Thursday, August 30, 2007

Darfur update

The United Nations is short of aviation, transport and logistic personnel necessary for the functioning of a new force of up to 26,000 troops and police in Sudan's Darfur region, according to a report issued Thursday.

The report was issued by Ban Ki-Moon, who said the Aug. 31 deadline for troop contributors would have to be extended because "offers are still lacking for some critical military capabilities."

Tributes to the firefighters

They laid bouquets of flowers and hand-written poems on a bench this morning outside Engine 30, Ladder 25. As dark bunting was hung from the West Roxbury fire station, neighbors brought wreathes and notes of condolence that said: "with sadness," "our prayers are with you," "to our heroes," and "may they not be forgotten."

One homemade card -- signed by Sean and Caitlin Murphy -- had a heart drawn on the cover. In a black marker, a child wrote: "Thank you for your bravery and protection. I'm sorry about your friends. I wish I could have know them."

Patti Westwater came from her home in Hyde Park with a bouquet of yellow flowers. "I had to do it," she said. "It's not going to take away the pain or anything. But it's expressing my thanks for all they do."

Her two sons are firefighters -- one in New Bedford, and another, Michael, is assigned to Engine 3 in the South End. He was off duty Wednesday night, but like so many others rushed to the scene.

"It's a huge family," Westwater said. "Love them all. Proud of all the work they do."

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Darfur update

The UN's emergency relief co-ordinator, John Holmes, has described the refugee camps in Darfur as militarised.

Mr. Holmes said some of the 1.2 million refugees are "impatient, politicised, and armed."

New Orleans observes Katrina's second anniversary

Prayers, protests and a lingering disgust with the government's response to Hurricane Katrina marked the disaster's second anniversary Wednesday, with a presidential visit doing little to mollify those still displaced by the storm.

The sad truth is that over 700 people were killed by Katrina in New Orleans alone, and both the local and federal government mismanaged the crisis. Hopefully, we have learned a lesson from the aftermath of the storm, and can prevent another massive loss of life.

A Response To Liberals: Gonzalez

Liberals and Bush-haters across the internet are now saying that Bush is the "epitome" of a lame duck President because nobody that started with him in his administration is still there. In all Presidencies, good or bad, this happens. Despite the fact that their responsibilities are more bountiful than most, members of the Bush administration still have what we like to call jobs. At the end of a Presidency these people will be without a job. Thus explaining why they resign.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Angelina goes to Iraq

Angelina Jolie's never-ending world tour continues.

The actress and activist made pit stops in Syria and Iraq Tuesday as part of her role as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador.

[insert joke about Angelina adopting babies from those countries here]

Darfur update

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced Tuesday he will visit Sudan next week to help create the foundations for lasting peace and test the government's commitment to allow the speedy deployment of a 26,000-strong force in Darfur.

Ban will also visit Chad, which has been affected by the spillover of the Darfur conflict, and Libya, which has tried to get rebel groups to join the government in peace negotiations.

Gonzales resigns, but still can't catch a break.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, a close associate of President Bush who announced yesterday that he will resign next month, will continue to come under scrutiny from a congressional investigation into whether he worked with the White House in the firing of US attorneys and committed perjury when the Senate questioned him about it.

More probes? Don't you people realize he doesn't recall anything?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Wakefield Performing Arts Center

I don't have the article handy, but if you get the Wakefield Item, you probably saw the huge picture (left) of the to be renovated lecture hall at Wakefield High School. The Center for Performing Arts will look strikingly similar to a concert venue and will have over 250 seats in addition to a large performance space. I didn't catch a date on when this will be completed, but I assume I won't be in high school to see it. Not that I care or anything, but this would be pretty cool. The principal spoke of having guest speakers and performances for WHS students. I guess the only people who really give a shit about this project are drama and theatre arts people. They will have a chance to act/play at one of the best venues in eastern Massachusetts.

Phil Spector's main attorney quits

He lasted nearly four-and-a-half years on the case. But one more day of testimony was apparently too much for Phil Spector's main defense attorney to bear.

