The search to identify Bitcoin's founder continues, with new developments.
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In a federal court filing dated November 7th, alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's defense team is pushing back against what they say has been a "spotty and inconsistent" pattern of disclosures made by prosecutors.
Excerpts from the court filing made by defense attorneys:
- "The defense believes that documents concerning numerous law enforcement interviews of witnesses in the categories identified by the government for “voluntary” disclosure — “teachers, neighbors, classmates, and friends” — still have not been produced."
- They argue that "the government continues to withhold reports and testimony of the greatest utility and interest concerning those closest to Mr. Tsarnaev, including his parents, siblings, sister-in-law, and other family members."
They go on to state: "[I]t is difficult to understand why the government would resist or delay broader, comprehensive disclosures in a case such as this one, where a stringent protective order is in place, and fairness as well as the appearance of fairness are paramount."
- They cite as an example the failure of prosecutors to turn over evidence in the case of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. "Despite the greater openness of prosecutors in McVeigh, subsequent events in that case further illustrate the peril of even inadvertent failures to disclose information to the defense in a death penalty case. McVeigh’s execution was delayed when it belatedly came to light that the FBI had failed to turn over more than 3,000 pages of interview reports." The filing quotes a news report: "Prosecutors in the McVeigh case admirably agreed to turn over all evidence, regardless of whether it would help the defense. Yet even in this high-profile case, prosecutors could not guarantee complete compliance by law enforcement investigators. All signs suggest the Federal Bureau of Investigation worked in good faith to turn over everything but was overwhelmed by the extraordinary volume of material.”
- They cite the "extraordinary size and global scope" of the "required investigation" and urged disclosures to be made as early as possible so that the defense team can travel to interview witnesses and "obtain documents in foreign countries."
- "[T]he defense needs to gather and place in context all available sources of information to depict Mr. Tsarnaev in all his complexity, to assist the Attorney General and possibly later a jury to see Mr. Tsarnaev as a complete human being who should not be sentenced to death. The government’s selective and narrow approach to disclosure of life history information — attempting to categorize facts as either “favorable” or “unfavorable” without acknowledging that these lines are unclear, especially when the information is viewed as part of a fabric, rather than individual threads — is both quixotic and perilous."
- They are seeking information as to the government's interrogation of Tsarnaev after he was initially apprehended: "Given the national publicity about the government’s announced intention to interrogate Mr. Tsarnaev without reading him his rights, it strains credulity to think that the agents who questioned him did not convey to anyone else in the government — or consult with them regarding — his affirmative requests for a lawyer. If any representatives of the government urged the Court either directly or indirectly to delay appointment of counsel prior to the initial appearance without informing the Court that Mr. Tsarnaev had affirmatively requested counsel, any such communications also should be disclosed."
- They are seeking "all documents and reports concerning surveillance of and/or interviews of Tsarnaev family members by law enforcement before April 15, 2013." With regards to this request, defense attorneys for Tsarnaev state: "Past law enforcement surveillance of or interactions with the Tsarnaevs would be material to the defense to the extent, for example, that they shed light on Tamerlan’s alleged motive, the duration, extent, and timing of Tamerlan’s alleged radicalization, and other matters that may bear on the relative roles of Tamerlan and his younger brother. These issues would be relevant and material both in the government’s case-in-chief and for sentencing mitigation."
- They are seeking "audio recordings of telephone calls from FMC Devens and reports/transcripts concerning/comprising those calls if/as they are created." The filing explains this request as follows: "Whether or not Mr. Tsarnaev’s recorded calls are “innocuous” vis a vis the allegations of the case, they are still relevant. The absence of problematic statements would tend to support the defense Motion to Vacate Special Administrative Measures. The recordings will also shed light on family dynamics in aid of the sentencing mitigation investigation. The government routinely produces recorded jail calls in criminal cases and it is difficult to comprehend why it resists doing so here."
- They are seeking "all documents concerning or comprising “tips,” warnings, or other information provided by Russian authorities concerning Tsarnaev family members."
- The filing also raises the issue of whether the defense counsel is entitled to information about Tamerlan Tsarnaev's "alleged involvement in the triple homicide" that took place in Waltham in September 2011. Prosecutors have objected to turning over documents related to the triple murder investigation, but defense attorneys argue The government is required to make the disclosure "in order to determine whether the government’s interest in protecting details of the investigation outweighs the defendant’s interest in disclosure."
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The great political snoozefest of 2013 is about to be over. A look back at the themes of Boston's first competitive mayoral election since the 90s.
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Ibrahim Todashev was shot and killed on May 22 by law enforcement while being questioned at his Orlando apartment. Todashev was a friend of accused (and deceased) Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev. At the time, law enforcement offered little (really almost no) information, stating only that a "violent confrontation" occurred and that the matter was under internal investigation. But leaks from law enforcement sources indicated that prior to being shot, Todashev had confessed to having participated in a 2011 Waltham triple homicide and had also implicated Tsarnaev in the murders.
Todashev was back in the news this week when attorneys prosecuting the younger Dzhokhar Tsarnaev filed court papers stating what we were already pretty sure we knew -- that prior to being shot by law enforcement Ibrahim Todashev told investigators that "Tamerlan Tsarnaev participated in the Waltham homicides." But that's it. No additional information has been released about what happened in that Orlando apartment.
A summary, below, of who isn't answering the questions being asked, and what they are saying in the meantime:
- FBI: The New York Times reported that a Boston-based FBI agent shot Todashev after questioning him alongside detectives from the Massachusetts State Police. On May 29, a week after Todashev's death, the FBI released a statement saying that the agency was "conducting a review" of the May 22nd shooting in Orlando. The FBI's statement promised that no "comment regarding investigative details" would be offered until the review is complete. Up to this point, that's a promise the agency has kept. Five months after the shooting, no additional details have been released by the agency. Just this week, the FBI told the Orlando Sentinel that the "agency's internal review of the shooting is ongoing and no other details will be released."
- Massachusetts State Police: Anonymous law enforcement sources told the New York Times that Todashev was shot after being questioned by an FBI agent and two Massachusetts State Police detectives. And sources have indicated that at least one of the two detectives was in the room when Todashev was shot. But the State Police have offered no explanation of what happened inside that Orlando apartment.
- Middlesex District Attorney's Office A spokeswoman for the Middlesex District Attorney's Office declined to comment, explaining only that the 2011 triple homicide is an "ongoing and active investigation."
- Florida State Attorney: In August, Florida State Attorney Jeff Ashton said his office was investigating conducting an independent review of the circumstances that led to the Todashev shooting. But media reports stated that "no timetable was given for the completion of either review."
- Florida Medical Examiner: Florida officials have declined to release autopsy results, telling the Boston Globe that they were ordered not to do so by the FBI despite having completed the report and calling it "ready for release."
- Massachusetts Attorney General: Massachusetts AG Martha Coakley said that lack of jurisdiction prevents her from opening up her own investigation. Coakley told WGBH News: "I simply don't have the authority or jurisdiction." But she added that if "people are not satisfied with the results" of the reviews currently underway by the FBI and the Florida State Attorney, "then we'll see what other options we have."
- Massachusetts Governor: Interviewed this week on WGBH's Boston Public Radio, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick was asked whether or not Massachusetts State Troopers could offer additional information as to what happened in the Orlando apartment that led to Todashev's death. Patrick refused to elaborate beyond this bewildering statement: "As they say in court, question’s been asked and answered." Which is interesting in that while the question has been asked, it definitely has not been answered.
Oh, and as if having a friend of alleged Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev shot by law enforcement weeks after the bombing wasn't cause enough for conspiracy theories, there's also the matter of what's gone on with respect to Todashev's friend and girlfriend in recent weeks:
- The girlfriend, deported: In mid-September, Todashev's former live-in girlfriend Tatiana Gruzdeva gave an interview to Boston Magazine. Ten days later, she called Boston Magazine from jail. Gruzdeva claimed she was "being held in solitary confinement" and said she was told "she was being deported because of her interviews with Boston Magazine."
- The friend, interrogated and detained: Ashurmamad Miraliev, a friend of Todashev, was arrested after what has been described as a six-hour interrogation during which he was denied counsel. (He is now being represented by a public defender.) The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is now asking for an investigation, this time into what they call a "a pattern of egregious civil rights violations and abuse by the FBI targeting associates of Ibragim Todashev."
And so the neverending Todashev saga continues, as the unanswered questions continue to pile up.
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A few days ago, JPMorgan Chase made a tentative deal with the Department of Justice to pay a $13 billion settlement related to the company's apparently not-quite-Kosher mortgage lending practices. The Washington Post has a good summary on the settlement.
But way more interesting than the settlement itself is the man behind the country's largest bank (by assets). John Pierpont Morgan has been dead for 100 years, but his legacy lives on.
View the chart in PDF form HERE.
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John Allan is the owner of Wai Kru, the Allston mixed martial arts gym frequented by Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Ibrahim Todashev. Three days before the Boston Marathon bombings, the Tsarnaev brothers visited the gym with a third, unidentified individual.
The last time we dealt with a government shutdown was 17 years ago, when Home Improvement was up there in the TV ratings and things were just beginning to heat up between Monica and Bill. Government shutdowns are a little like cicadas. They only come around every so often. And we need to be reminded of just how horrifying they are when they make an appearance.
- What about the effect for Bostonians? (No Freedom Trail tours! No visitor center at Faneuil Hall!) More on that here from Boston.com.
- If you care how we got into this mess and want to re-live it in chronological order, The New York Times has a detailed graphic on the shenanigans that got us into this mess.
- Al Jazeera America's explainer offers information on everything from the shutdown's effect on taxes, recreation and science. Yes. SCIENCE. There will be no more science until Congress can get its act together.
- The Washington Post explains "absolutely everything" you need to know about the shutdown. (Note: There is no mention of what time looting is set to begin, so "absolutely everything" seems like a bit of an overreach.)
- Circa has a handy explainer on the effects of the government shutdown.
- The Guardian offers a government shutdown guide for non-Americans (or people who at least today want to pretend they are)
- The State Department has a guide. But you'll need another guide and a secret decoder to figure it out.
- TIME offers this feature on how to explain the shutdown to your kids. Here's my advice: don't explain it to your kids. Your kids don't care. At all. Or, if you can't help yourself, let your kids read the State Department's guide and then make them explain it to you.
At least 11 of the 12 Boston mayoral candidates have victory celebrations planned for tonight. Of course, only two of the 11 planned parties will end up being "victory" parties. But the parties have to be planned just the same! Just two of the 11 candidates are opting for fancy downtown hotels. The rest of the gatherings will be at neighborhood joints -- restaurants, an Elks lodge, a "lounge," a VFW hall, and more.
Here's the full rundown.
Coco's Lounge (Jamaica Plain)
This bar and restaurant (which sounds a bit like a strip club but apparently isn't) reportedly serves up a drink "involving a pair of upside down Coronas dunked in a giant margarita glass." Here's a photo. That sounds pretty awesome. Bottoms up, Felix!
Restaurante Cesaria (Dorchester)
Barros will entertain supporters from this family-friendly Cape Verdean restaurant, which he happens to co-own. It's safe to say Barros is probably getting a pretty good deal.
Boston Police VFW Post #1018 (Dorchester)
Clemons told the Dorchester Reporter he plans to hold his celebration here.
Seaport Hotel (Waterfront)
Conley plans to celebrate in the hotel's Lighthouse Ballroom, described as an "elegant" space with a glass staircase (!) and "breathtaking panoramas." Because what you want is half of West Roxbury driving downtown, drinking for hours, and then driving home.
Hibernian Hall (Roxbury)
This facility was built in 1913 by the Ancient Order of Hibernians. The Ancient Order of Hibernians, in case you didn't know (how could you not know?) is the country's oldest Irish Catholic fraternal organization.
Elks Lodge (West Roxbury)
The website refers to this location as "The Mother Lodge of New England." The MOTHER LODGE. Sounds huge and awesome.
Charlotte Golar Richie
Fairmount Copley Plaza (Back Bay)
This "luxury downtown Boston landmark" is a "symbol of the city's rich history and elegance." Also it's not in Golar Richie's neighborhood and kind of a pain for supporters who want to attend and park and not pay an exorbitant amount.
Boston Chops (South End)
This restaurant -- sorry, "urban steak bistro" -- offers a raw bar and 20-foot ceilings in addition to a "towering 2,000-bottle glass wine room" and a bar made of "reclaimed wood."
Savin Bar and Kitchen (Dorchester)
Ross isn't the only one to have a reclaimed wooden bar at his victory party. Walczak's celebration will feature a bar "hand crafted by locals from salvaged Vermont oak." What, is there no salvageable Massachusetts oak? Also, Walczak's party is being held just a block or two from Marty Walsh's house. So if the Walsh house gets toilet-papered tonight, I think we know which camp is to blame.
Enjoy Italian fare while checking out views of the Boston skyline from a "white-marbled foyer" and a "spacious patio deck overlooking the harbor."
David James Wyatt
Who knows? No I mean, really, does anyone know? Unless we hear otherwise, let's assume this will be a private party involving a couch, some Internet, and an old pair of sweatpants.
Still working on finding out the victory celebration location.
It's the homestretch. Check out this ChartGirl/WGBH chart to see where the candidates call home.
Boston's Moakley Courthouse continues to be the media hotspot this summer.
This morning, two friends of alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were arraigned in federal court. Dias Kadyrbayev and Robel Phillipos both pled not guilty to charges they impeded the investigation into the Marathon bombing. (The third defendant, Azamat Tazhayakov, is set to be arraigned this afternoon. Tazhayakov's attorney was delayed on a train from New York when a tree fell across the tracks.)
Robel Phillipos, a Cambridge resident and U.S. citizen, is being held on home confinement. Phillipos offered no comment for reporters upon leaving the courthouse.
Robert Stahl, attorney for Dias Kadyrbayev, spoke to a group of reporters outside the courtroom. Stahl said his client, a 19-year-old Kazakhstan national, is innocent of charges that he disposed of evidence related to Dzhokhar's participation in the April 15th bombings. Stahl said his client was grateful for the "scores" of letters of support he has received since being arrested. "There was no criminal intent to obstruct justice to assist Dzhokhar in any way. My client is just as shocked and horrified as the rest of us about what happened and there was no context for him to put this in because Dzhokhar was not radical, was not religious and never expressed any of these views. So he had no way to know that he would be involved in something like this... He didn't dispose of evidence. He didn't understand it was evidence. And the rest will come out at trial," Stahl said.
Stahl went on to say that he and his client look forward to proving his innocence at trial. He stated unequivocally that he will not entertain a plea deal. "We are not interested in any deal," Stahl said.
Prosecutors stated this morning that they anticipated the trial taking approximately two weeks. But Stahl said he thought it would take "significantly longer than that."
View video of Stahl's full comments here.
Some background: All three defendants are friends and former UMASS-Dartmouth college classmates of Dzokhar. Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov are 19-year-old Kazakhstan nationals. Phillipos, also 19, is a US citizen who was raised in Cambridge. In May, all three were named in federal criminal complaints. Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov were charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges. They were arrested and arraigned in May. Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov have been held in jail since their arrests. Phillipos was charged with making false statements in a terrorism investigation. He was released on $100,000 bond and placed on home confinement. It's alleged that the three friends met at Dzokhar's dorm room the night authorities released photos of the suspected bombers, and removed potential evidence (including a laptop and backpack full of fireworks) from the room. The items were discovered days later at a local landfill. On August 8th, a federal grand jury indicted Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov with conspiracy to obstruct justice as well as obstructing justice with the intent to impede an investigation. The charges carry possible sentences of 8 years in prison and fines of $250,000. Both also face potential deportation.
In related news, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is expected back in federal court next week (September 23rd).
The Moakley Courthouse madness continues.
Check out the related ChartGirl chart: "The Bombers, Et Al"
A selection of explainers and backgrounders to get you up to speed on Syria before you end up caught in that awkward dinner table conversation where your brilliant friends realize you haven't actually got a clue what's going on over there.
- The Washington Post answers the 9 Questions about Syria you were too embarrassed to ask.
- PolicyMic explains "Who's Who in Syria"in plain English.
- BuzzFeed points to this letter to the editor that ran in last week's Financial Times
- Business Insider points to this "Incredibly Convoluted Chart that Shows Just What A Mess The Middle East Really Is"
- The Atlantic's Syria Reader
- And Al Jazeera America's page on "What to watch, explore and read on Syria."
Have another explainer/backgrounder that I missed? Tweet me @lilsarg.
This weekend, New York's Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced a civil suit alleging that Donald Trump had been operating an illegal, unlicensed "university." So naturally, Trump took to Twitter and the airwaves to respond, calling Schneiderman names and defending his own right to poison the minds of Americans and charge huge amounts of money for doing so.
Get up to speed on all of Trump's feuds here with this newly updated, digitally remastered edition of the ChartGirl "Donald Trump: #FEUDWHORE" chart.
You know what makes a great media town even better? More media. The only thing better than a city with one thriving newspaper is a city that can support more than one. (I know, I know, 'thriving' and 'newspaper' don't necessarily belong in the same sentence.) Al Jazeera America launched this week, with 12 brand new bureaus across the country and a newsroom staff of over 400, 16 of whom will be assigned to an investigative news unit. They will be headquartered in New York, with a major Washington DC presence. Bureaus are already up and running in Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New Orleans, San Francisco and Seattle. That's right. No Boston bureau. Not only should we want a bureau here, we should ask for one.
According to an Al Jazeera spokesperson, "a Boston bureau is being considered."
(A very abbreviated backstory: Early in 2013, former VP Al Gore sold his poorly performing Current TV channel to the Qatar-based network for something like $500 million. While the exact figure paid by Al Jazeera to Gore isn't public, what is known is that they bought the rights to the agreements Current TV had with cable operators, and therefore the rights to bring their broadcast to your television.)
Before you made any judgments (especially anything along the lines of 'isn't that the TV station affiliated with terrorism?'), I would encourage you to read some of what has been written about Al Jazeera America by The Baltimore Sun's David Zurawik: this and, in particular, this.
I'm a big fan of lots of what's done by the long-standing players in the Boston media. But there's an infinite amount more that could be covered. A way to hold more people accountable and bring more clarity to the events shaping our daily lives? A news organization with new ideas and deep pockets? A mayoral race with a dozen candidates, two of whom have basically the same last name? We can use all the help we can get. I say bring Al Jazeera to Boston.
Let's say you know a little something about Egypt. As in, you have a tentative but shaky understanding that there has been some turmoil in that part of the world. You've seen horrifying photos, like these. But to this point you've managed to avoid actually reading anything beyond the headlines. You know it's bad. But you can't say much more than that. If that's you (and it has many times been the position in which I have found myself), the word 'explainer' should become your new go-to search tool. (It hasn't always been that easy to get up to speed if you find yourself wanting 'in' on an already-in-progress news story. If you ask me, every online news article about an ongoing story should link to an “explainer.”) Below, three Egypt explainers to get you started.
Three Egypt Explainers:
If you thought Boston's Joseph J. Moakley Courthouse was about to get a breather after the months-long trial of James "Whitey" Bulger, you were wrong.
In late September, an initial status conference will take place in federal court for accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. (Federal court calendars are, of course, subject to change. But that's the plan as we know it now.) In June, Tsarnaev was indicted on 30 counts, including the use of weapons of mass destruction and homicide. He pleaded not guilty.
According to the court docket, prosecutors expect the trial of Tsarnaev to last 3 to 4 months, during which time they anticipate calling 80 to 100 witnesses. It remains to be seen how soon the trial will begin. And Dzhokhar has amassed a significant number of supporters, so the trial is expected to be a bit of a spectacle from that perspective.
And just this week, two college friends of Tsarnaev - Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov - were arraigned on charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice as well as obstructing justice with the intent to impede an investigation. A third friend - Robel Phillipos - also faces charges of lying to investigators.
Read more about the accused bombers and the network of people you'll be hearing from (and about) in the weeks and months to come. ChartGirl on The Bombers, Et Al.
I like investigating things. I like complicated news stories. And best of all, I like it when really complicated stories are broken down and explained well.
This blog will be a place to better understand stories in the news. Sometimes the best way to explain a complex news story is with a chart, like this one I just made about the sale of The Boston Globe to Red Sox owner John Henry. Or this one I made back in April looking at what law enforcement agencies knew about Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and when they knew it.
Have a story you care about but just don't get? Find someone who is doing a great job explaining a story that others aren't? Have a story you're following and think I should be? Have an idea for a chart? I'm all ears.
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