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April 15, 2013

Explosions at the Boston Marathon
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 03:41 PM * 403 comments

Explosions at the Boston Marathon

Multiple outlets and law enforcement officials are reporting what a horrific looking scene makes clear: The headquarters at the Boston Marathon have been locked down after two explosions were reported near the downtown finish line mid-Monday afternoon, near the Boston Library. Boston police confirmed that there were two explosions — and doctors were told to expect casualties — but no one was saying who or what might be responsible.

EMS, firefighters, other public safety personnel, and any civilians on the ground — my thoughts are with you. Stay safe.

Comments on Explosions at the Boston Marathon:
#1 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 03:49 PM:

We've been hearing a lot of sirens even here in Cambridge, and another one just went by. Local news websites are getting hammered.

Adam Gaffin's @universalhub Twitter feed is my recommended source for updates; he's RTing others and adding info as he gets it.

#2 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 03:52 PM:

The Red Cross has a web page for reporting your status / checking on loved ones:


#3 ::: Ken Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 04:00 PM:

It was clearly the work of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force

(Too soon?)

#5 ::: Janet K ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 04:26 PM:

Horrific. According to public radio, the police are reporting 3 deaths and 22 or 23 injuries.

There's also heightened security here in Washington DC.

#6 ::: Janet K ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 04:27 PM:

Correction, the report I heard was two deaths not three.

#7 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 04:28 PM:

Current reports are two dead, twenty-three injured. Reportedly multiple devices.

#8 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 04:30 PM:

#3 Ken: Yes. Way too soon.

At least let the firefighters hose the blood off the streets first.

#9 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 04:31 PM:

Michael and Nomi Burstein have checked in and are safe. More as I hear it.

#10 ::: ebear ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 04:42 PM:

Ken Liu, Julia Rios, Chia Evers, Bracken MacLeod, Theodora Goss: all safe.

#11 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 04:58 PM:

I grew up just outside Boston, and spent the last hour having the horrifying experience watching the initial coverage in a restaurant in Berkeley. Fuck.

My family and colleagues are safe (reported in by email).

And yes Ken at #3: too damn soon. Not funny, not appropriate.

#12 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 04:59 PM:

A Rhode Island state trooper had just finished when the first one went off, and was helping people. He says a lot of missing limbs: legs and feet.

They're looking for a man who apparently was seen in the area wearing a backpack, but nothing else yet.

Avoid news site comments, because they're getting into speculation on whodunnit, and it's nasty.

#13 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 05:15 PM:

Watching coverage on the BBC website. An incident at the JFK Library that may have been an ordinary fire. Reports of two more bombs found.

#14 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 05:21 PM:

Stefan @2: Google is also running a people-finder page:

#15 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 05:22 PM:

I live in the Boston area and I'm fine. Wasn't downtown at the time.

I would like to say that it would be tragic if we all have to avoid going out in the open and avoid crowds just to be safe, because that will undermine all that is good about the civic space.

What I have liked about the Boston Marathon is that you've got an energy going in waves through the crowd. Now are we not going to be allowed to have that any more?

#16 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 05:25 PM:

Also, ABC News live updates.

Latest word there on casualty count was "Massachusetts authorities confirm at least 68 patients transported to area hospitals."

#17 ::: Brooks Moses is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 05:28 PM:

(Passing on link to ABCNews live update page.)

#18 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 05:29 PM:

Watching TV on the other side of the river. Seems like everything is shutting down. I can confirm that at least some of Harvard's schools are closing and evacuating as a precaution and both Democratic candidates for Senate have suspended all campaign activity. Even the cafe I was sitting in when I heard about it closed.

Sounds like the only silver lining of this occuring right at the finish line of the marathon is that there was a large, well-staffed medical tent right on hand. So at least the injured have gotten the best and promptest care possible.

#19 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 05:31 PM:

Dave, there was an electrical fire earlier, and also a bomb.

They think the bombs were detonated by cell phones - they've advised people in the area not to use them. They may also have turned off the towers along the route.

#20 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 05:33 PM:

If you are trying to locate someone who was near the Boston Marathon finish line, call the mayor's hotline at 617-635-4500.

If you have any information that might help authorities figure out what happened, call 800-494-TIPS. The Boston police have also asked for copies of any photos or video that anyone might have taken of the finish line area, on the grounds that it might contain useful information for their investigation; call that number if you have photos or video to share.

I'm listening to the WBUR live feed. They are doing a fairly good job of clarifying which reports are rumor/unconfirmed, and which have been confirmed.

Effectively, very little is confirmed right now other than what Ed Davis said at the press conference: there were two explosions about 10 seconds and about 550 feet apart near the Boston Marathon finish line. There was a third explosion at JFK Library; the police are not certain if that was a related incident.

Basically everything else is unconfirmed reporting, rumor, or speculation at this point. Especially anything about who might be responsible.

#21 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 05:36 PM:

Sympathies for everyone concerned. Can't help wondering what's going to happen security-wise for London next week - but there's a limit to what you can do, and if we stop holding such wonderful, celebratory occasions then the terrorists have won.

#22 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 06:02 PM:

I am hearing (from Channel 5 (WCVB) in Boston) that there are two fatalities, definitely 23 injuries, and 80 taken to area hospitals. Within 1.5 miles of the explosions are Mass General, Tufts Medical, and Brigham's and Women's, some of the best hospitals in the country.

#23 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 06:02 PM:

Contrary to New York Post and NBC News reports of a suspect in custody, police commissioner Ed Davis just stated unequivocally that the Boston police do not have a suspect in custody.

#24 ::: Steve Downey ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 06:11 PM: has a Person Finder site up for this. If you have information about or are looking for a person, they're matching information up. Person Finder

#25 ::: Lighthill ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 06:33 PM:

I was around the downtown area after the event. I'm not so good at reading body language, but the crowd seemed pretty calm. Nobody seemed to be especially panicked or freaking out; I didn't know anything had happened until I turned on the radio.

We decided that our errand wasn't important, and the best thing we could do was probably to get off the road.

On the way back, drivers were especially scrupulous about pulling over for emergency vehicles.

#26 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 06:34 PM:

Pfusand (22): Thanks for the word on which hospitals are so close. (I don't know Boston at all.) My niece's boyfriend is a resident at Mass General, and she's a resident at Beth Israel Deaconess. I daresay that he at least has been called in if he wasn't already on duty.

I just hope they weren't off and watching the finish. My niece ran a half-marathon a few years ago, so I know she would be interested.

#27 ::: Devlin du GEnie ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 06:36 PM:

I teared up a little bit watching video of those who immediately turned and ran toward the blast to see if they could help. Most days, we're a far better species than we give ourselves credit for.

#28 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 06:39 PM:

Oh crap in a bucket. Thoughts and prayers going out, addressed "Where need is greatest."

I know of some friends up that way whom I'm hoping will get in touch soon.

#29 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 06:42 PM:

Reporting 115 injured now, and 7 hospitals with victims.

#30 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 06:48 PM:

Just got home from a grocery run, turned the TV on to scenes of panic -- my thoughts, prayers and good wishes to all those in Boston.

I am beginning to hate April...

#31 ::: Justin ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 07:40 PM:

"Look for the helpers" Mr. Rogers.

#32 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 08:32 PM:

Erik, #15: I would like to say that it would be tragic if we all have to avoid going out in the open and avoid crowds just to be safe, because that will undermine all that is good about the civic space.

QFT. Now (tangent) think about this: that, or things very like it, is what women get told all the time. How would you like to hear people saying that sort of thing to you every time anything bad happens to a woman who was living the kind of life you don't want to lose?

I have some speculations about who the culprit(s) will be found to be, which I will not air at this time.

#33 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 08:55 PM:

Latest from Boson PD: a third person is dead, and also the FBI is taking over the investigation.

#34 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 09:02 PM:

Now (tangent) think about this: that, or things very like it, is what women get told all the time.

That is what I tell everyone all the time. Including healthy young male sailors, Cub Scouts, my fellow EMTs, and y'all. That's how I live my own life.

Including telling friends where I'm going, what route I'm taking, who's with me, and when to expect me back.

This isn't a man thing or a woman thing, it's a basic common-sense human survival thing. For everyone.

#35 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 10:09 PM:

#34 Jim Macdonald

At the risk of derailing -- the difference is that you (a) tell both genders to be cautious; and (b) tell them to let someone know where they're going and when they expect to be back -- you don't tell them not to go out *at all.*

#36 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 10:14 PM:

I spent my day working at the Marathon's First Aid station 22 at mile 23.2. In an trial this year, we were an enhanced aid station with a paid Paramedic and much more gear than we usually get -- IV gear, immersion tubs for hyperthermia, and an electronic patient tracking system. While the race was still running, we had more than the usual number of racers stopping in, mostly for massive cramping and for bloody blisters.

While there has been planning around shutting down an active race, implementing was challenging as receiving areas needed to be setup for the runners. Once runners stop moving after this distance, they are fairly likely to fall over, which is why we have such a massive medical response at the finish line. Thankfully, the majority of runners had already finished the race.

Since we had some medical capacity, we were informed that we would be staying open after the race was closed and collecting people a gear from other stations for possible activation elsewhere, probably at a runner collection site. After much delay, and loosing most of our professionals to their day jobs calling them in, we were told to pack up and stand down. We had sent some of our supplies (mostly heat sheets) off to the Brookline collection center.

On the race course, the first official response was to move spectators and bystanders away from the edge of the course. Then diversion points were set where the runners were directed off course to collection sites. We weren't a diversion point so I can't tell you how that worked. My day job Red Cross supervisor was at one of the diversion points so I may have details about how that looked at a later time.

Once the course was mostly cleared of runners and bystanders, the course was used as an access route for emergency personnel coming in from out of the area, for emergency vehicles running both directions, and to move the runner buses to pick people up.

The runners stash their gear in numbered buses at the beginning of the race, and collect it at the finish line -- I expect that there are many runners who have had to track their gear down after those buses moved from the finish line.

A volunteer that I've know and worked with for years was the supervisor at First Aid 26, and that team dealt with a couple of folks with shrapnel injuries, as well as several people who had fallen either due to the event or in panic.

A lot of stations (including ours) had to deal with panicky and distraught people worried about friends or the problems of getting in touch with people with an overloaded cell phone network.

#37 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 10:16 PM:

The OP's article strongly hints that someone in law enforcement was immediately trying to "pump up" a Saudi connection to this, through the Post and Faux News. Somehow I doubt it.

#38 ::: Heather Kuhn ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 10:16 PM:

I normally post under an alias here, but I think I'll use my real name today.

My mom lives in an apartment building connected to the Prudential Center a few blocks from the Boston Marathon finish line. She was on her way to Copley Square when the bombs went off. Thank Ghu, she hadn't gotten there yet. I have an email from her confirming her safety and she reports that the stores at the Pru Center were closed and the emergency lighting on when she returned.

#39 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 10:20 PM:

All safe here.

#40 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 12:03 AM:

This is horrible, and our thoughts are with the victims & their families.

Nashville is having its marathon at the end of this month; so far no one has suggested cancelling it. There are already people planning on using the race as a fundraiser for the Boston victims.

#41 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 10:03 AM:

me (26): Heard from my brother that my niece and her boyfriend are fine. Their apartment is 8-10 blocks from the explosions.

#43 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 10:46 AM:

This looked like a well-managed scene.

If you'd like to review: Incident Command and Triage.

I'd also recommend that everyone take a first aid course. No telling when you're going to be first-on-scene.

#44 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 11:01 AM:

Jim: one of the first things that crossed my mind when I heard about the bombings was, "I bet they already had ICS in place to run the event, and there was probably a LOT of medical stuff in place. Response is going to be FAST."

God help us, if we can't keep this shit from happening, at least we're getting good at dealing with it.

#45 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 11:30 AM:

Really, we can't stop bad stuff from happening.

Bad stuff happens inside Federal prisons. No matter how much freedom we give up there's no such thing as 100% safety.

What we can do is improve first response.

#46 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 11:30 AM:

It was close to the finish line, where they have a lot of people stationed to help the runners as they come off the course. (Water, thermal blankets, tents with chairs/cots, ambulances just in case.)

#47 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 11:44 AM:

Lee @32: I have some speculations about who the culprit(s) will be found to be, which I will not air at this time.

I'll air mine: a white male or males, twenties to early thirties, with right-wing and/or survivalist views. I feel fairly confident in this speculation. I wonder if it matches yours.

#48 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 12:33 PM:

@47 (Rikibeth):

We may well not have enough information, yet, to make this worth talking about, but (for the Record) my initial suspicion is much like yours.

What I now find most interesting is that the FBI is saying that it has launched a "potential terrorist inquiry" in connection with this event. In my mind, setting off two bombs in a public place where TV & other cameras are going to catch the results has nothing "potential" about it.

#49 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 12:41 PM:

NPR last night was all over the "has not yet called this a 'terrorist' action" as if there was some clearly defined understanding of what terrorism is. I mean, by any reasonable definition I know of, sure, it was a terrorist act. That's not hard, is it? So, why this weird caution? What, exactly, do they think the word terrorism means? I mean, if they'd been talking about "international terrorism" then it would have made sense. All in all, I expect it's a domestic terrorist attack. And I would just like to note that it Really Pisses Me Off.

#50 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 12:46 PM:

Jim @33: Lila @34:

ICS is up and active for the Marathon at a regional or state level out of the state EOC in Framingham in all the 10 or so years I've been involved. I believe that the Federal EOC is also activated for the event, and one of the federal logistics support teams is based in Mass, and can activate on very short notice (everyone in that team holds a Class A Commercial Drivers License (including the receptionist).

The Marathon is a pre-declared Mass Casualty Incident, and there were already special medical protocols in place just for the normal level of ill and injured runners. This may have helped. What certainly helped was the vast number of trained medical responders, vetted and credentialed for the event, that were just around the corner. The finish line medical tents are run by Boston EMS. Boston EMS has large numbers of bicycle Paramedics working the race. Ambulances are pre-spotted at many of the medical tents, especially in the last third or so of the race. Course medical is run from a central offsite location and is coordinated between MEMA (Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency), the Red Cross, the ambulance companies, race management, and other players. There is a Ham radio net with full net control providing communications from every medical tent and walking Red Cross team to coordinate response.

Special Boston or State police teams are already in place (there are a couple of black vans that drive just in front of the leaders of at least two of the waves of runners (women's elite and men's elite)) loaded with special ops folk with the rear van doors open, and at least the last row of seating facing backwards -- the same as in previous years.

The course is lined with Police and National Guard for crowd control and incident response.

Normally, the Marathon is considered to be a massive live drill with real world problems popping up. I wish it had stayed that way.

(John, in data-dump mode rather than emotional response mode at the moment).

#51 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 01:13 PM:

jnh @50: The Marathon is a pre-declared Mass Casualty Incident

And people do this voluntarily...and pay good money for the privilege.

Humans are very weird.

#52 ::: Matthew Brown ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 01:20 PM:

Lydy Nickerson@49: I think it's because the official definition of terrorism includes a motive; terrorism is violence in support of political or social goals.

They either don't know or aren't saying who they suspect is behind this, so they won't comment on goals either.

#53 ::: Quixote ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 01:25 PM:

Lydy @ 49

I imagine they're waiting until they have an idea who the culprit is and whether they have a group affiliation. If they can be placed in the "designated terrorist" category, this will be a terrorist act. If not, this will be called a criminal act.

For example, clinic bombings are de facto terrorist acts, but are never designated as such.

#54 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 01:37 PM:

All I can say is that this is truly appalling. My heart goes out to all the people who have been horribly mutilated and to the families of those who have died. I'm glad our fellow Fluorospherians are all right.

#55 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 01:40 PM:

The FBI's definition of terrorism is, "the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives."

It's how you can tell terrorism from, say, plain-old mass murder.

#56 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 01:44 PM:

jnh @50: Normally, the Marathon is considered to be a massive live drill with real world problems popping up. I wish it had stayed that way.

I'm glad that, when the drill turned real, there was such a dedicated team ready to respond.

Jacques @51: jnh @50: The Marathon is a pre-declared Mass Casualty Incident

And people do this voluntarily...and pay good money for the privilege.

Remember the outcome of the first Marathon.

#57 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 01:47 PM:

Jacque @ #51, similarly, ICS is activated for all U.Ga. home football games (Sanford Stadium holds 90,000+, and many more are tailgating outside). "You fight the way you train" as has been said often here; using ICS for the Christmas parade, football games, golf tournaments etc. means you get lots of practice.

#58 ::: GC80 ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 01:59 PM:

Rikibeth @47:

My initial thought was Islamists, because it seemed the wrong kind of target for white right-wing terrorists: not a government building (like OKC) nor an abortion clinic, nor a left-wing political gathering (like Utøya).

Then again, on second thoughts it doesn't really seem like Islamists either: Middle Eastern terrorists would most likely prefer a higher-profile target, while American Muslim terrorism is vanishingly rare compared to (say) European Muslim terrorism. The only American Muslim terrorist attack which comes to mind for me is the Fort Hood shootings.

A bit of a baffling case...

#59 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 02:03 PM:

Jacque @51:
Well, the runners pay good money for the privilege, as well as train their bodies for years for the chance of running "Boston", even though the Boston Marathon is not a qualified event for world records (all other Marathons run in a loop, Boston is run is a straight line, and has some net altitude loss).

My cost as a volunteer is time, food, and travel. My benefit is a nice running jacket, drill, and the ability to help people with visible result.

I even had my own cheering squad this year, as I came back from a walk looking for problems a bunch of people shouted out something like "Hey! CPR guy!". I had taught a CPR class in a nearby school, and the staff I trained was watching from near my station.

#60 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 02:12 PM:

Does anyone besides me think the date was significant? I've only heard it mentioned as Patriot Day, but the main thing I associate it with is income tax.

#61 ::: Lila is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 02:13 PM:

Almost certainly for a word of power referring to governmental revenue-raising.

#62 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 02:18 PM:

Jacque @51: I completed a 50-mile hill trail race on Saturday, for fun (and yes, I paid to do it). The weather was bad from about three hours in (rain, strong winds; visibiity down to 50-200 yards). My time was, due to the weather, slower than I would have liked. But I finished!

We did have people drop out, including people pulled out (voluntarily or otherwise) with hypothermia (discovering the hard way that their waterproofs were not as waterproof as they ought to be). We had a nighttime search and rescue for the last runner (he was found safely). But we don't do it intending to be casualties.

I didn't do it for the discomfort of slogging against the wind, or the risk of hypothermia (I had a good waterproof jacket AND trousers, and an extra warm layer, so I was okay in that respect), but for the challenge of running 50 miles - a challenge I intend to take on another three times this year (my goal is "5 x 50 at 45"). Being able to complete such a challenge feels good; it's taught me a lot about myself, it's helped me to grow, improved my self confidence...

#63 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 02:24 PM:

GC80 @58

I had the same thought as Rikibeth. I assumed the day was chosen because of it being tax day and the place was chosen for crowds. All this is speculation on my part and not based on real world data. Though I wouldn't be surprised if I were wrong, either.

There's not enough publicly-available information to go on.

#64 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 02:26 PM:

jnh @59: there are other point-to-point marathons besides Boston. For example, LA's course descends about 340 feet from Dodger Stadium to the beach. My understanding (from wikipedia) is that world records don't have to be on a closed loop, the course just has to return to near where it started.

#65 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 02:30 PM:

I think "terrorist" is a label whose main use (other than propaganda) is to work out what kind of response makes sense.

Case 1: A known government attacks us--say, North Korea launches a missile and kills a bunch of Americans with us. We have a pretty well-defined way to respond to that, we know whom to hold responsible, etc. We've got a whole big chunk of our society built up and prepared for that sort of response.

Case 2: A lone wacko or a couple of wackos attack us--say, McVeigh and Nichols blow up a building full of people. We have a pretty well-defined way to deal with that, too, though it's not too satisfying, because our ability to deter future attacks pretty much ends at the point of either imprisoning or executing the bombers.

Case 3: Some organization that's a lot less cohesive than a government, but a lot more than just a couple nuts who got together some explosives and rented a truck, attacks us. We've been trying to work out how to deal with this for a long time--dealing with terrorists, organized criminal gangs, ideological/political/religious movements, etc. And note that this splits a lot of ways (as does Case 1)--profit-oriented criminal gangs are probably a lot easier to deter than religious movements with rhetoric that occasionally convinces someone to go shoot an abortion doctor or toss a bomb at a synagogue.

Which case are we in? Even that is largely a political decision--my guess is that the Ft Hood mass shooting was probable a lot more like Case 2 than Case 3, but there was some justification available for doing something powerful people wanted done (continuing blowing people up in Yemen, assassinating some Americans overseas) by labeling it as Case 3.

FWIW, I am very strongly of the opinion that we have royally screwed the pooch in how we've handled this in the last decade and more since 9/11. Thank God it wasn't politically feasible, in response to the OKC bombing, for Clinton to decide to start bombing Montana--we'd still be blowing people up there.

#66 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 02:32 PM:

I've seen a lot of speculation on the net about who did it. This is like some kind of mental experiment to demonstrate that we're all Bayesians inside our skulls--you give us no evidence, and our prior probabilities fall right out our mouths.

#67 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 02:35 PM:

Lila #60 --

I thought that the date was significant enough that I re-read what I'd previously posted here at ML: A Dangerous Time of Year.

#68 ::: Quercus ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 02:51 PM:

Even as our hearts go out to the victims and their family and friends, it's not too soon to think about how we, as a society, react to this. And here's a good start:

More at

#69 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 02:57 PM:

We've had over 40 years of modern terrorism in the West but surprisingly few attacks on big-crowd, difficult-to-police sporting events. There was the Munich Olympics of course, but that was of a hostage-ransom variety whose days seem now to have gone. The Atlanta bomb? Well, perhaps the Olympics are a special-case target then. The IRA phoned in a bomb warning that got the 1997 Grand National postponed, and in 1983 they are widely assumed to have kidnapped Shergar, but that's about it for the UK mainland. I wonder why.

#70 ::: GC80 ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 02:57 PM:

Naomi Parkhurst @63: Thanks for bringing up the Tax Day angle -- something which (as I'm not American) I knew nothing about.

#71 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 02:59 PM:

(Correction: Shergar was kidnapped in the Republic, not the UK mainland).

#72 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 03:14 PM:

Jim: and hyperlocally, April 25, 2009.

#73 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 03:31 PM:

April 15th isn't Tax Day in Massachusetts (or anywhere else in New England that uses the Boston IRS center). It's a state holiday and the office is closed.

#74 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 03:32 PM:

Jim: Huh. I had never heard of that. For those of us who use the Atlanta center, it's business as usual.

#75 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 03:39 PM:

Jim, I know a woman here in Los Angeles who has Patriots Day off, because the company she works for is based in Massachusetts and uses the MA holidays.

#76 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 03:47 PM:

Interesting! So do folks who use the Boston IRS address have to have everything filed a day earlier or do they get an extra day?

Still seems like the date has national significance, but it might not enter into it.

#77 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 03:56 PM:

Isn't the April 15 tax deadline about when US income tax returns have to be postmarked, anyway, not about when the office receives or processes them? (Or, these days, about what date you submitted them electronically.)

I am surprised that Federal employees would get a Massachusetts state holiday off, and I wouldn't think US Postal workers do; they certainly don't get state holidays off in Hawaii.

(And my best wishes go to those in Boston, also; I'm not trying to sound heartless here.)

#78 ::: Clifton is gnomed again ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 03:58 PM:

Sorry, gnomes; I'm hungry myself. Time to take a walk and see what kind of food and/or coffee I can pick up today.

#79 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 04:04 PM:

GC80, #58: I will be extremely surprised if Muslims (or indeed any non-whites) have anything to do with it. Tax Day, Patriots' Day (local holiday) in Boston, the city where the original Tea Party took place -- this has "white American hate group" written all over it.

Jim, #73: However, it is the official Federal tax-filing deadline. There's probably a special exemption somewhere in the rules for MA because of the state holiday, just as there's an automatic extension nationwide when April 15 falls on a Sunday.

#80 ::: Lee has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 04:05 PM:

Probably for a Word of Power.

#81 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 04:10 PM:

So far, at least from the coverage I've seen of the events, one of my predominant thoughts has been: thank God there are not more dead and wounded, because this could have been so much worse than it was if the terrorist had been more ambitious.

#82 ::: RiceVermicelli ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 04:33 PM:

Lee @ 79, and others who've been wondering: If you file your Federal taxes from MA, and Patriots' Day falls on the 15th (or if the 15th is Sunday, and Patriot's Day is the 16th), you get an extra day. So some years we get an extra day and some years we don't.

The state has been trying to phase this holiday out, with limited success. We have this marathon.

#83 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 04:35 PM:

Jim (#73), and Lee (#79): by 2011 the Andover office was taken out of the submission loop in favor of KCMO and Hartford, so New England lost the Patriots' Day deadline extension; MA tax returns get the extra day when applicable, but Federal returns don't.

My completely uninformed guess as to what sort of person is responsible? A bomb goes off at an internationally known sporting event in the eastern US: in 1996, that was Eric Rudolph fighting abortion rights and the "homosexual agenda". I can easily imagine a like-minded person thinking that Boston was a particularly good target this time around.

#84 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 05:28 PM:

The good outnumber you, and we always will.

One person's response to the Boston terror attack.

#85 ::: Jeff R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 05:55 PM:

Lila@51: When someone sets out to bomb the Boston Marathon, they have delegated the choice of the day of their attack to that event's planners. Any attempt to assign further significance to the date is almost certainly going to be wrong.

#86 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 05:59 PM:

I'm remembering Mike's post "In This Hour" from a few years back.

#87 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 06:28 PM:

As far as targets go, Boston has a great deal of symbolic value for Americans of all political stripes, but not so much for groups outside the USA; those tend to direct their animus toward Washington, as the seat of government, and toward New York and (to a lesser extent) LA, as the default American cities in most international entertainment media.

So I wouldn't be surprised at a domestic origin for the bombs, either.

#88 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 06:52 PM:

Yeah, I'm betting on the home-grown variety of terrorist, or else a lone wacko like the Unabomber.

Also: I'd never heard of Alex Jones prior to this event. I hope never to hear from or about him again, except for the one line announcement that he's lost his job.

#89 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 07:14 PM:

Remind me? Who or what is Alex Jones?

#90 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 07:19 PM:

Jim Macdonald@88

Alex Jones is a somewhat prominent right-wing talk radio host.

#91 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 07:20 PM:

Right-wing anti-Muslim nutjob. He was the one who was going on about the Flight 93 memorial being Muslim because it was roughly crescent shaped.

Also, Boston College says the third dead person was one of their grad students, but hasn't released the name.

#92 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 07:21 PM:

Didn't want to say anything until the first 24 hours had passed so that things had become clearer. The bombs are very similar to what the insurgents use in Afghanistan. But the specs for those bombs have also appeared online in Al Qa'ida's magazine and so downloadable by anyone. It's a simple but effective design. At least they didn't use rat poison on the shrapnel which is what they use against Israelis.

#93 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 07:22 PM:

Sounds like the attempted bombing in Spokane: shrapnel coated with poison.

#94 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 08:33 PM:

My money's on domestic terrorism, but I also wonder if it may not even be politically motivated.

It could just be some random sociopathic nut job who likes seeing things go boom. Blowing up mailboxes with pipe bombs got boring, and he decided to scale things up a bit. He might have no more motive than, "I wanna make a BIG BLAST and be famous for it!"

Sick, but there are people like that in the world.

#95 ::: Ian Osmond ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 08:59 PM:

Following up to the comments about the emergency response:

176 wounded.

3 dead.

Only 3 dead. Dozens of people with limbs mangled, blown off -- and only three dead.

I'm so goddamned proud of my city's first responders and doctors.

#96 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 09:04 PM:

I heard that a friend of a friend has a broken pelvis - from the race, not from the bombs. While I work in Ottawa, my boss is based in metro Boston.

These days I use a tablet to post, and someday its erratic automatic space and punctuation is going to get my post gnomed.

#97 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 09:28 PM:

One person said that it would have been a lot worse without them - they saved people by getting tourniquets on quickly.

#98 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 09:53 PM:

If the rat poison is warfarin, then it's an anti-coagulant. That is, the victims don't die later of some other toxic reaction; they bleed out at the scene (or of internal bleeding in the hospital). IANAMD, so that's only IIUC.

Boston has GREAT first responders. <sarcasm>Of course they're all union thugs and we should take away their right to collectively bargain.</sarcasm>

Seriously, it does make me think: in a town where they really got everything else exactly right (at least from the point where the bombs went off), why didn't they find the bombs? They did sweeps with explosive-sniffing dogs, multiple times. It's not a failure on their part, it's a gap found by a clever perpetrator.

I want to know how the perp did it so that hole can be plugged. Unfortunately I don't see a good way to do that without some jackhole (or group of jackholes) deciding that someone is to blame for it and should be ruined.

#99 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 10:15 PM:

Xopher: I've been wondering why the pressure cooker(s); maybe they were an anti-dog measure? I don't know, but I'm guessing that if they cleaned the outside of the cookers very, very carefully it would be difficult for dogs to smell the explosives.

Of course, I've got no idea of the capabilities of said dogs; maybe that wouldn't work at all.

#100 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 10:20 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @ 97: I can't imagine how they could thoroughly sweep both sides of a course 26.2 miles long with bomb-sniffing dogs. Especially not when spectators can freely come and go along the sides of the course.

I'm so impressed by the response. Thank you, jnh @ 50, for the description of all the planning. And thank you for being a volunteer yourself.

Jim Macdonald - Do you want to talk about tourniquets, and how what people learned in Boy Scouts is not longer what's recommended?

#101 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 10:27 PM:

Xopher @ 97 -- the dogs can't be everywhere all the time, unfortunately. And perhaps the exact explosive used wasn't something the dogs were trained to look for.

(Dogs DO have a phenomenal ability to detect explosives if the conditions are right. A friend's husband was a dog handler. His dog alerted them to possible explosives inside an ambulance that was staged before an event. Said explosive were sealed nitroglycerin tablets inside the ambulance, in a drawer. The dog detected them with the ambulance doors closed.)

#102 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 10:31 PM:

Cygnet: Woah, I'm impressed. I guess that my hypothetical wouldn't work after all!

#103 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 10:34 PM:

I don't know that they swept the whole course. They DID sweep the area where the bombs eventually went off, multiple times.

The perps must have planted the bombs after the last sweep. If they did...that argues for inside information. Which is seriously bad.

#104 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 10:47 PM:

Xopher, they're pretty sure that the bombs were planted after the last sweep, which was before the race started.

I'm figuring the pressure cookers were used because the lid latches on and keeps the stuff inside from coming out before it gets put down. (If there were no dogs around after they were planted, then air-tightness wouldn't matter so much.) It doesn't require inside information so much as luck that no one noticed the bags they apparently were in.

#105 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 10:52 PM:

#94 Cygnet: Sick, but there are people like that in the world.

For example:
George Metesky

#100 JanetL: Jim Macdonald - Do you want to talk about tourniquets, and how what people learned in Boy Scouts is not longer what's recommended?

I don't know what folks learned in Scouts, but I can tell you what we now do in EMS. Back when I got started, and as recently as when I wrote the early Trauma and You posts, tourniquets were on the outs; they weren't even in my state's protocols.

Now, based on a lot of experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, tourniquets are back in fashion. If we can't control bleeding with direct pressure, we skip pressure points and elevation and go directly to tourniquets.

These are for limbs only.

You can get pre-packed tourniquets. If you aren't carrying one of those, go above the injury with a wide cloth band (not wire or string). Go over the bone, not over a joint. Tie it tight, then crank it down until bleeding stops. Don't remove it in the field. Don't cover the tourniquet -- the folks in the ER will need to know it's there.

You can write the letter "T" and the time (24-hour "military time" clock) on the patient's forehead.

What we've found is that the muscle and skin and bone in a limb can be viable for hours with no blood supply, but the patient will only be viable for minutes if they bleed out. So screw it: Use a tourniquet.

#106 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 11:10 PM:

Jeff@85: It could be the other way around. The marathon could merely have been a convenient event occurring on April 15. Until we learn more, there's no way to know which was the primary focus.

#107 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 11:14 PM:

P J 104: Xopher, they're pretty sure that the bombs were planted after the last sweep, which was before the race started.

So maybe the answer is to keep doing sweeps as the race progresses.

#108 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 11:17 PM:

Cally@99: I heard a purported expert explain the pressure cooker allows low-quality explosives to build up force.

#109 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 11:34 PM:

Without any claims to expertise, and based on general layperson-level information gathering and background knowledge, as I understand it:

1. Pressure-cooker bombs are a widely used and relatively easily made form of improvised explosive device. They are known to even slightly informed malefactors to be capable of producing a directed blast. Early reports suggested that the bombs used in Boston yesterday were packed with ball bearings or other small hard objects, so-called "shrapnel." (Jim, I know that this is an incorrect term, what is the correct one?)

2. The bombs used in Boston are thought not to have been particularly powerful as such things go, suggesting that the bomb makers did not have the skills to manufacture or the determination to gain access to a more energetic explosive.

3. The bombs were reportedly not placed to maximize the injury and death they caused, but probably put down at ground level. Given that somebody could stroll through the crowd of spectators, most of them looking toward the race and obstructing line of sight of people watching the spectators, and drop a backpack against a wall, I would not think there was any need to invoke inside information. Just a general sense of how acuity of observation wanes over time (bombs went off three hours after the first runners crossed the finish line) and some lucky timing.

