Saturday, October 31, 2015

Warship Named For Fallen Mexican-Born Marine

In 2004, Sgt. Rafael Peralta sacrificed himself in Iraq to protect his fellow Marines from a grenade.  Today, a naval destroyer bearing his name was christened by his mother at the Bath Iron Works in Maine.  Although other naval ships have been named after Americans of Mexican descent, the USS Rafael Peralta is thought to be the first one named after someone born in Mexico.  From Fox News:
The mother of Sgt. Rafael Peralta asked God to bless the ship named for her son and keep the crew safe before smashing a bottle of Champagne on the ship's bow Saturday.
The ceremony to christen the future USS Rafael Peralta paid homage to the slain Marine, who gave the ultimate sacrifice in service of a country to which he emigrated as a boy.
Peralta, who pulled a grenade against his body to protect his fellow Marines during close combat with insurgents in Fallujah, Iraq, on Nov. 15, 2004, is believed to be the first serviceman born in Mexico to have a naval warship named in his honor.
Read the full story.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Paul Ryan Elected House Speaker

Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wis), who unsuccessfully ran for Vice President as Mitt Romney's running mate in 2012, has been elected Speaker of the House.  At age 45, he is the youngest Speaker in almost 150 years.  As outgoing Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) handed over his job, he cried one last time.

Read more at People, The Hill, Politico, The Washington Post and The Washington Times.

ISIS Fighters Wear Darth Vader Masks

It appears that the fictional Dark Side of the Force has found some admirers within the real life Dark Side.  According to a Turkish site (linked below), police in the province of Diyarbakir raided several homes in which ISIS terrorists were hiding, and found several Darth Vader masks.  Reportedly, some of the ISIS fighters wore the masks while battling the police.  Let's hope ISIS doesn't acquire any lightsabers or develop the force choke technique.

This story comes via Truth Revolt via the New York Post via the International Business Times from Haber Turk.  This means that if you only read it here, you're getting fifth-hand information.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Links For A Rainy Wednesday

As the wet stuff falls from the sky, here are some things going on:

From National Geographic, paleontologists in Peru find a fossilized whale, surrounded by fossilized vomit.

From the New York Post, more women have been getting surgery in what I'll just call a very sensitive area.

From Fox News and the sometimes ballyhooed military-industrial complex, the U.S. Air Force picks Northrup Grumman to produce the next bomber.

From Nebraska Watchdog, a former Nebraska governor advises the current incumbent to be "transparent about his travel".

From NBC News, the schoolgirl who was flipped out of her chair by a policeman, in an incident caught on video, does not appear to be so innocent.  (via Gateway Pundit)

From CNN, the above-mentioned policeman has been fired.

From American Thinker, two cops have been fired "for telling the truth about black violence".

From ABC News, Human Rights Watch questions the conduct of Mexican police.

From The Washington Times, the GOP debate on November 10th will include an "undercard" forum.

From Politico, GOP candidate Donald Trump believes that tonight's debate will be "stacked against him".

From the Express, a British supporter of ISIS tells fellow Muslims that wearing poppies is apostacy.

From Frontpage Mag, the Obama administration asks Congress to fix a problem that they themselves imposed on the American people, without the consent of Congress.

In National Review, Michelle Malkin writes about Hillary Clinton's immigration flip-flops.

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch, according to a study by Oceana, a lot of salmon is getting mislabeled.

From the Chicago Sun-Times, former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) pleads guilty.

From The Sean Hannity Show, would-be House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) makes three promises to conservatives.

From The Daily Wire, on the other hand, Ryan has backed the latest Obama budget deal.

From DNAinfo, a former gang member who now works for the anti-violence organization CeaseFire has been shot for the second time in two months in the same area.

From Breitbart London, some stories about violence by migrants in Germany.  It looks like you might have to read German to understand the linked sources.

From Breitbart National Security, Turkish police raid the offices of an opposition media group in Ankara.

From Wired, clothing that responds to your sweat.

From The Washington Free Beacon, five years after the Dodd-Frank law created the position of Vice Chairman for Supervision on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, President Obama still hasn't appointed anyone for it.

And from Pardon The Parody, "if Muslim's but's were fruit's and nut's".

Monday, October 26, 2015

Shooter Reported In Quad Cities

According to local sources, a shooter was reported near a Navy recruiting center on Kimberly Road in Davenport, Iowa.  Another possible shooting was later reported in nearby Bettendorf, Iowa.  There are reports of injuries or whether the two incidents involved the same alleged gunman.

Because of its location, the first reported shooting would be reminiscent of the recent shootings in Chattanooga, Tennessee and would raise the possibility of a "copycat" motive.

Read more WQAD and KWQC, which I believe are local sources.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Conservatives Win Polish Election

While I had paid some attention to the recent Canadian parliamentary elections, I did not realize that the same thing would soon happen in my ancestral country of Poland.  The result appears to have gone in the opposite direction of that in Canada, with the victorious Law and Justice party being described as "conservative", "right wing" and "eurosceptic".  This party, led by Jarosław Kaczyński, received 39.1 percent of the vote and took 242 out of 460 seats, enough to govern alone in the lower house of Poland's Sejm (parliament).  Current Prime Minster Ewa Kopacz, whose Civic Platform party received 23.4 percent of the vote and took 133 seats, has conceded defeat.  Although Kaczyński is his party's leader, he is not expected to run for Prime Minister.  Instead, their deputy leader Beata Szydło is expected to run for that office.

A few notes:

Kaczyński is the twin brother of the late Lech Kaczyński, who was president of Poland until he was killed in a plane crash in 2010.

This election marked the first time since the end of Communist rule in 1989 that any Polish party has won an outright majority.  But a few centuries earlier, Polish nobility actually elected their kings.

From my admittedly limited knowledge of Polish:  The name "Szydło" translates literally as "awl", a kind of tool.  The word "sejm" is pronounced like the English word "same".

Read more at Yahoo News, Politico, BBC News, Reuters and Radio Poland.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Hurricane Patricia And Other Stories

Hurricane Patricia, called the most powerful storm in history, made landfall yesterday on the western coast of Mexico, and has weakened down to a tropical depression.  Spawned by the current el niño, Patricia had strengthened from a tropical storm all the way to category 5 hurricane on Thursday.

Read more at The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Reuters, CNN and The Weather Channel.

In other stories:

From the Express, ISIS sends their assassins into refugee camps to target Christians.

From The Jerusalem Post, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan says that his government will not allow Kurds to "seize" northern Syria.

From Fox News, Secretary of State John Kerry says "Leaders must lead," to stop the violence in Jerusalem.

From the Chicago Sun-Times, some lessons to be learned from a domestic violence tragedy.

From the Chicago Tribune, bison are back at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie "after a few thousand years".

According to Eagle Rising, 97% of the newly insured under Obamacare are from its Medicaid expansion.

From ABC News, President Obama calls for limiting the amount of class time used to prepare students for taking standardized tests.  (How about getting rid of federal tests and let education be a state matter, like it mostly was before Common Core and No Child Left Behind?)

From The Blaze, California adopts a visa for illegal aliens victimized by domestic violence.

From The Washington Times, according to a report, the Bureau of Land Management "illegally sold thousands of wild horses for slaughter".

From American Thinker, how to apply the "broken window theory of policing" to illegal immigration.

From, Bruce Dickinson, lead singer of Iron Maiden and owner of Cardiff Aviation, talks about his company and the aviation industry.

From CNS News, Republican legislators in Wisconsin move to end "John Doe" probes.

And from The Washington Post, Maureen O'Hara, the Irish-born actress who became a U.S. citizen in 1946, has died at age 95 at her home in Boise, Idaho.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Chafee Drops Out

Lincoln Chafee (D-RI) has ended his campaign for his party's nomination for president.  Coming just after the withdrawal of former Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) and the decision by Vice President Joe Biden against entering the race, Chafee's decision narrows the Democratic field down to former Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (NY), current Senator Bernie Sanders (VT), and former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley.

