Friday, June 27, 2014

Sports Chowdah Update- Twice as Freaky, Giant's Lincecum No-Hits Padres For Second Time Since 2013; Sweepless in Seattle, Red Sox avoid M's Sweep; V is For Vandetta Vanderbilt

MLB- For the second time in less than a year, San Francisco Giants starter Tim Lincecum has thrown a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres. The lanky San Francisco starter known as 'The Freak' when he first came up through the Giants organization in 2007 threw a total of 113 pitches and allowed just one baserunner in nine innings of Wednesday's 4-0 win over the Padres. Wednesday afternoon's outing was much more efficient than his career high 148 during the July 13, 2013 no-hitter against the Padres at San Diego's PetCo Park. During his outing, Lincecum struck out 6 batters and allowed just one walk.

Lincecum's no-no was the Giant's fourth no-hitter since 2009- three of them against the Padres. Last season, Lincecum's no-hitter at PetCo Park came less than two weeks after Cincinnati's Homer Bailey threw a no-hitter against the Giants at the Queen City's Great American Ballpark. Interestingly, the Reds- the last team to no-hit San Francisco- are in the city by the Bay this weekend to face the Giants.

With Wednesday's no-hitter, Lincecum became the first Giants pitcher to throw two no-hitters since Christy Matthewson no-hit the Chicago Cubs in 1905. Lincecum also is the first MLB pitcher to no-hit the same team twice since Cleveland's Addie Joss no-hit the Chicago White Sox in 1908 and again in 1910.

RED SOX- Wednesday night also marked the return of Clay Buchholz from his rehab stint in AAA Pawtucket as the Red Sox were looking to avoid the sweep in Seattle.

The Red Sox got off to a promising start early as David Ortiz belted a 2-run homer off of Hisashi Iwakuma in the first inning, but the Mariners would take the lead in the bottom of the 2nd when Kyle Seager belted a solo homer off of Buchholz, followed by a 2-run homer off of Mike Zunino to give Seattle a 3-2 lead.

In the top of the 3rd, Jackie Bradley Jr led off with a double to right center followed by a Brock Holt single that put JBJ on 3rd with nobody out. Bradley then came home on a Nava RBI single to tie the contest while Holt moved to second. Dustin Pedroia then flew out to right field with no advance by the runner before Big Papi beat the shift and hit a single to right, bringing Holt all the way home and once again giving Boston the lead before Iwakuma struck out Gomes and Pierzynski to end the inning.

The Red Sox managed to chase Iwakuma from the mound in the top of the 5th after the Mariners starter gave up back to back singles to Holt and Nava before walking Pedroia to load the bases with nobody out. Tom Wilhelmsen came out of the Seattle bullpen and got Big Papi to hit into a double play, but not before another run crossed the plate for Boston to make it a 5-3 Red Sox lead.

As it turned out, that extra run would come on handy as Brad Miller belted a solo homer to lead off the bottom of the 8th for Seattle and make it a 1-run game. Buchholz would then get Stefen Romero to fly out before Andrew Miller came in from the Red Sox bullpen and got Mariners pinch hitters Willie Bloomquist and Cole Gillespie to strike out.

For the bottom of the 9th, Koji Uehara came out of the Sox bullpen and quickly got Robinson Cano out before allowing a single off the bat of Kyle Seager and then walking Logan Morrison to give the Mariners the potential game-tying run in scoring position with only one away. However, Koji would get Mike Zunino to strike out and then get Dustin Ackley to ground out to first to end the Seattle threat and close out Boston's 4-5 win over the Mariners.

Wednesday night's game closes out a rather lackluster West Coast road trip in which the Red Sox lost three out of four to the Oakland A's in Alameda County and dropped two out of three to Seattle at Safeco Field.

The Red Sox road trip continues on Friday night, albeit much closer to home, when they take on the New York Yankees in the Bronx. Brandon Workman [1-0; 2.88 ERA] is scheduled to get the start against New York's Vidal Nuño [1-4; 5.88 ERA]. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 ET and the game will be televised on NESN and the MLB network.

COLLEGE WORLD SERIES- For the first time in Vanderbilt's 120+ year history, the Commodores can celebrate winning a men's national title in any sport after besting Virginia in the College World Series in Omaha on Wednesday night.

On Monday, the Commodores were seemingly poised to squander a considerable lead and held off the Cavaliers to win Game 1 by a 9-8 final. Virginia evened up the series on Tuesday night with a 7-2 win over Vanderbilt, forcing the deciding Game 3 on Wednesday.

The Commodores got out to a quick 1-0 lead after Virginia catcher Robbie Coman threw a ball into center-field with runners at first and second who were attempting the double steal. Dansby Swanson came home from 3rd while Bryan Reynolds went from 2nd to 3rd on the errant throw.

Virginia managed to tie the game at 2-2 in the 6th inning on a bases loaded grounder to Vandy SS Vince Conde that clanged off his glove and allowed the runners to advance safely. However, Vanderbilt took the lead for good when John Norwood belted a solo homer in the top of the 8th inning just past the 335 sign at Omaha's TD Ameritrade Field. Vanderbilt's Adam Ravenelle came out of the bullpen to close out the game and Vandy's first NCAA baseball title.

FIFA WORLD CUP- Despite losing Thursday afternoon's contest to Germany by a 1-0 final in rainy Recife, Team USA advances out of Group G and will face Belgium on Tuesday July 1. In Pool play, the USA has amassed a 1-1-1 record with a 2-2 draw against Portugal over the weekend. Although Portugal has a similar 1-1-1 record, the USA edged Portugal out by virtue of the goals allowed differential. Portugal's first win of the 2014 FIFA World Cup came on Thursday afternoon in their 2-1 victory over Ghana in the Brazilian capital city of Brasilia- besides the draw against Team USA, the Portuguese were shut out by Germany 4-0 in the first game of the 2014 FIFA tournament.

OTHER WORLD CUP NEWS- Uruguay striker Luis Suarez has been banned from the 2014 World Cup after FIFA determined he intentionally bit Italy's Giorgio Chiellini during Uruguay's' 1-0 win over Italy on Tuesday. Suarez left for Uruguay on Thursday after FIFA came down with the ruling.

