Thursday Reads: Republicans and the Shutdown, Refugee Boat Disaster, The Dark Web, and Snowden

woman reading.matisse

Good Morning!!

The government shutdown continues, and as Dakinikat wrote yesterday, no one seems to know how long this deadlock between extremist House Republicans (along with their chief hostage Speaker John Boehner) and the rest of Congress–Republicans and Democrats–will continue. It’s depressing as hell, and it’s really difficult to figure out what Republicans think they’re going to gain by it.

Just a few links:

CBS News — Poll: Americans not happy about shutdown; more blame GOP.

On day three of the partial government shutdown, a new CBS News poll reveals that a large majority of Americans disapprove of the shutdown and more are blaming Republicans than President Obama and the Democrats for it.

Fully 72 percent of Americans disapprove of shutting down the federal government over differences on the Affordable Care Act; just 25 percent approve of this action. Republicans are divided: 48 percent approve, while 49 percent disapprove. Most tea party supporters approve of the government shutdown – 57 percent of them do. Disapproval of the shutdown is high among Democrats and independents. This CBS News poll was conducted after the partial government shutdown began on October 1.

Views of the Affordable Care Act are related to views of the shutdown. Those who like the health care law also overwhelmingly disapprove of shutting down the government. There is more support for the shutdown among Americans who don’t like the 2010 health care law. Thirty-eight percent of them approve of the shutdown but even more, 59 percent, disapprove.

Republicans in Congress receive more of the blame for the shutdown: 44 percent of Americans blame them, while 35 percent put more blame on President Obama and the Democrats in Congress. These views are virtually the same as they were last week before the shutdown, when Americans were asked who they would blame if a shutdown occurred.

Bloomberg Businessweek: Republicans Are No Longer the Party of Business.

T.J. Gentle, chief executive officer of Smart Furniture, an online custom furniture maker in Chattanooga, employs 250 people, has seen sales grow 25 percent this year, and was planning another round of hiring—until Republican hard-liners forced the federal government to close on Oct. 1. Gentle is the embodiment of moderate, business-minded pragmatism: He voted for President Obama and Tennessee’s Republican Senator Bob Corker, splits his donations between the parties, and prefers divided government as a check on partisan excess. Like his plan to hire more workers, this too may change as a result of the shutdown. “It’s as if House Republicans are playing suicide bomber with the U.S. economy,” he says. “As a businessman, it defies all reason and logic.”

Smart Furniture and countless other businesses are already feeling the impact of the shutdown. The Federal Housing Administration, which backed one-third of all mortgages last year, has furloughed employees, a move that will slow loan approvals and house purchases. “That directly affects the construction and materials industries,” Gentle says, “but it also affects us, since the purchase of a new home is the No. 1 trigger for buying furniture.”

Larger businesses, which often tilt more heavily toward the GOP, are no less frustrated. It’s hard to find any organization more closely affiliated with the Republican Party than the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In 2012 the business trade group spent $35,657,029 on federal elections, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Of that, $305,044 was spent on behalf of Democratic candidates. Last year the Chamber went further to help Republicans than it ever had by running ads directly against candidates: It spent $27,912,717 against Democrats and only $346,298 against Republicans.

Geeze, if business isn’t happy with the GOP, who do they have left in their corner? The religious right and the Tea Party, I guess–and those groups likely have a lot of crossover. Is that enough for to support a national party?

CNN: Government shutdown: GOP moderates huddle as conservatives set agenda

A small but growing group of House Republicans is increasingly worried about the fallout from the government shutdown and say it’s time for Speaker John Boehner to allow a simple vote on a spending bill.

Defunding Obamacare can wait for now, they say.

“I’m trying to be optimistic but at the same time I have a really, really tough time when people are out of work and they can’t pay their bills,” Rep. Michael Grimm of New York told reporters Wednesday. “Though it might be a political loss for us … this is an untenable situation.”

Rep. Scott Rigell, whose Virginia district is home to a significant number of military members and civilian contractors, was one of the first to publicly break away.

“We fought the good fight,” he said in a tweet on Tuesday, but acknowledged it was time to move on.

Boehner hosted small groups of concerned members on Wednesday. A spokesman for Boehner declined to talk about the sessions.

How can Boehner get away with letting just 30% of his caucus run roughshod over the entire House? Think Progress may have the answer: How John Boehner Engineered An Ohio Gerrymander To Save His Speakership.

During the last redistricting cycle, then-Ohio state Senate President Tom Niehaus (R) pledged to deliver a redrawn map of Ohio’s congressional districts “that Speaker Boehner fully supports.” Indeed, at the height of the map drawing process, Boehner’s political aide Tom Whatman averaged a request a day to Ohio’s mapmakers — often micromanaging the slightest geographic changes in the district lines. In one case, for example, the line-drawers added a peninsula with no residents at all to Rep. Jim Renacci’s (R-OH) district because the peninsula included the headquarters of a company whose leaders donated generously to Renacci.

A full election cycle later, Team Boehner’s micromanagement paid off. President Obama won the state of Ohio by nearly two points in 2012, but 12 members of Ohio’s 16 member Congressional delegation are Republicans. In the nation as a whole, nearly 1.4 million more Americans voted for Democratic House candidates than Republicans.

The districts Boehner helped draw in Ohio played into a much larger Republican Party strategy to secure the House by rigging the legislative maps. Indeed, last January, the Republican State Leadership Committee released a report entitled “How a Strategy of Targeting State Legislative Races in 2010 Led to a Republican U.S. House Majority in 2013.” The report bragged that gerrymandering “paved the way to Republicans retaining a U.S. House majority in 2012.”

And, as TP notes, this strategy was replicated and a number of other states.

In other news . . . 

This story is just breaking . . . From CNN: Scores dead after boat sinks of Italian island of Lampedusa.

At least 94 people, including a pregnant woman and two children, died when a boat capsized and caught fire off the island of Lampedusa, the Italian coast guard told CNN on Thursday.

The coast guard has been able to save at least 151 people, and the rescue operation is ongoing.

The boat is thought to have been carrying up to 500 people. Those aboard include Somalis, Eritreans and Ghanaians, the coast guard said, and the boat is thought to have launched from Libya’s coast.

Lampedusa, the closest Italian island to Africa, has become a destination for tens of thousands of refugees seeking to enter European Union countries.

The head of the U.N. refugee agency, Antonio Guterres, praised the efforts of the Italian coast guard but said he was “dismayed at the rising global phenomenon of migrants and people fleeing conflict or persecution and perishing at sea.”

Some context on this story, also from CNN, a June 2011 story about one of Lampedusa’s boat people.

Yesterday the FBI shut down a website called Silk Road that has been used for massive amounts of criminal activity. From Fox News: Feds shut down $1.2 billion criminal internet marketplace.

Federal authorities have shut down what they called the “most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet today,” an underground operation responsible for distributing illegal drugs and other black market goods and services.

The site’s alleged owner, Ross William Ulbricht, was arrested and $3.6 million in anonymous digital currency known as Bitcoins was seized. The site, which did about $1.2 billion in sales, was taken over by federal authorities, according to court documents unsealed Wednesday in the Southern District of New York.

Ulbricht was alleged to operate a website responsible for distributing hundreds of kilograms of illegal drugs and other illicit goods and services, including fake IDs and computer hacking-related services. He was indicted on charges of  drug conspiracy, computer intrusion offensives conspiracy, and money laundering conspiracy.

Ulbricht, 29, used the aliases “Dread Pirate Roberts,”  “DPR,” and “Silk Road” while operating the site, authorities said.

From BBC News, Silk Road: How FBI closed in on suspect Ross Ulbricht.

It was an underground website where people from all over the world were able to buy drugs.

In the months leading up to Mr Ulbricht’s arrest, investigators undertook a painstaking process of piecing together the suspect’s digital footprint, going back years into his history of communicating with others online….

The search started with work from Agent-1, the codename given to the expert cited in the court documents, who undertook an “extensive search of the internet” that sifted through pages dating back to January 2011.

The trail began with a post made on a web forum where users discussed the use of magic mushrooms.

In a post titled “Anonymous market online?”, a user nicknamed Altoid started publicising the site.

“I came across this website called Silk Road,” Altoid wrote. “Let me know what you think.”

The post contained a link to a site hosted by the popular blogging platform WordPress. This provided another link to the Silk Road’s location on the so-called “dark web”.

Read the whole story at the link.

From Andy Greenberg at Forbes: Feds Allege Silk Road’s Boss Paid For Murders Of Both A Witness And A Blackmailer.

When I interviewed the Dread Pirate Roberts, the persona behind the anonymous black market drug website known as Silk Road, he described his narcotics bazaar as a victimless libertarian experiment. But criminal complaints against Ross William Ulbricht, the 29-year-old entrepreneur who allegedly wore that pirate’s mask, now claim that he was also willing to leave a few bodies in his wake.

In two separate sets of charges released Wednesday following the seizure of the Silk Road’s domain and servers, federal prosecutors accused Ulbricht of not only conspiracies to sell drugs and launder money, but also of paying hitmen for the murder of two individuals, one who is described as attempting to blackmail Ulbricht after hacking a Silk Road vendor and learning the identities of thousands of the site’s users, and another employee of the Silk Road who Ulbricht allegedly feared might reveal him to law enforcement.

“DPR’s communications reveal that he has taken it upon himself to police threats to the site from scammers and extortionists,” reads an affidavit from FBI agent Christopher Tarbell, “and has demonstrated a willingness to use violence in doing so.”

In the one of the two cases, filed in a Maryland district court, a criminal complaint against Ulbrichtdescribes how an undercover agent gained Ulbricht’s trust after communicating with him through the Dread Pirate Roberts account Ulbricht is thought to have used and conducting a $27,000 cocaine deal through the Silk Road. The agent later allegedly received a message from the Dread Pirate Roberts asking if he’d be willing to arrange the beating of a Silk Road employee who Roberts said had scammed users of the site and taken their bitcoins, the cryptographic currency used on Silk Road.

Read much more at the link.

Just a side note on the Silk Road story: the “dark web” makes use of the encryption methods recommended by Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald. This is the “other side” of the fight for “privacy rights.”

Here are a couple more Snowden/Greenwald news stories I came across.

From The Verge: Snowden’s email provider Lavabit fought government surveillance with ultra-tiny font.

Earlier this summer, a few weeks after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s leaked documents on the agency’s surveillance practices were published, the encrypted email service provider he used, called Lavabit, shut itself down. At that time, Lavabit’s founder Ladar Levison said he was shuttering his website to avoid “becom[ing] complicit in crimes against the American people,” which many took to mean he was resisting further surveillance demands by the US government. It turns out we didn’t know the half of it: new court documents unsealed today in the US District Court for Virginia’s Eastern District, obtained by Wired, reveal that Levison fought the US government tooth-and-nail to avoid handing over the encryption keys that would allow government agents to read his customers’ emails.

In the harrowing saga recounted in the newly unsealed documents, it turns out the government obtained a search warrant in July and demanded Lavabit hand over the encryption and secure-socket layer (SSL) keys to its system. The government was pursuing the emails sent by a single target, whose name has been redacted, but as Wired points out, it’s highly likely that user was Snowden himself.

From the Baltimore Sun: Hopkins professor rejects invitation to review NSA documents leaked by Snowden

A Johns Hopkins University cryptography professor — who gained media attention when university officials told him to take down a blog post he wrote about National Security Agency documents leaked by Edward Snowden — says he declined an invitation this week to join journalists and others reviewing the classified NSA documents.

“The truth is, I don’t really know what to say,” said Matthew D. Green, who received the invitation from Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald via Twitter on Thursday.

“It was a very generous offer,” Green said. “I think somebody should be down there and they need more expertise to go through those documents, [but] I’m not sure I want it to be me.”

Greenwald, who received the documents from Snowden and has led global reporting on them, invited Green to his home in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to “work journalistically” on the documents, specifically as they pertain to the NSA’s alleged circumvention of online encryption tools.

The invitation gave a boost to Green’s rising prominence in the debate over NSA spying methods. Johns Hopkins administrators this month briefly asked him to remove from universityservers a blog post he had written about coverage of the Snowden documents.

This post has gotten way too long, so I’ll put the rest of my links in the discussion thread below. Now what stories are you following today? Please post your links in the comments.

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68 Comments on “Thursday Reads: Republicans and the Shutdown, Refugee Boat Disaster, The Dark Web, and Snowden”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    I am not a huge fan of Barack Obama but ever since the day he was sworn into office the GOP has managed to make his life and legacy a living hell. And in the process apply the same torture to the American public through their unwillingness to work for the common good.

    My fear is that Obama will “cave” once again to these Looney Tunes thus setting the precedent going forward that any congressional Yahoo who wishes to can strangle the nation and the economy by throwing a toddler sized temper tantrum while holding his’her breath long enough until someone “gives in”. Personally I see that tactic being applied to Social Security but these days my cynicism is at an all time high.

    However, the hypocrisy in DC continues to bloom. Just watching Michele Bachmann drape herself all over the WW 2 vets protesting the shut down to access into their memorial was an exercise in “performance art”. The fact that she voted in favor of a government shutdown then took to the airwaves giddily admitting that “this is exactly what we wanted” was stomach turning.

    How long this will last depends upon Boehner but don’t hold your breath. He is beholden in more ways than one to the puppet masters who control this party.

    And thank god this shutdown is not effecting the “voices” in this party. I would have a difficult time sleeping at night if that were the case.

    • Beata says:

      Bernie Sanders agrees with you, Pat. If GOP extremists get their way, they will use this hostage-taking tactic to destroy Social Security and every other government program they hate. President Obama needs to stand firm now and not cave.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      You’ve expressed many of the same things I feel and fear. I had to struggle to overcome the resentment I felt for Obama, but the TeaParty and their hatred of him, made it much easier for me to get everything back into perspective.

      I don’t think Obama will cave to these demands because I believe he finally understands that this isn’t about engaging in the regular order of negotiation, it’s about hatred toward him personally. If tomorrow Obama proposed a plan that would end poverty, cure cancer and heal every wound that mankind has ever inflicted upon each other, the TeaParty would say NO!!! I feel personal regret that it took their maliciousness to help me to get over my own resentment toward him, but that’s a bridge already crossed and I’m too old to dwell on the coulda/woulda/shoulda .

      .

      • Pat Johnson says:

        I guess this is what’s known as “the chickens coming home to roost”. Much of this is the fault of the mainstream Republicans who stood back and allowed this train to get out of hand because their sole purpose was in making Obama a “one termer”.

        Women’s rights were being violated. Voting rights were placed on the chopping block. Healthcare became a divisive issue since most of the opposition surrounded Obama himself.

        They allowed the rhetoric to get past the point of civility and are now having to deal with a small faction that dominates the caucus and seem to be uncontrollable. Their aims not only richocheted off Obama and the Dems but to the Republican moderates who stood in their way.

        This was not supposed to happen. The mainstream is up against the religionists, obstructionists, and the stupids.

        Couldn’t happen to a worse group of people then the GOP as a whole with the exception of what it is doing to the rest of us.

        May this whole party go down in flames.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    BBC News: Fukushima leaks: radioactive water overflows tank

    Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant has a new leak of radioactive water after workers overfilled a storage tank, its operator says.

    The workers miscalculated the tank’s capacity as it was tilted on unlevel ground, plant operator Tepco said.

    It said around 430 litres (100 gallons) of water may have leaked from the tank, and could have flowed into the sea.

    The plant has experienced several leaks since being crippled by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

    One of the largest leaks took place in August, when Tepco discovered a leak of at least 300 tonnes of highly radioactive water at a different part of the plant.

    The latest leak was discovered by workers late on Wednesday.

    Why on earth is Tepco still being permitted to manage this disaster?

    • ANonOMouse says:

      I’ve read that things there are really much worse than the government of Japan is admitting and that they’re finding contamination in produce, dairy and fish for hundreds of miles in all directions around the nuclear plant

  3. bostonboomer says:

    This is a really interesting and somewhat scary science story from the WaPo:

    The press-release conviction of a biotech CEO and its impact on scientific research

    • Ok so only raging grannies are allowed to bring kazoos to the hostage crisis negotiation, flashback to the healthcare reform fight:

    • NW Luna says:

      That “press-release conviction” story surprises me. Pharma companies make implications like that all the time. Odd that this person was singled out.

      So the trial didn’t meet primary endpoints/outcomes; they then went digging with secondary analysis and found something that looks significant. Can’t really tell if it is significant based on the one trial, because the research design wasn’t appropriate. So the thing to do is another trial with different outcome measures.

      I am sick of expensive drugs being hyped for “working” when they extend survival by only a few months, and frequently with side effects that make for poor quality of life. (Spoken by someone who stopped chemo due to side effects, though in my case the chemo wasn’t going to make a big difference — it was just “standard protocol” at the time.) The big problem is that very little research (in healthcare at least) these days is funded by neutral organizations. Most of it’s funded by for-profit organizations — an inherent conflict of interest IMNSHO.

      • bostonboomer says:

        According to the article, there was a larger follow up study that found no statistically significant results for the group. But I don’t see why the guy is in prison for emphasizing a follow-up finding in a press release. That really seems extreme and a violation of freedom of speech.

        • NW Luna says:

          Yes, I saw that later on they did a study (not really a follow-up study since their subject population was different, so a new study), which was negative.

          I think the question relates to FDA regulations about “off-label” or “non-FDA-approved” benefits.
          Is it freedom of speech or is it misleading patients, clinicians, and investors?

          Pharma companies have been slapped with fines when their drug reps’ claims got too close to the other side of a fine line. Very odd that an individual would get penalized, though.

  4. Ahh. Sorry that youtube nested wrong.

    Here’s another oldie but goodie:

  5. ecocatwoman says:

    As ya’ll know, I’m animal-centric, so the story on NPR this AM deeply saddened me. They interviewed the mother of a 12 year old boy who is dying of leukemia. He’s been at NIH for a month & the only bright spot for him each week is when the therapy dogs visit. Due to the shutdown the therapy dog program has stopped. The mother said the dogs would climb into her son’s bed and snuggle with him. Tears? Yes! And no more patients will be admitted for research and treatment during the shutdown. Kind of makes the smiles, cheering & happiness over their “successful” gov’t shutdown by the Bachmann types totally Repugnant. How any American can support this stupid, heartless & inhumane action is beyond belief.

  6. I really like Anne Lamott:

    Anne Lamott
    55 minutes ago
    God or Goodness, Love, Light, He/She/It, Howard, as in “Our Father who art in heaven, Howard be thy name,” whatever you want to call the sweet friendly wise energy that some of swear by, is NOT doing crossword puzzles while Head Start closes.

    I do not have a single interesting theological insight, but I can tell you that one thing for sure.

    Goodness and karma bat last.

    In the meantime, Left foot, right foot, left foot, breathe.

    And also, in the meantime, I’ve wanted to tell you this story for a long time. It is called, “How Sam Helped Jax Not Be Afraid in Deep Water Anymore.”

    Last summer, we taught Jax how to swim with floaties on, how to kick, and dash around a swimming pool at the speed of light. But he did not like, agree to or have the ability to put his head underwater. That filled him with fear and resistance, and complete lack of fun.

    So I tried my most devious Nana bribes and threats, but he wouldn’t go for it. Smart kid. I think he must have read Robyn Posin’s great book, “Go Only As Fast as Your Slowest Part Feels Safe to Go.”

    Then one day while Jax had been tearing around a pool like Sonic Hedgehog with floaties, Sam swam up to him with a kick board. Jax held onto the side of the pool, waiting, Sam roiled up the water with the kick board, sloshing Jax with small waves, eliciting peals of laughter. After awhile Sam said, very casually, “Hey, Honey. Want to Do Big Wave with me now?” Jax nodded, with excited scared anticipation, held breath, because this was brand new. “You sure?” Yep.

    Sam sloshed him with a monster wave, a tsunami that buried Jax in a wall of blue water. Sam and I held our breaths, too, as Jax emerged, spluttering, drenched. He wiped at his face furiously until he could see his dad again. Then he said, thrilled, “Again!”

    He has never been afraid of being submerged ever since, because he knows he will bob back up to the surface, to the oxygen, to his dad, or me, or his mom. Because grace is buoyancy when you’re in a little bit over your head. Grace is trust, where before you felt clench and fear.

    Now, if I had the time and space, I would tell you about the next phase of Sam’s plan to help his child his child be safe in the world and the water. It was called,” Daddy Shark and Little Shark.” They did it for the first time about half an hour after Big Wave. It involved Jax holding on to his dad for dear life, nearly choking Sam in the process, while Sam dove to the deep end. Again, when they emerged, Jax spluttered, gasped, and shouted “Again!” On their third dive, they went to the bottom of the deep end, and Jax reached out to retrieve a flipper. He held his above his head when he breached the surface, like it was a trophy, or Chariots of Fire.

    Now we are looking cor an Olympic swim coach, hoping to make a vast fortune off Jax’s swimming prowess someday. But I have to run. Keep the faith. Power to the people. God bless you all real good.

  7. Beata says:

    I have found great comfort in this song lately. Maybe some Sky Dancers will enjoy it, too.

    • cygnus says:

      Oh thank you, Beata. What a beautiful reminder.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      Beata…..I’m not a religious person, but Peter Mayer has been speaking to me for a long time. I have cassette tapes to prove it. Peter actually gets it, thank you for reminding me.

  8. dakinikat says:

    The Republican Hardliners Aren’t Conservatives, They’re Radicals
    The legislators driving the direction of the GOP aren’t interested in smart, limited government. They’re aiming to eviscerate even the parts that work well.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/10/the-republican-hardliners-arent-conservatives-theyre-radicals/280217/

  9. dakinikat says:

    and we’re under a hurricane watch for Hurricane Karen … the White House is recalling FEMA …

    • LAWwwwL.

      This is reminiscent of the Xfiles: Fight the Future (1998) movie conspiracy (first one) …FEMA would take over the government on Mayan end of the world (december 21, 2012 AD) to basically expedite alien colonization through the use of transgenic bee crops and black oil.

      I hate to say it but here we are 15 years later, and after Mayan calendar end by about a year… and genetically modified crops check. Bees are disappearing. Black oil–’nuff said. Our government is shutdown and FEMA is not.

      Cue creepy xfiles theme : whoo whoo whoo whoo whoo

      FBI agents Dana Scully and Fox Mulder are definitely shut down. We are so F’d.
      ;)

    • Oh!! Recalling FEma furloughs , that’s good!!!!!

      At first I read you as saying it was being recalled as in shut down FEMA. I am getting dizzy from all this redux and easily confused.

      Anyhow had to go edit my checklist above to reflect. It’s even more perfectly eerily similar.

      pilot episode Mulder: Ah, you gotta love this place, everyday is like Halloween.

      That’s how I feel about oligarchy.

  10. ANonOMouse says:

    Right now TX isn’t in the path, but LA is Tropical Storm Watch and the gulf coast to Indian Pass Florida is under Tropical storm warning. It looks vicious on radar.

    http://www.weather.com/news/weather-hurricanes/tropical-storm-hurricane-karen-20131003

  11. dakinikat says:

    Media Matters ‏@mmfa 1m
    It was only a matter of time: Fox manages to connect the government shutdown with Benghazi. http://mm4a.org/19kyTqm

  12. RalphB says:

    Doesn’t sound like a guy who’s even considering a blink.

    tpm: Obama: Boehner’s Fear Of GOP ‘Extremists’ Keeping Gov’t Shut Down (VIDEO)

    President Barack Obama on Thursday said Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) was too afraid of the tea party to allow a vote to fund and re-open the government, now shuttered for the third straight day.

    “The only thing preventing people getting back to work and farmers and small business from getting their loans and the only thing that’s preventing this from happening right now in the next five minutes is that Speaker John Boehner won’t even let the bill get a yes or no vote because he doesn’t want to anger the extremists in his party. That’s all.”

    The president also mocked Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) for saying Wednesday that his party has “to get something out of” the shutdown fight, even though he doesn’t “know what that even is.”

    “You have already gotten the opportunity to serve the American people. There’s no higher honor than that,” Obama said to applause. “You’ve already gotten the opportunity to help businesses like this one. Workers like these. So the American people aren’t in the mood to give you a goody bag to go with it. What you get is our intelligence professionals being back on the job. What you get is our medical researchers back on the job. What you get are little kids back in the head start.”

  13. dakinikat says:

    There have been explosions outside the Capitol Building and Malls

  14. bostonboomer says:

    Boat off Italian coast is now sinking–hundreds feared dead off Lampedusa

    A total of 103 bodies have been recovered and more have been found inside the wreck, coast guards say.

    Passengers reportedly threw themselves into the sea when a fire broke out on board. More than 150 of the migrants have been rescued.

    Most of those on board were from Eritrea and Somalia, said the UN.

    The boat was believed to have been carrying up to 500 people at the time and some 200 of them are unaccounted for.