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June, 2012. Photo credit: joanneleon
There is no dignity in wickedness, whether in purple or rags; and hell is a democracy of devils, where all are equals.
~ Herman Melville
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From Sherwood Forest to Wall Street: The Robin Hood Tax Campaign Comes to America
Robin Hood Tax activists, who are pushing for a financial transactions tax to generate revenue to invest in jobs, health care, housing and education, officially launched their United States campaign on Tuesday.
According to a press release from the campaign, a 50-cent tax on every $100 of stock trades could generate hundreds of billions of dollars annually. (The rate could be even lower on other financial transactions.) Over 1,000 leading economists have endorsed the idea of a financial transactions tax, including Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz, Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs and Lawrence Mishel of the Economic Policy Institute
Mubarak's 300,000-Strong Army of Thugs Remains in Business Despite Elections
As millions of Egyptians turn their backs on the brave young revolutionaries of Tahrir Square, today is the day to remember old General Mohammed Neguib, who kicked off Egypt's first post-war revolution by plotting the overthrow of King Farouk almost exactly 60 years ago. He and his fellow Egyptian army officers had been debating whether to execute the obese Farouk or send him into exile. Nasser opted to shoot the monarch. Neguib asked for a vote. In the early hours, Nasser wrote a note to Neguib: "The Liberation Movement should get rid of Faruk [sic] as quickly as possible in order to deal with what is more important – namely, the need to purge the country of the corruption that Faruk will leave behind him. We must pave the way towards a new era in which the people will enjoy their sovereign rights and live in dignity. Justice is one of our objectives. We cannot execute Faruk without a trial. Neither can we afford to keep him in jail and preoccupy ourselves with the rights and wrongs of his case at the risk of neglecting the other purposes of the revolution. Let us spare Faruk and send him into exile. History will sentence him to death."
The association of corruption with the ancien regime has been a staple of all revolutions. Justice sounds good. And today's Egyptians still demand dignity. But surely Nasser got it right; better to chuck the old boy out of the country than to stage a distracting and time-consuming trial when the future of Egypt, the "other purposes of the revolution", should be debated. Today's military played an equally shrewd but different game: they insisted Mubarak go on trial – bread and circuses for the masses, dramatic sentences to keep their minds off the future – while realigning the old Mubarakites to preserve their own privileges.
NSA: It Would Violate Your Privacy to Say if We Spied on You
The surveillance experts at the National Security Agency won’t tell two powerful United States Senators how many Americans have had their communications picked up by the agency as part of its sweeping new counterterrorism powers. The reason: it would violate your privacy to say so.
That claim comes in a short letter sent Monday to civil libertarian Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall. The two members of the Senate’s intelligence oversight committee asked the NSA a simple question last month: under the broad powers granted in 2008′s expansion of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, how many persons inside the United States have been spied upon by the NSA?
The query bounced around the intelligence bureaucracy until it reached I. Charles McCullough, the Inspector General of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the nominal head of the 16 U.S. spy agencies. In a letter acquired by Danger Room, McCullough told the senators that the NSA inspector general “and NSA leadership agreed that an IG review of the sort suggested would itself violate the privacy of U.S. persons,” McCullough wrote.
UN investigator decries U.S. use of killer drones
A U.N. investigator has called on the Obama administration to justify its policy of assassinating rather than capturing al Qaeda or Taliban suspects, increasingly with the use of unmanned drone aircraft that also take civilian lives. ...
"Although figures vary widely with regard to drone attack estimates, all studies concur on one important point: there has been a dramatic increase in their use over the past three years," Heyns said.
"While these attacks are directed at individuals believed to be leaders or active members of al Qaeda or the Taliban, in the context of armed conflict (e.g. in Afghanistan), in other instances, civilians have allegedly also perished in the attacks in regions where it is unclear whether there was an armed conflict or not (e.g. in Pakistan)," he said.
Japanese Gov't Hid Radiation Information from Public
The newspaper Asahi Shimbun reports that Tetsuya Yamamoto, deputy director-general for safety examination of Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), told reporters today that the U.S. provided detailed radiation maps taken by the U.S. Energy Department using U.S. military planes on three occasions in the week after the Fukushima disaster began on March 11.
The information, showing residents in an area northwest of the Fukushima Daichi nuclear plant were being exposed to their annual permissible dose of radiation within only eight hours, was not made public, and those residents were not evacuated.
Why Some of Our Last Remaining Old-Growth Forests May Be Privatized for a Political Favor
While world leaders converge on Rio de Janeiro this week to discuss what can be done to rein in climate change, the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives has other plans: It will take up an omnibus bill that bundles together more than a dozen proposals that critics have denounced as a sweeping effort to roll back environmental laws and privatize public lands.
The bill that could go to a vote as early as Tuesday includes one measure that would privatize some of the last remaining old-growth trees inside Alaska's Tongass National Forest, a rugged wilderness often called the "crown jewel of the U.S. public lands system." The legislation would convey tens of thousands of acres of Tongass forestland to Sealaska Corp., a native corporation that helped bankroll Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski's 2010 write-in reelection victory.
Sealaska, a diversified conglomerate with native Alaskan shareholders, says the land includes sites with cultural and sacred value. But the company's critics, including some of its own shareholders, say it's a land grab worth billions of dollars in timber sales. Logging those lands, they warn, could jeopardize ecosystems inside one of the world's last remaining temperate rainforests and destabilize the local economy in a region that spawns the vast majority of the world's commercial salmon catch each year.
Study finds medical marijuana has no impact on teen drug abuse
A working paper published Monday (PDF) claims that, despite the insistence of numerous U.S. officials, legalizing medical marijuana had no distinguishable effect on teen drug abuse rates in the surrounding communities.
Drawing upon data from 13 states from 1993 – 2009, professors from Montana State University, the University of Oregon and the University of Colorado Denver found that medical marijuana actually had a negative impact on the consumption of cocaine, the use of which declined 1.9 percent in areas that had legalized medical marijuana. It had no statistically significant impact on teen marijuana use.
Ag workers stage strike
More than 200 non-union farmworkers marched and chanted near lettuce fields in Gonzales during a one-day strike Monday over what they claim is a lack of medical insurance, job equipment and overtime pay.
UFW organizers said they were on hand to assist the Amaral employees in being heard on their grievances. Amaral Ranches Inc., family-owned and operated, is a custom grower and packer of fruits and vegetables that farm year round in the Salinas and Imperial valleys, according to its website. The Amaral cooler is minutes away from where the farm workers protested next to lettuce fields in Gonzales.
Julian Assange Seeks Asylum In Ecuador
LONDON — Embattled WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange took refuge Tuesday in Ecuador's embassy in London and is seeking political asylum, his organization and the South American nation said.
Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said the leftist government of President Rafael Correa was weighing the request. He did not indicate when a decision might be made.
Blog Posts of Interest
The Evening Blues - 6-19-12 on DailyKos by joe shikspack
Why Ecuador Should Grant Julian Assange Asylum on DailyKos by Jesselyn Radack
Egyptians Back in Tahrir Square on FDL News by David Dayen