Tuesday Reads: More Snow, Mystery Plane, Joe McGinniss, Ed Snowden, and Ukraine Crisis

A Snowy Harvard Square in 1969

A Snowy Harvard Square in 1969

Good Morning!!

I’ve had a scary couple of days. I woke up on Sunday morning to find my house very cold. I soon realized there was something wrong with my furnace. It was still running and there was hot air coming out of the vents, but it wasn’t pushing out enough heat to warm up the house. It turned out the blower motor had died so I called furnace installation davenport ia to diagnose the problem.

Why is it these things always seem to happen on a weekend or holiday? Luckily it hasn’t been terribly cold so I’ve managed to stay relatively comfortable by wearing lots of layers and using a portable electric heater. I was able to find someone to come and fix it yesterday. I got so relaxed that I overslept this morning, and so this post is going to be late.

In addition, health benefits of infrared heating impacts our mind and body. Increases your core body temperature, stimulating continuous blood flow from the heart in and around the body. The improvement of circulation enables an increased level of fresh oxygen and other nutrients to reach vital organs, removing carbon dioxide and other waste substances away from these organs, improving their functions helping to perform better and feel healthier.

So now I’m completely broke but warm, and I’m prepared for the upcoming snowstorm. Yes, the Weather Channel is predicting another one and has given it one of those annoying names. You can check out the predicted impact on your area in this summary article, Winter Storm Vulcan Forecast: Long Swath of Snow Across Rockies, Midwest, Northeast. I can only hope this one turns out to be a bust like the last one. Otherwise, I’ll be shoveling snow again on Friday.

The story of the missing Malaysion plane continues. Here are the latest reports:

missing-plane-graphic

Reuters (via Nipawin Journal): Malaysia military tracked missing plane to west coast: Source

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia’s military believes a jetliner missing for almost four days turned and flew hundreds of kilometres to the west after it last made contact with civilian air traffic control off the country’s east coast, a senior officer told Reuters on Tuesday.

In one of the most baffling mysteries in recent aviation history, a massive search operation for the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER has so far found no trace of the aircraft or the 239 passengers and crew.

Malaysian authorities have previously said flight MH370 disappeared about an hour after it took off from Kuala Lumpur for the Chinese capital Beijing.

“It changed course after Kota Bharu and took a lower altitude. It made it into the Malacca Strait,” the senior military officer, who has been briefed on investigations, told Reuters.

That would appear to rule out sudden catastrophic mechanical failure, as it would mean the plane flew around 500 km (350 miles) at least after its last contact with air traffic control, although its transponder and other tracking systems were off.

A non-military source familiar with the investigations said the report was one of several theories and was being checked.

Authorities are pretty sure there was no terrorism involved. At least one of the men with stolen passports was an asylum-seeker from Iran.

CBS News: Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 search widens; men carrying stolen passports ID’d as young Iranians

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — At least one of the two men traveling on a missing Malaysian Airlines jetliner was an Iranian asylum seeker, officials said Tuesday, as baffled authorities expanded their search for the Boeing 777 on the opposite side of the country from where it disappeared nearly four days ago with 239 people on board.

In the absence of any sign that the plane was in trouble before it vanished, speculation has ranged widely, including pilot error, plane malfunction, hijacking and terrorism, the last because two passengers were traveling on stolen passports. The terrorism theory weakened after Malaysian authorities determined that one of the two men was an Iranian asylum seeker.

Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble said at a news conference Tuesday that the international police agency had identified two Iranian men, Pouri Nour Mohammadi, 18, and Delavar Seyed Mohammad Reza, 29. Noble said based on investigations carried out into the men to date, they were “probably not terrorists.” The chief of police in Kuala Lumpur said earlier in the day that Mohamadi was apparently trying to fly to Europe as an asylum seeker.

The plane took off from Kuala Lumpur, on the western coast of Malaysia, early Saturday en route to Beijing. It flew overland across Malaysia and crossed the eastern coast into the Gulf of Thailand at 35,000 feet. There it disappeared from radar screens. The airline says the pilots didn’t send any distress signals, suggesting a sudden and possibly catastrophic incident.

hotshot_selling-of-the-president-1968

I was surprised and saddened last night to learn that Joe McGinniss has died at 71 of complications from inoperable prostate cancer. McGinniss was only 26 when his first book The Selling of the President 1968 hit the bestseller lists. I bought the book and read it way back then. I couldn’t put it down. Same thing with his pathbreaking true crime book on the Jeffrey MacDonald case, Fatal Vision. From the AP obituary (via First Post World),  ‘Fatal Vision’ author Joe McGinniss passes away at 71.

McGinniss was a columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer in 1968 when an advertising man told him he was joining Hubert Humphrey’s presidential campaign. Intrigued that candidates had advertising teams, McGinniss was inspired to write a book and tried to get access to Humphrey. The Democrat turned him down, but, according to McGinniss, Nixon aide Leonard Garment allowed him in, one of the last times the ever-suspicious Nixon would permit a journalist so much time around him. Garment and other Nixon aides were apparently unaware, or unconcerned, that McGinniss’ heart was very much with the anti-war agitators the candidate so despised.

The Republican’s victory that fall capped a once-unthinkable comeback for the former vice president, who had declared six years earlier that he was through with politics. Having lost the 1960 election in part because of his pale, sweaty appearance during his first debate with John F. Kennedy and aware of his reputation as a partisan willing to play dirty, Nixon had restricted his public outings and presented himself as a new and more mature candidate.

McGinniss was far from the only writer to notice Nixon’s reinvention, but few offered such raw and unflattering details. “The Selling of the President” was a sneering rebuttal to Theodore H. White’s stately “Making of the President” campaign books. It revealed Nixon aides, including future Fox News chief Roger Ailes, disparaging vice presidential candidate Spiro Agnew, drafting memos on how to fix Nixon’s “cold” image and debating which black man — only one would be permitted — was right for participating in a televised panel discussion.

Historian David Greenberg wrote in “Nixon’s Shadow,” published in 2003, that McGinniss “sneaked in under the radar screen, presenting himself to Nixon’s men as such an insignificant fly on the wall that they never thought to swat him away.”

McGinnis was criticized for getting too close to Jeffrey McDonald and somehow betraying him, but I think McGinnis got it right. His contract stated that he would have full independence. He started out thinking McDonald could be innocent of the murders of his wife and two daughters, and he had an inside track on the defense; but in the end McGinnis concluded that MacDonald was guilty and wrote about his change of heart in the book.

Colette, Kimberly, and Kristin MacDonald

Colette, Kimberly, and Kristin MacDonald

From Reuters:

His 1983 book “Fatal Vision” became a classic of the true crime genre and was based on unlimited access he gained to former Green Beret Jeffrey MacDonald and his attorneys during MacDonald’s 1979 murder trial in the deaths of his pregnant wife and two young daughters in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

MacDonald, who at the time of the 1970 killings was an Army doctor, was found guilty and is serving three life sentences.

He has maintained the murders were committed by drug-crazed intruders. McGinniss had begun by expressing support for MacDonald but ended by concluding in his book that he was guilty of killing his family.

“I kept trying to find any reason I could to believe that he was not guilty,” McGinniss testified at a 2012 court hearing where MacDonald sought to be granted a new trial.

New Yorker magazine writer Janet Malcolm, in a 1989 article, accused McGinnis of displaying the underside of journalism by deceiving MacDonald with a show of support and then betraying his confidence, an argument McGinnis vehemently denied.

A terrific writer has left us far too soon.

Edward Snowden has been making more virtual appearances than a best-selling author on a publicity tour. Yesterday he was at South by Southwest Interactive in Austin Texas. I’m sure everyone here knows I’m not a fan of the pale and nerdy defector, so I’ll spare you my editorial comments and just give you a couple few links.

From Politico’s Josh Gerstein: Snowden Inc.

First, National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden popped up in Hong Kong. Then, Russia. By Monday, the fugitive from justice, a man regularly accused of treason, was in Austin, Texas, hitting the nation’s hottest tech festival — via the Web, of course.

“They’re setting fire to the future of the Internet,” Snowden warned darkly, in jerky video relayed through a series of proxies from an undisclosed location in Russia. With an image of the U.S. Constitution projected behind him, he urged the tech-savvy SXSW attendees to ride to the rescue against rampant surveillance by the NSA and others. “The people who are in this room, now, you guys are all the firefighters, and we need you to help fight this,” he said, sounding every bit the geek as he described various encryption applications he believes should get wider use.

Snowden was painstaking in how he assembled a huge trove of top-secret documents while working as a tech contractor at an NSA facility in Hawaii. And he’s been equally deliberate in the way he and the team around him have crafted and cultivated his public image — controlling and carefully managing how he’s been perceived by the public in the months since he burst into the spotlight. It’s an endeavor that’s involved everything from coordinated efforts to beat back Obama administration attacks to the careful parceling out of tantalizing tidbits about his everyday life.

08082013_Leaking_Hot_Tub_DL

Snowden is campaigning for clemency; but frankly, I hope he ends up stuck in Russia for life. Ooops! Sorry, that’s my last nasty comment. A couple more links:

The Verge: Edward Snowden: ‘Would I do it again? Absolutely yes’

The Washington Post: ‘They’re setting fire to the future of the Internet’

I’ll wrap this up with some interesting articles on the crisis in Ukraine.

Putin biographer Masha Gessen at the LA Times, Is Vladimir Putin insane? Hardly. He is merely acting the way he always has, like a playground bully.

Politico, Bill Clinton no fan of ‘crazy’ moves on Ukraine

Financial Times, Ukraine is a test case for American power: If the Chinese leadership were ever to ‘do a Putin’, how could the US and allies react?

Robert Shrum at The Daily Beast, Obama’s All Eisenhower On Russia: Like Ike before him, Obama’s non-moves against Russia are the right moves.

Now what stories are you following today? Please post your links on any topic in the comment thread, and have a terrific Tuesday!
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44 Comments on “Tuesday Reads: More Snow, Mystery Plane, Joe McGinniss, Ed Snowden, and Ukraine Crisis”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    The Independent reports on murdering athletic star Oscar Pistorius trial. Yesterday in court he couldn’t handle the truth of what he did to his girlfriend Reeva Steinkamp.

    (Don’t read this if you’ve just had breakfast)

  2. janicen says:

    I wonder if we will ever know what really happened to the Malaysian passenger jet. I’m starting to suspect that it was shot down by mistake.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I don’t know. We didn’t find out what happened to that French plane for a long them, and eventually they found the wreckage.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_France_Flight_447

    • dakinikat says:

      I think the oil slicks probably are a good indication of what happened.

      • janicen says:

        Yes, but I think the fact that the black box isn’t pinging might indicate it was subjected to a trauma greater than it was designed to withstand.

      • bostonboomer says:

        The oil slicks were not related to the airplane, according to what they said yesterday. There are apparently a lot of oil slicks in the South China Sea.

    • RalphB says:

      If the plane experienced a total loss of electrical power, that would turn off the transponders. But it would also allow the plane to keep flying, at least for some period of time.

      So perhaps the plane experienced electrical failure, knocking out all communications and telemetry from the plane, the pilots turn around but somehow get lost and the plane eventually goes down.

      • bostonboomer says:

        That sounds like a good possibility to me. CNN just said that the plane likely went down over a different body of water than the South China Sea. Think think it flew for at least an hour after it stopped sending message. They’re saying it could even have flown longer than that.

        • bostonboomer says:

          The transponder was turned off, which has to be done by hand apparently.

          • RalphB says:

            I think that depends on the cause of the power loss. The only thing I know of which requires no power from the plane’s circuits are the black boxes. That they are not pinging is a mystery.

          • bostonboomer says:

            One of CNN’s experts said that the plane could have been flying for hours unseen if someone turned off the transponder. Also, relatives say when they call their loved one the phones ring and ring without going to voicemail. The explanation for that they gave didn’t make much sense.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    LA Times: Ousted Ukrainian leader warns of civil war; Russia adds to forces

    “They want to put the [Ukrainian] army under a flag of [nationalism] and unleash a civil war,” Yanukovich said of the interim government of Ukraine that took power after he fled Kiev, the capital, late last month. “They want to include fighters from nationalist organizations in the armed forces and hand them guns.

