Tuesday Reads: Spring Has Sprung, Bringing More Snow to the Northeast

Good Afternoon!!

It’s the first day of Spring, but there’s no Spring weather for my neck of the woods.

Happy spring! A fourth nor’easter this month will be landing Wednesday across Southern New England, testing the limits of the Massachusetts psyche when it dumps up to 12-14 inches of snow across the state. Forecasters offered storms specifics in their final forecast Tuesday morning.

The storm is expected to begin Wednesday morning between 5 a.m. – noon, depending on where in the state you are. The farther south the earlier the storm starts. The Boston area can expect the storm around 9 a.m. The snow will be the heaviest Wednesday afternoon into the evening before it begins to taper off early Thursday morning.

The amount of snow pegged to fall has finally been nailed down: The storm is expected to bring between 8-14 inches everywhere east of Springfield, except for the Cape and Islands, which may only see 4-6. (For those who are convinced the “low-end” predictions will finally be realized – that’s about 3-5 inches across Eastern Mass. Good luck.)

There has been another explosion in Texas, this time at a FedEx facility in the town of Shertz, near San Antonio. NBC News:

A package exploded at a FedEx distribution center near San Antonio early Tuesday, just two days after a blast injured two men in Austin — the fourth such incident in Texas’ capital this month.

Tuesday’s explosion occurred in the sorting area of the facility in Schertz, Texas, the city’s police department confirmed on its Facebook page. FedEx said one person was treated for minor injuries.

Spring Now, Edouard Monet

“We are working closely with law enforcement in their investigation,” FedEx said in a statement.

The company didn’t provide additional details. NBC affiliate WOAI reportedone female employee was treated for a headache related to a possible concussion from the blast.

It was not immediately clear whether the explosion was related to the incidents in Austin, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which had officials on the scene.

The FBI also said it had responded to the incident, which WOAI reported happened at 12:30 a.m. local time (1:30 a.m. ET).

In addition, a “suspicious package” is being investigated at a FedEx site near Austin airport. KXAN:

Austin Police are investigating a suspicious package at a FedEx Ground facility in Austin. The city is on high alert after four package explosions in three weeks.

That facility is at 4117 McKinney Falls Parkway, near the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Austin police confirm they are investigating after a call came in at 6:19 a.m. Deputies from the Travis County Sheriff’s Office are also on scene, as well as members of the Austin Fire Department and Austin-Travis County EMS. FedEx employees evacuated and some were told to go home after a meeting with managers. It’s not known how many were working at the time.

At 9 a.m., KXAN received information a FedEx Office Print and Ship Center at 5601 Brodie Lane in south Austin was surrounded by authorities. When KXAN called the office, there was an automated message that said the location was closed for the day. Photos show the area is roped off with crime tape.

A Sunset Valley Police officer at the scene told KXAN’s Alyssa Goard said the package that exploded at the Schertz facility was shipped from the Brodie location. Sunset Valley police says it is assisting the FBI by providing perimeter security as it investigates.

There has been another school shooting. NBC Washington: 2 Students Hurt, Shooter Dead After Md. School Shooting.

Picking Flowers, Pierre Auguste Renoir

A student pulled out a gun and shot two other students at a high school in southeast Maryland Tuesday morning before the shooter was killed, the St. Mary’s County sheriff says.

The gunman entered Great Mills High School in Great Mills at the beginning of the school day and shot a female student in a hallway, Sheriff Tim Cameron told News4. A male student also was hit by a bullet.

Two students are in critical condition, and the shooter was pronounced dead later Tuesday morning.

Information was not available immediately on the relationship between the students, Cameron said. A motive is not yet clear.

The shooter exchanged fire with a school resource officer, a trained, armed deputy sheriff, Cameron said. The shooter was wounded; the officer was not.

The Facebook/Cambridge Analytica story is getting worse and worse. Here’s the latest:

The Guardian: ‘Utterly horrifying’: ex-Facebook insider says covert data harvesting was routine.

