One part of the last big tax package passed by Congress brought back the federal income tax deduction that you can take for any state and local sales taxes you paid. You can take either this deduction or a deduction for state and local income taxes.

In either case it’s an itemized deduction, so it will only matter to you if you find it worthwhile to itemize. If you live in a state that has a sales tax, unless you’ve been keeping receipts all year you’ll probably take this deduction by looking up your estimated sales tax in Publication 600, which the IRS released .

Don’t expect a windfall. The amount you’ll find in the table maxes out at about half of the standard deduction, and if you’re trying to resist your income tax through The DON Method you’ll be lucky to reach 10% of the standard deduction. So unless you’re already itemizing, this may not change your calculations at all. But note that if you bought a big ticket item like a vehicle or home, you can add the sales tax from that purchase to what you look up in the table.

When the U.S. wants to hold someone prisoner without anything resembling due process of law, without judicial oversight, and (according to its lawyers) without any of the protection of international treaties and U.S. laws prohibiting torture, it sends them to a little U.S. outpost in Cuba called Guantanamo Bay.

So the U.S. government has a lot of nerve trying to score cheap points about the human rights record of Cuba’s dictatorship. Moral authority is a great thing to have, but it has to be earned. Castro can take his cheap shots too.

Cuba unfolded two gigantic billboards on in front of the United States diplomatic headquarters in the island, with photographs of the tortures in the Abu Ghraib prison of Iraq and the word “Fascistas” together with a Nazi swastika.

The images were put up after Cuba demanded that the United States Interests Section in Cuba take down a Christmas billboard with a shining ornament that says “75,” in allusion to the dissidents imprisoned by the Cuban government in . The billboards unfolded by Cuba show Iraqi prisoners bleeding and hooded during torture by soldiers in Abu Ghraib with a caption that says “Made in USA” in the middle of the high-traffic Malecón of Havana.

Is the meter still running on that war we started?

Deployment of extra troops, plus the need for new armor and other changes to counter insurgent tactics, may increase war spending by at least 25 percent for , say experts. The total cost of the US military effort in Afghanistan and Iraq through next year will almost certainly surpass $200 billion.

Congress is likely to approve whatever war budget the White House asks for. But the current rate of spending is far higher than officials predicted before hostilities began…

most congressional and administration estimates of war costs hovered in the $60 to $70 billion range. ¶ Now that figure has climbed higher. The White House plans to ask for upwards of $80 billion in supplemental appropriations funding for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Congressional Budget Office director J. Douglas Holtz-Eakin.

That’s on top of the $25 billion for that Congress has already approved as part of the general military appropriations bill.

The need to push troop levels to 150,000, highest of the war, in advance of scheduled elections is one reason costs are going up…

The cost of the war will be some $128 billion, according to [Center for Strategic and International Studies analyst Anthony] Cordesman’s figures. That does not include major maintenance, the replacement of destroyed equipment, and costs associated with the need to recruit more troops and retrain those deployed to Iraq. , the cost of military operations in the Iraq theater will be between $212 billion and $232 billion, according to Cordesman. , it could be as high as $316 billion.

The Tame Bear Radio podcast with Peter Oakley takes on war tax resistance in this episode.

Today’s nugget of Tolstoy comes from his essay “Thou Shalt Not Kill” (), in which he responds to the anarchist assassinations that were then in vogue.

Kings and Emperors not only should not be indignant at such murders as those of Alexander and [King] Humbert, but they should be surprised that such murders are so rare, considering the continual and universal example of murder that they give to mankind.

The crowd are so hypnotized that they see what is going on before their eyes, but do not understand its meaning. They see what constant care Kings, Emperors, and Presidents devote to their disciplined armies; they see the reviews, parades, and manœuvres the rulers hold, about which they boast to one another; and the people crowd to see their own brothers, brightly dressed up in fools’ clothes, turned into machines to the sound of drum and trumpet, all, at the shout of one man, making one and the same movement at one and the same moment — but they do not understand what it all means. Yet the meaning of this drilling is very clear and simple: it is nothing but a preparation for killing.

It is stupefying men in order to make them fit instruments for murder. And those who do this, who chiefly direct this and are proud of it, are the Kings, Emperors and Presidents. And it is just these men — who are specially occupied in organizing murder and who have made murder their profession, who wear military uniforms and carry murderous weapons at their sides — that are horrified and indignant when one of themselves is murdered.

The murder of Kings — the murder of Humbert — is terrible, but not on account of its cruelty. The things done by command of Kings and Emperors — not only past events such as the massacre of St. Bartholomew, religious persecution, the terrible repressions of peasant rebellions, and Paris coups d’êtat, but the present-day Government executions, the torture of prisoners in solitary confinement, the Disciplinary Battallions, the hangings, the beheadings, the shootings and slaughter in wars — are incomparably more cruel than the murders committed by Anarchists.

Nor are these murders terrible because undeserved. If Alexander and Humbert did not deserve death, still less did the thousands of Russians who perished at Plevna, or of Italians who perished in Abyssinia. Such murders are terrible, not because they are cruel or unmerited, but because of the unreasonableness of those who commit them.

If the regicides act under the influence of personal feelings of indignation evoked by the sufferings of an oppressed people, for which they hold Alexander or Carnot or Humbert responsible, or if they act from personal feelings of revenge, then — however immoral their conduct may be — it is at least intelligible; but how is it that a body of Anarchists such as those by whom, it is said, Bréssi was sent, and who are now threatening another Emperor — how is it that they cannot devise any better means of improving the condition of humanity than by killing people whose destruction can no more be of use than the decapitation of that mythical monster on whose neck a new head appeared as soon as one was cut off?

Kings and Emperors have long ago arranged for themselves a system like that of a magazine-rifle: as soon as one bullet has been discharged another takes its place. Le roi est mort, vive le roi! So what is the use of killing them?…

It is the people who sacrifice their dignity as men for material profit that produce these men who cannot act otherwise than as they do act, and with whom it is useless to be angry for their stupid and wicked actions. To kill such men is like whipping children whom one has first spoilt.

That nations should not be oppressed, and that there should be none of these useless wars, and that men may not be indignant with those who seem to cause these evils, and may not kill them — it seems that only a very small thing is necessary. It is necessary that men should understand things as they are, should call them by their right names, and should know that an army is an instrument for killing, and that the enrolment and management of an army — the very things which Kings, Emperors, and Presidents occupy themselves with so self-confidently — is a preparation for murder.

If only each King, Emperor, and President understood that his work of directing armies is not an honourable and important duty, as his flatterers persuade him it is, but a bad and shameful act of preparation for murder — and if each private individual understood that the payment of taxes wherewith to hire and equip soldiers, and, above all, army-service itself, are not matters of indifference, but are bad and shameful actions by which he not only permits but participates in murder — then this power of Emperors, Kings, and Presidents, which now arouses our indignation, and which causes them to be murdered, would disappear of itself.

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