the Yankees in 11 innings. The win is Boston's 9th walkoff win of the season as the Red Sox take two out of three from the Yankees. Napoli went 2-6 with 2 HR and 4 RBI on the night while Shane Victorino would go 2-5 with 2 RBI and Gomes would go 1-4 with the solo homer.

It does not get any easier for the Olde Towne Team as the Red Sox get ready for a 4-game tilt with the Tampa Bay Rays, who come into Monday night's contest only a game and a half behind Boston for first in the AL East. After the Sox/Rays series at Fenway, the Sox will travel down to Baltimore for a weekend series against the O's.

Brandon Workman [0-0; 5.4 ERA] will see his first start since taking a no-hitter against the Oakland A's into the 7th inning prior to the All Star break while Tampa Bay sends Matt Moore [13-3; 3.44 ERA] to the mound on Monday night. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 ET and the game will be televised on NESN.

OTHER RED SOX NEWS- Shortstop Stephen Drew returned to the lineup on Saturday after being on the DL since June 28th. On Sunday night's game, Drew was 0-3 with a walk and a run scored.

EVEN MORE RED SOX NEWS- Yahoo Sports is reporting that the Red Sox are negotiating a record-breaking $100 million deal with second baseman Dustin Pedroia, making the gritty infielder the face of the franchise for the foreseeable future. Sources indicate both parties are open to a deal and it's just a matter of hammering out years and dollars. While nothing has been finalized, the deal could rival the 6 year $100 million contract that was agreed upon by the Tampa Bay Rays and Evan Longoria.

ELSEWHERE IN MLB- Despite all the talk about A-Rod, Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun is the first MLB player to face sanction over the Biogenesis scandal. Braun was named the National League MVP in 2011 but tested positive for PED's in the offseason. Braun successfully appealed the suspension, claiming the urine sample in question was mishandled by a laboratory technician.

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig announced the penalty Monday, citing Braun for multiple unspecified "violations" of baseball's drug program and labor contract. Braun will miss the Milwaukee Brewers' final 65 games without pay, costing him about $3 million of his $8.5 million salary.

Under the agreement reached by MLB and the players' association the specifics of Braun's admission won't be made public.

"We commend Ryan Braun for taking responsibility for his past actions," said Rob Manfred, MLB's executive vice president for economics and league affairs. "We all agree that it is in the best interests of the game to resolve this matter. When Ryan returns, we look forward to him making positive contributions to Major League Baseball, both on and off the field."

Union head Michael Weiner said in a statement: "I am deeply gratified to see Ryan taking this bold step. It vindicates the rights of all players under the joint drug program. It is good for the game that Ryan will return soon to continue his great work both on and off the field."

Braun's acceptance of a suspension marks a 180-degree turnaround from his defiant spring training news conference in Phoenix last year, after his 50-game ban was overturned.

Braun will be suspended the remainder of the season without pay- reportedly losing more than $3 million as a result. Braun will also miss the postseason, although since the Brewers are dead last in the NL Central and have the second worst record in the National League.

Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, Oakland starting pitcher Bartolo Colon, Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz and Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta have also been implicated the Biogenesis Clinic scandal.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Today's Train of Thought- Roving Badgers, July 21st, 2013

Today's Train of Thought takes us to the heart of Dixie and highlights some visitors who are out of place.

With the 2001 acquisition of the Wisconsin Central by Canadian National, remnants of the Wisconsin Central fleet began showing up further afield almost immediately. Part of this had to do with CN repaying horsepower hours owed to CSX and Norfolk Southern- while newer CN units were assigned to the former WC, for awhile, your best bet of finding a unit still painted in Wisconsin Central colors was actually further afield in Pennsylvania or Florida.

One such train that regularly drew WC power far from home was CSX unit molten sulfur trains between Chicago and Florida. Sulfur- which can be used in making steel, acid or fertilizer- is typically melted so it can be shipped with relative ease.

Here, contributor William H Davis Jr caught  Wisconsin Central SD40-2 #6005 leading unit molten sulfur train K841-24 through New Castle, AL with another WC SD40-2 as well as a Santa Fe painted BNSF C40-8W and CSX EMD trailing on a sunny April 2004 day. The lead unit started out life as Algoma Central #187 in the late 1970s, which the WC obtained from their 1995 takeover of Canadian regional Algoma Central.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

42 Year Old Missouri Woman Ejected From Water Park When Employees Deem Her Bikini Too Skimpy

Reed Hoffmann- NY Daily News
So much for Missouri being the 'Show-Me State'.

An Missouri woman was asked to leave a Kansas City-area water park earlier this month because employees had reportedly asked her to cover up, apparently objecting to the bikini she was wearing.

42 year old Madelyn Shaeffer of Odessa, MO said that two female park employees approached her and her teenage daughter and asked her to cover up or leave. Madelyn objected, saying her swimsuit wasn't any more revealing or scandalous than what the younger girls in the water park were wearing. The police were called and ultimately the buxom Missouri mother was escorted from the Adventure Oasis Water Park in Independence, MO.

Sheaffer told 41 Action News “I felt like it was both age and body discrimination and I felt like I could look around me and I could see a handful of other girls half my age, wearing the same size swimming suit and not being singled out and told to put on clothes or leave.”

Sheaffer told the manager she wanted to talk to police to file a complaint but that backfired.

When cops arrived, they escorted Sheaffer from the park.

Madelyn claims the officers were on her side but told her they “had to do their job.”

If the staff had received complaints about her cleavage spilling out of her bikini top, that would be (almost) understandable. However, Sheaffer claims that the park employees asked her to put on shorts. The voluptuous Midwestern mom was later filmed in the same bikini by a Kansas City TV station to show the exact swimsuit that got her booted from Adventure Oasis [honestly, the most objectionable thing I see on Shaeffer are the tattoos- NANESB!].

Frankly, if I went from thinking my death would play out like the latter portion of What's Eating Gilbert Grape to buxom MILF in a string bikini, I'd probably be inclined to flaunt it.

Madelyn says she has dealt with weight issues for most of her life, starting with eating to cope with the stress of her father's terminal cancer diagnosis at age nine. After suffering from a compressed disc in her back and a fall in the bathtub that left her stuck there for days, Madelyn decided something needed to be done. She eventually began a strict workout regimen and put motivational clippings on a posterboard, going from 250 lbs to her current weight of 170 lbs.

Potential Witness in Whitey Bulger Trial Found Dead in Lincoln, MA

Before the Patriot's Day bombing of the Boston Marathon finish line and capture of Chechen islamist Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Boston's 'Trial of the Century" was supposed to be the prosecution of former Winter Hill capo and FBI informant Whitey Bulger in South Boston's US District Court.

With all the uproar surrounding Rolling Stone's rock-star treatment of the younger Tsarnaev brother on the front cover of their latest edition, the Bulger trial got second billing in Boston until an odd and disturbing development on Thursday.

One of the witnesses who was scheduled to testify against Bulger was found dead on Wednesday along the Mill Street area of Lincoln, MA. Authorities still have to determine a cause of death.

Given the advanced age of some of the participants in the Bulger trial, I'd say this death looks 95% fishy, as opposed to 99.9% fishy. However, Federal Prosecutors claim they had not plans to call Stephen Rakes to the witness stand.

Far from being a reluctant eyewitness, Rakes appeared eager to testify how he was victimized by Bulger and his accomplices.
Rakes, 59, was one of the most determined of Bulger’s alleged victims, still furious at the notorious South Boston gangster and his allies, Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi and Kevin Weeks, for allegedly extorting his South Boston liquor store from him at gunpoint in 1984 — while Rakes’s daughters were in the same room.
In a 2001 interview with the Boston Globe, Rakes said that Bulger and his right-hand man Steve 'The Rifleman' Flemmi accosted him at his South Boston liquor store one night in 1984. Rakes claimed the two introduced themselves and said they had been hired to kill him, but wouldn't go through with their contract if he sold the store to them. As the conversation moved into the kitchen, Rakes claimed Flemmi pulled a gun and put it on the table before putting Rakes' infant daughter on his lap while Bulger pulled a switchblade, asking what it would be like for Rakes' daughter to grow up without a father.
Threatened with death if he reported the shakedown, Rakes insisted the sale was voluntary when he testified before federal grand juries targeting Bulger in 1991 and 1995. A jury convicted Rakes of perjury and obstruction of justice in June 1998, but he escaped prison after agreeing to cooperate with authorities.

After losing the store, Rakes said he went to Disney World with his family, only to be ordered back by Bulger, who forced him to stand on a South Boston corner for two days to quell rumors that Bulger had killed him.

Rakes's wife sought help from her uncle, Boston Police Detective Joseph Lundbohm, who reported the takeover of the store to FBI Agent John J. Connolly Jr., unaware that Bulger and Flemmi were informants and Connolly was their handler.

In a 1998 Globe interview, Connolly confirmed that Lundbohm had told him that Bulger and Flemmi had seized the store, but Connolly said he didn't take action because the Rakeses "did not want to get wired up and they did not want to be witnesses. How do you make a case like that?"

A day after Connolly was warned about the shakedown, Rakes said Bulger paid him a visit and warned him that he'd better tell Lundbohm to "back off."

"I was more scared then than I ever was," said Rakes. "I figured he had a pipeline right to the FBI."

After Rakes lied to the grand jury in 1991, Bulger confronted him on his way home from the courthouse and revealed that he knew everything that had happened in the secret, closed-door proceeding, Rakes said.

"He had a piece of paper in front of him and he had all of the questions that the prosecutor had asked me," said Rakes. "I said, `Thank God I went in there and lied like crazy or I'd be dead by now.' "

Bulger fled Boston after a January 1995 racketeering indictment. By that time, Rakes was a track inspector with the MBTA. A few months after Whitey became a wanted fugitive, Rakes said he panicked and fled when he saw Bulger protégé Kevin Weeks standing at a platform at the Red Line's Broadway station, accidently brushing up against the third rail as he fled. Rakes was hospitalized for several days afterwards.

Associates of Bulger claim that Rakes had approached them through an intermediary about selling the store, but threatened him after they said he kept raising the asking price for the liquor store.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Stay Classy, San Diego! Mock PSA Warns Comic Con Attendees of 'Demonstrative' Mayor Accused of Sexually Harrassing Constituents

G4TV's Carrie Keegan rages against the (Coke) Machine. G4TV photo
Thursday marked the start of the annual San Diego Comic-Con International; a massive gathering for collectors and fans of everything from golden-age Superman comics to cutting-edge interactive gaming platforms- or "Mardi Gras for Nerds" as I tend to call it [only there's no beads...just freebies from various studios or publishers in attendance- NANESB!] while others refer to it as 'Nerd-vana'. I don't mean that disparagingly, either- I went to the event a few years before I even started this blog and overall had a pretty good time despite returning home a little exhausted and much more broke-er.

Wyatt Earp may or may not need smelling salts.. Hawkman13 via Flickr
The scenery is something to behold as well, and I'm not just referring to the pleasant bayside setting of San Diego's sprawling convention center. These costumed women in attendance at Comic-Con actually fall into two categories. Besides the professional 'booth babes' who are paid to look hot and attract customers to various booths, there's also the amateurs- women from all over the country who painstakingly put together supremely detailed costumes of their favorite comic book, TV show, anime, video game or movie character for the sole purpose of wearing it at the San Diego Comic Con.

Diana Prince taking in all the sights
Unfortunately, the event may end up becoming a victim of its own popularity. As more and more Hollywood studios decided to use the San Diego Comic Con as a venue to promote upcoming movies and TV shows, an increasing number of people show up each year- possibly more than can realistically be accommodated in San Diego's Convention Center. This has led to talk of moving the annual event further north to Anaheim, Long Beach or Los Angeles- there likely would be similar capacity problems, but it would be closer to the entertainment industry hub.

William Tung via Flickr
Even if you loathe comics [or movies, or video games, or TV series, or anime, etc etc- NANESB!] Comic-Con is an economic juggernaut that is expected to pump nearly $80 million into the local economy during the four day event.