Hundreds of millions of Facebook users are likely to have had their private information harvested by companies that exploited the same terms as the firm that collected data and passed it on to Cambridge Analytica, according to a new whistleblower.

Sandy Parakilas, the platform operations manager at Facebook responsible for policing data breaches by third-party software developers between 2011 and 2012, told the Guardian he warned senior executives at the company that its lax approach to data protection risked a major breach.

Spring 1956, Pablo Picasso

“My concerns were that all of the data that left Facebook servers to developers could not be monitored by Facebook, so we had no idea what developers were doing with the data,” he said.

Parakilas said Facebook had terms of service and settings that “people didn’t read or understand” and the company did not use its enforcement mechanisms, including audits of external developers, to ensure data was not being misused.

Parakilas, whose job it was to investigate data breaches by developers similar to the one later suspected of Global Science Research, which harvested tens of millions of Facebook profiles and provided the data to Cambridge Analytica, said the slew of recent disclosures had left him disappointed with his superiors for not heeding his warnings.

“It has been painful watching,” he said. “Because I know that they could have prevented it.”

Read the rest at The Guardian.

The New York Times: Alex Stamos, Facebook Data Security Chief, To Leave Amid Outcry.

As Facebook grapples with a backlash over its role in spreading disinformation, an internal dispute over how to handle the threat and the public outcry is resulting in the departure of a senior executive.

Dolce Far Niente, John Singer Sargent

The impending exit of that executive — Alex Stamos, Facebook’s chief information security officer — reflects heightened leadership tension at the top of the social network. Much of the internal disagreement is rooted in how much Facebook should publicly share about how nation states misused the platform and debate over organizational changes in the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections, according to current and former employees briefed on the matter.

Mr. Stamos, who plans to leave Facebook by August, had advocated more disclosure around Russian interference of the platform and some restructuring to better address the issues, but was met with resistance by colleagues, said the current and former employees. In December, Mr. Stamos’s day-to-day responsibilities were reassigned to others, they said.

Mr. Stamos said he would leave Facebook but was persuaded to stay through August to oversee the transition of his responsibilities and because executives thought his departure would look bad, the people said. He has been overseeing the transfer of his security team to Facebook’s product and infrastructure divisions. His group, which once had 120 people, now has three, the current and former employees said.

More at the link.

Bloomberg: FTC Probing Facebook for Use of Personal Data, Source Says.

Facebook Inc. is under investigation by a U.S. privacy watchdog over the use of personal data of 50 million users by a data analytics firm to help elect President Donald Trump.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is probing whether Facebook violated terms of a 2011 consent decree over its handing of user data that was transferred to Cambridge Analytica without their knowledge, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Springtime, Claude Monet

Under the 2011 settlement, Facebook agreed to get user consent for certain changes to privacy settings as part of a settlement of federal charges that it deceived consumers and forced them to share more personal information than they intended. That complaint arose after the company changed some user settings without notifying its customers, according to an FTC statement at the time.

An FTC spokeswoman said in emailed statement that the agency is aware of the issues that have been raised, but can’t comment on whether it is investigating. The agency takes any allegations of violations of consent decrees seriously, the statement said.

If the FTC finds Facebook violated terms of the consent decree, it has the power to fine the company more than $40,000 a day per violation.

Facebook said in a statement it rejected “any suggestion of violation of the consent decree.”

I hope Facebook goes out of business and Mark Zukerberg becomes a pariah. Sorry, I some people here like Facebook…

The only good news is that a blue wave seems to be coming.

Stuart Rothenberg at Roll Call: Insiders See Democratic House Gains of 30-45 seats.

Seven and a half months before the midterm elections, the combination of attitudinal and behavioral evidence leads to a single conclusion: The Democrats are very likely to win control of the House in November.

Just as important, Republican and Democratic campaign strategists also agree that an electoral wave has already formed….

Farm Garden with Sunflowers, 1905-06 (oil on canvas), Gustav Klimt (1862-1918)

The new March 10-14 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll of adults is consistent with other surveys over the past six months. It shows Democrats with a large generic ballot advantage among younger voters, women, whites with at least a college degree and voters age 65 and older.

