Thursday Reads: Boston Marathon Bombing, Heartbleed Bug, and Other News

kids reading

Good Morning!!


We’re approaching the anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings–next Tuesday April 15–so it’s not surprising that more stories related to last year’s attacks are appearing in the media.

In a surprising and revealing story, the LA Times yesterday broke the news that shortly before last years’ marathon, alleged Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev tried to change his first name to “Muaz” in tribute to Emir Muaz, a militant anti-Russian fighter who was killed in Dagestan in 2009. From the LA Times:

Less than three months before the Boston Marathon bombings, a bitter, frustrated Tamerlan Tsarnaev visited a federal immigration office in the Boston area and signed forms seeking to legally change his first name.

Eager to recast himself in the model of a well-known rebel figure killed by Russian forces in 2009, Tsarnaev chose as his new name “Muaz,” according to a previously undisclosed Homeland Security Department petition form, which was obtained by The Times. It was not only a tribute to Emir Muaz, a celebrated fighter in Russia’s Dagestan republic, it was also the nickname rebels had given Tsarnaev during his six-month visit to the region in 2012, law enforcement officials say.

Asked as part of the Jan. 23, 2013, application to explain his name change request, Tsarnaev described the decision in political terms, according to a federal law enforcement official close to the Boston bombing case. “He said, ‘The Russian people have been terrorizing my home country for all these years.’ This is why he needed to come back to America and help,” the official said.

Emir Abu Muaz

Emir Abu Muaz

The name change request was an update to a citizenship application filed in 2012 that was held up by Homeland Security because of a domestic violence conviction against Tsarnaev and because officials learned that the FBI had investigated Tamerlan in 2011. The younger Tsarnaev brother, Dzhokhar had been granted citizenship at a ceremony on September 11, 2012. From the NYT, April 20 2013:

The record of the F.B.I. interview was enough to cause Homeland Security to hold up Mr. Tsarnaev’s application. He presented those papers several weeks after he returned from a six-month trip overseas, primarily to Russia, and only six days after his brother, Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19, had his own citizenship application approved. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is in custody and is in serious condition in a hospital.

Late last year, Homeland Security officials contacted the F.B.I. to learn more about its interview with Tamerlan Tsarnaev, federal law enforcement officials said. The F.B.I. reported its conclusion that he did not present a threat.

At that point, Homeland Security officials did not move to approve the application nor did they deny it, but they left it open for “additional review.”

Lawyers for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have argued that the FBI most likely tried to enlist Tamerlan as an informer and his resentment of the pressure they put on him may have contributed to his radicalization. The FBI claims they only met with Tamerlan one time, but his mother Zubeidat Tsarneva said last year that FBI agents “followed them for years.” Lawyers for younger brother Dzhokhar also say there were multiple contacts between Tamerlan and the FBI. From the LA Times:

…according to his brother’s lawyers, the FBI’s involvement went further. They said in court papers that there was “more than one” FBI visit to talk with Tsarnaev and his parents, that he was questioned about his Internet searches, and that the bureau “asked him to be an informant.”

“Tamerlan misinterpreted the visits and discussions with the FBI as pressure, and they amounted to a stressor that increased his paranoia and distress,” defense attorneys argued in the filings.

Federal prosecutors, however, told defense attorneys in a March 14 letter that they had “no evidence that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was solicited by the government to be an informant.” They did not comment on whether there were multiple FBI visits….

The new revelations about Tsarnaev have prompted defense lawyers for his brother to characterize him as the key player who “supplied the motivation, planning and ideology behind the Boston Marathon attack,” according to recent filings.

Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

A couple more tidbits: Massachusetts Rep. William R. Keating revealed yesterday that Russian warnings about Tamerlan Tsarnaev after his trip to Russia in 2012 included a suggestion that he might try to change his name. 

Keating said in an interview that Russian intelligence letters sent to both the FBI and CIA in 2011 about Tsarnaev predicted he would seek to change his name. The letter did not say what name Tsarnaev would take, according to Keating. Keating said Russian intelligence agencies read him a copy of the letter they sent to the FBI and the CIA. He took notes from the conversation, but was not given a copy of the letter.

“It’s amazing how much information they did know, the Russians,” Keating said. “Look at everything that’s there. The change of the name, that’s corroborated. That he wanted to travel back to Russia, that’s been corroborated. That he wanted to enlist with extremists, that’s corroborated. I mean, everything that was in that [warning] has been corroborated.”

However the Globe uncovered a different explanation for the desired name change:

During six months in Dagestan in 2012, Tsarnaev fell in with members of an Islamic advocacy group that believes in the establishment of an Islamic caliphate governed by sharia religious law that would span the Caucasus. They are sharply critical of US interventions in Muslim countries, but they do not openly espouse violence, and they are not outlaws.

His associates in Dagestan told the Globe that when Tsarnaev learned that he was named after a medieval Mongol warlord who conquered much of Central Asia, he wanted a new name. They said they chose the name Muaz, after an early Islamic scholar, and Tsarnaev adopted it. All of his friends in Dagestan know him as Muaz.

Finally, the NYT reported yesterday that Russia also withheld some of the information they had on Tamerlan.

Russian officials had told the F.B.I. in 2011 that the suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, “was a follower of radical Islam and a strong believer” and that Mr. Tsarnaev “had changed drastically since 2010 as he prepared to leave the United States for travel to the country’s region to join unspecified underground groups.”

But after an initial investigation by the F.B.I., the Russians declined several requests for additional information about Mr. Tsarnaev, according to the report, a review of how intelligence and law enforcement agencies could have thwarted the bombing.

At the time, American law enforcement officials believed that Mr. Tsarnaev posed a far greater threat to Russia.

The new inspector general’s report found that it was only after the bombing occurred last April that the Russians shared with the F.B.I. the additional intelligence, including information from a telephone conversation the Russian authorities had intercepted between Mr. Tsarnaev and his mother in which they discussed Islamic jihad.

Phew! Lots of Boston bombing news all of a sudden. I wonder what else will come out in the run-up to this year’s Marathon, which will be held on Monday, April 21.

In other news . . .


Yesterday tech sites and Twitter were abuzz with the news of the “Heartbleed bug” a software encryption vulnerability that has the potential to give hackers access to “two-thirds of the internet’s servers” as well as to private encryption keys such as those used by Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald. Read all about it at Ars Technica.

In fact yesterday published a supposedly private e-mail from Jesselyn Radack, who claims to be Snowden’s “legal adviser” and Glenn Greenwald. Radack had been tricked into responding to a fake Greenwald key created by an unknown hacker. The bug has been out there for two years, so tell me again how Snowden and Greenwald are so sure the stolen NSA data is safe from Russia and China?

This encryption stuff is all Greek to me, but here are a few more links to explore:

Washington Post: Heartbleed bug causes major security headache

The New Yorker: The Internet’s Telltale Heartbleed

CNet: Which sites have patched the Heartbleed bug?


Mike Huckabee is at it again. From TPM, Huckabee: Men Hunt Together, Women Go To The Restroom Together

As she live-tweeted the former Arkansas governor’s speech at a fundraiser for Iowa’s Faith and Freedom Coalition on Tuesday in Waukee, Iowa, Des Moines Register columnist Kathee Obradovich passed along this line on Twitter,”.@GovMikeHuckabee says men like to go hunt/fish with other men. “Women like to go to the restroom with other women.”

“Yes, he really said that,” Obradovich said in an email to TPM on Wednesday, adding that she ultimately did not write a column about the event….

His joke about women going to the restroom together came after he challenged those in attendance to stand for their convictions, even if they have to do it alone.

You see, I have a concern that one of the reasons we lose battles we should win is because we wait to see whether or not the crowd is going to be with us. My question to you tonight — it’s nice to see a nice, full crowd of folks here in this wonderful Point of Grace Church — but I just wonder if you were the only one who showed up tonight, would you still be ready to take on the cause? Because the fact is we don’t like to do things by ourselves. We really don’t. Guys like to go fishing with other men. They like to go hunting with other men. Women like to go to the restroom with other women. I don’t get that. I can tell you this much: if I ever say, ‘I have to go to the restroom’ and some guy says, ‘I’ll go with you,’ he ain’t goin’ with me. That much I know.

I wonder what Huckabee will have to say about this? Papyrus Referring to Jesus’s Wife Is More Likely Ancient Than Fake, Scientists Say. The NYT reports:

jesus wife

A faded fragment of papyrus known as the “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife,” which caused an uproar when unveiled by a Harvard Divinity School historian in 2012, has been tested by scientists who conclude in a journal published on Thursday that the ink and papyrus are very likely ancient, and not a modern forgery.