4. I get a pain in my figurative neck every time somebody talks about "circuit boards" as a sophisticated element in the construction of these recent bombs. It's too reminiscent of Boston PD reactions of recent years to electronic devices not in consumer packaging which proved to be harmless. If you found a circuit board in the debris from an explosion, all you know is that it was detonated by an electric mechanism other than a magneto in a box with a plunger. It could very well be that proverbial egg timer, with the plastic casing removed either before or after the explosion.

#110 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 11:49 PM:

Xopher #98: Warfarin or equivalent in bombs is an Anarchist's Cookbook thing, but as we've discussed here before, not actually effective.

The vitamin K antagonists take a long time to act, and initially decrease clotting. They stop the recycling of a particular enzyme that's needed to make at least four pro-clotting and three anti-clotting factors, and you run out of the anti-clotting ones first.

#111 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2013, 11:53 PM:

edit to previous: initially increase clotting.

#112 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2013, 12:20 AM:

#109 ::: Bob Webber

I'd call 'em fragmentation-generating objects.

#113 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2013, 12:38 AM:

#112 ::: Jim Macdonald

Okay, I was hoping for a more streamlined term, but that works.

Seems a bit like a description of a Microsoft C# program, though.

#114 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2013, 12:41 AM:

There's a picture of one of the pressure cooker lids on some of the news sites (CNN had it up on the main page as of the time of this post, though I couldn't figure out how to link to it). Looks like a pretty standard modern pressure cooker/canner lid. Small, inexpensive ones start at about $30 at Wally World and hold around four to six quarts.

You know, I'd never thought of a pressure cooker being deliberately used as a bomb until today. I grew up on stories of old-style pressure cookers accidentally going off like bombs when the valve got plugged, but the modern ones don't do that. They have multiple safety features to prevent an accidental explosion.

It makes a sick sort of sense, though. You could pack a LOT of shrapnel in one, plus the cooker itself is very heavy and would make pretty nasty shrapnel in its own right. Basically, it'd be a giant pipe bomb. And there's a few handy holes in a modern one that could be used for wiring or even a simple fuse.

There are truly evil people in this world.

#115 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2013, 12:43 AM:

Since it's made of the equivalent of scrap metal (sort of) let's call it scrapnel.

#116 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2013, 12:43 AM:

GC80 @58: I gather the Boston Marathon was dedicated to the survivors of the Sandy Hook massacre.

Given the current US political debate over gun control that was triggered by that massacre, and the way some survivalist/anti-government groups are convinced that it's a pretext for a systematic attack on the Second Amendment, I think that made the marathon a potential target for a certain type of domestic right-wing kook who's terrified that Barack "Secret Muslim" Obama is going to send the UN Black Helicopters to take away their AR-15s and ten year stockpile of canned rations.

Also noteworthy: the marathon fell just three days before the 20th anniversary of the ending of the Waco Siege, another shibboleth of the extreme right/survivalist movement.

So I'm with Rikkibeth et al in expecting this to eventually turn out to be the product of domestic fringe right-wing extremists -- although a lone lunatic (see also the UK's Admiral Duncan pub bombing in 1999) is also possible.

#117 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2013, 01:33 AM:

Our CERT training tomorrow night is Unit 8: Terrorism. That's going to be interesting.

Our commute home tonight was crowded. Portland is divided by the Willamette River, and one of the bridges was closed. It's the one that that light rail trains cross, so a lot of people were taking the remaining buses. Buses were full, and people were left standing at stops as full buses went past. From the news report:

Witnesses told police someone ran away after leaving a toolbox nearby. But police later clarified that the box fell out of a maintenance truck on the road. A cyclist then stopped, picked up the tool box and put it on the bridge railing, then ran back to his bike and rode away.

#118 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2013, 02:43 AM:

There was a scare today in Los Angeles: someone on a train heard (or thought they heard) the word 'bomb', so the train was stopped and searched. Since it was at a station on a main line, everything going through there (which was everything north of downtown LA) was stopped. For an hour. They didn't find anything. (And, as a point of information, trains are randomly walked through by sheriffs with dogs. Mostly they're checking tickets.)

#119 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2013, 02:59 AM:

The very limited detail available thus far suggests "amateur hour" (in neon italics). The reported physical nature of the bombs suggests a non-state perpetrator, improvising explosives according to some vaguely remembered theory (or fourth-hand recipe) of what such a device could be made of, and designed to do.

The lack thus far of any public claims of responsibility for the bombing (whether plausible or not) also suggests either a "lone wolf" scenario, or a **very** small group. If so, this does not rule out either a random lunatic (of any variety), or a relatively "home-grown" radical faction, which could be striking out in just about **any** direction, against perceived evils.

#120 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2013, 06:54 AM:

#114 Cygnet:

Actually, someone recently asked Randall Monroe "what's the worst that could happen if you misuse a pressure cooker?" on the "What If" section of his site. I don't think any of the scenarios he came up with resemble this one in any way, for which I'm grateful; because not only do I not want him to get accused of being involved Monday's nastiness, but also his answer to "what's the worst that could happen" involved making dioxygen difluoride.

#121 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2013, 07:42 AM:

Jim @ #105: I'm pleased to report that that's almost word-for-word what our CERT class was taught about tourniquet use.

Now I need to get a few to stick in my bag. (Already got the Sharpie.)

#122 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2013, 07:47 AM:

Charlie Stross #116: I suggest you google "leaderless resistance". My money, for what it's worth, is on a far right North American group probably either neo-Nazi or white supremacist/separatist in orientation. Such groups include hostility to abortion, Obama, "socialism", and a host of other issues in their repertoire of causes they hate (in addition to Jews, blacks, feminists and ZOG).

#123 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2013, 09:12 AM:

GlendaP @ 108

If my memory is correct from my old reloading books, standard smokeless powder is one of the explosives that combusts faster under pressure.

Note that with any of the ignition explosives (the gunpowder family), they won't explode if unconfined--thay will just burn. You can pour the powder out of a standard rifle shell on the ground and light it--it will just burn (very rapidly). (Black powder will do the same, but IIRC is not pressure-sensitive in it's burn rate).

#124 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2013, 10:51 AM:

I'd add "not an athlete" to the profile, but that's not very useful. It's probably 90% of the population.

#125 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2013, 11:10 AM:

While I have seen a couple of superficially reasonable guesses as to the origin of the bombs/bomber, I reckon these guesses are about as reliable as a hot tip on the Kentucky Derby, if the entry list was a secret, and are about at the level of saying there is an animal with a leg at each corner.

#126 ::: Steve Downey ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2013, 11:15 AM:

Right wing rhetoric is well designed to infect the deranged. The Atlanta Olympics and various attacks on abortion providers are examples. So we may end up with a mixed scenario of lone nut and right-wing terror.

Either that or it's a Satanic cult, and they delivered the bombs via black magick. Right now there's about as much evidence either way.

I was surprised when I went to check how often bombings occur. According to one study on PubMed, between January 1983 to December 2002 there were 36,110 bombing incidents in the US. 5,931 injuries and 699 deaths were reported.

#127 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2013, 12:17 PM:

Fragano@122: My money, for what it's worth, is on a far right North American group probably either neo-Nazi or white supremacist/separatist in orientation. Such groups include hostility to abortion, Obama, "socialism", and a host of other issues in their repertoire of causes they hate (in addition to Jews, blacks, feminists and ZOG).

And all of those groups hate Boston, as the perceived spiritual and intellectual home of all of those things they don't like, plus whatever other issues they can stuff into the "northeastern liberal secular humanist" sack.

The last time we had right-wing militia nuts coming out of the woodwork was during the Clinton administration. Popular Democratic presidents bug the hell out of them, I guess.

#128 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2013, 01:08 PM:

Xopher -- this is my guess as to "delivery to the scene of the crime" so:

Near the finish line -- person with backpack/duffle sets bag down, fishes camera (phone?) out of their pocket, and moves away as if seeking a 'better shot' of the runners. Surrounding crowd is more interested in the race than the photographer,* and they don't notice that the guy taking pictures never comes back for the bag.

Lather, rinse and repeat. Because the bombs were a couple of blocks apart the odds of anyone in crowd actually remembering the perp is pretty slim.

*There were probably scads of folk taking pictures of their friends, who's going to notice one more?

#129 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2013, 01:20 PM:

CNN is now reporting that authorities have "IDed a suspect"; they've got video from a Lord and Taylors store surveillance camera and confirmatory video from a Boston news camera of someone placing what they believe to be the second bomb. I suspect they don't mean IDed as in "we know his or her name"; I suspect it's IDed as in "that's the one!"

#130 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2013, 01:21 PM:

Lila @57: means you get lots of practice.

And Monday was a graphic demonstration of how the practice and positioning seriously pay off.

#131 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2013, 02:03 PM:

Among the folks who use the Incident Command System, everything right the way down to the Squad Picnic is run as an incident with a commander and the various branches.

You fight the way you train.

#132 ::: Doug K ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2013, 02:22 PM:

jnh @50, thank you for this and for your volunteering. I've run and volunteered at many marathons, but all my volunteering was small-fry races of a thousand or less, with no more than a few volunteer docs/EMTs on call. It's reassuring to see just how carefully Boston is run.

Jim @105, I too had thought tourniquets deprecated.. thank you, useful info. I will teach the Scouts I know..

on the right-wing-nut hypothesis, also note they probably don't like runners, since the Paul Ryan marathon time incident..

#134 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2013, 02:38 PM:

All the speculation on whodunnit I've seen so far on the web amounts to "Here are the sorts of people I really don't like, and so I think they're probably to blame somehow."

#135 ::: -dsr- ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2013, 02:38 PM:

On incident management and the Boston hospital response:

#136 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2013, 02:55 PM:

22 minutes later, update at the CNN link Jim offers in #133:

Investigators in Washington and Boston denied Wednesday that an arrest had been made in the bombing of the Boston Marathon.

#137 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2013, 03:00 PM:

I will be surprised if the perpetrator turns out to be a foreigner. I suspect it will be a Unibomber clone, or if it's a group, the McVeigh model.

#138 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2013, 03:14 PM:

Based on the nature of the conflicting reports, it sounds like they've identified a suspect and have him not yet technically "under arrest" or "in custody" (because both of those states have formal legal repercussions), but definitely where they can expect to not lose track of him. It wouldn't surprise me at all to learn that what's going on right now is an intense interagency discussion of exactly who gets to claim public credit for the collar.

#139 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2013, 03:55 PM:

albatross, #134: You discount pattern recognition. "This type of person has been involved in a number of similar events, so the odds of this one being the same type of person are higher." We may all be surprised, but my money is still on "recurring pattern".

#140 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2013, 03:58 PM:

I'm going to be contrary and predict that the bomber or bombers will not turn out to be right wing and white. The bombs themselves, while not conclusive evidence, seem to argue against domestic terror. If I'm wrong, then I'm wrong, but there have been a number of occasions where right wingers are accused and later cleared of attacks. I will not be surprised if that happens here.

#141 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2013, 04:07 PM:

Wyman Cooke: what about the bomb makes you think it's not domestic? I've read elsewhere that several white supremacist websites had linked to Al Qaeda recipes for pressure-cooker bombs. Wanna-be terrorists study the methods of other terrorists, even (perhaps especially) the ones they hate.

#142 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2013, 04:11 PM:

Where I was working, they had floor response teams, which included at least one person who could use the AED that lived in the galley. They made sure that everyone was off the floor when we had a fire drill, generally managed first aid, and had cones over their cubicles so people knew who to look for.

#143 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2013, 05:44 PM:

A friend of mine linked this article, and offered the following commentary:

"And he was from Saudi Arabia, which is around where the logic stops. Was it just the way he looked, or did he, in the chaos, maybe call for God with a name that someone found strange?"

Nearly a century ago, a group of Germans showed us what could happen when we forgot that the Jews and the Christians worship the same God. A century from now, will it be a group of Americans that showed us what could happen when we forgot the same thing about the Christians and the Muslims? Or will it be a group of Americans who showed us what could happen when we remember? When we remember that we all have some experience of the divine in our lives, though that experience may manifest in an infinitude of ways, though we may call it by different names, though some of us may not even call it divinity, but simply nature, or art, or knowledge, or the connection between all living things?

to which I only really feel able to say, "Amen," even as someone who does call divinity, if I call it anything, nature or science or the connection between all living things.

#144 ::: estelendur has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2013, 05:45 PM:

I have a myriad of miscellaneous snack foods; would Their Lownesses like some Goldfish, perhaps?

#145 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2013, 09:53 PM:

Police were looking for photos from anyone at the scene, before the event. Perhaps relevant:

Recognition of Low-Resolution Faces Using Multiple Still Images and Multiple Cameras

#146 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2013, 10:48 PM:

I read this thread days after the event and still find the joke in #3 appalling, in shockingly bad taste. I know that he's been called out twice on it, early on, and I don't mean to repeat that. (Though in all honesty I'm surprised he didn't apologize, since it wasn't a drive-by first-timer.) But I wonder if it's out of line to suggest a disemvoweling? I think it merits it.

#147 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2013, 10:52 PM:

The man arrested for the ricin letters apparently blamed the marathon bombing on humanity letting God down by removing prayer from public schools. No word on what he blames for people sending deadly poisons through the mails.

#148 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2013, 11:35 PM:

Stephen Frug@146: Inappropriate humor is a not uncommon reaction to shock. Disemvowelment has traditionally been reserved for instances of active malice, or for the repeated and continuing giving of offense. The poster has already been reprimanded; best, I think, to let matters lie.

#149 ::: Spiny Norman ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2013, 12:14 AM:

@141: Training can help, but modern AEDs can be used by ANYONE and they will talk you through the procedure.

#150 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2013, 12:35 PM:

For what it's worth, and speaking only for myself, #3 actually surprised me into chuckling. Or guffawing. Something like that. It broke up the staring shock of the news for me a little.

#151 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2013, 12:39 PM:

I've discovered that I really have to watch myself about making jokes in crisis situations. My go-to mode for coping is Dispassionate, with a side of Snark, which is great for remaining functional. But it effectively unplugs my empathy circuits, so if I open my mouth AT ALL, I have to be very mindful of what's about to come out.

#152 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2013, 01:50 PM:

As the news from Texas this morning reminds us, instead of worrying about terrorist bombers, we'd be much better off worrying about the industrial plant next door, and about cuts to safety inspectors of all types, and about how easy it is for corporations to buy their way out of responsibility for gross fatal negligence. (The rest is lost in sputtering incoherence.)

#153 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2013, 01:55 PM:

Jacque - Just so. I probably wouldn't have made such a joke without knowing my audience really well, but I might have leaned over to my husband and muttered something very similar to #3 had I snapped to it and had he been at the next desk over when I heard the news.

Lee, albatross: My feeling on pattern recognition is that it's a useful strategy on paper, but I think a lot of us (humans in general) tend to practice some non-trivial selection bias as we construct our mental model of the pattern. Which can make the predictions based on "pattern recognition" and those "the sort of people I don't like" oddly similar in practice.

#154 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2013, 02:04 PM:

There are people complaining because the President went to Boston. And because he didn't go to Thatcher's funeral.
(If it were the other way around, they'd be complaining because he was out of the country.)

#155 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2013, 03:23 PM:


Yeah, it's easy to mistake your model of the world, with all its built in biases and blind spots, for reality. Any number of people saw the bombing in Boston and instantly concluded "it's Al Qaida" or "It's Muslims." And it may be that the bombers were affiliated with AQ or were Muslim extremists of some other flavor. And any number looked at the bombing and said "it's white supremacists" or "it's right wing terrorists." And maybe it is--we don't know yet.

But what's being revealed here is about 99% the prior beliefs of the speaker, not any actual new insight. The date is plausible for some right-wing terrorists (close to the anniversary for Waco, Tax Day) and also Islamic terrorists (fairly close to the ten year anniversary for the invasion of Iraq). The techniques (pressure cooker bombs) has been used by Muslim bombers in the past, but is also all over the internet. And so on. The data is ambiguous, and so most people fill it in with their prior worldview and ideas. That's natural, but it's also often misleading. Worse, people tend to only remember the times they made such predictions and they turned out to be right, thanks to confirmation bias.

#156 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2013, 03:42 PM:

Oh dear. And speaking of Completely Inappropriate Humor, I'm now visualizing an SNL skit wherein [wing-nut special-interest-group of-your-choice] launches a campaign to limit pressure-cooker ownership, with the innevitable [opposing wing-nut special-interest-group of-your-choice] counter-campaign supporting pressure-cooker ownership rights.

::Sigh:: Could somebody please just club me over the head and shut if off?

#157 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2013, 04:14 PM:

Jacque @156--I can't help, because I am now imaging a pressure group composed of home canners weighing in, protesting their rights and long-term responsible use of the equipment in question.

Imagination: it's a dangerous thing, and not likely to be well-behaved all the time.

#158 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2013, 04:35 PM:

Jacque and Fidelio:

A pressure-cooker pressure group?

"They'll take our pressure cookers from our cold, dead hands."

Stop me before my imagination runs wild again....

#159 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2013, 04:38 PM:

fidelio: No, you're not helping. Because I now can see the movement's flags and logos pinned up on the wall of the kitchen behind the canners, as they film their protest videos.

And the designs on the labels of the canned goods, featuring the movement's colors.

#160 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2013, 04:39 PM:

Wyman Cooke @158: Coworker: "Jacque? What's that strangling noise? Are you okay?"

#161 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2013, 05:16 PM:

Even as satire on the arguments of wildebeest control opponents though, this is bad timing and I will do my best to stop enabling it.

I do apologize for oversharing my busy imagination.

#162 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2013, 05:41 PM:

More humor about banning pressure cookers, in case you want to pursue the topic in another venue.

#163 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2013, 05:42 PM:

I've been gnomed, probably for a link to a social media site.

Would their lownesses like some peas and cucumber stirfried in butter?

#164 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2013, 05:51 PM:

albatross at 155: you're right, of course. I earlier expressed an opinion about who might have planted the bombs. I freely admit that that opinion is based on NO evidence, nada, nothing, and could be completely wrong. It probably will be completely wrong.

If the NY Post and Fox News would publish similar disclaimers, I'd feel better.

#166 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2013, 07:25 PM:

fidelio @161: I do apologize for oversharing my busy imagination.

To be fair: I started it.

#167 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2013, 09:55 PM:

Someone on Reddit spotted a feller who appears to be the "white hat" suspect:

Closing in!

Turning the corner of the brick building on the left, just to the right of the red call box.

#168 ::: Stefan Jones, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2013, 09:56 PM:

I posted a link to a picture which possible shows the "white hat" suspect.

I'm making steamed spinach and onions.

#169 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2013, 10:05 PM:

Looks very like him. Can't tell in the post-blast photo whether he's still carrying the backpack that was visible in the earlier photos (he had it slung on his right side and that side is obscured).

#170 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2013, 11:34 PM:

I'm expecting that suspect 2 will be caught first. There's a clearer view of his face, and he has a very distinctive nose.

#171 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 12:27 AM:

Crap. Someone is shooting up the MIT campus. A police officer has been badly injured.

#172 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 12:59 AM:

Holy CRAP.

I'm listening to a feed from the Boston PD radio.

Stolen police car, explosives being tossed from cars, automatic weapons, several police dead.

I want to see those bastards taken alive, so we can find out who is supporting them and what poisonous crap is to blame.

#173 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 01:22 AM:

I've been listening to live radio reports and reading Twitter messages from Watertown and vicinity.

Unconfirmed reports that both suspects are in custody.

Either these are the Marathon bombers, or this country is in serious shape.

#174 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 01:31 AM:

Stefan, I have a live video stream (WCVB) of Watertown. Can't see much, because of all the flashing lights. There are officers leaving, so things must be settling down.

#175 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 01:36 AM:

Okay, the armored-type vehicle left. They have both suspects in custody, according to the on-scene reporters.

#176 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 02:34 AM:

Nope, they only have one, they're looking for at least one more; the guy they thought they had was a guy on his way home from someplace, with a sweatshirt and a backpack.
It's a really good night to not be in Watertown. Lots of well-armed police walking around, lots of flashing lights, a helicopter with a spotlight overhead. MIT, on the other hand, has been opened up.

#177 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 02:47 AM:

Twitter reports that the MIT policeman has died.

#178 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 02:50 AM:

Another news report about Ricin Mailer Guy is that he's apparently obsessed about how the government is trafficking in stolen human organs.

#179 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 04:11 AM:

Weren't we supposed to be out of the Crazy Years by now?

#180 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 04:55 AM:

Quite honestly, given the choice between the Crazy Years and what came immediately after, I'll take the Crazy Years.

#182 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 06:41 AM:

Chechnya? What the fuck?

#183 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 06:48 AM:

AP reporting the terrorists are from Chechnya, Russia. That gives a whole new dimension to things.

Everyone in Boston, stay safe.

#184 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 06:52 AM:

John, Chechnya has an Al Qaeda connection. Also, access to Scary Stuff from the former Soviet Union and their people are likely to have military training.

This just went up an order of magnitude from 'probably a couple of nuts.'

#185 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 06:59 AM:

I'd been cheering for the "couple of nuts" theory. The "access to Scary Stuff" theory is much more distressing. Maybe the only Scary Stuff brought was paramilitary training, but that's Scary enough.

#186 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 08:14 AM:

This has just become officially surreal for me. I just heard the dead guy's first name as Tamburlaine.

#187 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 08:39 AM:

"Tamburlaine" may well be the Chechen equivalent of "John Wayne" in the "names parents give to future mass murderers" category.

#188 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 09:02 AM:

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, listed as the one who died; and Dzokhar Tsarnaev, on the run. Officially here from Kyrgyzstan, but they have Chechen names and could be originally from Chechnya.

#189 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 09:44 AM:

So, it turns out it is Russia's domestic troubles that have been exported to the US. Who would have thought of that? We live, it turns out, in a world more science-fictional than science fiction.

#190 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 09:50 AM:

Or, let me add to my previous comment, we seem to have slipped, inadvertently, into a novel with the name "Charles Stross" on the cover.

The problem is, are we in a Merchant Princes novel or a Laundry novel?

#191 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 10:02 AM:

I swapped texts with my niece in Boston a short while ago. She's unpleasantly close to the general area where the survivng suspect was thought to be. They have bolted the doors and are avoiding windows.

Along with far too many other people, whose aunts are not likely to post here...

#192 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 10:09 AM:

#182: I came here to write that same exact sentence.


#193 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 10:30 AM:

Both of them have been here many years--since 2003 by some accounts. If true, then the 19 year old who came here at age 9 is hardly a "foreign-trained sleeper cell," or whatever the anti-immigration nuts are going to say.

I saw some quotes from Tamerlan in which he talks about how devout and religious he is, and why he won't take his shirt off around women because it will make them think impure thoughts.

I think we have here a combination of Columbine, i.e. private non-political psychopathology, combined with sexually-repressed, women-hating religious puritanism.

But that's just speculation, and the next few days will tell us more.

#194 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 10:49 AM:

just for documentation:

This is a link to a photo-essay about the gym at which Tamerlan trained, with some quotes from him.

Tamerlan says he doesn't drink or smoke anymore: "God said no alcohol." A muslim, he says: "There are no values anymore," and worries that "people can't control themselves."

Tamerlan says he doesn't usually take his shirt off so girls don't get bad ideas: "I'm very religious."

This is what I meant about the anti-feminist puritanism. Repressive patriarchal religions and young male hormones are a really toxic mix.

#195 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 10:50 AM:

Chechen teenagers? Who ordered that?!?

#196 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 10:52 AM:

re: "taking off my shirt would cause women to have impure thoughts"

Let's assume he's correct.

Wow, that's some body!
Hey, who's this jerk to deny me my impure thoughts?
If it's that amazing, what about the gay contingent? Wouldn't inflaming them be even worse?

This has been as bad as an earworm -

#197 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 11:00 AM:

Carol @196--

It would be irresponsible to speculate about the late Tamerlan's attitude towards Teh Ghey--

but I have my suspicions.

What these kids were attacking in targeting the Boston Marathon was the whole colorful spectacle of pluralistic, tolerant, joyous American liberalism. Bare chests, bare legs, and all. And religion gave them a twisted rationale for their hatred, but may have played no central role otherwise. It all looks a lot more like Columbine than like the Manchurian Candidate.

#198 ::: Nangleator ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 11:00 AM:

Apparently, the Feds got some good information from the young man in the wheelchair, the subject of that iconic, gruesome image:

#199 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 11:04 AM:

Well, I got age and sex right. :{

(This is just bizarre.)

#200 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 11:11 AM:

Okay, not home-grown wackos. Youthful immigrant wackos.

I can't help wondering how the identification of these young men as Chechen immigrants is going to impact the discussion of dealing with our broken immigration system; as in, we must make it harder for people who have lived and worked here for years to become citizens because TERROR.

#201 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 11:18 AM:

This is just to say that going ahead with my short trip to NYC was a bad idea. I haven't actually done much while I'm here.

Sitting in the Hostel TV room watching CNN right now.

#202 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 11:26 AM:

Based on the tweets I've been seeing about the performance of CNN and some of the other networks, unless you're in the Boston area yourself or have some other real need to get up-to-the-minute information, you might want to turn off CNN or other live TV news now.

It looks like there's a fair bit of misinformation and fear getting broadcast now. For most people, watching the news isn't going to change the situation, and the facts will still be the facts (and will have had some chance to be vetted) tomorrow as well as today.

#203 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 11:36 AM:

#148: Fair enough.

#204 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 11:37 AM:

They've been in the US for several years, so I'd count them as 'mostly home-grown'. (One of the people I worked with was from that region, generally speaking - a nice guy.)

#205 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 12:08 PM:

Young men raised in a fairly secure niche of the dominant culture, white (even white enough for born-in-the-USA racists, at least at first glance), and allegedly with ties to the kind of group that thinks humanity would be better off with a lot less variety --looks like Oklahoma City with a different accent to me.

#206 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 12:09 PM:

I'm still betting that the ultimate motivation will turn out to have less to do with Islamic ideology than with the fact that they (the elder, at least) really really didn't like living in Boston. Even if you're just moving from Poughkeepsie to Paducah, the early teen years are a horrible time to get pulled out of one local culture and social network and be expected to integrate into an unfamiliar one.

As for the younger, who knows? Families are weird. I can imagine a younger brother looking at a (possibly idolized) big brother apparently determined to go to hell in a handbasket, and deciding that the only thing left to do is get into the handbasket with him. Not the smartest move in the book, but it happens all the time.

#207 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 12:18 PM:

I'll buy that.
We moved when I was halfway through high school, not far, but to a much larger city. I never did feel part of the new school; the old one is 'my' school, where I know the people, some of them from first grade.

#208 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 12:39 PM:

Re my comment at 200, according to the NYT, Senator Charles Grassley is already there. "A senior Republican senator said Friday that the approaching political debate about an immigration overhaul should take into account the revelation that the Boston Marathon bombers had apparently emigrated to the United States from the former Soviet Union."

#209 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 12:46 PM:

Debra Doyle #206: I would say you're probably right.

#210 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 12:53 PM:

Debra @ 206, that does sound more plausible than Russian Terrorists.

So now the younger brother is scared and on the run, and 19. His older brother is dead. Younger brother ran over older brother getting away from cops. His uncle is interviewed screaming at him to turn himself in and telling him he's tarnished the name of all Chechens. A small army of LEOs is after him.

What's his next move?

Ugly situation.

#211 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 12:57 PM:

Headline at NBC talks about "considering tighter immigration laws." Yeah, because that would totally have caught this kid whose own family is telling him to turn himself in, this kid who came here when he was nine years old.

#212 ::: Nangleator ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 01:09 PM:

@211, they never miss an opportunity for increasing worldwide misery, do they?

#213 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 01:14 PM:

Cygnet@210: What's his next move?

If he doesn't opt for either traditional suicide or suicide-by-cop?

Probably running for shelter to some person he thinks or hopes he can trust -- even if it's only to talk to the cops so they don't shoot him while he's turning himself in. As to who that person might be, who knows? It could be anybody from a trusted community authority figure to the guy's best friend from back in 10th grade.

I do think that we'll ultimately make more sense of all this by applying the "alienated young white male" narrative rather than the "homegrown Islamic terrorist" narrative.

#214 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 01:25 PM:

Debra, #206: Good point. We moved from Detroit to Nashville when I was 14, and the culture shock was... considerable.

#215 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 02:08 PM:

taking off my shirt would cause women to have impure thoughts

I know it's probably the egotism of the young, or projecting from his own impure thoughts...but in my experience, young men who are certain they're irresistible have other entitlement issues as well.

But also, as I said on Twitter, matters of national identity are really, really complicated for expats and migrants. There is no simple, short way to frame the layered existence that the kind of travel those kids went through creates in a person. And that complicated identity can be the source of tremendous isolation as well as tremendous confidence and adventurousness.

What of their backgrounds mattered in bringing them to this point? All of it, probably, and isolating their complex experiences down to one factor or another is as unhelpful as it is inevitable and human.

#216 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 02:13 PM:

(Which is not to say, "We mustn't do it", but is to say, "We should remember that it's more complicated than any analysis we can produce.")

#217 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 03:19 PM:

When I heard the news this morning, my first thought was "they're sophisticated enough terrorists to set off multiple bombs at a major public event, and their next move after that is robbing a convenience store?"

What kind of sophisticated multi-step plot involves robbing a convenience store after the authorities are already looking for you? Or had their plans already gone awry somehow, and it was a desperation move?

#218 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 03:23 PM:

I've been assuming that once the useful images of the two of them went out yesterday, that the rails came off whatever putative plan they had. The city already wanted their head and now every single pair of eyes in the area was looking for them with enough information to positively ID them.

#219 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 03:39 PM:

I have a number of friends who have had roughly the brothers' life trajectory -- some of whom went to the same high school. Whatever the news says, as far as I'm concerned, they're not "them", they're "us".

That what I think of as a strong and positive community can still fail people like them this badly will, I hope, lead to some soul-searching once this is all over. I'm sure there are systemic factors out of any individual's control, and there will always be people who can't or won't be helped -- that doesn't excuse us from identifying those factors and trying harder to reach those people.

I have been young and angry and alienated too, and there but for the grace of God go I.

The MIT police officer was also my age and was shot barely a block from my office. I was on campus yesterday evening, and if I'd walked to that T station a couple hours later I'd've walked right through that. Many of my friends live not another block from there. He died protecting us.

I don't know what to make of any of this, but I hope that neither Dzhokhar nor anyone else has to die before this is all over.

#220 ::: Charlie Dodgson ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 03:40 PM:

FWIW, the elder brother was interviewed (about his boxing; he had Olympic-team ambitions) a few years ago, and said he didn't understand Americans and had no American friends. (He also had a troubled marriage, which can't have helped anything.)

The younger, by contrast, was captain of his high school wrestling team and apparently quite popular according to many people who knew him (including a WBUR reporter who was his host at a prom party). He's the one his friends can't figure out...

#221 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 04:14 PM:

Apparently the convenience store wasn't them, just coincidence. They took a guy hostage as part of the carjacking, and got money from an ATM with his card.

#222 ::: Steve C was gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 05:40 PM:

From a piece by James Hamblin on the Atlantic website: As comedian Andy Daly put it, "When an Elvis impersonator trying to kill the President is the least interesting news story of the week, you know some shit went down."

#223 ::: Steve C ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 05:50 PM:

Dammit, that "gnomed" think popped up again. Sorry.

#224 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 08:30 PM:

I've calmed down a little, I accidentally clicked on link that showed the graphic image of the really hurt runner and it has reverberated inside me ever since.

And today on my short drive home someone they were interviewing on NPR said a telling thing was that the suspected bombers had lived here for so long and had no friends or associations with society and that connection with being so disassociated with society that they did not care about the other people.

Just saying. I'm still upset about the whole thing.

#225 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 08:47 PM:

Meanwhile, Lindsey Graham (who is a Senator and should know better), is saying, "If captured, I hope Administration will at least consider holding the Boston suspect as enemy combatant for intelligence gathering purposes," and "The last thing we may want to do is read Boston suspect Miranda Rights telling him to 'remain silent.'"

Yeah, Mr. Graham. How long have you hated the Constitution and the rule of law?

And is the best way to convince a suspect to surrender really by assuring him that if he's captured alive he'll be tortured?

#226 ::: Alan Hamilton ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 08:49 PM:

Sounds like he's been arrested.
The boat

#227 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 08:53 PM:

Ah. "Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is in custody." Allegedly, he was hiding inside a boat that was stored in a back yard.

#228 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 09:06 PM:

In custody and at the nearest hospital - he's lost a lot of blood since last night.

#229 ::: Abby N ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 09:07 PM:

"Alive, alert, captured" says the Globe. They're taking him to Mt Auburn Hospital, which does not have a level 1 trauma center, from which I'm assuming he's not seriously injured.

#230 ::: Abby N ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 09:16 PM:

Bah, and now they are saying one of the bigger hospitals. Sorry for passing bad info, folks.

#231 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 09:23 PM:

Mass General, according to ABC News, with the wounds being from last night's firefight.

#232 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 09:25 PM:

I just heard that the US Attorney who is prosecuting Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is Carmen Ortiz, whom we all may remember without fondness from the Aaron Swartz case.

Ye Ghods!

#233 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 09:25 PM:

They may have gone by Mt Auburn for blood - they did actually go there first.

#234 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 09:29 PM:

Could have been stabilized at the closest hospital then transferred to a larger one.

#235 ::: ACW ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 09:32 PM:

That bend in Franklin St. is less than a mile from here. We could hear the helicopter hovering over the site during the standoff. It was a frightening day, and now we're all relieved and decompressing.

#236 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 09:34 PM:

I'm emptying out my charity fund.

The family of MIT officer Sean Collier is asking that donations be made to "The Jimmy Fund," a cancer charity. Got that covered.

The runner who lost his legs, and helped finger Dzhokhar Tsarnaev from his hospital bed.

Who else?

#237 ::: emgrasso ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 10:02 PM:

The 6 year old sister of the little boy who died lost at least one leg, and she had been studying Irish dance. Apparently prosthetics for kids are very expensive in the long run because they need to be replaced as the kid grows.

Also Massachusetts has the best health care in the country, but I read somewhere that it won't necessarily cover injured tourists from out of state.

Are there lists anywhere yet of who was injured from where, and who will be needing prosthetics?

#238 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 10:29 PM:

Suspect is captured, alive, taken to hospital.

Twitter says NBC says that they've read him his Miranda rights, though no info from Twitter on how much they asked him before that or whether he talked. Apparently there's an early-80s "public safety exception to the Miranda warning requirements", which not only allows police to ask a detainee questions before reading their rights if public safety might be immediately at risk (like "where's the gun?" in the original court cases), but also allows them to introduce any responses in court. I'm mostly ok with the former part of that; I'm not at all ok with the latter.

On a lighter note, the Czech Embassy reminds the American public that Czechs and Chechens are different.

#239 ::: Bill Stewart offers the gnomes some whisky ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 10:33 PM:

Dr. Bellovin had prescribed Ardbeg, but the nearest handy substitute had been La Frog.

#240 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 10:41 PM:

I have a below-knee prosthetic, the one I have right now is my first one, a temporary (stump has to settle and get into shape, takes about a year or so). I got the itemized list and it would have been upwards of $8,000 if I had to pay for it out of pocket. And if it is above the knee it is lots more expensive, as well as a lot more pissy to learn how to walk with, because of the knee joint.

#241 ::: Spiny Norman ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 11:01 PM:

I am enormously happy that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was taken alive. The reason for this is thrown into stark relief when we consider the LAPD's disgraceful murder of Christopher Dorner.

It shows that we can do better and reminds that we must, if we are to have any hope whatsoever of remaining a self-governing nation governed by a legal code that aspires to be a system of justice. And it highlights the extraordinary courage and professionalism and courage that Boston, Cambridge, Watertown, and MIT police officers are capable of.

#242 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2013, 11:03 PM:

I saw a fund for that family; I was going to pitch in but they've raised $74,000 already.

I'm going to give the last $100 to something connected to West, TX.

#243 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2013, 12:04 AM:

Dorner killed himself instead of surrendering. He murdered four people first.

I am so tired of people treating him like some kind of hero. (BTW, it was the San Bernardino county sheriffs who were there at the end.)

#244 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2013, 02:21 AM:

I'm really happy with the conduct of the Boston emergency services (police, fire, EMS) in this case. I've worked with them, so I'm not unbiased, but we don't say it often enough, so -- this was a better outcome than I expected, and I'm glad.

Also Massachusetts has the best health care in the country, but I read somewhere that it won't necessarily cover injured tourists from out of state.

Massachusetts health care (aka Romneycare), being basically Obamacare, operates as subsidized insurance for people who can't afford premiums and a big damn group for those of us who can. I've been a happy client of unsubsidized insurance for the past year and change, the same insurance through mumble jobs and periods of unemployment. Massachusetts: come for the gay marriage, stay for the health care! (I'm paying $212/mo. with my exciting collection of chronic conditions, for what it's worth. People with a decade on me are paying ~$260/mo., so it doesn't break the bank either.)

Being Romneycare, ie. basically standard American health insurance writ large, and not single-payer, it doesn't cover out-of-state tourists, sadly. There's a fund for at least one -- I've thrown in my $20. There but for the grace &c.

Wyman Cooke @232: I just heard that the US Attorney who is prosecuting Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is Carmen Ortiz, whom we all may remember without fondness from the Aaron Swartz case.

Goddamn. What can we do to get this kid the fair trial he deserves?

#245 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2013, 02:55 AM:

Jim Macdonald @ #225, the really aggravating thing is that Lindsey Graham is not only a US Senator, albeit from that bizarre place called South Carolina, but he's a lawyer and JAG officer in the SC National Guard. If he doesn't trust the law but would rather use extra-judicial action to deal with this perpetrator, then Graham should be disbarred.

#246 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2013, 03:03 AM:

FYI, no Miranda rights immediately, using something called the public safety exception, which has apparently made it to SCOTUS and been approved by it. This article discusses the public safety exception rule's origin and implications.

According to the Supreme Court, the public safety exception is triggered when police officers have an objectively reasonable need to protect the police or the public from immediate danger.
Well, maybe. It's limited and the cops can't put off reading Miranda indefinitely.

#247 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2013, 07:09 AM:

From BBC News: (with my added emphasis

"The FBI interviewed Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2011 after a request from a foreign government, US law enforcements officials have confirmed. But agents closed the case after finding no cause for concern."

"In an interview on Russian television, the mother of the two suspects said the FBI had been in contact with her son for several years."...

"Our correspondent says now that the manhunt in Boston is over, the extent of the FBI's prior knowledge of Tamerlan Tsarnaev's activities is likely to be examined."

#248 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2013, 08:58 AM:

I had just seen a similar report in a Reuters story via Talking Points Memo:

The source said the FBI's dealings two years ago with Tamerlan Tsarnaev occurred following a request from an unidentified foreign government.

The FBI did not produce any "derogatory" information on Tsarnaev and agents then put the matter "to bed," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

This story just keeps getting worse and worse, doesn't it?

#249 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2013, 09:29 AM:

Yeah, I might turn out that the FBI didn't actually miss anything. An FBI interrogation, when I wasn't actually contemplating mayhem, would radicalize me something fierce. Especially if I already hated my life.

#250 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2013, 09:34 AM:

I'm concerned about the failure to Mirandize. "Where's the bomb???" is unequivocally a valid reason, but the implication here is that they're going for rather more information than that. Local cops say the danger is over, which strongly implies to me that they don't think there is another bomb ticking out there...

Two things come to mind:

1) This kid was largely raised in the US: he has to KNOW he has the right to remain silent, etc. (I'm told that people in foreign countries who watch American cop shows think they have Miranda rights, too.) What do you gain by not telling him officially? and

2) It makes the US look like we're not a nation of principals if we toss a basic civil liberty out the window, even under these circumstances.

Frankly, failure to Mirandize strikes me as a way to complicate prosecution. Why would they want to do that? I'm honestly baffled.

#251 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2013, 10:33 AM:

PJ Evans @243--

I didn't read Spiny Norman @241 as making a hero out of Dorner. SN simply condemned the cops who intentionally killed him instead of attempting to take him alive.

And I share that reaction. Dorner was, indeed, a horrible person. He was not and will never be a hero in my book.

But he thought he had some dirt on the LAPD. And the cops who barricaded him in were caught on the scanners talking about how they were using incendiary devices to set the shack on fire.

That's not the procedure you use if you want to take someone alive and get them to talk. That's the procedure you use if you want to kill someone and prevent them from talking.

So: shame on the cops who did it. Dorner was a murderer, no doubt; that doesn't give the cops a pass for murdering him.

And if more and better facts have since emerged that change the important details here, then I'll be happy to change my opinion in response to them.

#252 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2013, 11:42 AM:

oldster, that's the same stuff that everyone says who does support Dorner, and a lot of them start off by assuming everything he said about LAPD is truthful, ignoring that he was fired for lying, and that he clearly had mental problems of some kind.

Note that I am not saying that the LAPD is sweetness and light - I live in LA - but they're not the criminals and thugs that they're made out to be, either.

Also, as I said, it was San Bernardino deputies who were surrounding the cabin, not LAPD. If blame is being put, please put it where it belongs.

#253 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2013, 12:25 PM:

If the young man doesn't get a fair trial with competent defense the ghost of John Adams (who defended the redcoats after the Boston Massacre in 1770) will rise from the grave and haunt them.

#254 ::: Alan Hamilton ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2013, 12:45 PM:

The problematic part with failure to Mirandize him is if they present statements he makes at his own trial. It's not a get-out-of-jail-free card, and Miranda himself was convicted in a retrial that didn't use his statements.

I would think they've got enough goods on him for a conviction even if they can't use anything he says at his own trial, between the bombings and the murder of a police officer.

#255 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2013, 01:51 PM:

TexAnne@249: That's what I was thinking, that and, "Which foreign power were we doing dirty work for?"

#256 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2013, 02:03 PM:

#253 ::: Jim Macdonald

I wouldn't mind living in a world like that, but it's a little much to hope for.

I leave the possibility open that Tamurlan and Dzokhar were being pushed by a sting operation that went wrong. The FBI could have been expecting that the young men would buy fake explosives-- proof of ill intent with no harm done-- but it occurred to them that they could just use a pressure cooker.

Approximate quote from a Muslim, possibly an iman: "When we see a young man started to go wrong, we help him."

The FBI tries to push young men starting to go wrong over the edge.

#257 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2013, 02:25 PM:

I believe they're using the one exception, where they believe he has information to prevent imminent harm - they don't know if they found all the IEDs the two might have had. I gather that they have a 48-hour window for that, then they have to give him his Miranda rights.
It's the result of NY v Quarles, which went up to the Supreme court.

#258 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2013, 03:49 PM:

For me, the lockdown meant missing a day of work at the office. Consequently being paid less.


#259 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2013, 03:52 PM:

That's kind of sucky. (When we were sent home on 9/11, we got paid, even those like me who hadn't quite gotten to the building yet.)

#260 ::: Ariella ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2013, 06:08 PM:

TexAnne @ 249

I'm reminded of an article I saw awhile back about the activities of security forces in the neighbourhood of Makhachkala, Dagestan. One wonders if these are the same organizations who requested that the FBI interview Tsarnaev?

If I came from an environment like that, then even a perfectly civilized interview by the FBI would be very unsettling. Not necessarily the cue to become a terrorist, mind you, but definitely unsettling.

#261 ::: Ariella ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2013, 06:14 PM:

I think I've been gnomed. I can offer some very tasty quiche in a tortilla.

#262 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2013, 06:50 PM:

The 6 year old sister of the little boy who died lost at least one leg, and she had been studying Irish dance. Apparently prosthetics for kids are very expensive in the long run because they need to be replaced as the kid grows.

If only there were some kind of Web site which enabled Internet users to contribute crowdsourced fundraising for various projects, such as buying someone a prosthetic leg...

#263 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2013, 06:51 PM:

His trial must be fair, and it must be SEEN to be fair, for America to come out of this with honor intact without dishonoring ourselves more than we already have.

That can't happen with Carmen Ortiz helming the prosecution.

#264 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2013, 07:12 PM:

Garrison Keillor made a pressure-cooker joke on APHC. I'll relate it in ROT13. I'd like to know if other people think this is incisive or douchey; its target is the Senate, not Boston, but I'm not a Bostonian, so I can't judge how they'll feel about it.

(from memory) Gur Frangr qrsrngrq n crezvg erdhverzrag sbe pneelvat n cerffher pbbxre shyy bs anvyf naq onyy ornevatf naq rkcybfvirf. Gurl fnvq gurl qvqa'g jnag gb vasevatr ba gur evtugf bs gur yrtvgvzngr fcbegfzna.
Funny? Offensive?

#265 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2013, 07:20 PM:

Somewhere between the two, I think. I agree with the sentiment, but I wouldn't have used that example this week. I'd say he's right on the line between clever and asshole.

#266 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2013, 07:23 PM:

@264 What Ben said. Would be funnier next week, probably.

#267 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2013, 07:49 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @ 264: I'm angry enough with the Senate that I'm with Garrison. Wouldn't say that it's funny, mind you.

#268 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2013, 07:51 PM:

Xopher, if they go for terrorism, the trial is likely to be in the Eastern District of Virginia, where they've held trials of other terrorists. It has heavy security. I think that would result in a different US Attorney.
But it still doesn't guarantee the fair trial that we need to have.

#269 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2013, 08:07 PM:

Xopher, #264: Include me with the "would have been funnier in a week or two" group. It's a nice pointy jab at both the Senate and the NRA, but his timing sucks rocks.

#270 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2013, 08:25 PM:

I think the Keillor joke is edgy, but not inappropriate -- the problem with the timing is that a week from now it's not going to have anywhere near as much of an emotional edge. And while political humor isn't Keillor's major stock in trade, he's been known to engage in it before. It's indeed much more aimed at the Senate than anyone else, and I think it hits that target auite squarely. But -- mileage varies.

#271 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2013, 08:07 AM:

This business about using the public safety get-out on Miranda doesn't make the USA look good. Short term, you understand asking a suspect "are there any more bombs?". Longer term, there's the place were they were assembled that needs checking. And the guy is in hospital: I know how unclear I sometimes felt, the first few days after my car accident.

But it seems to be something that is almost glorifying terrorism. There guys are turned into something very special.

If there is somebody else involved, somebody as yet unknown to the Police, they've already had time to grab their go-bag. Once the TV news showed the ambulance rushing to hospital, that's the clock starting to tick.

Dead men tell no tales. Suicide bombers can be so useful.

#272 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2013, 10:06 AM:

Xopher @ 264: That's a terrible thing for Garrison Keillor to say. My fishing techniques are none of his business. Typical nanny-state liberalism at its worst.

#273 ::: Nangleator ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2013, 11:49 AM:

A mis-handling of the trial and a fishy conviction won't surprise me. We let our leaders initiate torture and other war crimes. They walk free.

We're the bad guys now.

Some of us involve ourselves in hand-waving to feel better about it, but there's no tenable defense for what we do, given the Constitution we say we stand by. We are the kind of country the United States of America would have sacrificed everything to destroy, sixty years ago.

#274 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2013, 02:27 PM:

Nangleator, it's getting there, anyway. "He wasn't tortured, he was subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques" sounds an awful lot like the old Stalinist line of "But he isn't being executed. He's being shot."

#276 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2013, 06:46 PM:

Early reports suggest Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's throat and tongue wounds will keep him from speaking.

#277 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2013, 07:25 PM:

The Transit Police officer is very lucky to be alive - one of the shots severed his femoral artery. They ended up effectively replacing all of his blood, as well as restarting his heart.

#278 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2013, 07:54 PM:

Fast and efficient EMS, plus board-certified Emergency Physicians. Go us!

#279 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2013, 08:07 PM:

LJ-user sovay's subconscious has responded poignantly to this week's incidents, and the human appetite for revenge. She has given me permission to link.

#280 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2013, 10:10 PM:

God. Sovay's post is ... wow. Yeah.

#281 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2013, 11:56 PM:

They're reporting Dzokhar's wounds are through the mouth and out the back of the neck, possibly self inflicted. (He apparently missed both his brain stem and spine above C1/C2 or he'd have died on the spot.)

They're reporting he's answering questions in writing, so he probably didn't have a major stroke, either, from lack of blood circulation to the brain. Which likely means he missed most of the major arteries. (Think of what happened to Roy Horn of Siegfried and Roy when the tiger mauled him.)

However, I'm going to guess he's in a WORLD of pain and is probably intubated. There's really no way to have an injury like that without hitting all sorts of very sensitive tissue and nerves.

So, assume he's high from opiates, sedatives, and probably still in more pain than most people have ever experienced in their lives. He's HURTING and he's high as a kite on drugs.

Would any information they get from him be admissible in court? I would think a decent lawyer could make an argument for him being incompetent at the time of questioning, due to his mental state due to sedation and medical issues.

(Heck, if he's in a great deal of pain, he may be willing to talk just to make them go away. Any movement may be agonizing.)

Which is not to say they shouldn't question him. If they're worried about additional devices or co-conspirators, heck yeah, pump him full of all the Good Drugs possible and start asking questions.

However, the answers might be truthful, and helpful, and might save lives, but maybe they shouldn't be admissible in court.

(Luckily, there's enough evidence out there that they likely won't NEED his testimony -- but I can foresee a legal nightmare if they try to use it to up the charges against him for political grandstanding reasons.)

Is there any standard legal protocol or case history when it comes to investigators who are working with a defendant who is heavily sedated on legal drugs?

#282 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2013, 12:45 AM:

It might be inadmissible evidence, because he's probably sedated. The ACLU and the public defender are going to be watching very closely - they don't think that he should be questioned before being read his rights. (As he's spent ten years here, it's a fair assumption that he knows this already.)

#283 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2013, 08:38 AM:

Has he got a lawyer present for the questioning? Is there any way to know whether he has asked for one? I'll admit, after years of euphemisms like "splash a little water in his face" for the water torture used by the Spanish Inquisition, I'm pretty cynical about assuming that "delay reading him his Miranda rights" means exactly that. More likely, he's being told he can't stop the questioning or have a lawyer present, and God knows what threats may be brought into play to get information or confessions from him. He's in a hospital in critical condition, so he's about as helpless and friendless as he can be right now, and presumably in a pretty easy place to be threatened.

Now, maybe this is all wrong. Certainly, the FBI has a much better history on this stuff than the CIA does. But I'm a little skeptical of official pronouncements and reassurances that we are the good guys, these days.

#284 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2013, 09:16 AM:

Jim Macdonald @ #275:

I've just spent half an hour trying to come with a more eloquent response to that graphic than "Dude, seriously?".

It's not coming together, so I'm just going to say "Dude, seriously?" and move on.

#285 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2013, 09:24 AM:

#262 Bill is an official authorized fund for the victims. At least one organzation's given it a million dollar donation when it started.

#286 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2013, 11:01 AM:

#98 Xopher The "gap" was the crowd not being on alert for mass-murdering-wannabees dropping suspicious packages. The now-double-amputee who observed Tsarnaev dropping the concealed pressure-cooker bomb, did not suspect that the dropper was a terrorist siting a bomb. Two and a half minutes later it blew up....

#152 Heather Rose There was a report somewhere I heard or saw that the last safety inspection on the plant was in 1985. "We don't need no stinkin' regulators, regulations, or guvmint or taxes... but when disaster hits, the -rest- of you must send government aid!" - Texas Republican politicians. How about that "charity" from the Texas oil patch billionaires who own the talking heads, provide assistance??...

The general public who were helping out at the Boston Marathon atrocity were literally giving the shirts off their backs to the injured and ripping their clothing up to make tourniquets... the greedy rich of Texas think that charity is a replacement for federal aid and is in order? They have the most assets to donate.... where are they contributing? is the first fund to officially appear soliciting and receiving donations for the victims of the Marathon bombing, is there a fund to aid the families and town victimized by the fertilizer plant explosion and have any of the Texas billionaires contributed generously?

# 275 Jim

Bin Laden was in an region sympathetic to him. The Tsarnaev brothers weren't.....

#251 oldster

The LAPD had a horrible reputation when in was living in the area, for police brutality and such. The Boston Police Department doesn't.

#250 Casey
The FBI remains full of neocons appointed and burrowed in during 2001-2008. Also, Obama is NOT a liberal/progressive. He's not even as progressive as Richard M. Nixon was... compared to Savonarola his predecessor Obama's moderate, but that's like saying falling into hidden pit in the ground is better thn having a sinkhole open up directly under the bedroom you're in, which sinkhole sucks you in along with the rest of the house, and your body goes unrecovered....

The FBI in 2001 weeks or months before 2001 did such things as
A) tell two separate field offices to cease and desist in the investigations they were carrying out of Saudi nationals taking jumbo jet lessons at flight schools in the USA, when
1) The Saudi nationals did not want to learn how to land the planes,
2) There were no indications that the Saudi nationals were in any way, shape, or form, sponsored by their government or any other organization as pilots getting career training as aspirants to work for the Saudi national airline or any other jumbo jet operator,
3) Where the funding was coming from paying for their (expensive!) training and their presence and food and shelter and clothing and other expenses in the USA was not obvious
4) There were no benign reasonable explanations for their presence in the USA given 1, 2, & 3 above, and so the agents and office heads in two different FBI field offices wanted warrants for search and seizure to investigate what they saw as highly suspicious threats
B) deny warrants to the two different field offices along with ordering cessation and desisting of the investigations of the Saudi nationals talking the flying lessons,
C) reprimanding and then firing an FBI Arabic interpreter who regarded material the CIA sent for translation as being wrongly handly--mistranslated where translated for some of the material, and marked as lacking value for translation where not translated. When she objected, she was told some BS about the FBI being a "family' and one mustn't make other members of the family look bad or object to their actions. When she went up the chain of authority and went to Congress or tried to go to Congress with her concerns, the FBI fired her. (And when she sued for wrongful termination, a Republican-apointed crooked federal judge threw the case out as being allegedly harmful to the national security.... The materials which she was objecting to the handling/non-translations and mistranslations of, had data about the planning for the 9/11 attacks...)

Many of the appartchiks responsible for the above plus a bunch of other people (remember the firing of federal prosecutors in 2001-2008, even ones who were at the time Republicans who'd been appointed by George Herbert Walker Bush?, because they wouldn't drop cases investigating denial of voting rights and instead focus on "enforcing" purging the voter lists of people whose demographics indicated a high probability of voting for Democrats rather than Republicans, and on persecuting Democratic politicians and candidates with trumped-up prosecutions?) installed over the rest of the 2001-2008 regime are still in place, deeply burrowed in, and enjoying their perquisites including the shielding of especially Republican Senators from Alabama and Mississippi and Alaska too, along with the rest of the Republicans in Congress, from Obama attempts to appoint new administrators and new judges to replace even new vacancies in law enforcement and the judiciary, much less fumigate anything....

#249 TexAnne
Benedict Arnold and I can't-remember-the-name-of-the-Athenian-who-went-over-to-the-Spartan became turncoats because they felt they weren't being properly appreciated and rewarded by the sides they originally gave their allegiance to.... Tamerlan Tsarnaev want to be n Olympic boxer for the USA but wasn't a citizen, thus blighting his hopes of that, and had no backup goals apparently that tied him into US society as a productive/esteemed/content-with-his-lot fellow. Apparently that was one of the triggering factors for disaffection and susceptibility to radicalization/emnity/hostility.

The USA is NOT gentle/supportive to those being marginalized or rather, in danger of marginalization and instead for the last 30+ years has rather been disestablishing not only programs designed for intervention and training and emotional support/restoration of self-esteem and redeeming and remediation, but disestablishing all interest and basis as regards admitting the existence of poverty, job loss, job nonexistence, social inequity, lack of language fluency, illiteracy, etc.

Tamarlan Tsarnaev apparently had poor fluency in English which meant literally he had little say in life in the USA. Because he wasn't fluent he didn't talk much. An interview with someone who had casually boxed with him once gave a very unflattering picture of someone who was very inarticulate, who was cocky/had a bad attitude, who was an amateur who was easy for a jaded pro boxer to defeat in short order, and who wasn't even up to the standards of being dilettante....

The problem of young males coming to the USA for refuge and failing to integrate harmoniously into the society is not a new one and not unique to Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and it's worse now than in the 20th century:
1. There are the "lost boys" from Africa. They came here from the horn of Afica area, there was lots of media attention and there was aid initially, but over time, the aid disappeared, and as for jobs... there are millions of citizens by birth in the USA who can't find jobs, who have grown up in the culture. It's worse for dark tall men with accents and worse educations than the native jobless... there are especially shortages of jobs for people from those who are functional illiterates, to those with doctorates.
2. It's a wonderful situation for employers who pay subminimum wages, who get their pick of people willing to accept lousy working conditions and lousy pay for a chance at the pittance offered... it's a wonderful situation for employers who pay minimum wage or more, because they too can abuse workers....
3. It's a rotten situation for the unemployed, the long-term unemployed, the "discouraged" who have been down on their luck so long, it become unimaginable that anything -good- will ever happen...
4. The 16 - 25 year old range of males, has the highest rates of non-career criminal activity likelihood/highest at-risk level of turning into career criminals. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was 26, not 25, but was just above that demographic range. His brother, was within the range... and susceptible.

#225 Linkmeister
Lindsay Graham has been on my lists of "walking piece of shit has more value" and "candidate for worst piece of shit in Congress" for a very long time. But, there is so much competition (most of the Republicans in Congress....)

#221 P J
The whole sequences of events sounds like the type of bad movie which would get a Red Mike review....

#220 Charlie
What was the relationship between the brothers?
Their parents moved back to Russia a while ago, leaving their sons in the USA. The uncle in Maryland and his brother's family apparently had cut off communication years ago, no direction explanation of why has come out. The uncle condemned the actions of his nephews and seemed to then go on a rant aimed at people who fail to assimilate.

It seems like a case of the younger brother absorbing social attitude poison from his older brother... what Abraham would have turned into had Ishmael stayed around? (Note, Abraham was the annointed heir, by the legal wife, Ishmael was the son of Sarah's servant... the books _Hagar the Egyptian_ and _Sarah the Priestess_ postulate the conflation of two or more different stories, one of them being that the society was really matriarchal along with being matrilinear and Sarah was the one needing the heir (pointing out that Hagar was Sarah's servant, not Abraham); the other was a story about a desert martriach and her heir. Anyway, Isaac's appearance removed Ishmael from the heirship, at a time when Ishmael would have been raised as heir and in or entering the age range where males are in their worst times of judgment and bahavior. The rabbinic interpretation of Ishmael "making sport' is a very harsh and deprecating one. Ishmael and his mother were exiled as Ishmael being a bad/malign influence on his young brother Abraham.... Ishmael wasn't inherently vicious, but he'd gone from the heir to vast wealth and influence and power, to the semi-legimate inconvenient elder brother with no place/no stake in the society, one who was acting out and acting viciously, and being a very bad model for the young cherished popular appreciated socially integrated son....

#287 ::: albatross gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2013, 12:10 PM:

It looks like a post of mine was gnomed....

#288 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2013, 01:48 PM:

Paula Lieberman #286: I think when you mention Abraham you mean Isaac.

#289 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2013, 01:57 PM:

Paula Lieberman @ #286: Benedict Arnold and I can't-remember-the-name-of-the-Athenian-who-went-over-to-the-Spartan became turncoats because they felt they weren't being properly appreciated and rewarded by the sides they originally gave their allegiance to....

Themistocles? I think the story of why he went over to the Persian side was a lot more interesting and complex than that--and started with an arrest order being placed on him for dubious political reasons--but I could go on about that for far too long, given as I've spent all semester in a class specifically about him. And I suppose this isn't the thread for it.

#290 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2013, 02:03 PM:

Word is now that the trial will be in fed court but not as an "enemy combatant".

#291 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2013, 02:06 PM:


He's no more an "enemy combatant" than Klebold and Harris were.

#292 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2013, 02:20 PM:

Fade, #289: Adding nuance to historical over-simplification is never out of place IMO. Is there a Reader's Digest version that hits the main points of your class?

#293 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2013, 02:24 PM:

Federal court because the bombs are 'weapons of mass destruction'. There are also state charges, because of killing the MIT policeman and shooting the transit officer, as well as the carjacking (which is looking minor, now).

#294 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2013, 03:04 PM:

Medical examiners suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev may have killed his brother when he fled the Watertown shootout in that hijacked car . . . could he be charged with vehicular manslaughter?

#295 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2013, 03:08 PM:

They may have to wait for the autopsy report. He was pretty much covered with wounds, according to one of the doctors that tried to revive him.

#297 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2013, 04:26 PM:

Fade Manley@289: Themistocles? I think the story of why he went over to the Persian side was a lot more interesting and complex than that

Paula said Spartans, not Persians, so I'm guessing Alcibiades - though he was also a victim of politically motivated accusations.

#298 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2013, 04:45 PM:

Xopher @264: Borderline acceptable, but I am glad to have heard it this week. It reminds me of a Doonesbury strip in which Newt Gingrich was made to say he opposed putting taggants in ammonium nitrate fertilizer lest it interfere with the right of law-abiding Americans to defend their homes with improvised explosives.

#299 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2013, 04:48 PM:

Jim Macdonald @105: I have worn a web belt every day of my life since I joined the Navy in 1981, just in case I need a tourniquet.

#300 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2013, 04:54 PM:

Ariella @260: If I came from an environment like that, then even a perfectly civilized interview by the FBI would be very unsettling.

Back when I was working at NCAR in the late '90s, we had a visiting scientist from Moscow working in our building. One afternoon, I crossed paths with him at the reception desk. He was trying to get a delivery or something, and I offered to bring it up to him if I saw it. "We know who you are. We know where you live," I said jokingly.

He went white. I apologized instantly. "Oh, right, sorry! That's not a joke where you come from, is it?"

#301 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2013, 04:58 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @264: Funny? Offensive?

(I think these are actually different axes.) Not particularly funny. Bordering on offensive, for my taste. I dunno. There's a note of condescention that turns me off.

#302 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2013, 05:12 PM:

275: Now that's funny. (In the spirit of the post-9/11 NY skyline photo photoshopped into a rude gesture.)

#303 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2013, 05:24 PM:

Last week, the owners and operators of West Fertilizer killed more people and destroyed more property than the Marathon bombers.

I don't expect Lindsey Graham to start going on about how they're enemy combatants with weapons of mass destruction, though.

#304 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2013, 05:44 PM:

Christopher Davis:

Oh, don't worry. If we keep to the idea that sufficiently scary or heinous or media-attracting crimes mean the accused criminals don't have rights, I'm sure sooner or later we'll get to the point where having a big newsworthy explosion at your factory also means you don't have any rights. Especially if you backed the wrong party last election, or the president or prosecutor has an election coming up.

#305 ::: Alan Hamilton ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2013, 06:20 PM:

It's somewhat amusing that the federal charges are based on loose construction of the Comerce Clause: "Whoever maliciously damages or destroys, or attempts to damage or destroy, by means of fire or an explosive, any building, vehicle, or other real or personal property used in interstate or foreign commerce or in any activity affecting interstate or foreign commerce...."

I would think that the strict constructionists would say that since this case does not involve trade of goods across state lines, the Commerce Clause (and thus Federal jurisdiction) wouldn't apply.

#306 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2013, 06:35 PM:

It's in 18 U.S.C. § 2332a : US Code - Section 2332A: Use of weapons of mass destruction.
That's part of one headed 'Terrorism', and the definitions it uses are in another section, 18 USC 921. (from Emptywheel).

#307 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2013, 07:24 PM:

Having just read the transcript of the initial bedside court appearance, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been explicitly Mirandized by the Federal Magistrate if it hadn't happened before, and has had a public defender assigned to him (provisional until he can get some paperwork done showing that he cannot afford effective counsel).
It looks like the Magistrate is intent on making sure that everything is done correctly so there are no errors in process that may complicate things st a later date.

#308 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2013, 10:09 PM:

jnh @ 307:

That's good to hear.

#309 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2013, 06:56 AM:

Jacque @ 300:

"Oh, right, sorry! That's not a joke where you come from, is it?"

Or where I come from, now, thanks to Mister Google and all his curious friends.

#310 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2013, 09:26 AM:

Andrew M @297: You're quite right; I misread that, thinking about the Spartans honoring Themistocles, which is the complete opposite of what Paula actually said.

Lee @292: As Andrew says, it looks like Paula meant Alcibiades, so I was wrong in my guess! (But with Themistocles, the short version is that he was honored greatly after the war, but got into political trouble that had them decide--it's not clear on how legitimately--that he had totally collaborated with the Persians, at which point he fled pursuit and did go over to the Persians.)

#311 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2013, 11:59 AM:

Jacque @301 - I don't know. For me, I find jokes' funny content to be inversely proportional to their offensive content, which leads me to see them as opposite endpoints on the same axis, not different axes at all. But I'm thinking that what we're plotting on the graph isn't the joke itself but individual responses to jokes.

#312 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2013, 12:20 PM:

Does anyone else think he should have green hair, white skin and a large grin when they hear Dzokhar Tsarnaev's name said on the radio?

#313 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2013, 12:33 PM:

Nicole J LeBoeuf-Little: For me, I find jokes' funny content to be inversely proportional to their offensive content, which leads me to see them as opposite endpoints on the same axis, not different axes at all.

If you really did this, you would find every non-offensive joke funny, even the boring or inept ones.

#314 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2013, 01:31 PM:

'twas Alcibiades whose name I could not remember.

The Mirandizing has occurred, but it occurred sometime after the questioning and his written answers started. I wish the tardiness had not happened.

Yes, there is lots of evidence of capital crimes on the part of his deceased brother and himself. But I think the delay on Mirandizing was imappropriate.

#315 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2013, 02:14 PM:

John A Arkansawyer #309: "Oh, right, sorry! That's not a joke where you come from, is it?" Or where I come from, now, thanks to Mister Google and all his curious friends.

Though to be fair, we aren't at a point (yet) where Mr. Google et al are likely to show up at your door in the dead of night and carry you off to fates unknown. (Like I say: yet.)

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @311: what we're plotting on the graph isn't the joke itself but individual responses to jokes.

Yes, true. There are few things so subjective as humor.

#316 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2013, 03:12 PM:

I believe what are now called "weapons of mass destruction" are what we used to call "Be Nice" items.

The acronym BNICE stands for Biological/Nuclear/Incendiary/Chemical/Explosive.

#317 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2013, 03:12 PM:

Connor Friedersdorf on the many neocon war-on-terror hawks weighing in on the Boston bombing Friedersdorf expresses surprise and dismay at these guys' uniform front of certainty and confidence in light of their dismal record so far. But I think that's actually their selling point.

My guess is that most people reading/listening want reassurance, not careful analysis. Alice tells you "this is a very hard and complicated problem, we can take prudent measures to stop it, but they're expensive and difficult, and even so, we can only do so much." Bob tells you "this problem can be solved, and the only people who suffer for it will be people you already hate and fear." Bob has a much easier sales job, even when he is utterly full of shit. Most people listening or reading aren't thinking "how did the last few of this guy's ideas turn out," they're thinking "finally, someone saying something that sounds reassuring and strong." That apparent certainty is part of why it's reassuring and strong.

Demonstrably, there is little cost to political pundits of saying things that are obvious bullshit when they're said, and that completely fail to pan out later. My guess is that most readers are reacting far more to how those pundits' words make them feel, or how much those pundits' words agree with their own sentiments, than to how well those pundits' words track with reality.

There is a godawful cost to the country of this--our political discussions are infected with reassuringly confident nonsense and bluster, and often even the people at the top drink the kool-aid, as Romney apparently did with all the conservative media spin about how the polling numbers were all wrong and he was really going to win the election. Even when they know better, if most voters are committed to a view of the world that doesn't make any sense, but that sells well, the people at the top have to more-or-less conform to that view of the world in their actions, or at least must appear to conform to it.

#318 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2013, 03:37 PM:

Jim: my CERT classmate who's about to be deployed to Afghanistan says he was taught CBRNE (pronounced "See Bernie"): chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, explosive. They separate radiological from nuclear to emphasize the difference between a "dirty bomb" and a nuclear explosion.

#319 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2013, 04:33 PM:

I just heard someone on the radio claiming that the current federal definition of WMD includes anything that propels an object bigger than I-think-he-said half an inch in diameter. He pointed out that a potato gun would qualify.

Why do I feel like Stalin's ghost is just off camera, laughing hysterically?

#320 ::: Persephone ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2013, 04:46 PM:

Jim @316, the term FEMA was using in its emergency preparedness exercises as of a few years ago was CBRNE (see-BURR-nee): chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosives.

#321 ::: Persephone ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2013, 04:47 PM:

And Lila got there before I did. Sorry for the duplicate response!

#322 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2013, 04:52 PM:

Xopher @ 318

I think the person on the radio is thinking of a destructive device, which I don't think is quite the same as a weapon of mass destruction. (Definitely a federal crime to possess without a license, though.) But yes, except for shotguns, 50 caliber is the limit for civilian breech-loading weapons. (And I long coveted a 50 BMG single-shot rifle at my local gun shop.)

I think a potato gun would fall under the exception for "any device which is neither designed nor redesigned for use as a weapon."

#323 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2013, 05:03 PM:

A potato gun would potentially qualify as a weapon of mash destruction.

#324 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2013, 05:09 PM:

re 323: ... or a SPUD missile bombardment.

#325 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2013, 06:59 PM:

There has been some doubt expressed at the official version of the brothers' story. How come, it is asked, did the older brother come to attention of the Russians, in a way that prompted a query to the FBI, and how did he subsequently make a trip to Russia without attracting untoward attention?

A partial explanation is a claimed spelling mistake, maybe a difference in Romanization, that meant there were two different versions of the name which were not matched up.

And John Smith might well be the same person as Jon Smythe...

Stand a spokesman up in front of a group of news reporters, let him make a little speech, and have fun trying to find an accurate report of what he said. There does seem to be something odd about the story, but can we rely on what we hear to be accurate?

#326 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2013, 08:52 PM:

SamChevre @321:
I read the federal definition of "weapon of mass destruction" a few domestic terrorist incidents ago (didn't keep the link), and the guy on the radio was right. It includes essentially anything on the "destructive device" list, plus anything radioactive and any biological agents. "Weapon of mass destruction", for purposes of federal prosecution, has a much wider definition than what most people think of when they hear the phrase.

#327 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2013, 10:57 PM:

#324 ::: Dave Bell

And, of course, John Smith can be any number of people.

Can you still get off the no fly list by changing your middle initial?

#328 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2013, 11:04 PM:

A strong response to the attack. (Somewhat NSFW -- language.)

#329 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2013, 12:53 AM:

So, by the federal statute, Saddam had Weapons of Mass Destruction. See, Bush & co weren't lying.

#330 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2013, 01:04 AM:

You can put ears on a football and call it a rabbit, too.

#331 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2013, 10:10 AM:

So the Mythbusters's air cannon that tossed out frozen turkeys is a WMD, and so are Punkin' Chunkin' cannons and their seeds of destruction.

#332 ::: Serge Broom has been GNOMED ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2013, 10:11 AM:

I have some dry Corn Chex.

#333 ::: Serge Broom has been GNOMED ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2013, 11:00 AM:

Note to myself... Offer food to moderators, but no specific brand, otherwise the gnoming notice will also be gnomed.

[Malformed filter. Fixing it .... -Morinos Iorop, Duty Gnome]

#334 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2013, 02:12 PM:

#325 David
I suspect the same apparatchiks are still controlling most of the FBI apparatus, which apparatchiks effected the ouster of the woman whose case against wrongful termination from the FBI was thrown out by a federal judge (probably appointed by a Republican president...)on the specious grounds of "harm to national security." (The woman was a Arabic translator, who had gone though material the CIA had given to the FBI for translation. A previous translator, male, had in the words of the woman mistranslated the documents he did translate, and marked others as having nothing in them worth translating. She objected. The FBI hierarchy told her to shut up, that the FBI was a "family" and family members supported one another. She went to Congress with her concerns. The FBI fired her. This was in 2001 before September... )

Obama's attempts to appoint people to federal administrative positions who might perhaps clean out out the worst of the 2001-2008 era dismantlers of regulation and oversight and enforcement of the Bill of Rights and deniers of search and seizure warrants regarding certain groups of foreign nationals have in hundreds or more cases, met with intransigence (spelling) from Republicans, ranging from secret holds by the likes of Senator Sessions and his fellows, to overt bottling up in committee, to filibustering--even of candidates who there were no spoken objections to! (Some were apparently not the slightest bit controversial, but the spoiled brat Republicans often only ONE, were blocking the nomination from "an up-down vote" which would have overwhelminging confirmed the candidates with apparently not even ONE vote against, for completely external reasons, such as objecting to not imposing theocracy of the sort banning all abortions and charging anyone involved with induced abortion with the death penalty, not terminating any and all federal healthcare programs, etc.)

But getting back to the Marathon--one of the double amputees when he woke up in the hospital, reporting having observed a person dropping a black backpack/sack next to the future amputee, shortly (it was 2 1/2 minutes) before the explosion went off.

The fellow obviously was not on alert of one the premier rules about people dropping objects, apparently having made no attempt to ask the fellow "hey, you dropped something?" or been suspicious about dropped packages in crowds (or anywhere else...).

Two and a half minutes is a long time when it comes to low power bombs. It is enough enough time to yell and run, and/or go after the person who put it down screaming "terrorist" and halping clear the area and haul the ATF and cops who were all over the area in...

But the fellow wasn't suspicious, and stood around next to sack or backpack with the bomb in it until said bomb exploded....

A disaster was avoided months ago in New York City, when someone aroused the suspicion of the locals who immediately contacted law enforcement.

#335 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2013, 02:38 PM:

Paula, #334: Most people in the US don't live by "war zone" rules. (Perhaps we should, but that's a different issue.) Nonetheless, I am sure that there are already plenty of people telling this guy that he, personally, is at fault for all the people injured because he was insufficiently paranoid focused on the race instead of monitoring everyone around him. I don't think we need to join the mob.

#336 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2013, 03:26 PM:

I don't know how you'd get the precise number, but my guess is that the ratio of bombs per dropped bag is so close to zero as to be, for practical purposes, indistinguishable from it in normal life. It's *extremely* hard to come up with useful things to do in response to threats with that kind of astronomically low probability.

#337 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2013, 03:55 PM:

Although it might not be onerous to develop a cultural habit of always remaining in physical contact with one's possessions (as one does at the airport)* and then sic the police on any items (bigger than, say, a paper cup) you see unattended.

Don't know how practical that would be for events like the marathon, though.

* Like standing with it between your legs, and so on.

#338 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2013, 06:19 PM:

Albatross, you've hit on one of the central problems with trying to detect items where they don't belong in general - at a fundamental level, no observer will ever be perfect at detecting all possible atypical items. Part of this is that anyone looking for threats - whether law enforcement or the general public - can't possibly predict every variant of what's out there. Another part of this is that our visual attention is not unlimited; you may think that you perceive all aspects of the visual world with equal fidelity all the time, but this is very much not the case. In the example brought up a few posts back, where most observers (including the fellow who helped identify the bomber) were attending to the marathoners, most of their visual attention was not devoted to the crowd or actions within it - it was devoted to the marathon. As someone doing research in a related area, I'd call this selective attention (see this video for the most classic example) - and say that law enforcement got damn lucky here that one of the victims of the bombing happened to attend to attend to one of the bombers sufficiently to identify him after the fact.

In terms of "how can we make this less likely to reoccur by making everyone paranoid," we're going to run smack in to a known problem in threat detection and, specifically, in visual search. Human beings are not perfect detection systems for anything - much less for widely varying potential threats. If I'm the unlucky fellow scanning your bags at the airport, and I'm looking for things that don't belong there, I'm not going to be perfect at it. There are ways to make me better at it (e.g., plant false alarms), but the cost of doing so at a security checkpoint is relatively low (pull the bag aside and poke at it briefly; or just rescan it with a different orientation); the cost of doing the same at a huge public event is immense. While planting false positives might increase detection, the costs of doing so (e.g., roll out the bomb squad) are immensely disruptive.

#339 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2013, 06:59 PM:

#335-338, Lee, Albatross, Jacque, Benjamin

Someone dropping something off in a crowd at a Big Event, where there is no apparently innocuous basis--the fellow was not e.g. even putting down the bag to pull out a camera and take a picture--, it's not paranoia.

Being vigilant is not the same as being paranoid. There are even people who make/made nitroglycerin for fun by the quart and threw the bottle containing it somewhere to see what would happen.... I remember when I was a child, for that matter, all sorts of warnings about blasting caps and such left out in public places by people being clueless or/and malicious.

Again, it's not paranoia. Throughout history there have been people who for various reasons--because it was their idea of fun, because they were angry--there was a recent case of a fellow angry at a woman who blew up TWO houses thinking first she was in one, then in the other-, because they thought the world would be a better place with someone or someones or some group gone (Yog's description of the demise of the person Franco had chosen as successor...)--plant explosives/booby traps, which maim and murder. Being alert for suspicious packages/suspicious isn;t paranoia, it's survival instinct.

#340 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2013, 07:10 PM:

If people were perfect observers magicians would go out of business.

#341 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2013, 07:36 PM:

Re Paula's #339:

There was no possible amount of vigilance to suspicious packages that Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco could have had that would have saved him.

The assassins dug a tunnel under the street, packed it with explosives, and fired it remotely when his car was passing overhead.

This is a reenactment from a theatrical film.

#342 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2013, 07:59 PM:

As my daddy used to say: "Locks are to keep the honest people out."

#343 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2013, 08:28 PM:

Paula, #339: You still don't get it. What you're doing isn't "promoting vigilance" -- it's blaming the victim for being insufficiently paranoid observant. I didn't think I'd have to say this so bluntly, but apparently I do.

#344 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2013, 11:13 PM:

Being unsuspicious unless you have reason to be suspicious is how normal people act most of the time.

Being suspicious unless you have specific reason not to be is what is, in colloquial terms, known as paranoia.

#345 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2013, 03:26 AM:

I've lived in a country under threat of urban bombings (said bombings funded, with no small irony, partly out of Boston, sigh). I've visited London and stood in a Tube train as my station went by, evacuated because someone left a gym bag on a bench. I've carried my own rubbish around looking for a bin to put it in, because trash cans blow up into lovely metal shards, and were removed.

It's certainly possible to do it. It's inconvenient, but it's not the end of the world.

But that wasn't the culture in Boston on the day of the marathon.

Blaming the guy who saw the other guy put the bag down is exactly like blaming the passengers of the first hijacked planes on 9/11 for not overwhelming the hijackers. They, and he, followed the conventional wisdom of the time, which is that cooperating with hijackers keeps you alive, and bags people put down are harmless.

Hindsight is always 20/20.

Also, do you think that guy doesn't have enough survivor guilt already? Really?

The people who are at fault for the deaths are the people who put the bombs there. Period. Full stop. End of sentence.

#346 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2013, 08:46 AM:

I'm with Abi @345.

As a general rule of thumb: if someone dumps a bag near your feet and wanders off, even though it is 99.99% probably not a bomb you should say something. Because if it's innocent lost property, by drawing attention to it you're probably helping the owner reclaim it, and being a good citizen; and in the vanishingly unlikely event that it's a bomb, you're saving lives. There is no down side, except for the pervasive low-level social conditioning in US (and also British) Society that tells people not to get involved. And for that, I'd place most of the blame at the feet of the news media, for the way they cover news stories about people who do get involved (and have bad things happen to them).

#347 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2013, 09:23 AM:

Charlie: even and especially Richard Jewell. It WAS a bomb, and he saved lives, and he still had his life destroyed because of it (and though he died of "natural causes", there's no way that amount of stress didn't hasten his death).

#348 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2013, 11:57 AM:

Upthread at 128, I detailed my guess at the delivery method of the backpacks. From what I've seen on surveillance video, I was pretty darn close.

The only thing the perps didn't do was the "photographer" bit. And they were stupid enough that they didn't think to act like everyone else when the bombs went off...

Something that has been niggling at me, though -- did they not realize that most major cities now have surveillance cameras everywhere?

#349 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2013, 12:24 PM:

Even without surveillance cameras there'd be enough folks with ordinary cameras around (and TV crews filming the race, etc. etc.) that they should have known there'd be multiple photos from multiple angles and multiple distances. Yet they didn't make the slightest effort to disguise themselves. Just wear a false beard and mustache -- or a wig and a floral-print dress -- and they might have bought a lot more time.

After that they were just winging it -- no thought-through escape/followup/part two/plan b.

What a pathetic pair of losers.

#350 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2013, 01:14 PM:

Lori, a lot of those cameras are so unobtrusive that you probably wouldn't notice them even if you knew they were there.

#351 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2013, 03:29 PM:

If this were a mystery novel, the younger brother would have had an appointment with a plastic surgeon in another city. Afaik, leaving Boston ASAP after the bombs went off would have been possible.

#352 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2013, 04:14 PM:

abi 345, Charlie 346, Lila 347: I agree entirely.

Once, a few years after 9/11, I saw that someone had left a bag at the front of the store I was in. I told a store employee, who went and opened it. Turned out there was nothing dangerous inside, but I still felt obliged to explain that this was not a wise move. If you know it's not a bomb, you don't need to open it, and if you're not sure, you shouldn't go near it.

Jim 349: Pathetic pair of losers, probably. But they might also have been so caught up in getting to the moment that they didn't even think beyond it. I've had that happen to me with things that weren't nearly so drastic, and it was a lot worse when I was young.

Also, maybe they thought they would be closer or the bombs would be bigger—and never planned to survive the bombings at all.

#353 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2013, 09:42 PM:

Xopher @352:

Once, a few years after 9/11, I saw that someone had left a bag at the front of the store I was in. I told a store employee, who went and opened it. Turned out there was nothing dangerous inside, but I still felt obliged to explain that this was not a wise move. If you know it's not a bomb, you don't need to open it, and if you're not sure, you shouldn't go near it.

If you're trying to determine whether it's dangerous, then no, opening it is not a good move. I can, however, think of a half dozen reasons why an employee who isn't thinking about bombs might want to open it.

#354 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2013, 12:58 AM:

True story that might explain why some people are hesitant to react to a suspicious item, particularly if they are employees versus spectators or customers. There can be a real fear of being WRONG and creating an unnecessary fuss.

In one of my first jobs as an older teen, I worked at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport in the 1990's. (It was fairly recently after the first World Trade Center bombing.) Among a variety of less than glorious positions in the airport, I worked nights at an airport snack bar for several months so I could complete two semesters of college classes that were only scheduled during the day. Much of the night I would be completely by myself. I was responsible for cooking and serving food, cashiering, and breaking down and cleaning equipment all by myself for several hours out of a ten hour shift.

My manager was supposed to be around, but he tended to vanish for hours at a time. I always suspected he went home for several hours every night ... particularly if it was busy.

On night, I had a frantic traveler realize he had "forgotten" a bag in his car. He dropped a suitcase behind my counter, demanded I "watch" it until he got back with his car, and was gone at a dead panicky run even as I said, "No!" This was on a Friday night, with a fair number of travelers in the concourse and a line at the snack bar.

I reacted with what I felt was due and appropriate caution, and ran to the closest security checkpoint. They called the airport police.

(In what I always thought was a surpreme case of stupid design, the snack bar phones couldn't make outside calls. They could only call other phones within the airport that belonged to the company. You couldn't even call 911 from them. So if you needed airport security, the fastest way to find it was to sprint to the checkpoint.)

By the time the idiot traveler returned, the police were waiting for him and the snack bar had been evacuated. It turned out his story was entirely legit, he'd just left a bag behind in his car, and had panicked. I'd reacted out of an abundance of caution, and I had been wrong that it might be a bomb -- but hey, the guy dropped a suitcase in an airport and took off at a dead run.

My boss? Wrote me up for "overreacting," leaving the snack bar unattended (to flat out run a hundred feet or so to the security checkpoint), and generally making what he felt was an unwarranted fuss. My boss at the time specifically stated he didn't think an 18 year old should be making those kinds of decisions, and I should have called him first.

I always wondered if he expected me to stare at the potentially ticking luggage until he returned my page -- this was in the time before most people had cell phones.

I was simply relieved that the bag was just a bag, and that the traveler was just an idiot. I wasn't embarrassed. I thought my reaction was sensible, particularly given they'd just bombed the World Trade Center ... My boss, however, seemed to be humiliated by the whole thing, and apologized profusely to the airport cops despite the fact they were insistent I'd done the right thing.

Had I kept that job and been confronted with the same situation, I would have reacted the same way. However, I suspect a lot of people would have not reacted as I did, out of fear of getting in trouble for making a scene.

(I didn't last with that company long; the moron factor went all the way to the very top of the managerial chain. I could tell some spectacular bad-boss stories from that job, but they'd be way off topic for this thread.)

#355 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2013, 01:22 PM:

P J Evans @350: That settles it -- I'm definitely weird. I actively look for the security cameras (as well as exits) wherever I am. I used to wave to the one on the way from the parking garage to the Marcon hotel.

#356 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2013, 02:34 PM:

Cygnet @354: I could tell some spectacular bad-boss stories from that job, but they'd be way off topic for this thread.

Well, there's always the Open Thread. :-)

Lori Coulson @355: I'm definitely weird. I actively look for the security cameras

I'm much too lazy. I just assume I'm being watched, and behave accordingly.

#357 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2013, 03:07 PM:

Chris 353: My notification of him was unambiguous as to my reasoning.

Unless by "not thinking about bombs" you mean "are already sure it's NOT a bomb." Then I'd have to agree.

Cygnet 354: That manager should have been locked up for endangering customers and staff. Bloody idiot.

I'm not surprised that the stupid went all the way to the top, considering what you said about the phones.

Jacque 356: ...or the Dysfunctional Families thread, which often talks about non-family abuse.

#358 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2013, 03:07 PM:

I'm thinking of the ones that watch the front entrances at the building where I worked. I don't know where they are (the ones in the elevator lobbies are much more obvious), but since I fell on the steps last year, I know that they are.

#359 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2013, 07:13 PM:

Another New Hampshire Republican Covers Herself With Glory

This follows the New Hampshire Republicans who wanted to have the representatives who voted down our "Stand Your Ground" law charged with treason.

#360 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2013, 07:59 AM:

Following up on my #283:

Greenwald column describing the bombing suspect being denied repeated requests to talk to a lawyer. I wonder what was being said to him, lying helpless in his hospital bed with nobody around to see, to induce him to talk.

#361 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2013, 08:45 AM:

You know, I've been thinking about this, and I'm not terribly unhappy about not reading this guy his Miranda rights. Assuming his trial judge has respect for precedent and a minimal amount of guts, anything beyond the "Where's the bomb?" type question should get thrown out. If they get useful information from him and don't use it to incriminate him, his rights have been maintained.

In theory at least, that's how I feel about it. In fact, I suspect the limits will be pushed again.

#362 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2013, 12:23 PM:

John A., #361: I think Slacktivist has this covered.

Q: Why was the suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing read his rights?
A: Because he was arrested and charged with a crime.
If you don't understand that, I don't know how to help you understand.

Basically, it comes down to this: Do you support the rule of law?

#363 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2013, 01:42 PM:

Lee @ 362: As I understand Miranda v. Arizona (it's been a long time!), the failure to give a Miranda warning is countered by the inadmissibility in court of any statement made without the warning.

I'm okay with that, if that's how it goes down.

Now, first, I don't expect it to go down that way.

I expect this administration, like any other administration I can imagine being elected, will take this opportunity to erode civil liberties and will try to make the inadmissible admissible.

Second, I forget whether information developed from un-Mirandized statements is also forbidden as fruit from a poison tree. If it is unambiguously so, then I'm moderately confident that prohibition will stay. If there is no such unambigous prohibition, then again, I expect this court would cut further into civil liberties, so that would be a bad idea.

So, yeah, I believe in the rule of law.

#364 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2013, 02:20 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @ 363

Per Orin Kerr, Further, the prosecution is even allowed to admit any physical evidence discovered as a fruit of the statement obtained in violation of Miranda — only the actual statement can be excluded.

Much more detail at the link.

#365 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2013, 02:23 PM:

SamChevre @ 364: I could not remember that. I could remember the "fruit of a poisoned tree" phrase but not which case it signified. Knowing this, Lee is right and I stand corrected.

#366 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2013, 03:36 PM:

I think the original justification for delaying reading someone his rights was specifically for asking immediate questions like "is there a bomb about to go off somewhere?" But that has been expanded as part of the war on terror, I believe after that one loser lit his crotch on fire on an airplane trying to blow himself up.

Anymore, I assume that if the authorities say "we are going to just slightly cross this line here," what they mean is "we are going to go about a mile past this line here, while saying we're just going a little further than we did in the past." Did the "high value interrogation team" restrict themselves to public safety type questions, like "did you leave any bombs anywhere else" or "are there other people involved with you?" Perhaps. But I wouldn't bet a dime on it.

If I had to bet, my money would be on truly blood-curdling threats involving how helpless this guy was in his hospital bed, or what they could have done to his parents and other family. I have no evidence for that, and I hope I'm wrong. But the last decade of the war on terror has not been kind to people who assumed that the authorities, when using scary new powers, were super careful to keep within the spirit of the law and human decency. And it's a given that if my suspicions are true, and if the hypothetical abuse I'm assuming was all videotaped, and the whole thing comes out in the news, the only person who will go to jail or lose his job for it will be the guy who leaked the tape.

Whatever precedents we set here will be around for the next case, and the next, and the next. Even if this guy is as guilty and as awful a person as he seems to be, that won't always be true of the people who, thanks to the precedent we're setting now, can maybe be intensively questioned in a hospital room with no way to stop the questioning. I imagine you could get a lot of false confessions under those circumstances.

#367 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2013, 11:53 AM:

IANAL, but I think they've got enough video evidence plus the eyewitness statements,* to show that he committed the crime. So not being able to use anything he said before they read him his rights is not fatal to the case.

*From the fellow who got his legs blown off, and from the unfortunate who lost his Mercedes to the perps.

#368 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2013, 01:21 PM:

At least they're vigilant in Florida:

Teen charged with felony for failed science experiment

I'm sure her lovely dark skin color had nothing to do with this atrocity.

#369 ::: John A Arkansawyer has been gnomed for whining about racist anti-science panic trying to felonize a ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2013, 01:26 PM:

Ironically enough, I have a nice bunch of cookies I just bought from the criminal justice society's bake sale here on campus to offer, enough for all the gnomes to share!

#370 ::: Steve Downey ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2013, 02:00 PM:

Quarles was the case that established the public safety exception to statements being inadmissible before advising someone of their rights. The cop said, "Where's your gun?" The suspect indicated where it was. That was used in evidence at Quarles' trial.

The exception is not about whether the Miranda warning is read, it's about the admissibility of those statements made before the statement is read.

And of course, you have the right to remain silent whether or not the Miranda warning is read, which is why reports that Tsarnaev was denied counsel during that 48 hours are so disturbing to me.

#371 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2013, 06:14 PM:

John 368: Of course not! There's no racism in schools or law enforcement in Florida!

A white boy probably wouldn't have even been expelled.

#372 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2013, 12:09 PM:

Suppose the person who'd seen the backpack put down had said, "Hey, that's your backpack!" and the person who put the backpack down started moving away faster.....

What would best practice be, or at least good practice?

#373 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2013, 12:27 PM:

Nancy, if there are cops in the area, bring their attention to the backpack and then get as far away as possible.

And I see the Boston Bombing has snared a few more idiots: "we thought we'd help him by getting rid of the empty fireworks and the backpack." What are these guys using for brains?

Potential charges: hmm, obstructing justice, assisting in concealing the commission of a terrorist act, accessory (after the fact) to murder...and that's just the appetizer. Sheesh.

I'm betting the two here on visas will never complete their education, and it wouldn't surprise me if they spend the rest of their lives in jail. The one that's a citizen will probably do five to ten if he's convicted.

#374 ::: Lori Coulson has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2013, 12:29 PM:

Ok, it's either a punctuation error or I've invoked a word of power.

Would the on-duty gnome like some coffee?

#375 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2013, 01:03 PM:

John Arkansawyer @ 368

I think the response was unreasonably disproportionate.

However, mixing toilet bowl cleaner and aluminum foil in a plastic bottle is well known to explode, and was already well known to explode 15 years ago when I was in college--I'm doubtful the "it was an experiment" is a plausible explanation.

#376 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2013, 01:05 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @372 -- a lot depends on the circumstances. How crowded is the area? Are there police nearby? Urban/suburban? Outside/inside?

The person leaving the pack may, for instance, be deaf and not have heard you; or might not think you're talking to yo.

Notify police/appropriate nearby authority if it's easy is the first step. After that, there are too many variables for me to want to make a general statement other than "Assess the situation before acting." And yes, I've been around parcels that were left behind a few times (none of them turned out to be bombs, but I did contact airport security and cops so they could make sure everything was okay).

#377 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2013, 01:06 PM:

I understand what they've been charged with has a maximum of 5 years and a hefty fine. Two of them are also in violation of their student visas - they were cutting classes and it got noticed.

Kids being stupid, it sounds like.

#378 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2013, 01:08 PM:

Not everyone is aware of that - I certainly had never heard of it. The girl says she was told about it by other kids, who didn't say it would make a big bang. (She thought it would be smaller.)

#379 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2013, 02:18 PM:

SamChevre, #375: mixing toilet bowl cleaner and aluminum foil in a plastic bottle is well known to explode, and was already well known to explode 15 years ago when I was in college

Depends on your background and your friends, I suppose. I was unaware of this fact until I read the story -- and I watch Mythbusters. But I also never had chemistry in either high school or college, nor do I hang out with people who like to make things go boom just for fun.

#380 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2013, 03:10 PM:

OK, I stand corrected. (And reminded that "well known among people I know" and "well known" are non-equivalent.)

#381 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2013, 04:57 PM:

SamChevre, anyone who watched "MacGuyver" certainly knew, and it's been in syndication for a long long time.

IIRC, they left unmentioned at least one element of every made-from-scratch bomb Mac concocted.

#382 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2013, 06:13 PM:

SamChevre @ 375... I'm doubtful the "it was an experiment" is a plausible explanation.

What then do you think is a more plausible explanation?

#383 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 09:14 AM:

What then do you think is a more plausible explanation?

I thought it would go "bang" and do no harm. (And a sensible proportionate response would have been something like a week of after-school detention.)

#384 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 09:45 AM:

SamChevre @383 -- that falls under my definition of "experiment."

#385 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 10:36 AM:

SamChevre @ 383... That would indeed have been a more reasonable response, especially in the post-Columbine era where any sense of measure has been abandoned. My own response would have been to look at her record and background, to then realize she was just a kid trying something stupid and then to say "Do *not* do it again, kid" and to mean it.

#387 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 11:02 AM:

SamChevre, #383: I'm with Tom -- I don't see any difference between your "more plausible explanation" and calling it an experiment. Except perhaps that people who are interested in science might be more likely to say the latter, and people who aren't to say the former.

Or she could have said, "I wanted to see what would happen" -- which is pretty much the definition of experimentation.

#388 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 03:31 PM:

Lee @ 387... I think the young lady has learned that the Mythbusters's counsel at the beginning of each episode doesn't apply anymore.

Better to try this at home.

#390 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2013, 11:24 AM:

So, quite some time back, I heard something that sounded like Tamerlan Tsarnaev was not able to join the Olympic Team for boxing because he was not a US citizen, and that his citizenship had been held up due to legal troubles. In the same report, and in a way that led me to believe there was a causal connection, they talked about there being a domestic abuse charge against him. Did anyone else see/hear this?

Quite a lot has been made recently (I heard more on Minnesota Public Radio this morning, in fact) about how Tamerlan's blighted hopes for Olympic boxing served to "radicalize" him. But I've only once heard anything about the domestic abuse situation. Is there anything else about this? Are the two situations in fact causally linked?

I wonder in part because, if domestic abuse is part of the picture, it seems like it might be an important part. So many violent acts seem to stem from whatever head space it is that finds domestic abuse a reasonable response to stress.

#391 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2013, 12:09 PM:

Yes, that has been reported. I think the turn-down for the Olympic trials was what did it, more than the domestic-violence thing. (I really don't see why legal residents who are in the process of getting citizenship can't be on the team.) It's been lost in all the foofaraw about his burial (and you don't want to read what people are saying about that).

#392 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2013, 06:46 PM:

PJ @391

I expect there are rules, about when you have to name the team and who is eligible, and they can clash with bureaucracy over citizenship. But I don't see why somebody who is going through the process can't be a candidate as long as they started the process in good time. But there will have been a deadline.

I must admit, there's room to wonder if Tsarnaev was a good enough boxer. If his record wasn't good enough why make a special effort?

#393 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2013, 07:57 PM:

I've seen some accounts that he was that good a boxer. But that sets me in mind wondering about head trauma.

#394 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2013, 07:59 PM:

Dave, they have occasionally hurried up the process in order to get someone on the team.

#395 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2013, 11:26 AM:

PJ Evans @391: The implication that I saw was that he could not get citizenship because he had legal troubles, and that those legal troubles were, in fact, the charges of domestic abuse against him. So, what I thought I heard was a direct causal link between his aspirations being blighted and him being an asshole to his wife.

But there is also the larger conversation. Do terrorists and domestic abusers share characteristics? What exactly is the link between misogyny and mass murder, if there is one? Other than long term cultural change, is there a way to address this? If, indeed, there is a clear link, would people be more interested in addressing the problems of misogyny and domestic abuse if they understood that it would reduce the number of terror attacks. (I am rather casually lumping together things like Sandy Hook, Gabby Gifford's shooting, and the Boston Marathon bombing. Are there links there that we are not seeing?)

#396 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2013, 11:50 AM:

Lydy, you have the same version I heard.

I think that he was having trouble adjusting to the US, and his parents may have been pushing for him to move back to Russia. Becoming a radical would be easier in a situation like that.

#397 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2013, 01:22 PM:

Lydy, #395: I think you're onto something there. It makes intuitive sense that people who have learned to consider violence the solution to one issue in their lives might transfer that thinking to other issues.

#399 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2013, 03:31 AM:

Lee @397

I've occasionally seen discussion of how some people see other people, in connection with sociopathy/pschopathy, and a mental disconnect of that sort could be a a causal factor in common for different sorts of violence. But domestic violence as an indicator of terrorist tendencies? Just as a start you're making an assumption of a single cause for domestic violence. This is in Bruce Schneier's joining-the-dots territory. If it has any meaning, it's only in hindsight.

And, since the guy is dead, I am not sure that it could ever be relevant in any criminal trial.

#400 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2013, 02:40 PM:

Before this thread ages even more, there's a question I'd meant to ask: does anyone have recommendations for first-responder training in the greater Boston area that's a step above the typical CPR classes? I've done those in the past and haven't felt particularly confident afterward in doing much beyond CPR itself and calling 911.

#401 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2013, 03:08 PM:

Beyond CPR classes:

AHA's Heartsaver first aid classes are good.

Beyond that, and the one I'd personally recommend, is SOLO's Wilderness First Aid class. The first aid they teach works equally well on a city street as in the deep woods, and it is very complete. They offer this class all over the world. The next one in Massachusetts is this weekend in Russell, MA.

#402 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2013, 11:58 PM:

Back in the late 80s I took an "Advanced First Aid - Mountaineering Oriented" course from the Red Cross here in Los Angeles. It was based on the standard Red Cross Advanced First Aid class, with the addition of some curriculum from their home nursing classes, and some EMT/Paramedic-level instruction (but no meds or invasive procedures like IVs or emergency tracheotomy). It wasn't only for mountaineering; there were backpackers, a couple blue-water sailors, ski patrollers, and one wildland firefighting trainee among the students. The emphasis was different from the typical first aid class, because they assumed you might be a day's hike away from help (or out at sea, or ...), so there was some discussion of nursing and transportation considerations. It was 2-3 hours/night, 2 nights a week, for a couple months. I've probably forgotten most of it; for example, I can no longer recite all the differences between hypoglycemic and hyperglycemic comas. The two times I've needed it for relatively minor situations (coworker w/ grand mal seizure, coworker fainted), I at least knew what *not* to do while awaiting the paramedics.

I don't know if they still offer it.

#403 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2013, 08:55 AM:

David @ #400: The NDLS offers free training in a variety of disaster life support courses; these include not just triage and first aid but issues like setting up shelters, logistics, communications, etc. etc.

Not only are they tuition-free, but here in Georgia you're reimbursed for travel, lodging and meals if the course is more than 50 miles from where you live (funding through the Dept. of Homeland Security and GEMA).

Incidentally, their annual meeting is in July in Atlanta ($50!) and will cover, among other topics, lessons learned from the Boston bombing. I'm planning to attend.

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