Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Borderline Psychosis, Psychose de Frontière Edition- Canadian, US Officials Raid Cross Border Tobacco Smuggling Ring

Officers from the Sûreté du Québec, RCMP and US Customs and Border Patrol arrested 28 people and seized more than $450,000 in cash and 40,000 Kilograms of tobacco in a raid on a tobacco smuggling ring in southwestern Quebec- said to be the largest of its kind. Investigators say that mobsters from Montreal's Rizutto crime family teamed up with Mohawk smugglers on the Akwesasne Reservation which straddles the US/Canada border south of Montreal to manufacture contraband cigarettes.

Quebec provincial police Sgt. Joyce Kemp said Montreal's Italian Mafia teamed up with aboriginal organized crime to illegally import the bulk tobacco.

The tobacco made its way into Canada in big trucks after being purchased by the Mafia in North Carolina, she told reporters.

"It was hidden with other merchandise (and) often what was used was cedar mulch to hide the (odour) of the tobacco."

Police said the tobacco was imported into Canada through the Lacolle border crossing or through the Akwesasne Mohawk reserve.

Kemp said that after crossing the border, the truckloads were hidden for two or three days in a warehouse to ensure they hadn't been spotted. The tobacco was then transferred to factories where the contraband cigarettes were made.

The cigarettes were then allegedly sold on the Kahnawake reserve south of Montreal.

The strategically located Akwesasne Mohawk Reservation has been a hotbed of smuggling since the Great Depression. Drug trafficking organizations have employed savvy native smugglers to move all manner of contraband across the border- in recent years cocaine and untaxed cigarettes into Canada and ecstasy or hydroponically grown pot into the USA.

On the USA side of the border, the Akwesasne Reservation is in the northernmost reaches of New York State where the cigarette tax is $4.35 per pack- plus an additional $1.50 per pack in local taxes in New York City. However, a New York State Department of Taxation and Finance directive allows cigarettes made on one reservation to be transported to other reservations without the state excise tax. Unsurprisingly, this has led to cigarette smuggling in New York City and other high-tax jurisdictions in the northeast and state and local officials in St Lawrence County have seized truckloads of cigarettes produced on the reservation despite the clause allowing the transport of untaxed cigarettes from reservation to reservation.

Trafficking cigarettes from low or no tax jurisdictions like southern tobacco producing states of Indian reservations to high tax locales like New York or Boston is a very simple and lucrative way for organized crime and even terrorist organizations to make money. A combined federal and provincial sales tax in Quebec and Ontario means cigarettes can cost as much as $13 per pack, making much of eastern Canada a lucrative destination for cigarette smuggling as well.

One possible disincentive for smugglers would be for states and provinces to cut tobacco taxes, but not only have places like New York City shown an unwillingness to do so, but they have proposed restricting and taxing sales of e-cigarettes in the same way as tobacco products.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Quickie Sports Chowdah Update- Mild Wings, Bruins Close out Series Against Detroit; Rays the Roof- Lackey Hurls Another Gem Against Tampa Bay; Cano Place Like Home- Cano Returns to Bronx as Visitor; Sterling Clipped- Audio of LA Clippers Owner Making Racist Remarks Results in NBA Ban

BOSTON BRUINS- It was a busy Saturday for Boston sports- besides the Red Sox heading north of the border to take on the Blue Jays for the first time this season, the Bruins had an opportunity to close out the Red Wings in Game 5 at TD Garden on Saturday afternoon.

Boston got on the board first thanks to a power play goal from Loui Eriksson just 3 and a half minutes into the first to make it a 1-0 game. Of course, no lead is as hard to maintain as a one goal lead and at the 14:41 mark of the second period, Pavel Datsyuk notched a power play goal to tie the contest up at 1-1. But with less than 5 seconds remaining in the second and the Bruins on a 4 on 3 power play, Zdeno Chara blasted one past Gustavsson to give Boston the lead back heading into the second intermission.

Just four and a half minutes into the 3rd, the Bruins added to their lead with a goal from Milan Lucic to make it 3-1- but the Red Wings weren't done yet. As the crowd at TD Garden started reserving seats for the Boston/Montreal series, Detroit pulled to within one after Henrik Zetterberg got one past Tukka Rask with 3:52 to go in regulation. Inside of two minutes, the Red Wings pulled Gustavsson for an extra attacker, but with less than a minute to go Jarome Iginla made it a 2-goal game once again when he tallied an empty-netter to make it a 4-2 game. Boston would go on to win by a 4-2 final and take the series 4 games to one. Tukka Rask turned away 31 of 33 shots he faced while the Bruins went 2 for 6 on the power play. For his part, Gutavsson stopped 29 of 32 shots faced while Detroit went one for seven with the man advantage.

This sets up another all Original-6 matchup as the B's will take on the Montreal Canadiens on May 1st. Puck is scheduled to drop at 7:30 ET and the game will be televised on NBC Sports and CBC.

ELSEWHERE IN THE NHL- While the Canadiens made quick work of the Lightning, the same can't be said for three other playoff series.

Wednesday night will feature no less than three game 7s to close out the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. At 7:00 ET, the Flyers and Rangers will face off in Madison Square Garden for their decisive Game 7- that game will be televised on NBC Sports while Game 7 of the Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche series gets underway at 9:30 ET from Denver- that game will be broadcast on CNBC. Things will wrap up on the West Coast when the Los Angeles Kings- who fell into an early 0-3 hole against the Sharks- will play a decisive Game 7 in San Jose starting at 10:00 ET (7:00 PT)- that game will be televised on the NBC Sports network and the CBC.

No matter who wins that Game 7, the next round in the Western Conference Semifinals will feature an all-California matchup. On Sunday night in Dallas, the Anaheim Ducks came from 2 goals down in the 3rd to tie the game with 24 seconds left in regulation to force OT, where Anaheim's Nick Bonino scored less than 3 minutes into sudden death overtime to give Anaheim the series win.

BOSTON RED SOX- After taking two out of three from the Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre [I'm not sure what the bigger surprise was- Clay Buchholz settling down after giving up an early 3-0 lead and getting the win on Saturday or Lester and the bullpen getting lit up on Sunday- NANESB!] the Red Sox returned home to take on yet another AL East opponent in Fenway on Tuesday night.

Amid chilly temperatures and strong winds at Fenway on Tuesday night, the Red Sox faced off against the Tampa Bay Rays for the first time this season. With Lackey facing off against former Red Sox and Oriole starter Eric Bedard, the early innings had the makings of a pitcher's duel with batters struggling to reach base- or score on the few times they did get on base.

However, the Red Sox worked Bedard's pitch count up to over 100 in just five innings, forcing Rays manager Joe Maddon to go to the bullpen early. In the bottom of the 5th, Middlebrooks led off with a walk, followed by a Jackie Bradley Jr double. Pedroia lined out to 3rd thanks to a great play made by Rays 3B Evan Longoria, nearly catching Middlebrooks off-base as well. However, Shane Victorino hit a fly ball deep enough to center for Middlebrooks to come home on for the second out of the inning.

In the top of the 6th, the Rays would get on the board thanks to a 1-out Longoria sac fly to center to bring home Desmond Jennings and make it a 1-1 game After Napoli and Gomes walked to lead off the bottom of the 6th, Xander Bogaerts popped out to shallow left for the first out of the bottom half of the inning. With one away, AJ Pierzynski brought Napoli across home plate with an RBI single while Gomes came home on a Middlebrooks double. Jackie Bradley Jr then brought Middlebrooks and Pierzynski home on a 2-RBI double off of Rays reliever Juan Oviedo and advanced to 3rd on a wild pitch. Although Oviedo got Pedroia to ground out to short for out number two, Victorino came to the plate and his a ground-rule double to bring JBJ home and make it a 6-1 Red Sox lead. The Rays got a run back in the top of the 7th to make it 6-2 but Big Papi would hit a 1-out RBI single with runners on 1st and 2nd to make it 7-2 Boston.

However, after Mujica took the mound in the top of the 9th and Tampa got two more runs, John Farrell sent for Koji Uehara to close out the game, striking out Ben Zorbist to end the ballgame and give Boston the 7-4 win.

The two teams will go back at it tomorrow (weather permitting) with Chris Archer [2-1; 4.11 ERA] going up against Felix Doubront [1-3; 6.00 ERA] with first pitch scheduled for 7:00 on ESPN.

ELSEWHERE IN THE AL EAST- Amid completely self-unaware chants of "You sold out!", former Yankees 2B Robinson Cano returned to the Bronx for the first time since leaving for Seattle after signing a 10 year, $240 million deal with the Mariners.

Cano went 1 for 5 with an RBI, two strikeouts and a stolen base in Tuesday night's game as the Seattle Mariners rallied from a 2-0 deficit to go on and win by a 6-3 final.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS- Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is expected to be out until July after tearing a ligament in his last week. Harper was batting .289 with a homer and 9 RBI so far this season. Harper underwent surgery on Tuesday and even tweeted a picture of himself from the hospital room.