Skepticism about the tiny scrap of papyrus has been fierce because it contained a phrase never before seen in any piece of Scripture: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife…’ ” Too convenient for some, it also contained the words “she will be able to be my disciple,” a clause that inflamed the debate in some churches over whether women should be allowed to be priests.

The papyrus fragment has now been analyzed by professors of electrical engineering, chemistry and biology at Columbia University, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who reported that it resembles other ancient papyri from the fourth to the eighth centuries. (Scientists at the University of Arizona, who dated the fragment to centuries before the birth of Jesus, concluded that their results were unreliable.)

The Times hastens to add that

The test results do not prove that Jesus had a wife or disciples who were women, only that the fragment is more likely a snippet from an ancient manuscript than a fake, the scholars agree.

My response: There’s no proof he didn’t have a wife either, and the manuscript seems to suggest he might have.

I’ll end with this wonderful cartoon on reading over a lifetime by Lynda Barry, The 20 stages of reading. Check it out at the WaPo. I loved it and I think you will too!

Now it’s your turn. What stories are you following today? Please post your links in the comment thread.


49 Comments on “Thursday Reads: Boston Marathon Bombing, Heartbleed Bug, and Other News”

    • ANonOMouse says:

      Good grief!!! A couple of cavemen resurrected.

    • RalphB says:

      He’s having a very bad month and richly deserves it! 😉

    • RalphB says:

      Greg Abbott showing up on milk cartons, but nowhere else

      Why is Greg Abbott avoiding the media and canceling appearances?

      Every campaign has occasional scheduling problems. Sometimes events or appearances have to be cancelled for a variety of legitimate reasons.

      But over the last several weeks, Greg Abbott has cancelled a number of events and has rarely taken press questions at the events he does attend. Clearly something is going on inside the Abbott campaign that’s affecting his willingness to appear in public or personally answer questions from the press. …

      Greg Abbott is running a Steve Stockman-styled campaign at this point. Check out the long list of non-appearances on his part.

      Meanwhile, Wendy Davis has been busily campaigning and will be at the Civil Rights Summit today with President Obama.

    • RalphB says:

      Texas Troopers issue Red Alert for Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott

      We believe Abbott is armed with misinformation concerning education, equal pay for women, consumer issues, transportation, and medical malpractice. He is a danger to all Texans and should be approached with caution. Abbott was last seen running away from the media. If you have seen Greg Abbott call the authorities immediately, register to vote, and vote in November to keep Abbott missing from Texas.


  1. ANonOMouse says:

    Mike Huckabee: “if I ever say, ‘I have to go to the restroom’ and some guy says, ‘I’ll go with you,’ he ain’t goin’ with me. That much I know.”

    Looks like Huckabee also sprinkled a bit of homophobia on top of the sexism. Huckabee just can’t help himself. He’s disappointed because he’s losing battles all over the place and he’s become irrelevant, even at events that bill him as a “star”. I might cry for him later on! 🙂

  2. bostonboomer says:

    NY Daily News: Rolling Stone’s Julia Louis-Dreyfus cover features flawed US Constitution

    The latest issue’s cover features a naked Louis-Dreyfus with the historical document inked on her back, including the signature of John Hancock. There’s only one problem with that: John Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution.

    • Sweet Sue says:

      It bothered me more that I can see her butt crack on the cover of Rolling Stone.
      Why, Julia, why?

      • bostonboomer says:

        Either that was a body double or the photo was massively touched up. She is 53.

        • RalphB says:

          Rolling Stone massively photoshops everything, even young women. One can only imagine what they did to that picture. Jezebel has been all over their processing.

  3. bostonboomer says:
  4. Pat Johnson says:

    There is a story that has been going around for years that the Catholic Church has been sitting for centuries on knowledge that Jesus was a married man. Should that knowledge become public the myth surrounding the “divinity” would shatter the foundations of Christianity which includes the Resurrection itself, a belief that all Catholics must accept without question.

    This argument will go on for centuries more since there is no other way to either confirm or dispute who the real Jesus was as the myths have grown up around him to satisfy religious teachings and interpretations of whoever is in charge of the dialogue at any given moment.

