Archive for boston marathon bombing

Can You Trust The FBI?

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ibrahim-todashev live

Wow, there's a loaded question that Melissa Harris-Perry took head on the other night. She was reporting on the Whitey Bulger trial in Boston. That led to reporting on Whitey's involvement with the FBI and their corruption. This brought her to the shocking and thought-provoking diatribe on Ibraham Todashev.

You don't know who Todashev is? Well, thanks the the FBI, his status is now, "was." No one will get to know him anymore. Todashev was a voluntary witness cooperating with the investigation of a triple homicide that took place in Waltham, Mass. This triple murder was tangentially being looked into as a bi-product of the investigation into the two suspected Boston Marathon bombers, the Tsarnaev brothers.

The FBI in Boston contacted Todashev and requested he make himself available for an interview about these three murders and the Tsarnaev brothers possible connection to it. Their request was granted and the FBI flew to Florida where Todashev lived with his family. The agents were granted not one, but four interviews, each lasting for hours. Then, suddenly came the news report that the FBI had shot and killed the cooperating witness in his house. They ripped his body apart with seven bullets -- six to the torso and one to the back of his head, execution style.

Ibraham Todashev

In the hours immediately following this brutal killing of this unarmed and seemingly cooperative victim, the FBI manufactured and concocted a series of contradictory excuses for their justified use of a hail of gunfire. Try as they might, they still haven't settled on one story yet in the weeks that have followed. Considering the victim was unarmed at the time, you have to give the FBI a chance to manufacture a credible excuse. Their first four attempts failed the sniff test, miserably.

Now comes the reassuring news that in answer to the victim's parents pleas, with an assist from the ACLU, the FBI WILL investigate itself. Yup, they will look into this incident (their word, not mine) without any outside police or other justice department oversight or cooperation. The FBI assures us they can be trusted to do this because they've had to do this before. Over the past 20 years, there have been over 150 cases where the FBI has investigated itself. And fortunately for us, they've found that they never made a mistake or used undo force. Their record is unblemished. A perfect 150-0. You could almost be suspicious of this if it were not the FBI.

I don't know about you, but I'm sure feeling confident that this newest investigation is going to produce an honest result. But if you have any doubts, please watch Melissa Harris-Perry below. She'll help you put your mind at ease.

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When reality intrudes on a blissful weekend in California's wine country

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Temecula South Coast Winery hotel wine tasting room

Mr. Laffy, the twins, a good friend of theirs, their dog, and I went on a fantastic weekend away in Temecula, a part of California's wine country. We loved our hotel, we loved the wineries, we loved the wine, we loved the people we encountered (they all seemed so happy!), and we loved the company.

It couldn't have been more relaxing, beautiful, yummy, and fun.

However.

Somehow reality made its way into the trip, so I decided to write about it.

It started with our room service attendant, a sweet, friendly, talkative man who was willing to share his circumstances with me. I asked him if he was a union member and/or if the resort hired union workers. He said no, he was paid minimum wage with no benefits.

We immediately promised him a huge tip to help compensate, informed him that we were sympathetic to his situation, and that I write for a political website that covers this issue regularly, supports unions (scroll) and pushes for raising the minimum wage (scroll).

He makes eight dollars an hour, California's minimum. Of course, we all got into a conversation about how impossible it is to support a family on wages like that, especially with no health care benefits, and we commiserated for some time until he had to get back to work.

We left him a very generous tip, as promised. We hope it helped, but, sadly, knew it wouldn't make much of a dent.

Then, as we were leaving for our big day, we ran into a housekeeper who was vacuuming the floor near the elevator. She was very pregnant, so I expressed my happiness for her. She said she was in her eight month, and said, "No more! After this no more! This is my last!" She was pretty young, and we shared a laugh with her over her "Never again!" response.

The elevator came, so off we went, but Mr. Laffy and I were also concerned with her circumstances, doing heavy duty cleaning at a huge hotel while at the point of her pregnancy when she could go into labor at any time while having to be on her feet all day carrying a heavy load (been there, done that, and it's not easy), and doing all this at a salary that wouldn't meet her obvious needs.

Finally, Mr. Laffy and I were unpleasantly surprised with our final bill. This hotel was pricey enough, but they tacked on extra fees and charges that made no sense to us and were not explained satisfactorily. So I insisted that we leave a note to whom it may have concerned.

Mr. Laffy agreed that, despite the superb quality of service and amenities, comfort and hospitality, we should make our voices heard (they did, after all, ask us to fill out a comment form).

So we did just that, twice. Once on the form:

Temecula pay min wage note

... And once in a note to our house cleaning service attendants. We hope they shared it with management:

Temecula pay min wage note 2

After a fantastic day with our boys, our friend, and Timmy the Dog, visiting wineries and sampling many of their fine products, we ended the trip with a sense of having tried to do what we could at the moment and hopes that enough people will also take the time to do the same.

My only regret is that we couldn't have left an even bigger tip, expressed ourselves more effectively... and sampled even more wines.

One more disturbance made its way into our otherwise peaceful weekend. We were ambling through Old Town when we heard a loud BANG! It could have been a gun or other explosion and it startled us out of our vacay-comfort-zone. Then we heard it again, and again, and then again. We realized it had to be a local exhibition of some kind unless we were under some kind of attack.

