NUFC: Trying To Right The Ship

19 year-old Gael Bigirimana scored his first ever Premier League goal on Monday, December 3rd.

For most of the 2012-2013 campaign, Newcastle United have not found their form, or shown us what they can do. Their pattern in nearly all of their matches has been slow starts. Most of their goals have come in the second half. Three of their matches featured late equalizers. And three of their drawn matches involved poor calls that went their way and a fair amount of luck.

Their October 4th victory against Bordeaux in the Europa League briefly broke that pattern. Newcastle came out running, passing, and shooting. Scoring once in each half, they put together a perfect game, while keeping three of their best midfielders rested for the next match against Manchester United.

Then things fell apart for nearly two months. Suspensions, injuries, and some of the worst defensive play the club has seen since their 2009 relegation season put them on a long winless run. That winless run happened to coincide with the extrodinary 8-year renewal of manager Alan Pardew's contract. 

But on Monday, Newcastle got their first Premier League victory since October 28th with an easy triumph of 10-man Wigan. The vicory was a gift. It was a lifeline. 

Today, Newcastle have yet another chance to string two victorys together and show if they can carry momentum through squad and tactical changes. They are in Bordeaux today for their sixth and final Europa League group stage match. A win would secure the top of Group D. A draw or loss would probably send a team of equal caliber their way when the Europa knockout stages begin in February (teams like Lyon and Viktoria Plzen come to mind).

Newcastle supporters thought that the club was finished with Nile Ranger, who has not been able to stay out of trouble and arguably should have been released long ago. But Alan Pardew has chosen Ranger to start as one of the forwards today. It could be a last chance for him to prove he is worthy of wearing the black and white stripes. 

Newcastle strategy, I would think, would be to score first, and then give the younger, reserve players a chance to hold the line. The senior players need to rest and heal before Monday's trip to Fulham, in what will be Newcastle's second globally-televised (ESPN) game in as many weeks.

Bordeaux are slight favorites today. But Their defense is not as strong as Premier League opponents. Pardew wants to win, but I suspect he also wants to see what his reservists can do. And so, two young midfielders, Frenchman Yven Moyo, and a home-grown prospect, Conor Newton, are on the bench today, available to make their senior squad debuts.

Score first. Hold the line. That's fundamental football. And Newcastle need to re-master the fundamentals before they can work on getting back into the Premier League top ten. There were bruises suffered in Monday's victory. Newcastle need to recover as bigger tests are just days away.

Now onto the more professional Newcastle blogs.

Lee Ryder, The Evening Chronicle:

Another highlight of the night was midfielder Sylvain Marveaux’s sparkling display as the French ace shone for long periods and set up Bigirimana’s wonder goal.

Black & White & Read All Over:

The clinching goal, when it arrived, came from a most unlikely source. Master T [Bigirimana] touched the ball to his left before walloping a splendid left-foot shot into the top corner of Al-Habsi's net. A fine way for the teenager to register his first for the club.

Julian Assange Addresses The UN Via His Friends At Russia Today

While I don't entirely agree with his assertion that President Obama is exploiting the 2011 Arab uprisings for political gain, I do agree with everything else he says, especially his strong points on Bradley Manning:

Bradley Manning, science fair all-star, soldier and patriot was degraded, abused and psychologically tortured by his own government. He was charged with a death penalty offense. These things happened to him, as the U.S. government tried to break him, to force him to testify against WikiLeaks and me...As of today Bradley Manning has been detained without trial for 856 days. The legal maximum in the US military is 120 days.


Update: January 15 2018: Video of his appearance is no longer available, but here's a typical Assange TV appearance from the same year.


New York's Middle Class Has Shrunken

The penthouse at 15 Central Park West, which was purchased by the Rybolovleva family in December 2011 for the full asking price of $88 Million. Their 22 year old daughter, Ekatarina, now lives there following her stint at Harvard.

Last week's New York Times story about nealry one third of New York city’s income going to the top one percent of the city's earners is not surprising. What was once the leading manufacturing city in the United States has been transformed into a huge financial casino, with the gamblers at the top reaping all the rewards. Who cares if they nearly brought the economy to its knees, and blighted the lives of millions of Americans? And who is really concerned that they’ll do it again if they’re not prevented? How fitting that Mike Bloomberg should preside over this carnival!

Smithfield Opens In New York City

There’s no shortage of Irish pubs in New York City. As ubiquitous as pizzerias, they are easy to find. It’s finding the quality ones that takes time.  In my 17 years in New York, I’ve found a few. The Piper’s Kilt in Inwood. Several in Woodside, Queens.  The Penny Farthing on 3rd Avenue. Ulysses in the Financial District. St. Andrews and The Long Room in midtown. Lunasa in the East Village. Slainte on the Bowery. All of those rise above the fray with above average food and drink selections.

And in the last 17 years, we’ve seen the rise of football (soccer) bars. Beginning with Nevada Smiths in 1995, and then exploding sometime around the 2002 World Cup, New York football fans have seen a renaissance of the sport’s acceptance and popularity in the USA.  We’ve also seen the rise of so-called “gastro pubs,” where the focus is on gourmet, rustic pub food, and less on televised sports. West Village establishments like The Spotted Pig and Highlands lead that segment.

Smithfield is a new pub built by veterans of this business. Partners Tom, Ken, Kieron, and Gavin have created a special place that combines elements of the football bar, traditional Irish pub and lounge, and fine restaurant into a beautifully designed and thought out package that is unique, friendly, and quite affordable.

I know Kieron from his days as a senior bartender at Nevada Smiths under Tom, the former co-owner of New York’s original football bar. After a split on the Nevada Smiths ownership, Tom began to develop plans for a football pub of his own, while also running the fine Lunasa in the East Village. Smithfield is the product of nearly two years of hard work, and I’m already a big fan.

I love the details. The use of reclaimed wood and re-use of vintage hardware and original architectural details make this place special. For example, all the bar surfaces are made from wood that is nearly 300 years old which was found in a Chelsea warehouse. The tables are made from New York water towers.

Downstairs is set up like a modern soccer bar, not unlike Amity Hall or Puck Fair downtown. Bright LED flat panel displays seem to float over a shelf taken from a Pennsylvania barn. And beneath that, the main bar, featuring massive stainless steel pipes. There are two of them, and each host ten brews on draught. Smithfield has gone the extra distance to ensure that they have a branded glass for each of the ales and lagers on tap. Details like that have made me an instant fan. Smithfield was designed with care by guys who really love their work.

Upstairs, the tone and décor changes a bit. It’s closer to a genuine Irish or English pubic house, where conversation takes precedence over televised sports. An original wood fireplace, revealed behind drywall when the space was acquired, gives the space a dash of coziness. In fact, this is only the third pub I have been to that has a fireplace (the other two being Molly’s on Third Avenue and Johnny Foley’s in San Francisco). The 300 year old bar surface is reprised in smaller form here, as there is a compact bar opposite the fireplace, as well by the windows overlooking West 28th Street. During warm weather, the windows swing open wide – another nice touch.

Two Jameson barrels from Dublin decorate the space here along with the fireplace. Jameson whiskey is distilled in the Smithfield area of northern Dublin, hence the establishment's name. And from the second floor, a sky lit mezzanine room is visible above, which is quickly becoming the Wallace Room, named after William Wallace. Now that’s a detail a Scottish American like myself can appreciate. I envision that room as a VIP lounge, where one can sit in a big leather chair and sip whiskey. I look forward to seeing how it is used in this magnificent three-level pub.

And the food? From the four dishes I’ve had so far, it is well above the average pub grub in New York City. Executive chef, Paul Garey (of Tonic and the former Truffle on Third Avenue), is off to a strong start. The Jameson wings are sweet and spicy. The lobster mac and cheese is a good, local alternative to the buffalo mac and cheese served at other establishments (like The Penny Farthing). The burgers are high end, especially their signature burger with candied foie gras and tiny truffle shavings. It’s a perfect juicy, fatty, crispy, salty creation. And my favorite, their steak frites, is worthy of a French bistro. I’m a sucker for hangar steak, and it’s quickly my favorite hangar steak dish in town. Everything is well presented and the portions are refreshingly smaller than what I’ve seen lately in other pubs and (especially) chain restaurants.

This is one fine drinking and dining establishment, run by an exceptionally friendly staff. I hope they get a glowing review in New York Magazine or Time Out New York soon. This place deserves a bright future. So to all my friends in town, and to anyone visiting New York happening to find this review, I hope you can stop by Smithfield soon. It’s top class! 


215 West 28th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenue)
New York, NY 10001

+1 212-564-2172

Google Map

Newcastle Warp from 44 to 59 Points

A beautiful two month unbeaten run opened the season. Key injuries and a dismal December nearly killed it. But Newcastle United had the grit and character to keep working and find their groove. And in March, they found it, taking a full 15 points thus far in their final 10 game stretch. They control their own European destiny. If they can somehow get another 15 points, they are almost certainly in the Champions League for 2012/13. If Everton somehow lose today in their FA Cup semifinal against struggling Liverpool, then Newcastle are guaranteed a spot in the Europa League no matter what happens. European football is a very real possibility for the Toon a full year ahead of manager Alan Pardew's schedule.

Despite lacking a potent offense for much of the season, Newcastle have still scored 50 goals thus far, which is sixth highest in the league, just behind Chelsea. It's been a true team effort. Just enjoy this cathartic, if chronologically mixed tribute video, which was posted on April 12th. It wonderfully reminds us of what has transpired since Newcastle's relegation in May 2009. There are some unforgettable goals here, including Hatem Ben Arfa's unbelivable 70 yeard run which sealed victory against Bolton on April 9th.

So, here are my silly predictions for the five remaining games the Lads have before them:

Saturday, April 21, Newcastle v Stoke: W 2-1

Saturday, April 28, Wigan v Newcastle: W 2-0

Wednesday, May 2, Chelsea v Newcastle: L 2-0

Sunday, May 6, Newcastle v Manchester City: W 3-1 

Sunday, May 13, Everton v Newcastle: L 2-1

Looks like I'm predicting 9 more points out of a possible 15. A total of 68 points. Midway through this season, I predicted 60 points total.

If Tottenham and Chelsea continue to slip, Newcastle could very well squeeze into fourth place in the league table and enter the Champions League no matter what Everton do.

Once again, the Magpies have captured the hearts and minds of their loyal supporters. These are exciting times.  

Dark Days Ahead For The Red Sox

Amazing dark Fenway silkscreen by Daniel Danger. Used without permission. 

Oh no. I'm not going to write a long, overdue post about the coming Red Sox 2012 season. Not gonna do it. I will keep it as brief as I can, since I'm not a paid pundit.

But I will say that I have reached a low point in my fandom. Always sketical of the owners, the Fenway Group, I have become conviced that they are simply disgusting human beings. I should know this about all owners of sports franchises. But John Henry now offically disgusts me. My only action is to ingore him. Yes, he loves yachts and Liverpool. Those are reasons enough not to like him. But his actions during and after the Red Sox collapse of 2011 sealed the deal. He's not a Steinbrenner. He's not a criminal. But he's living proof that wealthy Democrats can still be disgusting people. Party lines never matter in these cases. It's all about actions and words. He can split his time between Newport and Liverpool.

I have the little theory that people simply become wierd after their net worth passes a few million or so. We see it all over. They develop odd hobbies. They start demanding that certain no brainer foods be prepared a specific way (the stories about John Kerry's morning toast checklist during the 2004 presidential campaign comes to mind). They become OK with having servants enter their bedrooms and their children's bedrooms and open the curtains every morning (Dick Fuld). They buy big houses in the middle of Wyoming (Dick Chaney and Dick Fuld, again....never new urban Jews could love ranches). And they hire third party uteruses to give birth to late-life children (Bobby De Niro,  is a very recent example). 

Rich people. They're wierd. Moving on.

I probably have a bigger issue with the Red Sox fans. Just ten years ago, they were among the most rational and knowledgeable fans in American pro sports (up there with the fans of several NHL teams, I would argue). I'll do my best to ignore the younger Red Sox fans up north who don't seem to know their history. The males indocricane their girlfriends to become fans, don pink caps (and other feminine items), and get logo tattoos on their ankles. These poor kids. They don't know pain. They don't know frustration. Oh, but they will. 

It won't be quite as bad as the 1984-1993 Yankees. But the Red Sox are heading into a quiet era, which could become worse if revenues unexpectantly drop.

So, here's my wicked short prediction for the Boston Red Sox. With no real shortstop ar catcher, they are at a defensive disadvantage. They have two outstanding pitchers, but the bottom two in their rotation could be breakouts or busts. They will get plenty of hits in their 100 year old ballpark. But they will have a depressing road record. They will be thankful to have an easy interleague schedule. But that's about all. By late July, they could be completely demoralized if they are swept in sweltering Arlington. I predict they will finish third in the AL East, behind the Yankees and Tampa Bay (although I'm not sure about the Yankees chances of clinching the wild card either). 

I like Bobby Valentine. He should have stayed in Japan. But in Boston, he's already not handling the media or his players very well. Meanwhile, management is already working on lowering expecations.

So follow their lead, Red Sox Nation. Don't get too excited. The decompression period has begun. So relax. Savor that $10 beer at the ballpark. Go to the beach for a change. Finish that summer reading book list. This period could last a few seasons.

We seldom get comments here at MLH. So, precious readers, what do you think? Comment away.

Guns N' Roses Return To New York With Three Memorable Shows

Guns N' Roses returned to New York City for the first time in two years for a three show "residency," that coincided with the year's first Fashion Week. This latest GNR tour, which celebrates 25 years since the band's major label breakthrough (with Appetite for Destruction), has critics nationwide agreeing that it is the band's best outing since Slash left the band 16 years ago. It is also the band's best lineup since that time, as it seems that positive chemistry and fun is back in the band. Axl's current band is so good, in fact, they seem capable of producing a quality album if they commited to the project. And it is this lineup that will probably take the podium when the band is inducted into the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame this April.

On Friday February 10th, they rocked Roseland Ballroom with a three hour set.

On Sunday February 12th, they stepped up their game at Terminal 5.

And on Wednesday February 15th, they returned to Webster Hall for the first time in nearly 24 years (23 years, 10 months to be exact), when they took the Appetite for Destruction tour to the venue then known as The Ritz. The Webster Hall show lived up to its high ticket price as a once in a lifetime chance to see the band perform a four hour show, which added five songs to the Terminal 5 setlist, including You're Crazy, Civil War, and My Michelle. 

I attended the second show, at Terminal 5 in Hell's Kitchen Below is the review I originally sent out to friends the next morning.

The concert was a bit surreal. We never thought we'd see Guns N Roses live (they virtually broke up in 1996, but Axl never let the band die). Only Dizzy Reed on piano has stayed with Axl since the glory days. I do have to say, the rest of the band is immensely talented. They have four 6 string guitarists replacing the original two (three power guitarists and a backup/tech backstage who got credit), and the solos were Rock God quality, I think. Slash's late replacement, DJ Ashba ( ) worshiped Motley Crue as a teenager and his distorted Les Paul guitar seemed to fill in for Slash perfectly.

Axl is not fat. He's still fit. But his face is bigger and shows signs of botox work. His blue eyes are electric. And he has become quite a good piano player. Twenty years ago, he would lay down some riffs in a ballad. Now he can play jazz and blues on the keys. We were impressed. And yes, he played on a baldwin baby grand.

We had to freeze outside of Terminal 5 on West 56th Street from about 9pm to 9:40. Once inside, we took our places on the main floor as the balconies had filled up. But the floor was the place to be. The show was sold out with a crowd of 3,000.

A sub par hard rock band called the Chelsea Smiles opened the show shortly after 10pm. Now that I think about it, a more appropriate band would have been Powerman 5000 (led by Rob Zombie's brother), or the Dutch 1960s style band, The Hives. But we take what we're given. And the uninspired 6 songs served by the Chelsea Smiles were forgettable.

Guns N Roses took the stage at 11:40, and played pretty much straight with minor breaks until at least 2:30. Yes, a three hour epic. Did I mention we were impressed? Here is the set list:

00 - Intro [Recorded music: Dexter]

01 - Chinese Democracy (they opened with Jungle two nights prior, and we were puzzled by this selection)

02 - Welcome to the Jungle (it was 1988 all over again)

03 - It's So Easy

04 - Mr Brownstone (highlight of the show's first half)

05 - Sorry (At this point, the computer generated video behind the band was replaced by Karaoke style live action videos, featuring suicidal teenagers, Sunset Strip pole dancers, and Formula One footage from the early 2000s (for You Could Be Mine). So....cheesy? Rush invests six figures into their graphics, man! "That's not Tom Sawyer, that's Huckleberry Finn, stupid!!" 

06 - Rocket Queen

07 - Estranged

08 - Richard Fortus guitar solo (who resembles Adrian Brody a bit) - James Bond Theme (which was spectacular)

09 - Live and Let Die

10 - Instrumental Jam - A reprise of ZZ Top's La Grange 

11 - This I Love

12 - What's Your Motivation (led and sung by bassist Tommy Stinson, who resembles a young Rod Stewart, who can play bass very well, but unfortunately can't sing)

13 - Dizzy Reed piano solo - The Who's Baba O'Riely, possibly the first hard rock hit single in 1971, the crowd should have sung every line, but most were too young to know the lyrics, or too stoned to care

14 - Street of Dreams

15 - You Could Be Mine (which they did not play Friday night, one of the reasons this show was so long)

16 - DJ Ashba guitar solo - The Ballad of Death

17 - Sweet Child O' Mine (THE highlight of the show - Axl briefly swaying his hips to "Where do we go now")

18 - Moving the baby grand to the stage, the band plays Pink Floyd's Another Brick in the Wall, and Axl sings the chorus once he is able to sit at the piano, which led to the most abrupt transition of the night -

19 - Axl Rose piano solo - a bluesy medley of Gran Torino and Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

20 - November Rain (of course)

21 - Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal guitar solo - The Pink Panther Theme (yes, and it was very 60s psychedelic and loud - good, unorthodox choice)

22 - Knockin' on Heaven's Door (great, even as Axl's wireless microphones began to fail him)

23 - Night Train



24 - Instrumental jam

25 - Madagascar

26 - Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal guitar intro / Don't Cry

27 - Better

28 - Whole Lotta Rosie

29 - Instrumental jam

30 - Patience

31 - Instrumental jam

32 - Paradise City

33 - Outro [Recorded music: My Way]

Got home at 03:30. What a concert. Did that just happen?

Super Bowl 46: For The Love Of Evil

I'm from Boston. I was raised in Brockton. The Patriots practically play in my backyard. But even I, objective blogger that I am, can acknowledge that Bill Bellichick is evil, and Tom Brady is an asshole. Their 'fuck you and the world' attitude is a stain on Boston area pro sports. Older fans like myself, loved the Patriots of the late 1970s and 1985. Heck, we also love the happy team of 2001-2002. But since 2007, the Patriots have been angry and driven to notch five Lombardi trophies. Either you have loved this, you you have been disgusted by it.

And yet, after saying that I am somewhat disgusted by it, I have this strong feeling that the New Jersey Giants don't stand a chance in Super Bowl 46. Neither team will be able to establish a running game and control the clock. Both quarterbacks will throw long. But the key difference is that Brady finds his targets (actually he transmits where the ball is going through his throws), while Eli Manning simply throws the ball. 

My prediction? It won't be pretty. Patriots 45, Giants 10. It will practically be over after the first quarter.

Operation Rescue Reboots Their Terror Campaign In New Website

Here's a big reason I don't like nor trust the Department of Homeland Security to keep us safe. It is either reluctant or afraid to acknowledge or pursue domestic terrorists. The largest civilian agency in the Federal government (over 200,000 employees, over 200,000 contractors) should have no excuse keeping tabs on domestic terror groups. Yet, it seems to constantly fail, time and again. And the latest press release (!) from Operation Rescue is an example how domestic terror groups can operate in plain sight without any hint of action from the Feds to stop them.

This past week, Operation Rescue launced two new websites as part of a campaign to ban pergancy termination on a state by state basis. Call it a reboot of their origianal objective, since up until this point, thier websites have been relatively low budget. But this new campaign, called Pro Life Nation, features all new branding, a Facebook page (which only has 100 likes so far), and a downloadable, 17 page booklet, explaining their new strategy. But the centerpiece of their new campaign is a separate, database driven website, called AbortionDocs. I try not to link to terrorist websites, since the National Security Administration supposedly keeps an eye on who visits them, right? What's that? The website has not been declared a terrorist website? My point exactly.

AbortionDocs is farily simple enough. It uses a SQL database and a Google Maps API to list the names and locations of stand alone clinics, hospitals, and individual providers who they suspect or know perform terminations. The database also contains the names of hospital executives and board members, in an attempt to intimidate hospital brass over the legitimate and legal medicine being practiced in their institutions. The site invites visitors to submit photographs and home addresses of doctors (presumably so they can be harassed or worse). There's even a link to volunteer one's services as a researcher, editor, or spotter. In addition to photographs and addresses, there is the capacity to upload documents for each entry so that lawsuits, patient complaints, and state prosecutions can be accessed by visitors. As of today, most providers who have photographs attached to their records are not real doctors at all. They are practitioners without board certification, and many have been prosecuted as such, which is good. I want fake doctors out of business. Operation Rescue, of course, wants to see all doctors out of business. And a few of Operation Rescue's followers want them dead.

And that's where terrorism comes into play. This website is not designed to lobby state governments to ban abortion. It is intended to intimidate providers and staff out of the practice of medicine. It is also intended to be used by people outside of Operation Rescue who are willing to break laws in order to stop women from obtaining abortions. Operation Rescue does not explicity say what should be done to clinics and doctors, but history tells us what has been done since the 1980s. There has been vandalism. There have been threats. There has has been harassment (via phone, email, and post). And there have been nine homicides since 1993. Five doctors have been murdered, along with two security contractors, and two clinic staffers. And there will surely be more. This new website is designed to ensure that vandalism, harassment, and violence continue under the guise of protected free speech.

You see, the website does not explicitly call its database a list of "targets" (althought it does label those who support abortion access as an illegal "cartel"). A list of names, addresses, and photographs is merely free information that Operation Rescule hopes others use as they see fit. Operation Rescue has one or more lawyers, so it has covered itself with a "disclaimer" on the site which reads:

This site is meant for informational purposes to aid in the end of abortion through peaceful, legal means. It is in no way meant to encourage or incite violence of any kind against abortion clinics, abortionists, or their staff. We denounce acts of violence against abortion clinics and providers in the strongest terms.

Supposedly that's all a domestic terrorist organization needs to protcect itself from prosecution and civil suits? I wonder why international terrorist groups haven't taken the same route. Oh, right. They can't, because they are internationally recognized as unlawful terror groups.

Operation Rescue has not been classifed as a terror organization by the US Department of Justice. Over 100,000 employees there and they still can't quite link 9 murders and millions in properly damage in 19 years. Not enough evidence I guess. Wanted posters hung in the victims neighborhoods apparently weren't enough to prove that there has been an effort to intimidate and discourage doctors from being abortion providers through acts of violence and threats, both direct and implicit. 

Back in the 1990s, there were two ways for anti abortion groups to target providers and staff. Once was to produce flyers and posters locally. The other was to compile information online. This latter method led to the creation of the now infamous (and illegal) "Nuremberg Files" website circa 1997, which listed the names of providers, judges, law enforment officers, and politicians who all practiced or help protect the medical practice of abortion in some way. On that list, eight names are crossed out (the first 8 homicides between 1993 and 1998, beore Tiller's murder in 2009).

The new Pro Life Nation downloadable booklet was written by Troy Newman and Cheryl Sullenger. Ms. Sullenger, you might recall, is the Operation Rescue executive who helped the organization move from California to Kansas, in an effort to to stop Dr. George Tiller from performing third trimester abortions -  either through legal or illegal means. She is also a convicted felon. In 1988, she and her husband pleaded guilty to Federal terrorism charges, for conspiring to detonate a gasoline bomb in the Family Planning department of the Alvarado Hospital Medical Center in Sn Diego. She served two years in Federal prison, and then relocated Operation Rescule to Kansas to concentrate on Dr. George Tiller, who was shot and wounded three years later.

Most people heard of her name in the wake of Dr. Diller's murder. She alledgedly assisted Scott Roeder in locataing and stalking Dr. George Tiller, before Roeder assisinated him in the foyer of a Wichita church. Scott Roeder is celebrated by anti abortion extremists as a "Christian Terrorist." That is a correct term for him and men like him. many of whom have been involved in locial militia groups, and in some cases, white supremicist groups. In my opinion, the Southern Poverty Law Center has done a better job in connecting these dots than the DOJ. It is simply outragous.

Why is going after Right Wing terrorist groups a poilticially sensitive issue? The US governemnt has stated for over 30 years that it has zero toloerance for terrorism, but this is clearly not the case. If this nation is serious about stopping all terrorists, then the harassment, assault, attempted murder, or murder of a medical care worker over idology, personal, or religious beleifs should be a Federal crime.

But it also needs to be made clear: Operation Rescue does not supply weapons or explosives to Christian terrorits. Operation Resucue does not coordinate bombings and assiassinations. But it does implicitly encourage them. Sometimes, in the case of Cheryl Sullenger, Operation Rescue is contacted by the terrorists and assassins and provides both moral and tactical support. 

We at this blog join other blogs and reproductive rights organizations in condemning Operation Rescue's public database of providers, their photos, and home addresses. And we encourage the Department of Justice to investigate the Pro Life Nation website as a possible violation of the 1994 FACE Act (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances), as well as any other Federal law on the books regarding online harassment and intimidation of healthcare workers. As a step further, we ask the DOJ to investigate the site itself and find out if it is collecting queries from healthcare workers who might be trying to see if their names or clinics are in the database. And we ask that the webside be taken down, as it is effectively a reboot of the late 1990s Nuremberg Files website, which was taken down following a Federal appeals court decision in 2002.  (The site continues to be cached and mirrored in violation of that court order that ruled that the site is not procted free speech).

Here's where I should stop and let Rachel Maddow explain the rest of this history, since she explains it better than anyone in American TV news today:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy



Newcastle United On Target For 60 Points

Newcastle United did not make it through the November / December "Stretch of Doom" unscathed. It was hoped that they would emerge from their matches against Man City, Man United, and Chelsea with two points. Instead, they emerged with the luckiest point of any team this season and the loss of star defender Steven Taylor to a torn ACL. They were battered, exhausted, and undiciplined (as evidenced when Dan Gosling got dirty and earned himself a three game suspension).

I wanted to blog all about this stretch a month ago. But Newcastle's dense and busy scheule had me transfixed and nervous with each passing round. We Newcastle fans were on edge as the midfield and defense suffered failures and made too many mistakes. In effect, Newcastle went into a new Stretch of Doom as they dropped points to Norwich, Swansea, and West Brom. Three more matches, just one point. They needed to shift gears.

And the shift came rather organically. Manager Alan Parew didn't have to make any call ups from the reserve squad. He didn't have to start Alan Smith. He simply rested the right players (notibly Hatem Ben Arfa) and released them onto the pitch when they were ready. And the point scoring resumed (the dismal loss to Liverpool notwhithstanding).

Since Christmas, Newcastle have taken 9 out of 12 available points. They also won a thrilling third round FA Cup match to earn a very winnable fouth round draw. And the points earned in the last four league games have been obtained in very different ways. At Bolton on Boxing Day (a day Newcastle had not been victorious lately), two very quick goals caused an almost instant deflation and concession by the hosts. Then at home against Manchester United, Newcastle expected to face a furious Red Devil side, eager to avenge the pont Newcastle stole in November as well as the embarassing loss to Blackburn Rovers the week before. However, Manchester United's midfield didn't exert its superiority. Forward Wayne Rooney only got off one shot.

Newcstle played a spirited game that fetured two extraordinary shots by Demba Ba and Johan Cabaye to put Newcastle up 2-0 and cruising to victory. It was a win for this generation, despite Man United's lack of energy and drive. United's performance was unnacceptable, but Newcastle still had to break through twice to put Man U away, in difficult, windy conditions at a packed St. James' Park. It was a true team performance, and it was inspiring.

In the thriller against Blackburn in the FA Cup third round, the key to victory was playing Hatem Ben Arfa on the right wing. It had to be an epiphany for Alan Pardew, who has not seen eye to eye with Ben Arfa since his arrival as Manager over a year ago.

And then today, Newcastle simply had to play possession football against a depressed and sinking QPR squad. Three wins. Three different ways to win.

There are 17 matches remaining for the Magpies in league action this season. Today's game against QPR should prove to be the easiest through May. There will be no more easy points this season. But the Toon have 36 points, and sit in sixth place in the Premiership table. If they can upset Everton, Aston Villa, or Arsenal, they would have a shot at 60 points for the season. The Magpies have proven that they can defend well without Steven Taylor. Now they have to score goals without Bemba Ba and Cheik Tiote, as those players are serving their nations in the African Cup.

17 games. 51 points for the taking. I think they can take 24. They are on pace for it. They just need one upset against a stronger club, and defeat Wolverhampton and Swansea, among other events. 

Stay the course, Newcastle....and set fire to the rain.