Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy 4th of July!

Thanks to some other commitments of mine, t's been well over a month since I bothered updating the blog. But for those of you who are stopping by on Independence Day, I'd like to wish you a safe and happy Independence Day weekend.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Former Korean War POW Recieves Diploma from Hometown High School Before it Closes Down Forever

This story is actually a couple of years old, but I recently found out about it and thought it would be worth re-visiting on Memorial Day weekend nonetheless.

Some 56 years after he left high school in his west Texas hometown of Spade to join the Army in the early stages of the Korean War, veteran Sherman Jones was invited to receive an honorary diploma from the class of 2006- the last class that would graduate from Spade's high school before it was closed down forever.

After 2006, students attending Spade's high school were combined with classes from the neighboring Olton school district.

Although Sherman would eventually receive enough credit for a high school diploma and would go to college after his military service, he never had a ceremony where he received his diploma.

Jones was taken prisoner with about 1500 other American soldiers after his unit was encircled and they ran out of supplies and ammunition. As a POW, Jones endured what historians call "Korea's Bataan Death March" where he was only one of 17 survivors. He was found bleeding from gunshot wounds by advancing American forces and would later have to undergo 65 surgeries and would eventually lose his right foot in 1957.

The high school in Spade had to close due to decreased class sizes and lower enrollment. Jones was just one of six members of the 2006 Spade H.S. graduating class

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been found guilty on all charges he faced in federal court in Boston, MA this month.

The verdict was reached Wednesday afternoon, nearly two years to the day three people were killed and more than 260 injured in the April 15, 2013, bombings.

His conviction was practically a foregone conclusion, given his lawyer's startling admission during opening statements that Tsarnaev carried out the attack with his now-dead older brother, Tamerlan.

The two shrapnel-packed pressure-cooker bombs that exploded near the finish line, turning the traditionally celebratory home stretch of the world-famous race into a scene of carnage and putting the city on edge for days.

"It's not a happy occasion, but it's something," said Karen Brassard, who suffered shrapnel wounds on her legs and attended the trial. "One more step behind us."

She said Tsarnaev appeared "arrogant" and uninterested during the trial, and she wasn't surprised when she saw no remorse on his face as the verdicts were read. She refused to say whether she believes he deserves the death penalty, but she rejected the defense argument that he was simply following his brother's lead.

"He was in college. He was a grown man who knew what the consequences would be," Brassard said.

The government called 92 witnesses over 15 days, painting a hellish scene of torn-off limbs, blood-spattered pavement, ghastly screams and the smell of sulfur and burned hair. Survivors gave heartbreaking testimony about losing legs in the blasts or watching people die. The father of an 8-year-old boy described making the agonizing decision to leave his mortally wounded son so he could get help for their 6-year-old daughter, whose leg had been blown off.

Killed were Lingzi Lu, a 23-year-old Chinese graduate student at Boston University; Krystle Campbell, a 29-year-old restaurant manager; and Martin Richard, the 8-year-old. Massachusetts Institute of Technology police Officer Sean Collier was shot and killed during the brothers' getaway attempt.

In a statement, Collier's family welcomed the verdict and added: "The strength and bond that everyone has shown during these last two years proves that if these terrorists thought that they would somehow strike fear in the hearts of people, they monumentally failed."

Some of the most damning evidence included video showing Tsarnaev planting a backpack containing one of the bombs near where the 8-year-old was standing, and incriminating statements scrawled inside the dry-docked boat where a wounded and bleeding Tsarnaev was captured days after the tragedy.

"Stop killing our innocent people and we will stop," he wrote.

Tsarnaev's lawyers barely cross-examined the government's witnesses and called just four people to the stand over less than two days, all in an effort to portray the older brother as the guiding force in the plot.

Witnesses testified about phone records that showed Dzhokhar was at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth while his brother was buying bomb components, including pressure cookers and BBs. A forensics expert said Tamerlan's computer showed search terms such as "detonator," "transmitter and receiver," while Dzhokhar was largely spending time on Facebook and other social media sites.

The two brothers, who's family emigrated to the USA from Chechnya, ambushed and fatally shot MIT campus police officer Sean Collier days after the bombing before carjacking a motorist at a Cambridge, MA gas station and led police on a high-speed chase ending in a shootout in Watertown, MA after the two brothers lobbed explosives at pursuing officers. An MBTA Transit officer was fatally wounded while Tamerlane Tsaraev was hit by gunfire and run over by Dzhokhar as he sped off in the getaway car. After an afternoon of house-to-house searches, the younger Tsarnaev brother was taken into custody after a Watertown resident discovered an injured Dzhokhar hiding on his boat which was being kept in his backyard.

What remains to be seen is whether or not Tsarnaev will get the death penalty. While Massachusetts hasn't had the death penalty in more than 30 years, Dzhokhar is up on federal terrorism charges and remains eligible for being executed at a federal penitentiary.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Quickie Sports Chowdah Update- The Butler Did It! Patriots Win 4th Super Bowl on Malcom Butler's Late Pick; Say Clay- Buchholz Hurls Gem in 2015 Season Opener

SUPER BOWL- I know I'm more than 2 months behind on this, but WOW.

All you need to know about Super Bowl XLIX took place in the second half. After the Patriots defense gave up an 11 yard TD pass from Russell Wilson to WR Chris Matthews in the closing seconds of the first half, Seattle and New England headed into the 3rd quarter tied at 14-14.

Glendale, AZ's University of Phoenix Stadium has been home to some cringe-worthy moment for Patriots fans in the past and in the 3rd quarter, it appeared to be happening again as the Seahawks took a 24-14 lead.

About 7 minutes into the 4th quarter, the Patriots cut Seattle's lead to 3 point thanks to a TD pass from Brady to Danny Amendola to make it 24-21. Just before the two minute warning, New England would take a 28-24 lead thanks to Brady connecting to Julian Edelman for a 4 yard TD pass.

However, Patriots fans had that sinking feeling when Seahawks QB Russel Wilson connecting with WR Jermaine Kearse for a 33 yard completion- it was bobbled and appeared to be incomplete as Kearse scooped it up, but a video review from the officials showed that the ball had never touched the ground, giving the Seahawks the ball on the Patriots 5 yard line with 1:06 to go in regulation. After a timeout, Wilson handed off the ball to RB Marshawn Lynch to put the ball on New England's 1-yard line and giving the Seahawks no fewer than three shots at the end zone as the clock ticked down.