Harper made his MLB debut in 2012 at age 19 and has a career .273 batting average with 43 homers and 126 RBI in just under two whole seasons. Last week, manager Matt Williams benched Harper because he didn't run out a groundball to first.

NBA- Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has received a lifetime ban from the NBA and a $2.5 million fine from NBA commissioner Adam Silver on Tuesday. Sterling was recorded by his mistress asking her not to bring black people to Clipper's home games and upset that she posted an instagram photo of herself and NBA hall of famer Magic Johnson. The recordings were made public by gossip website TMZ and have been replayed over multiple networks all weekend, sparking outrage and planned protests.

Former Celtics head coach Doc Rivers had reportedly declined a meeting with Sterling and was reportedly looking for ways out of his contract with the organization before Silver's press conference on Tuesday. Sterling, a California real-estate mogul, reportedly lost a civil rights lawsuit a few years ago in which the plaintiffs allege he discriminated against black and Hispanic tenants. Up until fairly recently, Sterling ran the Clippers on a shoestring budget frequently resulting in last place finishes, but savvy draft picks like Blake Griffin and key free agent signings like Chris Paul had reversed the Clippers fortunes in recent years.

On the hardwood, the Clippers returned to the Staples Center for the first time since the recordings of Sterling was made public, beating the Golden State Warriors by a 113-103 final on Tuesday night. Earlier in the series, Clippers players had worn their practice jerseys inside-out and donned black wristbands a s a means of protests when the recordings first came out.

Currently, the Clippers hold a 3-2 series lead over Golden State in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Oregon's 0bamacare Exchange Calls it Quits

The state-run 0bamacare insurance exchange in Oregon- Cover Oregon- that failed to enroll a single person through its online portal after state officials spent more than $130 million has called it quits. Instead, visitors to the Covered Oregon home page will be instructed to go to the Department of Health and Human Service's troubled website.

State officials determined that additional fixes to the Cover Oregon homepage would cost an additional $78 million. The state of Oregon had initially paid software developer Oracle [NASDAQ- ORCL] to develop the Covered Oregon website while Covered Oregon paid another $3 million for TV, radio and internet marketing that played up Oregon's hipster image.

Cover Oregon received a month-long enrollment deadline extension because of multiple technical glitches in its system.

But fixing the existing system, Cover Oregon officials say, would have meant pouring another $78 million into the growing money pit. Switching to the federal system significantly reduces the cost to around $5 million.

It is still unclear how the state might be able to recoup its exchange funding -- if at all. Cover Oregon was partially financed by a 2.5 percent premium tax on insurers selling the exchange, Cover Oregon technology chief Alex Petit said Thursday.

Petit says he’ll meet with federal health officials early next week to iron out all of the financial details.

Oregon’s exchange, which was touted by the Obama administration in the beginning as a success story, quickly proved otherwise. It was widely seen as the worst of more than a dozen states that developed their own online health insurance marketplaces.

The federal Government Accountability Office has announced an investigation into Oregon's exchange, including looking at whether the federal government can reclaim grant money given to Cover Oregon if taxpayer funds were mismanaged.

While the Obama Administration did a touchdown dance earlier this month over the figure of 7.1 million enrolled in 0bamacare, the President's signature law has suffered a number of setbacks on both the federal level as well as states where 0bamacare received support from state and local officials. Towards the end of 2013, Colorado's state-run 0bamacare exchange failed to meet even half of it's worst-case scenario projections for enrollments. The state of Hawaii spent $120 million to create the Hawaii Health Connector website that only 4300 people enrolled in- averaging more than $28,000 per enrollee.

At the Department of Health and Human Services, embattled director Kathleen Sebelius submitted her resignation shortly after the administration began touting the 7.1 million enrollees number.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Popes John Paul II and John XXIII Canonized by Catholic Church

Pope John Paul II and Solidarity leader Lech Walesa Meet in Poland in 1981.

Two 20th Century popes were Canonized by the Vatican in a ceremony this Sunday that was presided over Pope Francis and had Pope Emeritus Benedict in attendance. Born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli in northern Italy in 1881, Pope John XXIII served as pontiff from 1958 until his death in 1963 and was a former cardinal of Venice, reportedly saving thousands of Jews from the nazis and their allies during WWII by issuing baptismal certificates.

One of Pope John XXIII's lasting legacies as pontiff was the opening up of Mass in languages besides Latin. He also strived for more openness between the faithful and the Vatican and establishing better relations with the Jewish community and other Christian denominations.

Pope John Paul II served as the Catholic Church's patriarch much more recently [for most of my life, basically- NANESB!] and was also canonized this weekend. Born Karol Józef Wojtyła in the southern Polish town of Wadowice in 1920, the future papal candidate was attending college in Krakow when the Germans invaded and occupied Poland in 1939. While attending an underground seminary in Krakow, Karol was struck and injured by a German truck, but by early 1945 he and other students moved back in to the remains of their seminary. By 1958, Wojtyła was selected to be the auxiliary Bishop of Krakow.

Within 20 years, Karol Józef Wojtyła would be elected by a papal conclave to become Pope John Paul II. Well versed in many languages, he would become the most well-travelled Pope in the church's history, visiting more than 120 nations and becoming the first pope to visit the White House in 1979.

Just months after being named Pope, John Paul II returned to his native Poland. Officials in Poland's communist controlled government were reportedly anticipating that the Papal visit might stoke an uprising and were preparing to blame him for any insurrection that would be put down. However, Pope John Paul II's visit instead stoked the fires of the burgeoning pro-democracy Solidarity movement- which engaged in a campaign of civil disobedience and anti-government protests that eventually forced Poland's communist government into negotiations with Solidarity.

However, Poland's Soviet benefactors (rightly) feared a ripple effect throughout eastern Europe and in 1981, while on his way to St Peter's Square Pope John Paul II was shot four times with a 9mm handgun fired by a Turkish convict thought to be working on behalf of Bulgaria's intelligence agency and the Kremlin [documents released from East Germany's Stasi and Poland's SB since the end of the Cold War seem to confirm the Kremlin sanctioning the attempt on the Pope's life- NANESB!].

This would not be the last time John Paul II was in the crosshairs of a murderous ideology- in January 1995, the Pope was scheduled to address a huge crowd in the Philippines for World Youth Day celebrations. Less than a week before the pontiff's scheduled arrival, firefighters in Manila were called to an apartment fire after neighbors reported smoke and a suspicious odor. Although the two middle-eastern occupants of the apartment said they had extinguished the fire, a suspicious policewoman obtained a search warrant and bomb-making components were discovered inside along with a laptop, crucifixes, rosaries and the Pope's schedule for the upcoming World Youth Day events. Local police in Manila had stumbled upon a plot to assassinate Pope John Paul II using a suicide bomber dressed as a priest- but even more alarming was that the Pope's assassination would be a distraction from an even more ambitious plot to simultaneously target nearly a dozen trans-Pacific commercial flights. About a month earlier, then-Al Qaeda bomb-maker Ramsi Yousef had managed to successfully smuggle a smaller bomb on board a Philippine Airlines flight from Manila to Japan. Yousef got off the plane when it make a scheduled stop in Cebu and the bomb detonated while the plane was flying over Okinawa. Although a Japanese businessman was killed by the blast, the pilots were able to successfully land the damaged aircraft at Naha airport in Okinawa.

Despite the complex terror plot that was supposed to be initiated with his assassination, Pope John Paul II's appearance at Youth Day not only went off without incident, but the closing mass at Luneta Park in the Manila drew 5 million- the largest Papal gathering in the Church's history. This also marked the last time John Paul II visited the Philippines; although he was scheduled to travel there in 2003, his deteriorating health prevented him from making the trip.

In 2000, John Paul II became the first Pope to visit the nation of Israel during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and in 2001 he met with Archbishop Christodoulos, the then-head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Athens. The two recited the Lord's Prayer on a spot where Saint Paul preached to Athens' early Christians, breaking an Orthodox taboo against praying with Catholics that had been in place since the Great Schism.

John Paul II's last trip out of Italy was to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Loudres in France in 2004. In April 2005, Pope John Paul II passed away at the age of 84 from heart failure and circulatory collapse

Friday, April 25, 2014

Quickie Sports Chowdah Update- Everything's Jake for Red Sox in Toronto; OT in the Motor City

RED SOX- After Thursday night's embarrassing 14-5 home loss to the Yankees, the Red Sox needed to not only bounce back, but do it efficiently without burning through their bullpen.

Not only did Jake Peavy manage to do that with a solid outing, but the former Padres and White Sox starter got some run support early on. The Red Sox got on the board in the 2nd with runners on 2nd and 3rd and a 1-out sac fly from AJ Pierzynski to bring Napoli home. This was followed up by a Will Middlebrooks RBI single that plated Bogaerts, a Jackie Bradley Jr double and 2-RBI Dustin Pedroia single- all with two out- to give the Red Sox a 4-0 lead.

From there, Peavy seemed to cruise- throwing 7 innings, allowing just 5 hits, an earned run [on a solo homer from DH Juan Francisco in the bottom of the 7th- NANESB!] while striking out 7 and walking just two batters.

The Red Sox had much more luck against Jays starter Mark Buehrle- in addition to the 4 run uprising in the 2nd, Big Papi added a 1-out solo homer in the top of the 3rd to give Boston a 5-0 lead before Will Middlebrooks hit an RBI double and Jackie Bradley Jr drew a walk before Toronto went to the bullpen in the 6th. Neil Wagner came out of the pen to ground out to shortstop, however, everybody was ruled safe on Jose Reyes' throwing error before Victorino popped out for the first out of the top half of the 6th. Wagner then walked Big Papi to load the bases and then walked Napoli to bring Bradley Jr home to make it a 7-0 Red Sox lead.

Despite the 1-out homer Peavy gave up to Juan Francisco, he was able to get out of the inning without any further damage. Chris Capuano and Andrew Miller came out of the pen in the 8th and 9th innings to close out the ballgame for Boston, giving Peavy his first win of the 2014 season and a nice bounce-back against an AL East opponent after Thursday's fiasco against the Yankees. Friday night's game also marked the second game of the 2014 season for Shane Victorino and Will Middlebrooks also returned to the lineup after Daniel Nava was sent down to Pawtucket.

Saturday's game will get off to a fairly early start with Clay Buchholz [0-2; 7.71 ERA] going up against Brandon Morrow [1-2; 5.03 ERA] with first pitch scheduled for 1:07 ET and the game will be televised on NESN.

BOSTON BRUINS- The Boston Bruins staged a late rally after trailing the 0-2 to the Red Wings. Niklas Kronwall opened up the scoring for Detroit in the first with a power play goal at the 9:00 mark to give Detroit a quick 1-0 lead. Pavel Datsyuk would add to Detroit's lead around 4 and a half minutes into the second period.

However, the Bruins would finally figure a way around Red Wings goalie Jonas Gustavsson with a power play goal by Torey Krug with 9:46 left in the second. Just 1:15 into the 3rd, the Bruins got the equalizer thanks to Milan Lucic, tying the game at 2-2.

That would be all the scoring in the second and the contest would head to overtime where Jarome Iginla would get the game winner 13:32 into OT, giving Boston a 3-1 series lead. Tukka Rask turned aside 35 of 37 shots faced while Red Wings backup goalie Jonas Gutstavsson saved 37 of 40 shots faced. Detroit went 1-4 on the power play while the Bruins were 1-2....seemed as though the refs put away the whistle once the 3rd period got underway as there were no penalties after the last 5 minutes of the second period.

The series heads back to Boston for Saturday and the Bruins can close it out with a win [Montreal is awaiting the winner of the series after a 4-game sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning- NANESB!]. Puck is scheduled to drop at 3:00 ET and Game 5 will be televised on NBC Sports network.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Report- VA Intentionally Kept Veterans Seeking Treatment on Clandestine Waiting List

Let me just say here and now that this shit really pisses me off.

A CNN report alleges that veterans seeking medical care at the VA's Phoenix, AZ facility were instead placed on secretive waiting lists, languishing and in some cases dying as the agency and bureaucrats withheld treatment for months. According to a VA whistleblower, the delays were designed to make it appear as thought the VA center in Phoenix was cutting through its backlog quicker than it really was.

At least 40 U.S. veterans died waiting for appointments at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system, many of whom were placed on a secret waiting list.

The secret list was part of an elaborate scheme designed by Veterans Affairs managers in Phoenix who were trying to hide that 1,400 to 1,600 sick veterans were forced to wait months to see a doctor, according to a recently retired top VA doctor and several high-level sources.

Internal e-mails obtained by CNN show that top management at the VA hospital in Arizona knew about the practice and even defended it.

Dr. Sam Foote just retired after spending 24 years with the VA system in Phoenix. The veteran doctor told CNN in an exclusive interview that the Phoenix VA works off two lists for patient appointments:

There's an "official" list that's shared with officials in Washington and shows the VA has been providing timely appointments, which Foote calls a sham list. And then there's the real list that's hidden from outsiders, where wait times can last more than a year.

According to Foote, the elaborate scheme in Phoenix involved shredding evidence to hide the long list of veterans waiting for appointments and care. Officials at the VA, Foote says, instructed their staff to not actually make doctor's appointments for veterans within the computer system.

Instead, Foote says, when a veteran comes in seeking an appointment, "they enter information into the computer and do a screen capture hard copy printout. They then do not save what was put into the computer so there's no record that you were ever here," he said.

According to Foote, the information was gathered on the secret electronic list and then the information that would show when veterans first began waiting for an appointment was actually destroyed.

"That hard copy, if you will, that has the patient demographic information is then taken and placed onto a secret electronic waiting list, and then the data that is on that paper is shredded," Foote said.

"So the only record that you have ever been there requesting care was on that secret list," he said. "And they wouldn't take you off that secret list until you had an appointment time that was less than 14 days so it would give the appearance that they were improving greatly the waiting times, when in fact they were not.".

While the problem of lengthy waits and delays at Veterans Affairs facilities throughout the USA is nothing new, the reports out of Phoenix are among the first by a former VA official to suggest that the prolonged waits are by design.

An outspoken critic of the Iraq campaign during the Bush administration, retired General Eric Shinseki was appointed head of the Veterans Affairs by President Obama in January 2009. However, under Shinseki's tenure, wait times have increased due to delays and red tape involving simple medical procedures. However, the VA claims that the backlog has been reduced by 44% over the last year.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tar Pits of Fenway Sports Chowdah Update- Yankees Starter PINEda Ejected From Wednesday Night's Game; Bruins Takes Series Lead in Detroit

RED SOX- After Sunday night's late rally, the Red Sox attempted another come-from-behind win against Baltimore on Patriot's day after falling behind 6-0. Boston managed to cut the O's lead in half in the bottom of the 5th and a 7th inning David Ross solo homer made it a 2-run game. However, Baltimore would get a key insurance run thanks to a Ryan Flaherty RBI single in the top of the 8th to make it 7-4. Mike Napoli led off the bottom of the 8th with a solo homer to once again pull the Red Sox to within two. In the bottom of the 9th, Tommy Hunter managed to load the bases with one away, allowing an infield hit to Brock Holt, a double to Dustin Pedroia and an intentional walk to David Ortiz. Once again, Napoli was able to pull the Sox to within 1 after hitting into a fielder's choice that brought Holt home, but Mike Carp grounded out to first base for the final out of the ballgame.

The Red Sox lost by a final of 7-6 on Marathon Monday and things didn't get much better when the Yankees came to Fenway for the first time this season. Jon Lester- ostensibly the 'stopper'- was lit up like a Byung Hyun Kim-shaped Christmas Tree and the Red Sox would go on to lose by a 9-3 final.

It was up to Lackey to stop the damage and he got off to a good start, getting the first two batters out before allowing a single from Carlos Beltran before Yankees catcher Brian McCann flied out to end the inning.

In the bottom of the first, Grady Sizemore led off with a triple before Pedroia singled to bring him home and give the Red Sox an early 1-0 lead. After Big Papi flew out to center, Napoli singled and Pedoira moved over to 3rd. Mike Carp then followed up with a fly ball to shallow left center for the second out, but not deep enough to bring Pedroia home. With 2 away, AJ Pierzynski singled to bring Pedroia home and make it a 2-0 Boston lead.

In the 2nd, Lackey got Soriano, Teixeria and Gardner to strike out in order, but what happened in the bottom of the 2nd will have people talking about this game for weeks. After New York starter Michael Pineda got Holt and Jackie Bradley Jr to fly out, Red Sox manager John Farrell asked the umpires to check Pineda for a foreign substance....which turned out to be pine tar on his neck. Pineda was immediately ejected- this coming 10 days after he appeared to get away with using pine tar on a glove in a game against the Red Sox in Yankee Stadium. Clearly Farrell didn't object because Pineda wasn't confounding the Red Sox batters. David Phelps came out of the Yankee bullpen and managed to strike out Grady Sizemore on one pitch [Pineda had a 2-strike count against Sizemore when the umpires went to the mound- NANESB!].

Lackey- apparently unaided by foreign substances on his person- continued dealing in the 3rd. Despite allowing a leadoff single to Brian Roberts, Lackey got Kelly Johnson to hit into a fielder's choice, before getting Jacoby Ellsbury and Derek Jeter to strike out swinging.

Dustin Pedroia led off the bottom of the 3rd by reaching 1st on a throwing error by Jeter. Big Papi then managed to beat the shift employed against him and hit a single. With nobody out and two on, Mike Napoli then hit a ball that New York outfielder Brett Gardner couldn't find- turned out it had jammed itself into the padding of the wall in fair territory by the Pesky Pole for a ground rule double [Gardner initially thought it was still rolling around along the wall behind him- NANESB!]. That brought Pedroia home but Big Papi had to hold up at third. Carp then struck out swinging before Pierzynski drew a walk and Xander Bogaerts flew out to right field- but not deep enough to bring Papi home. However, Papi would come home on a wild pitch by Phelps to make it a 4-0 Red Sox lead.

