US, ROK Navy wrap up salvage diving drills off Korea

first_img View post tag: SALVEX Share this article Back to overview,Home naval-today Salvage diving portion of Korea’s exercise Foal Eagle concludes March 30, 2017 Authorities View post tag: ROK Navycenter_img View post tag: Foal Eagle Salvage diving portion of Korea’s exercise Foal Eagle concludes View post tag: US Navy U.S. and Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy diving and salvage experts on March 30 wrapped up nearly two weeks of salvage training as part of the broader bilateral exercise Foal Eagle.SALVEX, short for salvage exercise, began on March 21 and featured joint diving and salvage operations, both in-port and at-sea.During the underway phase, U.S Navy divers assigned to Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 1 embarked on the salvage ship ROKS Tong Yeong (ATS 31) alongside their Korean Navy counterparts, a first for this annual exercise.The training focused on combined diving and salvage operations and subject matter expert exchanges. Divers from both navies also operated together under complex, realistic training scenarios in waters near the Korean peninsula.“SALVEX enables our divers to become familiar with each other’s equipment and capabilities; making it easier for us to work together in the future if a real world contingency operation were to happen,” said Master Chief (Master) Diver Joshua Dumke.SALVEX 2017 marks the year of the bilateral SALVEX, dating back to 1985.The 33rd edition of SALVEX Korea 2017 is part of exercise Foal Eagle, an umbrella of regularly-scheduled, annual exercises that are the culmination of months of planning and based on realistic training scenarios. The naval portion of the Foal Eagle exercises take place in international waters around South Korea.last_img read more

Modern take on a traditional cake

first_imgThe Black Forest Gateau originated in Germany, but had come to be seen as a little old-fashioned. However, the combination of chocolate, cream, kirsch and cherries is an all-time classic. Bachmanns developed this lighter, more modern version and, for 10 years, it has been a favourite with our customers.IngredientsChocolate sponge, kirsch syrup, chocolate mousse, cherry mousse, cherry filling.Method1. Line rings with cards and place appropriate cake board underneath.2. Cut out a sponge disc, about 12mm thick. Trim to leave a gap of about 7mm around the edge of the sponge and the cards. Soak evenly with kirsch syrup (A).3. Scoop cherry mix on to the sponge centre (B).4. Prepare the chocolate mousse and ladle carefully over the cherry mix as shown, again keeping to the centre of sponge (C). Leave to set.5. Prepare the cherry mousse (D). You can use a powdered “fond” and whipped cream. Unifine Dohler or Town and Country Fine Foods supply these.6. Ladle the cherry mousse over the chocolate mousse until it reaches just (5mm) below the edge of the card (E). Ensure the mousse fills the gap between the card and the bottom sponge.7. Cut another layer of sponge and place on the top (F).8. Sprinkle the top layer evenly with kirsch syrup (G).9. Set in the freezer.10. To finish, decorate the top with chocolate flakes and dust with cocoa powder.last_img read more

News story: Professor Piers Forster joins Committee on Climate Change

first_img Sir Brian taught me as a PhD student and is someone I have huge respect for. I am humbled to be following in his footsteps. I am thrilled to be taking up this post on the 10th anniversary of the UK’s Climate Change Act. The Act and the Committee have done a great job in helping the UK establish itself as a world leader in reducing emissions. However, the challenging ‘teenage years’ are just around the corner and the Committee has some important work to do on long-term targets and evidence based solutions that, if we get it right, will help the transition to a zero-carbon UK. Although climate change is a global problem, many of its solutions need to be implemented at a local level, and I am keen to learn best practice from the cities, rural communities and businesses of the UK. I can’t wait to roll up my sleeves and get started! I am absolutely delighted to welcome Professor Piers Forster to the Committee. His long-standing experience in climate research and analysis – including at the very highest levels of the IPCC – will be extremely valuable, particularly as we prepare to deliver a major report to Government reassessing the UK’s long-term climate change targets. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank Sir Brian Hoskins for his dedicated and exemplary service. For over a decade, Sir Brian has ensured the CCC’s recommendations to government are firmly rooted in the latest scientific research and evidence. Brian’s knowledge and insight have been pivotal to the Committee’s success since it began work 10 years ago. Professor Piers Forster has been appointed to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) by the Minister for Energy and Clean Growth, Claire Perry MP, and the devolved administrations.Professor Forster is Director of the Priestley International Centre for Climate and Professor of Physical Climate Change at the University of Leeds. He takes up the post of climate scientist on the Committee for a 5 year term.Piers has played a significant role authoring Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, and currently has a coordinating lead author role for the IPCC sixth assessment report. As well as his research career, he established the forest protection and research charity, the United Bank of Carbon and has a number of roles advising industry, including membership of the Rolls Royce Environment Advisory Board.Professor Forster replaces founding Committee member, Sir Brian Hoskins, who recently stood down after 10 years of service.Commenting on his appointment, Professor Forster said:center_img Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, Lord Deben, said:last_img read more

Just Desserts sees cakes rise 60%

first_imgYorkshire bakery and patisserie Just Desserts said sales of its cakes increased 60% in the last three financial quarters.The firm is putting the rise down to the combined effect of the Jubilee and the BBC’s Great British Bake Off programme.Sales of Victoria sponge, coffee and walnut cake and lemon cake have increased 57%, 61% and 46% respectively, said the company, while sales of Fat Rascals – a type of Yorkshire tea cake – increased 91%. The company, which supplies the foodservice and hospitality markets, said the increased demand had been most notable in the cafe sector. James O’Dwyer, Just Desserts managing director, said: “Despite tough economic conditions, we are enjoying an increased period of sales as more and more consumers are looking for an affordable, indulgent treat of a cake and coffee, as purses are squeezed.  “Afternoon tea has seen a resurgence since the Jubilee celebrations and consumers are swapping an expensive restaurant meal out for a high tea with a slice of Victoria sponge.”last_img read more

Bridging the gap, digitally

first_imgOne recent morning, Karthik Ramanna, an associate professor of business administration at Harvard Business School (HBS), sat down in a virtually empty Harvard conference room and prepared to explain different forms of government corruption and how to combat them.But he was not teaching his usual M.B.A. students. Rather, his words — specifically, a presentation of HBS three case studies on anti-corruption efforts in China, Russia, and India — were being broadcast live to students, academics, and activists at 13 universities in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.Ramanna, an authority on corporate accountability, was sharing his knowledge with the eager audience of budding social entrepreneurs, who had gathered in classrooms around the world (it was evening, by their time) to hear how his examples might prove useful in their homelands. Corruption is a problem in countries, Ramanna said over the live feed, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be solved by clever, dogged individuals.“Transparency is perhaps the most potent tool in the fight against corruption,” he said, as he launched into a presentation about a fearless publisher of exposés in Russia and an Indian website that crowdsources examples of government officials seeking bribes.His talk was part of a series of live Web chats, hosted by the South Asia Institute and made possible by the Pakistan Higher Education Commission’s Virtual Education Project, that aims to bring together Harvard experts and social entrepreneurs in South Asia. The live video chats are the latest tech-savvy solution to the question of how Harvard can share its insights on education, health, good governance, and a host of other social issues with civic-minded entrepreneurs around the globe.The video conferences are the latest project of the Pakistan Innovation Network, a social enterprise started by graduate students Mariam Chughtai, a doctoral candidate at Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), and Erum Sattar, a doctoral candidate at Harvard Law School (HLS). In addition to Ramanna’s class on Feb. 27, the series also has featured Fernando Reimers, Ford Foundation Professor of International Education, and Tarun Khanna, HBS’s Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, and Sattar and Chughtai are planning six more conferences for the 2013-2014 academic year. The startup, which receives support from the South Asia Institute, recently acquired space in the Harvard Innovation Lab to continue its work on fostering social entrepreneurship in Pakistan and the surrounding region.Students Erum Sattar (from left) and Mariam Chughtai (center), and Karthik Ramanna, associate professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, talk via webcast with participants from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.The point of the group is “not to say, ‘Let’s all go and build iPad apps,’” Sattar said. “It’s saying, ‘Let’s encourage people to find solutions to problems that they all experience everyday, and that maybe they never thought they could do anything about.’”Sattar and Chughtai, who are both from Pakistan, hope to capitalize on a growing interest in entrepreneurship in the region, where neither civil servants nor business leaders are necessarily taught to think about how to solve broad societal problems.“In India or Pakistan, people go to business school to work for Citibank or Coca-Cola,” Sattar said. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but they’re not trained to solve the problems and work on finding solutions to the most pressing social concerns. People are seeing that problems are going to have to be solved innovatively.“If you wait for some donor, some international agency to come and solve your problems, that’s not going to happen,” Sattar continued. “Then there are people at the base who have immense capacity, and no one has enabled this amazing human potential.”Sattar and Chughtai acknowledge that few Harvard professors can find time to travel to — or even have much expertise concerning — Pakistan, but they hope that virtually connecting students and activists in the region with Harvard academics can lead to a fruitful exchange of ideas.“Harvard’s strength can be its global view, a horizontal worldview,” Sattar said. Their plan, she said, is to “put Harvard in conversation with these people who have deep vertical knowledge of their society.”That difference in worldviews was on display during Ramanna’s video chat. After he presented the case studies, questions poured in through Twitter and the live feeds in classrooms across the globe. And Ramanna’s students for the day were not afraid to push back.“None of your examples would work in our country,” said one leading activist from Sri Lanka. While the country has no dearth of “bravado” when it comes to calling out corruption, he added, “Naming and shaming makes no difference in our country.” There are also structural impediments to unearthing corruption, he added. To start a petition to Parliament, Parliament must first sign off on the content of the petition.When a questioner in Karachi, Pakistan, asked about the ability of open-source models, such as the website WikiLeaks, to achieve “radical transparency” in government, Ramanna urged caution.“Instances of misuse of transparency have ironically received more coverage in some cases than corruption itself,” he said, noting the notorious legal and media backlash against WikiLeaks.In Sattar’s view, the morning’s session was a perfect example of how social media can enliven conversations about deep, systemic problems like corruption that will require years of slow, determined work to solve.“Overturning 150 years of colonial history is not going to happen in five minutes,” Sattar said. “These things need our sustained attention and hard work.”last_img read more

Celebrate the season with family and friends at the 47th annual Christmas Revels

first_img Read Full Story A holiday tradition for nearly five decades, “The Christmas Revels” is a joyful theatrical celebration of the winter solstice that travels the world each year showcasing cultural traditions including music, dance, folk tales and rituals. This year’s holiday treat takes us to Renaissance Venice, crossroads of the world!WHO LET THE DOGE OUT? The Doge of Venice has had it. It is time for the solstice and the Feast of the Seven Fishes and everyone wants his opinion – merchants, lawyers, politicians, artists, even the fishwives want him to rule on who makes the best spaghetti putanesca. So he is going to take a little unauthorized vacation and meet some of his more lowly subjects. The wild adventures ahead involve reckless actors, jailbreaks, itinerant musicians, English Morris men and maybe even the Spanish Armada!  A beloved holiday tradition since 1971, “The Christmas Revels” features luscious music, tricky sets and gorgeous costumes, superb musical guests, a tuneful, dancing chorus, some familiar Revels touchstones, and street kids who sing like angels.Our 100-member ensemble includes musician and song leader David Coffin, The Revels Chorus of adults and children, a brilliant group of vocalists and musicians from the Early Music community (Sophie Michaux, Gideon Crevoshay, Lysander Jaffe, Daniel Meyers, Simon Martyn-Ellis, Nathaniel Cox, and Fabio Pirozzolo), The Serenissima Dancers, our acting troupe, Commedia Buffo (old friends Noni Lewis, Billy Meleady, Mark Jaster and Sabrina Selma Mandell), and Richard Snee as the Doge. The Cambridge Symphonic Brass Ensemble and The Pinewoods Morris Men also join us onstage at Sanders this year.  Besides the carols and rounds we’ll ask you to sing, performance highlights include the Bal do Sabre, an Italian Sword Dance, plus familiar Revels touchstones like the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance, Susan Cooper’s classic poem, “The Shortest Day,” and our signature piece, “Lord of the Dance,” which will literally have you dancing in the aisles!18 Performances – Matinees & EveningsDecember 8–27, 2017 at Sanders Theatre, Cambridge, Mass.Directed by Patrick Swanson; Megan Henderson, Music DirectorOrder Tickets online through a link at www.revels.org, by phone at 617-496-2222 (Tue–Sun 12–6 p.m.) or in-person at the Harvard Box Office at Farkus Hall, 10 Holyoke Street, near Harvard Square (Tue–Sun 12–6 p.m.).Groups of 15+ Call 617-972-8300 x22 or email Alan at [email protected]last_img read more

Pierre Masuy of OMYA named Rutland Region Business Person of the Year

first_imgOmya Inc,The Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce held their 113th Annual Meeting on November 7th.  Pierre Masuy, Plant Manager, OMYA, Inc.’s Florence Verpol Plant was named the 2011 Business Person of the Year.  In his remarks RRCC EVP/CEO Tom Donahue noted noted the importance of the OMYA facility.The plant is the third largest in OMYA’s worldwide system, employing a staff of 175 workers. The plant is also the largest customer of Vermont Railway.  Masuy oversaw construction of the plant’s multimillion-dollar dewatering facility that came online in 2009, recycling 750,000 gallons of water a day from the calcium carbonate manufacturing process. Donahue informed those in attendance that the contributions made by Masuy and the plant go beyond its economic benefit.  Donahue stated ‘At OMYA, they feel it is their civic responsibility to support local efforts that benefit the community and neighbors, in the past six months alone, they have made donations to 56 local organizations and community groups.’  Masuy, a native of France, holds degrees in physics and engineering and a master’s degree in business administration. He relocated from his job at OMYA’s Aragon facility in France to assume the job of Florence plant manager. While accepting the award, Masuy thanked his employees at the plant.  Masuy was joined on stage by his key management team and his wife, Patricia.   While introducing his team Masuy stated:  ‘In talking about business, the first thing I have in mind to do a good business, you need to have good people around you.’  Masuy said in a tough economy, his employees ‘work hard every day to find new ideas to keep our business strong in Vermont to support our customers, to support our people and to support our community,’ he said. ‘It is part of our responsibility and really we like it.’Other highlights of the meeting included an overview of the Chamber’s accomplishments over the past year and goals looking forward.  The meeting featured Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, as the keynote speaker. Pierre Masuy, Plant Manager, OMYA, Inc. accepts the RRCC 2011 Business Person of the Year Award.last_img read more

Colombian smugglers’ ‘drug subs’ show increasing sophistication

first_img BAHÍA MÁLAGA, Colombia — For years, it was rumored that Colombian smugglers were transporting tons of cocaine aboard homemade submarines. But without hard evidence, the scuttlebutt sounded like a Jules Verne fantasy, a sort of Twenty-thousand kilos under the sea. As it turns out, narco U-boats are all too real. Ecuadorian police raided a clandestine jungle shipyard last year, just south of the Colombian border, and impounded a 74-foot-long submarine capable of carrying nine tons of cocaine to delivery points off the Pacific coast of Mexico and Central America. Its hull was built of Kevlar and carbon-fiber. Its 249 lead-acid batteries could power the diesel engine for 18 hours before the sub would have to resurface. The Ecuadorian sub was no fluke. In February, Colombian authorities confiscated a second fully submersible drug submarine. This 70-foot-long vessel was spotted on an estuary to the Pacific and was about to make its maiden voyage. Nearby, troops found 2.9 tons of cocaine. “It was all ready to go,” says Colombian Navy Lt. Fernando Monroy, who piloted the drug sub from its hiding place to Bahía Málaga, the Navy’s main base on the Pacific. “Its tanks were filled with 1,700 gallons of diesel.” “Drug traffickers have now literally done what many people thought was unthinkable,” said Jay Berman, who heads the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Andean division. “They’ve invested enormous amounts of resources, money, manpower in acquiring the technology to build submarines.” He added: “Pictures do not do them justice. You have to see the subs to get a perspective of how large they are and how much effort it takes to build them.” With its sleek shape, rear fins, and conning tower, the Colombian drug sub looks like a conventional submarine though it’s far smaller than most military models. It’s also a hybrid of high- and low-technology. Rather than steel, the sub is built from wood, fiberglass and PVC tubing, materials that are all widely available and easily transportable to secret jungle dry docks. Yet it exhibits a level of sophistication new to maritime smuggling. It’s been equipped with day and night vision cameras. In the stern sits a 346-horsepower diesel engine. There are four bunk beds for the crew members, compressed air tanks, touch screen controls, a GPS and satellite telephones. Unlike the Ecuadorian sub which could move forward underwater, the Colombian model was built to travel just below the surface, then cut its engines and dive down 30 feet or so to hide from interdiction vessels. Submarines have been on the traffickers’ drawing board for years. Back in 2000, Colombian authorities stumbled upon a half-built, double-hulled submarine in a warehouse outside of Bogotá. The 78-foot vessel was designed to descend to depths of more than 300 feet. But in that case, drug mafia engineers may have bitten off more than they could chew. Over the next decade, they settled upon a less-sophisticated watercraft: the so-called semi-submersible. These are airtight boats that ply the ocean with just a navigational dome and air and exhaust pipes sticking out of the water at odd angles. They look like something Dr. Seuss might have drawn but the homemade vessels have been highly successful. Semi-subs are easy to build and, at $500,000, they’re relatively cheap. As a result, they are usually scuttled after just one mission because it’s more secure to sink the boats on the high seas than steer them back to Colombia. More importantly, their tiny wakes make them difficult to detect on radar. By some estimates, more than half of all the cocaine leaving Colombia’s Pacific coast in 2009 was shipped aboard semi-subs. The semi-submersible marked the triumph of stealth over speed. In the 1980s and ‘90s, traffickers often used go-fast boats that could travel up to 80 miles per hour and outrun most Coast Guard boats. But those crafts left huge wakes and anti-drug agents — using helicopters and their own racing boats — became more adept at spotting them and, in some cases, shooting out their engines. More recently, authorities have gotten better at picking up the radar signature of semi-subs. And a recent drop-off in captures may indicate that the drug traffickers are moving completely underwater. The number of impounded semi-subs dropped from 17 in 2009 to just one so far this year. And though no drug-laden submarines have been spotted in the ocean, they are very likely out there. If so, this technological leap presents vexing new challenges to law enforcement because submarines are invisible to radar. Hunting them requires sonar to identify their sounds or magnetic anomaly detectors, since conventional subs are basically huge masses of steel which can cause deviations in the Earth’s magnetic field. But the Pacific is vast and the two impounded drug subs are small, fiberglass vessels made with very little steel. Even if a suspected drug sub is located, practical and legal procedures for forcing it to the surface remain unclear. For drug traffickers, the submarines also mean more headaches. For one thing, they are more onerous and costly to build than semi-subs. The clandestine shipyard in Ecuador had space for 50 workers. Taking into account materials, labor and security fees, the submarine impounded in Ecuador may have cost upwards of $5 million. In addition, submarines are more difficult to operate than semi-subs. Any boat captain can drive a semi-sub but navigating a submarine, especially bringing one back up to the surface, requires a special skill set. One retired smuggler, who made three drug delivery trips to Mexico at the helm of semi-subs, said that clandestine sub pilots learn through computer simulators or by trial and error. Either way, the trips can be hellish. The smuggler, who spoke to Diálogo on condition of anonymity, described the drug runs up to Mexico as tense and claustrophobic. There was no toilet, so the air on board quickly filled with the vapors of excrement, cocaine and diesel fuel. They rarely stopped for breathers because stationary vessels are easier to spot. On board, an armed guard made sure there were no mutinies. Once back on the mainland, the smuggler said he stunk so badly that he spent the next two weeks bathing himself with a mix of Clorox and water. “It’s like being a kamikaze,” he said. “I sometimes wonder how I survived.” Still, he earned about $300,000 for each trip. Such eye-popping fees make it easy for traffickers to recruit sub captains and crew members among the impoverished fishermen of the Pacific coast. However, conditions aboard the drug subs aren’t much better. Monroy, the Navy officer who piloted the Colombian sub to Bahia Málaga, said the temperature inside rose to 100 degrees. But he predicted that drug sub builders would make the necessary adjustments, saying “we believe the smugglers will keep improving their technology, allowing them to make all their trips underwater.” By Dialogo April 21, 2011 It’s amazing that these “merchants” of drugs, having succeeded in developing this technology, taking into account how formidable a submarine is as a weapon of war, we would have to be prepared, for these organizations to successfully face a regular army. It would be much better to legalize drugs, then they would pay taxes and the government could exercise effective control, although it would be huge blow to the international financial system. last_img read more

Bill addresses paternity registry

first_img April 15, 2003 Regular News A bill establishing a paternity registry for unwed fathers who might want to oppose adoption of their children has cleared a key House committee.HB 835, which had the support of the Bar’s Family Law Section, unanimously cleared the House Judiciary Committee on March 26.Rep. Mark Mahon, R-Jacksonville, said an overhaul passed last year proved both unworkable and embarrassing to the state. It required single mothers who wanted to place their children up for adoption, but who didn’t know who the fathers were or where they were, to take out newspaper ads identifying themselves and their partners. The idea was to give fathers a chance to assert their rights.But the law provoked a storm of criticism, including that it violated the mothers’ privacy rights. When a legal challenge to the law recently was heard at the Supreme Court, the state elected not to defend the statute.To replace the notification, HB 835 “creates a paternity registry where the father goes and registers to protect his right as a father,” Mahon said. “The other changes are more procedural, really, on glitches and areas that came up from [adoption] practitioners.”Amy Hickman, representing the Family Law Section, said the section was originally opposed to the paternity register, but changed its view after seeing how it operated in 36 other states.“We believe it’s constitutional. We believe it’s one of the fairest registries if it is passed,” she said. “It eliminates the glitches we have in the current law and truly creates a stable adoption system for the children in the state of Florida.”Committee Chair Jeff Kottkamp, R-Cape Coral, said the bill streamlines the process, while providing notification for men who want to take responsibility for any children they father.Hickman said the bill allows the courts to ensure that the father is going to support the child once he expresses an interest. And she said it can guard against instances where the mother has failed to notify the father of the pregnancy.The committee also passed HB 983, guaranteeing that the records of the paternity registry would remain confidential.The bills next go to the House floor. Similar legislation, SB 2526 and SB 2456, have been introduced in the Senate. They have been referred to the Judiciary; Children and Families; Health, Aging, and Long-Term Care; Governmental Oversight and Productivity; and Rules and Calendar committees. Bill addresses paternity registrycenter_img Bill addresses paternity registry last_img read more

What’s up with the New Season of ‘True Detective’?

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York HBO’s first Sunday evening of programming since Game of Thrones’ season five finale left us so demoralized we would’ve done anything to watch Daenerys soar into the sky atop Drogon once more—ahh, the memories. Alas, we couldn’t turn to Veep, the most potent chaser of them all.Instead, the network gave us the ballyhooed return of its noirish crime drama True Detective, a season two premiere that began with an off-putting theme song from Leonard Cohen with his vocals at their harshest as the opening credits dripped with weird melting imagery of L.A. and its freeways superimposed on the cast members’ faces. From there it quickly went downhill, with dumbfounding one-liners and shoe-horned psychobabble that doesn’t quite feel as poetic now that Matthew McConaughey isn’t the one delivering the lines and Woody Harrelson isn’t the one reacting to them. The episode’s final moment—a breathtaking view of the California coast—was the most pleasing. Everything else felt like a complete waste of time. And Tim Robbins and Jack Black in the pseudo-political satire, The Brink, making light of a coup in Pakistan, made us only long more for Julia Louis-Dreyfus running amok in the White House, but her show is on hiatus.So here we are in this summer of our discontent, trying to make the best of HBO’s most hyped night-time offering, and it raises a few questions: Are we going to be forced to watch Ray (Colin Farrell) self destruct into a father-pummeling, journalist-intimidating, chemically imbalanced corrupt cop for the entire season? Was there no better way to introduce a strong female character like Ani (Rachel McAdams), a sheriff, than by portraying her sexual promiscuity, her dysfunctional relationship with her cult-leading hippie dad, and her apparent icy emotional detachment from her male partner? On the other side of the coin, we see California Highway Patrol officer Paul Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch), appearing on our TV screens for the first time, questioning an erratic driving, clearly inebriated female celebrity who suggests he escort her back to her place nearby where she left her license, presumably soliciting her body to get out of trouble. The ambiguous scene led to Paul being put on administrative leave during an internal investigation, revealing that he’s an Iraq war veteran still struggling to adjust to civilian life, but was there no other way to get there? Perhaps he could’ve pummeled someone instead, like one of the script writers. Or better yet, punch out Ray. He actually deserved it. And what was up with that damn bird head on the passenger seat beside the city manager? Was it a stuffed stool pigeon? A raven mask? What a pile of horse-feathers, we say!It appears the show runners—who must have just graduated from film school—are trying their darnedest to put a million miles between this season and the last—which was hugely successful and garnered several high-profile nominations, but they can’t budge an inch because they’re stuck on the 405 Freeway in rush hour with a trunk load of pretention. So, instead of the vast murky nothingness that was rural Louisiana (season one’s setting), we get urban southern California, and all the refinery smoke stacks, casinos, and garish colors that come with it. At least the ocean looks nice.And the prolific and profoundly interesting two character leads (McConaughey and Woody Harrelson) of season one have been replaced with four key figures, the three aforementioned cops working in separate agencies on a murder investigation and Vince Vaughn, who plays a career criminal named Frank with fantasies of making big bucks the, ahem, legal way. His girlfriend tells him he’s the best of the bunch. Then he enlists Ray to beat down the poor journalist investigating corruption in his city. Sigh. The episode devoted most of its time developing the foursome, a seemingly cumbersome task that may eventually be this season’s undoing.Rachel McAdams as Ani Bezzerides in Season 2 of True Detectives. (Photo credit: HBO/True Detective)Frank is emboldened to secure a profitable land deal in Vinci, a fictionalized corrupt city, whose city manager—Frank’s business partner—has gone missing. The politician’s lifeless body—minus his eyeballs—is discovered propped up on a park bench by Paul, who moments before had seemed intent on committing suicide by crashing his motorcycle but suddenly thought better of it. He swerves to a stop, and there in the motorcycle’s headlights, is the murdered victim. How convenient.We don’t ever actually meet the dead city manager—only his corpse—but we do get a look inside his kinky private life when Ray and his stereotypical partner, a raggedy, overweight detective straight from central casting, break into the guy’s house in search for clues to his whereabouts and find a skeleton in costume, graphic depictions of sex acts, kinky adult toys and canvases emblazoned with naked women decorating the walls.We are left to assume that the land deal and the city manager’s death are linked, but no one tells us for sure. It doesn’t matter—we’ve seen this plot before. We get a lot of character development but it’s unclear where any of these twisted characters are headed in the darkness that passes for their existence. Will Ray, Ani, and Paul join forces to find the city manager’s murderer? Will they compete for glory? Should we even care?The first episode gives us few clues to these eternal questions.Maybe the bird head is meaningful. Who knows? Remember the Maltese Falcon? We do, and so do the show runners. Only that bird has flown.last_img read more