The Spectacle Blog

British Media: Iran May Have Fired On, Boarded American Cargo Ship; UPDATE: Marshall Islands Ship, Pentagon Tried to Help, Iranians Have Reportedly Release Ship

By on 4.28.15 | 11:42AM

Reports on this are unconfirmed and the United States is denying, but British media (including the Telegraph and the BBC) is reporting that a US cargo vessel was fired on and then seized by Iranian officials this morning, and has been taken to an Iranian port. The Iranians maintained that the ship was trespassing in the Persian Gulf.

Iranian forces have reportedly fired at and seized a US cargo ship with 34 sailors on board, according to Saudi Arabian state TV.

The vessel has been directed to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas on the southern coast, Al-Arabiya has reported.

It remains unclear why or if the ship was captured, and whether the shots injured anyone on-board, as neither US nor Iranian officials have confirmed the allegations. The US Fifth Fleet off the coast of Bahrain had no immediate comment on the report, according to Reuters.

Iran's semi-official Fars news agency suggested that the ship was trespassing in the Persian Gulf.

Baltimore Cleans Up, No Thanks to the Media

By on 4.28.15 | 11:24AM

This morning, as the Baltimore Fire Department puts out the last of the blazes that burned overnight, and looting has subsided to a minimum thanks to the overnight appearance of the Maryland National Guard, the residents of Baltimore are coming out of their houses to clean up and rebuild

Looted storefronts were being boarded up, burned cars hauled away and as many as 15 police officers recovering from injuries suffered during the rioting that broke out when high school kids used social media to launch a coordinated "Purge," the slang term taken from a movie and meaning a night where laws are not observed.

Amid the rioting Monday night that led to 200 arrests, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake strongly condemned the "thugs" behind the mayhem and announced a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew beginning Tuesday and lasting at least a week.

The Angels Will Rue Trading Josh Hamilton Back to Texas

By on 4.27.15 | 11:21PM

Let me step away from the violence in Baltimore for a moment and talk a little baseball. I want to comment on Josh Hamilton's return to the Texas Rangers.

This deal came to the light over the weekend and it was made official today. The Angels dealt Hamilton back to Texas in the third year of a five year, $125 million contract. After winning the AL MVP with the Rangers in 2012, Hamilton had two lacklustre seasons in Anaheim and then during the off-season had an alcohol and cocaine relapse which he disclosed. 

Texas fans booed Hamilton lustily when he signed the free agent with the Angels. I believe all of that will now be forgotten. Hamilton had off-season shoulder surgery and is not expected to play until late next month. Although I don't believe the Rangers will get the Hamilton of 2008 through 2012, I think the Angels will rue trading him. It is very unusual to trade someone within the division. Hamilton is a man with something to prove and the result could be a lot of Rangers wins over the Angels this season. In which case, the Rangers have a chance to party like it's 2010 and 2011.


Baltimore is Burning!

By on 4.27.15 | 10:29PM

Baltimore is burning!

It would seem that everything that could possibly go wrong has gone wrong.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake finally called in the Maryland National Guard. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan did not indicate when Rawlings-Blake made the call. While Hogan tried to be diplomatic he made a point of saying that he was waiting for her call. He must have waited a long time.

Yet as of this writing the National Guard are nowhere to be seen. Mayor Rawlings-Blake will impose a curfew tomorrow night. That's a day late, a few million dollars short and possibly some lives needlessly thrown away. Rawlings-Blake can call the rioters behavior "idiotic" but it was her idiocy which gave "those who wished to destroy things the space to do that" on Saturday night. With the police outnumbered and in retreat, he has now given the rioters the space to destroy Baltimore as we know it. 

Mayor of Baltimore: “We Gave Those Who Wish to Destroy Things Space to Do That”

By on 4.27.15 | 5:51PM

As I write this, the city of Baltimore is inching ever closer to martial law. Following the funeral of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old Baltimore man who died of injuries -including a spinal injury - sustained in an arrest after police did not get him timely medical care, violent protests, which started Saturday night but had temporarily calmed, resumed. On Saturday, according to the New York Times, 31 adults and several juveniles were arrested, six police officers were injured and tens of thousands of dollars of damage was done to residential and commerical property.

Rushdie Blasts Writers Boycotting PEN Ceremony Honoring Charlie Hebdo

By on 4.27.15 | 12:58PM

Salman Rushdie has blasted several writers for boycotting PEN's ceremony next month in New York honoring the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo with a freedom of expression courage award. Muslim terrorists stormed Charlie Hebdo's headquarters in Paris killing a dozen people including seven members of the magazine's staff.

Rushdie stated, “If PEN as a free-speech organisation can’t defend and celebrate people who have been murdered for drawing pictures, then frankly the organisation is not worth the name.”

He also tweeted, "The award will be given. PEN is holding firm. Just 6 pussies. Six Authors in Search of a bit of Character."

Among the six writers (or as Rushdie puts it, six pussies) is Canadian author Michael Ondaatje, best known for writing The English Patient for which he received the Booker Prize and was, of course, adapted into the Oscar winning film.

Camden Yards Briefly Locked Down Amid Rioting Over Death of Freddie Gray

By on 4.25.15 | 11:18PM

I learned of the rioting going on in Baltimore while watching the Red Sox-Orioles game. It came about during protests against Baltimore PD over the death of Freddie Gray while in their custody earlier this month. 

In the eighth inning, Red Sox play by play man Don Orsillo drew viewers attention to the scoreboard which informed fans to remain in the ballpark after the conclusion of the game on orders by Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. 

The game went into extra innings which the O's won in the bottom of the 10th on a walk off HR by David Lough. It's too bad the game didn't last a little longer because the fans could be preoccupied with something other than rioting. When the MLB Network showed Lough's HR, Scott Braun said that his homer "sent the fans home." I shouted at the TV, "No Scott. It didn't."

Fortunately, the lockdown was shortlived and fans were allowed to leave, but to proceed cautiously.

Now there's no question the Baltimore PD fibbed when they said that Gray was "arrested without force or incident". Gray had his spinal cord severed. If that isn't an incident then I don't know what is. Gray died of his injuries a week ago.

Hillary and The Dog That Didn’t Bark

By on 4.24.15 | 7:17PM

In the famous short story Silver Blaze, super-sleuth Sherlock Holmes is tipped off by "the curious incident of the dog" -- namely that a dog which often barked was, on the night in question, silent.

This is the context in which one should consider the assertion by former Assistant Secretary of State Jose Fernandez that Hillary Clinton "never intervened" in State's decision to approve the sale by a Canadian firm of the controlling interest in one of the United States' most important uranium mines to the Russian government.

Huntley Schaller, R.I.P.

By on 4.23.15 | 11:03PM

This afternoon I learned that my friend Huntley Schaller lost his battle with cancer in late January. He was only 58.

Huntley was a professor of economics at Carleton University in Ottawa. We met through the NDP back in 1997 when we were both selected as delegates to the party's federal convention in Regina, Saskatchewan (where Huntley grew up) and got to know each other during the convention. 

Clinton Foundation Donors Also Got Big State Department Awards

By on 4.23.15 | 4:17PM

This isn't as damning as the Clinton story from this morning. Or that other story from this morning. Or that one from last week. Or that one from the week before. Or any of those Clinton stories in that book that's coming out. But it does substantiate the argument that Hillary Clinton wasn't completely removed from the Clinton Foundation's accounts receivable department.

It turn out that, if you, as a corporation, wanted to get a swanky award from the State Department while Hillary Clinton was in charge, just to commemorate your commitment to global humanitarianism, what you really had to do, aside from the occasional global humanitarian project, was to write a nice, fat check to Hillary Clinton's foundation. From Cisco to Coca-Cola, nearly every company nominated for or currently polishing a State Department award, gave big bucks to the Clinton non-profit enterprise.