Boston Marathon

Strange Fruit
11:36 am
Sat April 27, 2013

Strange Fruit: Who Counts as a Terrorist? (Hint: White Guys Don't)

Terrorist.

What image pops up in your mind when you hear that word? "When we think of the word 'terrorism,' most people get an image in their head of somebody who, of course, is a foreign national or somebody who's immigrated to the United States, who's Muslim, typically," explains clinical psychologist Dr. Kevin Chapman. "We think of things like violence. Guns. We think of airport screening."

Defining terrorism is challenging (even for the United Nations, apparently), but in common usage, it's an act of violence intended to intimidate or coerce, often for ideological reasons. The word itself has a long and emotional history, but this week, we were interested in how that word is applied, or not applied, following mass killings like the Boston bombing.

"We in America tend to react differently to terrorism depending on the ethnic, demographic, religious, and national profile of the alleged assailant," explains David Sirota. David is a political commentator who wrote a piece for Salon called Let's Hope the Boston Marathon Bomber is a White American. In it, he points out the double standard in public reaction to mass killings.

If the perpetrator is white, like in many recent shooting cases, it will be seen as an isolated incident, an aberration, possibly related to mental illness. We'll likely hear folks on TV mention how many hours a day the shooter spent playing video games. Any political fallout will probably be limited to gun control debate and will not involve taking action against the attacker's nation of origin, or adding surveillance against people who share his background. Or as Tim Wise wrote last week, "[I]f he's an Italian American Catholic we won't bomb the Vatican."

We spoke to Sirota this week about his piece, and the fallout from it. "My email box has been filled with the worst kind of anti-Semitic, racial epithets from the n-word to everything, for simply raising a point that should be obvious."

That reaction reveals just how deeply invested some folks are in their need to believe these acts are committed by people who are not like them. To understand what it is in our psychology that spurs this need to categorize "them" and "us," we called on friend to the show Dr. Chapman. "It's human nature to categorize, and unfortunately we dichotomize too often: ingroup, outgroup," he explains.  "We lump groups of individuals and profile them as a result, and that maintains our ingroup ideology."

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Local News
12:54 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Churchill Downs and Louisville Metro Police Outline Kentucky Derby, Oaks Security Plans

Churchill Downs officials, Louisville Metro Police and others discuss security plans for the Kentucky Derby and Oaks.
Credit Joseph Lord/WFPL

It's becoming a common refrain.

As with Thunder Over Louisville, Louisville Metro Police are urging attendees to the Kentucky Derby and Oaks to report suspicious activity, in a bid to heighten security after last week's bombing at the Boston Marathon.

"If you see something, say something," said Maj. Kelly Jones of Louisville Metro Police. "Find the nearest police officer, tell him or her, 'Hey it doesn't look right,' or, 'This is suspicious,' or, 'It bothers me.' We'll be happy to address it. That's why we're here—to serve the public and make sure everybody is safe."

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Politics
11:55 am
Mon April 22, 2013

In Wake of Boston Bombings, Senator Rand Paul Wants to Delay Immigration Reform

Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky.,
Credit U.S. Senate

In a letter to the Senate majority leader, Republican Rand Paul says national security questions surrounding the Boston bombings need to be addressed before Congress deals with comprehensive immigration reform. 

The terror attacks at the Boston Marathon last week were allegedly perpetrated by the Tsarnaev brothers, who are ethnic Chechens and immigrated to the U.S. a decade ago.

For some that is reason to be cautious on who the country is allowing in as lawmakers deliberate overhauling the immigration system. Others argue conservatives are only seizing on their ethnicity of the accused bombers to stoke nativist fears and derail reforms.

Paul is urging Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid to incorporate various national security concerns first and is openly asking if systemic failures allowed the two men to enter the U.S. without further background checks.

From Paul's office:

The facts emerging in the Boston Marathon bombing have exposed a weakness in our current system. If we don't use this debate as an opportunity to fix flaws in our current system, flaws made even more evident last week, then we will not be doing our jobs.

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National
9:54 am
Fri April 19, 2013

Timeline of the Search for Boston Marathon Bombing Suspects

BOSTON — Key moments related to the search for the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, based on reports from the Middlesex County district attorney, Massachusetts State Police, and Boston police.

— At 5:10 p.m. Thursday, investigators of the bombings release photographs and video of two suspects. They ask for the public's help in identifying the men.

— Around 10:20 p.m., shots are fired on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, just outside Boston.

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The Two-Way
6:23 am
Fri April 19, 2013

'The Hunt Is Over:' Police Apprehend Marathon Bombing Suspect

Police officers guard the entrance to Franklin Street in Watertown, Mass., where Boston Police say they have captured the second suspect in the marathon bombings.
Matt Rourke AP

Originally published on Sat April 20, 2013 7:11 am

(We most recently updated this post at 11:10 p.m. ET on Friday. See this note about how we cover news such as this. For our running post about developments on Saturday, go here.)

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Local News
10:36 pm
Mon April 15, 2013

Kentucky Derby Festival Events Will Be Held As Scheduled Despite Boston Bombings

Kentucky Derby Festival officials  say all festival events will go on despite the bombings at the Boston Marathon.

KDF President Mike Berry said Monday nothing will be canceled. The festival puts on 70 events around the Kentucky Derby, including the massive Thunder Over Louisville air and fireworks show set for Saturday.

Festival officials estimate some 800,000 people could show up along the Ohio River waterfront in Louisville and southern Indiana to watch the annual show.

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