Friday, August 30, 2013

Durango Railroad Station & Museum

During the last full day of my recent vacation, I wandered around parts of Durango and then back to the railroad station, out of which I had ridden a Durango & Silverton train a few days earlier.  In front of the station is this covered wagon - but without the covering.

Also in front of the station was this metal statue of three horses.

Behind the station is the museum, reached by a walkway.

I couldn't really take any good pictures inside the museum, because it was rather dark and everything was close together, but the museum included an outdoor section, with a small viewing area.  This is a turntable, with two coaches behind it.

A few more railroad cars were parked near the turntable.

Within the viewing area, whose boundary was marked by the metal barriers, were these old trucks.

Finally, while walking back to the station (the yellow building on the right), I saw this parked train.  The locomotive at its far end was a diesel electric, instead of the steam engines that I had seen earlier.

Arches National Park - Part 2

After visiting the Balanced Rock, the Windows and the Parade of Elephants, I moved on to Delicate Arch.  There are trails leading to two different viewing points for this arch.  I took the upper, more difficult trail, and took this shot of Delicate Arch and some nearby formations.  They all seem to be on top of a ridge.

Tucked in between some huge sandstone boulders is Sand Dune Arch.

Broken Arch is a short distance from Sand Dune Arch.  From this angle, I couldn't tell if there really was any break in its structure.  I later found this website, which includes a picture from the other side.

The last arch I was able to photograph is Skyline Arch.  There are several others that may be reached by trails leading from the north end of park's main road, but I decided that this would be the last one I had time for.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Arches National Park - Part 1

After visiting some small attractions in eastern Utah, I continued northward to a much bigger one, Arches National Park.  The main entrance is just north of the city of Moab, and just north of the Colorado River.  While the park is known for its namesake rock formations, it also includes many other features.  The first place where I stopped is this large rock, known as The Organ.

Continuing northward within the park, I saw these formations, which included the famous Balanced Rock.

Here's a closer shot of Balanced Rock, showing the idiots people climbing it.

After turning on to a side road, I hiked the short distance to the North Window.

A bit further down the trail, I could see both the North and South Windows.

Near the Windows are these formations, known as the Parade Of Elephants.

Nidal Hasan Sentenced To Death

The Fort Hood Shooter, having been convicted of all premeditated murder and attempted premeditated murder charges against him, has been sentenced to death, which required a unanimous decision by the jurors who had previously convicted him.  Former Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan now stands to become the first American soldier to be executed in over 50 years.  Even so, due to the lengthy appeals process required by the military justice system, his impending execution could be several years away.

Read more at The Guardian, USA Today, Fox News, CNN, Statesman(dot)com and the Washington Times.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Music Break

Here are yet some more old favorites of mine.  Starting off is my favorite Tom Petty song, with or without the Heartbreakers (in this case with), Jammin' Me.  Petty wrote the song with Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell and some guy from Minnesota named Bob Zimmerman.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Monday Links - Again

Once again, Monday appears to be a good time to round up some stories in the news.  So here we go:

From The Guardian, as tensions rise in the wake of an apparent chemical weapons attack in Syria, the United Kingdom moves military equipment to a base in Cyprus.

From the Boston Globe, the full text of Secretary of State John Kerry's statement in response to these attacks.

From the Jerusalem Post, according to Israeli International Relations Minister Yuval Steinitz it is "crystal clear" that Syrian President Bashir Assad's forces used chemical weapons in an attack five days ago.

From CBS News, worries about Syria are affecting Wall Street.

From the Washington Post, the prospect of American intervention in Syria is very unpopular.

From Town Hall, the story of Shin Dong-Hyuk, who escaped the North Korean GULAG.

From Mashable, Bloomberg beat Reuters in web traffic for this past July.

From WRAL(dot)com, a charitable group in Raleigh, North Carolina has been threatened with arrest for feeding the homeless without a permit.  (via Breitbart's The Conversation)

From Breitbart's Big Government, the media ignore the killing of Americans by illegal aliens.

From Forbes, Donald Trump is being sued for fraud.

From Fox News, two House Democrats propose a bill to increase taxes on guns and ammunition.

From the Mail Online, investigators have requested the school records of the Sandy Hook shooter.

From Talking Points Memo, according to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, the federal government will reach the latest debt ceiling in mid-October.

And from the Times Union, the best and worst dressed at the MTV VMAs.

A Few Sights In Utah

While driving from Colorado into Utah up to Arches National Park, I stopped to see a few places.  About 12 miles off the main drag (US 191) is Newspaper Rock, a large rock panel inscribed with literally hundreds of petroglyphs, created by people of the Archaic, Anasazi, Freemont and Anglo cultures.  It is now either a National Historical Site or a State Historic Monument, depending on which Internet page you read.

Here's another shot from a different angle:

Near the intersection of US 191 and Utah 211 (the side road that leads to Newspaper Rock, and to one entrance of Canyonlands National Park) is Church Rock, so named because of a story about a utopian community allegedly having plans to hollow part of it out and use the resulting space as a church.  Here's my shot of Church Rock.

Further on up US 191, but well to the south of Arches NP is Wilson Arch, which you can see here.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Hovenweep

Hovenweep is a National Monument that comprises six groups of Ancestral Pueblo buildings, located within Utah and Colorado.  The largest is the Square Tower group, which are strewn around and within Little Ruin Canyon, on the Utah side of the state line.  A short trail leads from the nearby visitor's center and connects to a 2 mile-long circuit trail that passes near most of the ruins that are above the canyon, and includes a section within the canyon.  The builders of the Hovenweep sites are thought to be people of the Mesa Verde branch of the Ancestral Pueblo culture, also known as the Anasazi.

After leaving Lowry Pueblo, I found a road sign that pointed south toward Hovenweep.  I turned onto a road that was just as unpaved as the one leading to Lowry.  Fortunately, after a mile it connected to a paved road that led the rest of the way to Hovenweep, about 20 more miles.  Although definitely "off the beaten path", Hovenweep still had a number of visitors when I was there.  I took this shot of the buildings called the Twin Towers from across the canyon.

Tower Point stands above the canyon wall.

These buildings are collectively known as Hovenweep Castle.

Square Tower, after which this group is named, sits within Little Ruin Canyon.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Lowry Pueblo

Lowry Pueblo is located in southwestern Colorado, within the Canyons Of The Ancients National Monument, and is reached by a nine mile-long side road going west from U.S. Highway 491.  Only about the first three miles are paved, so driving there takes a bit of patience.  Lowry was a Chacoan outlier, and would have been near the northwest corner of the Chaco Culture area.  The pueblo includes a multi-roomed great house and separate great kiva.

Lowry was the third and last place to which I made a return visit.  Its modern facilities were very simple, including two restrooms, a few picnic tables, a paved walkway around the great house and another walkway leading to the great kiva.  The was no place to pay an admission fee, and no one to pay it to.  I had the site all to myself.

Here's a view of the Lowry great house from a point along the walkway.  Part of the great house has been given a protective cover.

Here's the covered section from a different viewing point.  Part of the covered section is accessible.  Note the T-shaped opening at the left.

I had to crouch down to get through this door.  The original floor was probably several feet lower than it is now.  Note the smaller openings at either side of the door.

Once past the door, I could see the uncovered section of the great house.

The great kiva was too large to conveniently fit into a single photo, especially if I wanted to show the structures on its floor.  This next picture shows the part that is closer to the great house.

The last picture shows a section of the kiva that is opposite the great house.

Nidal Hassan Convicted

Army Major Nidal Hassan, the former psychiatrist who went on a shooting spree at Fort Hood, has been convicted of all counts against him.  A jury of 13 military officers found him guilty of 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder.  He is now eligible for the death penalty.  During his trial, he alleged that he was protecting Muslim fighters abroad, but called no witnesses and acted as his own attorney.  Because he was shot in the back by an officer responding to his actions, Hasan is paralyzed from the waste down and confined to a wheelchair.  The trial now moves into the sentencing phase, to determine whether he will be sentenced to life in prison or receive the death penalty.

Read more at CBS News, USA Today, the Washington Times, Fox4KC and BBC News.

Mesa Verde - Part 3

After leaving Cliff Palace, as told in Part 2, I went off to see other sights within Mesa Verde National Park.  South of Cliff Palace, which is on the east side of Cliff Canyon, is an overlook from which another part of the canyon may be seen.

The House Of Many Windows overlooks the west side of Cliff Canyon.  I was able to get a pretty decent shot from the east side.  This site is located between two rock overhangs, and reminds me of some of the cliff houses in Walnut Canyon National Monument in Arizona.

In another alcove on the east side of Cliff Canyon is Square Tower House, which appears to be undergoing some preservation work.

Near Square Tower House is another section of Cliff Canyon.

On the west side of Fewkes Canyon, which branches off from Cliff Canyon, is Fire Temple.  This is one section of it, including some walls that reach to the alcove roof.

Another section of Fire Temple includes two levels of dwellings in two alcoves spaced vertically from each other.

Sun Temple is above the west side of Cliff Canyon, on the adjacent mesa.  It is believed to have been one of the more recently built sites in the park, and is thought to be unfinished because no roofing materials have been found in or near it.  This view shows one side of Sun Temple.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Mesa Verde - Part 2

As I mentioned in Part 1, the most famous site in Mesa Verde National Park is arguably Cliff Palace, situated in an alcove above Cliff Canyon.  Cliff Palace can only be visited by a guided tour, for which there is a charge separate from that for entering the park.  Fortunately, the tours start every half hour, and only cost three dollars.  The tour involves quite a bit of walking, stair climbing, and even ladder climbing.  Entering the alcove requires walking down a flight of a dozen or so regularly spaced metal stairs, followed by rock steps having irregular vertical distances between one and the next.  Thankfully, metal railings run along most of the rock stairway, providing a useful handhold.  The stairway gives way to a relatively level paved path, but entering the pueblo itself requires ascending a wooden ladder, made in the same style as those of the old inhabitants, but thankfully of much newer wood.  The walkways within the site are easy, involving only an occasional set of rock steps.

Here is one of the multistory buildings in Cliff Palace.  The wooden beams, whose ends protrude from the walls, divide one level from the next.

This shot shows a partial panorama of the site, with our tour guide in the foreground.

This kiva, like one I saw at Chimney Rock, includes a central circle where a fire was kept, an air ventilation hole, a stone baffle to keep the incoming air from blowing directly on the fire, and several stone structures along the wall, which supported the wooden posts that held up the roof.

Another partial panoramic shot shows another kiva and a round tower, among other buildings.  Some of the walls extend up to the roof of the alcove.

This is another multistory building, which appears to incorporate a large chunk of rock right where it stood.

This trapezoidal multistory building is located above the kiva shown above.

To finish the tour and leave Cliff Palace, we had to climb up a combination of rock steps and four more wooden ladders, ranging from 8 to 10 feet in height.  The total vertical distance between the walkway within the site and the parking lot above is about 100 feet.

After Cliff Palace, I found some other places in Mesa Verde that seemed worthy of a brief visit.  Those will be shown in Part 3.

Mesa Verde - Part 1

Mesa Verde in southwestern Colorado is one of the few National Parks whose main attractions are man-made.  The park features numerous structures built by the Ancestral Pueblo people, also known as the Anasazi, specifically the cultural branch or "province" known as the Northern San Juan or Mesa Verde.  The name "Mesa Verde" means "green table" in Spanish, and also refers to the land itself, which comprises steep canyons and relatively flat mesas above and between them.  The canyon walls include overhangs, the spaces beneath them forming alcoves, in which many of the pueblos within the park were built.  The park's arguably most famous settlement is Cliff Palace, built in an alcove above Cliff Canyon.  There are also pueblos on the mesas, most of which are thought to have been built earlier than those in the canyon alcoves.

When you drive into the park, the first prominent feature you see is this butte.

The Montezuma Valley toward the northwest can be seen from an overlook along the road.

The rock formation casting the shadow in the next picture is called the Knife Edge.

Along the road leading southward toward the Cliff Palace is a group of pueblos called Far View.  One of these is called Far View Tower House, because it includes a round above-ground building.  Next to it are two kivas, which include an outer notch called a "keyhole".  This style is fairly common for kivas in Mesa Verdean sites, but has also been found in a few Chacoan sites, indicating either some degree of cultural influence or perhaps Mesa Verdean occupation of sites previously vacated by Chacoans.

On the side of the round building away from the kivas are these rectangular rooms.

Far View House is the largest of the Far View sites.

Next to Far View House is Pipe Shrine House.  In this shot, Pipe Shrine House is in front of and slightly below Far View House.  I think that the next word on the modern sign, after "DO NOT", is "ENTER".

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Aztec Ruins

The Aztec Ruins are a National Monument within the town of the same name in northern New Mexico.  The name "Aztec", however, is a misnomer for both the ruins and the town.  White settlers mistakenly thought that the ruins had been constructed by the well-known Aztecs of Mexico, so the name stuck, even though the place has nothing to do with the real Aztecs.  The Aztec Ruins were built by Chacoan people, but their descendants eventually left this pueblo.  The site was later reoccupied by people of the Mesa Verde culture.  The site includes two large buildings, called the West Ruin, which is open to the public, and the East Ruin, which is still mostly unexcavated.

This is a large section of the West Ruin.

The western wall of the West Ruin includes a band of dark green stones.

As with Chimney Rock, this was a return visit eight years after the first.  I don't think the structure in the next picture had been open to the public during my first visit.  It is the remains of a circular building with three concentric walls, and is located a hundred or so feet northwest of the West Ruin.

This is the smaller of two kivas that are in a plaza next to the West Ruin.

The larger kiva, known as the Great Kiva, has been reconstructed in an attempt to restore its original form and appearance.  Notice the wooden beams sticking out of the circular wall.

The inside of the Great Kiva was also reconstructed, except for the square columns replacing wooden poles, which each rested on a stack of four round flat stones, which were left on the floor.

Chimney Rock, Colorado

Chimney Rock is the name a rock formation, a nearby Ancestral Pueblo village, and the National Monument which includes both, located near the intersection of Colorado highway 151 and U.S. highway 160.  The site is generally considered by archaeologists to be an outlier of the culture centered in Chaco Canyon, located in northern New Mexico.  Chimney Rock and some nearby related settlements would thus form the northeast corner of the Chaco Culture area.  The Chaco, in turn, is considered to be one of three "provinces" of the Ancestral Pueblo, or Anasazi culture, the latter term sometimes frowned upon by their modern descendants.

During my first visit to Chimney Rock in 2005, I saw that the area was largely forested, and thus had to rethink my previous conception of the Anasazi as being desert-dwellers.  This time I pretty much knew what to expect, but still wished to make a return visit.  I was lucky enough to arrive about 10 minutes before the start of a guided tour.  After checking in at the small visitor's center, the other visitors and myself were given the option of driving the two and a half-mile road to the upper parking lot, or riding with the guide.  I chose the latter option, gladly leaving my rented car in the lower area.

Before arriving, I took this first picture from just off state highway 151.  To the right, the taller rock formation is Chimney Rock.  The formation to the left is Companion Rock.

From the upper parking lot, a paved trail leads around the lower village.  This is the interior of the kiva in the lower village.

Some of the walls of a house in the lower village.

The area known as the lower village is still above most of the surrounding landscape.  Here's the view facing northwest.

Just above the upper parking lot is another kiva.  The interior of this one includes a hole in the side wall, used to provide air to a fire burning in the small circle in the center of the floor.  The upstanding rock (seen mostly on its shaded side) next to the circle kept air from blowing directly on the fire and putting it out.  Such features were fairly common for Chacoan kivas.

We hiked to the upper village on a trail that led uphill along the narrow ridge line, with steep drops on either side.  Fortunately, the ridge widened out around the upper village.  These are some rooms in the main house in the upper village.

The upper village also has a kiva, which includes a bench around the outer wall.  The two pairs of armrest-like structures were used to hold the wooden posts that held up the roof.

From the upper village, it was easy to take this shot of Companion Rock (L) and Chimney Rock (R).  The gap between the two, as seen from the upper village, is where the moon rises during its major standstill, which occurs about every 18 years.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Durango & Silverton Railroad - Part 2

As stated in Part 1, the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad was built in 1881 and 1882, to run between those two places.  After a ride that lasted just over three and a half hours, with a maximum speed of 18 miles per hour (according to one of the conductors), we arrived in Silverton.  The tracks ran along one of the town's streets, which is where the train stopped.  To the west of the town is a mountain.

Near the Silverton depot was this old Denver & Rio Grande Western locomotive.

On our way back, I could look out and see the back of the train.

The train stopped at several places to take on water.  This one was on the way back.

This last photo may look like it was taken from some place off the train, but instead it was rounding a bend above the Animas River gorge, thus making the shot possible.

The Durango & Silverton Railroad - Part 1

The Durango & Silverton Narrow-Gauge Railroad runs between the two places after which it was named, and is a remnant of a larger rail system called the Denver & Rio Grande.  Originally built to carry supplies to miners in Silverton, the D&S is now used mainly for tourism.  It generally follows the course of the Animas River, but in some places where it flows through a gorge, the railroad runs up to several hundred feet above it.  The D&S was built between 1881 and 1882, and as our one of the conductors warned us, "It feels like it."

Here's the steam locomotive, ready to pull the train out of Durango.

The back of the locomotive and the coal tender.

One of the coaches, with a mountain ridge behind it.

The passengers boarding another coach.

While heading north of Durango, on our left was a house on a hill, with some larger hills behind it.

Further along the way was the Iron Horse Inn and a multicolored mountain.

Looking down into the Animas River gorge.

Some rapids along the Animas, looking north and upstream.

And finally, some more rapids in the Animas, seen while going over a bridge, the shadow of which is clearly recognizable.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Second Siege Of Constantinople In 717-718 AD

In the annals of history, Constantinople is known for being the second capitol of the Roman Empire, established by Emperor Constantine in a city which had been known as Byzantium, becoming the capitol of the Byzantine Empire after Rome fell, and for falling to the Ottoman Turks over 1,100 years later, who gave the city its third name, Istanbul.  What is less well known is that conquering Constantinople was a goal of Muslim Arabs in the seventh and eight centuries after they had expanded out of the Arabian peninsula, roughly three centuries before Christians in Europe launched the Crusades.  In 674, the Arabs besieged Constantinople for the first time.  This first siege lasted about four years.

In 717, the caliph Suleiman, who ruled in Damascus, sent 120,000 warriors across Asia Minor and 80,000 more fighting men by sea, with the goal of meeting at Constantinople and laying siege.  He put his brother Maslama in charge of his forces, giving him the command, "Stay there until you conquer it or I recall you."  During the siege, Suleiman died and was replaced by Omar II, who recalled Maslama and called off the siege about a year after it began.

Read the story at National Review.  Some more information may be found at Byzantine Battles and Graphic Firing Table.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

New Animal Species Found In South America

A new species of mammal living in the cloud forests of South American's Andes Mountains has been identified, and given the name "olinguito".  The name is derived from that of another species, "olingo", due to its similar appearance and smaller size.  Olinguitos also differ from olingos in fur color and natural habitat, living at elevations ranging from 5,000 to 9,000 feet above sea level.  Weighing about two pounds, the olinguito is smallest known member of the raccoon family.

Read more at the Washington Post, ABC News, the Chicago Tribune, National Geographic and Smithsonian(dot)com.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Riddle Me This #5

This one comes from CNS News via Blogs For Victory.

I've heard of "new math", but this might give term new meaning.  How is it that the federal government ran a $98 billion deficit in July, but the overall federal debt stayed exactly the same for the entire month?  According to the CNS News link above:
The FMS said that the deficit went up $98 billion ($97,594,000,000) in the Monthly Treasury Statment for July, which it released on Monday. 
At the same time, the FMS said the debt stayed at exactly $16,699,396,000,000 in its Daily Treasury Statements, which are published every business day. The Daily Treasury Statements show the daily value of the federal government debt that is subject to a legal limit set by Congress.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Are You Ready For The Michelle Obama Rap Album?

Yes, the First Lady is putting out a rap album, to be entitled Songs For A Healthier America.  No, she will not be singing (a term used loosely whenever applied to rap), but will only make cameo appearances in the videos of the songs.

Read more at The Daily Beast, the Rolling Stone, Spin and Grantland.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Another Monday Links Post

It looks like Monday is once again a good day for directing readers to stories recently in the news.  So without further ado, here we go:

From the Daily Mail, India has launched her first aircraft carrier.

From BBC News, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has won the presidential election in Mali.

Also from BBC News, gunmen in Nigeria have killed 44 people in a mosque.

From Fox News, if you're a man who likes to swim, and you live in or plan to visit the coastal areas of Denmark or Sweden, skinny dipping is not a good idea.

From Yahoo TV, racial discrimination claims in the lawsuit against Paula Deen have been dismissed.

From KABC, a rodeo clown has been permanently banned from the Missouri State Fair for wearing an Obama mask.

From Bizpac Review, a kid prays to the president.  Yes, that's right, to him, not for him.

From CNN, a sinkhole swallows part of a resort in Clermont, Florida.

From The Hill, the State Department has criticized Israel for approving the construction of new settlement homes.

From the Washington Post, Attorney General Eric Holder has announced that "low-level, nonviolent drug offenders with no ties to gangs or large-scale drug organizations" will no longer face mandatory minimum sentences.

From Today News, a Dutch prince has died after being in coma which resulted from being buried in an avalanche while skiing.

From NBC News, a federal judge has ruled that the New York City police department's practice of "stop and frisk" is unconstitutional.

From the Daily Caller, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory has signed an election reform law that includes a photo ID requirement.

And from the News Observer, on August 15, the Carolina Mudcats will put on Carlos Danger Night.  For that game, anyone with a mustache, either real or fake, will be sold a box seat for just $5.  So if you're in or near Zebulon, North Carolina, get out that mustache and enjoy some Minor League baseball.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Drone Delivers Beer

I'm not a big fan of having drones fly around our spacious skies that we have here in America, but I think I've found a drone that I could get used to.  Fans at an outdoor rock concert in South Africa were served beer, dropped by parachute from a flying robot, after placing their orders via a smartphone app.

Read the story at France24.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Obama Cancels Summit With Putin

President Obama has canceled a trip to Moscow that had been scheduled for next month, where he would have met with Russian President Vladimir Putin.  Reasons for the cancellation include "a lack of progress in bilateral relations" since Putin retook the presidency, recently-passed laws against certain behavior by gays, and the Russian government's decision to grant temporary asylum to accused leaker Edward Snowden.

Read more at CNN, The Hill, NBC News, Reuters, the Christian Science Monitor and the Washington Post.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Monday Links

Some things going on out there:

From the Sporting News, Major League Baseball hands out 50-games suspensions to 12 players, and a much longer one to Alex Rodriguez.

From the Washington Post, a 15 million-year-old whale skull has been found on the banks of the Potomac, near the birthplace of Robert E. Lee.

Speaking of the Washington Post, it will soon be sold to Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com.

From Bare Naked Islam, Egypt has banned Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan from entering Gaza.  (via Barracuda Brigade)

From Frontpage Mag, the Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir admits their belief that Sharia law is imposed on Christians.

From the Washington Free Beacon, the new Iranian president Hassan Rowhani has appointed a holocaust denier as his country's foreign minister.  This, of course, makes his no worse than Rowhani's predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  (via Pat Dollard)

From the Daily Caller, a conservative group has given their support to the Justice Safety Valve Act.

The American Thinker presents "The Dependably Unfaithful Colin Powell".

From Fox News, the U.S. military is spending $772 million on aircraft for Afghanistan, for which the Afghan military does not have the capacity "to operate or maintain".

From Reuters, a unit of the Drug Enforcement Agency is funneling information to authorities across the United States to help them start criminal investigations.

From the New York Post, the new owner of the Drake's Cakes brands has announced that Coffee Cakes, Devil Dogs, Ring Dings and Yodels will return next month.

And to finish with some humor, my blogosphere buddy Holger Awakens presents the Dem's poster boy.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Brawley Starts Paying For Her Hoax

Tawana Brawley, who in 1987 falsely accused several white men of abduction and rape, has finally started to make payments to Steven Pagones, who sued her for defamation after being one of the men falsely accused.  At the time, Pagones was a prosecutor in Dutchess County.  He also sued her spokesmen, including a then-relatively-unknown Al Sharpton, winning the suit in 1998.  While various benefactors helped the other defendants pay their settlements, Brawley has evaded paying any damages until now, except for 10 checks totaling $3,764.61.  She has moved during the intervening years, most recently to Richmond, Virginia where she works as nurse.

The New York Post has the story.  Most of the sites that I can find which mention this development either link or refer back to them.  However, the American Thinker notes that Brawley will have her wages garnished, and suggests placing a copy of the first garnished check in the new National Museum of African American History and Culture at the Smithsonian, near Trayvon Martin's hoodie.

Postal Service Photographing All U.S. Mail

The U.S. Postal service has confirmed that is photographs every letter and package mailed within the United States.  While the images are used mainly to sort mail, and are not kept in any single database, according to Postmaster Patrick R. Donahoe, they have been "used a couple of times" by law enforcement.  The program is called the Mail Isolation and Tracking system, and was created after the anthrax attack in late 2001, which resulted in the deaths of five people, including two postal workers.

Read the full story at the New York Times.

Weiner Gets Pranked

"INTERNS WANTED" says the bogus flyer for the campaign of mayoral candidate and former congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY).  In order to qualify, the flyer continues, you must not be a cop, a snitch or a "slutbag", the insult hurled at a former intern after she left.

Read the story at the New York Post.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Cleveland Kidnapper Gets Very Long Sentence

Ariel Castro, who kidnapped three women from 2002 to 2004 and held them captive in his house until this past May, has been sentenced to life in prison without parole plus 1000 years, after pleading guilty to 937 counts including abduction, rape and murder in a deal to avoid the death penalty.  With a sentence that long, he'd better hope that the religions which believe in reincarnation are wrong.

Read more at CNN, the Chicago Tribune, ABC News, Fox News and People(dot)com.

Snowden Gets Asylum In Russia - For A Year

Edward Snowden, the former intelligence analyst wanted for revealing details about NSA surveillance programs, has been granted temporary asylum by the Russian government, allowing him to stay in Russia for up to a year.  Although his specific whereabouts are unclear, Snowden as left Sheremetchevo Airport, where he had been staying for about five weeks.  He has been given a "passport-like document" indicating his status as a "temporary refugee".  Snowden has not applied for permanent asylum in Russia, and is expected by some supporters to seek it elsewhere.

Read more at the New York Times, USA Today, CBS News, NBC News and CNN.

This new development begs two questions.  For a certain former Senator and Secretary of State, how's that reset button working out?  For the president, are you and your Russian counterpart enjoying that new flexibility?