Russian Spy Ship in Havana

Odd.  A Russian spy ship was spotted docked in Havana, Cuba.  There was no word in the Cuban media about it.

Previous visits by Russian military ships to Cuba have usually been acknowledged by the state’s media or authorities.




Rare: Sunspot AR 1967 Still Going After Seven Weeks

sunspotar1967According to, sunspot AR 1967 is still active:

RETURNING SUNSPOT STILL ACTIVE: Near the end of January, sunspot AR1967 emerged over the sun’s eastern limb and unleashed almost two dozen M-class solar flares as it crossed the solar disk. Is it about to happen again? This weekend, the long-lived sunspot is due to return from the far side of the sun. Moreover, a far side CME that billowed over the eastern limb on Feb. 21st suggests that AR1967 is still active.”

Electrically charged particles and radiation from solar flares can endanger astronauts in space and interfere with satellite operations in orbit when they are directly aimed at Earth.  The intense solar storms can also trigger radio blackouts.

A CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) sends out a huge mass of electrically-charged particles.  The charged particles supposedly do not present a direct danger to people on the ground even if the CME is facing the Earth.  However, they could cause radio blackouts and have an effect on electrical equipment if they are strong enough.

“If AR1967 reappears as expected it will mark the third time the active region has crossed the face of the sun. The first time was in early January when it was called AR1944. Sunspots seldom last more than two or three weeks; two or three months is remarkable.” according to

Most sunspots seldom last more than two to three weeks.   For this one, it has been seven weeks and still going.

El Chapo


Recently, Mexican authorities captured Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the world’s most powerful drug lord.

There’s an odd tidbit about “El Chapo” Guzman.   Actually, it is more telling about Forbes magazine.

El Chapo is on Forbes’ list of  “The World’s Most Powerful People.”  He’s listed as #67.

There he is, right between Speaker of the House John Boehner and the executive editor of the New York Times.

It’s kind of surreal.  Shouldn’t Forbes have a list of “The World’s Most Powerful People Who Came to Power Legitimately?”

“Night Moves” in North Carolina…

dukeenergypipe1…in the back room, the alley, or the trusty woods…

It looks like there has been some “night-move deal-making” going on between The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Duke Energy.

I mean, these guys are supposed to be against each other, right?

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Raleigh issued new subpoenas Wednesday, Feb 20th, which order 18 N.C. state water-quality officials to appear next month before a federal grand jury in Raleigh. They are supposed to report e-mails, memos, and reports going back to 2009 and any payments and gifts from Duke.

Also, there is a fresh round of subpoenas seeking information on the state’s regulation of every Duke Energy coal ash dump in the state.  There are more than 30 of them at 14 different locations across North Carolina.

The U.S. attorney’s office described the subpoena in this way:

“An official criminal investigation of a suspected felony is being conducted by an agency of the United States and a federal grand jury.”


The new round of subpoenas comes after earlier subpoenas were issued on February 10th.    That was the day after the AP reported that environmental groups tried three times in the past year to sue under the federal Clean Water Act to force Duke to clear out leaky coal ash dumps.

The state of North Carolina “co-opted” the lawsuits filed by these private environmental groups (which is legal).  They have 60 days to file their own case after a private party does.  If the state files its own case, it will then take over the whole case.

Here’s a problem:

After negotiating with Duke’s lawyers in private, the state proposed settlements that environmentalists regarded as highly favorable to the company.  Duke, a company valued at $50 billion, was going to pay fines of only $99,111 for groundwater pollution leaking from two coal dumps like the one that ruptured at Eden, on the Dan River.  The settlement would have required Duke to study how to stop the contamination, but it included no requirement to clean up the dumps.

Here’s another problem:
After the environmental groups’ third attempt to sue, the state then filed enforcement actions for all of Duke’s remaining 30 or so coal ash sites in North Carolina.  This effectively blocked environmentalists from pursuing further action under the federal act.  The McCrory administration hosted a press conference yesterday to respond to questions about the matter, and the officials left the room while reporters asked them for more information.