In the wake of the Boston bombings and Newtown massacre, visions of unfathomable crazy mass killers and armed strangers in the night have colonized the American mind. But the danger out there is both more mundane and more terrible:You're more likely to be hurt or killed by someone you know or love. And you'll probably be at home when it happens.
Between 2005 and 2010, 60 percent of all violent injuries in this countrywere inflicted by loved ones or acquaintances. And 60 percent of the time those victimizations happened in the home. In 2011, 79 percent of murders reported to the FBI (in which the victim-offender relationship was known) were committed by friends, loved ones, or acquaintances. And in 2009, most of the homicides for which the FBI has location data were committed in the home. Of the 3.5 million assaults and murders against family members between 1998 and 2002 (the last time such a study was done), almost half were crimes against spouses. Eleven percent were against children. But the majority of violent deaths are self-imposed. Suicide is the leading cause of violent death in the United States, and most of those self-killings happen at home.
Last year, then-Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner slammed a series of bills that would have deregulated Wall Street banks. But this year, as a slate of nearly identical bills is being considered by the House Financial Services Committee, newly minted Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has declined to oppose them.
The bills are presented as technical fixes to the 2010 Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act, which was aimed at preventing another 2008-style financial crisis. Most of them aren't. One bill would allow certain derivatives that are traded among a corporation's various affiliates to be exempt from almost all new Dodd-Frank regulations. Another measure would expand the types of trading risks that banks can take on. Yet a third bill would allow big multinational US banks to escape US regulations by operating through international arms. Etc. Etc.
The main problem with these bills, financial reform advocates say, is that it's too early to tweak Dodd-Frank. Although the massive financial-reform law passed more than two years ago, all of its provisions must go to regulatory agencies to be crafted into rules before they take effect in the real world. Because of heavy industry lobbying to weaken or kill the regulations, two-thirds of the 400-odd rules are still not finalized. "You take the least controversial [bill], and it's still pulling a thread out of a jacket," says Jeff Connaughton, an investment banker-turned-financial reform advocate who worked with former Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-Del.) on financial reform legislation in 2009 and 2010. He says altering these sections of the law could make the whole thing fall apart. "Can we please get the rulemaking done first before we start pulling thread out of the sleeve?"
When many of the same bills were introduced in the last Congress, Geithner sent a letter to the House Financial Services Committee warning against the measures. The Dodd-Frank Act "provides essential financial reforms that should not be weakened or repealed," he wrote:
The bills present issues that the regulators are still actively considering in their rulemakings. If enacted, the proposed legislative changes would undermine the integrity of the rulemaking process, further complicate the work of the regulators, and increase uncertainty for firms. Accordingly, Treasury believes that the proposed bills are at best premature and that the regulators should be permitted to continue their work through the rulemaking process.
When asked about Lew's position on the bills and whether he would take a stand against them, Lew's office had no comment. However, his spokesperson did point to recent testimony by a Treasury official who said, "Efforts to repeal the Dodd-Frank Act in whole or piecemeal...will...be corrosive to the strength and stability of our financial system." But a Treasury official saying that a partial Dodd-Frank repeal would be bad does not carry the same weight as a letter from the Secretary of the Treasury that takes a stand against specific bills.
Financial reform advocates have said the administration has not done enough to defend Dodd-Frank. "This is a three-front war by Wall Street," Connaughton says. "The administration needs to be standing up strongly on all three fronts and they're not. They haven't been supporting the agencies the way they should. They haven't been giving the judicial battles the legal importance it deserves. They haven't loudly stated Geithner's position from April 2012, so they're not fighting Congress."
The seven bills sailed out of the House Agriculture committee in late March and are now being considered by the House Financial Services Committee. Last year, the similar bills cleared all the committees, but some never received a vote on the House floor, and they all failed to reach the Senate by the time the 112th Congress ended. As Bart Naylor of Public Citizen noted in April, the bills got an early start this time around, so the pressure on the Senate to take them up if they pass the House will be higher.
You know how it's supposed to work. There's a movie about the future with a bad guy and some good guys. The good guys scan a picture of the bad guy into a computer, the computer quickly cross-references the image against enormous, ominous databases, up pops his name, and they go after him.
Not so much in real life.