However, this year's Comic-Con gets underway amidst some allegations of misconduct by San Diego's recently-elected mayor- former Democrat congressman Bob Filner. The allegations of groping, sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct come not from anonymous sources, but his own Democrat allies on the city council and in the county Democrat Party offices.

Apparently this isn't just staring, inappropriate comments or the occasional swat on the backside from a dirty old man, but rather stuff that would land an average citizen in jail.

Earlier this month, former backer and ex San Diego City Councilwoman Donna Frye accused Filner of groping and fondling a number of women visiting his office- including constituents. Without confirming the allegations against him, the 70 year old Filner has admitted to misconduct but has vowed to stay in office. Earlier he had attempted to explain away his actions as being overly demonstrative- "I'm a hugger" he told KUSI-TV in an interview last weekend. But colleagues say there's more to his actions than simply being misunderstood.

Two attorneys said Filner's inappropriate behavior was so common at City Hall that employees had coined the term "The Filner Dance" to describe how workers dodge his sexual advances.

Former Councilwoman Donna Frye, who first went public with the accusations last week, claims his behavior went well beyond hugging.

She did not give specifics until Monday, when she read statements to the media from two alleged constituents, who were not named.

Both say the mayor -- who was engaged at the time -- tried to forcibly kiss them during separate encounters.

Frye read the statements from women she called constituents No. 1 and No. 2.

The first constituent said the mayor asked his staffer to leave the room and then asked her if she was single.

She said she told Filner that he had a beautiful fiancee and that the mayor responded that he wanted to go out with her and kiss her. Filner then grabbed her and kissed her before she was able to push him away and leave the room, according to the statement.

In a statement from constituent No. 2, Filner allegedly made sexual overtures before grabbing her on the street to kiss her.

According to Fox 5 San Diego, the second woman claims Filner grabbed her and tried to force his tongue in her mouth. Later in the car, he allegedly put "his hand on the inside of her bra and was again trying to put his tongue down her throat," Frye said.

Before Frye went public with the allegations against Filner, the mayor's fiancée announced that she was leaving him.

It's not unusual for local officials to show up at an event the size and scope of the San Diego Comic-Con, and one might assume that Mayor McGropeyhands might console himself by surrounding himself with thousands of eminently fondle-able hot nerds in skimpy costumes from across the USA. In fact, a San Diego radio station put out a bogus Public Service Announcement warning Comic-Con attendees of that possibility.

While Filner may or may not be showing up at Comic-Con [attendees will likely still have to deal with a number of unelected pervs- NANESB!] the other item on this weekend's itinerary for him smacks of the tone-deafness of a California Democrat who just doesn't care anymore now that they've been elected to office.

In a twist that you'll swear is completely made up, apparently Filner is still scheduled to be the keynote speaker at a benefit for victims of sexual assault this weekend.
The group has stripped him of the award. Instead, he is set to address the scandal now consuming City Hall.

The woman leading the benefit is Tara Jones, the president of the National Military Women Veterans Association of America.

Months ago, Jones' group decided to honor Filner with a lifetime leadership award for his work on behalf of women veterans, including the issue of sexual assault.

Amid the recent scandal swirling around Filner, the group stripped him of the award. In a statement, the groups said, "We do not tolerate sexual discrimination at any level within our society."

Still, the group did not disinvite the mayor from the August award gala, instead announcing that he will address the scandal in a speech.

"He is now the keynote speaker on these injustices," said the group.

A motivation for the invite was not given, but Jones has repeatedly expressed the importance of creating awareness.
Mayor Filner may not have backed out yet under the assumption that his speech will be a "how-to"

Quickie Sports Chowdah Update- AL Shuts out NL At Citi Field in 2013 All Star Game

All work and no baseball make Fenway a dull boy. All work and no baseball make Fenway a dull boy. All work and no baseball make Fenway a dull boy. All work and no baseball make Fenway a dull boy. All work and no baseball make Fenway a dull boy. All work and no baseball make Fenway a dull boy. All work and no baseball make Fenway a dull boy. All work and no baseball make Fenway a dull boy.....

...wait a sec- that implies that I was interesting to begin with.