For whatever reason, Pats head coach Bill Belichick declined to take a timeout as the clocked ticked down to less than 30 seconds. Instead of handing the ball off to Lynch, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll opted for a short pass with 20 seconds remaining in the game. It would not turn out well for Seattle.

Obscure and unheralded cornerback Malcom Butler singlehandedly sealed the win for New England thanks to his pick of Wilson's short pass attempt to give New England the ball back at a pivotal juncture in the game. The Patriots were flagged for excessive celebration and penalized half the distance to the end zone- basically putting the ball on the one foot line and giving the Seahawks a pretty good shot at a safety, but after a scrum between Bruce Irvin and Rob Gronkowski, the Seahawks were penalized fifteen yards, which gave New England some more wiggle room. After a kneeldown by Brady, the Patriots 28-24 win was official.

Tom Brady was named the Super Bowl MVP [the third time he garnered the award in the four Super Bowl titles New England has won in the Brady/Belicheck era- NANESB!]. After the game, Brady gifted Butler a brand new pickup truck from a Chevrolet dealership in Butler's Mississippi hometown.

Carroll- who was the Patriots head coach before his USC tenure- was questioned for his decision to go for a pass play after Marshawn Lynch had easily picked up four yards on the previous play. Some less-than-kind Patriots fans joked that at long last Carroll had followed through on winning a championship for New England some 15 years after he left.

While some sour grapes Seahawks fans wanted to use New England's championship to gripe about 'Deflategate', the Super Bowl XLIX shold be considered by many NFL fans to ba an 'instant classic'.

MLB OPENING DAY- The Red Sox got it done with the longball and a solid outing from Clay Buchholz in his first-ever opening day start as Boston opened up the 2015 MLB season on the road in Philadelphia.

The Red Sox got on the board early with a 362ft solo shot off the bat of Dustin Pedroia to give Boston a 1-0 lead. Outfielder Mookie Betts belted another solo homer to deep left field off of Phillies starter Cole Hammels in the top of the 3rd. Buchholz would go on to throw even complete shutout innings as the Red Sox added to their lead with solo homers from Pedroia and offseason acquisition Hanley Ramirez in the fifth inning.

Junichi Tazawa would come on and get all three of the Phillies batters he faced out in order in the 8th inning and Hanley Ramirez would belt a grand slam to give Boston an 8-0 lead and Tommy Layne closed things out in the bottom of the 9th.

Through his 7 innings of work, Buchholz allowed a total of three hits and struck out nine while walking one batter. Meanwhile, Hammels only lasted five innings, giving up four earned runs on five hits.

With Tuesday off, the Red Sox will put their undefeated record on the line against the Phillies on Wednesday. Offseason acquisition Rick Porcello will get the start for Boston against Philly's Aaron Harang. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 ET and the game will be televised on NESN and ESPN2.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

High Steaks- Missouri Lawmaker Calls for Pork Steak Rebellion After EPA Mulls Regulations For BBQ Grills

Not content with restricting what kind of woodstoves New Englanders can have in their homes, the EPA is setting their sights on what kind of outdoor grills that people can use during cookouts.

The agency awarded a $15,000 grant to the University of California-Riverside to look into technology for grills that is intended to "reduce air pollution as well as health hazards in Southern California, with potential for global application". This has led to some concerns that the EPA will introduce further restrictions on newly manufactured propane grills.

One Missouri state lawmaker has taken exception to the EPA's maneuvering and has called for a campaign of defiance and civil disobedience dubbed the 'Pork Steak Rebellion' to preemptively thwart any moves by the agency.

It's a sentiment shared by State Senator Eric Schmitt.

Although this is not a new law the agency pushing to get on the books, Senator Schmitt isn't taking any chances.

He introduced a resolution discouraging any regulations on the tradition of backyard barbecuing. The lawmaker has a lot of support from people who couldn't agree more.

Schmitt has also taken his campaign to twitter--#porksteakrebellion--encouraging people to barbeque in their backyards.

Meanwhile, in Texas, Austin's city council is mulling an ordinance that would require BBQ joints or mobile food vendors within 150 feet of a residence to install restaurant grade scrubbers. Some businesses have stated they would have to move of shut down altogether due to the high cost of compliance.
Several council members believe the smoke being emitted from these businesses are having an adverse affect on the health and quality of life of the people who live nearby. Renteria says he’s fielded calls from concerned constituents.

“Saying that if this keeps on, they were just going to have to sell their house and move out,” said Renteria. “The whole resolution is not to try and run anyone out of business it’s just we all want to be good neighbors.”

This requirement does not apply to locations that burn supplemental wood chips and chunks in stove-top box smokers using gas-powered stoves or grills.

“We would have to leave town most likely, or just close up because it’s just not an option to put scrubbers in for eight smoke stacks,” explained Aaron Franklin, founder of the popular Franklin BBQ on East 11th Street.

Franklin says a solution is out there but they just have to find one so Austinites can enjoy BBQ without living in smoke.

“This BBQ thing creates a ton of revenue here in town,” said Franklin, who understands that something needs to be done to help neighbors cope with the smoke, but he feels that scrubbers are not the answer.

As recently as last year, the Texas state environmental agency- the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality- had received complaints about smoke had visited multiple BBQ joints in Austin, but in those instances the TCEQ found no violations.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Escape Claws- Truckload of Lobsters Overturns on Interstate 95 in Maine

In what must have been the crustacean equivalent of that one scene from The Fugitive, a tractor-trailer carrying 30,000 lbs of lobster overturned on I-95 in Maine last week.

A tractor-trailer carrying 30,000 pounds of live lobsters from Nova Scotia overturned early Wednesday morning on Interstate 95 southbound during whiteout conditions, according to the driver and state police.

The driver, Horst Puff, 55, of Greenfield, Nova Scotia, and his dog, Banjo, 10, were not injured in the crash, which occurred around midnight Tuesday as Puff tried to avoid striking a vehicle that had spun out in front of him, both he and state police Trooper Joseph Chretien said at the scene later Wednesday.

“I’m OK,” Puff said, as he stood on I-95, his back against the wind. “There were dry roads from Bangor down to here. Everything was OK.”

He said then there was blowing snow, whiteout conditions and a car in front of him. “The car hit the brakes. I hit the brakes,” he said. “I saw nothing and came too far left and tipped over and Banjo went on top of me. He was on my chest.”

