mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Leaning Towards Darkness”: The Mind Of A Terror Suspect

While the Boston area lay paralyzed by a lockdown, with one terror suspect dead and another on the loose as a massive manhunt filtered through the area’s arteries, we got a better sense of the second young man.

It’s complicated.

The suspects were brothers. The one who was on the loose was taken into custody on Friday evening. He was the younger of the two, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19. The elder, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed in a confrontation with authorities, but not before participating in the fatal shooting of an M.I.T. police officer, the carjacking of an S.U.V. and the shooting of a transit police officer, who was critically injured.

They were of Chechen heritage. Tamerlan was a boxer; Dzhokhar, a college student.

“A picture has begun to emerge of 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev as an aggressive, possibly radicalized immigrant who may have ensnared his younger brother Dzhokhar — described almost universally as a smart and sweet kid — into an act of terror,” The Boston Globe reported Friday.

The Globe quoted a person named Zaur Tsarnaev, who the newspaper said identified himself as a 26-year-old cousin of the suspects, as saying, “I used to warn Dzhokhar that Tamerlan was up to no good.” Tamerlan “was always getting into trouble,” he added. “He was never happy, never cheering, never smiling. He used to strike his girlfriend. He hurt her a few times. He was not a nice man. I don’t like to speak about him. He caused problems for my family.”

But what about that image of Dzhokhar as sweet?

On Friday, BuzzFeed and CNN claimed to verify Dzhokhar’s Twitter account. The tweets posted on that account give a window into a bifurcated mind — on one level, a middle-of-the-road 19-year-old boy, but on another, a person with a mind leaning toward darkness.

Like many young people, the person tweeting from that account liked rap music, saying of himself, “#imamacbookrapper when I’m bored,” and quoting rap lyrics in his tweets.

He tweeted quite a bit about women, dating and relationships; many of his musings were misogynistic and profane. Still, he seemed to want to have it both ways, to be rude and respectful at once, tweeting on Dec. 24, 2012: “My last tweets felt too wrong. I don’t like to objectify women or judge anyone for their actions.”

He was a proud Muslim who tweeted about going to mosque and enjoying talking — and even arguing — about religion with others. But he seemed to believe that different faiths were in competition with one another. On Nov. 29, he tweeted: “I kind of like religious debates, just hearing what other people believe is interesting and then crushing their beliefs with facts is fun.”

His politics seemed jumbled. He was apparently a 9/11 Truther, posting a tweet on Sept. 1 that read in part, “Idk why it’s hard for many of you to accept that 9/11 was an inside job.” On Election Day he retweeted a tweet from Barack Obama that read: “This happened because of you. Thank you.” But on March 20 he tweeted, “Evil triumphs when good men do nothing.” This sounds like a take on a quote from Edmund Burke, who is viewed by many as the founder of modern Conservatism: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had strong views on the Middle East, tweeting on Nov. 28, “Free Palestine.” Later that day he tweeted, “I was going to make a joke about Hamas but it Israeli inappropriate.”

Toward the end of last year, the presence of dark tweets seemed to grow — tweets that in retrospect might have raised some concerns.

He tweeted about crime. On Dec. 28 he tweeted about what sounds like a hit-and-run: “Just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance by switching my car into reverse and driving away from the accident.” And on Feb. 6 he tweeted, “Everything in life can be free if you run fast enough.”

He posted other tweets that could be taken as particularly ominous:

Oct. 22: “i won’t run i’ll just gun you all out #thugliving.”

Jan. 5: “I don’t like when people ask unnecessary questions like how are you? Why so sad? Why do you need cyanide pills?”

Jan. 16: “Breaking Bad taught me how to dispose of a corpse.”

Feb. 2: “Do I look like that much of a softy?” The tweet continued with “little do these dogs know they’re barking at a lion.”

Feb. 13: “I killed Abe Lincoln during my two hour nap #intensedream.”

The last tweet on the account reads: “I’m a stress free kind of guy.” The whole of the Twitter feed would argue against that assessment.

 

By: Charles M. Blow, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, April 19, 2013

April 21, 2013 Posted by | National Security | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Trouble With News Scoops”: If You’re Obsessed With Getting It First, You End Up Not Getting It Right

It seems that every time there’s a dramatic breaking story like yesterday’s bombing in Boston, media organizations end up passing on unconfirmed information that turns out to be false. This happens, of course, because in a chaotic situation where many people are involved in some way and the causes and results of some event are not initially clear, it can be hard to separate actual facts from what somebody thought or heard or believed. News organizations trying to cover it have an incredibly difficult job to do, and we should acknowledge the ones who do it well, even heroically, in the face of those challenges. For instance, The Boston Globe will deserve all the accolades and awards they get for their coverage of this event. And yet, the news media seem to get so much wrong when something like this happens. Why?

I’d argue that the reason is that in the frenzy of this kind of happening, they fail to realize something important: Scoops are beside the point. When Americans are looking to learn about and understand this kind of horrible event, they don’t care whether you got a scoop. They want to understand what happened. I don’t think the news organizations, particularly the TV networks, understand this at all.

Let’s take an example. The New York Post insisted for most of yesterday that 12 people had died in the explosions, for no apparent reason (they’re not claiming it anymore, but today their web site prominently features Mark Wahlberg’s reaction to the bombings, so they’ve still got the story covered). I don’t know what reporter came up with that information, but the fact that they disseminated it despite being wrong shows how useless the search for “scoops” becomes at a time like this. There were lots of other pieces of information circulating that turned out to be untrue (like the story repeated everywhere that the police had found more unexploded devices) as well.

There are two kinds of scoops, the real and the ephemeral. A real scoop is a story that would not have come to light, either at all or at least for a considerable amount of time, had it not been for your reporting. When a reporter exposes corruption, or details the unforeseen consequences of official policy, or even just offers a compelling portrait of people whose story wouldn’t have otherwise been told, she has gotten a genuine scoop. Then there’s the far more common kind, what many in the media consider a scoop but is no scoop at all. That’s when you discover and publish some piece of information that everyone is going to learn very soon, but you happen to be the one who got it out ten minutes or ten seconds before your competitors.

Media organizations, particularly television news operations, are obsessed with this second kind of scoop, despite the fact that not only does it offer nothing of value to their audience, it doesn’t even give them any advantage in the hyper-competitive arena in which they operate. Nobody ever said, “I used to watch MSNBC, but then I heard that CNN went on the air with the verdict in the Casey Anthony trial a full 30 seconds before any other network, so I’m watching CNN from now on.” When everybody is going to have a piece of news in seconds, getting it first doesn’t help you at all. Nobody remembers and nobody cares, nor should they.

But if you’re obsessed with getting it first, you end up not getting it right. That goes beyond reporting things that are false (which happens often enough) to offering second-rate coverage because your reporters are running around trying to find out something, anything, that none of their competitors know, instead of trying to assemble a complete and informative picture for the audience.

When something like the Boston bombing happens, the chaos pushes journalists toward those we-got-it-first scoops, when in fact there’s no time when those scoops are less important. Almost all the big critical facts are going to end up being given to journalists by the authorities, whether it’s about the casualties or the nature of the devices used or the suspects, once they have them. No reporter is going to catch the bomber before the FBI does. Given that, they’d do much better to slow down and worry less about what piece of information they can get a minute or two before their competitors do than about how they can give their audiences something closer to true understanding.

By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, April, 16, 2013

April 17, 2013 Posted by | Media, Press | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Control, Alt, Delete”: Romney Staff Spent Nearly $100,000 To Hide Records

Mitt Romney spent nearly $100,000 in state funds to replace computers in his office at the end of his term as governor of Massachusetts in 2007 as part of an unprecedented effort to keep his records secret, Reuters has learned.

The move during the final weeks of Romney’s administration was legal but unusual for a departing governor, Massachusetts officials say.

The effort to purge the records was made a few months before Romney launched an unsuccessful campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. He is again competing for the party’s nomination, this time to challenge Barack Obama for the presidency in 2012.

Five weeks before the first contests in Iowa, Romney has seen his position as frontrunner among Republican presidential candidates whittled away in the polls as rival Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House of Representatives, has gained ground.

When Romney left the governorship of Massachusetts, 11 of his aides bought the hard drives of their state-issued computers to keep for themselves. Also before he left office, the governor’s staff had emails and other electronic communications by Romney’s administration wiped from state servers, state officials say.

Those actions erased much of the internal documentation of Romney’s four-year tenure as governor, which ended in January 2007. Precisely what information was erased is unclear.

Republican and Democratic opponents of Romney say the scrubbing of emails – and a claim by Romney that paper records of his governorship are not subject to public disclosure – hinder efforts to assess his performance as a politician and elected official.

As Massachusetts governor, Romney worked with a Democrat-led state house to close a budget shortfall and signed a healthcare overhaul that required nearly all state residents to buy insurance or face penalties.

Massachusetts’ healthcare law became a model for Obama’s nationwide healthcare program, enacted into law in 2010. As a presidential candidate, however, Romney has criticized Obama’s plan as an overreach by the federal government.

Massachusetts officials say they have no basis to believe that Romney’s staff violated any state laws or policies in removing his administration’s records.

They acknowledge, however, that state law on maintaining and disclosing official records is vague and has not been updated to deal with issues related to digital records and other modern technology.

BUYING UP HARD DRIVES

Romney’s spokesmen emphasize that he followed the law and precedent in deleting the emails, installing new computers in the governor’s office and buying up hard drives.

However, Theresa Dolan, former director of administration for the governor’s office, told Reuters that Romney’s efforts to control or wipe out records from his governorship were unprecedented.

Dolan said that in her 23 years as an aide to successive governors “no one had ever inquired about, or expressed the desire” to purchase their computer hard drives before Romney’s tenure.

The cleanup of records by Romney’s staff before his term ended included spending $205,000 for a three-year lease on new computers for the governor’s office, according to official documents and state officials.

In signing the lease, Romney aides broke an earlier three-year lease that provided the same number of computers for about half the cost – $108,000. Lease documents obtained by Reuters under the state’s freedom of information law indicate that the broken lease still had 18 months to run.

As a result of the change in leases, the cost to the state for computers in the governor’s office was an additional $97,000.

Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for Romney’s presidential campaign, referred questions on the computer leasing deal and records removal to state officials.

Last week, Saul claimed that Deval Patrick, the present Massachusetts governor and a Democrat, was encouraging reports about Romney’s records to cast the former governor as secretive. Patrick’s office has not responded to that allegation.

STATE REVIEWING RECORDS LAW

The removal of digital records by Romney’s staff, first reported by the Boston Globe, has sparked a wave of requests for state officials to release paper records from Romney’s governorship that remain in the state’s archives.

Massachusetts officials are now reviewing state law to determine whether the public should have access to those records.

The issue is clouded by a 1997 state court ruling that could be interpreted to mean that records of the Massachusetts governor are not subject to disclosure. Romney has asserted that his records are exempt from disclosure.

State officials and a longtime Romney adviser have acknowledged that before leaving office, Romney asked state archives officials for permission to destroy certain paper records. It is unclear whether his office notified anyone from the state before destroying electronic records.

Officials have said the details of Romney’s request to remove paper records, such as what specific documents he wanted to destroy, could be made public only in response to a request under the state’s freedom of information law. Reuters has filed such a request.

 

By: Mark Hosenball, Reuters; Editing, David Lindsey and David Storey, December 5, 2011

December 6, 2011 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?: Bert and Ernie Getting Married Is a Dumb, Destructive Idea

Some people see politics everywhere,  even where they don’t belong.

Case in point a Chicago-area man who,  according to Washington, D.C. radio station WMAL, has  started an online petition at a website called Change.org seeking to pressure  the people behind the landmark children’s program Sesame Street to “let Ernie & Bert get married.”

As a child—and as a parent—I  watched a lot of Sesame Street.  I’m a big fan of Bert & Ernie and their antics. I can still sing most of  the lyrics to “Rubber Duckie” and “Doin’ the Pigeon” from  memory. They are  funny, engaging characters who demonstrate to children  that people—no matter  how different they might be in temperament,  likes, dislikes and personalities—can still be the best of friends. But  they are also, as apparently has been  lost on some people, Muppets—a  combination marionette and foam rubber puppet  invented decades ago—by the legendary Jim Henson and his wife  Jane.  Muppets are not people, and while they are in many cases gender  specific they,  as the Sesame Workshop felt compelled to point out  Thursday, “Do not have a  sexual orientation.” Nonetheless someone out  there thinks they would be useful  to further a point about sexual  identity.

It’s an idea that’s foolish, and  moreover, culturally destructive  because, if enacted, it would further the end  of childhood innocence in  America. Children are already bombarded, in and out  of school, with  messages and meanings that, in my judgment, are far too  sophisticated  for them to comprehend. Instead, they just confuse and, in some  cases,  scare them—as was the case when, as the Boston Globe reported back in   2009, “an anxious, depressed 17-year-old boy was admitted to the  psychiatric  unit at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.”

“He was refusing to drink water.  Worried about drought related to  climate change, the young man was convinced  that if he drank, millions  of people would die. The Australian doctors wrote  the case up as the  first known instance of climate change delusion,'” the  paper reported.

A 17-year-old man is far more mature  than the average viewer of Sesame    Street.  We have an obligation to protect innocents  and innocence and, in a  sense, childhood itself. Children are treasures,  precious gems that  are our future and should be treated as such, not as targets  for  indoctrination.

By: Peter Roff, U. S. News and World Report, August 12, 2011

August 12, 2011 Posted by | Ideologues, Ideology, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Basic Civility: Who Will Teach Congress to Behave?

To make sense of the  vitriol, lack of cooperative spirit and just bad manners being displayed on  Capitol Hill, look no further than Massachusetts.

It’s not that the Bay State is unusually mean or even  rude. Visitors flocking to the Cape, the Berkshires or Boston’s North End will  surely find friendly people. But recent news in Massachusetts demonstrates just  how high our tolerance for—even celebration of—bad behavior has become.

The Boston Globe informs us  that the Boston School Committee is drafting rules for basic civility  at its  public meetings. This is not a response to shouting and  disruption by children,  who by definition are still learning how to  behave in public and how to  adjudicate disagreements with honor and  mutual respect. No, the school  committee’s actions are a sad response  to the heckling and all-around disrespect  shown by adults—parents and  teachers—who have been unhappy with school closings  and other matters  before the committee. Disruptive students have been at the  meetings,  too, which makes it worse, since the lesson they are learning at the   meetings is that it’s acceptable to shout and be rude to display one’s   unhappiness with a public policy. One protestor last December yelled  “liar”  at Superintendent Carol R. Johnson. Was this individual merely  parroting the  behavior of Rep. Joe Wilson, who yelled, “You lie!” at the President of the  United States during a live, nationally-televised speech in the House chamber?

Remarkably, some of the adult activists have not been  shamed at the  fact that they must be treated as recalcitrant children. The Globe  quotes the teacher’s union  president, Richard Stutman, jokingly  comparing the decorum rules to Stalinist  Russia. That’s not only an  insult to the people who lived in the brutal  dictatorial regime, but an  insult to public education. Surely, teachers do not  instruct their  students that self-control and civility are akin to  totalitarianism.

But if the school meetings aren’t distressing enough,  Massachusetts  can look to its professional football team, the New England  Patriots.  The team recently signed Albert Haynesworth, whose behavior, on and  off  the field, was so poor that the Washington Redskins couldn’t stomach  him  anymore. In sports, the bad boys are often given a pass if their  on-field  passes are complete. But Haynesworth—who was paid $35 million  to play in 20  games and didn’t always show up for practice because he  didn’t like the coach’s  defense strategy—became just too much for the  ‘Skins, who traded him to the  Patriots for a fifth-round draft pick. At  least Haynesworth won’t be a double burden to the Pats, since Randy  Moss, another behavior problem, left the team last year and announced  Tuesday he would retire from the sport. Defenders note that Patriots  coach Bill Belichick whipped Moss into shape. Haynesworth could be a  heavier list; at one point, he was juggling four different legal cases  against him even as he feuded publically with his coach.

We should expect more from members of Congress, who have  been  through campaigns and theoretically should know better. But the  public—even  as they deride the dysfunction and bad manners in the  Capitol—are enablers,  rewarding malcontented lawmakers with campaign  contributions. Republican Wilson  and former Democratic  Rep. Alan Grayson, who famously accused Republicans of  wanting people  to die as a way of saving on health costs, were two of the  biggest  fundraisers last election cycle, with much of the cash coming from out   of state. Grayson lost, but the message was clear: acting up is  profitable. And  both Democrats and Republicans are raising money off  the recent uproar over  Republican Rep. Allen West, a Tea Party movement favorite who sent an email to  a colleague, Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz,  calling her “the most  vile” member of the House. Wasserman Schultz had  criticized West’s approach to  Medicare, although she did not name him  in the floor speech that led West to  accuse Wasserman-Schultz of not  acting like “a Lady.”

The Boston School Committee may be able to teach civility  to adults  who apparently never learned how to sit still and listen. And perhaps   Belichick can control Haynesworth. Who will do the same for members of   Congress?

 

By: Susan Milligan, U. S. News and World Report, August 2, 2011

August 2, 2011 Posted by | Congress, Conservatives, Democracy, Democrats, GOP, Government, Lawmakers, Politics, Public Opinion, Republicans, Right Wing, Teaparty | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: