Thursday, February 28, 2013

Manning Pleads Guilty

Army Pfc Bradley Manning has plead guilty to 10 of the 22 changes against him, which carry up to a 20-year sentence.  He is accused to leaking thousands of battlefield reports, 250,000 diplomatic cables, and other classified material to Wikileaks, in what is thought to be the largest ever leak of U.S. government documents.   Prosecutors may still pursue the other 12 charges, including aiding the enemy, which can carry up to a life sentence.

Read the story at BBC News, the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor and the Los Angeles Times.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Remembering The First WTC Attack

Twenty years ago today, terrorists drove a truck bomb into the parking garage of the World Trade Center and set it off, killing six people and injuring over 100 others.  The memory of this attack has been overshadowed by 9/11, when terrorists flew two hijacked airplanes into the Twin Towers of the WTC, setting them on fire and causing them to collapse, taking (along with a plane crash into the Pentagon and another plane crash in rural Pennsylvania) almost 3,000 lives.

Reporting on the anniversary are ABC News, the Mirror, Fox News, CBS News, the Commercial Observer, Bronx News and the New York Post.  Michelle Malkin asks, "Have you forgotten?"

Vulcan And Cerberus Get Nominated

The SETI Institute contest to name the two most recently discovered moons of Pluto has produced its two winners, Vulcan (which garnered the most votes) and Cerberus (which got the second most votes).  Vulcan was the name of a planet thought to be located closer to the sun than Mercury, but is most famous as a world in the science fiction TV series Star Trek and its sequels and movies. In Roman mythology, Vulcan was the god of lava and smoke, and nephew of Pluto, god of the underworld.  Cerberus was the name of the underworld's three-headed guard dog.  Because there is an asteroid named Cerberus, its Greek equivalent Kerberos could possibly be used.  The final say in naming the moons will go to the International Astronomical Union.

Unfortunately, the Walt Disney connection was disqualified.  No moons will be named Mickey, Minnie or Goofy, or even Donald or Daisy, the last two suggested by Findalis of Monkey In The Middle when she commented on my previous post on this matter.

Read the story at the New York Post.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Monday News And Links

Featuring the impending Sequester and other topics:

From Reason, a report from the Office of Management and Budget includes a section about sequestration's effect on an agency that no longer exists.  (A federal agency was discontinued?  Merged into another one, maybe?)

From the Daily Caller, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy says that the Sequester amounts to less than what the federal government borrows in a month.

CNS News reports that some government personnel will not be effected by the Sequester - Barry and his predecessors.

From the American Clarion, the Republicans in the Virginia legislature have voted to implement a 3.5% sales tax and to expand Medicaid in accordance with Obamacare. Looks like Virginia now has two tax-and-spend parties.

From Operation Rescue, over on my side of the Potomac, the Maryland Board of Physicians has placed an abortionist on probation after complaints of "substandard care and verbal abuse".

From Slate, the story of a cholera epidemic in Haiti that has claimed over 8,000 lives, and was caused by the UN.

From Rightwing News, 20 of the best pictures from last weekend's "Day Of Resistance" rallies.

From the Washington Times, Mayor Michael Bloomberg calls for New York State to adopt the same ban on large-container sodas now in effect in New York City.

From Weasel Zippers, Vice President Joe Biden says that Americans are "no longer worried" about the economy.  He may be right.  Many of us might either be angry as hell, or just scared out of our minds.

From Business Insider, Secretary of State John Kerry talks about an Asian country that does not exist.

From the Guardian, when First Lady Michelle Obama presented the Oscar for Best Picture to the movie Argo, about a rescue of hostages from Iran, the Iranian media photoshopped her image.

And from SFGate, a man in Portland Maine, charged with disorderly conduct for loud whistling, has reached an agreement with city officials.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

We're NASA And We Know It

Some geeky musical satire about the Mars Curiosity Rover and its NASA operators back on earth:

This video came out about 6 months ago, but I only ran across it earlier today.  Other than a YouTube channel, I don't anything about its source.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Korean War Veteran Gets Long-Overdue Medal

Via the Military Times:

Gordon Petro, a retired Army Command Sergeant Major who served in the Korean War, including two years in a POW camp, has been awarded the POW medal at the age of 80, nearly 60 years after his capture.  A native of upstate New York, Petro spent 27 years in the army before becoming a JROTC trainer in California and later retiring to Brevard County, Florida.

About his captivity, Petro says, "I spent a couple of years in a POW camp in Korea, but it was probably a cakewalk compared to what those poor guys went through in Vietnam."

Surely, a point worth pondering when discussing the experience of Vietnam veterans.

Read the story at Florida Today.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

"ICUHAJI" License Plate Causes A Stir

Iraq war veteran Sean Bujno had the personalized license plate ICUHAJI for four years before the Virginia DMV decided to revoke it, saying that it "could be interpreted as socially, racially or ethnically offensive or disparaging", the letters understood as saying "I see you, Haji."  Last November, a state court disagreed with the DMV, telling them "to either return the license plate to Bujno or find a permissible reason to keep it from him."  The DMV has not returned the plate to Bujno, but instead sent him a letter saying that it "encourages violence or is vulgar."

I'd say that you'd have to read quite a bit into the plate to say that it encourages violence, since there's certainly a leap between seeing a Haji and wishing him harm.  The word "Haji" refers to someone who has made the "hajj", the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, which hardly qualifies as vulgarity.

Read the story at Fox News.

On a personal note, the first "Haji" I ever heard of was a character on the TV cartoon show Jonny Quest.  The young title character had an Indian sidekick named Hadji, who in one episode appeared to have the ability to teleport himself.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Hillary Gets Expensive

From the Buzzfeed via Reading The Score:

Want to hire former First Lady, Senator (D-NY) and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to speak at your gathering?  As John Wayne might put it, it's gonna cost ya, Pilgrim. According to the Buzzfeed, her speaking fee is over $200,000.  So are those of her formerly presidential husband, and retired muscleman, actor and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.  At somewhat less, but still in the 6-figure category, are former President George W. Bush and former Vice Presidents Dick Cheney and Al Gore.  Read more about this at the links above -  except for the John Wayne one, that is.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Links For Presidents Day

A few things recently in the news as some of us get a day off:

The Washington Post, and in the spirit of the day, invites you to pick the most underrated and overrated presidents.

From the Daily Caller, the president of Brevard Community College in Florida has recommended the firing of a professor who forced her students to sign pledges to vote for president Obama.

From the New York Post, the former LAPD cop Christopher Dorner asked some fishermen to take him to Mexico.

From Fox News and the historical oversight department, Mississippi ratifies the 13th Amendment, which officially abolished slavery.

Also from Fox News, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) has accused the Obama administration of not enforcing a century-old law requiring immigrants to avoid becoming a "public charge".

From The Blaze, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan claims that God sent the recent winters storms as punishment.

From Frontpagemag, the Glazov Gang discusses, among other things, Rubio's "Watergate".

From The Hill, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has raised more than $100,000 for his PAC from the sale of water bottles.  Watergate indeed.

From Yahoo Sports, for the first time since 1974, no Major League baseball salary disputes have gone to arbitration.

From the Los Angeles Times, details of Pope Benedict's physical ailments emerge, including blindness in one eye.

And from CBS News, two brothers in Kansas, while celebrating a lottery win, blow up their house.
UPDATE:  One more, from Inventor's Business Daily.  That asteroid which flew by last Friday is coming back.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Tennessee Cops Pull Car Over For Sticker

On February 4th, Guido Boggioni and Bonnie Jonas-Boggioni, a married couple in their 60's, were driving home to Plano, TX after attending a funeral for his mother in Tennessee.  As they approached Memphis on Interstate 40, they were pulled over by two police SUVs because of sticker on their car.  The cops thought it depicted a marijuana leaf, but it was actually a buckeye, the symbol of Ohio State University.  Jonas-Boggioni had grown up in Columbus and rooted for the Ohio State Buckeyes her entire life.  This event is disturbing because the couple were pulled over for nothing more than a sticker.

Read more at the Columbus Dispatch, where the article's writer suggests that the police might want to learn some botany and something about Ohio State football.  I would think that this would be especially true if Ohio State decides to schedule a game against either the U. of Tennessee or Vanderbilt.  If I ever drive through Tennessee, just to be safe, I won't put any Hokiebird stickers on my car, to avoid being pulled over for smuggling exotic birds.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Meteorite Hits Russia

Earlier today, while scientists awaited the flyby of near-earth asteroid 2012 DA14, a different space rock entered the earth's atmosphere and exploded above the Ural Mountains region near Chelyabinsk, Russia.  The resulting shockwave damaged several buildings and blew out thousands of windows.  About 1200 people have reported injuries, mostly minor.  So far, army units have found three sites where the meteorite's fragments have impacted on the earth's surface.  According to NASA, this meteorite is unrelated to 2012 DA14, which by now has passed the earth at a distance of about 17,200 miles.