MLB ALL STAR GAME- The 2013 All Star game from Citi Field in Queens, NY is in the books and for the first time in All Star history, there have been back to back shutouts.

Mets phenom Matt Harvey started for the NL and the first inning got off to a rough start after allowing a leadoff double to Mike Trout and hitting Yankees 2B Robinson Cano with a 96 mph fastball. Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia came in to pinch run for Cano. From there, Harvey was able to get out of a jam by striking out Detroit's Miguel Cabrera, getting Baltimore's Chris Davis to fly out to center field and Toronto's Jose Bautista to strike out swinging.

Instead of the All Star game being a showcase of offensive prowess and home runs sailing out of the ballpark and into the night sky, the ball remained decidedly in the park on Tuesday night. The first run of the game came on a sac fly from Bautista that was deep enough to plate Cabrera in the top of the 4th inning. Arizona's Patrick Corbin would escape the inning without any further damage, but ultimately it would be all the AL needed and he was hung with the loss.

In fact, the NL didn't get a hit until the bottom of the 4th when the Cardinals' Carlos Beltran hit a 1-out single, but the threat was turned aside when Cincinnati's Joe Votto grounded into a fielder's choice and the Mets' David Wright grounded out to third.

The AL doubled their lead in the top of the 5th when Baltimore's JJ Hardy hit into a fielder's choice off of Philly's Cliff Lee with nobody out and O's teammate Adam Jones on third, making it 2-0 AL.

The 8th inning was probably the highlight- in the top half of the frame, Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez led off with a single off of Atlanta's Craig Kimbrell. Detroit's Jhonny Peralta then singled to put Perez on second. Although Tigers' teammate Torii Hunter hit into a double play, Perez was then able to move over to third and came home on a 2-out ground rule double from Indians 2B Jason Kipnis before Baltimore's Manny Machado struck out to end the inning with the AL on top 3-0.

In the bottom half of the frame, AL manager Jim Leyland made the decision to send out Yankees closer Mariano Rivera in what would be his final All-Star appearance. The likely first-ballot Hall of Fame reliever started off the inning by getting Brewers infielder Jean Segura to ground out to second, St Louis pinch-hitter Allen Craig to line out to left and Rockies outfielder Carlos Gomez to ground out to end the inning.

While Pittsburgh closer Jason Grilli allowed a leadoff triple to Detroit's Prince Fielder, he struck out the side to leave the big Tigers outfielder stranded at third.

Leyland then sent Rangers closer Joe Nathan out to close out the game- while he got Cards infielder Matt Carpenter and Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen to strike out, Nathan gave up a booming double that was barely contained by Citi Field. However, Pirates 3B Pedro Alvarez popped out to shallow right center to end the ballgame.

The White Sox's Chris Sale gets the win and Arizona's Patrick Corbin is hung with the loss. After coming out onto the field with much fanfare, Mariano Rivera got credit for the hold with his hitless 8th inning and Joe Nathan gets the save. After getting shut out 9-0 last year in Kansas City, the American League All Stars win by a final of 3-0 in Flushing.

Mariano Rivera- who announced in Spring Training that this would be his final season- was named the MVP of the 2013 All Star game.

The win means that the winner of the ALCS will have home field advantage for the World Series. The Red Sox present at the All Star game didn't factor into the final score much, with both Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz going 0-2. Interestingly, Big Papi (as well as Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion) was at DH instead of getting slotted into and infield position, despite Citi Field being a National League ballpark.

Next year's All Star game is set to take place at Minneapolis' Target Field on July 15th, the first All Star in the Twin Cities since 1985 and the first ever in the Twin's new ballpark.

RED SOX- The second half of the season gets underway on Friday night [for everybody- not just the Red Sox- NANESB!] with the Red Sox hosting the Yankees at Fenway. Felix Doubront [6-3; 3.91 ERA] will get the start against Andy Petite [7-6; 4.39 ERA]- it might be worth noting that even when Doubront sported a much higher ERA back in May, he has a considerably lower average when facing the Bronx Bombers- 2.52 ERA through 35⅔ innings.

Friday night's game will be televised on both NESN and the MLB network with a first pitch of 7:10 ET.