And that's what was so distressing. As it turned out, it was a staged reenactment of some scene from the Old West. We figured that out within a minute or two, to our great relief.

But what magnified the Moment of Temporary Trauma was my son's reaction, or what he described as"lapses into PTSD" after the Boston Marathon Bombing. He was there, only two doors away from the second explosion ("My son just called from Boston: Two explosions at Boston Marathon finish line. UPDATE: Son’s statement to press"), and ever since that day, he experiences jolts of fear when he hears loud noises. Reality, meet Temecula Wine-Tasting Weekend:

Temecula reenactment shooting

So we spent the rest of the day doing this:

temecula europa winery

And then spent the evening back at the hotel:

  Temecula vineyard hotel

Temecula vineyard grapes

And finally made our way to their wine tasting room and restaurant, where we were served a delicious dinner and consumed more excellent wines.

Here's a snap of the dining room:

temecula restaurant

... and finally made our very-buzzed way back to our very well-appointed room with a very lovely view of very grapey vineyards and fell fast asleep.

We drove home the next day, but not before making those written statements to let everyone know they should be treating their employees better. Let's hope they heard us.

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"Does this open the president up for criticism? Will critics have new ammo? Well, will they, huh? Huh?" #LibrulMediaMyAss

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bias liberal media my ass smaller

When I opened my Los Angeles Times this morning, I saw an article about how the Boston bombing is affecting policy on student visas. The Times is reporting that Homeland Security will be tightening oversight for foreign students entering the U.S.

One of the friends, Azamat Tazhayakov, 19, was allowed to reenter the U.S. on a student visa even though he was no longer attending the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev also studied.

Congressional Republicans have questioned how the government has dealt with visa security issues. In a three-page letter this week, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) asked Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano for details about student visas and how Tazhayakov was able to reenter the U.S.

In a statement this week, the Homeland Security Department said that Tazhayakov entered the United States on Jan. 20 using a student visa with an expiration date of Aug. 30. Customs, which is part of Homeland Security, had not been notified that Tazhayakov had left school on Jan. 4, so he was permitted entry.

An hour later I was watching MSNBC, and the anchor substituting for Alex Witt was asking her guests about this very topic. And by "asking her guests" I mean falling all over herself to get them to slam President Obama. Here is how she posed her questions (paraphrased, but not all that much):

"Does this open the president up for criticism? Will President Obama be under fire for this? Will his critics have new ammo? Well, will they, huh? Huh?"

Okay, I made up that last question. Here is how it sounded to me:

Ooo! THIS is exactly what I needed to create some controversy, because so far, this show has been really dull. If ratings dip while I'm covering for Alex, I'm toast!

SO. Guests! WTF is up with Obama? Shouldn't he be in a big ol' pot of hot water for this? Isn't the bombing all his fault anyway? Well, isn't it? Let's make this into more of a story, stat! Is his goose finally cooked? Will you go on the record saying that his presidency a big fat epic FAIL now? Boyoboy was he negligent, right? RIGHT?

I cannot WAIT to hear your answers to my leading questions! GO!

BENGHAZI! Oh, sorry, that just slipped out.

1. Note to Ms. SubbingForAlex: You must be more than aware that nobody needs to encourage anyone to clobber the president. He has been barraged by smears since he announced his run back in 2007. He's been blamed for everything from Bush's recession to personal bad hair days since forever. So stirring that pot is overkill to say the least.

2. What happened to objectivity in the media? Oh, sorry, did I say "objectivity"? My bad.

3. Not everything has to be hyped up to entertain viewers. Sweartogod.

4. Did you, or anyone, ask questions like those when GW Bush was in office and lied us into a fraudulent war?

Now, I'm sure this host is a very nice person, professional, and just trying to do her job by keeping the conversation interesting and lively, but come on.

By the way, in their statement, part of what the Homeland Security Department said was, "At the time of reentry there was no derogatory information that suggested this individual posed a national security or public safety threat." I didn't hear that mentioned.

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VIDEO: 3 pals of Boston Marathon bombing suspect charged with coverup

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boston marathon bomb suspect's pals

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Here is an update on the Boston Marathon bombing case, via NBC:

Three college friends of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were charged Wednesday with removing a backpack and fireworks from his dorm room or lying about it to the feds.

Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev were charged with conspiring to obstruct justice. Robel Philipos was charged with making false statements, federal authorities said. [...]

Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev, who are from Kazakhstan, had been detained April 20 on immigration charges. Philipos was taken into custody later. [...]

... Kadyrbayev texted him about it, a criminal complaint said.

Tsarnaev's responses included the messages "lol," "you better not text me" and "come to my room and take whatever you want," the court document said. [...]

They... "collectively decided to throw the backpack and fireworks into the trash because they did not want Tsarnaev to get in trouble," Kadyrbaev told agents, according to the complaint.

Lulz. What a riot. Oh em gee.

not funny hahaha no

Apparently, they had no prior knowledge of the bombing. One suspect kept changing his story, and on the fourth interview he finally told the truth, so he could get an 8 year penalty, as opposed to the five years his buddies are facing, per Michael Isikoff just now on MSNBC.

More details at the link. And here's a PDF of the criminal complaint filed against the recent FBI arrestees.

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