Tag: Breaking News

Round Up the Usual Suspects

Somewhere around half a dozen bombs sent to various Democratic Party, progressive, and news media.
This is in addition to the bomb placed in George Soros’ mailbox yesterday:

Pipe bombs were sent to several prominent Democrats, including former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, setting off an intense investigation on Wednesday into whether figures vilified by the right were being targeted.

From Washington to New York to Florida, where a congresswoman who is the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee has her office, the authorities intercepted a wave of crudely built devices that were contained in manila envelopes.

In the center of Manhattan, the Time Warner Center, an elegant office and shopping complex, was evacuated because of a pipe bomb sent to CNN, which has its New York offices there. It was addressed to John O. Brennan, a critic of President Trump who served as Mr. Obama’s C.I.A. director.


The F.B.I. said the devices were similar to one found Monday at the home of George Soros, the billionaire philanthropist and liberal donor, in a New York City suburb.

Gee, now there is a surprise.

It appears that whoever did this was targeting, “East Coast Liberal Elites,” which does indicate who the likely suspects might be:

I will note, as Matt Tiabbi has, that this is early in the story, and the speculation by the talking heads on the cable news is more likely wrong than right.

My money is still on it being some right-wing nut job.

This is a Wicked Bad Day at the Office

I am not sure what a good day at the office is like in Kazakhstan, but I am pretty sure that it does not involve the rocket that you are riding on blowing up:

A Soyuz capsule carrying a U.S. astronaut and Russian cosmonaut completed an emergency landing in Russia on Oct. 11 about 40 min. after the first ballistic abort in the history of the International Space Station (ISS) program.

First reports indicate astronaut Nick Hague and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin are in “good condition” and in contact with search-and-rescue teams sent to recover them, NASA spokeswoman Brandi Dean said.

The booster anomaly was identified about 3 min., 15 sec. after liftoff at 4:40 a.m. Eastern time, triggering a ballistic re-entry of the capsule and subjecting the crew to higher-than-normal G forces.

“It is a known mode of descent that crewmembers have gone through before,” Dean said.

The booster anomaly has not been identified or described.


Soyuz used its launch abort system for the first time in September 1983 after a Soyuz T rocket caught fire on the launch pad seconds before liftoff. The capsule’s launch escape system pulled the crew away from the rocket seconds before the vehicle exploded.

The narration in the video below is not completely accurate. It’s someone (probably) in Houston reading from a script.

What is notable is that the “Koralev Cross” which occurs on booster separation, seemed rather odd, so the problem might be something to do with booster separation.

It appears that the escape tower had been jettisoned before the failure, and so the propulsion system for the capsule was used to separate from the booster.

That;s the First One

An F-35 has crashed in South Carolina its pilot ejected safely:

An F-35 fighter jet crashed in South Carolina, the US Marine Corps said, in the first such incident to affect the most expensive defence programme in the world.

A statement said the crash occurred in the vicinity of Beaufort, South Carolina, at approximately 11.40am on Friday.

“The US Marine pilot ejected safely,” the statement said, adding that there were no civilian injuries and both the health of the pilot and the cause of the crash were being evaluated.

If it’s the Marines, then it is the “B” model.

I’m wondering if this is just the normal course of things, or if it is another glitch in the program.

Time for Thoughts and Prayers, Again, and Again, and Again, and Again

A lone gunman blasted his way into the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis with a shotgun Thursday, killing five people dead and injuring two others, authorities said.

Journalists dove under their desks and pleaded for help on social media. One reporter described the scene a “war zone.” A photographer said he jumped over a dead colleague and fled for his life.

The victims were identified as Rob Hiaasen, 59, a former feature writer for The Baltimore Sun who joined the Capital Gazette in 2010 as assistant editor and columnist; Wendi Winters, 65, a community correspondent who headed special publications; Gerald Fischman, 61, the editorial page editor; John McNamara, 56, a staff writer who covered high school, college and professional sports for decades; and Rebecca Smith, 34, a sales assistant hired in November.

Police took a suspect into custody soon after the shootings. He was identified as Jarrod W. Ramos, a 38-year-old Laurel man with a longstanding grudge against the paper.

“This was a targeted attack on the Capital Gazette,” said Anne Arundel County Deputy Police Chief William Krampf. “This person was prepared today to come in. He was prepared to shoot people.”

Ramos has been in a dispute with the paper since 2011, so this is not related to the incitements of inverted traffic cone Donald Trump, Elvis impersonator wannabee Milo Yiannopoulos, or the rest of their ilk.

It was just an asshole with a gun.

Maybe the problem is the guns.

Why Yes, I Do Feel Like Wile E. Coyote

I’m not particularly worried about the impending reentry of the Tiangong-1 space station, but it does conjure up the Chuck Jones Warner Brothers classic animated Road Runner shorts:

I love clicks as much as the next online journalist. I love that there is an uncertain thing happening, with infinite angles to write about and to scare people with. But as the Chinese Tiangong-1 satellite nears its final descent to Earth this weekend, I need to remind you: It’s not a big deal.

The chance of any casualties here is vanishingly small.

I should have sent a magnetized hard hat to Mitch McConnell though.

It Is Now Officially the Trump Economy

Down 666 points on Friday, and 1175 points on Monday.*

The benefits of the tax cuts are positively amazing:

The Dow Jones industrial average plunged 1,175 points Monday in an exceptionally volatile day for financial markets around the world, stirring concerns about the durability of the long-running stock gains.

In the biggest global sell-off since 2016, financial markets from Asia to Europe to the United States were rocked primarily by concerns about inflation.

The Dow was off a heart-stopping 1,600 points during afternoon trading, the largest intraday point decline in the blue-chip index’s history. But the 4.6 percent loss for the day was not even close to the biggest.

The downdraft raised fresh anxieties among Americans who have seen their retirement savings and household worth march steadily higher without any of the gyrations that are part of a normal market cycle.

It also threatened to deprive President Trump and the GOP of a favorite talking point at the nascent stages of the 2018 midterm campaign.

Although the declines were eye-catching, market observers have been anticipating a correction after a year of big gains in the Dow, the broader Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index and the tech-heavy Nasdaq.

You know, Trump was right. I’m sick of winning.

*Yes, I know that the stock market, and particularly the Dow, are separate from the real economy.

Airline Passenger Does to Plane What Airlines do to Passengers

After a passenger let loose in the bathroom in a way that it, “Resembled the sets in The Wild Bunch if the film had been directed by John Waters instead of Sam Peckinpah,” United Airlines flight 895 was forced to make an emergency landing:

United Airlines passengers found themselves in a fetid situation when their Chicago-to-Hong Kong flight made an unscheduled landing in Alaska after a man had smeared feces all over some of the plane’s bathrooms, airport officials said.

United Flight 895 was diverted to Anchorage on Thursday night, according to CBS affiliate KTVA, and police officials at Ted Stevens International Airport said the landing was due to a “passenger smearing feces everywhere.”

More specifically, officials said the man had dirtied “a couple” of lavatories on the plane and had also tried to cram his shirt down a toilet.

United said in a statement only that the flight was diverted due to “a disruptive passenger.”

This is some sort of metaphor lived in real life.

Thank God for Incompetents

A would be suicide bomber in New York was such an incompetent bomb maker that he couldn’t even manage to blow himself up:

A would-be suicide attacker detonated a pipe bomb strapped to his body in the heart of Manhattan’s busiest subway corridor on Monday, sending thousands of terrified commuters fleeing the smoke-choked passageways, and bringing the heart of Midtown to a standstill as hundreds of police officers converged on Times Square and the surrounding streets.

But the makeshift weapon failed to fully detonate, and the attacker himself was the only one seriously injured in the blast, which unfolded just before 7:20 a.m.

Law enforcement officials said the attacker, identified by the police as Akayed Ullah, 27, chose the location because of its Christmas-themed posters, a motive that recalled strikes in Europe, and he told investigators that he set off his bomb in retaliation for United States airstrikes on ISIS targets in Syria and elsewhere.

It was the third attack in New York City since September 2016, and the second in two months, coming only weeks after eight people were killed in a truck attack along a Hudson River bike path. Like the earlier two, the attack on Monday appears to have been carried out by a so-called “lone-wolf” terrorist.

The explosion on Monday morning echoed through the subway tunnels just off Times Square and filled parts of the Port Authority Bus Terminal with smoke as commuters fled. Even as smoke still filled the chamber, Mr. Ullah was subdued by Port Authority police officers.


An immigrant from Bangladesh, Mr. Ullah came to live in Brooklyn through a visa program available to people who have relatives who are United States citizens. 

Some thoughts:

  • If the FBI weren’t so fixated on sting operations on people who would never have been a threat, maybe they would have noticed the guy.
  • This is the first time I’ve heard of a Bangladeshi being involved, though I do know that Wahabbi/Salafist movements have been growing in strength there.
  • My guess is that his pipe bomb was insufficiently sealed, and so the gunpowder, or other low explosive, mostly just burnt, rather than generating a significant explosion.

We are lucky that this guy didn’t know what he was doing.

Thanks, Hillary*

8000 Miles from Pyonyang

It was inevitable once Qaddafi was overthrown in Libya.

His dismantling of his WMD program, followed shortly by an overthrow led by the US, made it clear to anyone on the world stage that the US cannot be trusted to keep its international agreements

“We came, we saw, he died,” and now the DPRK has successfully flown a missile with sufficient range to strike all of the United States:

North Korea claimed the entire United States mainland was within reach after “successfully” testing a new kind of intercontinental ballistic missile, which it called the Hwasong-15, and said could carry a “super large heavy warhead.”

While Pyongyang is prone to exaggeration, its boast of having all of the United States in range is in line with experts’ calculations that the missile launched Wednesday, which flew 10 times higher than the International Space Station, could theoretically reach Washington, D.C.

“With this system, we can load the heaviest warhead and strike anywhere in the mainland United States,” North Korea’s most famous newsreader, Ri Chun Hee, said in a special live broadcast on state television. “This missile is far more technologically advanced than July’s Hwasong-14. This signifies that our rocket development process has been completed.”


The missile logged a longer flight time than any of its predecessors and went farther into the atmosphere than ever before, reaching a height of 2,800 miles. The International Space Station, by comparison, is 240 miles above the Earth.


If the missile had flown on a standard trajectory designed to maximize its reach, it would have a range of more than 8,100 miles, said David Wright, co-director of the global security program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The leadership of the DPRK believes that we intend the same for them that we did for Libya.

Given our record, it’s not a completely crazy opinion to hold, and nuclear deterrence of the US is a sensible and sane strategy given this world view.

I would note that if they have 50 kg or so to spare in the warhead, it’s likely that they could put decoys and other penetration aides (penaids) in the missile, which would greatly complicate mid-course interception.

We’re in a fine mess.

*Hillary Clinton was the strongest advocate of the overthrow of Libya, which Obama, at least, had the self awareness to describe as his worst mistake.
Yes, I am quoting an article from a web site called American Conservative, whose author works for the Cato Institute. What can I say? A stopped clock is right wtice a day.


Meet the New Boss………

Robert Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980 and once proclaimed that “only God will remove me,” resigned as president on Tuesday shortly after lawmakers began impeachment proceedings against him.

The speaker of the Parliament, Jacob Mudenda, read out a letter in which Mr. Mugabe said he was stepping down “with immediate effect” for “the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe and the need for a peaceful transfer of power.”

Lawmakers erupted into cheers, and jubilant residents poured into the streets of Harare, the capital. It seemed to be an abrupt capitulation by Mr. Mugabe, 93, the world’s oldest head of state and one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders.

“It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to Zimbabwe,” Perseverance Sande, 20, said in central Harare minutes after news of the resignation began spreading, as crowds of people started singing around her. “I’ve been waiting so long for this moment.”

It is widely expected that Emmerson Mnangagwa, his former VP, whose firing precipitated the coup, will succeed him, so I’m not expecting much in the way of political change.

Mnangagwa was, after all, hip deep in the Gukurahundi massacres in Matabeleland in the early 1980s.

Mixed Emotions

After Morgan Tsvangirai won the first round of Presidential elections in Zimbabwe in 2008, I followed developments there hoping for a peaceful transition to democracy for a few years before throwing in the towel.

I figured that nothing would change, and I felt that I had nothing to add.

Well, it appears that the Zimbabwe Defence Forces have deposed Robert Mugabe in a coup.

I’m not sure if this actually constitutes a change, or if it will lead to change:

Zimbabwe — After ruling Zimbabwe for nearly four decades, leading the country from the triumph of its independence struggle to economic collapse, the world’s oldest head of state became a prisoner of the military he once commanded.

Robert Mugabe, 93, was detained along with his wife, according to a military announcement Wednesday. The move appears to end one of Africa’s most controversial political dynasties while raising questions about what might come next — military rule, a transitional government or a settlement that would allow Mugabe to return to power.

No matter what happens, this appears to be a watershed moment for Zimbabwe and southern Africa, which have suffered from the tumult of Mugabe’s reign, even as his hold on power sometimes seemed unshakable.

Zimbabweans awoke early Wednesday to a televised announcement from an army general promising that there was “not a military takeover,” although Mugabe had been detained and armored vehicles were rolling into Harare, the capital.


Mugabe recently purged some key officials from the ruling party, ZANU-PF, paving the way for his 52-year-old spouse, Grace, to succeed him. Many see that move as a major miscalculation, alienating Mugabe from the civilians and military leaders on whom he had long depended. 

Seeing as how the military is part and parcel of the corruption and human rights disaster that is today’s Zimbabwe, I do not expect this to usher in an era freedom, prosperity, and democracy.

I Do Not Know What to Make of This, but It Seems Significant

There is some sort of seriously f%$#ed up dynastic sh%$ going on inside of the house of Saud:

Saudi Arabia announced the arrest on Saturday night of the prominent billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, plus at least 10 other princes, four ministers and tens of former ministers.

The announcement of the arrests was made over Al Arabiya, the Saudi-owned satellite network whose broadcasts are officially approved. Prince Alwaleed’s arrest is sure to send shock waves both through the kingdom and the world’s major financial centers.

He controls the investment firm Kingdom Holding and is one of the world’s richest men, owning or having owned major stakes in 21st Century Fox, Citigroup, Apple, Twitter and many other well-known companies. The prince also controls satellite television networks watched across the Arab world.

The sweeping campaign of arrests appears to be the latest move to consolidate the power of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the favorite son and top adviser of King Salman.

At 32, the crown prince is already the dominant voice in Saudi military, foreign, economic and social policies, stirring murmurs of discontent in the royal family that he has amassed too much personal power, and at a remarkably young age.

The king had decreed the creation of a powerful new anti-corruption committee, headed by the crown prince, only hours before the committee ordered the arrests.

The machinations of the House of Saud are a bag full of cats, but I find this behavior unusual, even by the standards of Riyadh.

Normally, when power dynamics shift, you find people quietly removed from their positions, and any arrests or detentions are on the down-low.  Public notice mass detentions of the royals are unprecedented.

Because of this, I do not think that this is coming from a position of strength.

Mohammed bin Salman’s (MBS) policy initiatives have not gone well, the Yemen operation is a hole sucking resources and diplomatic credibility, and the conflict with Qatar is not turning out as expected, and I think there has been increasing push-back from elements of the royal family against the meteoric rise of MBS.

What this means in the longer term for Saudi Arabia is unclear to me, but I think that there are likely to be some major shifts in the monarchy.

This could be a new path forward, or it could be rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

My money is on the the latter, but I’m an optimist.

Headline of the Day

Oh Chris Cillizza, You F%$#ING Sh%$heel

Evan Hurst at Wonkette

Over at everyone’s source of snark, Mr. Hurst did two things:

  1. Called out Chris Cilizza for being a completely worthless prat. (Easy)
  2. Changed my mind.  (Not so easy)

Specifically, he was, with an assist from John Cole, talking about Cillizza’s demand that Hillary Clinton issue a statement about the revelations about Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment sexual assault over the past few decades.

I was actually considering doing the same thing, but then I read this:

Make no mistake, this is no “analysis” as he has it labeled. And the thing you need to realize is Cillizza KNOWS that Clinton doesn’t support rape and sexual assault, he just wants make her respond. It’s him using his forum to make her jump- he might as well be saying “Dance, mad bitch, dance,” because we all know that if she does respond, Cillizza’s next piece will be “what took her so long” and “was she sincere” and so on. 

They are right, and so I put the kibosh on writing a similar article to Cillizza’s.

I’m now actually feeling a bit ashamed that I was considering doing something like this.

As an aside, Hillary Clinton did condemn Weinstein today, as did the Obamas, but that really none of my f%$#ing business.

Keeping a score card on this sh%$ is lame.

There is a Thin Line Between Terrorism and Pumpkin Spice Air Freshener

Just ask the Baltimore City fire department and its hazmat teams:

There was an unusual smell Thursday afternoon at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Upper Fells Point. The smell was on the third floor. Students and teachers didn’t know what it was.

“It was a smell that they certainly weren’t used to,” said Bill Heiser, the school’s president, who was off-campus at the time. “It appeared to be getting stronger.”

Several students and teachers reported difficulty breathing, Heiser said.

The school’s principal evacuated the building and the fire department was called. After arriving, the fire department requested a Hazmat team, which ran several tests for hazardous materials. All of them were negative, according to Baltimore fire spokesman Roman Clark.


Firefighters began to open all the windows in the building to air it out.

Then, Clark said, they located the source of the smell in a third-floor classroom: an aerosol plugin. Flavor: pumpkin spice.

F%$#ing pumpkin spice strikes again.

Now it’s not just polluting our Starbucks, it’s interfering with the education of our kids.

It must be stop.


I was driving to pick up the kids from a graduation party, and I got rear ended on the Outer Loop of the Baltimore Beltway.

I could drive home, and the EMTs took a look at me and took vitals, but this is a royal pain in the ass.

The rear bumper and lower rear window (It’s a Prius) is trashed, and I was pushed into the truck in front of me.

On the bright side, the car was driveable, and I took it home over local streets.

Right now, I have a sore neck, a headache, and a bruise on my arm, and I am on hold with the insurance company.  (The last one is most painful).

I will need to stay awake for the next few hours just to be safe.

The Balloon Has Gone Up

The House of Representatives just passed the latest version of Trumpcare:

The House on Thursday narrowly approved legislation to repeal and replace major parts of the Affordable Care Act, as Republicans recovered from their earlier failures and moved a step closer to delivering on their promise to reshape American health care without mandated insurance coverage.

The vote, 217 to 213, held on President Trump’s 105th day in office, is a significant step on what could be a long legislative road. Twenty Republicans bolted from their leadership to vote no. But the win keeps alive the party’s dream of unwinding President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement.

The House measure faces profound uncertainty in the Senate, where a handful of Republican senators immediately rejected it, signaling that they would start work on a new version of the bill virtually from scratch.

This is going to be a complete clusterf%$#.

The only question is whether the Democrats have sufficient solidarity to make political hay from it.