I wonder if men will one day accept the radical notion that women are full human beings:
The international human rights group Amnesty International claimed Wednesday that a number of female protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square were rounded up by the Egyptian military and tortured recently.
Some women even said they were subjected to a “virginity test” while soldiers looked on and took pictures.
Amnesty said at least 18 different women were subjected to this treatment, first at a military prison, then inside the Cairo Museum.
The women claimed they were beaten and tortured with electric shocks, and one woman who allegedly “failed” her virginity test was reportedly singled out for the worst abuse.
“20-year-old Salwa Hosseini told Amnesty International that after she was arrested and taken to a military prison in Heikstep, she was made, with the other women, to take off all her clothes to be searched by a female prison guard, in a room with two open doors and a window,” the group explained. “During the strip search, Salwa Hosseini said male soldiers were looking into the room and taking pictures of the naked women.”
All of them were taken on March 9, as the military cleared Tahrir Square of demonstrators.
“Women and girls must be able to express their views on the future of Egypt and protest against the government without being detained, tortured, or subjected to profoundly degrading and discriminatory treatment,” Amnesty said in an advisory. “The army officers tried to further humiliate the women by allowing men to watch and photograph what was happening, with the implicit threat that the women could be at further risk of harm if the photographs were made public.”
Give us the money, or we shoot the dog! American corporations once again try to strike a bargain to avoid paying their taxes. Congress shouldn’t be cutting services to the rest of us while even one penny goes uncollected from these corporate bums:
Google (GOOG) Ireland is not a branch office of the U.S.-based search giant. It’s a separate corporation, and the IRS can’t touch a dime that Google Ireland earns from its core business until it sends profits back home to the mother ship. The term of art for bringing the money back is repatriation—the same as for a soldier captured abroad.
U.S. multinationals have more than $1 trillion in profits stashed in overseas subsidiaries. Some of the companies with the most money squirreled away say they’re prepared to bring a big chunk of it home. All they want in return is a temporary tax break that wouldn’t cost the U.S. Treasury anything, since it’s money that would otherwise be kept abroad and not taxed at all. The tax break would actually raise billions of dollars from applying the reduced tax rate to the money that’s been repatriated.
What’s not to like? John T. Chambers, Cisco’s (CSCO) chief executive officer, told securities analysts in February that “you’re now seeing political leaders at all levels understand” the case for a tax holiday on repatriated foreign profits. “I think this one has well over a 60 percent probability of being resolved in a positive way,” he said. Although a lobbying campaign is just getting under way, Representative Brian P. Bilbray (R-Calif.) has already introduced a bill that would let companies bring home money tax-free if they used it for research and development or facilities expansion.
Aside from Cisco, the growing coalition for repatriation relief includes Adobe (ADBE), Apple, CA Technologies (CA), Duke Energy (DUK), Google, Microsoft (MSFT), Oracle (ORCL), Pfizer (PFE), and Qualcomm (QCOM)—powerhouses all. The group is seeking fundamental changes in tax law, but if it can’t get them right away, it still wants the tax holiday. Its opening position is that there should be no conditions on how the money is used. Chambers argued in a Wall Street Journal op-ed last October that a repatriation might create as many as 2 million jobs.
It’s a seductive argument—reap billions in tax revenue from money that’s currently untaxed and generate economic growth to boot. On closer inspection, though, the coalition’s argument has some logical loopholes. A nearly identical holiday passed by Congress in 2004 and taken mostly in 2005 did little to boost jobs or investment, according to several independent economic studies. Some economists say a holiday today might be even less effective because cash isn’t a constraint in 2011—it’s bountiful, thanks to the Federal Reserve’s loose-money policy. U.S. nonfinancial corporations have $1.9 trillion in liquid assets, the Fed says. No more than half of that—probably significantly less—is offshore. (An unknown portion of the $1 trillion-plus in foreign-held profits isn’t cash. It’s tied up in foreign factories, offices, and the like and can’t easily be repatriated.)
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But somehow Politico forgot to mention the other reason AT&T will be granted the right to buy T-Mobile in spite of its clear assault on key principles of competitive capitalism: because the government owes AT&T.
Or, to put it another way, AT&T and the government have become so closely entwined in their joint program spying on Americans that the government cannot be said to be an independent reviewer of AT&T’s business.
Weekly Pulse: Vermont Poised to Pass Single-Payer
By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium
Vermont is poised to abolish most forms of private health
insurance, Lauren Else reports for In These Times. The state’s
newly inaugurated Democratic governor, Peter Shumlin, unveiled his health
insurance plan in early February. If the state legislature passes the
bill, Vermont will become the first state to ban most forms of private
The bill is getting support from some unlikely
On February 24, the Republican Mayor Christopher Louras, of Rutland, urged the state to adopt the single-payer legislation, noting that more than a third of the city’s $7 million
annual payroll is consumed by healthcare costs.
“The only way to fix the problem is to blow it up and start over,” Louras said.
Companies drilling for natural gas in lightly-regulated Pennsylvania would cheat people. Or that courts would rule in favor of the politically-connected companies who so heavily supported our new Republican governor!
A federal judge in Erie has granted final approval of a class-action settlement estimated to be worth more than $22 million, in a suit brought by landowners above the Marcellus Shale who claimed that their natural gas leases with Range Resources imposed unfair royalty calculations.
The settlement is one of the largest in Pennsylvania in the last year.
The suit, Frederick v. Range Resources, was filed on behalf of more than 25,000 landowners and initially challenged the validity of the leases under the Pennsylvania Guaranteed Minimum Royalty Act.
But while the suit was pending, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court handed down its decision in Kilmer v. Elexco, which held that deducting post-production costs from the gross sale proceeds before calculating the royalty did not violate the act.
In the wake of Kilmer, the Frederick plaintiffs withdrew their challenge to the legality of the post-production cost deductions and filed an amended complaint challenging the propriety of the amounts deducted by Range Resources.
Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that Range Resources had improperly reduced the amounts of their royalty payments by wrongly using the point-of-sale volume of gas, rather than the volume of gas collected at the wellhead, to calculate the gross royalty.
I attended a meet and greet last night for Jeff Ornstein, who’s running in the Democratic primary for Philadelphia’s first City Council district. (Frank DiCiccio is finally retiring.)
Not only smart and sharp, but not stupid in the way progressives sometimes are. This guy was a labor organizer for the SEIU and really understands how things work. His big push? Smart economic development — and getting rid of the city’s hated business privilege tax (aka the “blogger tax”).
If you’re in the area and voting, I’d highly recommend Jeff. He’d fit in very nicely with the growing caucus of reformers on City Council.
H/T Brendan, who passes along this news in which our elected officials continue to ignore the economic pain of millions:
The House Agriculture Committee endorsed a letter this week to Budget Chairman Paul Ryan arguing that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which helps low-income Americans purchase food, would make a better target for cuts than automatic subsidies to farms.
The move comes as food prices are rising — the Department of Agriculture expects overall food prices to rise 3 percent to 4 percent this year — making it harder for the beneficiaries of SNAP to stretch their existing benefits, even as farmers profit from the tightening market. Critics across the political spectrum have called agricultural subsidies wasteful and unnecessary, and they question the logic of maintaining them as lawmakers hunt for budget cuts.
“Conspicuously missing from the list of mandatory spending cuts the Agriculture Committee has made or is proposing to make are commodity subsidies, and specifically the $4.9 billion in direct payments that are automatically paid out each year regardless of whether a person farms,” said Jake Caldwell, the director of agricultural policy at the left-leaning Center for American Progress. “It is shortsighted of the Committee to suggest cuts to SNAP, particularly as food prices are on the rise, Americans are spending more than 10 percent of their household budget on food, and more people are enrolled in the food stamp program than ever before.”
President Obama has endorsed cuts in agricultural subsidies as a way to lower the deficit without targeting essential programs, and lawmakers from both parties, like Ryan, R-Wis., have expressed similar opinions.
But the Agriculture Committee is dominated by members of Congress from farm states; Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., has reported $445,714 in political contributions from the agricultural industry during the course of his career, and ranking Democrat Collin Peterson of Minnesota reports $809,097 in career donations.
The budget letter, endorsed by both Lucas and Peterson, argues that subsidies need to be in place for when record-high prices “inevitably” fall, and that higher prices have actually increased risks for farmers. But not even all farmers agree — the Iowa Farm Bureau voted its opposition to direct payment subsidies earlier this year. Brian Riedl, a fiscal policy expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said that most large commercial farmers report an average annual income of $200,000, well in excess of the national average.
Some lawmakers, judges and regulators are trying to rein in the U.S. debt-collection industry’s use of arrest warrants to recoup money owed by borrowers who are behind on credit-card payments, auto loans and other bills.
More than a third of all U.S. states allow borrowers who can’t or won’t pay to be jailed. Judges have signed off on more than 5,000 such warrants since the start of 2010 in nine counties with a total population of 13.6 million people, according to a tally by The Wall Street Journal of filings in those counties. Nationwide figures aren’t known because many courts don’t keep track of warrants by alleged offense. In interviews, 20 judges across the nation said the number of borrowers threatened with arrest in their courtrooms has surged since the financial crisis began.
“I wish I could do it more,” said Piatt County Circuit Judge Chris Freese, who has heard hundreds of debt-collection cases. “It’s often the only remedy to get people into court and paying their debts.”
In one of those cases, Emmie Nichols, 26 years old, was arrested in June at her mother’s house after lawyers for Capital One Financial Corp. won an arrest warrant against her for skipping a court hearing about $1,159.87 she owed on a credit card from the company. The $500 bond that freed Ms. Nichols from the county jail was turned over to Capital One as a partial payment of the debt, court filings show. A Capital One spokeswoman declined to comment on Ms. Nichols.
Some judges are worried that the jump in debt-related arrest warrants is creating a modern-day version of debtors’ prison. The practice ended in 1833 after decades of controversy, since borrowers owing as little as 60 cents could be held indefinitely in squalid jails until they paid off their debt.