According to the BBC, this isn't the first incident involving biting that Suarez was involved in. In April 2013, while playing for Liverpool, Suarez was given a 10 game ban for biting Chelsea's Brianaslav Ivanovich's arm during an English premier league match. As captain for Dutch soccer club Ajax in 2010, Suarez received a 7 game suspension for biting the shoulder of PSV Eindhoven's Otman Bakkal.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Today's Train of Thought- Getting in the Spirit of Things, June 20, 2014

In honor of the host country for the 2014 World Cup, today's train of thought takes us back to Brazil.

The 905 km EFVM [Empresa Ferroviário Vitoria a Minas or Vitoria-Minas Railroad- NANESB!] is one of a couple of subsidiaries of VALE S.A. that won concessions to operate newly-privatized rail lines in Brazil. Although the line is one of the few that hauls long-distance passenger trains in Brazil along with commodities such as ore, grain, aggregates, pulp, steel and soybeans, what makes the EFVM stand out from heavy-duty railroading in the USA [and other parts of Brazil- NANESB!] is that it's done on narrow gauge. While narrow gauge in the USA and Canada is mostly for preservation and tourists, when your parent company is the third largest mining company in the world, it should probably some as no surprise that heavy hauling is expected.

And that's what the EFVM DD45s have basically been doing since 1970. At the time these narrow-gauge behemoths were built by EMD, they represented the most powerful single-engine locomotive available. With 3600 HP, the units were made to EFVM's unique specifications and followed the same design as the standard gauge EMD SD45 at the time- only the SD45 used two powered three axle trucks. While Union Pacific could boast of larger locomotives such as the DD35, DD35B and DD40AX, those had multiple engines on the same frame, unlike VALE's DDM45. The DDM45s [the 'M' reportedly standing for Meter gauge- NANESB!] entered service in Brazil in 1970 and have been faithfully soldiering on ever since- although new and secondhand locomotives from the USA have been added to both the EFVM fleet and others to help deal with the increasing traffic throughout Brazil.

Here, contributor Nicolas Fagundes caught EFVM DDM45 #877 in VALE colors leading an empty stone train that's snaking its way past a wood pulp train along the shores of Rio Doce- the namesake of one of VALE's predecessors- in Barbados, Espirto Santo in October 2013. The pulp train is likely headed to a yard further down the line along the banks of the river while the #877 is likely going at least as far as the junction town of Colatina, about 12 km further west.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Hump Day Sports Chowdah Update- Sox Engineer Twin Killing at Fenway; Feat of Clayton, Dodgers Starter Kershaw Throws No-Hitter; Team USA Gets By Ghana in 1st Round of World Cup While Reigning Spain Mainly Plain; Bruins, Thronton Part Ways; Suprred to Action, San Antionio Wins 5th NBA Title

RED SOX- The streak-ey Red Sox followed up Rubby De LaRosa's gem on Monday night with a couple of pitcher's duels at Fenway on Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon.

On Tuesday, Jon Lester got run support in the form of a Pedroia RBI single in the 1st and a Bogaerts sac fly in the 3rd [Brock Holt was the runner that crossed the plate both times- NANESB!] and was able to outlast former Yankees starter Phil Hughes in Boston's 2-1 win on Tuesday night.

Wednesday was an afternoon game as the Red Sox were getting ready to leave on a west coast road trip. Twins starter Kyle Gibson confounded the Red Sox bats, ultimately striking out 8 and not allowing a hit until the bottom of the 5th. Lackey pitched nine complete shutout innings, but got no decision in the afternoon contest.

The first RBI of the game came when Twins outfielder Chris Parmalee belted a solo homer in the top of the 10th off of Koji Uehara in the top of the 10th to give the Twins the first lead of this week's series at Fenway.

However, after Minnesota reliever Casey Fein got Dustin Pedroia to fly out for the first out of the bottom of the 10th, David Ortiz managed to tie the contest up 1-1 with a solo homer that wrapped around the Pesky pole.

But the Red Sox weren't done with the extra-inning heroics....not by a longshot. Speaking of long shots, that's exactly what Mike Napoli did with an 0-2 pitch from Casey Stein that didn't come down until it reached the bleacher seats in the triangle behind deep center field. Boston wins by a 2-1 final, sweeping a surprisingly low-scoring series against Minnesota after splitting a 4-game series against Terry Francona's Indians. Despite scoring a combined total five runs over 3 days, the Red Sox are 3-0 this week. Despite allowing an uncharacteristic homer, Koji Uehara was credited with the win on Wednesday and now has a 2-1 record.

Hopefully some of this momentum will carry over to the west coast as the Red Sox will resume play on Thursday night in Oakland. Jake Peavy [1-4; 4.53 ERA] will get the start against Oakland's Scott Kazmir [8-2; 2.05 ERA] with first pitch scheduled for 10:05 ET, 7:05 PT- the game will be televised on NESN.

OTHER RED SOX NEWS- Red Sox starter Brandon Workman has lost an appeal with MLB and will begin serving a 6-game suspension for throwing at Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria last month. Despite Rays pitchers- including starter David Price- hitting three Red Sox batters, no Tampa Bays pitchers have faced any MLB sanction from the May 30 contest.

Also on Wednesday, the Red Sox released outfielder Grady Sizemore outright. In 52 games with Boston this season, Sizemore has struggled- batting .216 with 2 HR and 15 RBI. June has been particularly hard on him as he's lost playing time with the emergence of Brock Holt and has been batting .133 with only 1 RBI in 30 at-bats.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS- There have been only two no hitters in Major League baseball so far this season and both of them belong to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

On Wednesday night, Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw struck out 15 in an 8-0 rout of the Colorado Rockies. The only baserunner to reach was outfielder Corey Dickerson who reached on a throwing error by infielder Hanley Ramirez in the 6th inning, costing Kershaw the chance at a perfect game. Still, Kershaw set down the rest of the batters he faced in order.

Earlier in the season, Josh Beckett threw a no-hitter against the Philadelphia Phillies on May 25th. Interesting, Kershaw's no-hitter was the 19th called by Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully throughout his career calling games in both Brooklyn and Los Angeles- this includes no-hitters thrown against LA, the most recent of which was a combined 6-pitcher no-hitter for the Mariners against LA at Safeco field in Seattle in June 2012.

NCAA BASEBALL- The final four teams for the NCAA College world series are almost set as the Texas Longhorns got by the UC Irvine Anteaters by a 1-0 final in Omaha on Wednesday night.

A baserunning error by the Longhorn's Ben Johnson in the 6th inning cost Texas a run. Johnson hit the ball into the left field corner and advanced to 3rd base, but was called out after it was determined he didn't touch first base. Mark Payton then hit a single that would've easily scored Johnson to give them a 1-0 lead, however, the Anteaters ended the Longhorn threat with no runs allowed.

Instead, CJ Hinojosa got Texas on the board with a solo homer in the 7th inning to give Texas the 1-0 lead that held up thanks to the Longhorns relievers. With just the second 1-0 game in the college World Series since 1985 and only the 23rd homer in the CWS since the venue was moved to TD Ameritrade Park from Rosenblatt stadium in 2011, Texas will now advance to face Vanderbilt on Friday.

Meanwhile, Virginia awaits the winner of Thursday nights contest between the TCU Horned Frogs and Ole Miss Running Rebels. First pitch from Omaha is scheduled for 5:00 ET and the game will be televised on ESPN.

FIFA WORLD CUP- We're already a few days into the FIFA World Cup from Brazil and Team USA is off to a good start.

Rookie John Brooks was the difference-maker in Monday's match against Ghana when the substitute scored in the 86th minute to break a 1-1 deadlock. Team USA would go on to win by a 2-1 final, avenging an earlier loss to Ghana's 'Black Stars' from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. After Monday's win, the USA will have nearly a week's rest to go up against Portugal on Sunday from Arena Amazonia in Manaus, Brazil.

For the World Cup, the USA plays in what some have called 'The Pool of Death' which includes Portugal, Ghana and Germany.

Meanwhile, it's all over for defending World Cup champion Spain. They were blown in by the Netherlands in a devastating 5-1 loss to open up the tournament with a rematch of the 2010 title game before being shut out 2-0 by Chile. For a bit of perspective, Spain allowed all of two goals during their 2010 run in South Africa.

NBA FINALS- In a rematch of the 2013 NBA title that saw Miami win it in 7 games against San Antionio, the 2014 edition was nearly all San Antonio. The Spurs closed out the series with a exclamation point, crushing Miami by a 104-87 final in Game 5, and it wasn't even that close.

Forward Kawhi Leonard was named the tournament MVP and the title was head coach Greg Popovich's fifth since starting his tenure in San Antonio in 1996.

NFL- In a ruling from the US Trademark and Patent office this week, the Washington Redskins may lose copyright protection for their name and logo after the Agency's Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ruled that the name was disparaging of Native Americans.

The Redskins organization announced that they would appeal the ruling and the team's copyrighted name and logo will still be protected during that time. While a number of Native American groups [including some of the Navajo Code Talkers from WWII- NANESB!] have said they have no issue with the Redskins name, a number of local and federal politicians- including US Senate Majority leader Harry Reid [D- NV] have called upon the organization to change names and threatening legal or legislative action to do so [because all the other problems in America- ESPECIALLY on Indian reservations- have been solved- NANESB!].

Redskins owner Dan Snyder has so far resisted pressure to change the Redskins name and mascot. The team was originally formed in 1932 as the Boston Braves and played at Fenway Park before moving to Washington DC in 1937.

BOSTON BRUINS- The Boston Bruins have decided not to re-sign defenseman Shawn Thornton. The 36 year old became a free agent at the end of the season.

Thornton, who has been with Boston since 2007 has been in two Stanley Cup finals, winning it against Vancouver in 7 games in 2011. However, at the end of the season Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli indicated that the game was moving away from the fisticuffs that Thornton specialized him and that they would make a decision about his future in Boston over the next few weeks. More recently, Thornton received a 15 suspension last season for his beatdown of Pittsburgh Penguins enforcer Brooks Orpik after Thornton blindsided him and dragged him down to the ice.

The announcement allows Thornton to pursue other offers as a free agent and a number of teams would be interested in having a veteran player with his playoff experience on the ice.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

US Special Forces Nab Primary Suspect in 2012 Terrorist Attack on US Consulate in Benghazi

More than 18 months after the deadly attack on the US consulate that killed American ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Libya's second largest city of Benghazi, US Special forces have reportedly nabbed the suspected mastermind of the attacks in a lightning raid on Sunday.

The mission to nab Benghazi terror suspect Ahmed Abu Khattala was months in the making. Once a Delta Force team at last launched into Libya on Sunday to carry out the plan, it was over in 32 minutes.

The details of the secret mission were confirmed to Fox News on Wednesday, and begin to shed light on how Khattala -- who lived in plain sight and brazenly gave media interviews over the course of nearly two years -- suddenly fell into U.S. custody.

Officials still face questions over why it took so long for the U.S. to go after Khattala. After all, U.S. teams had been following the suspect and knew his whereabouts since about five or six weeks after the Sept. 11, 2012 attack, when he started giving interviews.

But the mission itself, on Sunday, was described as clean and casualty-free.

U.S. military sources told Fox News that the Delta Force operators who carried out the mission did so "efficiently," completing it in 32 minutes.

The team captured him at his home south of Benghazi, though it's not clear whether he was inside or outside his home at the time.

According to reports, Khattala is now being held on the USS New York and is being questioned on board as the vessel sails back to the USA. The White House and Justice Department have said that Khattala will be tried in Federal court and not taken to the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay.

After the attacks, Khattala didn't even bother going into hiding and conducted interviews with media outlets such as FOX New and the New York Times in person, daring the US or Libyan government to come after him. However, since earlier this month Khattala's Ansar al Sharia militia has been engaged in skirmishes with forces loyal to renegade Libyan general Khalifa Haftar, who is accused by Libya's government of plotting a military coup.

In addition to Ambassador Stevens, US Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith and CIA contractors Tyrone Woods and Glen Dohety. During the attack Ambassador Stevens was reportedly pulled from the wreckage, taken to a medical facility controlled by Ansar Al Sharia where he later died from his injuries. The attack took place on the 11th anniversary of 9/11 and with the Presidential election still a few weeks away, the White House and State department spun the politically expedient narrative that the attack was the end result of a spontaneous demonstration that had spiraled out of control, despite reports that Ansar al Sharia fighters showed up with heavy weaponry such as mortars and antiaircraft guns.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Rubby Tuesday Sports Chowdah Update- San Diego Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn Passes Away; Rubby Throws a Gem at Fenway; Crown Their Ass! LA Wins Stanley Cup in Game 5; Going, Going, Ghana

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL- Former Padres outfielder Tony Gwynn- arguably the game's best hitter since Ted Williams- passed away on Monday.