The GOP’s great strength in the generic ballot is among two pro-Trump groups, men and whites without a college degree. Unfortunately for the party, the survey also shows Democrats, whites with a college degree and older voters as having the greatest interest in the election (and therefore the greatest likelihood of voting). Each of those groups prefers a Democratic Congress.

Moreover, while independents don’t traditionally turn out in big numbers in midterms, one veteran Republican strategist sees them as a huge problem this year. “They are tired of the drama,” he said.

The worst case for the GOP, of course, would be mediocre Republican turnout combined with strong Democratic participation and independents behaving like Democrats (which is what they did in 2006).

If that happens, Republicans would take quite a beating in the fall.

Get all the details at the Roll Call link.

Politico: GOP fears another potential electoral disaster.

National Republicans — on the heels of the Roy Moore and Rick Saccone debacles — worry they’re staring down their latest potential midterm election fiasco: coal baron and recent federal prisoner Don Blankenship.

Spring (Apple Blossoms) 1859 (oil on canvas), John Everett Millais (1829-96)

With Blankenship skyrocketing in the West Virginia Republican Senate primary and blanketing the airwaves with ads assailing his fractured field of rivals as career politicians, senior party officials are wrestling with how, or even whether, to intervene. Many of them are convinced that Blankenship, who served a one-year sentence after the deadly 2010 explosion at his Upper Big Branch Mine, would be a surefire loser against Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin — and potentially become a national stain for the party.

The discussions have intensified over the past few weeks. During separate meetings with the National Republican Senatorial Committee, aides to Blankenship’s two primary opponents, Rep. Evan Jenkins and state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, pointed to Blankenship’s traction and questioned what could be done to stop him. The Senate GOP campaign arm, which heard out the appeals, recently commissioned a survey to gauge the coal king’s electoral strength and determine his staying power in the race.

Those familiar with the party’s deliberations say the results are clear: With a little more than a month until the May 8 primary, Blankenship, a towering figure in West Virginia politics long before this campaign and an avid opponent of unions, has vaulted into essentially a three-way tie with his rivals and is positioned to move ahead.

Republicans can’t field good candidates anymore. Here’s hoping for a huge blue wave in November!

What else is happening? What stories are you following?

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33 Comments on “Tuesday Reads: Spring Has Sprung, Bringing More Snow to the Northeast”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Once again, we learn from Russia, not the WHI, about Trump talking to Putin.

  2. dakinikat says:

    I can’t believe you have more snow coming!!! Bundle up with some tea and your Kindle!

    • Pat Johnson says:

      At my end of the state we are looking at 8-12 inches!

      I may not survive this winter.

      • jjoanelle says:

        Yes, here in NJ It’s like Winter is really mad and keeps storming out of the room
        and then coming back yelling, “And another thing…”

      • bostonboomer says:

        This time, we’re supposed to get more than you Pat. 12-14 inches.

        • NW Luna says:

          Happy Spring to all SkyDancers! It’s sunny here in Seattle and high 50s. However, it’ll go back to raining again tomorrow and all the way through the weekend. But I’ll take sun on the Equinox as a good omen.

          • Joanelle says:

            After meetings were canceled last night, schools closed for today, winter seems to just be tiptoeing into our lives today with just barely light flurries, not even a dusting yet

      • Mary Luke says:

        Feeling the same here Pat. Time for a more temperate climate. Good luck!

  3. bostonboomer says:

    (The Russian ambassador to Great Britain)

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Politico: Judge rejects Trump bid to dismiss suit from woman alleging sexual advances

    https://www.politico.com/story/2018/03/20/trump-summer-zervos-lawsuit-474026

  5. Pat Johnson says:

    I’m losing count: are we already up to 3 women looking to sue Trump? My instincts tell me more will surface in the coming weeks.

    With all their money you would think this family would be able to afford a moral compass.

    But just like Daddy, Junior Trump was fooling around while wife was pregnant.

    Up next: Eric!