Read more at Russia Today and Gawker, who both have pictures and videos.  One of my friends in the blogworld, Holger Awakens, also has posted some meteoric video.  Here's one from Russia Today, showing the light generated by the explosion:

This meteorite explosion is reminiscent of the Tunguska event, in which a huge explosion took place over Siberia in 1908, which is thought to have been caused by a meteor or a comet entering the earth's atmosphere.  No impact crater has ever been found, but the pattern of fallen trees would turn out to be eerily similar to that of fallen buildings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, even though there weren't any known nuclear weapons in 1908. Fox News has more on the Tunguska event.

UPDATE:  KCBS reports another meteor, seen over California.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Dorner's Remains Identified

Former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner, wanted for murder, has met the same fate as David Koresh.  After efforts to get him to surrender and leave the cabin where he was hiding out failed, SWAT officers resorted to using "hot gas" canisters, which set the cabin on fire.  The cabin then burned down with Dorner inside.  San Bernardino County sheriff's officials they identified his remains using dental records.

Read more at the Los Angeles Times, KFSN-TV, Yahoo News and USA Today.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Music Break

This month's music break includes songs that are not all that well-known (at least on this side of the pond) but in my opinion, deserve better.

The British group T-Rex consisted of guitarist/singer/songwriter Marc Bolan, percussionist/backup singer Steve Peregrin Took or his replacement Mickey Finn, and whichever musicians they took (if you'll forgive the pun) into the studio with them.  Their live act most often included bassist Steve Currie and drummer Bill Legend.  Their most famous song is Get It On (Bang A Gong), which featured future Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman on piano.  In Telegram Sam, Bolan sings about several characters, including Purple Pie Pete, Jungle-Faced Jake, and of course, Telegram Sam himself.  The song was a #1 hit in Great Britain, but failed to chart in the United States.  In the thumbnail, from left to right, are Legend, Finn, Bolan and Currie.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Links For (Fat) Tuesday

Today is Mardi Gras (French for "Fat Tuesday"), the day before Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent as observed by the Catholic Church and most of western Christianity.  The Orthodox Churches (Greek, Russian, etc.) use a different calendar, and thus schedule their Easter and Lent differently.  Tonight, President Obama will give his State Of The Union address, which like most SOTUs, I have no intention of watching.  Here are some other things going on:

From the Los Angeles Times, police in San Bernardino County, CA have a gun battle with former officer and murder suspect Christopher Dorner near Big Bear Lake.

From My Fox LA, a timeline and live stream of Dorner's suspected crimes and the resulting manhunt.

From the Inquisitr, the Antarctic ozone hole has shrunk to its lowest size in a decade.

From the Washington Post, the Virginia Senate has passed a bill to allow counties in northern Virginia to pass a 1% income tax without a public vote.

From ABC News, former police Sgt. Kimberly Munley, who with her partner stopped the Fort Hoot shooting spree, says the president has broken his promise that "the victims would be well taken care of".

From Fox News, gay rights activists have called for DC comics to fire Orson Scott Card, because he opposes gay marriage.  (via Weasel Zippers)

From the Daily Caller, several Democrats have have invited to the State Of The Union speech some guests who shouldn't even be in the country.

From the NY Post, the hacker group called Anonymous threatens to disrupt online broadcasts of the SOTU speech.

From Yahoo News, diners in Tokyo eat dirt.

And from SFGate, a postcard sent by a 13-year-old boy to his mother in Pauls Valley, OK arrives after 46 years.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Name Pluto's Moons

Via Mashable:

The celestial body known as Pluto, which was thought of as the ninth planet until being reclassified as a "dwarf planet" due to its small size, is nevertheless orbited by five known moons.  The largest, Charon, has been known for some time.  More recently, two smaller ones have been discovered and named Nix and Hydra.  During the past two years, two more have been found, and given the designations "P4" and "P5".  The P4/P5 Discovery Team has decided to rename the two moons, and give the general public a chance to provide some input.  You can go to Plutorocks and vote for your two favorite names out of a list of 12, or even make your own suggestions.   Because Pluto shares its name with a certain cartoon dog, I think "Mickey" and "Minnie" might be appropriate.

Pope Benedict To Resign

Pope Benedict XVI, the earthly leader of the Catholic Church (its "visible head", according to Catholic doctrine) and sovereign of Vatican City, has announced that he will resign from his office, effective on the last day of this month.  He will become the first Pope to step down willingly since Celestine V did so 1294, and the first to resign under any circumstance since Gregory XII stepped aside in 1415, to end an internal dispute within the church.  When he took the office, Benedict became the first German Pope in about 900 years.  In his announcement, he cited his "advanced age" as a reason for being unable to "adequately fulfill" his ministry.

Read more at CNN, the Washington Post, Fox News, BBC News and Yahoo News.

UPDATE:  The Daily Mail reports lightning striking St. Peter's Basilica a few hours after the Pope's announcement.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Asteroid Blamed On Global Warming?

From MRC TV via The Blaze:

CNN anchor Deb Feyerick, after wondering if the blizzard that the northeast is now digging out of was caused by global warming, apparently asks science reporter Bill Nye if global warming is to blame for an asteroid that will soon pass near the earth.  I was going to give her the benefit of the doubt because she uses the pronoun "this", which could refer to either the blizzard or the asteroid, as possibly being caused by global warming, but then she refers to "meteoric phenomena", which nowadays refers to rocks traveling through outer space and sometimes entering the earth's atmosphere.  At one time, however, the term "meteor" encompassed not only rocks from outer space, but things that fall from within our atmosphere, such as rain and hail.  A vestige of this is the term "meteorology" for the the science that studies weather.  Maybe she meant "meteorological phenomena", which would refer to the blizzard.  Watch the video and decide for yourself.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Dr. Ben Carson At The NPB

Dr. Benjamin Carson is the head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, a devout Christian, the author of four books including his autobiography Gifted Hands (which has been made into a movie), and the founder of the Carson Scholars Fund.  Here is his speech at this year's National Prayer Breakfast, in which he lambastes political correctness and fiscal irresponsibility, and which has been praised by conservatives and dismissed by liberals.  During the speech, the president, seated near the podium, appears to become somewhat uncomfortable.  (There's more info at the Blaze.)
Over 20 years ago, I had the privilege of attending a speech by Dr. Carson, not far from where I live.  Naturally, I don't remember very much of it, but in what I can recall, he spoke about how during his childhood, his mother Sonya Carson turned off their television and had him and his brother Curtis (who grew up to become an engineer) read books, and then report on them.  Ben and Curt only later realized that with her third grade education, she couldn't even read the books herself.  As a result, the grades the two boys were getting in school improved dramatically, which eventually led them to success in their respective professions.  As the saying goes, behind every great man (or two) is a woman.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Unique Pyramids Found In Sudan

The country with the most known pyramids is not Egypt or Mexico, but Sudan, which during the last few years has extended its margin over its competitors.  Between 2009 and 2012, at least 35 pyramids, ranging in width from 30 inches to 22 feet, have been found in the Sudanese site of Sedeinga.  These pyramids were built about 2000 years ago by inhabitants of the kingdom of Kush, and have the same general shape as the Egyptian pyramids, after which they were modeled.  Some of the Sedeinga pyramids include an inner circular cupola structure connected by cross-bracing to its four corners.  Only one pyramid of this design has ever been discovered at any other site.

Read the story at Fox News.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

O Którym Kraju On Mówi?

While speaking in Munich last weekend, Vice President Biden credited "Greece, Ireland, Poland, Spain and Italy" with taking steps to improve their economies.  Only one problem.  Poland hasn't had any recent serious trouble their economy.  Instead, it was Portugal, not Poland, which has had economic problems similar to those of Greece, Italy, Spain and Ireland.  Well, you can't blame him too much, he got the first two letters right, didn't he?  Kind of like mixing up Austria and Australia, for which we can truly blame Bush.  Or maybe like the Maldives and the Malvinas (the Argentinian name for the Falklands).  In any event, I'd say that Joe has come up with a worthy sequel to his boss's "Polish death camps" gaffe.

Read more at the Washington Examiner and the Telegraph.

To finish, I'd better translate the post title.  It's Polish (not Portuguese) for "Which country is he talking about?"

Monday, February 4, 2013

Super Bowl Endures Lighting Power Failure

In yesterday's Super Bowl, the Baltimore Ravens beat both the San Francisco 49ers and some technical difficulties, as the game was interrupted when many of the lights went out in the New Orleans Superdome.  After a delay of about 35 minutes, the game resumed when sufficient lighting had been restored.  Baltimore ran up a 28-6 pre-outage lead, but San Francisco then mounted a furious comeback, coming up just short as Baltimore held on for a 34-31 victory.  Ravens QB Joe Flacco, with 3 touchdown passes, was named the games Most Valuable Player.  It was the second Super Bowl victory for the Ravens and the third for the city of Baltimore, the (now Indianapolis) Colts having prevailed in one of the earlier Super Bowls around 1970.

A few notes on the game and its power outage:

From the New York Times, the Superdome goes dark.

CBS News asks, "What went wrong?"

From the Chicago Tribune, it wasn't halftime performer Beyonce's fault.

From CNN, the power outage gives jokesters and advertisers some inspiration.

From the Washington Examiner, before the game, the Department of Energy had praised the Superdome for its energy efficiency.  (Read the DOE statement here.)

From Entertainment Weekly, the funniest power outage Tweets.

From Yahoo News, the power failure's cause remains unclear.

Mashable reports 15 possible causes of the outage.

And finally, from CBS Sports, the box score.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Barry's Got A Gun

Last August, President Obama went skeet-shooting at Camp David, or so we're told.  Recently, this photo was released, to back up a previous claim that he frequently shoots clay pigeons, and to respond to Representative Marsha Blackburn's (R-TN) challenge to a skeet shoot.  (As Instapundit points out, at least one woman has better shooting form than Barry.)  Along with the pic came a warning not to manipulate it - which didn't get very far.  The American Thinker claims that the photo is a fake in the first place.  I thought that the smoke coming out of the side of the gun's barrel was a bit peculiar, but apparently, some guns have a side exhaust port on the barrel.  Either that, or across the road there was a second shooter hiding in the woody knoll.  Let the conspiracy theories begin!  As indicated by the New York Post and Michelle Malkin's blog, Teh OneTM has inspired quite a bit of mockery with this pic.  From the latter (including a commenter or two thereon), come some of the above links and this whimsical explanation of what he might be shooting at.

Sunday News & Links

A few items in the news:

From the Jerusalem Post, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu states in a cabinet meeting that the primary objective of the newly-elected government will be "to stop the weaponization of Iran's nuclear program".

From Newsbusters, former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao blasts President Obama's blaming the Republicans for the state of the economy.

From the Guardian, the Internet's creator says that American democracy has been hacked.

From Guns(dot)com, one of the last interviews by former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who was shot and killed yesterday at a gun range in Texas.

From Breitbart's Big Government, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) backs off on his defense of Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), accused of messing around with underage prostitutes in Colombia.

Let's give Harry a two-fer.  From Breitbart's Big Journalism, Senator Reid admits that he has not read Senator Diane Feinstein's (D-CA) proposed gun legislation.

From the New York Post, city council Speaker Christine Quinn (D) has been filling in on some ceremonial appearances for Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R), whom she hopes to succeed.

From Renew America, a list of military exercises in American cities.

From the Charlotte Observer, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Vonta Leach gives back to his home town of Rowland, NC.

And to finish with some hilarity from Duh Progressive, the career of  famous weather-forecasting groundhog Punxsutawney Phil has come to an end.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Ed Koch 1924-2013

Ed Koch, who served as Mayor of New York City for twelve years, died today of congestive heart failure at the age of 88.  His political career included a stint a city councilman and nine years in congress.  He was known as an "independent liberal", who could work with conservatives.  He crossed party lines on two notable occasions, supporting Rudy Giuliani's mayoral campaign in 1993 and President George W. Bush's re-election in 2004.  Outside of politics, he had also been a television judge, radio talk show host, law partner, newspaper columnist, professor and movie reviewer.

Koch was born in the Bronx in 1924, the son of Louis and Joyce (Silpe) Koch, both Polish Jews who had each immigrated to New York.  His family would move to Newark, NJ and later to Brooklyn.  He spent two years attending City College in Manhattan before being drafted into the Army in 1943.  Because he could speak German, he was assigned to help replace Nazis in government positions with non-Nazi Germans.  He was discharged in 1946 with the rank of Sergeant.  He got his law degree from New York University and spent 20 years practicing law before entering Congress.  During his time as Mayor, from January 1, 1978 to December 31, 1989, he ran unsuccessfully for Governor, losing in the 1982 Democratic primary to Mario Cuomo.  In 1989, he lost the primary for Mayor, to the man who would succeed him, David Dinkins.

Read more at the New York Times, the New York Post, CNN, Fox News, Yahoo News and the Wall Street Journal.