Bruce Cutler, the so-billed lead attorney on Spector's defense team who was frequently MIA from the criminal proceedings, has resigned his post, citing a difference of opinion on the team's closing-argument strategy in the legendary producer's murder trial.

Cutler said, "There's nothing I can do for Mr. Spector. I can no longer effectively represent him."

Darfur update

Today I found an article written by Mia Farrow about her visit to Darfur back in 2004. Click here to read it.

Fire at the Boston Tea Party Museum

The Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum caught fire today and sent black smoke rising above the Financial District.

The 100-year-old building did not contain anything of historical significance, and has been closed since 2001.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Songs of the Week: August 27th, 2007

One of the best WHS classes, French, has influenced a couple of selections in this week's edition of "Songs of the Week."

Paul Weller - Here's the Good News
Alternative Hip-Hop: Lupe Fiasco - Catch Me
Independent Rock: Bishop Allen - Ghosts are Good Company
Hardcore Punk: Circle Jerks - Live Fast, Die Young
New Wave: Talking Heads - Nothing But Flowers
Alternative Country: Cuff The Duke - Take My Money
Independent Electronic: Figurine - IMpossible
Independent Pop: The Shins - New Slang
Funk - George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic - One Nation Under A Groove
Hip-House (A Hip Hop/House Fusion) - Kanye West - Stronger
French Bohemian - La Rue Ketanou - ...La Boheme
French Synth - Malajube - Fille a Plumes
Techno - New Order - Blue Monday
Folk - Simon and Garfunkel - The Sound of Silence
Post-Punk Revival - Stellastar - My Coco
Hip-Hop - Swizz Beats - It's Me Bitches
Alternative Rock - Taking Back Sunday - Spin

Next week, I am going to change Songs of the Week up a little bit. I will be doing the greatest songs in sports video games.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Darfur update

One of the main rebel factions battling the Sudanese government in the war torn western Darfur region threatened Thursday to reconsider its participation in peace talks following a raid by government forces on a refugee camp.

The faction is the Sudanese Liberation Movement/Army, and said in a statement that 1,000 Sudanese troops were involved in the raid, which resulted in 40 arrests and five deaths.

The whole US of A loves the Red Sox. Go us.

Wearing a crisp white Red Sox jersey and a dusty blue Boston cap, Bill Adams sat a few rows from third base at Tropicana Field. He has never lived in New England. He has been in Fenway Park only once. And he was the first on his feet when David Ortiz sliced a triple.

"Yeah, Big Papi," he hollered, thrusting fists in the air and turning to high-five his older brother. "Holy moly!"

A font of team trivia, he knew before the statistics flashed on the scoreboard that it was the first triple Ortiz had hit all year, shouting to his brother Mark over the cheering crowd: "How often do you see that?"

Check out the rest of the story.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Darfur update

A Sudanese government raid on a refugee camp has raised tensions regarding the tenuous peace process in the troubled Darfur region.

Police arrested 19 people from the camp late Tuesday.

Dean hits Mexico again

A sprawling Hurricane Dean slammed into Mexico for the second time in as many days Wednesday and quickly stretched across to the Pacific Ocean, drenching the central mountains with rain that swelled rivers and flooded houses along the coast.

Dean's center hit the town of Tecolutla shortly after civil defense workers loaded the last evacuees onto army trucks and headed to inland shelters.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Darfur update

A police officer has been killed and four people have been injured in clashes in Kalma camp in Darfur, Sudan's UK ambassador has told the BBC.

Omar Seddeek said rebels have been infiltrating camps and trying to provoke the security forces into an armed conflict.

Also for sale...

Used Car for Sale: A 2005 Mercedes-Benz convertible SL-Class SL65 AMG with 6.0-liter twin-turbo charged engine that rockets from 0 to 60 in less than four seconds.

Mileage: 4,034, driven predominantly to and from Fenway Park.

Color: Red Sox red.

Special Features: A baseball diamond and the initials "D" and "O" embossed on the rear seat, between two subwoofers. Lowenhart LSR 20-inch chrome wheels inscribed with the black letter "D" against a red background.

Asking Price: $169,000 on eBay.

Seller: "It's coming from me -- Big Papi, man," Red Sox slugger David Ortiz said today by telephone from Tampa Bay. "I personally will hand it to the person that buys it at Fenway."

Offers so Far: None.

Ortiz, the Red Sox slugger and admitted muscle-car addict, is selling the convertible he bought as a gift for himself after the 2004 World Series.

Hey, a Mercedes to go with my mansion.

Hurricane Dean grows

Hurricane Dean strengthened into a monstrous Category 5 storm Monday night as its outer bands of wind and rain slammed the coasts of Mexico and Belize.

Mexico's state oil company, Petroleos de Mexico, is evacuating all of its more than 18,000 offshore workers in the southern Gulf of Mexico.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Darfur update

Israel will in future turn away all illegal entrants from Sudan's war-torn region of Darfur, a top official says.

The policy applies to new arrivals only, while the many Darfur refugees already in Israel will be permitted to stay for "humanitarian reasons".

For sale...

It's small compared with the other houses on the block. Some say that is part of its charm.

"This is probably livable," said Mary Anne Kull, 61, a tourist from Ocean City, N.J., standing in the mansion's circular driveway.

Livable, maybe, if you've got $16 million.

The 39-room, 19,000-square-foot Gilded Age mansion -- a mere summer house to the Astor family that once owned it -- is on the market at an asking price that would make it one of the most expensive ever sold in this exclusive seaside community.

Ah, yes, another mansion to add to my growing collection.

I missed another cookout!

THE WAKEFIELD HOUSING AUTHORITY held its annual summer cookout for residents of the Hart’s Hill housing complex yesterday.

I'm uploading this photo to Facebook and tagging all my friends. Mwahaha!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Songs of the Week: August 18th, 2007

Recommended songs for the week of August 20th

College Rock: The Replacements - Unsatisfied
Folk: Phil Ochs - I Ain't Marchin' Anymore
Independent Rock: Pavement - Here
Experimental: Frank Zappa - Concentration Moon
Post-Punk: Joy Division - Means to an End
Hip-Hop: Eric B and Rakim - Microphone Fiend
Heavy Metal: Sepultura - Refuse, Resist
1960s Pop: Mamas and the Papas - Monday, Monday
Alternative Rock: Husker Du - I Apologize
Noise Rock: The Stooges - Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell
Noise Pop: Jesus and Mary Chain - Taste of Cindy
Surf Music: The Tornadoes - Bustin' Surfboards
Psychedelic Rock: Grateful Dead - China Cat Sunflower
Progressive Rock: King Crimson - 21st Century Schizoid Man
Punk Rock: Richard Hell and the Voidoids - Blank Generation
Hardcore Punk: Minor Threat - In My Eyes
Brit Pop: Radiohead - No Suprises
Power Pop: Head Automatica - The Razor
Reggae: Peter Tosh - Legalize It

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Temporary bypass road plan revived

The Patrick administration revived a plan last night to build a temporary bypass road through the Charles River Esplanade to expedite reconstruction of the crumbling Storrow Drive tunnel, igniting outrage among residents who decried the damage that would be inflicted on the widely used park in Boston's historic Back Bay.

The plan would cut construction time by six months and save the state $5 million, but involves cutting down at least 23 trees.

Totally Weird...Al

The Wakefield Observer had an article in this week's edition about the Weird Al concert that was held at the North Shore Music Theatre. I was lucky enough to attend and I enjoyed it lots. I can't actually find it online, but the writer said that he went with his 6 year old. To my surprise, there were a bunch of kids. Many of these kids are definitely too young to appreciate Al. The best part of the concert was when Al performed "Wanna B Ur Lovr". He went up to random women, made gestures, and sang lines like:

"Do you believe in love at first sight
Or should I walk by again?
My love for you'd like diarrhea
I just can't hold it in"

Girl, you smell like Fritos
That's why I'm giving you this hungry stare
You're so hot, you're gonna melt
The elastic in my underwear"
Yeah, you should have gone to this concert.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Darfur update

The Sudanese government has agreed to allow ailing Darfur rebel leader Suleiman Jamous to travel abroad for medical treatment, the United Nations said on Wednesday.

