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Europe, We Have a Problem: Quantas Grounds its Fleet of Gigantic Airbus A380 Jets

Via New York Times:
HONG KONG — Qantas Airways suspended flights on its six Airbus A380 jetliners on Thursday after an engine on one of the superjumbo planes exploded shortly after takeoff from Singapore, scattering pieces of debris over an Indonesian island and forcing the plane to return to Singapore for an emergency landing. There were no reported injuries. According to a report by the Aviation Safety Network, which keeps a database of aircraft incidents and accidents, Flight 32 suffered an “uncontained” engine failure six minutes after takeoff that caused “substantial” damage to the plane. An uncontained engine failure is extremely rare and occurs when components detach and fly off the main engine housing — often with explosive force. “When turbines spin, they do so at very high speed, generating tremendous amounts of energy,” said Paul Hayes, director of accidents and insurance at Ascend, an aviation consultancy in London. “The risk in this type of failure is that bits of hot metal go into the passenger cabin or penetrate part of the aircraft structure.” Alan Joyce, Qantas’s chief executive, said the Australian airline would suspend services on its fleet of six A380s “until we are confident that Qantas safety requirements have been met,” according to a statement on the airline’s Web site. Emma Kearns, a spokeswoman for Qantas, said its Flight 32, bound for Sydney, returned to Singapore on Thursday after one of the twin-decked jet’s four engines shut down over western Indonesia. She said the flight was carrying 433 passengers and 26 crew members. The plane landed safely in Singapore at around 11:45 a.m. local time, and the Australian government said there were no immediate reports of injuries.
I really think Airbus planes have a problem. Tails fall off. Engines explode. Something's not right. - Greg Pollowitz

Net Neutrality Down in Flames

Via The Hill:
Every House and Senate candidate who signed a pledge to support net-neutrality rules lost his or her election on Tuesday, according to an analysis by Scott Cleland, a net-neutrality opponent. Ninety-five Democrats signed the pledge, released last week. It was organized by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC). The pledge said signers would support strong net-neutrality rules on wireless and wired broadband networks.
I can see losing some races, but 95-0?!? - Greg Pollowitz

U.N. Foolishness

Via WSJ:
A United Nations official who has courted controversy in the past has presented an award to the military leader of the 1989 crackdown on Tiananmen Square protests ahead of an official visit to China by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Sha Zukang, a Chinese national who is U.N. Undersecretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, gave the award last week to Gen. Chi Haotian, a former Chinese defense minister. Gen. Chi was chief of staff of the People’s Liberation Army when he ordered the attack on the pro-democracy demonstrators. U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said the secretary-general’s office first heard about the award presentation late last week in a report on the Internet. “I don’t think I have any further comment for now on that story,” he said. The award was given by a group called the World Harmony Foundation for what it said was Gen. Chi’s contribution to improving relations between China and the world, the China News Service reported. Mr. Sha has a reputation for being somewhat of a loose canon. In September, he delivered blunt remarks to Mr. Ban during a retreat for senior U.N. officials, according to some of those officials who were present.
The John Bolton plan for the UN still makes the most sense. - Greg Pollowitz

British Police Given Diversity Handbook to Help Them Deal with ‘Witches’ and ‘Pagans’

Via Telegraph:
Police officers will be in a strong position to handle witchcraft-related incidents after receiving official advice on dealing with pagans and witches as part of a 300-page diversity handbook. It is Hallowe’en and the witching hour is drawing nearer, but don’t be alarmed – police officers are on the case, having been issued with official guidance on how to deal with witches. The advice is contained in a 300-page “diversity handbook” which gives officers a range of “dos and don’ts” when approaching followers of a range of religions and other beliefs, from atheism to Zoroastrianism.
And it's not even a Christine O'Donnell joke. - Greg Pollowitz

We Were Lucky, Continued: Bombs Big Enough to Down Planes

Via Telegraph:
The bombs used in the cargo plane terror plot were at least 50 times more powerful than would be needed to blow a hole in an aircraft fuselage, officials said today. Experts in Germany said the bombs at East Midlands Airport and in Dubai contained at least 300g (10.58oz) of the powerful explosive PETN as Theresa May, the Home Secretary, announced a review of all air freight security. UK explosives expert Sidney Alford told CNN last year that just 6g of PETN would be enough to punch a hole into a metal plate twice the thickness of an aircraft fuselage.
Hopefully this is a wake-up call. - Greg Pollowitz

Army’s Football Team Unveils Camouflage Uniform

Via Yahoo! Sports:
Florida did the “Pro Combat” thing Saturday at Georgia, but Army was gung ho for an actual combat motif in a 29-7 win over the Virginia Military Institute. It’s not the first time the academy has incorporated camouflage in its game-day unis before, but never from head-to-toe. You can draw your own conclusions, but Miss USA digs the camo. The win moved the Black Knights to 5-3, within one victory of an automatic bid to the Armed Forces Bowl in December – Army’s first .500 season or bowl game since 1996. Up first: A date with Notre Dame in Yankee Stadium, where the goalposts went up Friday for the first college football game in the Bronx in decades.
I like it. One more win and they can wear the new threads in a bowl game. - Greg Pollowitz

We Were Lucky: Bomb Plot Tip Came From Former Terrorist

Via BBC:
The crucial tip-off that led to the discovery of parcel bombs on two cargo planes came from a repentant al-Qaeda member, UK officials say. Jabr al-Faifi handed himself in to authorities in Saudi Arabia two weeks ago, the officials told the BBC. The US says its main suspect in the failed bomb plot is the chief bombmaker for al-Qaeda’s Yemeni branch. Yemeni officials said 14 suspected al-Qaeda members had surrendered in the restive southern province of Abyan. Abyan’s governor said five senior figures were among those who had handed themselves in, and more fighters were expected to surrender in the coming days. Yemen is facing mounting multi-national pressure to battle al-Qaeda, says the BBC’s Lina Sinjab in Sanaa, but some doubt its ability to do so as it faces social, economic and political problems at home.
Luckily we found a terrorist with a conscience. - Greg Pollowitz

Terror: Explosives Found in Packages Bound for Chicago Synagogues

Via Sun-Times:
President Barack Obama said Friday that initial examination of two packages bound for Chicago from Yemen determined that they apparently contained explosive materials. The packages were apparently bound for Jewish synagogues in the Chicago area. The president said the American public should be confident in the government’s counterterror efforts. Several other cargo planes at airports along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States also were searched, and officials said no explosives were found. An Emirates Airlines passenger jet carrying cargo from Yemen was escorted from the Canadian border to New York City by two military fighter jets, U.S. officials said. They said it was a precautionary action.
More to follow. - Greg Pollowitz

Suspicious Package Revealed: Is This Terrorism?

Via CNN:
(CNN) — Cargo planes and trucks in several U.S. cities were inspected Friday after investigators found suspicious packages in at least two locations abroad, law enforcement sources with detailed knowledge of the investigation said. U.S. officials believe that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, commonly referred to as AQAP, is behind the plot. One suspicious package, found in the United Kingdom, contained a “manipulated” toner cartridge but tested negative for explosive material, the source said. It led to heightened inspection of arriving cargo flights in Newark, New Jersey, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and a UPS truck in New York. The package had white powder on it as well as wires and a circuit board, a law-enforcement source said; someone shipped it from Sanaa, Yemen, with a final destination of Chicago, Illinois. A similar package has been discovered in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, the source said.
More information to follow. Not really sure what this is all about right now, nor do I think anybody else has a clue. - Greg Pollowitz

Panic in the Wash. Senate: Rossi (R), Murray (D) Tied

Via Rasmussen Reports:
Republican Dino Rossi and incumbent Democrat Patty Murray are separated by a single point in the U.S. Senate race in Washington with less than a week until Election Day. The latest Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely Voters shows Rossi picking up 48% of the vote, while Murray draws support from 47%. Three percent (3%) prefer some other candidate, and two percent (2%) are still undecided. (To see question wording, click here.) The race remains a Toss-Up in the Rasmussen Reports Election 2010 Senate Balance of Power rankings. Just over a week ago, Murray inched ahead 49% to 46%. But highlighting the closeness of the race, neither candidate has held a lead greater than five points in 15 surveys conducted since January, and they’ve been within two points of each other nine times. Murray’s support has ranged from 45% to 51%, while Rossi has picked up 46% to 49% of the vote.
Cross your fingers. - Greg Pollowitz

Welcome to the 21st Century: Germany Moves to End Forced Marriages

Via Telegraph:
Germany’s government has proposed criminalising forced marriage in an attempt to wipe out the traditional Muslim practice. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet agreed to a proposed law that would make forced marriage in Germany a crime that can be punished with up to five years in prison. The legislation still needs to pass parliament.
I assume this is just another instance of Islamaphobia. - Greg Pollowitz

Upon Further Review: Gov. Christie Scraps the New NJ-NY Train Tunnel. . . Again

Via AP:
TRENTON, N.J. – Gov. Chris Christie cited New Jersey’s lack of money Wednesday in standing by his decision to kill a train tunnel connecting his state to New York City, a move that will force the state to repay $350 million it was given to start the nation’s biggest public works project. Christie, a rising star in the Republican Party for his fearless budget-slashing, has argued that his cash-strapped state can’t afford to pay for any overruns on the $9 billion-plus rail tunnel under the Hudson River. The state is on the hook for $2.7 billion plus overruns. “In the end, my decision does not change,” Christie said. “I cannot place upon the citizens of New Jersey an open-ended letter of credit, and that’s what this project represents.”
Good for him. - Greg Pollowitz

WH Adviser John Holdren: Watch out for Meteors!

Via AOL News:
(Oct. 25) — If an asteroid were on a collision course with Earth, would we be ready to defend against its destructive impact or would we be helpless and defenseless? NASA, America’s space agency, is being charged with leading the way to protect not only the U.S. but the entire world in the event of such a horrifying scenario. And a top White House science adviser says we have to be prepared. In separate 10-page letters to the House Committee on Science and Technology and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, or OSTP, outlines plans for “(A) protecting the United States from a near-Earth object that is expected to collide with Earth; and (B) implementing a deflection campaign, in consultation with international bodies, should one be necessary.”
No doubt there's a study somewhere that says protecting the Earth from a doomsday asteroid will reduce the 2011 budget deficit. - Greg Pollowitz

Shocking! Charlie Sheen Found Drunk, Naked in Trashed Room at the Plaza

Via New York Post:
Police were called to The Plaza Hotel just after 2 a.m. where they found a highly intoxicated and naked Charlie Sheen amid a trashed hotel suite, sources said. Tables and chairs had been thrown around the room, causing hotel security to call 911, sources said. A chandelier was also damaged. Sheen was taken to the hospital for unspecified reasons. His ex-wife Denise Richards, who was staying in a separate room, accompanied him.
What's next? Someone going to tell me that nice girl from "The Parent Trap" and "Herbie" is doing drugs? No way! - Greg Pollowitz

Science: Male Drivers Lost Longer than Woman Drivers

Via ABC News:
The old stereotype might be true: Men really don’t like to ask for directions and are willing to circle around aimlessly forever, or at least longer than women. The average male drives an extra 276 miles every year as a result of being lost — the equivalent to a journey from Cincinnati to Nashville — compared to 256 miles for women, according to a study by British car insurance company Sheila’s Wheels. More than one out of four men — 26 percent — wait at least half an hour before asking for directions, with a stubborn 12 percent refusing to ask a stranger for help at all.
The study doesn't address the fact that it's usually the woman's fault that the man is lost because she made him leave an hour later than planned and on and on and on. . . - Greg Pollowitz

R.I.P. Paul, the World Cup ‘Psychic’ Octopus has Died

Via BBC:
Paul the octopus, an unlikely star of the 2010 World Cup who ‘predicted’ the outcome of seven matches, has died at an aquarium in Germany. Staff at the Sea Life centre in Oberhausen said they were “devastated” to learn that he had passed away during the night. Paul made his name by successfully choosing a mussel from one of two boxes bearing the flags of competing nations. Octopuses rarely live beyond two years so his death was not unexpected
There's a rumor that right before he tied he picked Christine O'Donnell in Delaware, but I'm still trying to confirm it. - Greg Pollowitz

The Taliban’s Special Relationship With Britain: Funding

Via Telegraph:
The Taliban has claimed that Britain is its greatest source of revenue and the group is funded by donations in mosques and Muslim community centres around the country. “We are not like a government, we depend on individuals,” a Taliban commander told Sky News. “We get donations from our Muslim brothers in Britain for jihad and they help us. It is the duty of all Muslims to pay towards fighting a jihad. And this is how we get our money and buy our weapons and carry on fighting.” The commander added that an attack on Britain and Europe could happen “at any time”.
Great news. . . - Greg Pollowitz

Panic in WV: Manchin won’t endorse Reid for Speaker, Obama for President

Via AOL Politics:
Gov. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, declined over the weekend to endorse Barack Obama for a second term for president or Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) as Senate majority leader in interviews with Politics Daily. “That’s such a hypothetical thing, but basically I think there’s two more years that have to play out,” Manchin said when I asked him if he expects to endorse Obama for a second term. “Things have got to change. People will have time to evaluate and make a decision over the next two years and four years. I just think there’s a lot of correction, a lot of changes, a lot of things that need to be fixed before I would say anything about anybody running for office.” Although Manchin has a near-70 percent approval rating in the state, a balanced state budget and endorsements from such right-of-center powerhouses as the National Rifle Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, he is locked in a tight race with Republican John Raese in the contest to fill the unexpired term of the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D).
With Dems like these, who needs RINOs? - Greg Pollowitz

Panic: Dems Have Lost the Cook County, Ill. Gay Vote?

Via AP:
CHICAGO – Kate Coatar is seriously considering voting for Green Party candidates instead of Democrats, whom she normally supports. James Wyatt won’t cast a ballot at all because he no longer trusts anyone to fight for causes important to him. If Democratic candidates are counting on long-standing support from gay voters to help stave off big losses on Nov. 2, they could be in for a surprise. Across the country, activists say gay voters are angry — at the lack of progress on issues from eliminating employment discrimination to uncertainty over serving in the military to the economy — and some are choosing to sit out this election or look for other candidates. President Barack Obama’s hometown of Chicago, with its large, politically and socially active gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, offers a snapshot of what some are calling the “enthusiasm gap” between voters who came out strong for Obama and other Democrats in 2008 and re-energized Republican base voters, including tea party enthusiasts who say they are primed to storm the polls. It didn’t help that the controversy over the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for gays erupted less than two weeks before the election, when a judge overturned it, then Obama’s justice department decided to fight the judge’s decision. On Thursday, the Defense Department declared that “don’t ask, don’t tell” is official policy but set up a new system that could make it tougher to get thrown out of the military for being openly gay. “It’s all talk and nothing’s happening, and I’m just over it,” said Coatar, 62, a church business manager who said she’s as concerned about health care and homelessness as about gay issues. “I don’t know who to vote for and the election is a week away.”
As goes Cook County, goes the nation. . . - Greg Pollowitz

Remember: Twenty-Seven Year Anniversary of the Attack on U.S. Forces in Lebanon

Via Wikipedia:
The Beirut barracks bombing (October 23, 1983 in Beirut, Lebanon) occurred during the Lebanese Civil War, two truck bombs struck separate buildings housing United States and French military forces—members of the Multinational Force in Lebanon—killing 299 American and French servicemen. The organization Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the bombing, but that organization is thought to have been a nom de guerre for Hezbollah—or a group that would later become part of Hezbollah[1]—receiving help from the Islamic Republic of Iran.[2] Suicide bombers detonated each of the truck bombs. In the attack on the American Marines barracks, the death toll was 241 American servicemen: 220 Marines, 18 Navy personnel and three Army soldiers, along with sixty Americans injured, representing the deadliest single-day death toll for the United States Marine Corps since the Battle of Iwo Jima of World War II, the deadliest single-day death toll for the United States military since the first day of the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War, and the deadliest single attack on Americans overseas since World War II.[3] In addition, the elderly Lebanese custodian of the Marines’ building was killed in the first blast.[4] The explosives used were equivalent to 5,400 kg (12,000 pounds) of TNT.
And the clash of civilizations continues. . . - Greg Pollowitz


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