  6. dakinikat says:

    Donald Trump on witness list for civil case involving billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein
    US President ‘identified as an individual who may have information’

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-jeffrey-epstein-civil-case-witness-list-billionaire-paedophile-a7631891.html

    • quixote says:

      Yeah. That’s a pile of garbage on a par with Bannon’s weird meth lab / porn filming house.

      This stuff was all out there before the election. Before the election. BEFORE THE FREAKIN ELECTION.

      The media couldn’t be bothered. Emailz. So much sexier, amirite.

      Our glacial legal system still seems to be grinding on, but, so help me, by the time it finally shows the detritus it contains, the remains will be like those old mummfied Paleolithic hunters in the Swiss Alps.

    • NW Luna says:

      Not too surprising. Trump’s a pedophile about his own daughter. He’s going to be yuuugely p-o’d about this case, and tweet that Epstein is one of the best people. Or else a coffee boy.

    • Pat Johnson says:

      Beautifully heartwarming. Lovely.

    • Sweet Sue says:

      Infinitely moving. Inspiring, too. I had a weird thought while watching and I apologize if it’s insensitive. it struck me that children with Downs Syndrome are so much better looking than they used to be and, then, I had an ah ha moment: I perceive that because these children are being treated completely differently than generations that came before: they’re seen, heard, taught, played with and loved wholeheartedly. There really is a new world dawning and not even Trump can change that.

      • quixote says:

        That’s true, Sue, but don’t lose sight of the boring practicalities. Treatments for some of the physical issues are way better, so the kids are healthier (and live much longer as adults). Much more is known about effective education strategies to compensate as much as possible for the learning disabilities, so the kids are better able to interact. And last, and sadly and realistically probably not least, there’s a large spectrum of Down’s disability. I would be willing to bet that the ones seen oftenest on social media and news, etc, are at the higher functioning end of the spectrum.

        All of which wouldn’t mean much if they didn’t get the more wholehearted care more people are happy to give now, but those are factors.

        • Sweet Sue says:

          You’re right, Quixote, and thanks for weighing in. You see, when I was a kid, beautiful children like these were warehoused and most of them (and, maybe Thank God, considering where and how they were living) did not survive their teens. Now, seeing these lovely kids sing, dance and interact with their adoring moms moves me immensely.

  7. dakinikat says:

    • NW Luna says:

      Take the cost out of Trump’s accounts! Why isn’t this all over the news, with Trump being lambasted and shamed for this? Can you imagine what the news would say if Hillary did this? Though Hillary would never do this — she would have emergency plans all made out ahead of time because that’s what “overprepared” people do.

  8. NW Luna says:

  9. NW Luna says:

    Whoa!

  10. Minkoff Minx says:

    I’m running late today.

    The suspect in the Austin bombings has blown himself up:

    I hope all of you in the storms path are safe and sound.

    Will have the post up shortly, I hope.

    • NW Luna says:

      “American flag hanging outside;” “godly.” I can’t help but think “white supremacist.”

      Law enforcement authorities swept into Mr. Conditt’s hometown of nearby Pflugerville and spent hours closeted with his parents in their white clapboard home with an American flag hanging outside.

      “We do not understand what motivated him to do what he did,” the Austin police chief, Brian Manley, told reporters.

      Mr. Conditt was a quiet, “nerdy” young man who came from a “tight-knit, godly family,” said Donna Sebastian Harp, who had known the family for nearly 18 years.

      • quixote says:

        I saw that note from his mom (?) saying maybe he was going to go do a mission for a while. My first thought: Ah. Fundies. Well no wonder.

        White fundiegelical churches, 80% support the sexist racist garbage Dump in the White House, but the police can’t imagine why a nice white boy from that environment might be trying to blow up blacks.

        /*endless screaming*/

  11. Fannie says:

    30,000 people leaving Santa Barbara Co. and Ventura Co. Ca. It’s the Pineapple Express Rains, causing floods, mud slides, trees are going to be pouring down. People will lose their homes. Be safe with the snow storms BB, and Pat.