Tuesday Reads

Laurette with a coffee cup, Henri Matisse

Laurette with a coffee cup, Henri Matisse

Good Morning!!

I’m getting a late start today, because I was trying to find out what’s going on with my broken computer. I learned that it was shipped yesterday and supposedly will get to me on Thursday. It’s still in Oakland, so I’m not sure I believe that. Anyway, it’s a relief that I will get it back sometime soon. I have really missed it. At the same time, I’m very anxious about it. I’ve only had this computer since September and already the motherboard failed. I just hope it doesn’t happen again.

Anyway, enough about my problems. Let’s get to the news of the day.

The Boston Marathon bombing seems to have been mostly forgotten, but as this year’s marathon approaches, the trial of accused bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev is almost complete. Yesterday the prosecution and defense gave their closing arguments and today the jury begins deliberations.

Tsarnaev Jury Selection, Day 1

From The New York Times: Boston Marathon Bombing Trial Wraps Up With Clashing Portraits of Naïveté and Extremism.

BOSTON — The courtroom filled with a swelling chorus of Islamic chants as television screens showed the battlefield carnage on Boylston Street, with severed limbs, an 11-year-old boy with bone fragments from someone else lodged in his body, and bright red blood splashed on the pavement like so many buckets of paint.

Once more, the people of Boston on Monday were plunged back into that moment on April 15, 2013, when Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, a pair of immigrant brothers, terrorized the city and the nation by setting off deadly bombs at the Boston Marathon in the worst terrorist attack on American soil since Sept. 11, 2001.

“That day, they felt they were soldiers,” the prosecutor said of the brothers. “They were the mujahedeen, and they were bringing their battle to Boston.”

The scene set the stage for closing arguments in this trial, in which testimony began a month ago, against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 21, whose brother, Tamerlan, 26, was killed in a shootout with police. In an emotional 80-minute multimedia finale delivered to a courtroom packed with survivors and victims’ families, the government cast Mr. Tsarnaev as an equal partner with his brother, equally determined to extract “an eye for an eye” against the United States for killing Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev

Tamerlan Tsarnaev

Read all about the closing arguments at the NYT link. The prosecution’s argument was very graphic and highly emotional. The case goes to the jury this morning. The defense already admitted that Tsarnaev is guilty, so the only real question will be whether he gets the death penalty or life in prison without parole. I certainly hope not, and most Greater Boston residents feel the same way, according to a poll by NPR station WBUR.

I expect to get my copy of a new book released today called The Brothers: The Road to an American Tragedy, by Masha Gessen. I’m really looking forward to reading it, because Gessen is knowledgeable about both Russia and the U.S. She is also the author of a biography of Vladimir Putin and a book about Pussy Riot. According to the reviews, Gessen focuses on the reasons behind the Tsarnaev brothers’ actions rather than on the crime itself, beginning with the history of Chechnya’s battle to stay separate from Russia.

From Wikipedia: Gessen was born in Moscow, lived for ten years in the U.S. before moving back home to Moscow. She moved back to New York  in 2013 after Russian authorities suggested they might take children away from gay parents. She is a lesbian and a well known activist for LGBT rights and against Putin. I’d love to read her book about Putin too.

From the LA Times review of the book (the NYT review is linked above):

Masha Gessen does something unexpected with “The Brothers: The Road to an American Tragedy.” In a book about Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and their role in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, she barely describes the crime. Here it is, her account, which comes almost exactly at the halfway point: “Patriots’ Day 2013 fell on April 15, tax day — an ironic coincidence for a big American holiday. At 2:49 p.m. that day, a couple of hours after the winner completed the Boston Marathon, when runners were crossing the finish line in a steady stream, two bombs went off near the end of the route, killing three people and injuring at least 264 others, including sixteen who lost limbs.”

Still, if such an approach seems counterintuitive, that’s the power of this remarkable book. For Gessen, the details of the catastrophe — the backpacks, the surveillance footage, the suspension of civil liberties throughout Greater Boston for several days — are so well known as to be, in some sense, moot. More essential is the background, both historical and personal. In that sense, “The Brothers” is reminiscent of Lawrence Wright’s “The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11,” which won a 2007 Pulitzer Prize.

Wright, of course, published his book several years after the fact, while Gessen’s story is unfolding in the Massachusetts courtroom of the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev trial. “The Brothers,” however, is less interested in the case per se than in its context, going back to the 1940s and the relocation by Soviet authorities of ethnic Chechens to the central Asian republics of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

What does this have to do with the bombing? Nothing and everything. The Tsarnaev brothers were the children, or grandchildren, of this relocation, which uprooted their father’s family. Nearly 60 years later, when they, with their sisters and parents, came to Boston not long after the Sept. 11 attacks, it was just one more place that did not want them, that regarded them as alien or worse.

I can’t wait to read Gessen’s book. I’ll let you know if I learn anything new and useful from it.

John Oliver interviews Edward Snowden

John Oliver interviews Edward Snowden

Another topic I haven’t written much about recently–the Edward Snowden saga–is back in the headlines after an interview he gave to HBO’s John Oliver. From Fortune: Edward Snowden’s most outlandish interview yet.

Edward Snowden, the whistleblower and former National Security Agency contractor, has conducted lots of interviews since he shocked the world with revelations about top secret government surveillance programs and fled to Russia. He’s video-streamed his visage onto a big screen at the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas (as well as a smaller one). He’s appeared on panels, including what became the final public appearance of the celebrated New York Times media columnist David Carr. He’s wandered the halls of the TED conference on the screen of a telepresence robot.

But this weekend on John Oliver’s hit HBO series Last Week Tonight, Snowden participated in what is likely his kookiest interview to date. The show took a deep dive into government surveillance, a subject nearly two years in the public spotlight thanks to Snowden’s leaks, and encompassed subjects ranging from the Patriot Act and espionage to, er, “truck nuts” and “dick pics.”

I didn’t see the interview and I don’t know if I can bring myself to watch it; but the video is at the Fortune link if you’re interested.

Apparently the big revelation in the interview was that Snowden never read the documents he stole before releasing them. From Billboard:

If we learned anything from John Oliver‘s super-secret one-on-one interview with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, which aired Sunday on HBO’s Last Week Tonight, it’s that A) Few Americans probably know who is, and B) The spy agency does not have a department solely dedicated to collecting photos of your junk.

Oliver traveled to Russia to secure the interview with Snowden, who is sought by U.S. authorities for leaking thousands of NSA documents, and though there were plenty of laughs (truck nuts!) the host made sure to grill the asylum-seeker about the seriousness of his situation.

For one thing, Oliver asked Snowden if he had read all the classified docs that he leaked to the media. He said he had “evaluated” all of them — to which Oliver brought up the release of information that revealed the names of U.S. spies. “That’s a fu–up,” Oliver concluded. “You have to own that… You’re giving documents which you know could be harmful, and you know could get out there.”

Snowden responded, “You will never be completely free from risk if you’re free… The only time you can be free from risk is when you’re in prison.”

Snowden just isn’t a serious person. The Daily Mail has an in-depth report with plenty of quotes and videos. Here’s the headline: The damning truth about Snowden: Traitor who put Western lives at risk from terrorists reveals he didn’t even read all the top-secret files he leaked.

rand paul1

This morning Rand Paul revealed (to no one’s surprise) that he’s running for president of the U.S. CBS News reports:

Rand Paul announced his bid for president Tuesday morning on his campaign website, randpaul.com.

On the web page, Paul wrote, “I am running for president to return our country to the principles of liberty and limited government.” The Kentucky senator has already begun asking his supporters for donations to help his cause, too.

His political action committee sent a long email imploring supporters to contribute anywhere from $10 to $500 for a “Stand With Rand Money Bomb.” Paul has used this fundraising technique in the past to collect small-dollar donations online from grassroots supporters.

“The media tells us — if our Republican Party has any hope of defeating Hillary Clinton — you and I should choose a nominee with a track record full of sellouts, compromises and Big Government betrayals. So even though I’m at or near the top of every state poll for the nomination, they continue to try and dismiss my message of liberty and limited government!” the appeal reads.

Paul is expected to formally launch his White House bid at an event in Louisville, Kentucky Tuesday afternoon. The announcement has been expected for weeks, and Paul spent the early part of the week converting his campaign-in-waiting to an actual campaign.

So now the Republicans have two clowns in the clown car: Rand Paul and Ted Cruz–not a particularly auspicious start if you ask me.


One more big story came out late yesterday–a report organized by the Columbia Journalism Review on the Rolling Stone article on the rape problem at the University of Virginia in which the central character apparently fabricated her story. There were many other women in the story who had been raped on the UVA campus, but they were overshadowed by “Jackie’s” apparently false accusations of a man who seems not to exist at all.

Here’s the report at Rolling stone: Rolling Stone and UVA: The Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism Report

and the CJR story: Rolling Stone’s investigation: ‘A failure that was avoidable.’

Amanda Marcotte had two good articles on the report yesterday.

Talking Points Memo: Sorry, Rape Deniers: The Rolling Stone Report isn’t What You Hoped.

Raw Story: The big reveal in the report on Rolling Stone’s rape story fiasco that no one is talking about.

I hope you’ll check out those stories. They’re both well worth reading.

Just one more link from The Daily Beast: Rolling Stone Reporter ‘Nearly Broke Down.’

That’s all I have for you today. What stories are you following?


23 Comments on “Tuesday Reads”

  1. ANonOMouse says:

    “This morning Rand Paul revealed (to no one’s surprise) that he’s running for president of the U.S.”

    Hahahahaha.Keep on sending in the clowns. Another season of republican hi-jinks to look forward to. I heard on Rachel last night that Marco Rubio will likely be announcing next week. This field of characters is going to be really entertaining at the debates.

    On a high note, Hillary will announce within the next 2 weeks. Her staff was told to be prepared for her announcement from Monday 4/6/15, forward. I also heard on Rachel last night that the Hillary campaign has 15 days after renting the campaign headquarters to announce her candidacy. Finally we’ll have something to celebrate.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Muncie, IN will adopt a non-discrimination resolution.

    Mayor Dennis Tyler on Tuesday told The Star Press he was working on the resolution with members of Muncie City Council, who could adopt it as early as their regular monthly meeting on Monday.

    The resolution — as well as updates to the city’s human rights ordinances — would take a stance against the state law that’s prompted criticism from everyone from Apple to the NCAA over the potential to foster discrimination, particularly against gays, lesbians and transgender people.

    Tyler told The Star Press that making the city’s stance clear was “the right thing to do,” but — as he said in articles last week — the city doesn’t want to discourage anyone from moving here or working here.

    “With the employers we have, with the educational institutions, we want to get the best and the brightest,” Tyler said. “And I just want them to know they’re welcome.”

    • ANonOMouse says:


    • Sweet Sue says:

      Great! We’ve heard so much about states’ rights, maybe it’s time for the assertion of city rights. There are a lot of blue cites in our red states.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        Yes there are, but my State Legislature found a way around that. The mayor of the city of Nashville and the city council adopted a policy of not discriminating against LGBT people in hiring and requiring that the city only do business with vendors, contractors and sub-contractors that did not discriminate against LGBT community. The State found a way around the ordinance requiring vendors, contractors and sub-contractors not to discriminate. What remains is the non-discrimination in hiring by the City of Nashville and Davidson County.

        Here is how this Red State nullified part of the Nashville Ordinance.

        “In response to Nashville’s legislation, on May 12, 2011, the state Senate voted 20-8 in favor of the Equal Access to Interstate Commerce Act, which prohibits local governments from supplementing, modifying, or deviating from the state’s anti-discriminatory definitions, laws, and practices. On May 18, 2011, the House of Representatives voted 70-26 in favor of the bill. On May 24, 2011, Governor Bill Haslam signed the bill into law.[17] LGBT rights activists brought a lawsuit in state court challenging the statute, Howe v. Haslam. They lost in the trial court and appealed to the Tennessee Court of Appeals which, on November 4, 2014, dismissed the suit after finding the plaintiffs lacked standing”

        In short 30 states have no state-wide anti-discrimination laws.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    For MA Sky Dancers:

    The Red Sox won their opening day game yesterday, hitting 5 home runs against the Phillies, including a grand slam. Of course the Phillies are pathetic and interleague play is ridiculous, but it’s a win.


  4. dakinikat says:

    YAY for our Justice Department and Yay for the President of this School Board in Monroe.


    What are students allowed to wear to prom? We’re finding out this is not a matter of dress code but rather a matter of First Amendment rights. In fact, if school administrators deny a girl access to prom because she has on a tux then they’re breaking the law.

    Carroll High School student Claudetteia Love is making national headlines. She claims the principal, Patrick Taylor, says she can’t wear a tux to the prom. But Monroe City School Board President Rodney McFarland supports Love’s choice of attire.

    “I can not force my religious values or views up on someone else. Now it is a different story if you are member of my congregation – then I can tell you my belief. But as president, you have to separate church and state,” McFarland said.

    He also says it’s the principal who sets the policies for prom, and Superintendent Brent Vidrine is the principal’s direct supervisor. McFarland tells us Vidrine is out of town, and will handle the situation when he gets back.

    McFarland also reports the Department of Justice has contacted the school board’s attorney. The department has let them know it is illegal to prohibit a girl from wearing a tuxedo to prom.

    The executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana says this isn’t new information. They send a letter out every year explaining the rights of students at school dances.

    “Schools can have a dress code and they can have a formal attire for a prom. They can say that. But formal attire means a girl can wear a tux that a boy might wear and it also means that a boy can wear a formal gown if he wants to,” Director Marjorie Esman said.

    Esman also says Claudetteia – a gay student – can legally take anyone she chooses to the prom.

    “(Students) cannot be denied the opportunity to attend the school prom or a homecoming dance, or any kind of dance, with a date of their own sex – should they choose to do so,” Esman said.
    Claudetteia is not the only female student at Carroll High School who plans on wearing a tux to prom. We plan to meet with those students Tuesday and will have their stories right here on KNOE.

  5. dakinikat says:

    we have a two fer tuesday in the courts today … Durst and Sharper … sociopath special!

    • ANonOMouse says:

      Two doozies.

      The only reason Durst has been free all these years is because he’s so wealthy. I hope they are able to lock him away once and for all.

      As for Sharper, he’s a Cosby mini-me. Both guys had it all, but all wasn’t enough for either of them. I hope the plea deals aren’t too lenient. He’s a predator and doesn’t need to be back out on the streets.

  6. dakinikat says:

    ‘Family Values’ Lunatic Todd Kincannon Arrested Just For Showing Wife Who’s Boss
    Read more at http://wonkette.com/582050/family-values-lunatic-todd-kincannon-arrested-just-for-showing-wife-whos-boss#BgFdRPJYtUDk6rzJ.99

    Now there’s a mugshot that ought to gladden the hearts of many. Rightwing bile duct and former chairman of the South Carolina GOP Todd Kincannon was arrested Monday evening and is facing a charge of criminal domestic violence charge in court Tuesday. His arrest follows a March 26 incident in which Kincannon’s wife, Ashely Griffith, said that he had threatened to kill her, her family, and himself during a terror-filled drive home from a work event; she also told a Lexington County, South Carolina, sheriff’s deputy that they had a “history of unreported domestic violence” and that she feared Kincannon.

  7. About that John Oliver interview, there is this: What the John Oliver Snowden interview means – Business Insider

    Edward Snowden’s interview with HBO comedian John Oliver was a mistake that exposed him to critical questions for the first time, says US Naval War College and Harvard Extension School professor Tom Nichols at The Federalist.

    “The media team and intelligence handlers around Edward Snowden finally committed a major blunder,” Nichols writes.

    Snowden has been living in Russia since he flew there from Hong Kong on June 23, 2013.

    During his time in Russia, Snowden has been interviewed only in well-planned settings, and mostly by journalists sympathetic to his cause.

    Oliver’s aggressive questioning is the first time that Snowden has been challenged so directly.

    Nichols, a specialist in Russian and Soviet affairs, says the HBO interview suggests “either that the Russian spooks now in control of Snowden’s life don’t watch Oliver’s show, or that they were led to believe Oliver is just another liberal journalist who would allow Snowden to run his usual All-American Kid act.”

    Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/what-the-john-oliver-snowden-interview-means-2015-4#ixzz3WfMl2hrW

    • Snowden’s body language — which has been dissected before — suggests he is uncomfortable as he repeatedly looked away throughout the interview.

      “Both gamblers and intelligence analysts know that constantly looking down and away while speaking in a conversation is a ‘tell,'” Nichols writes. “You should stop doing it.”

      Nichols concludes that the HBO segment is important because now “we’ve had our first glimpse of the real Edward Snowden” instead of the largely uncritical interviews over the past 22 months.

      “Snowden is a lost boy, in over his head in a dangerous place after doing something he himself didn’t quite understand,” Nichols writes. “If Snowden can’t handle Oliver, you can be quite sure he couldn’t handle his Russian security service interrogators.”

      Soldatov also said that Snowden is in over his head.

      “Remember, Snowden is not a trained intelligence agent,” Soldatov told Business Insider. “He does not have the training to deal with this kind of situation.”

      Consequently, Soldatov added that “Snowden made a great mistake when he decided to go to Moscow.”

      Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/what-the-john-oliver-snowden-interview-means-2015-4#ixzz3WfNHtjSI

      • bostonboomer says:

        Thanks. Really interesting. I like Nichols even though he’s really conservative. He’s not a loony.

  8. dakinikat says:


    Poverty looks pretty great if you’re not living in it. The government gives you free money to spend on steak and lobster, on tattoos and spa days, on — why not? — cruise vacations and psychic visits.

    Enough serious-minded people seem to think this is what the poor actually buy with their meager aid that we’ve now seen a raft of bills and proposed state laws to nudge them away from so much excess. Missouri wants to curtail what the poor eat with their food stamps (evidence of the problem from one state legislator: “I have seen people purchasing filet mignons”). Kansas wants to block welfare recipients from spending government money at strip clubs (in legalese: any “sexually oriented business or any retail establishment which provides adult-oriented entertainment in which performers disrobe or perform in an unclothed state for entertainment”).

  9. Fannie says:

    Police officer is arrested for murder. Out of Orangeburg, SC: The family held a conference on Rachel Maddow. So damn depressing.


    • ANonOMouse says:

      Finally, we get one of these murderers on video. This proves why these guys need to wear body cams, not just for the safety of the public, but also to corroborate the stories told by officers after one of these incidents.