Born and raised in Long Beach, CA, Gwynn attended San Diego State where he excelled at both basketball and baseball. In fact, when the San Diego Padres drafted him in 1981, the then San Diego Clippers also drafted Gwynn in the 10th round of the NBA draft on the same day. Fortunately for the Padres, Gwynn quickly chose baseball over basketball.

The unassuming Gwynn made his major league debut in 1982 and was on the Padres roster both times San Diego advanced to the World Series [1984 and 1998, respectively- NANESB!]. Wearing the number 19 throughout his 19 year MLB career, Gwynn was a 15 time all star, won eight batting titles, seven silver sluggers and garnered five gold gloves. Gwynn was also one of the increasingly rare players who spent his entire career with one franchise. When the Padres moved into their new ballpark in Downtown San Diego, Gwynn's number was retired and a statue of 'Mr Padre' was erected in his honor. Gwynn could also be considered one of the few 'homegrown' figures in San Diego sports that spent his career with San Diego.

While not a home run hitter, Gwynn still had a career batting average of .338 and never hit below .308 in a full season. Gwynn did have 135 homers throughout his career along with 1,138 RBI. It was also believed that Gwynn could've been the first major-league hitter to reach the coveted .400 mark since Ted Williams in 1941 were it not for the strike-shortened season of 1994. However, Gwynn won NL batting title with a .368 average the following season.

After retiring in 2001, Gwynn returned to his alma mater to coach the Aztecs baseball team. In 2007 Gwynn was inducted into the baseball hall of fame along with Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. Gwynn is survived by his wife Alisha and two children- current Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr and R&B singer Anisha Nicole.

Earlier this year, the Padres had lost former manager and longtime broadcaster Jerry Coleman. Throughout Monday, mourners left hats and flowers at the base of his statue in Petco park.

BOSTON RED SOX- After splitting a 4-game weekend series against the Tribe, the Red Sox played host to the Minnesota Twins on Monday- the team who started their notorious 10-game losing streak last month. Rubby De La Rosa would get the start against Minnesota's Kevin Correia and both starters would soon be locked in a scoreless deadlock.

Although the Red Sox would get some baserunners on, Boston didn't break through until the bottom of the 6th inning when Daniel Nava led off the inning with a single. Drew then hit a single to shallow center but got greedy and was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double- although Nava made it to 3rd. AJ Pierzynski then came up and hit a fly ball deep enough to left field to plate Nava to give Boston a 1-0 lead.

Rubby continued with another scoreless inning before Farrell went to the bullpen. Andrew Miller faced one batter, striking out Oswaldo Arcia before Burke Badenhop came into the game. Badenhop immediately gave up a single to Kurt Suzuki before Eduardo Escobar lined out and Sam Fuld doubled. The bases would be loaded after Badenhop hit Danny Santana with a pitch, but the Twins threat was extinguished when Brian Dozier struck out swinging. Although the Red Sox wouldn't get any more runs in the bottom of the 8th, Uehara would have a 1-2-3 ninth inning to seal the win for Boston.

Tuesday night's game will have Phil Hughes [7-2; 3.17 ERA] going up against Jon Lester [7-7; 3.33 ERA]. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 and the game will be televised on NESN

STANLEY CUP FINAL- After the New York Rangers got on the board with a 2-1 win on Wednesday night, the Stanley Cup Finals headed back to LA for a Game 5 at the Staples Center.

Justin Williams got LA on the board in the first six minutes of the game. However, after most of the 2nd period went by without scoring, the Rangers got on the board with a Chris Kreider power play goal and took the lead with a Brian Boyle shorthanded tally to head into the 2nd intermission with a 2-1 lead

However, the Kings were able to tie the contest up in the 3rd thanks to a Marian Gaborik power play goal and force OT- for the 3rd time in the 5-game series. After a scoreless overtime, the game headed to double OT where Alec Martinez beat Henrik Lundqvist to end the game and give the series to Los Angeles.

Kings goalie Jonathan Quick turned aside 28 of 30 shots faced while Lundqvist stopped 48 of 51 shots faced on Game 5 and Kings RW Justin Williamson was awarded the Conn Smythe trophy. The Stanley Cup title is LA's second in two seasons and comes after falling behind 0-3 to the San Jose Sharks earlier in the playoffs.

Monday, June 16, 2014

At Least 50 Slain By Islamist Gunmen in Northern Kenya

Police and eyewitnesses in the coastal town of Mpeketoni say that dozens of gunmen attacked on Sunday night, killing at least fifty after opening fire on pedestrians, hotels and fans gathered to watch a World Cup match in a meeting hall and setting fire to houses and vehicles.

According to witnesses, the attackers arrived in minibuses and fanned out. Some of them accosted villagers and shopkeepers before asking if they were Muslim or spoke Somali- apparently shooting them if they received an unsatisfactory answer. Others proceeded to hotels or the meeting hall where the World Cup was being shown, separated the women from the men before shooting them in front of the women. The rampage reportedly lasted for more than three hours before the gunmen were pursued by arriving Kenyan troops.

The Somalia-based Al Shabaab terror group claimed responsibility for the attack, according to a Somali website. Al Shabaab seeks to topple Somalia's UN-backed government in Mogadishu and replace it with an Islamic state governed by Shari'a law and has launched cross-border raids into Kenya, attacking police and abducting westerners for ransom. The group has previously launched terrorist attacks in Kenya and Uganda in retaliation for those nations sending troops to Somalia as part of an African Union peacekeeping force. Last September, Al Shabaab terrorists launched a brazen attack in the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya that killed at least 67. In 2010, Al Shabaab was responsible for twin suicide bombings of crowds gathered to watch the World Cup in Uganda's capital of Kampala.