For a few hours each year, during the Boston Marathon, the 600 block of Boylston Street is the most photographed place on Earth, what with all the family, friends, tourists, news crews, and commercial photographers. So it was a perfect setting for the FBI to make use of facial-recognition technology. But even though Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev's images existed in official databases, the brothers were not identified that way—because we just aren't that advanced yet.
Facial-recognition technology turns a photograph into a biometric template that can be matched with photos attached to names in other databases. Last summer, the FBI launched a $1 billion facial-recognition program called the Next Generation Identification (NGI) project as a pilot in several states. Once fully implemented, the security program is designed to include some 12 million searchable mug shots as well as voice recognition and iris scans. The FBI would not confirm if the program is being piloted in Massachusetts, but even if it were, it may not have been useful since it is unclear whether the brothers had criminal records. But the FBI also has access to the State Department's passport and visa facial-recognition databases, and can get similar DMV information from the 30-odd states that have it, including Massachusetts. Both brothers had Massachusetts driver's licenses, so it would seem they would be traceable. (Tamerlan's name was also included in a federal government travel-screening database in 2011 after the FBI investigated him for possible terrorist activity at Russia's request, but the government's databases related to immigration, customs, and border-related interactions do not yet have facial-recognition capabilities.)
But in order for facial recognition to work, you need a high-quality frontal photo of the face you want matched. If you have that, research shows, you can pick a suspect out of more than a million mug shots 92 percent of the time. But the image that the FBI captured of the Tsarnaevs from surveillance camera images was grainy and taken from far away, which would have drastically limited the effectiveness of the technology.
Paul Schuepp, CEO and president of Animetrics, one of the facial-recognition companies the FBI contracts with, says that by the time the suspects' faces were zoomed in on, there were only a few dozen pixels per face. "When you've got like five pixels between the eyes, you're done," he says. "There's just not enough data on the face [and] the computer has a impossible time." Schuepp says that the Tsarnaevs' faces were also angled away from the camera, and Tamerlan's sunglasses and hat didn't help either. "Some [news] networks were saying they got good pictures, but the pictures really sucked," he says.
Instead, the FBI released the photos of the two suspects last Thursday and depended on old-fashioned eyeballs to do the work. "It’s likely that the breakthroughs in the case were made by sharp-eyed investigators," Bloomberg News reported, "spotting one of the suspects dropping a bag at the site of one of the two bombings in the surveillance footage, then matching the face with an image from the security camera of the 7-Eleven in Cambridge" that was the scene of an armed robbed on Thursday. Jeff Bauman, the runner who lost both his legs in the explosion, also helped ID the suspects after he woke up in the hospital.
"Even at a distance, as a human being you could recognize that person," Schuepp says.
But facial-recognition technology has been used successfully in another bombing case; it helped in the investigation of of the Times Square bombing attempt in in 2010. And the FBI is hard at work to expand the NGI program. Bloomberg News reported that "the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the NYPD have also expressed interest in more exotic technologies, including one that analyzes people's gait for clues as to whether they're carrying a bomb. Programmers are developing machine vision techniques that can link images of the same person across different video cameras or spot behaviors that are out of the ordinary for a certain setting (e.g., leaving a bag unattended in a public place)."
Civil libertarians worry that eventually these kinds of technologies could soon become all too effective, tracking people in the streets whether they’re suspected of a crime or not. And the Rutherford Institute, a civil liberties group, calls the NGI a huge boondoggle. "With technology moving so fast and assaults on our freedoms, privacy and otherwise, occurring with increasing frequency," charged the group in a September 2012 statement on the NGI project, "there is little hope of turning back this technological, corporate, and governmental juggernaut."
In the winter of 2012, President Obama stood on a podium at the National Defense University to honor the 20th anniversary of a program that successfully dismantled nuclear weapons in the former Soviet Union, declaring, "We simply cannot allow the 21st century to be darkened by the worst weapons of the 20th century." He reaffirmed his commitment to continue investing in nonproliferation, because "our national security depends on it." But his administration's recently released budget proposal reflects the opposite agenda: It makes big cuts to nuclear nonproliferation programs while beefing up funding for the United States' nuclear-weapons stockpile.
Read more MoJo stories on America's atomic arsenal
"I'm baffled as to why they would do that," says Barry Watts, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a national-security policy think tank, said of the Obama administration. "Nonproliferation goes straight to the heart of their policy." Obama's budget proposal for 2014 would cut $400 million from nonproliferation programs while spending an additional $560 million on extending the life of our atomic arsenal (compared to the fiscal 2012 budget).
Experts say the most consequential cuts to nonproliferation efforts in Obama's budget—some $79 million—are slated to come from a program called the Global Threat Reduction Initiative. GTRI takes highly enriched uranium from other countries and sends it to the United States or Russia to be converted into non-weapons-grade material. The program also protects vulnerable nuclear materials at civilian energy and research sites around the world. Since 2009, GTRI has removed more than 3,000 pounds of highly enriched uranium and plutonium, enough to make dozens of nuclear weapons.
We have capped this explainer. Major developments will be covered on our main political blog.
UPDATE 36: Monday, April 22, 1:59 p.m. EDT: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is charged with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction against people and property resulting in death.
UPDATE 35: Monday, April 22, 1:26 p.m. EDT: Multiple sources are reporting that Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was arraigned at his hospital bed, and that the complaint against him was sealed.
UPDATE 34: Saturday, April 20, 1:01 p.m. EDT: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is in a heavily guarded hospital room atBeth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. As press attention turns to deciphering the bombers' motives and the coming trial, Josh Gerstein of Politico has written a piece explaining some legal issues surrounding the case, including the pre-trial interrogation rules facing federal prosecutors and whether Tsarnaev may face the death penalty; Slate's Emily Bazelon explains the history and law behind the "public safety exemption" to the Miranda rules under which Tsarnaev is being questioned.
UPDATE 33: Friday, April 19, 11:12 p.m. EDT:BarstoolSports.com has posted dramatic amateur video of a pitched fire fight, said to be a recording of police closing in on Tsarnaev's boat hiding place on Friday evening.
And a photo has surfaced that appears to show law enforcement officials administering medical care to the suspect shortly after his arrest.
UPDATE 32: Friday, April 19, 10:34 p.m. EDT: Tsarnaev was not given a Miranda warning because of the "public-safety exemption in cases of national security and potential charges involving acts of terrorism," United States Attorney Carmen Ortiz said. But the Obama administration is emphatic about giving Tsarnaev a civilian trial, according to NBC correspondent Pete Williams.
UPDATE 31: Friday, April 19, 10:14 p.m. EDT: Following a press conference held by Mass. Governor Deval Patrick and law enforcement, President Obama delivered a statement addressing the capture of Tsarnaev, the tragedy in Boston, and also the explosion at the West, Texas fertilizer plant on Wednesday. "All in all, this has been a tough week, but we have seen the character of our country," Obama said.
Here's the video and a link to the full statement.
UPDATE 30: Friday, April 19, 10:00 p.m. EDT: According to the Boston Police Department, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is in serious condition. He was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital.
UPDATE 29: Friday, April 19, 9:42 p.m. EDT: The FBI wanted poster for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been updated with "Captured":
UPDATE 28: Friday, April 19, 8:45 p.m. EDT: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been taken into custody. He was found hiding in a boat resting on a trailer in a Watertown backyard.
UPDATE 27: Friday, April 19, 7:15 p.m. EDT: Moments after law enforcement officials lifted the city's lockdown, an exchange of gunfire was heard in Watertown. The Boston Globe and local television are now reporting that police have cornered a suspect.
UPDATE 26: Friday, April 19, 2:09 p.m. EDT: Here is the FBI wanted poster for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, suspect in the Boston Marathon attack:
More MoJo coverage of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings
UPDATE 25: Friday, April 19, 1:08 p.m. EDT: At noon on Friday, Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR) held a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC with five other Muslim community leaders. While they emphasized that the suspects' motive are not yet known, CAIR national executive director Nihad Awad said in a prepared statement that, "as God tells us in the Quran, if you murder one person, it is as if you murdered all of humanity." He stressed that, "we're very angry," and another participant stated that, "unfortunately every faith in it has heretical elements...but nobody can separate us from being Americans."
When asked by Mother Jones about the Al Qaeda prophecy video posted by a YouTube user by the name of deceased suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, a CAIR spokesman responded: "I mean, it's Al Qaeda-inspired stuff, man. It's a lot of crazy on the internet."
The group also thanked "the media for not jumping to any conclusions." (This is debatable.)
UPDATE 24: Friday, April 19, 12:45 p.m. EDT: Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick just held a press conference in which he urged Bostonians to stay in their homes, and warned that the crime scene may go through the weekend.
UPDATE 23: Friday, April 19, 12:15 p.m. EDT: BuzzFeed is reporting that this is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's Twitter account. Here are some highlights:
I don't argue with fools who say islam is terrorism it's not worth a thing, let an idiot remain an idiot
UPDATE 21: Friday, April 19, 12:10 p.m. EDT: CBS reports that the suspects' uncle said that the older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was "a loser." Watch:
UPDATE 20: Friday, April 19, 12:00 p.m. EDT: BuzzFeed reports that the Chechen president, Ramzan Kadyrov, has released a statement on the bombings, blaming the suspects' American upbringing.
Tragic events have taken place in Boston. A terrorist attack killed people. We have already expressed our condolences to the people of the city and to the American people. Today, the media reports, one Tsarnaev was killed as [police] tried to arrest him. It would be appropriate if he was detained and investigated, and the circumstances and the extent of his guilt determined. Apparently, the security services needed to calm down the society by any means necessary.
Any attempt to draw a connection between Chechnya and Tsarnaevs — if they are guilty — is futile. They were raised in the United States, and their attitudes and beliefs were formed there. It is necessary to seek the roots of this evil in America. The whole world must struggle against terrorism — that we know better than anyone else. We hope for the recovery of all the victims, and we mourn with the Americans.
Also, the president of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center released a statement about the patient who died here this morning:
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center received an unknown male patient with significant injuries at 1:20 this morning.
After he arrived, he suffered a trauma arrest and expired at 1:35 a.m.
We have no information on the identity of the patient and cannot speculate on whether he has any connection to any criminal activity. Nor are we prepared to speak to the exact nature of his injuries.
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is open for business. But we will be restricting access to some entrances to ensure the safety of our patients, staff and visitors.
UPDATE 19: Friday, April 19, 11:50 a.m. EDT: The Boston Police Department is reporting that the vehicle associated with the armed carjacking by the two suspects in Cambridge has been located.
UPDATE 15: Friday, April 19, 11:13 a.m. EDT: CBS Boston interviewed Ruslan Tsarni, said to be the uncle of suspects in the bombings:
UPDATE 14: Friday, April 19, 11:05 a.m. EDT: A spokesman for the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth stated that a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing is "a registered student on campus." The university has announced that the campus will be closed today and evacuated.
UPDATE 13: Friday, April 19, 10:37 a.m. EDT: A user by the name of Tamerlan Tsarnaev has posted a video to his YouTube playlist extolling an extremist religious prophecy associated with Al Qaeda. It is not clear yet whether the user is the same Tsarnaev as the deceased bombing suspect.
UPDATE 12: Friday, April 19, 6:37 a.m. EDT:NBC and the Associated Press report that the remaining suspect is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a 19-year-old resident of Cambridge. The deceased suspect, who was killed in a firefight with police this morning, is his 20 26-year old brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev. According to NBC, "both men had international ties, had been in the United States about a year and had military experience." Meanwhile, much of the Boston area has been locked down—with schools closed and authorities asking businesses not to open—and thousands of police have been called in for a manhunt involving a door-to-door search in Watertown.
UPDATE 11: Friday, April 19, 6:37 a.m. EDT: Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis told reporters Friday morning that the remaining suspect was someone the police "believe this to be a terrorist," and "a person who's come here to kill people."
UPDATE 10: Friday, April 19, 6:17 a.m. EDT: Around 5:20 a.m., doctors at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston held a press conference announced that a patient who had been brought in at 1:20 a.m. under police guard with "multiple injuries, a combination of blast, potentially gunshot wounds." Doctors said they were "unable to count" the number of gunshot wounds the patient had. They spent 15 minutes unsuccessfully trying to revive the patient, but he was pronounced dead at 1:35 a.m. The surgeon who treated the patient was asked whether he believed him to be the suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, he responded that "You give the best care to every patient that comes to you, regardless of who it may or may not be."
UPDATE 8: Friday, April 19, 4:32 a.m. EDT: Boston police confirmed in a press conference Friday morning that the explosions and gunfire Friday night in Cambridge, Boston, and Watertown, Massachusetts were connected to the Boston Marathon suspects whose photos were released Thursday afternoon. The suspect pictured in the black hat is reported dead, while the suspect with the white hat is reportedly still at large. Police have established a 20-block perimeter around where they believe the suspect is.
The Middlesex County District Attorney's office released the following statement:
Police are investigating a fatal shooting of MIT campus police officer by two men who then committed an armed carjacking in Cambridge, Middlesex Acting District Attorney MichaelPelgro, Cambridge Police Commissioner Robert Haas, and MIT Police Chief John DiFavaannounced this evening.
At approximately 10:20 p.m. April 18, police received reports of shots fired on the MIT campus. At 10:30 p.m., an MIT campus police officer was found shot in his vehicle in the area of Vassar and Main streets. According to authorities, the officer was found evidencing multiple gunshot wounds.
He was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital and pronounced deceased.
Authorities launched an immediate investigation into the circumstances of the shooting. The investigation determined that two males were involved in this shooting.
A short time later, police received reports of an armed carjacking by two males in the area of Third Street in Cambridge. The victim was carjacked at gunpoint by two males and was kept in the car with the suspects for approximately a half hour. The victim was released at a gas station on Memorial Drive in Cambridge. He was not injured.
Police immediately began a search for the vehicle and were in pursuit of the vehicle into Watertown.
At that time, explosive devices were reportedly thrown from car by the suspects. The suspects and police also exchanged gunfire in the area of Dexter and Laurel streets. During this pursuit, an MBTA Police officer was seriously injured and transported to the hospital.
During the pursuit, one suspect was critically injured and transported to the hospital where he was pronounced deceased. An extensive manhunt is ongoing in the Watertown area for the second suspect, who is believed to be armed and dangerous.
UPDATE 7, Friday, April 19, 2:25 a.m. EDT: The FBI has just released two more photos of the suspects showing an "up close" view of their faces.
UPDATE 6, Friday, April 19, 1:40 a.m. EDT: A police officer was shot and killed at MIT this evening. Another officer was wounded, a high-speed chase took place, and the local police scanner reports automatic weapons fire and grenades. One suspect has been taken into custody, the other is at large. It is not known whether this event is related to the Boston marathon bombings. We have more details on this incident in a separate post.
UPDATE 5, Friday, April 19, 12:40 a.m. EDT: A photo that first got broad attention on Reddit, and whose authenticity was debated by journalists on Twitter for hours, appears to be legitimate. It shows a new, high-resolution shot of suspect #2 (white hat, far left). The New York Times reports: "Shortly after finishing the Boston Marathon this week David Green, 49, was walking to meet friends when two bombs exploded in front of him as he faced east on the corner of Fairfield and Boylston Streets. He snapped a photograph with his iPhone before rushing to help those wounded. It was time-stamped at 2:50:15 p.m."
What appears to be suspect #2 can be seen at far left David Green
The debate over the photo's veracity ended when it was established he posted it on Facebook on Monday, long before the FBI released its cache of photos and videos. See a very large file of the photo here.
UPDATE 4, Thursday, April 18, 10:30 p.m. EDT: Bloomberg has a major scoop: Jeff Bauman, the young runner who lost both his legs in the explosion and whose iconic photo has come to symbolize the tragedy, woke up in the hospital and helped ID the suspects.
"Minutes before the bombs blew up in Boston, Jeff Bauman looked into the eyes of the man who tried to kill him." bloom.bg/12r6GZB
UPDATE 3, Thursday, April 18, 10:20 p.m. EDT: CNN reports that "other footage, still unreleased, shows that the two suspects stayed at the scene to watch the carnage unfold, a federal law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation…'When the bombs blow up, when most people are running away and victims were lying on the ground, the two suspects walk away pretty casually,' said the official, who has seen the unreleased video. 'They acted differently than everyone else,' he added."
UPDATE 2, Thursday, April 18, 10:15 p.m. EDT: Journalists, Redditors, and citizens across the country are sharing and in some cases claiming to add to the photos the FBI has released:
This picture is incredibly awful. Martin Richard, 8-year-old victim, circled in blue. Suspect in red. fm4.fm/ZB4Cdj
UPDATE, Thursday, April 18, 5:45 p.m. EDT: One of the suspects' hats may be this Bridgestone Golf hat:
ORIGINAL POST: The FBI has released images of two "persons of interest." "No one should approach them…Do not take action on your own," they said during the press briefing. Here is the FBI's YouTube clip of the two individuals; each had a backpack: