Tuesday Reads: Snowstorm, On-line Harassment, Profiling Snowden, and Other News

Alfred Eisenstaedt

Alfred Eisenstaedt

Good Morning!!

Looks like another big snowstorm is headed my way this afternoon. Blizzard warning south of Boston, winter storm warning for most areas.

Overnight the watches were converted to warnings meaning the likelihood of blizzard conditions and snow exceeding 6 inches has increased. The morning commute will be dry and you will see some dim sunshine. The snow begins this afternoon along the coast and the evening commute will be impacted. The storm is most intense overnight and ends during the morning from west to east on Wednesday….There is a blizzard warning up for Cape Cod, coastal Massachusetts south of Boston, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

At least I’m not in the blizzard zone for the moment. This appears to be a really big storm. I saw on Twitter this morning that there were whiteout conditions in St. Louis. You can watch a video update the Weather Channel page.

Intellicast – Current Radar in United States:

NBC News reports: Winter storm set to ‘go bananas’ across Northeast.

With memories of the dreaded polar vortex still fresh, winter deals another blow Tuesday, slamming the Northeast with a blast of cold air and up to a foot of snow.

“They are going to have quite a snowstorm,” said Kevin Roth, a lead meteorologist with theWeather Channel. “By this evening, all four cities from Philadelphia to Boston could face a pretty bad commute home. We’re expecting a good six to 10 inches. It will be snowing pretty hard.”

“Every once in while these little winter storms go bananas and we think this might be the one,” he added.

Yikes! What the heck does that mean? The story doesn’t explain. But meteorologists are begging us not to call it a “polar vortex.”

Temperatures are set to drop again in the Midwest and Northeast starting Sunday, a forecast that already is prompting the return of the phrase “polar vortex” — widely used to describe the blast of cold air that chilled the U.S. earlier this month. But while the Upper Midwest, Great Lakes and the interior Northeast will experience below-average temperatures in the coming week, don’t call it a “polar vortex,” meteorologists say.

The “polar vortex” is a real weather phenomenon, just not one that actually visits the United States, they say. It’s actually a circular weather pattern that has always been stationed above the Arctic, explains weather.com.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the swirling high-altitude system never moves into the U.S., though parts of it can “break off” and push cold air south.

The cold experienced in early January was actually a result of the polar vortex weakening, becoming warmer and therefore releasing its powerful chill beyond its normal reach through the northern climes, NOAA says.

Weather experts at NOAA said the intense cold air the U.S. has experienced is in fact a result of a warming world and increasing climate variability. While researchers cannot yet determine whether the fluctuations are a result of natural patterns or environmental effects, meteorologists can predict that parts of the U.S. will see freezing weather again in the coming days as a result of a polar vortex breakdown.

Anyway, I’m going to have to rush around this morning. I have a package to mail, and I need to get a couple of things at the grocery store. I do have some interesting reads for you today–some of them are pretty long, but well worth reading.


Yesterday, via Tom Watson at Forbes, I came across an essay by long-time feminist blogger Amanda Hess that Watson says has been “widely discussed” for the past week or so. Somehow I missed it. Hess argues that on-line sexual harassment of women will be “the next civil rights issue.” In the essay, she writes about the frequent on-line attacks she and other female writers have experienced (warning: explicit and violent language)Here are the first few paragraphs.

I was 12 hours into a summer vacation in Palm Springs when my phone hummed to life, buzzing twice next to me in the dark of my hotel room. I squinted at the screen. It was 5:30 a.m., and a friend was texting me from the opposite coast. “Amanda, this twitter account. Freaking out over here,” she wrote. “There is a twitter account that seems to have been set up for the purpose of making death threats to you.”

I dragged myself out of bed and opened my laptop. A few hours earlier, someone going by the username “headlessfemalepig” had sent me seven tweets. “I see you are physically not very attractive. Figured,” the first said. Then: “You suck a lot of drunk and drug fucked guys cocks.” As a female journalist who writes about sex (among other things), none of this feedback was particularly out of the ordinary. But this guy took it to another level: “I am 36 years old, I did 12 years for ‘manslaughter’, I killed a woman, like you, who decided to make fun of guys cocks.” And then: “Happy to say we live in the same state. Im looking you up, and when I find you, im going to rape you and remove your head.” There was more, but the final tweet summed it up: “You are going to die and I am the one who is going to kill you. I promise you this.”

My fingers paused over the keyboard. I felt disoriented and terrified. Then embarrassed for being scared, and, finally, pissed. On the one hand, it seemed unlikely that I’d soon be defiled and decapitated at the hands of a serial rapist-murderer. On the other hand, headlessfemalepig was clearly a deranged individual with a bizarre fixation on me. I picked up my phone and dialed 911.

Read the rest at the link. A number of women have written about this issue, and particularly about the lack of protection for women who are harassed on-line from law enforcement–even though the threats sometimes lead to real-life actions. A couple more recent examples:

Skepchick wrote in October about being harassed for her participation in the on-line atheist community, Why I Don’t Just Go to the Cops.

Amy Wallace wrote about her experiences in a NYT op-ed over the weekend: Life as a Female Journalist: Hot or Not?


Along similar lines, I came across this 2010 article in The Boston Globe that provides some insight into why some people spend so much time and energy writing angry comments on line: Inside the mind of the anonymous online poster. The author got an interview with a frequent commenter to The Boston Globe website. He also discusses the problems newspapers face in dealing with angry and trolling comments from anonymous people. Here’s an excerpt:

On Monday, May 17, at 2 p.m., a breaking news article headlined “Obama’s aunt given OK to stay in United States” hits the home page of Boston.com. In a matter of seconds, the first anonymous online comment appears. A reader with the handle of Peregrinite writes, “of course she can . . . can someone appeal.”

Certain topics never fail to generate a flood of impassioned reactions online: immigration, President Obama, federal taxes, “birthers,” and race. This story about Obama’s Kenyan aunt, who had been exposed as an illegal immigrant living in public housing in Boston and who was now seeking asylum, manages to pull strands from all five of those contentious subjects.

In the next few minutes, several equally innocuous posts follow, including a rare comment in favor of the judge’s decision. Then the name-calling begins. At 2:03 p.m., a commenter with the pseudonym of Craptulous calls the aunt, Zeituni Onyango, a “foreign free-loader.” Seconds later comes the lament from Redzone 300: “Just another reason to hate are [sic] corrupt government.”

News websites from across the country struggle to maintain civility in their online comments forums. But given their anonymous nature and anything-goes ethos, these forums can sometimes feel as ungovernable as the tribal lands of Pakistan.

Read much more at the link.


Yesterday I also happened upon a fascinating article by national security and tech journalist Dan Verton. In the piece, Verton tries to come up with a psychological profile of NSA leaker Edward snowden: What does the history of insider espionage say about Edward Snowden?

He wasn’t the first and will certainly not be the last member of the U.S. intelligence community to betray the trust of his nation. But what do we really know about Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked thousands of documents detailing NSA’s domestic and global eavesdropping programs?

The truth is we know very little about Snowden beyond what the media outlets that have a vested interest in protecting him choose to report. But when viewed through the prism of the last 25 years of insider espionage, the Edward Snowden we do know seems to fit the typical profile of the trusted insider struggling to overcome personal and professional shortcomings, and suffering from a warped sense of moral superiority.

More than a decade worth of studies into the psychological profiles of malicious insiders have revealed several common characteristics that make information technology professionals — particularly system administrators, like Edward Snowden — an “at risk” population for malicious insider activity.

Verton discusses Snowden’s history in the light of a study of IT administrators who eventually sabotaged their employers in some way: Inside the Mind of the Insider, by Eric D. Shaw, Jerrold M. Post, and Keven G. Ruby. These are both fairly long pieces, but if you have any interest in the ongoing Snowden saga, they are must reads! A bit more from Verton:

Born in 1983, Snowden grew up in North Carolina and Maryland. His father was a Coast Guard officer and his mother worked as a court administrator. They divorced in 2001, and Snowden went to live with his mother. His parents claim Snowden was ill as a teenager and failed to graduate high school. He eventually studied at a local community college to obtain a G.E.D.

Snowden was 17 when al-Qaida launched its attacks against the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. At that time, he adopted an online persona he called “The One True Hooha” at the website Ars Technica, where he participated in chat forums for gamers and hackers. His studies at a local community college would once again fall short of a degree.

In 2003, Snowden decided to join the Army Reserve, and requested a chance to undergo evaluation training for Special Forces to, in his words, “fight to help free people from oppression.”

Yet again, the young Snowden would fall short. He was dropped from the program and discharged from the Army four months later. Snowden claims to have broken both of his legs during training, but to date has provided no evidence. The Army has confirmed his service, but would not release his service record summary, known as a DD-214.

“He comes from a family that has a high need for achievement, but his experience is one disaster after another,” Stock said.

Lots more educated speculation on Snowden’s motives at the link.

In other news . . .

Here’s a spy story I hadn’t heard about in the mainstream media. Report: Israel Passes U.S. Military Technology to China.

Secret U.S. missile and electro-optics technology was transferred to China recently by Israel, prompting anger from the U.S. and causing a senior Israeli defense official to resign.

The head of defense exports for the Israeli Defense Ministry resigned after a U.S. investigation concluded that technology, including a miniature refrigeration system manufactured by Ricor and used for missiles and in electro-optic equipment, was sent to China, according to the Israeli newspaper Maariv.

Another Israeli news site, Aretz Sheva, reports the U.S. is concerned the technology could ultimately find its way to Iran, which last year sought to buy military equipment from China for its nuclear program.

That sounds scarier than the stuff Glenn Greenwald has been dribbling out.

From The New Statesman, here’s an exhibit I’d love to see if only I were in London: A history of psychology, warts and mysteries and all.

It looks more like an art installation than the remains of a 400-year-old experiment: a life-size image of a man rendered in dark, angry scrawls on a wooden panel. It is, in fact, a human nervous system, painstakingly removed from a corpse by Italian medical students and then varnished on to the dissecting table. Scientists in the 17th century believed that human beings were animated by the “animal spirit” that flowed from the brain down the nerves.

The display is part of the “Mind Maps” exhibition at the Science Museum in London, which explores how people have tried to gain a better understanding of their minds.

That sounds amazing.

Finally, a funny story from CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360: CNN reporter high during Anderson Cooper marijuana TV segment.

Poor Randi Kaye. The CNN reporter was sent to Denver for a week as part of the network’s “Gone to Pot” series, and in one of her later segments investigated dispensary tours that are being compared to Napa Valley wine tastings.

Kaye followed around a 72-year-old woman named Barbara Harvey, who is a huge fan of marijuana, and joined Harvey on a day-long dispensary tour where she spent much of her time in a limo being surrounded by people smoking marijuana with the windows rolled up. The CNN journalist tells Anderson Cooper she accidentally got a contact high after being stuck in a limo with Harvey for so long, though Cooper believes this is her “career highlight.”

At around the 4:30 mark in the above video, viewers can see Kaye in all her stoned glory. Kaye is all giggles and run-on sentences when talking about the cannabis business post-pot legalization in Colorado.

So . . . what are your recommended reads for today? Please post your links on any topic in the comment thread.

106 Comments on “Tuesday Reads: Snowstorm, On-line Harassment, Profiling Snowden, and Other News”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Richard Sherman is sorry that his post-game rant took attention away from Seattle’s win.

    Pete Carroll pulled Richard Sherman aside on Monday and made sure his fiery cornerback understood that his rant against San Francisco’s Michael Crabtree was overshadowing the Seattle Seahawks reaching their second Super Bowl in franchise history.

    Sherman seemed to get Carroll’s message.

    ‘‘He was really clear that the last thing he wanted to do was take something away from our team, what we had accomplished,’’ Carroll said.

    Uh huh. He will still have to answer nasty questions from the media for the next two weeks. I hope he can keep it together.

    • RalphB says:

      Take something away from the team? He didn’t give a shit about the team but was after the personal glory he could heap on himself. Personally I think he’s a douchebag who’s lucky to be half as good ad Deion Sanders in his prime.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Chris Christie tries to blame MSNBC for BridgeGhazi.

    The statement from Christie’s office is lengthy (you can read the whole thing) but here are the key bits:

    “MSNBC is a partisan network that has been openly hostile to Governor Christie and almost gleeful in their efforts attacking him, even taking the unprecedented step of producing and airing a nearly three-minute attack ad against him this week.”
    “MSNBC has dedicated nearly twice as much coverage to Governor Christie over the last week and a half than CNN, and three times as much as Fox News.”

  3. janicen says:

    I did exactly as you. I mailed a Seahawks scarf to my daughter at college and stopped at the grocer for a few things. Now I can hunker down and enjoy the storm. We’re supposed to get a mini version of what will be happening in the north. About 4 or 5 inches of snow with gusty winds and very cold temps. I think I’ll take the dog for a walk just to exercise her and work my joints a little before it hits. Got a batch of chicken chili in the fridge for dinner later so I’m ready! Bring it!

    • bostonboomer says:

      Good. I hope you can keep your pain under control. It is suppose to be dry up here though. Hope it will be the same for you.

    • Fannie says:

      Good luck to you and BB………..hope you don’t lose power. Tell you what I miss about that kind of weather, is going outside and building a big fire, and drink coffee.

  4. dakinikat says:

    Great variety of topics today! Poor Randi and her contact high!!

    I was reading a lot about the sexual harassment on the web. It’s real and real ugly. A comedian whose forte was rape threats was at a friend of mine on Twitter. When I wrote to twitter to complain, they said they didn’t censor people.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Supposedly they instituted a new harassment policy. I don’t know the details.

    • Fannie says:

      Oh yeah, I was told by couple of trolls that were sabotaging Obamacare via the ACA website to go suck his black……. I reported it, heard from them, said they did monitor the site, but I doubt anything was done to the bullies. Bet they are up to the same damn thing, on the same damn site.

    • RalphB says:

      I envy Randi and her contact high! Vacation this year could involve a 6-pack of throwaway lighters and a trip to Colorado. 😉

  5. dakinikat says:

    A black republican, preacher candidate for House from Florida

    House Candidate Celebrates MLK Day By Calling for Obama to Be Hanged


  6. dakinikat says:


    Archdiocese releases documents detailing sexual abuse by priests

    The Archdiocese of Chicago took steps to conceal sexual abuse by serial abusers, promoted and moved priests with multiple accusations against them and had victims making the allegations investigated, archdiocese documents released Tuesday reveal.

    The documents cover abuse allegations against 30 priests that surfaced under the leadership of Cardinals John Cody, Joseph Bernardin and Francis George.

  7. dakinikat says:

    Ezra Klein, Melissa Bell and Dylan Matthews are leaving The Post for a new venture.

    Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/ezra-klein-leaving-washington-post-2014-1#ixzz2r3CJ98ru

  8. bostonboomer says:

    There should be some fireworks at this event:

    Michael Hayden, Glenn Greenwald to debate surveillance in Toronto in May.

  9. dakinikat says:


    Freedom’s Chapter 11 filing is indeed vague about the chemical company’s current owner, identified in court papers only as Chemstream Holdings, a Pennsylvania company. Cross-referencing publicly filed corporate records from Pennsylvania and West Virginia, however, I was able to show that Chemstream appears to be controlled by a Pennsylvania coal magnate named J. Clifford Forrest, who had the misfortune of acquiring Freedom Industries only weeks before the Charleston chemical spill was discovered on Jan. 9. I also showed that, via other corporate vehicles, Forrest has proposed to loan his deeply troubled new acquisition $5 million to keep it operating during the bankruptcy process.

    Now West Virginia-American Water is alleging that the loan, which would require bankruptcy-court approval, is actually a disguised tool to manipulate the bankruptcy process. Without naming Forrest, the water company warned the court that Freedom’s owner is trying to use the loan to hold onto “those parts of the business that it deems valuable, abandoning the rest, taking the going concern value from the debtor, and leaving the debtor and its many creditors ‘holding the bag.’”

    West Virginia-American Water requested that the bankruptcy judge slow down the process, allow the water utility and other creditors an opportunity to get organized, and force Freedom Industries to be more transparent about its ownership structure and plans for satisfying creditors’ claims.

    • RalphB says:

      Classic dodge keep it rolling long enough to spin the good parts off, or sell them to yourself for chump change, then let the rest go under stiffing all the creditors. If any part of the company is worth salvaging that’s to be expected and should be fought hammer and tong.

  10. dakinikat says:

    Good grief! This guy probably cant even do a simple regression model and he’s going to get a title of chief economist?


    • dakinikat says:

      Bruce Bartlett Next: Heritage hires a Christian Scientist to be its chief health policy analyst.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Moore said his career was shaped by three people who had a profound influence on his life: Julian Simon, a Cato Institute scholar until his death; Ed Feulner, founder of Heritage, and Art Laffer, the economist best known for the Laffer curve.

      That’s a laugher for you! Pun intended.

  11. dakinikat says:

    Today’s Republican Asshat:


    A Republican county official in Michigan is in hot water after making racial comments about Detroit, including the idea that the city should be turned into a detention center for “all the Indians.”

    • dakinikat says:

      “I made a prediction a long time ago, and it’s come to pass. I said, ‘What we’re gonna do is turn Detroit into an Indian reservation, where we herd all the Indians into the city, build a fence around it, and then throw in the blankets and the corn.’”

    • Fannie says:

      I got on the phone to the Governor (Snyder) office, the County Commission Board, and his office. They acted like they had heard a thing about this. Patterson’s office is taking messages.

      I am about sick of this white men are entitled attitude, what a racist prick. Michigan or bust.

    • RalphB says:

      @JohnGCole Since 20 January 2009, I have woken up every morning, read the news and quotes from wingnuts, and felt embarrassed for being white.

  12. Fannie says:

    Just read where a North Carolina Judge struck down North Carolina’s forced ultrasound law for violating the first amendment:


  13. bostonboomer says:

    As Dak predicted, Diaper Dave is running for Governor.

    Sen. David Vitter announced on Tuesday morning that he will run for governor of Louisiana in 2015.

    “I believe that as our next governor I can have a bigger impact addressing the unique challenges and opportunities that we face in Louisiana,” Vitter said in a Youtube video launching his gubernatorial run.

    The conservative Republican said that while his “active campaign” won’t start until next year, he has already laid the groundwork for it by holding hundreds of listening sessions across the state. He said if he becomes governor it will be his “last political job, elected or appointed. Period.”

    For more information… http://www.politico.com

  14. dakinikat says:

    Kentucky Republican wants to redefine abortion as domestic violence


    A Kentucky Republican lawmaker wants to classify abortion as a form of domestic violence.

    “The most brutal form of domestic violence is the violence against unborn children, and this particular bill would prohibit abortions after the fetus feels pain, which is 20 weeks and older,” said Rep. Joe Fischer (R-Fort Thomas).

    The bill, HB 8, would allow victims of alleged abuse to seek domestic violence protection orders from the courts against former spouses and relative living with a child.

  15. dakinikat says:

    Some breaking news!

    Former Va. Bob McDonnell, his wife Maureen, both indicted on federal corruption charges in Richmond.
    Citizens for Ethics ‏@CREWcrew 29s
    Maybe we were on to something with that Bob McDonnell entry of our: http://www.worstgovernors.org

    Arrests made in connection with Target hack http://trib.al/REBjt4X

    • RalphB says:

      The arrests were of two people sent into the US from Mexico with a bunch of fraudulent cards, of people from the Rio Grande Valley, to buy as much merchandise with them as possible and return. It was their second trip in with fraudulent cards but chances of them having any significant information are pretty low I would guess.

      Obviously someone in Mexico, maybe a drug cartel, is buying card information from the hackers.

    • RalphB says:

      As an aside, the first polling in VA shows Mark Warner leading Ed Gillespie in the Senate race by 29 points. Pretty comfortable lead to start the race.

    • Fannie says:

      Just substitute the name Chris Christie and you’ll get the crux what is going in NJ too.

  16. RalphB says:

    In my dreams …

    TBogg ‏@tbogg 1h

    At this point the CA. GOP will pretty much take anyone who can fog a mirror as a candidate for any statewide office.

    • bostonboomer says:

      That’s pretty much how it is here. The Republican Party basically doesn’t exist. They just scrounge around for candidates every once in awhile. The only office they seem to be able to win for some reason is Governor. I hope we’ve see the last of that with Romney.

  17. bostonboomer says:
    • RalphB says:

      Hope it bombs big time. I hate seeing the whole country taken in by a scam for a book,

      • bostonboomer says:

        How good could it be? Greenwald spends a good part of the day on Twitter, he’s supposedly studying the docs, an gets a book written in less than a year?

        Cryptome is beginning to accuse Greenwald of stealing public docs and hoarding them for money.

        • bostonboomer says:

          Look at this:

          • bostonboomer says:

            They’re suggesting it’s some kind of US/Russian limited hangout. Maybe Pierre Omidyar was sent in by CIA to interfere with release of docs by making an offer GG couldn’t refuse.

          • RalphB says:

            That’s amazing but I did notice that in the first Powerpoint stuff released by Guardian and Post, it really looked to me like a sales pitch for project money. I’ve seen more than enough of those to last me and I swear that’s the first thing I thought about.

          • RalphB says:

            I’m thinking he took some docs which looked good but were actually pitches and they don’t know the difference. ???

          • bostonboomer says:

            The thing is that Omidyar is connected to the CIA in a few ways. He even has something to with Booz-Allen. The Cryptome people seem to think that the US and Russia might be working together through Omidyar to keep all the docs from being released.

          • bostonboomer says:

            I need to go read Schindler’s posts again.

  18. bostonboomer says:

    Secret Service Visits GOP Candidate Who Advocated Obama’s Execution


    I’ll bet that wiped the silly grin off his face.

    • RalphB says:

      If you noticed, his rant wasn’t fully right wing, it was left libertarian, al Awlaki, drones, NSA, the whole rancid mess.

  19. RalphB says:

    Virginia Democrats retained AG Mark Herring’s State Senate seat. Jennifer Wexton won decisively in today’s special election.

    Recount upcoming for Lt. Governor Ralph Northam’s senate seat near Norfolk. Democrat won by nine votes, perilously thin lead.

  20. bostonboomer says:

    David Sirota the great investigative reporter. He claimed the ACLU was going to identify the people who said they wanted to kill Snowden, but never double-checked the quote w/head of ACLU.

  21. Fannie says:

    How’s the snow BB?

    • bostonboomer says:

      It’s still coming down. Most of it is supposed fall during the night and tomorrow. It’s very tiny dry flakes because it’s so cold. I’m just glad to be inside and relatively warm.

  22. NW Luna says:

    Hope everyone in the snowstorm areas stays warm and dry.

  23. RalphB says:

    Amanda Marcotte ‏@AmandaMarcotte 7h
    Conservatives take a break in lecturing poor women to marry their way out of poverty to yell at Wendy Davis for doing so. @closetmystic

    • NW Luna says:


      I saw they are attacking her with meaningless nit-pickery — such as since she hadn’t lived her whole life in a mobile home, she was really lying about living in a mobile home with her kid as a single mother. And she was only a separated single mother. So that’s not really a single mother, they yell. Well if that’s not a single mother, where was the man-parent?

      Of course, since they haven’t a single issue to run on that the average American agrees with, they have to try distraction. Hah. Bet they are shaking in their boots because they are going to lose come election time.

      • RalphB says:

        Interestingly enough, I think those attacks are going to hurt Abbott with the voters he’s most likely to lose, Republican women who won’t like them a damn bit.

  24. NW Luna says:

    Snow up to the power lines back in the great Michigan Blizzard of 1938: