October 8-15, 2004
The Bahia Mar Yacht Basin is getting ready for the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show. It runs from October 28th until November 1st.
Right now there are only a few really big boats in town. But in a few weeks there will be no parking spaces around.
PS: This is from the Thai ExPat Forum:
Brother Confirms British Hostage Is Dead
All of them Bangkok Expats:
Eugene "Jack" Armstrong, 52, and Jack Hensley, 48 - and now Kenneth Bigley, 62
BAGHDAD, Iraq - British hostage Kenneth Bigley, who pleaded tearfully last month for Prime Minister Tony Blair to meet his kidnappers' demands, was beheaded by his captors, his brother said Friday.
Blair condemned the killers as "barbaric" and said they must not be allowed to prevail over those trying to rebuild Iraq.
Bigley's brother, Philip, said the family received "absolute proof that Ken Bigley was executed by his captors.
"The family here in Liverpool believe that our government did everything it possibly could to secure the release of Ken in this impossible situation," he said.
But another brother, Paul, said Blair has "blood on his hands." He made the comment in a written statement to the Stop the War Coalition, a British group that opposes the conflict.
A witness who saw a videotape sent to Abu Dhabi TV said it showed six hooded, armed men standing behind the kneeling Bigley, 62.
One spoke in Arabic, saying they planned to carry out "the sentence of execution against this hostage" because the British government "did not meet our demand" to release Iraqi women detained by the U.S.-led command in Iraq.
Afterward, the speaker took a knife from his belt and severed Bigley's head as three others held him down, the witness said on condition of anonymity. The tape ended with the killer holding up the head.
"I feel desperately sorry for Kenneth Bigley and his family who have behaved with extraordinary dignity and courage," Blair said on national television in Britain.
"I feel utter revulsion at the people who did this. Not just at the barbaric nature of the killing, but the way, frankly, they played with the situation over the past few weeks, and I feel a strong a strong sense, as I hope others do, that the actions of these people, whether in Iraq or elsewhere, should not prevail over people like Ken Bigley, who after all only wanted to make Iraq and the world a better place," he said.
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the British government exchanged messages with Bigley's captors to try win his release, adhering to its policy of agreeing to talk with the kidnappers but never paying a ransom or acceding to their demands.
"Four days ago, an individual approached the British Embassy in Baghdad presenting himself as a potential intermediary with the captives. It was very clearly in Mr. Bigley's interests to establish contacts," Straw said.
"Messages were exchanged with the hostage-takers in an attempt to dissuade them from carrying out their threat to kill Mr. Bigley, but at no stage did they abandon their demands relating to the release of women prisoners, even though they were fully aware there are no women prisoners in our custody in Iraq," he said.
Straw said Bigley's family had been informed of the messages.
Bigley's 86-year-old mother, Lil, who has been treated at a hospital emergency room several times during the crisis, was at the family home in Liverpool on Friday, with her sons Stan, 65, and Philip, 49.
"For those who have prayed for Ken and our family from all religious backgrounds, we thank you from the bottom of our heart," Philip Bigley said.
Abu Dhabi TV said it had the video showing Bigley's beheading but decided not to air it.
The U.S. military said it had not found Bigley's body.
Bigley was abducted Sept. 16 along with two Americans from their home in the upscale Mansour neighborhood by members of Tawhid and Jihad, Iraq's most feared terrorist group led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The two Americans [all of them Bangkok expats] _ Eugene Armstrong, 52, and Jack Hensley, 48 _ were beheaded a few days later.
"It could be that the fate of Ken, Eugene and Jack was sealed from day one. We will never know," Phil Bigley said.
Two videos surfaced last month showing Bigley begging Blair to save his life by meeting his captors' demands.
Early Friday, American warplanes struck a building in rebel-held Fallujah where the U.S. command said leaders of al-Zarqawi's network were meeting. A doctor said the attack killed 13 people, including a groom on his wedding night, and wounded 17 others.
The U.S. command said "credible intelligence sources" reported terrorist leaders were meeting at the targeted house in Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad.
Kidnappers have abducted more than 150 people in Iraq this year. Most hostages have been freed, but at least 28 have been killed.
Some kidnapping groups seek political objectives such as the withdrawal of foreign forces or companies from Iraq to undermine the U.S.-backed interim government; others demand ransom.
The attack in Fallujah was among a dozen "precision strikes" launched since last month against al-Zarqawi's network. Besides claiming to have kidnapped and beheaded foreign hostages, the group is also believed to be behind mortar attacks, suicide bombings and shooting sprees that have killed scores in recent months.
The U.S. military said those strikes dealt a "significant blow" to al-Zarqawi's movement, killing several key figures, including chief lieutenant Mohammed al-Lubnani and spiritual adviser Abu Anas al-Shami.
Dr. Ahmed Saeed said his hospital received 13 dead, including the groom, and 17 wounded, including the bride. He said most of the injured were female relatives of the groom who were staying at the house after the wedding. Mohammed Jawad, who lives next door, said he had just moved into the central neighborhood to escape repeated shelling on Fallujah's outskirts. His brother and six nephews were killed in the strike.
"This attack shows that there is no safe place in Fallujah, and the Americans are not differentiating between civilians and armed men," Jawad said in tears, as he was treated for shrapnel wounds to his face and hand.
American and Iraqi authorities are trying to curb the growing insurgency in Baghdad and elsewhere so national elections can take place by Jan. 31. Some U.S. military officials have expressed doubt that balloting will be possible in all parts of the country.
Late Thursday, three rockets struck Baghdad's Sheraton Hotel crowded with foreign contractors and journalists, shattering windows and sparking small fires. There were no serious injuries.
Interior Ministry spokesman Col. Adnan Abdul-Rahman said the rockets were fired from the back of a truck. A fourth blew up inside the vehicle, he said, and security guards responded with gunfire.
Earlier, a mortar shell exploded in the U.S.-controlled Green Zone across the Tigris River from the hotel compound. There was no report of damage or casualties.
Acting on a tip, Task Force Baghdad soldiers stopped a truck carrying more than 1,500 155-mm artillery rounds Thursday one of the largest seizures to date, U.S. command said. The driver and passengers were detained.
Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's administration has been talking with representatives from insurgency hotspots, including the radical Shiite stronghold Sadr City in the northeast of the capital.
An aide to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr offered Thursday to disarm his Mahdi Army militia in a move that could bring an end to weeks of fighting in Sadr City. The government cautiously welcomed the offer and suggested other militant groups also lay down their arms.
A spokesman for al-Sadr also offered to hand over medium and heavy weapons and cooperate with Iraqi security forces if the government will stop pursuing militia members and release the cleric's detained followers.
The offer by Ali Smeisem on Al-Arabiya television contained no explicit promise to disband the militia, as demanded by U.S. and Iraqi authorities. However, a senior security official, Qassim Dawoud, cautiously welcomed the proposal and urged other armed groups to lay down their arms.
Bigley was a widely travelled family man
LONDON (AP) - Kenneth Bigley, the British hostage beheaded in Iraq, was a widely travelled engineering contractor with a life tainted by tragedy who had hoped to retire within months.
The 62-year-old came from a close-knit family in northwestern England and had planned to join his Thai wife, Sombat, at their newly built home in Bangkok after finishing his contract at an American military base north of Baghdad.
Bigley, whose son from his first marriage died in a traffic accident 18 years ago, also was looking forward to the birth of his first grandchild, expected in February.
A native of Liverpool, Bigley worked abroad for much of his life, spending time in Australia, New Zealand and Spain. He later began a series of contracts throughout the Middle East where, according to his brother Philip, he developed an appreciation of Islamic culture and a deep fondness for the region and its people.
"It is the reason he was prepared to help in Baghdad where many others would be worried for their own safety," Philip Bigley said.
Bigley was abducted Sept. 16 along with two Americans from their home in Baghdad's upscale Mansour neighbourhood by members of Tawhid and Jihad, Iraq's most feared terrorist group led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The group demanded the release of all female prisoners held by the coalition in Iraq.
The two Americans - Eugene Armstrong, 52, and Jack Hensley, 48 - were beheaded a few days later.
On Friday, Bigley's brother, Philip, said Kenneth was beheaded by his captors.
A witness who saw a videotape sent to Abu Dhabi TV said on condition of anonymity that it showed six hooded, armed men standing behind the kneeling Bigley, whom the witness recognized from two previous tapes released by the kidnappers in which he pleaded with British Prime Minister Tony Blair to save his life by meeting his captors' demands.
Blair expressed his "utter revulsion" for the killers and said such actions "in Iraq or elsewhere should not prevail."
Kenneth Bigley was the second of four sons born to shipyard worker Thomas and his Irish-born wife Elizabeth, now 86 and still living in Liverpool. Kenneth grew up close to the grounds of the city's Everton soccer club and was a huge fan all his life.
After completing his schooling and national service with the Scots Guards, Bigley married his first wife, Margaret, in 1967, and the couple moved to Victoria, Australia, where he worked as an engineer. It was there that they had their first son, Craig - now 33 and soon to be a father - before moving to New Zealand.
The Bigleys returned to northern England and bought two supermarkets, but a suspected thief threatened Margaret with a hammer. Shaken by the incident, the family moved south to Somerset and opened a pub.
