Today’s collection of links:
- Bankrate.com gives us a little more detail about the new federal income tax deduction for state and local sales taxes. According to them, you do have to choose between the deduction for state sales taxes and state income tax, and you can take either the actual sales tax you paid (save those receipts) or a guesstimate from an IRS-supplied table.
- Washington Post columnist David Ignatius looks at the budget and the budget deficit and sees that something has to give. He asks: Why not the military budget? “[T]he United States is still spending billions for weapons systems that were conceived to fight an adversary that has already been defeated — the Soviet Union.” My advice: Don’t hold your breath, David.
- “The prisoner was taken away in the middle of the night 19 months ago. He was hooded and brought to an undisclosed location. He has not been heard of since. Interrogators reportedly used graduated levels of force on the prisoner, including the “water boarding” technique — known in Latin America as the “submarino” — in which the detainee is strapped down, forcibly pushed under water and made to believe he might drown. His 7- and 9- year-old sons were also picked up, presumably to induce him to talk.” It doesn’t seem that long ago that I had the hope that I might never read a description of my country that began in such a way, but there it is in ’s International Herald-Tribune.
- I mentioned that Craig Murray, Britain’s ambassador to Uzbekistan, had written a report condemning the intelligence services of the United States and of Britain for winking at torture in Uzbekistan in exchange for intelligence extracted from the torture chambers. Suspecting, I’m guessing, that Murray leaked this report to the press himself, the government pulled out the stops to smear Murray’s reputation and is making moves to withdraw his security clearance, which would also remove him as ambassador. I marvelled at the time when I read how forthrightly Murray condemned torture, and I wondered why we don’t hear more such straight talk. I guess now I know.
- Seymour Hersh — he broke the My Lai story, and he had the straightest scoop on the manipulation of intelligence by the Dubya Squad before the war in Iraq (and he had it at the time, while it was happening, and the rest of the media is still just catching up). If any other journalist were telling this story I’d be a lot more skeptical.
- And because reckless killing of innocents in the service of endless wars isn’t just for foreigners, Jonathan Magbie, a man who had been paralyzed from the neck down since he was four years old, who required around-the-clock nursing care, who moved his wheelchair by pushing a lever with his chin, who was about five feet tall and weighed about 120 pounds, was sent to prison last week as a first-time offender after being convicted of marijuana possession. He died there because he was unable to breathe on his own and his mother was unable to convince his jailors to let him have his ventilator.
- “Our prison system is both a devastating moral blight on our society and an overwhelming economic burden on our tax dollars, taking away much needed resources from schools, health care and affordable housing. The prison system is corrupting our society and making us more threatened, rather than protecting us as its proponents claim. It is a system built on fear, racism, and the exploitation of poverty. Our current prison system has no place in a society that aspires to liberty, justice, and equality for all.” So says Architects / Designers / Planners for Social Responsibility, which is asking professionals to pledge “to not participate in the design, construction, or renovation of prisons.”