Jamous was the key liason between insurgents and the world's largest aid operation helping some 4.2 million people in Darfur.

Judge bars closing Fernald

A federal judge yesterday halted the state's plan to close the Fernald Development Center in Waltham, ruling that the profoundly mentally retarded residents who have lived there for decades must be given the opportunity to stay.

The judge, Joseph L. Tauro, said transferring the Fernald residents could have devastating effects that unravel years of positive, nonabusive behavior.

Aw. Part VI

EVAN MUSTARD, with twins Evan and Alex Sateriale don't mind the heat as they play at Spaulding Street Playground.

Remember when that playground was made out of wood? Those were the days...

Logan Airport Security Report

Airport security is best described as this: a no-win situation. You can never do good enough of a job for half of the public. The other doesn't even understand why you are there. In plain English, one half thinks you suck and the other half doesn't think you suck enough.

Do what they say, get on your plain and have a nice flight. Do you know why you are taking your shoes off? Do you know why you are giving up your liquids? Do you know why everybody gets checked? They lost two airliners to terrorists posing as pregnant women with bombs stracked around their stomachs. They were pretty, they were white and they were women. Not your typical terrorists, I'd say.

Who is responsible for making you sure you are safe at the airport? They are known as the TSA, or the Transportation Security Administration. Airlines, pre 9/11, handled their own security. Nowadays the government is mandating to take over airport security. In 2002, the TSA was established across the country. Logan Airport right here in Boston has some of the best security. Do you wonder why? Two planes left from Logan; two towers got hit a little while later. You understand.

- As told anonymously to Glen Maganzini by a local airport official

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Darfur update

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday he planned to travel to Sudan in the near future in hopes of stepping up the deployment of a UN-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur.

Ban said, "I will try to expedite the speedy deployment of hybrid operation forces."

Mitt Romney is really, really rich.

Mitt Romney, by far the wealthiest presidential candidate, and his wife, Ann, are worth $190 million to $250 million, his advisers said yesterday after filing a personal financial disclosure statement with the Federal Election Commission.

The FEC statement shows Romney's many investments, including hedge funds, real estate, blue chip stocks, holdings in foreign companies, and his retirement deal with Bain Capital, the firm he started in 1984 and left in 1999.

R.I.P.: Montrose Ice Cream

SINCE THE LATE 1940s, Montrose Ice Cream on Salem Street had been a staple for those of us who like delicious summer treats. The building was demolished Monday to make way for a new Dunkin’ Donuts, a razing that brought back tons of fond memories.

Fond memories? I think I saw Nancy Kerrigan there. But come on, she lives in Stoneham! Everyone reading this has seen her. Right?

But seriously, I will always remember Montrose Ice Cream as Wakefield's only ice cream parlor...besides Meletharb's. And come on, do we really need ANOTHER Dunkin' Donuts? There's two on Main St. alone!

Video Game Review: Madden NFL 08 (PS3)

- Played On a Flat-Screen HDTV at the Maximum 720p Resolution

As I waited in line at 11:35 PM last night, August 13, I was excited. Every year a new edition of Madden is released and every year I go to the "Midnight Madness" at Gamestop. This year, however, the excitement was doubled. I was going to buy Madden for the next gen PS3 not the lowly PS2!

Out of the 50 people that were in the store, I was 8th in line to pick up my copy. Once the employee handed me my copy, I was overflowing with enthusiasm. I couldn't wait to pop the disc into my console!

After an 8 minute drive from Stoneham, I reached my house. I ran up the stairs faster than Laurence Maroney on crack, juked around the wall Willis McGahee-esque, and finally reached my bedroom.

Once I started up the Playstation 3, it immediately recognized the disc (yes, that is important). EA Sports, It's In The Game! (a very necessary step 2) came and then a load up screen. It took about three minutes to load, a little bit longer than the fifteen seconds I had expected. I selected my favorite team, the New England Patriots, and boom, Madden had officially started.

The different screens before you select your game type are very crisp and innovative. On some screens you can actually see footage from the 06' season. Okay, who cares about the pre-game? Let me discuss the actual game.

I jumped right into a quick exhibition match between the Patriots and the Cardinals. They announced the captains individually (college/position/name) and to be quite honest with you, the players looked realistic and well proportioned. After that, I won the toss and chose to receive the kick-off. The kick-off went very smoothly as the camera zoomed in on the kicker and off the ball went.

The ball is came towards Laurence Maroney, whom I couldn't actually see yet. All of a sudden, Maroney and the rest of my team comes into view. Do you want to know what my first thoughts were? What the fuck. I am not one to get immediately angry, but I was. What I saw were a bunch of shitty looking players from Madden 98'.

Graphics: 6.5 -The uniforms are blurred and when zoomed out, the player models look awful. If you go to instant replay and zoom in, however, the faces and body shape look the most realistic ever in a football video game. The stadiums and the crowd models are very accurate and adequate. The grass looks natural and most importantly not like a carpet.

Game Modes: 9.0 - Franchise mode is deep, Superstar mode (which I haven't played yet) has gotten a lot praise from the critics. You can fully customize practices and mini games. A 3-D trophy room has been added so you can keep track of your achievements. New additions include videos and tutorials which happen to be very helpful.

In Game Options:
9.5 - When I say that you can do everything in this game, I mean it. The pre-snap options are loaded. Every button and analog stick direction are used. The play books are large and very easy to navigate. Sorting out plays is simple. The controller layout is very different from the Playstation 2. Turbo is now R2, stiff arm is X, and L2 is pitch ball. Don't worry, it doesn't take long to get used to this.

In Game Play:
7.0 - I didn't believe all the 30 Frames/Second bullshit that all the XBOX 360 fan boys were talking about. These guys were saying that the PS3 was going to be very choppy. Unfortunately, they are right. Running the ball is fun because of all the different options you have (stiff arm, juke, truck, stop and go, hurdle, protect ball, dive). A good thing about running is that it isn't too choppy. Passing is fun at first. The game makes sure that you can't escape the pocket too easily and also makes sure that your offensive line has good blocking coverage. Once you throw the ball and switch buttons to control your receiver, it is going to be tough. I threw a bunch of long bombs to Randy Moss and only caught one of those. The problem is in the switching. Because the game is naturally choppy, your receiver will stray from the ball. Catching a ball by pressing /\ (triangle) causes your receiver to simply put his hands up and hope the ball comes. Contrary to what I have heard, a spectacular catch receiver like Moss won't fight for the ball and make the catch. By the way, pressing turbo only makes it worse. Now to defense. Defense is bad. Switching players takes about three seconds and simply moving your player is very glitchy. You can't take control of a tackle, especially when you press the hit stick. The animation is delayed so much that the opposing is able to quickly take advantage of this. One thing that I did notice is that the defensive line and linebackers will react to what you tell them to do. So if you call a blitz, they will go in. However, if you control one of them, beware for a bad thing to happen. Intercepting and defending balls is too easy. Be prepared for at least three interceptions per game.

Point of Information: There aren't any referees or chain gangs.

FINAL SCORE: 8.00 - You can have a bunch of fun trying all the different game modes and playing smart football, but the in-game play will (I guarantee) make you angry at times.
I've only had the game for 12 hours, so this represents my initial reaction. In a couple of weeks, I might come out with another review.

Monday, August 13, 2007

See any meteors?

This blog could use some more reader interaction. That's what the comment feature is for, people. Anyway, did any of you Étudiant viewers stay up late/get up early to watch the spectacular meteor shower Liz posted about?

Well, I went out at 9, and thought I saw some faint movements up there. I spent the rest of the night going in and out, checking for meteors every ten minutes or so. Then, at 1 AM, I saw a huge shooting star. No question about it. Then I fell asleep like a little bitch. See anything? Comment, please.

Darfur update

African nations have pledged enough troops for Darfur's 26,000-strong peacekeeping force and non-Africans are not needed, the African Union's top diplomat Alpha Oumar Konare said.

Here's an interesting part of this article... Darfur rebel Justice and Equality Movement spokesman Ahmed Hussein Adam said, "The nationality of the troops is very important. The people of Darfur don't want certain countries, especially those who are condoning the crimes the government is commiting in Darfur."

Handicapped spaces are for the handicapped, you know.

A yearlong investigation by the state inspector general and the Registry of Motor Vehicles has turned up widespread abuse of the placards that allow people with disabilities to park all day in designated spots and free of charge at meters across the state.

Whenever some a-hole parks in a designated spot, slash those tires.

Aw. Part V

SCOUT DID HIS best to entertain the people on the Common Friday night in between songs by the Wakefield Summer Band.

I didn't know dogs could hover.

Songs of the Week: August 13, 2007

Every week on Monday, I will be dedicating one post to "Songs of the Week." Now these songs aren't ones that you (maybe) will hear on the radio, but ones that have a spot on my play list. There will be one song per genre, however genres may change from week to week. Here is the this week's list:

Folk: "The Road I Must Travel" by The Nightwatchman
Independent Rock: "Feather" by Page France
Experimental: "Who Could Win a Rabbit" by Animal Collective
Post-Punk Revival: "Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" by Arctic Monkeys
Hip-Hop: "The Breaks" by Kurtis Blow
Heavy Metal: "Ace of Spades" by Motörhead
Post-Punk: "Until She Comes" by Psychedelic Furs
Rap-Core: "How I Could Just Kill A Man" by Rage Against the Machine
1960s Pop: "San Francisco" by Scott Mackenzie
Parody: "Wanna B Ur Lovr" by Weird Al Yankovich
Alternative Rock: "Debaser" by Pixies

Merv Griffin

Merv Griffin, the entertainer who started out as an actor and singer but found fame as a talk show host and a successful businessman, died Sunday of prostate cancer; he was 82.

Griffin started out as a singer, becoming successful enough to start his own label and launch a singing career. He was featured in films such as So This Is Love. In 1962, The Merv Griffin Show debuted. The show ran until 1986. Griffin created and produced Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune.

Friday, August 10, 2007

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Thursday, August 9, 2007

Suleiman Jamous plans to leave Sudan

"An ailing Darfur rebel chief trapped in a United Nations hospital said Thursday he planned to leave the facility and ask the U.N. to fly him out of Sudan for medical treatment."

The rebel chief is Suleiman Jamous, who the article cites as a “prominent moderate who has been a key link between Darfur rebels and humanitarian workers.” Jamous said he needs to be evacuated for further medical care.

Darfur update

The United Nations said it has received pledges of troops and police for a mostly African peacekeeping force to help end the four-year conflict in Darfur that has claimed over 200,000 lives, a development that would meet a key Sudanese demand.

A large number of African countries, along with several from Asia and one from the Middle East, were included in a preliminary list of nations that have offered military and police personnel. However, no Western countries were on the list. While I am happy about the progress towards ending the Darfur conflict, and about the American media finally taking notice (before today, I got the Darfur headlines from other nations' news sites), I am a bit disappointed that the US is not on this preliminary list.
I mean, we have troops, right? Oh wait, they're in Iraq. Right.

Wall Street plunges

Wall Street plunged in early trading Thursday, yanking the Dow Jones industrials down more than 180 points after a French bank said it was freezing three securities funds that struggled to find liquidity in the U.S. subprime mortgage market.

The announcement by BNP Paribas raised the specter of a widening impact of U.S. credit market problems.

Whaddya mean the Dow's down? Buy! Buy! Buy!