The car that was in front of the truck never stopped, and the driver’s identity is not known, police said.

The truck came to rest in the median about two miles north of exit 133 and near the Fairfield town line. There it stayed all day Wednesday, before it was finally removed around 7 p.m. The truck had to be righted with a crane, and the difficulty as well as the strong wind that blew all day delayed the move. Both southbound lanes were briefly closed for the removal.

Puff was driving the 2007 International truck owned by Gerhardt Trucking of Nova Scotia, taking the lobsters to wholesalers in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Rhode Island.

The lobsters, in 300 crates that weighed about 100 pounds each, survived the wreck and were being taken out of state following inspection by a state agriculture official, Chretien said.

Banjo, a ten year old Australian Shepherd-husky mix, survived the collision and is being cared for at nearby Boulet's Truck Service in Fairfield, ME. Gerhardt sent another truck and trailer down from Nova Scotia to bring the lobsters to their destination in New York. Investigators and the insurance company have said that the truck would most likely be written off as a total loss.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Today's Train Of Thought- Batten Down the Hatches! March 26th, 2015

With today's train of thought, we bid farewell to a particularly eventful and record-setting winter with this Christmas-card like scene in a quiet corner of upstate New York.

Interchanging with Pan-Am's former Boston & Maine Fitchburg Main at the tiny hamlet of Eagle Bridge, NY, the Batten Kill operates some 30 miles of track in rural Washington County on the ex-Delaware & Hudson 'Slatepicker' line between Eagle Bridge and Salem, NY [which used to run further north to Rutland, VT- NANESB!] as well as the former Greenwich & Johnsonville line between Greenwich and Greenwich Jct, NY.

The primary source of traffic for the Batten Kill is a feed mill around Greenwich Jct, but in recent years the line has also made some extra money storing freight cars on the seldom-used line to Salem during the economic downturn. Up until 10 years ago, the Batten Kill also offered passenger excursions and an intact-but-disused line to the eastern shore of the Hudson at Thomson from Greenwich once made it an attractive candidate for hauling unit trains of PCB contaminated sludge from the river as part of a multi-year dredging project undertaken by GE.

The railroad is best known among northeastern railfans for their historic all-ALCo roster, though. Technically the railroad owns three RS3 roadswitchers- the youngest of which is 62 years old. BKRR #605 started out life on the Lehigh and Hudson River before winding up in Vermont- first as part of the St Johnsbury and Lamoille County and then the Vermont Railway- before being sold to the Batten Kill upon its 1982 formation. The Batten Kill also inherited RS3 #4116 from predecessor Greenwich & Johnsonvlle and is still painted in the orange and black scheme. The third RS3 was also purchased secondhand from the Vermont railway and is kept as a parts supply behind the Greenwich enginehosue.

However, the Batten Kill has also been known to borrow motive power from the nearby Vermont Railway, Canadian Pacific or Pan Am if there are problems with the #605 and #4116 simultaneously or the enginehouse has been cut off from the rest of the line. Most recently, a burly Pan Am SD40-2 was brought in to help the two ALCo raodswitchers with removing more than 40 COFC spine cars that were in storage on the line in February 2015.

Here, Batten Kill #605 is seen with the tiny railroad's flanger at the Pan-Am interchange in Eagle Bridge, NY in the last rays of sunlight on Valentine's Day 2014. According to photographer Colin Buckoski, the #605 headed down with the flanger to clear the line and headed back to the feed mill in Greenwich Jct with five cars from Pan-Am later on that night.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Oregon's Governor Resigns Amid Ethics, "Green Energy" Scandal

Oregon's four term Democrat governor John Kitzhaber announced his resignation last week amid growing pressure from an ethics investigation and reports that his fiancée was involved in a 'Green Energy' pay-to-play scheme.

According to media reports, Kitzhaber's fiancée- Cylvia Hayes- acted in a rather dubious triple role, acting as Oregon's de-facto First Lady, the governor's 'green energy' adviser and a paid consultant for the 'green energy' industry. However, while serving as Kitzhaber's unpaid energy advisor, Hayes reportedly pocketed $118,000 in consulting fees from various green energy lobbying firms- including some tied to billionaire democrat donor Tom Steyer- that she failed to disclose on her ethics filings for the governor's office.

While serving as an unpaid policy adviser for the governor’s office, Ms. Hayes collected $118,000 in fellowship and consulting fees from the Clean Economy Development Center, a Washington-based nonprofit, for work on low-carbon fuel standard legislation in Oregon.

Ms. Hayes never disclosed the payments on her ethics filings for the governor’s office.

The Clean Economy Development Center went out of business after the IRS pulled its tax-exempt status. Before it did, the center received funding for Ms. Hayes‘ fellowship from another nonprofit, the Energy Foundation, which in 2012 received $200,000 in funding from Mr. Steyer’s “TomKat” Charitable Trust, according to the group’s latest 990 tax form.

The Energy Foundation hired Ms. Hayes directly in 2013 for communications work, giving her a contract of $50,000, according to documents and interviews.

The web of payments, the failure to disclose and questions about influence peddling have prompted the state’s attorney general to open an ethics investigation. Republican state lawmakers also have demanded a suspension of the new fuel legislation, which would keep Oregon’s low carbon fuel standards in place instead of expiring this year.

Hayes is also suing The Oregonian in a move designed to prevent the release of e-mails she sent while working as a consultant to the governor. Her lawyers argue that Hayes is technically not a public official, despite closing some e-mails with the initials FLO- First Lady of Oregon.

These wouldn't be the first shady dealings that Hayes was involved in. In 2002, Hayes reportedly accepted $5000 to take part in a sham marriage to an Ethiopian immigrant and in the 1990s she was accused of participating in a scheme to buy acreage in Washington state to grow marijuana on.

Meanwhile, the FBI and IRS are investigating Kitzhaber, Hayes, former staffers and state officials on possible charges of tax evasion and influence peddling while the Willamette Week released more of Hayes' emails that indicated she sought to leverage her position with the governor to land additional lucrative contracts.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Bay State Digging Out From Nearly 80 Inches of Accumulated Snow

Mark Garfinkel- Boston Herald.

After January's Winter Storm Juno largely failed to live up to the hype, Massachusetts has been walloped by a series of winter storms leaving much of the state under anywhere between 70 and 90 inches of snow, with two more storms expected to hit New England later on this week.

The earlier storms have hobbled MBTA service around Boston and already postponed the first round of the Beanpot College Hockey tournament. Now the city of Boston and other municipalities are running out of places to put the cleared snow. On Monday, Gov Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency as local officials contemplate dumping snow in Boston Harbor.

The big issue for us at this point is not just this storm but the cumulative impact of these three storms of the past two weeks, many places will now have had somewhere between 70 and 80 inches of snow having fallen in the past 14 days. On 'statewide roads that's probably manageable because they can push it off onto the shoulders," said Baker.

"But for municipal governments the big issue at this point is where to put it."

The state has 3,500 pieces of equipment currently working on roads and highways that Baker expects will go to aid cities and towns in the coming days.

Boston mayor Marty Walsh announced in a Tuesday press conference that the city has already spent double its annual budget for snow removal this month. So far, Boston has had a total of 77 inches this season. According to Gov. Baker, enough snow has been removed from state highways to fill up Gillette Stadium more than 90 times. Worcester seemed to bear the brunt of the most recent storms [apparently this one was named Marcus- NANESB!], earning the dubious honor of being the snowiest city in the USA (with a population of more than 100,000). Some estimates for accumulated snow in the central Massachusetts city put the total in excess of 90 inches. During the winter of 2012-2013, Worcester briefly held the honor of the snowiest city in America with a total of 108.9 inches before being surpassed by Syracuse, NY with more than 115 inches.

Bruce MacDonald-
The MBTA announced that they were resuming limited service starting Wednesday after crews worked to clear nearly 7 feet of snow from lines in and around Boston.

The commuter rail system will operate on a modified weekday schedule, making approximately 70 percent of the regularly scheduled trips. The trains will not serve Plymouth, TF Green or Wickford Junction stations on Wednesday. The Green and Blue lines will operate, but with fewer cars and less frequent service. Service will also be restored on the Red and Orange lines, but the level of service won't be determined until later on Tuesday. Buses will replace service on the Mattapan Trolley Line.

MBTA general manager Dr. Beverly Scott defended the agency from critics after the agency's shutdown, citing the agency's aging railroad an subway equipment and deferred maintenance as contributing factors to the recent service disruptions.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Quickie Super Bowl Weekend Sports Chowdah Update- Seahawks, Patriots set to Square off in Super Bowl; King-Sized- Bruins take on Defending Stanley Cup Champions at the Garden

NFL- least one of the Championship games was an instant classic.

Surprisingly the NFC title game on the West Coast got underway first, with the Green Bay Packers jumping out to an early 16-0 lead over the Seahawks up in Seattle in the first half thanks to three first half interceptions. However, Seattle's defense stiffened after those turnovers and more than once the Packers had to settle for a FG instead of getting 7 points.

In the seconds half, the Seahawks came roaring back and with just 1:25 to go in regulation they managed to take their first lead of the day on a 24 yard Marshawn Lynch TD run to put Seattle up 22-19 before the Packers managed to tie the contest up with 14 seconds to go on a 48 yard Mason Crosby field goal, forcing overtime.

After winning the coin toss, the Seahawks took the ball and won the game on a 35 yard TD pass from Russell Wilson to Jermaine Kearse, sending the Seahawks to their second consecutive Superbowl.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS- The late game on Championship Sunday wasn't quite as close.

For the first time since 2006 and the first time since Manning departed for Denver, the Patriots and the Colts faced off in the postseason. In what would be the start of a trend, LeGarette Blount put New England on the board early after Josh Cribbs fumbled a punt that was recovered by New England inside the Colts 30 yard line.

The Patriots would get out to a quick 14-0 lead before the Colts got on the board with about five minutes to go in the first half from a short TD run from Zurlon Tipton to make it 14-7. However, the Patriots would add to their lead thanks to a Gostkowski FG with 9 seconds left in the half.

The second half was all New England as they would go on to score 28 unanswered points in the second half, including two more TD runs from Legarette Blount. The Patriots go on to win by a 45-7 final and advance to face the Seahawks in the Superbowl.

However, in the weeks leading up to Superbowl 49, the talk amongst the media has been about how the footballs used in the AFC title game were examined by the NFL and found to be underinflated. This created a unusually protracted media firestorm dubbing the scandal 'deflate-gate'- as though slightly underinflated balls were somehow responsible for the Colts defense collapsing like a house of cards whenever LeGarette Blount was carrying the ball.

Anywhoo, I've pretty much been embargoing the media and their vapid fixation on deflated balls in the runup to Superbowl 49. What I do know is that the big game kicks off Sunday night at 6:30 and will be televised on NBC

NHL- From one defending national champion going up against a New England team to another. After stumbling out of the gate, the Boston Bruins are having a pretty good 2015 so far.

Coming off a 5-2 win on the road against the Islanders on Thursday, Saturday night saw the Bruins hosting the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings. It looked as though the Bruins got on the board early in the closing seconds of the first period, but that goal was waved off when officials determined the clock was at 00:00 before the puck was in the net.

Even with the goal waved off, the Bruins managed to get on the board thanks to a Brad Marchand goal in the closing minutes of the second period to give Boston the 1-0 lead. Seven minutes into the third, Jordan Nolan got Los Angeles on the board and tied the game with a goal. However, 90 seconds later Chris Kelly put the Bruins back on top with a goal to make it 2-1 Boston and as the Kings pulled goalie Jonathan Quick late in the 3rd for an extra attacker, Marchand would get an empty-netter, his second of the night to make it 3-1 in favor of Boston.

The Bruins go on to win by the final of 3-1 with Rask stopping 30 of the 31 shots he faced on Saturday night while Quick ended up turning aside 30 of 32.

Boston will get the next couple of days off, with play resuming on Thursday night when they take on the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Puck drops at 8:00 ET and the game will be televised on NBC Sports Network.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

New York's Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver Arrested on Corruption Charges

The powerful and long-serving speaker of New York's state assembly was arrested by the FBI after turning himself in to authorities last week. Silver, who had been in the state Assembly representing Manhatta in 65th Assembly district since 1976, is also a practicing attorney and close political ally of New York City mayor Bill DeBlasio. Siver's income from the law firm of Weitz & Luxenberg had long been the subject of criticism. US Attorney Preet Bharara accused Silver of collecting more than $3 million in bribes and kickbacks that were disguised as referral fees.

In a criminal complaint, authorities said Silver abused his power and “obtained about $4 million in payments characterized as attorney referral fees solely through the corrupt use of his official position.”

The arrest sent shock waves through New York’s Capitol as a new legislative session began, and it came just a day after Silver shared the stage with Gov. Andrew Cuomo during his State of the State address.

As speaker of the Democrat-controlled Assembly, Silver is one of the most influential people in New York state government. Along with the Senate majority leader and the governor, he plays a major role in creating state budgets, laws and policies in a system long-criticized in Albany as “three men in a room.”

During a press conference, Bharara also hinted that more charges could be waiting in the wings against state officials.

In July 2013, New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced the formation of the Moreland Commission to examine New York's weak campaign finance laws and investigate any wrongdoing or suspicious activities among state lawmakers. A few short months after the Commission released their preliminary findings, Cuomo abruptly announced that he was shutting down the Moreland Commission. Some observers believe that any further investigating by the Moreland Commission would've brought to light incriminating information against Cuomo's donors or political allies.

In July 2014, the New York Times published an article further alleging that Gov Cuomo was hindering the Moreland Commission's investigations. Assembly speaker Silver was among those who were subpoenaed by the investigative committee, but accused the Moreland Commission of being nothing more than a 'fishing expedition' and attempting to intimidate state lawmakers.

Although Cuomo shut down the Moreland Commission less than halfway into its stated 18-month lifespan, the US Attorney's office was requesting documents from them back in May 2014.

It wasn't until last month that Silver disclosed that he was earning money from a second law firm- something he withheld from the Moreland Commission.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Boko Haram Terror Group Seizes Northern Nigerian Towns

Two weeks after the northeastern Nigerian town of Baga was attacked and torched by the Islamist terror group Boko Haram, the group launched simultaneous attacks on two municipalities near the border with Chad and Cameroon.

Monguno, a town of about 100,000 people in northeast Nigeria, is about a 135-kilometer (85-mile) drive from Maiduguri, a city of more than 600,000. Both cities are tucked into the corner of the country, near the borders with Chad and Cameroon.

Babagana Musa, a Monguno resident who fled to Maiduguri, said, "Several trucks carrying soldiers drove into Maiduguri. We learned the town (Monguno) has been taken over by Boko Haram."

Monguno, with its huge military barracks, has a strategic importance ‎in that it acts as a buffer to keep Boko Haram from advancing towards Maiduguri. Its fall means Boko Haram is in good position to advance on Maiduguri, which has been its goal for months.

Boko Haram had been confined to the fishing town of Baga since its fighters seized it January 3, hesitant to move south towards Maiduguri because of the military presence in Monguno.

The Islamists attacked the nearby village of Jintilo around 5 a.m. and were engaged in a gunbattle with troops stationed there. The village is about 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the center of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state.

The fighting in Jintilo forced residents to evacuate their homes and flee into the city, while military authorities imposed a round-the-clock curfew to prevent infiltration by the militants.

"All the residents of neighborhoods near Jintilo have fled into the city due to the ongoing battle between troops and Boko Haram gunmen who want to enter the city," said Modu Zannari, who lives nearby.

"Boko Haram gunmen in their hundreds attacked Jintilo around 5 a.m., just before the morning prayers, but soldiers stationed there fought back," Zannari said

"Since 5 a.m. all we hear are cracking of guns and booming explosions coming from the direction of Jintilo," said Babakaka Said, a resident of another neighborhood near the scene of the fighting.

"There have been radio announcements of indefinite curfew in the city and we have all been asked to remain indoors," said Adam Kolo‎, who lives in the heart of the city.

Hundreds of troop reinforcements deployed in Jintilo and military jets carried out aerial bombardment of Boko Haram positions, said a member of a civilian vigilante group fighting Boko Haram alongside troops.

The attack came a day after President Goodluck Jonathan made a campaign stop in Maiduguri ahead of the February 14 presidential election. He has promised to end the Boko Haram insurgency if re-elected.

Boko Haram is also believed to be responsible for a cross-border raid into neighboring Cameroon where three were killed and as many as 80 people were abducted- many of them children.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Northeastern States Brace for First Major Blizzard of 2015

Winter storm warnings and travel advisories are in effect for much of the Northeast from West Virginia to Maine and Canadian Maritime Provinces as a massive winter storm [named Juno- how long have they been naming winter storms? Seems like a recent phenomenon- NANESB!] bears down on the region.

While cities like New York and Boston could get as much as 2 feet from winter storm Juno, outlying and mountainous areas could be getting as much as three feet overnight. Airlines and commuter agencies are suspending service ahead of Juno's arrival while state, municipal and county officials are prepping sand and salt trucks to deal with the snowfall.

The governors of Massachusetts and Connecticut have issued travel bans for their respective highways that will go into effect on Monday night. In Boston, Logan airport, the MBTA and state offices will be closed on Tuesday. Newly sworn-in governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts also cautioned that some areas could expect power outages because of the wet heavy snow.

Airports from New England to Washington DC cancelled more than 5000 flights on Monday, with most of the cancellations around the New York-area airports like Newark-Liberty, La Guardia and JFK. Amtrak announced there were no cancellations as of Monday, but would be re-evaluating throughout the day and running a modified schedule starting Tuesday.

Monday night is a pretty light sports schedule with no games scheduled in the NHL the night after the All-Star game in Columbus, OH on Sunday. There are 7 games scheduled in the NBA tonight, but two of them in New York- Portland vs Brooklyn and Sacramento vs the Knicks- have been postponed.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Today's Train of Thought- Happy Australia Day! Jan 25th, 2015

Today's Train of Thought takes us (where else?) Down Under to Australia.

While railways elsewhere in Australia were something of an amalgamation of different gauges and engineering techniques [that apparently weren't brought to a single national standard until the 1980s- NANESB!] the iron-ore railroads of Western Australia's Pilbarra region operate some of the biggest trains in the world in some of the most inhospitable terrain on earth.

One of the first iron-ore lines in northwestern Australia was the Hammersley Iron line between the port of Dampier and the then newly-opened Tom Price mine more than 300km inland back in 1966. Japanese manufacturers sought massive quantities of iron-ore from the Pilbarra region and in no time, 230+ car trains of iron ore began winding their way from mines in the unforgiving interior to waiting vessels in Dampier. To the east, a competing iron-ore railway called the Mount Newman Railway was under construction and by August 1969 saw the first iron-ore trains on its rails.

Much more recently, Fortescue Metals Group sought rail service their Cloud Break mine and Port Hedland some 250 miles away. Before spending more than A$2 billion on a mew line, Fortescue sought access to Cloud Break by way of obtaining trackage rights on BHP Billiton's Mt Newman line. However, that faced legal challenges and Fortescue ended up building their own iron-ore line to Port Hedland, with work completed by 2008.

Meanwhile, like railroads in the US, the other western Australia iron-ore rail lines were subject to mergers and consolidations [although unlike the boom and bust cycles in the USA, the Aussie lines have seen steady growth since opening up- NANESB!] and the original Hammersely iron line came under the control of multinational Rio Tino.

Here, contributor Sean McGarraghy caught Rio Tinto ES44AC #8185 on the point of a northbound ore train as it makes its way through Millstream-Chichester National Park on its way to Dampier on May 14th, 2014. These massive trains routinely exceed 230 cars and often require additional power in the middle of the train.

While on the subject of Australia, the Miss Universe pageant was on Sunday. While Miss Australia, Tegan Martin, made the final cut of 10, the grand prize was awarded to Miss Colombia.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Long Overdue Championship Weekend Sports Chowdah Update- Nevermore! Patriots Rally Past Ravens, Advance to AFC Title Games; Kung Fu Gripping, Red Sox Sign Pablo Sandoval; Pedro, Big Unit Biggio and Smoltz Heading to Cooperstown; B's Blank Blueshirts; Rondo Heads to Dallas

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS- Heading into the playoffs, the Patriots weren't looking particularly sharp. After thrashing the Miami Dolphins in weeks 15- avenging their season-opening loss and New England won the division in convincing fashion. However, the Patriots barely bested the Jets in the Meadowlands in Week 16 thanks to a 17-16 win over New York and fell to Buffalo by a 17-6 final after starting most of their second-stringers.

After a first round bye, the Patriots were set to host Baltimore after the Ravens upended the AFC North champion Steelers in the first round. This would be the fourth time since the 2009 season that the Ravens and Patriots met in the playoffs, with Baltimore winning two out of the first three matchups.

Early on, it looked as though it appeared the Ravens would add to their all-time playoff lead against the Patriots. Ravens QB Joe Flacco took their first two possessions and marched down the field for two quick TDs to take a 14-0 lead while the Ravens defense held New England to a couple of three-and-outs in the first quarter.

However, late in the first the Patriots put together a good-looking drive that included a 40 yard completion from Brady to Gronkowski and was capped by a 4 yard TD run by Brady on 3rd and goal. New England got on the board with 48 seconds left in the first and it was now a 14-7 game.

Despite increased pressure on the pocket from the Ravens defense, a fired-up Tom Brady managed to find the end zone late in the 2nd quarter on a 15 yard completion to Danny Amendola- with the WR fighting for key extra yardage to get into the end zone to tie the game at 14-14 after Stephen Gostkowski's point-after. However, almost as soon as the momentum was swinging the Patriots way, the Ravens came up with a key pick at mid-field with just over a minute to go in the half. Joe Flacco and company made the most of that thanks to a pass-interference call against Patriots CB Darelle Revis. With only 10 seconds to go, the Ravens quieted the crowd at Foxborough with an 11 yard TD pass from Flacco to TE Owen Daniels to put Baltimore back on top, 21-14.

In the second half, the Ravens managed to get a pass-interference call on 4th and 6 to set them up inside the New England red zone- altho they were pushed further back to the 16. However, Flacco connected with RB Justin Fosett for a 16 yard TD reception and give Baltimore a 28-14 lead and giving New England a bigger hole to climb out of. However, that's exactly what Brady and company did, with the Patriots QB connecting with Gronkowski on a five yard TD pass to make it a 21-28 game with 6:48 to go in the 3rd. After holding the Ravens to a 3 and out, Baltimore was forced to punt and the Patriots were able to start from their own 30.

What happened next could undoubtedly be considered the highlight of the game. After moving the ball to midfield on two quick plays, Brady quickly lateralled the ball to WR Julian Edelman. Edelman then threw the ball to a wide open follow WR Danny Amendola for a 51 yard TD pass to tie the game at 28-28.

On Baltimore's next possession, DB Devin McCourty picked off Flacco at the Ravens 37, giving New England a short field that they were unable to capitalize on. On the Ravens' next possession, they managed to march down the field pretty efficiently, including converting on a 4th and 1 along the way- but were shut out of the end zone, forced to settle for a FG with 10:17 left in the 4th quarter. With the Ravens back on top by a 31-28 score, New England couldn't afford any more three and outs.

Starting on their own 26 yard line with 10:10 remaining in regulation, the Patriots offense managed to get big chunks of yards while burning off some of the clock. With 5:13 left in the game, the Patriots took their first lead of the day on a perfectly thrown 23 yard TD pass from Brady to WR Brandon LaFell, putting the Patriots on top 35-31. Flacco once again put together a solid drive, getting to midfield in time for the 2 minute warning. However, with 1:38 left, Flacco went long from the Patriots 36 yard line only to be picked off in the end zone by Patriots SS Duron Harmon. The Ravens still had a timeout left, which prevented New England from simply kneeling down three times in the victory formation and running out the clock, so Ryan Allen had to punt. The Ravens got the ball back on midfield with just 4 seconds left, giving Baltimore just enough time for a hail-mary pass that the Patriots managed to bat out of the end zone.

The Patriots would only lead for just over five minutes, but it was all they'd need as they go on to win by a 35-31 final in what many are already calling an instant classic.

ELSEWHERE IN THE NFL PLAYOFFS- The New England Patriots will be facing the Indianapolis Colts and starting QB Andrew Luck in the AFC championship game this weekend at Foxborough. As rusty as the Patriots looked in the first quarter, the Broncos looked almost as bad for their entire game after their first round bye. Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos fell to his former team, losing by a 24-13 final at Denver. So demoralizing was the loss that the Broncos fired head coach John Fox within days and many are openly speculating that this may be the end of QB Peyton Manning's career, if not his tenure with the Broncos.

Meanwhile, in what was dubbed 'Ice Bowl II', the Cowboys made their first postseason visit to Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI since the 1967 NFL Championship Game. While the temperatures were much more mild than in 1967, like the original title game the Packers ultimately prevailed- although what looked like a 32 yard completion from Cowboys QB Tony Romo to receiver Dez Bryant on 4th and 2 that would've put the ball on the Green Bay 1 yard line was overturned after challenged by Green Bay. The Packers would go on to win by a 26-21 final and will face the Seattle Seahawks in the Pacific Northwest for the NFC title next week. Seattle beat NFC South champions Carolina by a 35-17 final.

ELSEWHERE IN THE NFL- With the end of the regular season, a number of new coaching vacancies and hirings have been announced. On Friday, the Chicago Bears announced that recently-dismissed Denver head coach John Fox would be their new head coach. Meanwhile, former Jets head coach Rex Ryan will be staying within the AFC East as the Buffalo Bills named him their new head coach after Doug Marrone opted out of his contract.

The biggest news came earlier this month when- after weeks of speculation- San Francisco 49ers and head coach Jim Harbuagh parted ways at the end of the regular season. By December 30th, the University of Michigan announced Harbaugh as their head coach, replacing Brady Hoke after a disappointing 2014 campaign.

RED SOX- The Red Sox have been letting no grass grow under their feet in the offseason. After signing Koji Uehara to a two year contract extension, Boston signed free agent 3rd baseman Pablo Sandoval to a five year, $100 million contract. During his 2014 championship run with the San Francisco Giants, Sandoval batted .279 with 16 homers and 73 RBI. The same week as the massive Sandoval deal was announced, Boston announced that one-time prospect Hanley Ramirez was signed to a 4 year deal worth an estimated $80 million.

Another former Red Sox farmhand returning home is Justin Masterson, who Boston signed to a one year contract worth just over $9 million in December. The Red Sox also ended up trading OF Yoenis Cespedes, RHP Alex Wilson and a prospect to the Tigers for starting pitcher Rick Porcello who was 15-13 with a 3.43 ERA with Detroit last year. Within a day of the Porcello deal, the Red Sox also sent starters Rubby De LaRosa and Allen Webster to Arizona in exchange for pitcher Wade Miley.

De LaRosa and Webster weren't the only Red Sox to make their way to the NL West- shortly before Christmas, the Red Sox announced that they had sent 3B Will Middlebrooks to the San Diego Padres in exchange for C Ryan Hanigan.

BASEBALL HALL OF FAME- The 2015 Baseball Hall of Fame inductees have been announced and Red Sox fans can expect a familiar face among the honorees.

Pitchers Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and John Smoltz were first-ballot hall of famers while former Houston Astros 2B Craig Biggio made it to Cooperstown after his 3rd year of eligibility. Martinez, who has an ERA of 2.93 over his 17 year MLB career, has played for the Dodgers, Expos, Red Sox, Mets and Phillies. However, Martinez's career highlights (and lowlights) were in Boston. During the 1999 ALDS, Martinez came into the game in the 4th inning against the Indians and threw five no-hit innings of relief. The 2004 World Series was one of only two World Series appearances for Pedro- he threw a shutout in Game 3 at Busch Stadium against the Cardinals and even drew a walk in one of his at-bats.

Martinez was an 8 time All Star and has three Cy Young trophies to his name and led the AL in strikeout in 1999, 2000 and 2002.

The lanky Randy Johnson- dubbed "Big Unit"- had a slightly longer career, breaking into the bigs with the Expos in 1988 before playing nearly a decade with the Seattle Mariners. After a single season with the Astros, Johnson then signed with the newly-formed Arizona Diamondbacks in their second season and is best known for his performance in the 2001 World Series where he was credited with three wins in the dramatic 7-game series against the Yankees. In the deciding game 7, then-manager Bob Brenly pulled Curt Schilling in the 8th with one away before bringing in Miguel Batista to get out one batter [who happened to be Derek Jeter- NANESB!] and having Johnson- who started Game 6- come in to pitch relief. Johnson got all four batters he faced out and was credited with the win after Mariano Rivera loaded the bases and Luis Gonzales hit a single past a drawn-in Derek Jeter in the bottom of the 9th.

BOSTON BRUINS- Let's face it- it's been a pretty rough couple of weeks for the Bruins, but not too long after the calendar flipped over to 2015, something seems to be clicking for the B's.

On Thursday night, Tukka Rask turned aside all 30 shots he faced while Boston got goals from Bergeron in the first, Krejci in the second and Eriksson in the 3rd to get by the Rangers 3-0 in a nationally televised contest. The win puts the Bruins back in the playoff picture with about a week to go until the NHL's All Star break.

The win over the Rangers is the Bruin's 5th straight (this includes two shutouts) and Boston hopes to keep the momentum going on Saturday when they travel to Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets. Puck is scheduled to drop at 7:00 ET and the game will be televised on NESN.

2014 NHL WINTER CLASSIC- The 2015 NHL Winter Classic has come and gone- taking place at Nationals Park in Washington DC on New Years day with the Capitals hosting the Blackhawks.

The Capitals got out to a pretty quick 2-0 lead with tallies by Eric Fehr and Alex Ovechkin, but thanks to goals by Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad, the Blackhawks were able to tie the contest up at 2-2 in the second. It looked as though the contest would be headed to overtime, but a late penalty on the Blackhawks led to a Caps power play and with 12 seconds left in regulation, Troy Brouwer was able to give Washington a 3-2 lead with a late goal on the man advantage. The Capitals would hang on to win in the remaining 11 seconds of regulation by a final of 3-2.

According to and TSN's Bob McKenzie, Boston is reportedly the front-runner to host the 2016 Winter Classic. Fenway Park was the host for the 2010 Winter Classic where the Bruins hosted the Flyers. However, there has been no official word from the NHL and other venues such as Denver or the Twin Cities are also reportedly under consideration. An announcement from the league is expected by February.

NCAA WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL- Regrettably, I missed most of the Volleyball season- although I was able to catch some of the finals back in December.

The Brigham Young Cougars women's volleyball team holds the distinction of becoming the first NCAA women's volleyball program to advance to the finals after upending #14 Nebraska and #2 Texas. However the Lady Cougars were swept by defending champions Penn State. This would be the Nittany Lions 2nd consecutive women's volleyball title, giving Penn State an NCAA record total of seven volleyball titles and their sixth in the last eight years.

BYU fell in three sets (21-25, 24-26 and 14-25) to the Nittany Lions at Oklahoma City's Chesapeake Center. Nittany Lion juniors Megan Courtney and Aiyana Whitney led the offense with 11 kills each while senior Nia Grant had nine kills to her credit.

NCAA FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP- With the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl serving as a playoff for the first ever NCAA FBS Championship playoff, the Oregon Ducks made quick work of the Florida State Seminoles on New Year's Day [with Ducks fans and players mocking QB Jameis Winston by chanting "Noooo means Noooo!" to the tune of the Seminoles fight song after the game- NANESB!] after beating FSU by a 59-20 final. The loss was Florida State's first in 29 games- including last year's NCAA Championship game, which was the last under the old system.

Later on that day, the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans would determine who the Ducks faced in the NCAA title game. This one turned out to be much closer, with the Ohio State Buckeyes prevailing over Alabama by a 42-35 final. This set up a Jan 12th meeting between the Ducks and Buckeyes at AT&T stadium in Arlington, TX for all the marbles [for the first time ever, no less- NANESB!]. Early in the matchup that featured Heisman-winning QB Marcus Mariotta against the Buckeye's 3rd string quarterback was going Oregon's way early on, with the Ducks getting out to an early 7-0 lead before Ohio State seemed to find their footing and go on to win by a 42-20 thanks in large part to Ezekiel Elliot's 4TD and 246 yard performance.

NCAA FCS CHAMPIONSHIP- After holding off a late rally by Illinois State, the North Dakota State Bison have won their fourth straight FCS title last weekend. The NDSU Bison were trailing the Redbirds 27-23 late before re-taking the lead on a 5 yard rushing TD from Carson Wentz to give North Dakota State a 29-27 lead. Just to make the final minute of regulation more interesting, the point after attempt was successfully blocked by the Redbirds.

With less than a minute to go, Illinois State was able to put together a drive that got them to midfield, but with just 8 seconds left, Redbirds QB Tre Robertson threw an interception to seal the win for the Bisons.

NBA- It's the end of the era for the Boston Celtics as the last of the Big Three from the 2008 Championship team was traded away to the Dallas Mavericks. In return for Rondo, Dallas will send Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder and Jameer Nelson to the C's and Boston will also receive a conditional first round pick in the 2015 draft and a second round pick in the 2016 draft.

Rondo, who had spent his entire NBA career in a Celtics uniform prior to the December 18th trade, returned to the Garden on January 2nd and had a season best 29 points as the Mavericks cruised to a 119-101 win over the Celtics.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

US Army Rejects Beretta Proposal for Updated Version of M9 Service Pistol

The US Army has announced that it will be seeking to replace their current M9 series sidearm, presenting a rare and lucrative opportunity for small arms manufacturers both here and overseas. However, the manufacturer of the current Army sidearm may be on the outside looking in.

The Pentagon has invited gunmakers to submit designs for a “modular handgun system.”

Beretta has produced 600,000 M9s for the Department of Defense and is still under contract to produce another 100,000. The M9s were initially made in Italy, but they have been manufactured in the U.S. since 1987.

The venerable Italian arms manufacturer has been in business since 1526 and their 92 series 9mm pistol was chosen to replace the Colt 1911A1 as the US military handgun in the late 1980s. The military version of the Model 92- known in all four branches as the M9- features a metal frame, slide-mounted safety and 15 round magazine. In December, Beretta introduced the M9A3 which featured improvements such as a removable, modular wrap-around grip, a threaded barrel, tritium sights, an under-barrel accessory rail and a 17-round magazine. The pistol itself is sand-colored, a change from the current gunmetal black. Another selling point Beretta highlighted is that the M9A3 would be interchangeable with components and accessories from the current batch of M9s.

However, the Army rejected Beretta's proposal this month and the new Modular Handgun System will most likely use an entirely different platform. Given the widespread use of Glock handguns by police agencies throughout the United States as well as some NATO allies, it would seem logical that some variation of the polymer-framed 9mm Glock 17 was evaluated at some point. Although relatively new, Smith and Wesson's Polymer-framed M&P series pistol is also being evaluated by the Army as a replacement for the M9. Despite being around for less than a decade, Smith & Wesson's M&P series has been adopted by a number of law enforcement agencies in the US, Canada, Europe and Australia- even replacing earlier versions of Glocks in some instances. Smith & Wesson's [NASDAQ: SWHC] bid for the lucrative Modular Handgun System contract will be assisted by General Dynamics [NYSE: GD] Ordnance and Tactical Systems.

Another possibility could be Modular Handgun System being awarded to SIG-Sauer. The US Army Criminal Investigative Division presently carries the SIG P228 [designated the M11- NANESB!] and the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command ordered 5000 polymer-framed SIG SP2022 9mm pistols. The SP2022 has a number of features similar to SIG-Sauer's full-size P226 series pistols, but is lighter thanks to the polymer frame.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

At Least 12 Killed After Islamist Gunmen Attack Office of French Magazine, Assailants Still At Large

Editors of a popular French magazine and three local police officers were killed when masked gunmen stormed the offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris on Wednesday and opened fire. The magazine was firebombed a few years ago after they had published cartoon images of the Islamic prophet Mohammed and chief editor Stéphane Charbonnier was assigned a police bodyguard. Both Charbonnier and his police bodyguard were killed after shortly after the gunmen had forced their way into the building. Eyewitnesses and survivors said that the attack inside the Charlie Hebdo office lasted five minutes and that the three masked gunmen spoke French fluently but also called out "Allah Akhbar!". As local police responded to reports of gunfire in the area and the gunmen opened fire on two officers [both reportedly unarmed- NANESB!]- one of the attackers was videotaped walking up to a wounded policeman laying on the sidewalk and shooting him point blank before getting in a car and driving off with his accomplices. By Wednesday night, the youngest suspect in the attacks had turned himself in to authorities in suburban Paris.

The two suspects still at large have been identified as two brothers- Said Kourachi, 34, and his younger brother Cherif Kourachi, 32. Both suspects were known to both US and French officials- both of them were placed on Homeland Security's No-Fly list while Cherif was jailed for 18 months for attempting travel to Syria in order to aid Islamist fighters fighting US troops in Iraq. More recently, both brothers are said to have travelled to Yemen in 2011 and received training with Al Qaeda affiliates in the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula.