Saturday, January 31, 2015

Saturday Links

The weekend is here, but the things that go on still go on.

From DNA Info, the year's biggest snowstorm is heading for Chicago.

From Quartz, a large library in Moscow, containing 14 million books, is on fire.  (via, ironically enough, The Blaze)

From WebProNews, the father of model Heidi Montag has been charged with child sexual abuse.

From The Daily Caller, the appearance of former Olympian Bruce Jenner is becoming more female.

From The Right Scoop, the five worst crony-capitalist teams in the NFL.

From The New York Times, Airman Edward J. Saylor of the Doolittle raiders has died, thus leaving only three men alive from the original 80-man crew.

From The Roanoke Times, offensive lineman Laurence Gibson of Virginia Tech will play in the College Gridiron Showcase, despite the game's organizers having difficulty contacting him.

From Fox News, according to Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), 1000 of the "criminal aliens" released by the federal government have been convicted of committing new crimes.

From National Review, why the president "needs to pretend" that the Taliban are not terrorists.

From Bloomberg Business, Russia, Ukraine and rebel leaders start peace talks, while fighting continues near the town of Debaltseve.

From CNN, Texas will observe Chris Kyle Day this coming Monday, to honor the late Navy Seal sniper.

From Russia Today, the premier of an Iranian film depicting the life of Mohammed has been cancelled.

From Reuters, according to U.S. regulators, 2.1 million vehicles have been recalled to fix a computer chip that could wrongly deploy their airbags.

From My Fox Chicago, German Chancellor Angela Merkel does not believe that there will be another debt cut for Greece.

From the Associated Press, the Spanish radical left party Podemos holds a huge rally in Madrid.

And from U.S. News & World Report, balloonists Troy Bradley and Leonid Tiukhtyaev have landed safely off the coast of Mexico after crossing the Pacific Ocean.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Army Deletes Non-PC Tweet

Apparently, someone couldn't tell the difference between the racial slur "Chink" and use of the ordinary word "chink" in the expression "chink in the armor", and accused the Army of using the racial slur in a Tweet, even when the "in the armor" context was also present.  In response, the Tweet was deleted.

No, this is not satire.  Read the story at National Review.

Romney Bows Out

Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts who lost his bid to unseat President Obama in 2012 after being nominated by the GOP, has decided against running for the presidency in 2016. He had also run unsuccessfully for his party's nomination in 2008, losing to John McCain.

Read more at CNN, USA Today, Yahoo News and the Daily Mail.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Senate Passes Keystone Pipeline Bill

The Senate has passed a bill to allow construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, by a vote of 62-38.  They had debated 41 amendments to the bill during the previous three weeks.  The bill must now be reconciled with the version passed by the House, before being sent to the president, who has already threatened to veto it.

Read more at USA Today, The New York Times, Reuters and CNN.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Raul Castro Makes His Demands

Cuban President Raul Castro appears ready to drive the proverbial hard bargain when dealing with President Obama's effort to improve diplomatic relations between their two countries.  From the Marine Corps Times via Gateway Pundit:
Cuban President Raul Castro demanded on Wednesday that the United States return the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, lift the half-century trade embargo on Cuba and compensate his country for damages before the two nations re-establish normal relations.
Castro told a summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States that Cuba and the U.S. are working toward full diplomatic relations but "if these problems aren't resolved, this diplomatic rapprochement wouldn't make any sense."
Read the full story.  Some background information:

According to Wiki, the Guantanamo naval base has been leased by the U.S. under a treaty with Cuba signed in 1903.  Just after the revolution which brought Fidel Castro to power, the Cuban government cashed one rent check, but has cashed none since.  The embargo, as pointed out in Frontpage Mag by Humberto Fontova in 2010, does not prevent Cuba from buying American products, but merely requires the Castro government to "pay cash up front" for its purchases.

UPDATE:  In a more recent Frontpage Mag article, Fontova again weighs in.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Yeti Shows Up In Boston Suburb

As most crypto-zoologists know, we Sasquatches have a relative over in Asia known as Yeti or the Abominable Snowman.  During last night's snowstorm, one of them made an appearance in Somerville, Massachusetts.  Because Somerville is a suburb of Boston, the creature is called the Boston Yeti.

Read more at The Boston Globe, ABC News, Fox 8 Cleveland and USA Today.  You can also follow the Boston Yeti on Twitter.

A Historic Anniversary, And Today's News

On January 27, 1945 Soviet troops advancing westward liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp from the occupying Germans.  Today marks the 70th anniversary of that event.

Today, many have gathered at the former camp, which has been a museum since 1947.  Reports of today's remembrance, and other related stories, may be found at BBC News, Yahoo News, The Independent, The Guardian, Deutsche Welle, CBC News and The Jerusalem Post.

In today's news:

From The Daily Caller, in the New York State Assembly, some Democrats have turned against Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), who is now facing corruption charges. UPDATE:  From the New York Post, Silver has agreed to step down as Speaker.

From Reuters, President Obama seeks close ties with the new king of Saudi Arabia.

From ABC News, a gunman shoots two police officers just outside a city council meeting in Minnesota.

From The Washington Free Beacon, gunmen in Tripoli, Libya have stormed a hotel and killed at least eight people.

From AZCentral, a suspect charged in a shooting in Mesa, Arizona had been released on bond from federal custody while facing deportation proceedings.

In Right Wing News, Thomas Sowell presents his latest Random Thoughts.

From Catholic Online, a company in San Francisco presents their new electric scooter.

From The Washington Post, vaccine denial in California quadrupled from 2000 to 2013.

From Red Alert Politics, last night's snowstorm was not nearly as bad in New York City as had been predicted.

And from The Verge, an ultra high-speed camera captures the flightpath of a laser beam.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Drone Lands On White House Grounds

Around 3:00 a.m. this morning, a quad copter drone crashed into a tree on the White House grounds, resulting in the area being locked down.  The drone was recovered and examined by the Secret Service, who are investigating the device's origin.

I can't help but paraphrase Bob Dylan.  "But I would not feel so all alone, 'cause everybody must get droned."

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Music Break - Beatles Covers

Many different artists have covered songs first written and recorded by the Beatles.  The most successful Beatles cover might be Elton John's version of Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, which he recorded in 1974 with some help from John Lennon, who went by the pseudonym Dr. Winston O'Boogie.

Ernie Banks 1931-2015

Ernie Banks, who played for 19 seasons with the Chicago Cubs, passed away yesterday at the age of 83.  After playing with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues, and a stint in the Army, Banks played a few games with the Cubs in 1953.  The next year, he became their regular shortstop and finished second in the voting for National League Rookie of the Year.  He won the league's Most Valuable Player award in 1958 and 1959, and a Gold Glove in 1960. In 1962, Banks moved to first base, where he played until his retirement after the 1971 season.  During his career, he hit 512 home runs, drove in 1,636 runs, and played in 14 All-Star games.  Banks was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977, and received a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013.  He was affectionately known as "Mr. Cub" by fans of his team.

Read more at NBC Chicago, the Chicago Sun-Times, WGN TV, CBS Sports and ESPN.

Friday, January 23, 2015

11 Years Of Opportunity On Mars

The mission of the Mars Rover Opportunity, originally expected to last 3 months, will soon reach the 11-year mark.  Unless I'm mistaken, that's 11 Earth years.  From CNET:
On Sunday, NASA's Mars Rover Opportunity will mark its 11-year anniversary on the Red Planet. To celebrate -- as only a Mars rover can -- it has used its Pancam (fancy name for its panoramic camera) to snap this wide view from atop "Cape Tribulation," a part of Endeavour Crater's rim that sits at a height of 440 feet. That's 80 percent of the height of the Washington Monument, NASA says.
Read the full story.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Some Reaction To The SOTU

Just a few reactions from last night's State of the Union address from President Obama, and to the Republican response from Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa:

From CNN Money, contrary to what the president said during the address, wages are not growing.

From Fox News, while Obama "urges middle class help", he has proposed to discontinue a tax break that has helped the middle class.

From The Washington Post, both sides of aisle think that Obama is "delusional on foreign policy".  (via Hot Air)

And from Yahoo News, some humorous response to Senator Ernst's recollection of wearing bread bags over her shoes.

Underinflated Footballs Allegedly Used In AFC Title Game

The NFL has reported that 11 of the 12 footballs used by the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game this past Sunday, in which the Patriots defeated the Indianapolis Colts 45-7, were inflated to about 2 pounds per square inch below the pressure required by the league's regulations.  Under league rules, each team must provide 12 "primary" balls to be used in each game, with the home team also required to provide 12 "backup" balls.

Read more at ESPN, the Indystar and The Boston Globe.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tuesday Links

On the day of the State of the Union Address, some things going on out there:

From the International Business Times, workers in the Moorgate area of London are told to stay inside their buildings due to a suspicious package in the area.

From Fox News, four men have appeared in a Paris court to face charges arising from the recent terror attacks.

From Fox News Politics, the State of the Union's political sideshow.

From CNN, new Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) will give the Republican response to the SOTU.

From The Straits Times, the tiger population in India has increased by 30% in four years.

From Yahoo Finance, TransCanada, the developer of the Keystone XL pipeline, has filed paperwork to acquire land in Nebraska needed to construct and operate the pipeline.

From the Epoch Times, the EPA reports that every year, there are about 14,000 oil spills in the United States.

From Reuters, oil prices fall yet again.

From The Blaze, the co-author of Chris Kyle's book American Sniper responds to Michael Moore's statement that snipers are "cowards".

From BizPac Review, actor James Woods posts on Twitter that Moore's comments are boosting box office numbers for the movie American Sniper.

From the New York Daily News, a memorial to Eric Garner, who died after being subdued by police, is destroyed by an accidental fire.  (via Weasel Zippers)

From the New York Post, a man in Mexico survives after being stabbed in the face with scissors (with pics that are not for the squeamish).

From the National Journal, Pope Francis plans to visit the United States this fall.

From, some questions about how Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) came to his decision to ban fracking.

And from The Daily Caller, after James Taylor's performance You've Got A Friend (written by Carole King), the next part of the War on Terror will involve a famous trio of singers.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Golden Gate Bridge Gets A "Zipper"

The "zipper" is actually a movable safety barrier.  A truck moving down the center of the bridge moves barrier sections, each weighing about 1500 pounds, from one side of a central lane to the other.

Read the story at the Daily Mail and watch the video from CNN.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Settlement To Give Wins Back To Paterno And Penn State

An agreement between the NCAA and Penn State will restore to the school's football program a total of 112 previously vacated wins.  The wins include 111 under coach Joe Paterno, extending from 1998 to 2011, and their last win of 2011, played under defensive coach Tom Bradley, who filled in after Paterno was fired.  The consent decree will replace a settlement made in 2012, the legality of which was to be decided by an upcoming trial.  In return, Penn State will pay $60 million to the NCAA, which must use the money within Pennsylvania to fight against child abuse and its effects.

Read more at ESPN and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Belgian Police Kill Two Suspects In Anti-Terror Raid

Belgian anti-terror police have killed two suspected jihadists and wounded another during a raid in the small city of Verviers, about 80 miles east of Brussels.  The suspects had opened fire on the police, but no policemen were injured.

Read more at The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Washington Times, AOL and BBC News.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Wednesday Links

Some things going on in the middle of the week:

From Fox News, the House has passed a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security, which overturns some of President Obama's executive actions on illegal immigration.  (Didn't Obama say "pass a bill"?)

From, an Ecuadorian beauty queen dies during a liposuction operation, which is not the first time that such a thing has happened.  (via the New York Post)

From Xconomy, the top American metro areas for STEM workers are Houston, Austin, Raleigh and Denver.

From The Weekly Standard, the Pentagon has labeled a recent Twitter/YouTube hacking as "cyber-vandalism".

From The New York Times, some vendors in France are reporting that their allotment of Charlie Hebdo "had sold out before daybreak".  (via Weasel Zippers)

From, the state of Alabama has the highest rate of school employees committing sex crimes with students.

From Frontpage Mag, the political joke double standard.

From Zero Hedge, U.S. retail sales this past December had their largest decrease since June of 2012, and not due to falling gasoline prices.

From MyFoxChicago, U.S. businesses expanded their inventory this past November, even with weak sales during the previous four months.

From JuneauEmpire, 54 people have been arrested in France under hate speech laws for "defending terror".

From CNSNews, Representative Chris van Hollen (D-MD) wants to shift tax breaks from the wealthy to the middle class.  (Wasn't the highest income tax rate recently shifted upward?)

From The Illinois Observer, the first executive actions of new Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner (R) have drawn both praise and criticism from the state's lawmakers.

From The Times Of Israel, U.S. Senators Heller (R-NV) and Cruz (R-TX) have introduced a bill to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

From American Thinker, the problems with multiculturalism and "the myth of compromise".

From UPI, the Singapore navy has located the fuselage of AirAsia Flight 8501, using an undersea robot.

And from ESPN and the "you can't make this stuff up" department, NASCAR driver Kurt Busch testifies that his ex-girlfriend is a trained assassin.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Fatwa Bans Snow Camels

Via UPI and Doug Stephan's Good Day:

After a rare snow storm in northern Saudi Arabia, which was probably caused by global warming, climate change, or whatever it's called now, some of the residents decided build snowmen or snow camels.  But as reported by Gulf News, a religious scholar named Mohammad Saleh Al Minjed issued a fatwa against such snow sculptures, saying that representations of humans or animals "could not be condoned", but " lifeless things, such as ships, fruit and buildings could be imitated".

If snow buildings are permissible under this fatwa, would Al Minjed have any objections to a snow Kaaba or a snow Dome of the Rock?  And wouldn't fruit be lifeless only after it is picked from the tree?  In any event, read the full story.  In case there is any uncertainty, this post gets a "Stupid People" label because of the guy issuing the fatwa, not because of the snow sculptors.

UPDATE:  Regrettably, the Gulf News link no longer works.  However, the UPI link contains most of the story.

UPDATE 2:  The Gulf News links seems to be back.  So if it's available, read the full story there.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Volcano Camping

This dude decided to go camping, drink a few beers and roast marshmallows - over a volcano.  From Fox News:
Climber and volcano expert Simon Turner is making waves as the star of a new viral video in which he sits calmly at the edge of an active lava lake - basically an inverted volcano - roasting a marshmallow and drinking a cold beer while wearing flip flops.
Read the full story and watch the video, toward the end of which Turner demonstrates how a volcano may be used to dispose of a beer bottle.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Huge Crowd Marches In Paris

According to various reports, "hundreds of thousands" or even "millions" of people have been marching in Paris to honor the victims of the recent terror attacks, and in defiance of the terrorists themselves.  The march is being led by French president François Hollande, who told his government "Paris is today the capital of the world."  More than 40 world leaders are have shown up, including Angela Merkel of Germany, David Cameron of the United Kingdom, Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, Matteo Renzi of Italy, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of Mali, and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.  The participants are marching from Place de la République to Place de la Nation.

Read more at VOA, Reuters, FT and Sky News.

UPDATE:  There appears to have been no American official at the march.  President Obama and Vice President Biden have remained in the United States.  Secretary of State Kerry is in India.  Attorney General Eric Holder is in Paris attending a meeting on terrorism, but was not seen at the march.  Read the story at the Daily Mail.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Terror In France And Other Stories

The two remaining suspects in the massacre at the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo have been killed by French police, after hiding out in Dammartin-en-Goele, about seven miles from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport.  A related act of hostage taking at a grocery in a Jewish neighborhood in Paris has also been concluded, with the hostage taker dead.  Sadly, four hostages were also killed.

Read more at France24, the Associated Press and Fox News.  The latter two links come via Pat Dollard.

In related stories:

From Reuters, one of the two gunmen is reported to have met al Qaeda preacher Anwar al Awlaki while in Yemen in 2011.

From Ynetnews, an op-ed states that the French are "losing control over their country".

From Truth Revolt, Mark Stein criticizes the American media over their coverage of the Charlie Hebdo attack.

In other stories:

From NPR, a Saudi blogger is flogged for insulting Islam.

From CNSNews, the labor force participation rate has reached a 36-year low.

From The Blaze, the newly-seated House has passed a bill to authorize construction of the Keystone pipeline.  (via Western Journalism)

From KOAT, a 64-year-old man is standing trial for raping a girl when she was 12 and 13, resulting in her getting pregnant.  (via LifeNews)

From ABC News, snow in Michigan has been blamed for a 70-vehicle pile up, with one known fatality.

From The Baltimore Sun, an Episcopal bishop has been charged with manslaughter in a fatal hit-and-run car crash.  (via the ABA Journal)

And from Linked In, this week in futurism.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Charlie Hebdo Promises A Million Copies Next Week

The surviving employees of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, which has normally printed 60,000 copies each week, have announced that they will print a million copies next Wednesday.  However, instead of the normal 16 pages, next week's edition will only have eight.

Read more at the New York Post and Russia Today.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Terrorists Attack French Magazine

Earlier today, gunmen dressed in black and armed with Kalashnikovs stormed into the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people and injuring up to 20 others, before fleeing in a getaway car.  The men were heard shouting "Allahu akbar" and saying "We've avenged the honor of the prophet."  Two of the dead were policemen.

Read more at The Guardian, BBC News, CBC News, Euronews and Fox News.

UPDATE:  From ABC News, of the three reported suspects, the youngest has turned himself in.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

McDonnell Gets Two Years

Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, recently convicted of 11 federal charges, has been sentenced to two years in federal prison.  His wife Maureen, convicted on 8 counts, will be sentenced on February 20.

Read more at ABC News, USA Today and Fox News.

Boehner Re-Elected Speaker

Despite some internal dissension in the GOP, John Boehner (R-OH) has been re-elected Speaker of the House.  Twenty-five Republicans voted for other members of their party, or in one case, "present".

Read more at The Daily Caller and The Blaze, the latter listing the 25 representatives voting against Boehner.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Sunday Links

It's time for the first links post of 2015, so here's a bit of what's going on:

From The Washington Post, archaeologists in Jerusalem may have found the place where Jesus was put on trial.

From Reuters, at the funeral for slain Officer Rafael Ramos, Mayor Bill de Blasio calls for reconciliation.

From BuzzFeed News, at the above-mentioned funeral, some cops turn their backs to the mayor, but others don't.

From The Daily Signal, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says that the president won't like the new congress's agenda, which to right-wing nuts like myself is just fine.

From Fox News, a prayer service is held while bad weather interrupts the search for the remains of AirAsia Flight 8501.

From the Chicago Tribune, sportscaster Stuart Scott of ESPN has died of cancer at age 49.

From the New York Post, a woman loses over 100 pounds, and finds that being thin isn't all that easy.

From Viral Buzz, the father of a fallen marine returns the condolence letter he received from the president.

From Right Side News, Canadian police fear that terrorists could use drones in their attacks.

From Joe For America, the Arizona Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case against Governor Jan Brewer's (R) Medicaid expansion plan.

From The Independent, jury selection begins tomorrow for the trial of accused Boston bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev.

From UPI, the eight-man crew of a cargo ship sunk off the Scottish coast are presumed dead.

From Townhall, the new Congress will include more women and minorities than ever before.  Can we retire the stereotype of the GOP as a white man's party already?

From the New York Daily News, an op-ed calling the Senate report on torture a betrayal.

And from the Daily Mail, a wind turbine in North Ireland collapses in a wind of just 15 mph.  (via the Pirate's Cove)

Friday, January 2, 2015

Donna Douglas 1933-2015

Donna Douglas, best known for playing Elly May Clampett on the TV sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies, passed away yesterday from pancreatic cancer at her home in Zachary, Louisiana.  She was born and raised in Pride, LA and was named both "Miss Baton Rouge" and "Miss New Orleans" in 1957.  She was one of over 500 actresses to audition for the role of Elly May, during which she was asked to milk a goat.  She made many other television appearances, and also recorded a gospel music album, wrote two children's books, and was briefly involved in the real estate business.  She was married twice, and had one son with her first husband.

Read more at CBS News, USA Today, Fox News, The Times-Picayune and The Hollywood Reporter.  Besides Louisiana, New York and Hollywood, Donna Douglas also spent some time in The Twilight Zone.

Mario Cuomo 1932-2015

Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo passed away from heart failure at 5:15 yesterday afternoon, in his Manhattan apartment.  Cuomo had served as governor for three terms, starting in 1983.  Earlier during the day, his son Andrew was sworn his for his second term in the same office.

Mario Cuomo was born in an apartment in Queens, above the grocery store owned by his parents, who had immigrated from Italy.  After being educated in the borough's Catholic schools, he played minor league baseball for the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, but was blinded for a week after being hit in the head by a pitch.  He left baseball and returned to New York to attend St. John's University and later its law school.  At St. John's, he met Matilda Raffa, whom he would marry.  The couple would have five children.

In 1974, Cuomo unsuccessfully ran in the Democrat primary race for lieutenant governor, but was later nominated by Governor Hugh Carey to be Secretary of State.  He was one of several Democrats to contend with eventual nominee Ed Koch in 1977 for the party's nomination for New York City mayor.  Cuomo ran successfully for lieutenant governor in 1978, as Carey's running mate.  Four years later, with Carey stepping aside, Cuomo campaigned for governor, defeating Koch in the primary and then winning the general election.  Cuomo became popular with the Democrats nationally and is still remembered for his speech at their 1984 convention, but ended his presidential aspirations when Bill Clinton was nominated in 1992.  Running for a fourth term in 1994, Cuomo was defeated by Republican George Pataki, at the time a state senator.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Auto Part Removed From Man's Arm - After 51 Years

Via the Associated Press:

In 1963, a man in Illinois named Arthur Lampitt drove his Thunderbird into a truck, breaking his hip and injuring his arm.  His injuries healed, but a part from his car was embedded in his arm.  This past week, the handle from the directional signal was finally removed, after 51 years.

Read the full story at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Happy New Year 2015

May everyone out there have an enjoyable, safe and healthy 2015.