The week actually got off to a great start! I spent last weekend at the amazing Tortuga Music Festival here in South Florida, benefiting the Rock the Ocean Foundation, and was feeling great for a Monday.
Then all hell broke loose in Boston.
As bad as the actual explosion of two bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon was, the lies and insanity that were presented as “news” made it even more disgusting. The worst perpetrator had to be the Rupert Murdoch-owned NY Post, Wall Street Journal and Fox “News” Channel:
The “Saudi National” was never officially a “suspect” nor was he arrested, though some “news” organizations and pundits sure made it sound that way. And many were quick to take the information they put out to blame “the Muslims”.
The fact that he was even questioned and considered a “person of interest” is also reprehensible. Read this account of what was done to this young man in this account, “The Saudi Marathon Man” by Amy Davison at The New Yorker.
But the kicker came Thursday morning, in the form of the front page New York’s biggest piece of trash, the NY Post:
As Deadspin reported, those two kids pictured are NOT the suspects!
The pair show up in multiple photos of the finish line. They carry large bags. They are dark-skinned. This was enough for internet sleuths to peg them as suspicious…
(The photo on the paper’s cover is a cropped and zoomed-in version of the one taken by Ben Levine, which appeared on Deadspin on Tuesday.)
But maybe there was a reason for them to be at the marathon, wearing track jackets and carrying bags: they’re runners. The kid in the blue jacket is a middle-distance runner at Revere High School. Last week he ran the two-mile in 11:20.
Yesterday he caught wind that his name and social media profiles were being circulated online, and he did what any teenager would do: He panicked. He made his Facebook timeline private, and in one message now no longer visible, he announced he was going to clear his name.
"Going to the court rightnow!! Shit is real. But u will see guys I’m did not do anything"
Not to be outdone, CNN decided to get in on the journalistic malpractice action:
The same guy who eviscerated CNN for being first with the news of the Supreme Court striking down the individual mandate in Obamacare, Jon Stewart noticed CNN's role in the misinformation wars too:
After the irresponsible media malpractice went on for hours yesterday, the FBI finally issued a statement aimed at them!
“Over the past day and a half, there have been a number of press reports based on information from unofficial sources that has been inaccurate. Since these stories often have unintended consequences, we ask the media, particularly at this early stage of the investigation, to exercise caution and attempt to verify information through appropriate official channels before reporting.”
But there was more truly bad news on Thursday: The massive failure of the US Senate to come together to pass legislation that closes the gun show and internet loopholes on background checks. Yes, the Republican Party is at fault for voting against anything that doesn’t serve their own misguided ideology, as are the group of so-called Democrats who are too afraid of losing some of that NRA money to vote in favor of background checks – something that 90% of the American people want.
But I also blame Harry Reid for his failure to fix the filibuster, which has been abused by this Republican Party for too long now. If Reid had actually done something, this sensible background check bill would have passed with a simple majority.
There were actually seven gun amendments that went down on Thursday. Click here to see what each of them would have done, and how each senator voted. Then do what Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Mark Glaze, suggests here:
And please read and share Gabrielle Giffords’ op-ed from the New York Times, published after the failure of the senate to pass gun reforms.
There was more in the news this week that would make any sane person question the sanity of the nation. At least two letters – one sent to Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) and one to President Obama – tested positive for the poison ricin. In the wake of the bad reporting of an arrest in the Boston bombing earlier in the day, I was at first skeptical of reports of an arrest in this case. But it was confirmed that a Mississippi man named Paul Kevin Curtis had been arrested.
If all of that wasn’t enough to make this the worse week ever, late Wednesday night came the news of a massive explosion at a fertilizer plant near Waco, TX which, for some reason, is situated dangerously close to a residential area.
Writes Amy Davidson at The New Yorker:
It looked, as of early Thursday morning, like an industrial accident, though other possibilities were still being investigated. There might be five to fifteen people dead, but that is an estimate, and could change. “It could go up by the minute,” D. L. Wilson, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, had said in a press conference in the middle of the night. “We’re in there, searching the area now.” More than a hundred and sixty people have been injured, and sent to many hospitals, including to one that specialized in treating pediatric patients. There is destruction five blocks around the site; a nursing home was evacuated. Wilson said that he had seen what was left of a fifty-unit apartment building nearby—“just a skeleton standing up.” He had also walked around the blast site, which was still smoldering. It was, he said, “just like Iraq. Just like the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City.”
You see, this week in 2013 has been horrific, and today is only Thursday, and it’s only April 18. I knew I wasn’t alone when thinking back on the events of this week, I also made note of these events from years past:
Amy Davidson noted, given all that I’ve written thus far, the reasons so many of us wondering if there’s more to the explosion in Waco:
There are awful coincidences in the world. Accidents happen in fertilizer plants, and elsewhere. There are days, too, that appear not just unsettled but destabilizing. Poisoned letters, showing a positive test for ricin, sent to the President, following one sent to Senator Wicker of Mississippi. The bomb investigation in Boston was said to yield an arrest—except that there was no arrest: the reports were just wrong. And then there was an arrest, but in the other case, the one with the poison letters. His name is Paul Kevin Curtis; the letters were signed K.C. He may have “performed as an entertainer and Elvis Presley impersonator,” law enforcement sources told Reuters. The letters bump one back in time to 2001 and the anthrax in the mail. The wife of a former justice of the peace was charged with planning to kill two prosecutors in Texas, and in Washington, the gun background-check bill was defeated, while getting a majority of the Senate’s votes. Groups of people in online communities like Reddit spent the day staring at photographs and videos in which the moments before and after the explosions in Boston were frozen, searching the faces in the crowd. The Dallas Morning News ran a photo of a Sonic drive-in with what looked like a modest mushroom cloud behind it. The paper also said that firemen were among the missing.
In Boston, the marathon’s first-aid tents became triage centers; in West, they used high-school football fields. It’s a small town, where people were trying to save each other. Wilson said that his team might have to move quickly. There were real thunderstorms gathering in Texas, and wariness about whether the clouds of smoke from the fire might be noxious, and might be blown the wrong way. “When that north wind changes. we’ll probably have to evacuate to the other side of town.”
On Thursday afternoon, the FBI released some of the surveillance video and photos from the Boston Marathon bombing scene, and asked for the public's help to identify these two men, the official suspects:
And then things got even weirder!
Yesterday was one of the most surreal days in recent memory. I awoke to the news that not only had the two men been identified as 26-year old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and his 19-year old brother Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev. The elder brother had been killed, either by a shootout with police or when his younger brother ran him over while escaping from the shootout in the black Mercedes SUV they had earlier carjacked.
The entire city of Boston spent the day on lockdown, while the entire force of the Boston PD, ATF and the FBI went on a house to house manhunt centered on the town of Watertown.
The order to stay inside was lifted at 6pm, as it appeared the younger "white hat" suspect had fled the scene. About an hour later, one Watertown resident left his home and noticed blood leading to the boat in his back yard and on the tarp covering it, and reportedly lifted the tarp to see a "man covered in blood" lying inside! He called the police, who arrived én masse and, an hour later, announced that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, "white hat" or "suspect 2" had been taken alive and arrested.
The people of Boston, especially Watertown, emerged from their homes, and cheered police vehicles as they passed. However, the cynic in me can't help but point out that the younger brother escaped after killing a cop and evaded all of that police power until a citizen saw the blood on his boat and alerted authorities. That house, by the way, was outside of the perimeter the police had set up and believed the suspect to be within. Just saying...
Anyway, here we are. It's Saturday, April 20. It was three years ago today that the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 people and further damaging our oceans and life on this planet. As noted earlier, it's also the anniversary of the Columbine massacre.
My biggest wish is that today is a "slow news day". It is, after all, 4/20. So, if you're in Washington or Colorado, smoke 'em if you've got 'em. Everywhere else, let's legalize it sooner rather than later. We could all use a bit of relaxation today.