Chafee has previously successfully run for Senator as a Republican and for Rhode Island Governor as an Independent.  As a Senator, he became known as the most liberal of the Republicans.

Read more at CNN, The New York Times, Politico, USA Today and The Washington Post.

Lenin Statue Converted To Darth Vader

In Odessa, Ukraine, a statue of Lenin that was scheduled to be demolished in accordance with the country's de-communization law was instead converted into a statue of Darth Vader.  The head of the statue contains a Wi-Fi router, thus enabling anyone nearby to feel the Force - of the Internet.

I'd say that the statue went to the fictional Dark Side from the real Dark Side.  Read the story at Meduza.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Joe Says "No"

Vice President Joe Biden (D-Del) has announced that he will not run for president.  He thus becomes the second consecutive sitting vice president to refrain from running for his party's presidential nomination, after Dick Cheney (R-Wyo) during the 2008 campaign.

"Clock Boy" Will Move To Qatar

Ahmed Mohamed, the teenager who caused a stir by bringing a "homemade clock" to his high school, is moving with his family to Qatar, where he will continue his education with a scholarship from the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development.  I use quotes around "homemade clock" because the term is used in the sources I've linked below, and because he didn't actually make a clock from scratch, but merely put the working parts of an already-made clock into a different support frame, a box for storing pencils.

Read more at Quartz, Al Jazeera, The Dallas Morning News, BBC News and CNN.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Canada To Withdraw Jets From Iraq And Syria

This is definitely from the "well, THAT didn't take long" department.  Canadian Prime Minister-elect Justin Trudeau, in keeping a campaign promise, has already informed U.S. President Barack Obama that his country's fighter jets will be withdrawn from airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.  He did not give any specific timetable.  About 70 special forces troops sent by Canada to train Kurds in northern Iraq will remain until March 2016.  The jets had originally also been pledged to remain until then.

Regrettably, I could not find a Canadian source for this story, but it seems to have been covered elsewhere.  Read more at ABC News (where in this case, "A" stands for "Australian"), the International Business Times, Sputnik International, Yahoo News and BBC News.

Senate Democrats Vote To Protect Illegal Aliens

A Republican-backed bill that would have cut federal funding to localities that do not cooperate with federal immigration laws, known as "sanctuary cities", was blocked by Democrats in a procedural vote by a count of 54-45.  It needed 60 votes to pass.  A similar bill had passed in the House in July, largely inspired by the murder in San Francisco of Kate Steinle, allegedly by an illegal alien who had been previously deported several times.

Read more at Fox News, The Daily Signal and The Washington Post.  If anyone finds my headline objectionable, I'll concede that I'm not the first to take a harsher tone than these sources.  See Doug Powers' take on this story at Michelle Malkin's blog (which is where I got the TWP link).

Justin Trudeau Elected Canada's Prime Minister

In yesterday's federal election in Canada, the Liberal Party won an outright majority of 184 seats in the House of Commons, thus making their leader Justin Trudeau the new Prime Minister.  The Conservative Party, which had previously been in power since 2006 under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, won 99 seats and will thus be the Official Opposition.  The New Democratic Party finished third with 44 seats.  The other parties winning seats were the Bloc Québécois with 10 and the Green Party with 1.

The Liberals set a record for gaining seats from one election to the next, having won only 34 in 2011.  Trudeau is the son of the late Pierre Trudeau, who served as Canada's Prime Minister from 1968 to 1979 and again from 1980 to 1984.  Harper has indicated that he will step down as his party's leader, but will remain in Parliament.

Read more at the National Post, CTV News, Reuters, AOL and CBC News.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Monday Links

As "just another manic Monday" gets underway, here are some things in the news:

From CBS Chicago, this devoted Cubs fan is as old as Wrigley Field.

From LifeNews, an "abortion bus" tours Ireland.

From the Chicago Tribune, a Brazilian man on an Aer Lingus flight bites a fellow passenger and dies.

From WQAD, a man is arrested after one of his sons finds his gun and kills his younger brother.

From Click On Detroit, a man threatening worshipers with a brick is gunned down by the pastor.  (via Biz Pac Review)

From Frontpage Mag, what the "Jerusalem Awakening" is really all about.

From National Review and Kevin Williamson, how the last act of President Obama could be an attempt to prevent Hillary Clinton succeeding him.

From The Daily Caller, CNBC makes fun of Hillary Clinton.

From Breitbart's Big Government, Hillary Clinton's biographer writes that her cackling about her email scandal is what makes her so unlikeable.

From Yahoo News, police in Florida find the dead body of an 11-year-old girl inside a freezer.

From The Telegraph, a judge might end the impasse that has stalled the trial of five GITMO detainees accused of being involved in the 9/11 terror attacks.

From MSNBC, Vice President Biden (D-Del) could announce his candidacy for president within two days.  (via The Blaze)

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, public defenders in Missouri describe their workload and pay.  (via Journal 930)

From DNAinfo, Whole Foods is now selling Jimmy's Vegan Cookies.  (It must have been pretty difficult transporting them across the 25 lightyears from Vega [rimshot].)

From CNET, PC maker ASUS is talking with Microsoft about building a version of the latter's HoloLens.

From The Washington Free Beacon, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) tries to defend former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of private email.

From One America News Network, a federal judge has ordered Louisiana to fund Planned Parenthood clinics.

And to finish, Fox News presents America's best store-bought chocolate chip cookies.

UPDATE:  On second thought, here's one more.  From the Daily Mail, as Russia continues its campaign in Syria, some ISIS cowards fighters flee Syria dressed as women.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Western Wall Claimed On Behalf Of Palestinians

The Western Wall in Jerusalem is the holiest site in Judaism, because it is all that remains of the second Temple, which was built under the direction of King Herod, and later destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D.  Known as the Kotel, it is essentially all that the Jews have of that Temple and its environs.  Within this area, known as the Temple Mount, Muslims would later construct the al-Aqsa Mosque and a shrine called the Dome of the Rock.  But now, under a proposal made to UNESCO by six Arab nations on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, the Western Wall would be recognized as part of the al-Aqsa Mosque.  Since the 1920s, Muslims have called this wall "al-Buraq", referring to the winged horse on which Mohammed traveled to Jerusalem and then to Heaven in a story known as the "night journey" (although I understand that the story does not literally mention Jerusalem).  The area adjacent the Kotel has been used as an open-air synagogue, but under this proposal would be called Buraq Plaza.

Read more at The Times Of Israel, Israel National News and YNet News.

UPDATE (10/20):  From The Jerusalem Post, the U.S. "strongly opposes" the UNESCO proposal.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Pork Returns To Prison Menu

The ban on pork in federal prisons, reported recently by The Washington Post, has been reversed, at least in part.  After what the Post metaphorically calls a "firestorm", pork roast has been restored to the prison menu.
After a week of controversy surrounding its abrupt removal of pork dishes from the national menu for federal inmates, the government did an about-face Thursday and put pork roast back on the prison bill of fare.
Fox News also weighs in, starting off with an appropriate expression.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons may have bitten off more than it could chew by banning pork from prison menus earlier this month -- and apparently has reversed course on the decision.
Both articles come via Hot Air.  I don't normally like to pilfer their stuff, but since I had relayed the news about the ban, I felt an obligation to pass on this further development, and had to give them a mention.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Chemistry Lab Designed By Jefferson Found In UVA Building

Among his other notable achievements, Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia, located in Charlottesville, not far from his home at Monticello.  During the 1820's, Jefferson designed one of the university's buildings, the Rotunda, to include a chemistry lab.  This lab, which included a hearth, was walled off in 1850, and afterwards forgotten until it was recently discovered by workers renovating the Rotunda.

Read more at UVA Today, Huffpost Science, ABC News, The Christian Science Monitor and Tech Times.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

U.S. Starts Deploying Troops To Cameroon

President Obama has announced the deployment of about 300 American military personnel to Cameroon, to help that country fight against Boko Haram, the Islamic terrorist group based in northern Nigeria.  Their mission will include "airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations".  The first 90 U.S. troops are already on their way.

Read more at NBC News, ABC News, Sputnik International, the Daily Mail and BBC News.

Identification Of Remains Found In 1973 Turns Out Incorrect

To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of a Pennsylvania woman's death in 1973 have been greatly exaggerated.  More precisely, the woman, allegedly a homicide victim, was someone other than whom authorities thought she was.  Via AOL:
Police say an eastern Pennsylvania woman they thought was dead after finding decomposing remains in 1973 is actually alive, leaving them confused about whose remains were found.
From the original source, the Reading Eagle:
Betsy Langjahr is not Jane Doe.
State police reported Tuesday that Langjahr, long believed to potentially be the unidentified victim in a four-decade-old death, has been found alive and well. She was located through tips that police received as part of a recent media blitz.
Read the full story.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The "Old Ball Coach" Resigns

South Carolina head football coach Steve Spurrier has resigned from his position, blaming himself for his team's recent decline, even calling himself a "recruiting liability".  Co-offensive coordinator Shawn Elliot has been named interim head coach.

Before coaching at SC, Spurrier had previously coached the Tampa Bay Bandits of the USFL; Duke and Florida of the NCAA; and the Washington Redskins of the NFL.  He is still has the most coaching wins at both South Carolina and Florida.  As a player, he won the Heisman Trophy in 1966, when he was Florida's quarterback.  In the NFL, he played for nine season with the San Francisco 49ers, mainly as a backup quarterback and punter, and one year for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Known as the "Old Ball Coach", Spurrier is credited with dubbing Florida's home field "The Swamp".

Read more at The Times And Democrat, Sports Illustrated, ESPN and CBS Sports.

Random Musings #6

Here's another set of ideas that have been inspired by recent events, or just popped into my head:

One thing that reinforces my belief in a God who created the universe is the behavior of atoms and subatomic particles, which is the subject of the branch of science known as quantum mechanics.  Understanding completely how and why everything works at the quantum level is something that I think that only God might be truly capable of.

In a way, being a pro-life politician is pretty cheap, and I say that as a pro-lifer myself.  Since any laws passed to limit abortion are just about certain to be overturned in a court, using Roe v. Wade as precedent, pro-life politicians never truly have a chance to put their money where their mouth is.  Only if Roe is overturned, which would result, not in making abortion illegal, but in reinstating all of the state laws on abortion, will legislators actually have a chance to abolish or modify them.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Links For Columbus Day

According to a certain rhyme, "In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue."  Today, as we celebrate, or maybe decry, the arrival of Christopher Columbus, a.k.a. Cristobal Colon, a.k.a. Cristoforo Columbo, on a small island in what is now the Bahamas, here are some things going on:

From The Washington Times, Emilio and Gloria Estefan, formerly of Miami Sound Machine, are taking their musical that celebrates immigrants to Broadway.

From One News Now, the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission announces "Every Living Thing Matters".

From Fox News, President Obama gives his opinion on his former Secretary of State's email server.

From the New York Post, a man in California sets off bombs on a golf course.

From The Blaze, at a tailgate outside an NFL stadium, a man shoots someone while being "egged on".

From CNN, the U.S. delivers 50 tons of ammunition to Syrian rebels.  (How much of it will eventually fall into ISIS hands is currently anyone's guess.)

From Townhall, legal scholars declare their opposition to the Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell vs. Hodges.

From The Daily Star, Russia and Saudi Arabia discuss possible cooperation in Syria.  (via Albawaba)

From Zerohedge, Chinese stocks rally while U.S. markets have the day off.

From Wired, scientists can now predict intelligence from maps of people's brains.

From Medical Express, some discussion on whether to get a genetic test for breast cancer.

From CNS News, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump says that he will not take in 200,000 Syrians "who could be ISIS".

From Louder With Crowder, deaths from guns have gone down.  (via Right Wing News)

From YNet News, Palestinians rioting in Gaza break through the border fence into Israel.  (Via Holger Awakens, whom I had the privilege of meeting in person almost four years ago.)

From ABC News, King Felipe VI of Spain presides over a parade celebrating his country's National Day.

From The Telegraph, Scotland Yard stops guarding the Ecuadorian Embassy, where Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been taking refuge.

From NewsBusters, how The New York Times covered the Justice or Else rally by omitting facts about its organizer Louis Farrakhan.

And while we Americans argue over the good and bad results of Columbus coming to America, Christian History provides some little-known facts, in an article published in 1992.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Pork Removed From Federal Prison Menu

From The Washington Post:
The nation’s pork producers are in an uproar after the federal government abruptly removed bacon, pork chops, pork links, ham and all other pig products from the national menu for 206,000 federal inmates.
The ban started with the new fiscal year last week.
The Bureau of Prisons, which is responsible for running 122 federal penitentiaries and feeding their inmates three meals a day, said the decision was based on a survey of prisoners’ food preferences:
They just don’t like the taste of pork.
As also noted by TWP, Jewish and Muslim dietary laws both forbid the consumption of pork, for which the prison system has already made accommodations, but the elimination of pork from the regular menu seems a bit much.  None of those inmates like bacon or ham with their eggs?

The denial of bacon, in my not-so-humble opinion, would almost seem like cruel and unusual punishment.  However, a small figurative bone has been thrown to prisoners who like pork.
Incarcerated pork lovers still have an option: The prison commissary, a convenience store that sells packaged pork rinds and precooked bacon. But they have to pay.
Read the full story.  I would have liked to present some other sources, but everything I've been able to look up refers back to the article in The Washington Post.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Two Bombs Kill 86 [UPDATE: 95] In Turkish Capitol

Two bombs were set off at a peace rally just outside the main train station in Ankara, Turkey, reportedly killing 86 people and injuring 186 more.  Authorities believe that both blasts were suicide attacks.  No group has yet claimed responsibility.

Read more at BGN News, Reuters, The Guardian, CNN and RUDAW.

UPDATE:  Some of the above links now indicate 95 people killed and 246 injured.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Four Shot At Northern Arizona University

Early this morning at Northern Arizona University, a confrontation between two groups of students escalated into a shooting, resulting in one person being killed and three others wounded.  The suspect, an 18-year-old freshman, has been taken into custody.  The victims and suspect are all male.

Read more at KERA News, KSL, The Denver Post, KTBS and NAU News, which is the school's website.

Pigs In Scotland Dig Up Ancient Tools

From Discovery News:
Pigs foraging along a Scottish coastline have unwittingly uprooted the earliest evidence for a remote population of hunter-gatherers.
The uprooted items, stone tools that have been dated to around 12,000 years ago, are described in the latest issue of British Archaeology. The tools were discovered on the east coast of the Isle of Islay, Scotland, and include sharp points -- likely used for hunting big game -- scrapers and more.
The pigs had been released so that they could eat bracken, a type of fern, but in their search for food, found something more.  Read the full story.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Skinny Dipper Nabbed In Congressional Fountain

Someone in Washington D.C. apparently decided to take a bath in the Library of Congress’ Court of Neptune fountain, dressing down for the occasion.  The perp turned out to be neither a congresscritter nor a certain former president.  From Heard On The Hill:
Shortly after 9 a.m. on Oct. 1, cops responded to 10 First St. SE, following a report of a nude male bathing in the fountain. Police say they discovered Wodaji Getawa Mekonnen “matching that description, with his genitalia exposed.”
Read the full story, and if you wish to bathe while visiting our nation's capitol, please do so in private.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Cool Springs Park

Besides Lonaconing, Maryland, another interesting place that I've run across while driving in the mountainous areas in western Maryland and beyond is Cool Springs Park, in Rowlesburg, West Virginia.  I first happened upon this place 12 years ago while driving eastward on U.S. Highway 50 on my way back from a wedding in Indiana.  Just after passing a gas station, I noticed a bunch of unusual-looking contraptions and old railroad cars in an adjacent wooded area, so I decided to have a look.  As it turned out, the gas station was part of a building that also included a convenience store, a gift shop and a restaurant.  The building and the wooded area with all its old stuff were and are parts of Cool Springs Park.  As I wandered around to get a good look at the old machinery and railcars, realized that I was being followed - by a friendly donkey.

As with Lonaconing, I knew that sooner or later, I had to return and get some pictures with my digital camera.  As I had first done years ago, I again wandered around the wooded area, but this time was not followed by any four-legged critters.  The park now has two donkeys and a South American camel, of which species I don't know, but they all left me alone.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Lonaconing Iron Furnace

About 20 years ago, while exploring the western part of my then-recently adopted home state, I passed through a small town named Lonaconing and stopped to see its iron furnace.  Although located in Maryland, the town somehow reminded me of places I'd seen in rural Pennsylvania.  Even the name, by ending in "-ing", seemed reminiscent of the Keystone State, in which there are towns or counties named Wyoming, Lycoming and Wyalusing.  (The name "Wyoming", although given to a western state, actually originates in Pennsylvania.)  The pictures in this post, as you might expect, are from a much more recent visit.

The Lonaconing furnace was the first in America to produce iron by burning coke, and was used from 1839 to 1856.  Long after it was closed, a high school was built in the area in front of the furnace, but today the area is a park.  Several lampposts stand in front of the furnace, which may be reached by walking up a few stairs.  Behind and above the furnace is a residential street.

From this angle, you can see the furnace, the stone wall in front of it, and a lot of trees.

This is one of the furnace's internal passages, which sadly includes some litter.

To the left of the large central opening, seen in the first picture, is this historical plaque.

The park includes this large piece of iron and an educational display.

This railcar was used for hauling coal.  Behind it are the furnace, a children's play area, and a house on the street above the park.

To learn more about Lonaconing and its furnace, go here, here and here.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Chinese Billionaire Loses Over 80% Of Net Worth

Last year, I learned about a planned canal that would cross Nicaragua.  A few days ago, Bloomberg Business published a report on a Chinese billionaire, one of the canal's backers, losing a large portion of his net worth due to the collapse of China's equity markets.  It looks like there might be a dent in those canal-building plans.  From Bloomberg:
Telecommunications entrepreneur Wang Jing, 42, was one of the world’s 200 richest people with $10.2 billion at the peak of the Chinese markets in June, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. His net worth has since fallen to $1.1 billion.
His 84 percent drop so far in 2015 is the worst recorded by the index, which provides a daily ranking of the world’s 400 richest people. Ivan Glasenberg, chief executive officer of Baar, Switzerland-based Glencore Plc, had the second-biggest percentage decline, falling 66 percent to $1.8 billion.
$1.1 billion is nothing to sneeze at, but losing over $9 billion is truly staggering.  Read the full story.

Music Break - Duets

Some bands have had more than one lead singer, or at least someone other than the regular lead singer who can also on occasion sing a lead vocal.  As a result, such groups can produce songs in which the lead vocal bounces between two or more voices.  The plural vocal lines can also occur simultaneously in a harmony arrangement.

When I first heard You Got That Right, I did not recognize that it was by Lynyrd Skynyrd, because it begins with a vocal line from guitarist Steve Gaines, who sings the first line of each verse, with regular singer Ronnie Van Zant answering.  The two then sing most of the song in harmony.  Gary Rossington plays slide guitar, including a solo.  Gaines later finishes the song with a guitar solo.  The rest of the band were Billy Powell (keyboards), Alan Collins (guitar), Leon Wilkerson (bass) and Artimus Pyle (drums).

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Sunday Links

Here are some things going on out there:

From Canada Free Press, the United Nations announces the Strong Cities Network.

From ABC News, Vice President Biden endorses transgenders serving in the military.

From The Daily Star, Russian planes hit targets in Talbiseh, north of Homs, Syria.

From Russia Today, no one can clearly identify the Syrian moderate opposition.

From the Chicago Tribune, flash flooding hits the French Riviera.  (In my high school French class, we learned that the area is actually called the Côte d'Azure.)

From NewsBusters, while being interviewed after his team defeats Notre Dame, Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney (whose first name is misspelled as "Gabo") is cut off by ESPN just after mentioning God.

From Fox News, American wingsuit jumper Johnny Strange dies from crashing in the Swiss Alps.

In National Review, Kevin Williamson advises, "Don't play the shooter's game."

From the Malaysia Chronicle, a British family are harassed after converting from Islam.

From ARA News, ISIS militants force dozens of underage girls into marriage.

From the South China Morning Post, two Indonesian women suspected of being lesbians will be spared a 100-lash punishment because a law criminalizing homosexuality hasn't yet taken effect.  Instead, they will be given "rehabilitation".

From AOL, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) will run for House Speaker.

From the Sunday Express, after largely missing the U.S., Hurricane Joaquin heads across the Atlantic and could threaten the U.K.

From The Sydney Morning Herald, a teenage Muslim who killed a police employee in Parramatta, Australia may have had links to Hizb ut-Tahrir.  (via Breitbart London)

From NPR Illinois, corruption could be problem for establishing peace in Colombia.

From The Washington Free Beacon, a CNN panelist pronounces Senator Rand Paul's (R-KY) presidential campaign "officially on death watch".

From The Washington Post, according to an Afghan official, the hospital in Kunduz that was used by Doctors Without Border and recently hit by a U.S. airstrike, was "a Taliban base".

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, parents seek help understanding Common Core math.

And from the New York Post, a bride's mother rummages through a dumpster to retrieve her daughter's Oscar de la Renta wedding dress, after it had been mistakenly thrown into the trash.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Umpqua Student Hailed As A Hero

From yesterday's tragic shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, there has emerged the story of Chris Mintz, 30, who confronted the shooter while trying to protect his fellow students.  After being shot, Mintz pointed out that it was his son's birthday, only to be shot again.  Although reportedly shot seven times, he survived and is now recovering in a hospital.  Mintz served in the U.S. Army for ten years and is originally from North Carolina.  His actions yesterday are being called "heroic".

Read more at ABC News, NBC News, CNN, Business Insider and the Daily Mail.

Because Chris Mintz faces "a ton of physical therapy" and the loss of work and the resulting pay, a cousin of his has set up a Go Fund Me page.

In another update from yesterday's story, the shooter is now reported to have killed nine people other than himself and injured seven others.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Shooter Kills Ten People At Oregon Community College [UPDATE: 13 Killed]

In a shooting incident at Umpqua Community College near Roseburg, Oregon, 10 people have been killed and 20 others wounded.  The shooting reportedly started around 10:40 a.m. PDT.  The shooter, described so far only as being a man, has been taken into custody.

Read more at Q13 Fox, NBC News, KATU, CNN and Oregon Live.

UPDATE:  NBC, KATU and OL are now reporting that up to 13 people were killed.  CNN now indicates that the shooter is dead, and was 20 years old.

UPDATE 2:  The News Review, which serves Roseburg and Douglas County, reports what happened from the perspective of a student.
Kortney Moore, 18, from Rogue River, was in her Writing 115 class in Snyder Hall when one shot came through a window. She saw her teacher get shot in the head. The shooter was inside at that point, and he told people to get on the ground. The shooter was asking people to stand up and state their religion and then started firing away, Moore said. Moore was lying there with people who had been shot.
This link comes via Gateway Pundit, who gets kudos for finding a local source.

UPDATE 3:  According to the NBC and OL links above, the shooter has been identified as Chris Harper Mercer, who was 26.  The International Business Times likewise reports the shooter's identity, and also reports that the shootings occurred in at least two buildings on campus and that four guns were recovered at the scene.

Eight Men Found On Iranian Women's Football Team

It looks like Bruce Caitlyn Jenner is not the only athlete who wants to be a woman.  From the Daily Mail:
Eight of Iran's women's football team are men who are awaiting sex swap operations, it has been claimed.
The country's football bosses have been branded 'unethical' for fielding the genetically more powerful players.
Officials have now reportedly ordered the gender testing of the entire national team and the top players in their country's competitive league.
The game known as "football" (under various spellings) to most of the world is what we bloody Yanks call "soccer".   Read the full story.