    “I would like to ask the Western sponsors of these dark forces: Have you lost your memory?” he asked. “Have you forgotten what is Nazism?”

    Yanukovich insisted he is still his nation’s leader.

    Like Snowden, he invokes “dark forces.”

  4. bostonboomer says:
    • bostonboomer says:
    • RalphB says:

      I think I may have brought that up on yesterday’s thread, or intended to, what strikes me is how many software companies/people are seeing this as a potential cash cow. If the paranoia can be kept up, lots of people will sell all kinds of, perhaps, sketchy fixes to insure better “privacy”.

      • bostonboomer says:

        That’s what Omidyar is doing. Part of First Look is a profit-making company that will sell encryption software.

        • RalphB says:

          Encryption is only a start of the potential market. There are firewall tools, anti-hacking junk, browser add-ons (free?), a new secure browser, tons of phone apps; the potential market for “security or privacy” products is huge. One of the lines being pushed at the sxsw conf was “if it’s free, it’s not private” because companies use ads and gather data and it’s all inherently unsecure.

  5. dakinikat says:

    Sorry that you’re getting snow and cold again. At least that furnace is working well now!!!

    • bostonboomer says:

      The last I heard we weren’t supposed to get much. That’s changed since just yesterday. My mom supposed to get several inches tomorrow.

      • Beata says:

        I hope you don’t get much snow, BB. Glad you have a working furnace now.

        It’s 70 degrees here today but tomorrow it will drop down to 13 degrees with snow predicted. Spring is such a tease.

        • bostonboomer says:

          I hope you don’t get much snow either, Beata. I just checked the weather for my mom, and it looks like it’s going to warm up again after tomorrow. We are going to get single numbers on Thurs. night, but I’d rather have that than snow.

  6. dakinikat says:

    More stupidity as a result of Roger Ailes;

    Fox News’ resident psycho psychiatrist, Keith Ablow, blames Putin’s invasion of Crimea on Pres Obama’s psychology http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/03/11/foxs-ablow-blames-obamas-psychology-for-russian/198437

  7. RalphB says:

    Time: Watch President Obama on Zach Galifianakis’ Between Two Ferns

    He plugs healthcare.gov but this is pretty good. First POTUS on funny-or-die.

  8. bostonboomer says:

    I thought JJ might like this:

  9. RalphB says:

    This is balloon-juice commenter dmsilev, who got it from a story in the Chicago Tribune behind a paywall. Apparently Obamacare horror stories are being mocked now in some of the mainstream media. 🙂

    So here’s the perfect Obamacare horror story, unburdened by subtlety or nuance or truth. Sure, liberal fact-checkers might give this “5,000 Pinocchios,” or whatever it is they give. But you should still feel free to forward it to your grandmother. She’ll be delighted you wrote, and even happier that you confirmed all her greatest fears:

    Life was really falling into place for Ted and Julia Averageton.

    Ted had just gotten out from under the oppressive thumb of a union job and started his own business manufacturing American-flag lapel pins. Julia’s job at the apple pie bakery was filling her heart with cheer, and the couple’s teenage kids — Faith and Liberty — were enrolled at an evangelical school that taught creationism.
    […]
    “When the dark and ominous cloud of Obamacare crept over our home, our American Dream just ended,” said Ted, speaking via a computer that he controls with his eyes because Obamacare paralyzed him.

    It’s true. First, the Averagetons were dropped from their beloved health insurance plan and forced — by armed United Nations troops — into a new plan that cost $12,593 per month.

    They had to transfer Faith and Liberty to public school, where both immediately became gay and addicted to marijuana. Julia had one arm bitten off by a chupacabra — the creatures have run rampant since Obamacare started — and could no longer bake pies

  10. Beata says:

    The 80’s. Now there was a decade.

  11. Fannie says:

    OMG – huge fire in SF, a 360 Apartment Unit, with over 5 different departments responding. The photo’s and video is a must see.

    http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Five-alarm-fire-in-Mission-Bay-5308589.php

    • Beata says:

      Very scary. It appears that the apartments were still under construction and not yet occupied. Hope that means there will be no serious injuries or lives lost.

  12. Fannie says:

    Huge fire in New York, Manhattan this morning, just turning on tv. East side of Manhattan.