Lackey's only blemish on Wednesday night came in the 6th when Carlos Beltran led off the inning with a double and moved up to 3rd on a Brian McCann groundout. Alfonso Soriano then hit a sac fly deep enough to bring Beltran home to put the Yankees on the board and ruin Lackey's shutout bid. Lackey then struck out Teixera to end the 6th inning.

The Red Sox got some extra insurance in the bottom of the 8th when Xander Bogaerts got on board and advanced to second thanks to a throwing error from 3B Kelly Johnson before coming home on a Brock Holt RBI single. Koji Uehara came on in the 9th and immediately gave up a single to Alfonso Soriano, but struck Teixiera, Gardner and Roberts out to end the ballgame and give the Red Sox the 5-1 win.

Lackey was nothing short of stellar on Wednesday night, going 8 complete innings, allowing 7 hits, one earned run, no walks and striking out 11 while improving his record to 3-2. Mike Napoli went 3-4 with an RBI [the foam wall by the Pesky Pole robbing him of at least one more RBI- NANESB!] and Uehara made an appearance despite this not being a save situation.

Of course, the biggest takeaway was the Pineda pine tar fiasco- however, subtlety was never the Yankees' strong suit [which makes Pineda a better fit with the organization than Yankees fans will admit- NANESB!]. Reaction was instantaneous as the topics 'Yankees', 'Pineda', 'Pine Tar' and 'Girardi' began trending on social networking sites like twitter immediately.

Tomorrow represents the rubber game of the 3-game series before the Red Sox head off to Toronto for their first meeting of the season against the Blue Jays on Friday. CC Sabathia [2-2; 5.19 ERA] will take to the mound for New York while Boston sends out Felix Doubront [1-2; 5.48 ERA]. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 ET and the game will be televised on NESN as well as the MLB network in some markets.

BOSTON BRUINS- The Boston Bruins have taken a 2-1 series lead over the Red Wings after Tuesday night's Game 3 from Joe Louis Arena. Most of the scoring took place in the first period and it was all Boston.

Dougie Hamilton got the Bruins on the board nine minutes into the first with a power play goal. With just over 4 minutes remaining in the first, Jimmy Howard couldn't get a glove on a Shawn Thornton rebound, but Jordan Caron was able to, beating Howard and putting the ruins up 2-0. Meanwhile, the Bruins defense managed to stymie the Red Wings and Tukka Rask ended up facing only 23 shots on goal- turning aside all of them.

With just over two minutes to go in regulation, the Red Wings decided to pull Howard for the extra attacker, but Patrice Bergeron was able to get ahold of the puck and score an empty-netter to give Boston a 3-0 lead. After going 1 for 3 on their power play opportunities, the Bruins take a 2-1 series lead as the series resumes Thursday night from Detroit. Game 4 is set to get underway from the Motor City at 8:00 ET and the game will be televised on NESN, NBC Sports as well as TSN north of the border.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy National Pin Up Day From Not Another New England Sports Blog!

While some people mark April 22nd down as Earth Day on their calendars, I always thought the attention paid to a holiday whose founding father was a murderous hippie and encourages stifling economic growth in favor of some touchey-feeley platitudes about Mother Earth would be better spent on some sort of observance of National Pin-Up Day.

National Pin-Up Day would be a bit like President's Day in that the holiday doesn't honor just one person. Much like President's Day is meant to coincide with Abraham Lincoln and George Washington's respective birthdays, April 22nd would be an ideal date for National Pin-Up Day since it falls on the late Bettie Page's birthday and is also within a few days of blonde bombshell Jayne Mansfield's date of birth [Just think of all the crazy blowout prices auto dealers could have in honor of Pin-Up Day weekend- NANESB!].

Astute readers of this blog will notice that this statuesque camera-wielding blonde is not quite as busty as Jayne Mansfield, yet too fair-headed to be the infamous Bettie Page. The tall, leggy blonde is actually none other than model-turned-photographer Bunny Yeager. Born Linnea Elanor Yeager in the Pittsburgh area in 1930, Yeager moved to Miami and became a sought-after model in the early 1950s.

Thinking ahead to a career after modeling, Yeager began taking photography courses. On her first attempt, some pictures Yeager shot of model friend Maria Stinger were accepted by a men's magazine.

As it turned out, Stinger was just the beginning. In 1954, Yeager first met Bettie Page- who was already known as one of the less inhibited models for Irving Klaw's New York-based Movie Star News- and the two would collaborate on what would become some iconic photo shoots despite Yeager being financially strapped and barely able to afford Page's services as a model at the time.

The sensual Tennessee brunette was photographed by Yeager posing with live [but most likely sedated- NANESB!] cheetahs in a leopard-print bikini at a Boca Raton, FL safari park. Another shoot took place at Miami's Funland amusement park with a bikini-clad Page posing in bumper cars, on the merry go round or in front of concession stands. The Funland and Safari park photos shot by Yeager show a rapport between photographer and model that is hard to duplicate. Yeager must've knew she had something special going in her work with Bettie Page since she also had the foresight to take a number of behind-the-scenes pictures of her and Page at the safari park.

Page wasn't the only famous client that Yeager worked with Swiss model and actress Ursula Andress- the original Bond Girl- for promotional photography and artwork for 1962's Dr. No, the first big screen adaptation of Ian Fleming's James Bond. Andress later remarked that she owed her career to the white bikini she wore in the movie and modeled for Yeager.

At age 84, Yeager is still alive and well and living in Miami. As recently as a year ago, Yeager expressed a passing interest in photographing child-actress-turned-train-wreck Lindsay Lohan [if anyone could pull that off, I bet it would be Yeager- NANESB!]. In 2011, the Schuster galleries of Miami and Berlin became the official representative for Yeager's photographic works and has hosted a number of exhibits featureing her work with Bettie Page and others.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Report- Mainland China on Pace to Become World's Most Christian Nation in 15 Years

I had originally meant to post this on Easter, but got caught up with the remarkable Sunday that both the Red Sox and Bruins had.

Despite decades of crackdowns and persecution by China's Communist Party, a recent Daily Telegraph article claims that mainland China's Christian community is growing so steadily that communist China could be poised to have the highest number of churchgoers in the world by 2030.

Officially, the People's Republic of China is an atheist country but that is changing fast as many of its 1.3 billion citizens seek meaning and spiritual comfort that neither communism nor capitalism seem to have supplied.

Christian congregations in particular have skyrocketed since churches began reopening when Chairman Mao's death in 1976 signalled the end of the Cultural Revolution.

Less than four decades later, some believe China is now poised to become not just the world's number one economy but also its most numerous Christian nation.

"By my calculations China is destined to become the largest Christian country in the world very soon," said Fenggang Yang, a professor of sociology at Purdue University and author of Religion in China: Survival and Revival under Communist Rule.

"It is going to be less than a generation. Not many people are prepared for this dramatic change."

China's Protestant community, which had just one million members in 1949, has already overtaken those of countries more commonly associated with an evangelical boom. In 2010 there were more than 58 million Protestants in China compared to 40 million in Brazil and 36 million in South Africa, according to the Pew Research Centre's Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Prof Yang, a leading expert on religion in China, believes that number will swell to around 160 million by 2025. That would likely put China ahead even of the United States, which had around 159 million Protestants in 2010 but whose congregations are in decline.

By 2030, China's total Christian population, including Catholics, would exceed 247 million, placing it above Mexico, Brazil and the United States as the largest Christian congregation in the world, he predicted.

Although the Chinese Communist Party remains wary of Christianity in general, the Maoist Cultural Revolution-era restrictions on religion were gradually rolled back by Mao's successor Deng Xiopeng in the late 1970s. However, the Communist Party Central Committee restricts both the Catholic and Protestant denominations to certain government-approved houses of worship where scripture that is considered subversive is avoided by clergy [typically under duress from the government- NANESB!]. However, instead of squelching the practice of Christianity within China's borders, the restrictions placed on officially-sanctioned churches have given rise to unsanctioned 'underground churches' throughout the nation since the 1990s [interestingly, Yang didn't specify if his projections included the unsanctioned underground churches in China- NANESB!]. Parishoners for these clandestine houses of worship range from elderly farmers in China's remote provinces to well-heeled cosmopolitan, iPhone toting, Audi-driving young women in Beijing. Venues for these masses and sermons can be anything from a remote farmhouse to a vacant office building in newly-constructed suburbs.

Although traders and missionaries erected houses of worship in the 17th and 18th centuries, Christianity was first introduced into China in the 8th Century, the Tang Dynasty decreed that Buddhism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism be banned and that their assets be forfeited to Emperor Wuzong in 845. As for the more recent resurgence of Christianity in mainland China, missionaries and travelers from South Korea have been in contact with Chinese nationals, using that opportunity to proselytize [despite the Chinese government's disapproval of such activities- NANESB!].

While Christianity hasn't endured a recent crackdown like the government unleashed against practitioners of Falun Gong in the late 1990s, the issue has come to the forefront lately after local officials attempted to condemn a church in Wenzhou for demolition earlier this month. In response, thousands of Christians from throughout the southern province of Zhejiang engaged in civil disobedience, forming a human chain around the church while setting up a makeshift kitchen and sleeping inside the church in shifts.

Unlike Falun Gong, there Chinese Communist Party may have to proceed cautiously in regards to the condemned church not only because of the increasing number of practicing Christians, but also the advent of Chinese-language social media platforms such as Weibo [NASDAQ- WB] and public opinion turning against the party due to a number of high profile corruption scandals involving senior Communist officials.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter of Eden Sports Chowdah Update- Bruins Clip Wings to Even Series at 1-1; Red Sox Rally Late Against Baltimore on Sunday Night

BOSTON BRUINS- After stunning the home crowd at TD Garden on Friday night with a late goal in the 3rd period to take a 1-0 win over Boston, the Red Wings were looking to bring the series back to Motown by going up a commanding 2-0 lead over Boston.

Unlike Game 1, the Bruins didn't have to wait long to get on the board- Justin Florek caught Wings netminder Jimmy Howard out of position and he found the back of the net 7 and a half minutes to go in the first period. This had the distinction of not only being Florek's first NHL goal, but the Bruins first tally of the series.

About two minutes later, the Bruins would have a 5 on 3 man advantage for about 20 seconds with Detroit's Jakub Kindl being sent to the bin for interference at the 8:15 mark and Danny DeKeyser getting two for slashing at the 9:54 mark. Although Boston wasn't able to take advantage of the brief 2-man advantage, Reilly Smith put Boston up 2-0 with a power play goal 10:35 into the first period.

However, with 6:40 to go in the second, Detroit cut the lead in half on a goal that ricocheted in and was credited to Luke Glendening, making it a 2-1 game. However, Boston got the two goal cushion back in the final 1:45 of the second period on a Milan Lucic goal. In the opening two and a half minutes of the 3rd, Detroit's Kyle Quincey was given two minutes for roughing and Zdeno Chara would give the Bruins a 4-1 lead thanks to a power play goal 2:27 into the third.

The Bruins go on to win Sunday's Game 2 by a 4-1 final, sending the series over to Detroit knotted up at a game each. Tukka Rask stopped 34 of the 35 shots he faced while Jimmy Howard stopped 25 of 29 shots faced. The Bruins were also 2 for 4 on the power play on Sunday afternoon.

Game 3 is set to take place from Joe Louis Arena on Tuesday night with a scheduled start time of 7:30 ET. The game will be televised on NESN, NBC Sports and TSN.

OTHER STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF NEWS- The defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks will have to do without the services of Defenseman Brent Seabrook, who received a suspension from the NHL after a hit on St Louis Blues captain David Backes on Saturday.

Video of the game shows Seabrook targeted Backes' head and at least one skate was off the ice when the Blackhawks defender was setting up for the hit, which came with the Blackhawks leading by a score of 3-2 with less than 5 minutes to go in regulation during Game 2. Seabrook was given a game misconduct and the Hawks were assessed a 5 minute charging penalty. In the dying seconds of regulation, the Blues also pulled Ryan Miller from the net for an additional attacker and that strategy bore fruit when Vladimir Tarasenko beat Corey Crawford with 7 seconds to go in the game, forcing OT in which Barrett Jackman would score the game winner 5:50 into the first OT to give the Blues a 2-0 series lead.

RED SOX- Coming into this weekend's series against Baltimore, the Red Sox were looking to climb out of the AL East basement- even though all of the teams were separated by no more than 2 and a half games on Friday. The series got off to a rough start when the O's manhandled Lackey on Friday night and Baltimore cruised to an 8-4 win over Boston.

On Saturday, Big Papi broke a 1-1 deadlock in the bottom of the 4th with a solo homer. Brock Holt, who was only called up from Pawtucket on Friday, gave the Red Sox some insurance in the bottom of the 7th when he belted a 1-out triple with Mike Carp on first to make it 3-1. Jonathan Herrera then grounded into a fielder's choice, sending Holt home and making it a 4-1 game before Koji Uehara came out of the pen and despite walking Matt Weiters to lead off the 9th, got the next three batters to strike out swinging, ending the ballgame.

Sunday night's nationally televised game on ESPN also marked the 1-year anniversary of the first Red Sox home game after the Boston Marathon bombings, and there was a pregame ceremony to honor the marathon runners, first responders and medical personnel from that fateful day.

Jake Peavy took to the mound on Sunday night and gave up three quick runs to Baltimore in the top of the first- a Nelson Cruz solo homer, a Matt Weiters RBI single and a JJ Hardy RBI sac fly. Meanwhile, Ubaldo Jiminez confounded the Red Sox bats through the first five innings as the O's added to their lead thanks to a 2-out David Lough ground rule double with 2 runners on that made it 4-0 in the 5th while outfielder Adam Jones hit an RBI single with two away in the top of the 6th. That was enough to chase Peavy from the mound and Chris Capuano came in from the bullpen to retire Weiters and prevent any further damage.

However, things were looking promising in the bottom of the 6th after David Ortiz got on board with a 1-out single, followed by Mike Napoli drawing a walk. Johnny Gomes then took a 2-2 Jiminez offering and planted it into the Monster Seats to put the Red Sox on the board and cut the O's lead to 5-3. Zach Britton came out of the Baltimore bullpen to relieve Jiminez and got the next two batters out. Capuano would get the Baltimore batters he faced out in order to give the Red Sox batters another chance in the bottom of the 7th.

After Pierzynski struck out to lead off the inning, Brock Holt singled and then made it to second when O's SS Ryan Flaherty dropped the ball when transferring it from his glove to his hand while attempting the double play on a Grady Sizemore ground ball- something the Red Sox admittedly caught a break on. Dustin Pedroia then singled to load the bases up before Big Papi beat the shift Baltimore had employed against him all night and hit an RBI single to make it a 1-run game. With Evan Meek coming out of the bullpen to relive Britton, Mike Napoli hit a ground ball to 3rd, but instead of trying to get the easy out at first or third, O's 3B Jonathan Schoop attempted to throw home and erase the runner there, but the throw was wide and his error tied the game. Gomes then fouled out and Danielv Nava struck out to end the Boston threat, but the game was tied 5-5.

Baltimore had a credible threat going in the top of the 9th thanks to a leadoff double from Adam Jones, who advanced to 3rd on a Weiters groundout. However, 2B Lombrardozzi would ground out to Andrew Miller and Jones couldn't advance. With two away, Mujica came out of the Boston bullpen in relief of Miller and got outfielder David Lough to strike out on four pitches to end the inning and strand Jones 90 feet away from home.

For the bottom of the 9th, Brian Matusz came out of the pen and got Grady Sizemore to strike out to start off the inning. Dustin Pedroia then belted a fly ball that was just a few inches short of a homer that caromed off the Green Monster in deep left center field [thanks to some fan interference- NANESB!]. After the umpires huddled and the play was reviewed in New York, the call was upheld and instead of a walkoff solo homer, Pedroia was at second with one away. Pedroia then advanced to 3rd on a wild pitch by Matusz with Big Papi in the batter's box. After falling behind 3-0 to Ortiz, O's manager Buck Showalter had Matusz intentionally walk Big Papi before bringing Darren O'Day out of the pen. O'Day struck Mike Napoli in the kneecap with a pitch to load up the bases and John Farrell decided to have Mike Capr pinch-hit for Jonny Gomes.

For a second, it looked as though Carp would end the game with a liner to shallow left field, but O's outfielder David Lough tracked it down for out number two. As Pedroia was returning to 3rd base, Lough made a way offline throw towards home that rattled around the backstop and seizing the opportunity, Pedroia ran home for the game-winning run. The Red Sox come all the way back from being shut out 5-0 to win Sunday night's game with two outs in the bottom of the 9th.

Tomorrow being Patriot's Day, the Red Sox and Baltimore will get underway especially early- 11:05 AM ET- and the game will be televised on NESN. Wei-Yin Chen [2-1; 4.76 ERA] will go up against Clay Buchholz [0-1; 5.51 ERA] to wrap up the 4-game series against the birds. As it turns out, Thursday's contest against Chicago was the last time they'll face an opponent that doesn't call the AL East home until early May. After the Baltimore series, the Yankees will come into town for a 3-game series before Boston head to Toronto for a 3-game series next weekend. On April 29th, the Red Sox will host the Tampa Bay Rays- the first time the two teams have met this season- before hosting Oakland on May 2nd.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Today's Train of Thought- The Master(s) and Commander, April 19th, 2014

Today's train of thought takes us to the Peach State- specifically the home of James Brown and the Masters golf tournament.

Augusta is an eastern Georgia city that's home to about a half million people, an Army base and former Southern and Georgia Railroads through the municipality. However, the main line into town from the east is kind of hard to ignore- especially if you're travelling down 6th street, where you have to share the right of way with the Norfolk Southern.

Here, photographer Ant Davis caught former Oakway SD60- now GMTX Leasing #9027 leading Macon, GA-bound train #191 down the middle of 6th St in March 2011. The tail end of the train is still most likely on the bridge over the Savannah River, which divides Georgia and South Carolina. According to the photographer, he was able to get this slightly elevated view of the NS freight rumbling down the middle of the street under a canopy of blossoming dogwoods at the expense of some scratches in his car's trunk- no doubt catching the attention of the Richmond County Sheriff's Deputy in the cruiser to the right of the train.

Built in 1986, the burly six-axle EMD motor spent most of its first 20 years plying the Burlington Northern as part of a novel lease arrangement where the BN leased the units [painted in the colors of EMD demonstrators at the time- NANESB] based on electrical power output of the individual locomotives rather then an arbitrary amount of time or miles travelled. After more than 20 years of serving the BN and BNSF route, the locomotives were eventually returned to EMD and continued serving as leasers for Norfolk Southern. However, despite purchasing SD60s secondhand from Union Pacific in the last year or so, the #9027 can no longer be found on NS. In 2012, the Canadian National purchased more than 40 former Oakway SD60s from GMTX leasing and Oakway/GMTX #9027 would go on to become CN #5403.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Quickie Sports Chowdah Update- May the Schwartz Be With You, Blues Down Blackhawks in 3OT; Lester Pitches Gem on South Side

John K Kim- Chicago Tribune

MLB- After stumbling out of the gate early by being swept by the Brewers and dropping 3 out of four to the Yankees in the Bronx, the defending World Series Champion Red Sox were hoping to get back into the things by stringing together a few road wins against the White Sox. The opening game of the series didn't go their way when Chicago got a walkoff win in the bottom of the 9th thanks to a costly Xander Bogaerts throwing error, but on Wednesday night the Red Sox persevered in 14 innings [but only after Chicago sent an infielder onto the pitcher's mound, as some critics rightfully point out- NANESB!].

The win set up a Thursday evening rubber game, and with both teams having burned through their respective bullpens earlier that morning, they each needed quality outings from their starter to take them deep into the game. The two starters- Lester and Sale- had each taken shutouts into the top of the 6th inning, the only difference was that Lester was throwing a perfect game while Sale has allowed a few base hits and his pitch count was much higher. However, in the top of the 6th, Lester was finally able to get some run support thanks to a solo homer by Xander Boagerts to deep left. However, in the bottom of the 6th, Lester's bid for a perfect game fell by the wayside when he gave up a 1-out single to Tyler Flowers. Fresh off his pitching debut, White Sox 2B Leury Garcia then hit a ground-rule double to right field to put runners on 2nd and 3rd with only one out. Adam Eaton tied the game and got Chicago on the board with an infield hit to make it 1-1. However, Lester struck out Semien and got Viciedo to fly out to end the White Sox threat.

In the bottom of the 7th, Adam Dunn led off with a single and after Lester retired Paul Konerko and Alexi Ramirez, Alejandro de Aza hit a double to shallow right that Nava had a hard time corralling. Dunn decided to keep running to home plate, but he was gunned down by Pedroia's relay throw for the 3rd out of the inning.

In the 8th, Ronald Belasario came out of the White Sox bullpen to relieve Sale and led off by walking Jackie Bradley Jr. However, Belasario would then get Dustin Pedroia to hit into a double play ball and get Xander Bogaerts to strike out. Lester, still on the mound in the bottom of the 8th, led off the inning by giving up a single to Tyler Flowers, who then advanced to second on a Garcia sac-bunt. After striking out Eaton, Semien got on board with a swinging bunt and Flowers advanced to third, representing the go-ahead run for Chicago. But Lester got Dylan Viciedo to strike out and end the White Sox threat.

Big Papi led off the top of the 9th and grounded out, but Napoli hit a 1-out single to get on base. This was followed by a pinch-hit single from Mike Carp to give Boston 2 runners on base. David Ross would then take an 0-2 offering and belt a double into right field, driving Napoli home for the tie-breaking run and putting Carp on 3rd. After intentionally walking Nava, the White Sox pulled Belasario and had Scott Downs come out of the pen while Farrell had Grady Sizemore pinch-run for Carp. Jonathan Herrera then pinch-hit for Ryan Roberts and laid down a bunt that he beat out to first, allowing Sizemore to score and give Boston a little bit of insurance heading into the 9th. Jackie Bradley Jr ended the inning by hitting into an unusual double play where he lined out to short and Ross was caught off the bag at 3rd.

Still, the Red Sox re-took the lead heading into the bottom of the 9th and brought Junichi Tazawa out of the pen to close things out. Tazawa got Dunn and Konerko out but allowed a single to Alexei Ramierz [making it 16 games in a row he's hit in, breaking a club record set by Frank Thomas- NANESB]. However, Tazawa got pinch hitter Jose Abreu to ground out, ending the ballgame and giving the Red Sox a 3-1 win and taking two out of three from the Southsiders.

On Friday, the Red Sox will return home to Fenway to face off against Baltimore. John Lackey [2-1; 3.86 ERA] gets the start against Chris Tillman [1-1; 0.84 ERA]. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 ET and the game will be televised on NESN and the MLB Network.

STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS- The 2013-14 Stanley Cup Playoffs are underway (although the Bruins aren't in action until Friday night) and already we've got a series out in the Midwest that's raising some eyebrows.

In a wild first period that saw a total of five goals, the Blackhawks jumped out to a 3-2 lead over St Louis and after a scoreless 2nd period, Jaden Schwartz managed to tie the contest back up for St Louis and force OT with a goal with just 1:45 remaining in regulation.

Excpet not only did Schwartz force OT, there were two scoreless overtimes before things were resolved in triple overtime when Alexander Steen beat Cory Crawford to end the game and win Game 1 of the series for St Louis by a 4-3 final. Crawford faced 52 shots on goal for the Blackhawks while Miller faced 42 for St Louis [a busy night in regulation for Tukka Rask, some might say- NANESB!].

Meanwhile, Game 1 of the Bruins series against Detroit is set to start on Friday night. This is Detroit's 23rd consecutive year of playing in the NHL postseason. Puck will drop at 7:00 ET and the game will be televised on NBC Sports, NESN and TSN.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Hundreds Missing After Ferry Capsizes off Coast of South Korea

At least 28 people were killed Tuesday when a passenger ferry travelling off the southwestern coast of South Korea capsized abruptly. The vessel, MS Sewoi, was carrying more than 450 people and travelling between the port of Incheon and the island of Cheju- a fairly routine 14 hour journey.

Nine people, including five students and two teachers, were confirmed dead, but many expect a sharp jump in that number because of the long period of time the missing have now spent either trapped in the ferry or in the cold seawater.

There were 475 people aboard, including 325 students on a school trip to a tourist island, and some of the frantic, angry parents gathered at Danwon High School in Ansan, which is near Seoul. Other relatives assembled on Jindo, an island near where the ferry slipped beneath the surface until only the blue-tipped, forward edge of the keel was visible.

Relatives of the dead students wailed and sobbed as ambulances at a hospital in Mokpo, a city close to the accident site, took the bodies to Ansan. The families, who spent a mostly sleepless night at the hospital, followed the ambulances in their own cars. At the school, some desperate relatives lashed out in frustration, screaming threats at the news media.

Diver's from South Korea's Special Foces had entered submerged portions of the vessel to search for possible survivors trapped in air pockets, but officials fear the death toll will be much higher. Rainy and windy weather has hampered search efforts by divers and the coast guard. According to survivors, the captain had ordered passengers to remain on board and below decks as alarms sounded. The Captain is in police custody and is undergoing questioning while maritime officials are going through the vessel's communications as well as checking the cell phone records from the passengers. Reports circulating in South Korea's press indicate that some passengers trapped on board had time to send final text messages to their loved ones.

A US Navy spokesman has said the helicopter carrier USS Bonhomme Richard has also been deployed to aid in the search effort in the storm-tossed waters off the coast of Jindo Island.

Son of Calgary Police Inspector Charged in Canadian City's Worst Mass Murder

Five people were fatally stabbed by the 22 year old son of a Calgary police inspector during an off-campus party near the University of Calgary earlier this week. According to the Calgary Herald, the slashing spree that took place in the early morning hours of Tuesday is the worst mass murder in the western Canadian city's 140 year history.

The victims — Lawrence Hong, Josh Hunter, Kaitlin Perras, Zackariah Rathwell and Jordan Segura — were, by all accounts, celebrating like everyone else when they became the subjects of an unprovoked attack just after 1 a.m. Tuesday.

Police Chief Rick Hanson said the victims were "targeted one by one" during a house party at 11 Butler Cres. N.W.

"These were all good kids. There’s no question about that. They did nothing wrong, and nothing that they did contributed to what happened to them," Hanson said.

Police have a suspect — the son of a well-regarded senior officer from their ranks — and the names of the victims quickly spread among grief-stricken family members, friends and classmates as Tuesday wore on.

While the police have yet to specify a precise motive, they charged de Grood with five counts of first-degree murder — a charge that indicates evidence of planning and deliberation.

Two of the victims, Josh Hunter and Zackariah Rathwell, were members of a popular local band, Zackariah and the Prophets.

Hunter, 23, was also an accounting major at the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business. Rathwell, 21, was a first-year student at the Alberta College of Art and Design.

"They were amazing, they were really creative and they inspired me," said Eric Grant, a friend of the bandmates who attended a candlelight vigil for all five victims at U of C on Tuesday night.

"Today has been the hardest day of my life."

Segura, 22, was a religious studies student at the University of Calgary. Perras was 23; Hong was 27.

Investigators were still trying to sort out if any of the victims lived at the rented house that hosted the party, but police said it was mainly a gathering of University of Calgary students celebrating Bermuda Shorts Day, a long-running tradition to mark the last day of classes.

Tuesday's stabbing was the single deadliest crime in Alberta since March 2005, when 4 RCMP officers attempting to impound a truck discovered a marijuana grow-op and stolen vehicle parts on the property of John Roszko in Mayerthorpe, some 75 miles northwest of Edmonton. The officers were ambushed by Roszko while searching his property and Roszko turned his weapon on himself as RCMP reinforcements surrounded him in a shed.

Extra Time Sports Chowdah Update- BoSox Snap Skid After 14 Inning Game in South Side; Something Special in Storrs, UConn Brings Home Men's, Women's Basketball Title; Union? Yes! Dutchmen Win First Ever NCAA Hockey Title

RED SOX- It took all night, but the Red Sox were able to snap their three-game losing streak.

Heading into Comiskey after dropping three out of four to the Yankees in the Bronx, the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox squandered a good start by Jake Peavy against his former team when the White Sox broke a 1-1 deadlock on a 2-out throwing error by Xander Bogaerts in the bottom of the 9th that plated Alexei Ramirez to give the southsiders a 2-1 walkoff win.

Wednesday night's game seemed full of missed opportunities for both teams as the Red Sox took an early 1-0 lead on a Bogaerts RBI single in the first inning. Chicago tied the game in the bottom of the first when Adam Eaton came home from third on a Ryan Robert throwing error to make it 1-1. The Pale Hose would then take a 3-1 lead when Alexei Ramirez belted a 2-run homer off of Clay Buchholz in the bottom of the 6th, but the Red Sox would chip away at that lead.

Boston would get a run back in the bottom of the 8th when Big Papi was walked to lead off the inning and went to second on a walk to Jonny Gomes, then 3rd when Grady Sizemore hit into a fielder's choice. Former White Sox catcher AJ Pierzynski then hit a sac fly deep enough to bring the lumbering Big Papi home to make it 3-2 Chicago. In the 9th, Dustin Pedroia drew a leadoff walk, followed by Bogarts drawing another walk and Big Papi flying out to left. Jonny Gomes then hit an infield single to load the bases before Pedroia came home on a Sizemore sac fly to tie the game before Pierzynsky grounded out to end the inning.

So into extras they went on the South Side, and once again walks would cost the White Sox as Boston took a 4-3 lead in the top of the 11th when Dustin Pedroia came home on a Jonny Gomes sac fly. However, in the bottom half of the 11th and with the White Sox down to their last strike and Jordan Danks on 2nd, Tyler Flowers got a base hit to tie the game at 4-4. Adam Eaton would then fly out to end the ChiSox threat in the bottom of the 11th, so the game continued into the early hours of Thursday morning.

With a depleted White Sox bullpen, Chicago sent out 2B Leury Garcia onto the pitchers mound. Garcia managed to get two out before Daniel Nava and Jonathan Herrera were on board for Jackie Bradley Jr hit a 2-out double to give Boston the lead once again, plating Nava and Herrera and making it a 6-4 Boston lead. After Capuano went 2⅔ innings, Burke Badenhop came out of the bullpen to face the final Chicago batter, striking out Marcus Semien to end the ballgame.

Boston goes on to win this one in 14, despite the fact that Chicago pitching allowed a total of 15 walks and Boston left 28 runners stranded on base- averaging two per inning in Wednesday night's game.

The rubber game is Thursday night with Jon Lester [1-2; 2.57 ERA] going up against Chicago's Chris Sale [3-0; 2.66 ERA]. First pitch is scheduled for 8:10 ET and the game will be televised on NESN.

NHL- The Boston Bruins ended the regular season by winning their final two games against Buffalo and New Jersey. The wins mean that Boston has secured the President's Cup Trophy- the NHL's award for the club with the best regular-season record [for point of reference, the Canucks won the President's Cup in the 2010-11 season and the Blackhawks won the honors during the lockout shortened 2013 season -NANESB!].

Under this year's newly-revised NHL playoff structure, the Bruins will face the Red Wings in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs with the winner of this series going on to face the winner of the Montreal-Tampa bay Series. The Habs already lead that series 1 game to nothing while the Bruins and Red Wings won't get started until Friday at 7:30 ET from Boston. The Original Six matchup is set to be aired on NESN locally, NBC Sports network nationwide and TSN in Canada.


NCAA HOOPS- Once again, it's been a pretty good week for University of Connecticut basketball. The Men's team faced off against the Kentucky Wildcats in the Men's final last week and led wire-to-wire [although Kentucky would close the gap considerably in the second half- NANESB![ going on to win the national title game by a 54-60 final.

Just days later, in an extremely rare meeting of undefeateds, the UConn women's team faced off against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the NCAA Women's basketball national title game and would go on to win convincingly by a 79-58 final. The University even held a joint parade to celebrate the two national titles. The two championships come 10 years after the last NCAA program to win both men's and women's titles in basketball- which also happened to be Connecticut.

Charlestown, Massachusett's own Shabazz Napier was named the most outstanding player of the 2014 Men's tournament by the NCAA and awarded to Bob Cousey award as the top point guard in the NCAA. Napier- a senior- will enter the NBA draft this season.

NCAA HOCKEY- Sadly, there will be no NCAA Men's hockey title inside the Hub this year. Union, the small upstate New York college just northwest of Albany, made the most of their second Frozen Four appearance since the 2011-2012 season, skating past the Boston College Eagles by a 5-4 final to face the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the National Title Game.

Although Minnesota got out to an early lead, Union took command late in the first period with an explosive two minutes getting goals from Mike Vecchione, Eli Lichtenwald and Daniel Ciampini to give the Dutchmen a 4-2 lead by the first intermission. Minnesota clawed back, getting the only goal of the 3rd from Taylor Cammarata to make it a 1-goal contest, but Union pulled away for good in the 3rd and would go on to win their first ever hockey title.

The Men's hockey title is the first national championship to come to Union since a 1926 Men's Lacrosse title.

OTHER NCAA MEN'S HOCKEY NEWS- Boston College senior Johnny Guardeau was awarded the Hobey Baker trophy this year. The Calgary Flames 4th round pick led the nation in scoring with 80 points in 40 games for Boston College and led in goals (6) and assists (44).

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Today marks a very somber anniversary for the city of Boston. This time a year ago, at 2:49 PM ET two pressure cooker bombs tore through a crowd of spectators and runners at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon on Boylston Street, killing three and injuring hundreds.

Through eyewitness accounts and surveillance cameras from nearby businesses, investigators were able to identify two Chechen brothers- Tamerlan and Dzhokar Tsarnaev shitstain- as the main suspects. Days after the Marathon attack, the two shot and killed an MIT campus policeman in an ambush, carjacked a motorist in Cambridge and led police in a high-speed chase through Watertown, MA where Tamerlan was shot by police and run over by his younger brother as he fled. The two had more explosives on their person and a wounded Dzhokhar managed to elude searchers for the better part of a day until he was spotted hiding on a sailboat kept under a tarp in a Watertown residence and taken into custody after a standoff.

Even before the Patriot's Day bombings, the professional sports teams around Boston was a justifiable point of pride for many New Englanders. After the attack, the "Boston Strong" phenomenon was a means for the teams and individual players to reciprocate that pride...and none more bluntly than Red Sox DH David Ortiz.

To their credit, ESPN has been running a special this week on the bombing, it's aftermath and how Boston's beloved sports teams became a focal point for a grieving and apprehensive city to rally around. Perhaps I'm biased, but it's clearly worth a look [which is why I embedded it- NANESB!].

Patriot's Day- a civic holiday that is only celebrated in Maine and Massachusetts- is observed on the third Monday of every April, which means it will be on the 21st of April this year. In Boston, the occasion is marked by the running of the marathon and a Red Sox day game, weather permitting.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Today's Train of Thought- The Nut Job, April 13, 2014

Todays' Train of Thought takes us all the way out to the Golden State and California's breadbasket in the Central Valley. Besides the area's once-considerable agricultural yield, the area around Bakersfield sits on top of the Lower Monterey Oil Shale- reportedly the second largest known deposit outside of the Bakken.

While not Hollywood, there has been plenty of drama unfolding in the Central Valley in recent years. Despite the considerable opposition to fracking by Democrats and the state's influential environmentalist groups, production is still taking place in the Bakersfield area among others and Governor Brown stopped short of an outright ban in 2013.

But even before oil was discovered in Kern County, the Central Valley was known for its agricultural production with a favorable year-round climate for growing nuts, berries, produce and citrus. However, since 2009 an unholy alliance of state and federal bureaucrats and environmental groups obtained a court order shutting irrigation in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valley Deltas in order to provide a safe habitat for the Delta Smelt, crippling some of California's most productive agricultural land. The shortfall in yields for nuts like the almond has led to an increase in their value and has become a sought after commodity for organized crime, with frequent reports of entire truckloads of almonds or pistachios disappearing after being picked up by truckers with legitimate-looking paperwork.

Even with the recent decline, there's still plenty to keep the two class 1 railways that serve the Central Valley busy. Here, contributor Matthew Griffin caught BNSF GP39-2 #2947 still lettered for Santa Fe parked in an almond grove in Shafter, CA on the Lone Star industrial lead on March 10, 2013. Capable of being operated by remote control [that's what the red sticker on the front hood indicates- NANESB!], the Santa Fe geep- along with a cascade green Burlington Northern unit- is actually awaiting a fresh crew among the falling blossoms.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

At Least 10 Killed in Horrific Bus-Truck Collision on California Freeway


A chartered bus taking high school students on a campus tour of Humboldt State University crashed into a tractor-trailer on Interstate 5 in California, killing at least 10 passengers and leaving 36 injured. The crash took place outside the town of Orland, north of Sacramento.

Eyewitnesses claim a Fed Ex tractor trailer crossed the median when it swerved to avoid a traffic accident in its lane and crossed over into oncoming traffic. Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and California Highway Patrol were also looking into reports that the tractor trailer was on fire when it swerved into the opposite lane.

According to Fed Ex, the truck was hauling dual trailers. Fed Ex wasn't immediately aware of anything the truck was carrying that could be considered hazardous or volatile, although the company is double-checking records.

The passengers on the bus were mostly high school seniors from southern California and their chaperones who were invited up to Humboldt State University in far north California for a campus tour for prospective low-income or first generation college students. The bus belonged to San Luis Obispo, CA-based Silverado Stages, Inc and investigators were told that the driver of the motorcoach had recently relieved another driver after a stop in Sacramento. Silverado Stages reportedly has a good safety record as well.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius Announces Resignation

Kathleen Sebelius, the former Kansas Governor who was appointed Secretary of Health and Human Services by President Obama and in charge of the disastrous rollout of the website, announced her resignation on Friday.

Sebelius entered the Cabinet in 2009, three months into Obama’s presidency, as a well-regarded former governor of conservative Kansas. She is leaving after months of intense criticism over the botched rollout last fall of the insurance marketplace.

During the firestorm, Obama made clear to his aides that he would not seek the resignation of his health secretary, and her departure is timed to brighter news for the White House as enrollment soared late last month.

Still, some White House allies said Thursday night that the troubled launch of had heightened tensions between Sebelius and the president’s staff members, who had become increasingly mistrustful of the department she led. Some Democrats, meanwhile, had argued privately that someone should be held accountable for the problems with the federal insurance exchange.

According to federal health officials, Sebelius approached Obama in early March and told him that, with the insurance enrollment period ending that month, the time had come for new leadership at HHS, the government’s largest domestic agency.

When the website launched in late 2013, the White House said their enrollment goal was 7 million. After a problematic rollout of a website that only worked part of the time and was fraught with security problems, both the HHS and White House were mum about enrollment numbers for the last several months. According to some in the White House Press corps, the Administration became increasingly uncomfortable after Sebelius badly fumbled what was supposed to be a sympathetic interview on Comedy Central's The Daily Show in October.

This has also led to speculation that the White House was holding out for any semblance of good news to show Sebelius the door. That opportunity came earlier this month when after months of silence on the actual number of enrollees on the Obamacare website, President Obama held a press conference at the White House, claiming that exactly 7.1 million individuals enrolled through although they declined to break down how many of the enrollees had previously had insurance that was cancelled.

The top choice by the White House to replace Sebelius is reportedly OMB director Sylvia Mathews Burwell, who was reportedly responsible for directing the National Parks Service to shut down open-air war memorials during last year's government 'shutdown' (in which an estimated 17% of the federal government had actually shut down).

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Quickie Sports Chowdah Update- Papi Clutch Once Again As Red Sox Rally Late Versus Texas; B's Fall to Wild Cards in Minnesota

Matt Stone- Boston Herald
RED SOX- After getting swept by the Brewers, the Red Sox were hoping to salvage their homestand during the three game series against Texas. Boston took Monday's Game 1 by a 5-1 final. On Tuesday night, Boston was trailing by 9-1 in the bottom of the 6th before rallying for three runs in the bottom of the 7th and three more in the bottom of the 9th- but ultimately fell short by a 10-7 final.

That set up the rubber game on Wednesday with Jake Peavy getting the start against Texas' Robbie Ross. Although Ross walked a lot of Red Sox batters, he was also able to get out of trouble by inducing a number of double-play balls. The Red Sox got on the board in the bottom of the 3rd when with one away and runners on first and second, Dustin Pedroia hit an infield single and Jackie Bradley Jr came home on Robbie Ross' throwing error to make it a 1-0 game.

However, the 1-0 lead wouldn't last and Mitch Moreland would lead off the top of the 7th with a solo homer to tie the contest up at 1-1. Peavy would get two more outs before Tazawa came out of the bullpen in relief. Elvis Andrus would lead off the top of the 8th inning with a double off of Andrew Miller before Miller got Prince Fielder to ground out to first- moving Andrus up to third. Alex Rios would then hit a sac fly to deep center to put the Rangers up 2-1.

In the bottom half of the 8th, Jackie Bradley Jr led off with a walk before AJ Pierzynski pinch hit for Jonny Gomes, getting a single off of Rangers reliever Alexi Ogando. Grady Sizemore then pinch ran for Pierzynski. Dustin Pedroia then grounded into a fielder's choice, erasing the runner at second but moving JBJ up to third base with a runner on first. With Big Papi on deck, Texas manager Ron Washington then called upon Neal Cotts to end the Red Sox rally. Instead, with two on, one out and a 1-1 count, this happened.

After a brief review and conference by the umpires, Ortiz's HR call was upheld and the Red Sox took a 4-2 lead. Koji Uehara then came on in the 9th and got all three batters he faced in order to end the ballgame and nail down Boston's first series win at home in the young 2014 season. Despite a good effort by Peavy, he got no decision after going 6 and ⅔ innings, allowing three hits, one run, four walks and striking out 8 batters. Despite giving up what was at the time the go-ahead run in the top of the 8th, Andrew Miller was credited with the win and Koji Uehara got his second save of the season. David Ortiz led all Red Sox batters on Wednesday going 2-4, including his go-ahead homer in the bottom of the 8th.

On Thursday, the Red Sox will travel to the Bronx for the first time this season to take on the Yankees. New York comes into Thursday night's game sporting an identical 4-5 record after dropping two out of three at Yankee Stadium to Baltimore [the Orioles also sport a 4-5 record while Toronto currently leads the AL East with a 5-4 record- NANESB!]. Clay Buchholz [0-0; 12.46 ERA] will go up against Michael Pineda [0-1; 1.50 ERA]. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 ET and the game will be televised on NESN and the MLB network.

ELSEWHERE IN MLB- Barely a week into the 2014 season, the Los Angeles Angels were dealt a blow when outfielder Josh Hamilton suffered a torn ligament in his thumb after sliding into first in an attempt to beat out a throw in Tuesday night's game against the Seattle Mariners. Hamilton got off to a scorching start in the 2014 season with a .444 batting average along with two homers and 6 RBI. Hamilton was placed on the 15 day DL and is expected to miss anywhere from six to eight weeks after undergoing surgery.

NHL- With just 3 games remaining in the regular season, the Bruins continue their road trip through the upper Midwest on Thursday night when they make their one and only trip to Winnipeg to take on the Jets. The Bruins are coming off of a 4-3 shootout loss to Minnesota on Tuesday night The Bruins were leading 3-2 in the final 90 seconds of regulation when Ryan Suter got a game-tying goal with 1:05 left in the game.

After a scoreless OT, Mikko Koivu would then get the only tally in the shootout- the two points are enough for the Wild to lead the wild card race in the west for Minnesota.

Meanwhile, the Bruins bested the Jets at the Garden by a 4-1 final in their only previous meeting this season.