Mpekitoni is located near the Lamu Islands and about 100km south of the border with Somalia and near the UNESCO World Heritage site on Lamu Island and has been popular with tourists since the 1970s. However, a number of Western governments- including the USA, UK, Canada, France and Australia- have issued advisories to their citizens about travelling in Kenya and Al Shabaab had previously threatened that tourists visiting Kenya were jeopardizing their lives by doing so.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Today's Train of Thought- We're Not in Kansas Anymore, June 14, 2014

In honor of the 2014 World Cup, today's Train of Thought takes us not just South of the Border, but south of a couple of borders all the way down to Brazil.

Between 1957 and 1999, most of the rail network in Brazil was operated under the authority of the state controlled RFFSA. The size and scope of railroading in Brazil range from antique streetcars in Rio to some of the world's heaviest trains operating in the northeastern part of the country. Starting in the late 1990s, various lines were privatized and sold off to outfits such as MRS Logistica, Ferronorte, Ferrovia Centro Atlantica, ALL Logistica and VALE SA mining [the lions share of the lines in northern Brazil have been incorporated as part of VALE's considerable mining operations- NANESB!].

Brazil's economic growth in recent years has been so rapid that the various private operators- who have a taste of GE and EMD power- couldn't wait for new power to be built and purchased hundreds of secondhand EMD and GE locomotives from US Class 1's such as CSX, BNSF, Conrail, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific. Many of these locomotives were pressed into service so rapidly that a number of them were still painted in the colors of their former owners, despite being a hemisphere away.

Some of the power now in Brazil included models and rebuilds that were unique to their previous owner- such as the SFC30, which were Santa Fe U36Cs rebuilt using components from C30-7s and C39-8s in the 1980s. The SF30Cs soldiered on with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe through the time of the merger with BNSF where they were traded into GE for newer Dash Nines or returned to lessor. Sensing the trade-ins still had some mileage on them, the leasing companies began shopping the SF30C and other GE trade-ins to shortline and regional lines- the Minnesota Commercial purchased a few, but the majority ended up in South America on any number of the privatized lines.

Here, contributor Lucas MR caught FCA [Ferrovia Centro Atlantica- NANESB!] SF30C #4718 smoking it up along with other heavy-duty, 6-axle GEs as it leads FCA train U57 out of the yard at Canguera, Sao Paolo state on January 19, 2013. The tracks in and out of Canguera are dual gauge, meaning that both standard gauge and narrow gauge trains can operate into the yard.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Islamists Seize Control Of Northern Iraq, Move to Within 100km of Baghdad

Disturbing reports out of Iraq this week as fighters from the Islamic group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) swept through multiple cities in northern Iraq as security forces fled, in many cases leaving behind weapons, uniforms and vehicles for the battle-hardened terrorist group to use when further pressing their attack.

Iraqi forces were reportedly engaging ISIS fighters in Samarra while thousands of men in Baghdad turned up to volunteer to join the Army and halt the ISIS advance on the capital on Thursday. Cities captured in the ISIS offensive so far include Saddam Hussein's hometown of Fallujah, Ramadi, Tikrit and Iraq's second largest city- Mosul. According to Al Aan TV reporter Jenan Moussa, ISIS released statements through their twitter feed outlining strict new laws for the occupied cities that were to go into effect immediately- no alcohol, no tobacco, no firearms, women must cover up and only go outside 'when necessary'. The group has also promised to destroy shrines, monuments and graveyards and told Iraqi police and soldiers in the occupies territories to 'repent or die'. The International Business Times reports that ISIS may now be the wealthiest jihad group in the world after looting more than 500 Billion in Iraqi dinars (the equivalent of US$429 million) from Mosul's central bank.

Iran, which has considerable commercial and strategic interests in Iraq, reportedly sent the Quds unit of the Revolutionary Guards to help Noor Al-Maliki's government fight the emboldened ISIS movement as well as guard certain Shi'ite shrines from ISIS demolition. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Iranian officials authorized their Air force to bomb ISIS convoys if they come within 60 miles of the Iran-Iraq border.

Meanwhile, the Kurdish Peshmerga militia moved into positions abandoned by the retreating Iraqi Army in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. Although both Shiite and Sunnis are wary of Kurdish involvement in the conflict, the battle-hardened Peshmerga is the most cohesive fighting force remaining in Iraq to go up against ISIS.

ISIS was formed roughly three years ago in Syria's Civil War as one faction that took up arms against the Bashr Al-Assad regime. However, the group also battled with the more secular Free Syrian Army which was made up of deserters from Bashr Al-Assad's security forces. An Al Qaeda offshoot, ISIS seized large swaths of territory from both Assad's security forces and the Free Syrian Army in eastern Syria before turning their attention to Iraq earlier this year.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Sports Chowdah Update- O No! Sox Come out On Top Thanks To Workman-Like Effort; Kings For More Than A Day, LA Takes Commanding 3-0 Lead in Cup Final; Dulled Chrome, California Chrome Misses Shot at Triple Crown

RED SOX- After a disastrous road trip through the rust belt where they lost five out of six games, the Red Sox were back in the AL East on Monday, facing off against Baltimore at Camden Yards and on the wrong end of a 4-0 shutout.

On a rainy Tuesday night, the Sox looked to reverse their fortunes with Brandon Workman on the mound. Heading into a scoreless 3rd inning, Workman got a bit of run support when Mike Napoli hit a 2-out RBI single that plated Brock Holt. Despite a couple of rain delays, Workman was able to maintain his rhythm and fooled most of the Baltimore batters he faced, not allowing a hit until the 6th inning. Miller, Tazawa and Uehara came out of the bullpen to make Napoli's RBI stand up. Workman goes on to pitch 6⅔ innings of 1-hit ball, allowing one walk and striking out four. Boston goes on to win by a 1-0 final and after losing ten straight, winning seven straight and then losing five straight [going back to May 14th- NANESB!] the Red Sox have won two out of their last three games- although the recent streak has put Boston 9 games out of first place, it still isn't bad enough to put them in the AL East cellar. Currently Toronto leads the AL East and both Baltimore and the Yankees are tied for 2nd place at 5 and a half games.

The series will continue Wednesday night with ex-Dodger Rubby De La Rosa [1-1; 2.84 ERA] going up against Baltimore's Wei Yin Chen [6-2; 4.13 ERA]. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 ET and the game will be televised nationally on ESPN.

OTHER RED SOX NEWS- Former Red Sox manager and one of the last remaining Brooklyn Dodgers Don Zimmer has passed away at the age of 83. Zimmer, who survived a near-fatal beaning in the minor-leagues would go on to play 2nd base for the Brooklyn Dodgers for their only World Series title in Ebbets Field.

Zimmer was teammates with Jackie Robinson for a few seasons and remained with the Dodgers for a year after their move to Los Angeles. Between 1960 and 1965, Zimmer bounced around between the Cubs, Mets, Reds and Senators before playing a single season for the Toei Flyers in Japan. As a player, Zimmer had a career .235 batting average and 91 homers along with 352 RBI.

After his playing days, Zimmer found work as a manager- first for the San Diego Padres and Montreal Expos before landing with the Red Sox between 1974 and 1976. After the Red Sox won the AL Pennant in 1975, an infamous 'Zim' moment was during the wild and chaotic Game 6 of the 1975 World Series was when Boston had the bases loaded and nobody out in the bottom of the 9th with 2B Denny Doyle on 3rd. After a fly ball to shallow left, 3rd base coach Zimmer saw Doyle start to break and shouted "No! No!". Doyle apparently thought Zimmer was shouting "Go! Go!" and continued running towards home plate, only to be cut down by the throw from shallow left. Cincinnati was able to get out of the 9th and force extra innings, setting up Carlton Fisk's legendary and photogenic walk-off homer off a Pat Darcy pitch in the 12th inning.

The Red Sox lost the World Series and the following season, manager Darrel Johnston was fired in July and Zim was named interim manager before the position was more permanent. Although Boston finished flat in 1976, the Red Sox would win 90+ games between 1977-1979. However, this would include the infamous 'Boston Massacre' in which the Yankees trailed the Red Sox by as much as 14 games late in the season only to force a 1-game playoff that was decided by a home run from light-hitting Yankees catcher Bucky Dent.

Zim was also known for his acrimonious relationship with lefty pitcher Bill 'Spaceman' Lee during his time in Boston and reportedly avoided starting him during the infamous 1-game playoff against New York in 1978 despite Lee's winning record against the Bronx Bombers.

After being fired from Boston, Zim spent time coaching or managing with the Rangers, Yankees, Rockies, Cubs, Giants and Rays. In 1999, Zimmer filled in for Yankees then-manager Joe Torre while he was recovering from prostate cancer, going 21-15 during that timeframe. In 2003, Zimmer returned to Fenway as bench coach for the Yankees in the 2003 ALCS. During Game 3, the benches cleared after Manny Ramirez charged the mound after a high and inside pitch from Roger Clemens. Zimmer came out of the dugout and charged Pedro Martinez- Martinez responded by throwing Zimmer to the ground [the TV announcers had initially mistaken the 72 year old Zimmer for Yankees starter David Wells- NANESB!].

With Tampa Bay, Zimmer worked as a senior advisor to the Rays and was a regular fixture around the dugout during Spring Training and home games at Tropicana field. Zimmer also had the distinction of being the last Brooklyn Dodger player who was still in the majors- either as a coach or in the front office. While with the Rays, he wore a uniform that changed numbers each year- the numbers represented the years he had spent in baseball, with his most recent number being 66. In an interview, Zimmer said he prided himself on being able to draw a paycheck his entire life from the game he loved.

STANLEY CUP- Wow- looks like I have some catching up to do.

For starters, no Bruins hockey for the better part of a month after they lost in Game 7 of the eastern conference semifinals to the Canadiens. The Canadiens themselves were bested in 6 games against the New York Rangers while the Los Angeles Kings got past the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks in a roller-coaster 7-game series.

The first two games of the Stanley Cup final got underway at the Staples Center in Los Angeles- in each of those contests, the Kings rallied from behind to tie the game late and force OT with the Kings winning Game 1 by a 3-2 final in OT and Game 2 by a 5-4 final in double OT.

On Monday, the Kings did not need extra-time to take care of the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. With time expiring in the first period, the Kings got on the board with a goal from Jeff Carter to make it 1-0 Los Angeles. This was followed up by goals from Jake Muzzin and Mike Richards in the 2nd to give LA a seemingly insurmountable 3-0 lead while Jonathan Quick turned aside all 32 shots he faced to secure the Kings' 3-0 win.

After being on the wrong end of a 3-0 lead earlier in the playoffs, the Kings now have a commanding 3-0 lead over the Rangers and can secure their second Stanley Cup championship since 2012 with a win at Madison Square garden on Wednesday night. It's do-or-die for New York as Game 4 gets underway from Madison Square Garden tonight at 8:00 ET and will be televised on NBC Sports and the CBC.

HORSE RACING- After winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, there was all kinds of buzz surrounding California Chrome heading into this weekend's Belmont Stakes. California Chrome was poised to be horse racing's first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.

After stumbling out of the gate, Chrome ended up finishing 4th to Tonalist and finishing in a near dead heat with Wicked Strong. A review of the starting gate showed that one of the horses next to him- Matterhorn- accidentally stepped on California Chrome's heel and had a small chunk taken out of it. The defeat led to an on-air post-race tirade from California Chrome's owner Steve Coburn, who referred to Tonalist's owners as 'cowards' and criticized owners who ran their horses in the Belmont Stakes but not the Preakness or Kentucky Derby.

FIFA WORLD CUP- Just days before the 2014 World Cup is set to get underway in Brazil, soccer's international governing body- FIFA- is under scrutiny for their bidding process in which the Middle Eastern emirate of Qatar named the host country of the 2022 World Cup. Qatar beat out competing bids from Australia, Japan, South Korea and the USA.

Since Qatar was announced, there have been allegations of bid-rigging and bribery on the part of FIFA according to the British Sunday Times. The newspaper claims to have been given e-mail correspondence between FIFA delegates and Qatari officials where a reported £3m in payoffs were given.

Qatari soccer official Mohammed Bin Hammam reportedly gave money and gifts to African members of the FIFA delegation to influence the governing body's votes and paid more than €300,000 to a Tahtian FIFA official who was caught in a Sunday Times sting soliciting money in support for a bid from people posing as American FIFA delegates.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Death Toll Climbs as Pakistani Taliban Claim Responsibility for Deadly Aiport Attack in Karachi.

At least 27 people were killed when Taliban gunmen who had disguised themselves as members of Pakistan's security forces shot their way into a terminal at Karachi's Jinnah International Airport on Sunday night. The attacks took place in an older terminal that was mainly used for charter and executive flights.
At the airport, gun battles went on for five hours and television pictures showed fire raging as ambulances ferried casualties away.

At least three loud explosions were heard as militants wearing suicide vests blew themselves up.

Pakistani officials believe that there were 10 attackers and all ten were killed when the military launched a counterattack. Seven were reportedly killed exchanging gunfire with police and soldiers while three of them detonated suicide vests after being cornered by authorities. Although a Pakistani Army spokesman said that they had successfully retaken the airport, smoke from a raging fire in the cargo are was clearly visible from a distance. Although some witnesses reported that aircraft on the ground were damaged or destroyed in the attack, the Army denied that and said the fires were from a fuelling facility that was blown up in the attack.

A spokesman for the Pakistani Tehrek-e-Taliban organization claimed responsibility for the attack, claiming it was retribution for a November 2013 drone strike that killed one of their leaders.

Observers point out that the attack is a blow for Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who had campaigned on reaching a negotiated settlement with the Taliban last year and was hoping to project an image of stability in order to attract more foreign capital and investment to the country.

As a precaution, flights bound for Karachi were diverted elsewhere as the fighting spilled out to the airport's tarmac. An estimated 44,000 passengers travelling domestically and internationally use the airport each day, making it Pakistan's busiest airport. The airport serves Pakistan's largest city and commercial hub of Karachi and underwent extensive renovation and expansion in the 1990s.

Coincidentally, this is not the first time terrorists disguised as security forces launched an attack at Karachi's Jinnah International Airport. In September 1986, Palestinian terrorists disguised as airport security stormed Pan Am Flight 73 while it was on the ground for a scheduled stopover on its flight from Bombay to New York. The flight crew was able to escape, leading to a tense standoff between the hostage-takers and Pakistani commandoes on the ground. As the commandoes were preparing to storm the aircraft, the hijackers opened fire on the aircraft's 380 passengers and crew, killing at least 20.

Elsewhere in Pakistan, at least 30 people were killed in an attack on a hotel in the western border town of Taftan. According to eyewitnesses, a suicide bomber entered the Al Murtaza hotel in the town along the border with Iran and detonated himself among a crowd of Shi'ite pilgrims on Sunday. An individual claiming to be from the banned Jaishul Islam movement claimed responsibility for the hotel bombing in a phone call with reporters from Quetta.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

What Do Cattle, Porn Starlets, Toyota and Hot Sauce Have in Common?

They're all getting out of Dodge California and heading for greener pastures- in some cases, literally.

Beset by higher taxes, above-average unemployment and among the highest cost of living in the USA, it's no secret that Californians have been moving out of state annually by the hundreds of thousands in recent years. This should come as no surprise with recent scandals and corruption involving California's political class coupled with onerous, intrusive and often absurd regulations for businesses passed on the state, county and municipal level.

Sensing discontent among Californians and business owners, Texas governor Rick Perry rolled out the welcome mat for Golden Staters with a PR blitz, offering lower taxes and a lower cost of living than California as well as business incentives for those companies who set up shop in the Lone Star state.

Although incumbent California governor Jerry Brown crassly dismissed Perry's efforts as 'barely a fart', it appears as though the Lone Star State's lobbying has been producing results. At the end of April, Japanese automaker Toyota announced that they would be moving their North American headquarters from the Los Angeles suburb of Torrance to Plano, TX starting in 2016. The move by Toyota [NYSE: TM] is expected to consolidate 4,000 employees from marketing, manufacturing and corporate operations to the suburban Dallas facility. In 2003, Toyota broke ground on a plant near San Antonio that produces the Tundra and Tacoma pickup trucks.

On a smaller scale, Irwindale, CA-based Huy Fong foods- maker of the Sriracha hot sauce- has been locked in a legal battle with the city council after the council threatened to declare Huy Fong a nuisance and threatening them with fines or closure after receiving complaints from four households regarding the fumes resulting from processing chili peppers. Although Huy Fong CEO David Tran stated publicly that he has no immediate plans to relocate the Irwindale facility, the company welcomed a delegation of Texas lawmakers in May. A company spokesman said that relocation wouldn't be as straightforward for Huy Fong because local producers of Sriracha ingredients such as chilis and vinegar couldn't pull up and move to Texas with them. However, botanists working on behalf of Tran have begun examining the soil in parts Texas to see if it's conducive to growing the variety of chilis used in Sriracha sauce. There's also concern over variables in the Texas weather such as flooding, hurricanes, drought and hail as well as competing bids from within California and other states.

However, not all the businesses exiting California have decided to head to the Lone Star state. Once considered the hub of the adult entertainment industry, California's San Fernando Valley has been hit hard by the advent of online pornography. The number of permits to film in the San Fernando Valley plummeted after a law requiring adult film stars to wear a condom while performing went into effect late last year. The measure was a Los Angeles county ballot initiative that was approved by voters in 2012. In response to the measure, studios and actors shipped themselves a few hours up Interstate 15 to Las Vegas where the cost of doing business was lower than in California and there were no regulations to mandate the wearing of condoms. Industry insiders say that its much cheaper to rent out warehouses for filming or mansions or hotel suites to accommodate talent for the duration of a shoot.

Nor are all the Californians leaving the state two-legged. Thanks to an ongoing drought and the closure of a massive slaughterhouse in the Imperial Valley town of Brawley, ranchers in California have been selling off cattle to Texas, Nevada and Nebraska. According to Reuters research, at least 100,000 head of cattle have left California in 2014- including breeding stock that's going to slaughter. Higher feed and transportation costs have also put pressure on California ranchers, although ranchers elsewhere are facing similar problems.

Although defenders of the current business climate in California often cite the entertainment industry and Silicon Valley as being the state's economic backbone as well as the primary source of fundraising for the state's democrat party, Hollywood has been shipping jobs out of state due to increased production and filming costs within the state. Special effects firm Sony Pictures Imageworks announced at the end of May that their headquarters will be moved from Los Angeles to Vancouver, Canada for post production work. Over the last 20 years, the area around Vancouver, BC has been dubbed 'Hollywood North' as British Columbia offered studios tax credits for filming on location. Although the exchange between the US and Canadian dollar isn't as favorable as it was in the 1990s, a number of studios are still drawn there for post-production work and location filming [the area around Vancouver can pass for a number of other settings depending on the type of film or scene- NANESB!].

The state's Democrat-controlled legislature also recently passed a bill that would raise the state's minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2017 and is expected to be signed into law by governor Brown. While the bill raises entry-level wages, many employers will likely end up cutting their workforce and retailers or restaurants will close down locations or increase prices to make up for any increased operating costs.

More damning, none of these jobs or businesses will be coming back or are unlikely to be replaced by new enterprise. Although California sits on considerable oil reserves in the Monterrey Shale, wealthy environmentalists with considerable backing from the entertainment industry are seeking to ban the hydraulic facture drilling process that has been so effective in recovering shale oil and gas in Texas, North Dakota and Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, state and local lawmakers continue to busy themselves with legislation concerning transgender bathrooms for schoolchildren or banning plastic bags and simply assume that they can get whatever revenue they need from the next Silicon valley startup such as Facebook.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Today's Train of Thought- Taken To the Woodshed, June 5th, 2014

Today's Train of Thought takes us to the Buckeye State and features the regional Wheeling & Lake Erie, one of the few remaining independent regionals in the USA.

The current incarnation of the W&LE takes its name from the original Wheeling and Lake Erie which was completed in 1877 as a link between the coal fields around Wheeling, WV and the ports and steel mills along the shores of Lake Erie. After WWII, the (original) W&LE merged with the Nickel Plate, which in turn became part of the Norfolk and Western in 1964. In the early 1980s, the Norfolk & Western and Southern merged to form the Norfolk Southern.

In 1990, the Norfolk Southern divested themselves of a portions of the original W&LE line between Brewster, OH and Pittsburgh- this new iteration of the W&LE was also able to secure trackage rights over CSX's ex-Baltimore & Ohio Sand Patch line through the Alleghenies between the Pittsburgh area and Cumberland, MD- an agreement the B&O had with the original W&LE that pre-dated the formation of CSX.

By most accounts, the early 1990s were pretty lean years for the W&LE but by 1994 the company restructured its debt and acquired the Akron and Barberton Belt Railway. While some of the traffic- such as iron ore, coal, aggregates and chemicals- has been in the same since the 1990 incarnation of the W&LE, traffic has picked up thanks to increased drilling in the Marcellus and Utica Shale.

Here, Richard W Thompson caught Wheeling and Lake Erie SD40-2 #6348 with a stone train backing past a bright crimson shed in Bellevue, OH in August 2010. Besides being home to a number of limestone quarries, Bellevue is also home to the Mad River and Nickel Plate Railroad Museum and where rail and real-estate tycoon Henry Flagler first ventured into starting his own business in the 1850s before going on to start the Florida East Coast railroad.

Besides being used for aggregates, limestone is also used for drilling pads throughout the Utica and Marcellus Shale.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

White House Announces Missing Soldier Returning Home After Negotiating Questionalble Prisoner Swap With Taliban

Flanked by the parents of missing US Army Sgt Bowe Bergdahl, President Obama announced that he had reached a deal with the Taliban securing their son's return from the Taliban in exchange for the release of five senior Taliban leaders who were being held in Guantanamo Bay. The announcement took place during a press conference in the White House rose garden on Saturday and already has both civilian and military officials alike calling the legality of the deal into question.

In addition to the legality of negotiating for Bergdahl's release from the Taliban, a number of soldiers who served with Bergdahl at the time of his 2009 disappearance have come forward and claimed that the missing sergeant is- at best- a deserter and may have been actively collaborating with the Taliban after going AWOL. Reportedly, at least six soldiers were killed in Taliban ambushes as the unit was searching for Bergdahl leading to criticism of the release from some of the soldier's family members.

The circumstances behind Bergdahl's disappearance are murky, but what is known that Bergdahl was absent when his unit-
1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 25th Infantry Division- conducted a headcount in the early morning hours of June 30th, 2009 at a forward operating base in southern Paktika province. Bergdahl, who was originally from Idaho, expressed growing disillusionment with the US Army in Afghanistan in his correspondence with his father and reportedly made offhanded comments to his platoon-mates about just walking off into the mountains. Some soldiers said that Bergdahl likely told the Taliban on how best to place IEDs for maximum effect on US Convoys.

Bergdahl's father did nothing to allay those suspicions after sending out messages via social networking sites like twitter encouraging the release of all Taliban prisoners in US custody while following foreign fighters in Syria. Bob Berdahl was also reportedly learning to speak Arabic and Pashto- the language primarily used by the Taliban- although that may have been done in an attempt to independently secure the release of his son. The elder Bergdahl also raised eyebrows when he uttered "In the name of Allah, the merciful and compassionate-" in Arabic during his appearance in the Rose Garden with President Obama over the weekend [anybody else find it slightly curious that Obama had time to fly in the elder Bergdahl for the rose garden presser, but not notify Congress?- NANESB!]

The five Taliban detainees who were released were identified as Khair Ulla Said Wali Khairkhwa, Mullah Mohammad Fazl, Mullah Norullah Nori, Abdul Haq Wasiq and Mohammad Nabi Omari. The five were flown to the gulf state of Qatar while Bergdahl was flown to a US Army hospital in Germany.

Meanwhile, in Washington D.C., lawmakers on the Senate Intelligence committee say that the White House has broken the law by entering into negotiations with the Taliban without notifying Congress. According to NBC's senior Washington correspondent, the White House was caught off guard by the military's reaction to Bergdahl's release.

6/4 UPDATE- A couple of even stranger developments began circulating regarding the aftermath of Bowe Bergdahl's disappearance in 2009 that have only recently come to light. The first was that some of Bergdahl's platoon-mates were reportedly ordered by superiors to sign a non-disclosure agreement over Bergdahl's alleged desertion and the search for the missing GI. According to Bergdahl's team leader, an Afghan interpreter translated messages in real-time from radio chatter about a lone American in a nearby village looking for an English speaker so he could talk to the Taliban.