    Religious institutions “flourish” under these hazy meanderings while the faithful continue to suffer under its yoke.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Except that when Jesus supposedly lived, it was unheard of for a Jewish man to be unmarried.

      • NW Luna says:

        All the historical cultural evidence supports that he would be married. And that would not necessarily conflict with divinity. There are plenty of other myths about gods marrying mortals for a while.

        Although I personally don’t believe the divinity. And perhaps Jesus was saying “We are all children of god.”

    • ANonOMouse says:

      I agree with you Pat. The notion that Jesus was married, for any reason, cultural or otherwise, rips at the narrative of Catholicism. If Jesus went out into the desert to do battle with satan who was trying to exploit the human element of his purported divinity, why would he give into the very human desire to bond or mate? It makes no sense, not to mention that Jesus commanded his disciples to leave their families, friends and possessions to follow him. Taking a wife, from among his followers, would hardly fit with his command to the disciples. Not to mention there is no solid historical proof that the Jesus of the NT ever existed.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    Very cute!!

    Video: Bonny Prince George Has A Play Date With Gay Dads’ Daughter

  6. RalphB says:

    SocraticGadfly: Texas GOP responds to LBJ civil rights 50th anniversary event

    This is genuinely funny in a too-true sort of way. 🙂

  7. It’s official, Colbert is replacing Letterman.

    • bostonboomer says:

      That’s nice. Of course I never manage to watch the late night shows, but I may see clips from time to time.

  8. bostonboomer says:

    The chairman of the Louisiana Republican party said embattled Rep. Vance McAllister should resign.

    “The Republican Party of Louisiana calls on Vance McAllister to resign his seat in Congress,” Roger Villere Jr. said in a statement. “Mr. McAllister’s extreme hypocrisy is an example of why ordinary people are fed up with politics. A breach of trust of this magnitude can only be rectified by an immediate resignation. He has embarrassed our party, our state and the institution of Congress. A video showing him engaged in conduct unbecoming a member of Congress, on public time, in a public office, with one of his employees, was the focus of the national press for days. I call on Mr. McAllister to put the interests of his nation, state and party above his own and step aside.”

    McAllister has become embroiled in scandal after a video surfaced this week showing him in a romantic encounter with a staffer.

    For more information…

  9. RalphB says:

    Texas Tribune: Livestream: President Obama at Civil Rights Summit

    John Lewis is speaking now.

  10. bostonboomer says:

    Incredible Portraits Of Boston Marathon Survivors With Messages Of Healing And Hope To The World

  11. RalphB says:

    Raw Story: Kiss me, deadly: If Vance McAllister had hired a hooker, he’d be talking about Benghazi today

    December in Louisiana – sultry and damp as a Fox News blonde. I was working late, signing a stack of letters to district voters to go out in the morning mail. The usual song and dance. Looking for funding to repair potholes in front of their crackerbox homes, 90th birthday wishes to some drooling old-timer in a home for the nearly dead, promising to look into impeaching that ‘colored boy in the White House.’

    We call it ‘constituent relations.’ I call it greasing the wheels for some 2014 campaign donations.

    Man can’t live on NRA blood money alone. …

    OMFG, TBogg has outdone himself.

  12. dakinikat says:

    Louisiana GOP Chair Calls On Kissing Congressman To Resign

    Just like he did with David Vitter when he admitted to being a john which is a felony! Oh, wait … he never called for Vitter to Resign over soliciting prostitutes. Smooching … which isn’t illegal or all that perverted or Diaper fetish! The Family “values” set is just the worst.

    Fucking hypocrites!

  13. Bebe leaves in a few hours and I have had 2 anxiety attacks already. This is going to be a rough 5 days.

  14. bostonboomer says:

    Woman Throws Shoe at Hillary Clinton in Las Vegas

    A woman was taken into custody after hurling what she said was a shoe at Hillary Clinton during a Las Vegas speech — and the former secretary of state was quick with a witty comeback.

    The bizarre incident happened just moments after Clinton took the stage Thursday at an Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries meeting at the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino.

    The former first lady, 66, ducked, but did not appear to be struck by the flying object. She quickly joked about the incident.

    Clinton quipped: “Is that somebody throwing something at me? Is that part of Cirque du Soleil?”

    She added: “My goodness, I didn’t know that solid waste management was so controversial. Thank goodness she didn’t play softball like I did.”