In 1986, a truck knocked down their 17-year-old son Paul while he was cycling, putting him in a coma from which he never recovered.
In a statement Friday, Bigley's family said: "At least he will now be in the caring hands of his son Paul, who he loved dearly."
Determined to rebuild his life, Kenneth Bigley again left Britain and opened a pub in Spain. He worked there for two years before resuming his engineering career with jobs across the Middle East, including Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
He remained in close contact with his three brothers - Stan, Philip and Paul - and made regular trips back to Liverpool to visit his mother and watch Everton games with Craig.
Seven years ago, he married Sombat.
Bigley arrived in Iraq after the war ended and took up a job providing "base camp life support" at the American facility at Taji, near Baghdad. He was employed by Gulf Supplies and Construction Services, a United Arab Emirates-based company he had worked for since 1997.
-- AP 2004-10-09
Not all the boats around Fort Lauderdale are as big as yesterday's.
But, the beach girls ... they are always better than average.
PS: Back by popular demand ...
Last night we had dinner at Stephani's house. She is shown here with Ely, her dog. One of them is going to vote for Kerry.
Eight 'dishes' ... seven without tops; one without a bottom.
PS: When it rains it pours! [see a few days ago] Hey, don't these Internet companies owe a little something to their in-page advertisers? A few auto-generated links like this can wipe out a whole niche-industry.
Hot-air balloon collides with radio tower
Pilot, two others forced to shimmy down 700-foot-tall structure
Sunday, October 10, 2004 Posted: 4:25 PM EDT (2025 GMT)
ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (AP) -- A balloon became entangled in a radio tower on the final day of the city's trademark balloon festival Sunday, forcing the pilot and two young passengers to shimmy most of the way down the nearly 700-foot-tall structure.
Bill Chapel was piloting the Smokey Bear balloon when it blew into the radio tower near a park where the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta was being held.
"All you can do is grit you teeth and hold on to your passengers and prepare them for the impact," he said.
The hot-air balloon's canopy got wrapped up around the triangular-shaped tower, leaving its gondola resting up against the structure. Chapel, 69, and passengers Aaron Whitacre, 10, and Troy Wells, 14, then began the long climb down the tower's ladder.
KKOB-AM shut down its 50,000-watt transmitter and emergency crews gathered at the base of the tower, said Kathie Leyendecker, festival spokeswoman.
About 100 feet above the ground, workers met the three, secured them with safety gear, and helped them into a utility truck bucket.
Leyendecker said tower maintenance crews arrived to get the balloon down.
The balloon's canopy was the shape of the face of Smokey Bear, the U.S. Forest Service mascot that warns children against forest fires.
The festival, which started in 1972, draws hundreds of balloons every October. Organizers say it has become the largest such festival in the world.
The core: can you identify this corkscrew?
PS: Mary Kay Le Tourneau ... released after 7 1/2 years in prison for giving a boy the best bragging rights that any kid could ever hope for.
Two readers ... from near opposite Lat/Lon's on the globe ... write:
From N. Hunt in Australia:
"Just a quick note, the boat 'Aussie Rules' is golfer Greg Norman's boat."
Nick is referring to the mega-yacht docked near my home ... the BIG one that climbed into my web page a few days ago. I wonder what floating wood Tiger Woods owns.
And, from D. Bull in the American state of Virginia:
"Yes, the Austin patent from the Nugent collection. You paid $xxxx in our threesome 'auction'."
PS: "The Onion"?
LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (Reuters) -- Emergency service workers had their stomachs turned when they cleaned up a smelly mess of spilled human innards that blocked a busy Arkansas intersection for several hours Tuesday.
Police said a truck spilled about 1,000 pounds of human intestines fresh from a bulk funeral-home processing plant. The mess in the state capital, Little Rock, left several cleanup workers queasy.
"It was horrible. Oh, it was bad," said Sgt. Terry Hastings of the Little Rock police department.
The truck was carrying the entrails from a human waste rendering plant to a facility where pharmaceuticals are manufactured, when the driver made an abrupt stop.
Back to the core values (*) of THOCBDC; can you identify this one?
(*) Stop laughing!
Reader D. Bull of Virginia, USA, was the first (and only) person to come up with the correct identification of yesterday's corkscrew.
"1895 Edward Brown patent (U.S.)."
Don Bull is also the author of a large number of books about corkscrews (including the 'bible' on the subject). However, none of his books has a photograph of the Brown patent. The following is from Ferd Peter's book on mechanical corkscrews; also here is another picture of my specimen with the Nugent label attached.
PS: Thanks to Don I found a patent picture ... plus a regular picture ... (of this screw) ... also another description ... from O'Leary's book:
Next: Part III