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Can you be sent to Gitmo for paying your taxes?

handcuffs
© Jared Rodriguez / Truthout
Does paying taxes violate the law against providing aid and support to a terrorist organization?

I have just finished mailing my 1040. This year, I didn't owe taxes and, boy, am I relieved. Not because I can't afford to cut a check, it's just that I don't want to spend the next six years in a federal prison for violating the provisions of US Code Title 18 -- Crimes and Criminal Procedures.

That's exactly what happened to Ahmed Taalil Mohamud, a cab driver in Anaheim, California, who was sentenced to six years in prison for, as the Associated Press put it, "funneling thousands of dollars to a terrorist organization" in Somalia.
Network

Lavabit, the encrypted mail service that defied NSA surveillance, demands, loses court appeal

lavabit
© Alex Milan Tracy/NurPhoto/Corbis
Lavabit founder Ladar Levison refused to comply with the government's so-called 'pen/trap order'.
Company rejected demand that it unlock its encrypted system as government chased whistleblower Edward Snowden

The encrypted email service Lavabit, which founder Ladar Levison chose to close down rather than give government agencies access to its customers private data, lost a federal appeal on Wednesday when the Fourth District Court upheld a lower ruling that that the company should be held in contempt for its refusal.

The government was trying to gain access to an account they alleged was being used by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, but Levison rejected the broad scope of the request.

On the particulars of the decision, CNET reports:
The appellate court didn't comment on the substantive issue in the case, whether the government had the right to demand the encryption keys that would allow them to observe all traffic of a targeted email account. Instead, the appeals court ruled that the Internet privacy issues raised in Levison's appeal were not clearly articulated while he was defending himself in district court.

The appeals court said Levison should have brought forward his claim that the government was exceeding its authority under US "pen register" and "trap and trace" statutes before being charged with contempt of court by the district judge last summer.
And the Guardian adds:
Levison has said he could have given investigators access to a single account like he had done in the past, but the nature of their request for "live" access to user information would have compromised Lavabit's entire system.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which filed an amicus brief in the appeal, said the court focused on the procedural aspects of the case unrelated to Lavabit's claims.

"On the merits, we believe it's clear that there are limits on the government's power to coerce innocent service providers into its surveillance activities," said ACLU attorney Brian Hauss in an emailed statement. "The government exceeded those limits when it asked Lavabit to blow up its business - and undermine the encryption technology that ensures our collective cybersecurity - to get information that Lavabit itself offered to provide."
Rose

First 'open source seeds' released - ethical plant breeders do end-run around Monsanto monopoly

open source seeds
© J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Backers of the new Open Source Seed Initiative will pass out 29 new varieties of 14 different crops, including broccoli, carrots and kale, on Thursday.

A group of scientists and food activists is launching a campaign Thursday to change the rules that govern seeds. They're releasing 29 new varieties of crops under a new "open source pledge" that's intended to safeguard the ability of farmers, gardeners and plant breeders to share those seeds freely.

It's inspired by the example of open source software, which is freely available for anyone to use but cannot legally be converted into anyone's proprietary product.

At an event on the campus of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, backers of the new Open Source Seed Initiative will pass out 29 new varieties of 14 different crops, including carrots, kale, broccoli and quinoa. Anyone receiving the seeds must pledge not to restrict their use by means of patents, licenses or any other kind of intellectual property. In fact, any future plant that's derived from these open source seeds also has to remain freely available as well.

Irwin Goldman, a vegetable breeder at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, helped organize the campaign. It's an attempt to restore the practice of open sharing that was the rule among plant breeders when he entered the profession more than 20 years ago.

"If other breeders asked for our materials, we would send them a packet of seed, and they would do the same for us," he says. "That was a wonderful way to work, and that way of working is no longer with us."

These days, seeds are intellectual property. Some are patented as inventions. You need permission from the patent holder to use them, and you're not supposed to harvest seeds for replanting the next year.
Dollars

The problem of wealth inequality

wealth 1%
The Center for the Study of Liberal Democracy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is an institute funded by the right-wing conservative Bradley Foundation. In April of 2013, the Center announced the "Bradley Freedom Prize" essay contest, in which they asked for a response to the question: "Do the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share of taxes? What amount would be fair and why?"

The following Bradley Award-losing essay submission likely inflamed the judges of the prize; rather than focusing on taxes and wealth merely in relation to the economy - the obsession of nearly all news media reports and academic literature - it instead focuses on taxes and wealth in relation to ethics, equity, and ecology.

Why Only the Rich Should be Taxed

As our country and the world face the unprecedented scourge of global climate change, the constant toxification of our air and water, and ever-increasing social and economic inequities, the few means to combat these problems exist in the form of government regulations and interventions, funded by taxes. Though the richest among us may be touted as beneficent "job creators" by ideologues and the obsequious mass media who revere them, the rich, in fact, are actually the major source of the harms and evils facing our society. Their vast industrial and corporate enterprises directly and indirectly contribute to the majority of all fossil fuel emissions, toxic pollution, worker exploitation, and income inequality. Contrary to popular opinion, the rich do not gain their wealth because they work harder or possess more skills and intellect than the rest of us; they amass profligate fortunes because they are more selfish, narcissistic, and sociopathic than others. They are rich for a specific reason. Where you or I would freely give of ourselves to help others and eschew extravagant excess, the goal of the rich is money-making, so everything they do is toward that end. Psychological studies have demonstrated that wealthy people are less altruistic than poorer people, which is precisely why they are wealthy. In this era where the United States faces the greatest income disparity in the nation's history, on top of unprecedented environmental and ecological catastrophes, it is imperative that those responsible for causing these calamities pay for them rather than benefit from them.

The rich are indeed different than the rest. They are more liable to lie, cheat, steal, and act unethically.1 It is precisely this behavior that enables their accumulation of wealth. According to Professor Martha Stout, author of The Sociopath Next Door, "the higher you go up the ladder... the great number of sociopaths you will find there." 2 Thus, it is not surprising that many of the richest, most powerful people in our society perpetrate tremendous damage and injustice. They more often lack empathy and pro-social behavior, while they take more and give less than their poorer counterparts.3 These negative attributes of the upper classes commonly manifest themselves in the form of lack of concern for the environment, for other species, and for other humans. Given that the ten richest Americans are all corporate/industrial magnates of one form or another, 4 it is inevitable that tremendous damage has resulted from their industrial pursuits, both due to the nature of the wealthy individuals themselves and due to the nature of corporations. In addition, since corporations are considered people as per a Supreme Court decision, it is imperative that not only rich individuals, but corporations as well bear the burden of reimbursing society for the destruction they spread.

Comment: The author puts the blame for climate change on industrialists, when in fact it is due to many other factors besides the use of fossil fuels. However, all of the other points of this essay are right on target. The unfettered greed of oligarchs are laying waste to the planet and the creatures (including humans) who inhabit it, all the while feeling it's their right, because it's THEM. In their blindness they can't see they are destroying the very foundation of their prosperity. To quote Lobeczewski's Political Ponerology:
Goaded by their character, such people thirst for just that even though it would conflict with their own life interest. They do not understand that a catastrophe would ensue. Germs are not aware that they will be burned alive or buried deep in the ground along with the human body whose death they are causing.


Pistol

State terrorism: Kansas City Jewish community center shooter was an FBI informant

Glenn Miller
© unknown
Glenn Miller
Glenn Miller, the former North Carolina Ku Klux Klan leader, arrested in the Kansas City Jewish Community Center shootings that killed three people on Sunday, has been identified previously as an FBI informant. The FBI is known to have infiltrated the Klan time and time again since the civil rights days, during a period when J. Edgar Hoover had set his sights on flushing out supposed commies and ending the career of Martin Luther King. Miller testified for the government in a major trial where the Feds sought to convict leaders of the Far Right. In his book, A White Man Speaks Out, he claims to have been an FBI informant.

Miller is a former Vietnam vet who was a member of the American Nazi Party before turning to the North Carolina Klan. He was in the Klan caravan involved in the Greensboro massacre in 1979, where the Klan opened fire on civil rights marchers. He then formed the White Patriot Party, claiming by 1985 to have a membership of 2500 and offices in six southern states. He ran for governor of North Carolina in 1984 and got 5,000 votes.
X

Psychopath? Police announce person of interest in 21 animal deaths

Indiana - Thanks to more than a dozen tips, South Bend Police have developed a single person of interest in the investigation of 21 animals found dead in an alley near the 700-block of E. Indiana Ave.

Police did not name the person of interest, but say multiple tips named the same individual as a possible suspect.

Examinations are still being performed on the small animals at Purdue University, to determine exactly how the animals died. Physical evidence from the scene is also being processed.
X

Another marker of psychopathy on the increase? Ireland: Animals' deaths at cliffs 'planned and sinister'

A live horse was discovered near where rotting carcasses of around 17 animals were found at the base of cliffs in what has been described as a "planned and sinister" act.
It was initially thought the horse was also dead but it started moving and a vet had to put it down, as it was in a very bad condition.

Clare ISPCA officer Frankie Coote described the deaths of the animals - 10 horses, four cattle, and three calves - at the base of Baltard Cliffs in Doonbeg, Co Clare, as "planned and sinister".

Up to 15 of the animals were found close together at the bottom of the isolated cliffs, while another dead horse lay close by.

The case is being investigated by four separate authorities.
Pistol

No investigation for innocent, unarmed Washington man shot 16 times by police while in his bed

© Komo News
Thirty-year-old Dustin Theoharis in Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, recovering from his twelfth surgery - this one to reconstruct his jaw. It's unlikely he will ever fully recover from the barrage of bullets fired by police on Feb. 11, 2011. His attorney, Erik Heipt said that Theoharis suffered "a broken shoulder, 2 broken arms, broken legs, he had a compression fracture to his spine, damage to his liver and spleen."

Theoharis wasn't the guy police were after. The King County Sheriff's deputy and Washington Department of Corrections officer who shot him were at the house to arrest a man who'd violated his parole. But in a search of the house after the shooting, they surprised Theoharis in the basement room he was renting.

Cole Harrison, who was at the house, described it this way: "They (the officers) rushed into that room like they were going to get somebody. I mean they rushed down there and then all of a sudden. Boom, boom, boom, boom."

Comment: Cops shoot innocent man in bed, no charges filed

Bizarro Earth

Clashes at mass eviction in Rome as crisis intensifies

© Agency France Presse Photo/Alberto Pizzoli


Protesters clash with police during the occupation of a building by associations that campaign for housing rights on April 16, 2014 in Rome.
Riot police dragged away some 350 squatter families from abandoned offices in Rome amid violent clashes on Wednesday -- the latest in a rising tide of forced evictions in Italy fuelled by the economic crisis.

Several people were injured as police used truncheons to break through a large group of protesters outside the building, where squatters had barricaded themselves in and taken to the roof.
Megaphone

Westboro Baptist Church to protest CSU graduation

csu
© KUSA
A Kansas church known for its anti-gay protests at public events plans to picket a CSU graduation ceremony and the "God-hated, without-hope young people" who it says will attend.

Westboro Baptist Church indicated in a news release that its members will stage a protest on the Fort Collins campus from 4:15-5 p.m. May 17 at the intersection of Meridian Avenue and Plum Street. Commencement ceremonies for the colleges of natural sciences and liberal arts will take place at nearby Moby Arena at 3:30 p.m. and 5 p.m., respectively.

The church believes students graduating from universities in "doomed America this year are a unique generation - - unique in their filthy manner of life; unique in the lies that pervade their every thought; unique in their aggressive enabling and embracing of f--- and same-sex marriage," the news release said.

The announcement ended with: "God H8S RAM FAN BRATS!"

While CSU "absolutely disagrees" with the message of the protestors, the university also values free speech and the group's legal right to demonstrate on public areas of campus, spokesman Mike Hooker said.

"Our attention -- however - will be focused on celebrating the accomplishment of the CSU students who have worked hard to earn their degrees," he said.
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