In its annual report the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has reported an increase in the military expenditure by Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. The report says: Military spending in the Middle East increased by 4.0 per cent in 2013, reaching an estimated $150 billion. Saudi Arabia’s spending increased by 14 per cent, to reach $67 billion, possibly due to tensions with Iran but also the desire to maintain strong and loyal security forces to insure against potential ‘Arab Spring’ type protests. AS for Bahrain’s military expenditure the report says: “Maintaining regime survival in the face of internal opposition is also the likely motive for Bahrain’s 26 per cent increase.”
Bahrain’s dictator has meanwhile, sought to recruit more mercenaries to crush Bahrain’s native population seeking political and economic rights. Earlier this week Hamad bin Isa Alkhalifa visited Kazakhstan and held meetings with President Nazarbayev. Speculations have mushroomed about the aims of the visit, but indications point to the desire by Alkhalifa dictator to recruit more mercenaries from that country for use against the natives. Two weeks ago Bahrain’s dictator visited Pakistan to recruit more mercenaries. In a grilling questioning to Pakistan’s foreign ministry, Naela Chohan, Additional Foreign Secretary (Middle East & Africa) admitted that currently 10,000 Pakistanis were serving in Bahrain defence services. About the visit of the King of Bahrain to JSHQ, she said:. "The visit was not meant for anything but due to the fact that we've 10,000 Pakistanis in their defence forces," she added. Commenting on the issue, chairman of the c ommittee Haji Adeel stated that they were not only serving in the defence force of Bahrain but also enjoying their nationality.
On Tuesday 15th April, the Alkhalifa junta told a senior religious figure to leave the country within 48 hours. Ayatullah Sheikh Hussain Najati, 60, had his house and office raided by members of Alkhalifa Death Squads in clear provocation. His Bahraini nationality had been revoked with thirty other Bahrianis in November 2012 for opposing the hereditary dictatorship. There has been an outcry amongst the natives who see these acts as evidence of the regime’s enmity to the natives and determination to change the demographic composition of the country. Last year the senior Ayatullah, who is a representative of Grand Ayatullah Sayed Ali Sistani of Iraq, was asked by the Alkhlalifa to condemn the people’s Revolution, but he refused on the basis that he had not been engaged in politics.
At another level, one of the most senior figures of the popular leadership has suffered serious deterioration in his health and is now in serious condition. He has been transferred to the military hospital but his family has not been allowed to visit him. Abdul Wahab Hussain, 60, who has been in jail for more than three years had asked the prison authorities for urgent medical treatment but his request has been turned down. He has several symptoms including general weakness in his body, burning feeling in his limps and inability to move his legs. Ten years ago he had been treated in UK for neurological ailments and loss of feelings and control of his limbs. when he was arrested in March 2011 he was severely tortured and denied medical treatment. There is now serious concern for Mr Abdul Wahab Hussain’s life and calls have been made to international bodies to put pressure on Alkhlaifa junta to allow him sufficient medical care.
Amnesty International, meanwhile, has issued an Urgent Action highlighting the plight of a torture victim and shed light on the policy of impunity adopted by the regime. Mr Ahmad Mushaima, the son of the jailed leader, Hassan Mushaima, has been put on trial for his pro-democracy activities. He had been subjected to horrific torture to extract “confessions” which have been used as the basis of his ongoing trial. Amnesty has urged the authorities to release Ahmed Mushaima immediately and unconditionally, allow him full access to lawyers, investigate allegations of torture and bring those responsible to justice and provide Mr Mushaima medical attention. Another internationally-renowned journalist, Ahmad Humaidan, is serving ten years sentence for his activities as photographer that expose the Alkhalifa hereditary dictatorship.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
16th April 2014
Originally Posted at PopularResistance.org
Dennis talks with Dr. Jill Stein, President of the Green Shadow Cabinet about the recently published U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) fifth assessment on climate change. The findings, combined with the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community, paint a picture of humanity committing a collective genocide and ecocide. The end of civilization scenarios, once projected for your grandchildren’s grandchildren are now a reality for anyone ho plans to be alive in 2050.
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Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
A legal controversy — critics would say scandal — has erupted in Alaska's statehouse over the future of its natural gas bounty.
It's not so much an issue of the gas itself, but who gets to decide how it gets to market and where he or she resides.
The question of who owns Alaska's natural gas and where they're from, at least for now, has been off the table. More on that later.
By Dave Lindorff
Ian Morris has stuck his dog's ear in his mouth, snapped a selfie, and proclaimed "Man Bites Dog." His new book War: What Is It Good For? Conflict and Progress of Civilization from Primates to Robots is intended to prove that war is good for children and other living things. It actually proves that defenders of war are growing desperate for arguments.
Morris maintains that the only way to make peace is to make large societies, and the only way to make large societies is through war. Ultimately, he believes, the only way to protect peace is through a single global policeman. Once you've made peace, he believes, prosperity follows. And from that prosperity flows happiness. Therefore, war creates happiness. But the one thing you must never stop engaging in if you hope to have peace, prosperity, and joy is -- you guessed it -- war.
This thesis becomes an excuse for hundreds of pages of a sort of Monty Python history of the technologies of war, not to mention the evolution of chimpanzees, and various even less relevant excursions. These pages are packed with bad history and guesswork, and I'm greatly tempted to get caught up in the details. But none of it has much impact on the book's conclusions. All of Morris's history, accurate and otherwise, is put to mythological use. He's telling a simplistic story about where safety and happiness originated, and advocating highly destructive misery-inducing behavior as a result.
When small, medium, and large societies have been and are peaceful, Morris ignores them. There are lots of ways to define peaceful, but none of them put the leading war maker at the top, and none of them place at the top only nations that could be imagined to fall under a Pax Americana.
When societies have been enlarged peacefully, as in the formation of the European Union, Morris applauds (he thinks the E.U. earned its peace prize, and no doubt all the more so for its extensive war making as deputy globocop) but he just skips over the fact that war wasn't used in the E.U.'s formation. (He avoids the United Nations entirely.)
When the globocop brings death and destruction and disorder to Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, or Yemen, Morris sticks his fingers in his ears and hums. "Interstate wars" he informs us (like most of his other claims, without any footnotes) have "almost disappeared." Well isn't that great news?! (Morris grotesquely minimizes Iraqi deaths from the recent [nonexistent?] war, and of course supplies no footnote.)
In a culture that has long waged wars, it has been possible to say that wars bring courage, wars bring heroism, wars bring slaves, wars bring cultural exchange. One could have asserted at various points that wars were the only way to a great many ends, not just large societies that reduce small-scale murders. Barely a century ago William James was worried there was no way to build character without war, and defenders of war were advertising it as good for its participants in a much more direct way than Morris has been reduced to. Has war been the means of building empires and nations? Sure, but that neither means that empires are the only way to peace, nor that war was the only nation-building tool available, nor that we must keep waging wars in an age in which we aren't forming empires or nations any longer. That ancient pyramids may have been built by slaves hardly makes slavery the best or only way to preserve the pyramids.
Tying something good, such as ending slavery in the United States, to a war, such as the U.S. Civil War, doesn't make war the only way to end slavery. In fact, most nations that ended slavery did so without a war. Much less is continuing to wage wars the only possible way (or even a useful way at all) to hold off the restoration of slavery or to complete its eradication. And, by the way, a great many societies that Morris credits with making progress through war also had slavery, monarchy, women-as-property, environmental destruction, and worship of religions now defunct. Were those institutions also necessary for peace and prosperity, or are they irrelevant to it, or did we overcome some of them through peaceful means? Morris, at one point, acknowledges that slavery (not just war) generated European wealth, later crediting the industrial revolution as well -- the godfather of which, in his mind, was no doubt peace created by war. (What did you expect, the Spanish Inquisition?)
The tools of nonviolence that have achieved so much in the past century are never encountered in Morris' book, so no comparison with war is offered. Nonviolent revolutions have tended to dismember empires or alter the leadership of a nation that remains the same size, so Morris must not view them as useful tools, even when they produce more free and prosperous societies. But it's not clear Morris can recognize those when he sees them. Morris claims that in the past 30 years "we" (he seems to mean in the United States, but could mean the world, it's not totally clear) have become "safer and richer than ever."
Morris brags about U.S. murder rates falling, and yet dozens of nations from every continent have lower murder rates than the U.S. Nor do larger nations tend to have lower murder rates than smaller nations. Morris holds up Denmark as a model, but never looks at Denmark's society, its distribution of wealth, its social supports. Morris claims the whole world is growing more equal in wealth.
Back here in reality, historians of the Middle Ages say that our age has the greater disparities -- disparities that are growing within the United States in particular, but globally as well. Oxfam reports that the richest 85 people in the world have more money than the poorest 3.5 billion. That is the peace that Morris swears is not a wasteland. The United States ranks third in average wealth but 27th in median wealth. Yet, somehow Morris believes the United States can lead the way to "Denmark" and that Denmark itself can only be Denmark because of how many people the United States kills in "productive wars" (even though they have "almost disappeared"). Morris writes these scraps of wisdom from Silicon Valley, where he says he sees nothing but wealth, yet where people with nowhere to sleep but in a car may soon be banned from doing so.
We're also safer, Morris thinks, because he sees no climate emergency worth worrying about. He's quite openly in favor of wars for oil, yet never notices oil's effects until the end of the book when he takes a moment to brush such concerns aside.
We're also safer, Morris tells us, because there are no longer enough nukes in the world to kill us all. Has he never heard of nuclear famine? Does he not understand the growing risks of proliferating nuclear weapons and energy? Two nations have thousands of nukes ready to launch in an instant, every one of them many times more powerful than the two nuclear bombs dropped thus far; and one of those nations is prodding the other one with a stick in Ukraine, resulting in more, not less, violence in the beneficiary of such expansionism. Meanwhile the officials overseeing U.S. nukes keep getting caught cheating on tests or shipping nukes across the country unguarded, and generally view nuclear weapons oversight as the lowest most dead-end career track. This makes us safer?
Morris hypes lies about Iran pursuing nuclear weapons. He opens the book with a tale of a near nuclear holocaust (one of many he could have chosen). And yet, somehow disarmament isn't on the agenda, at least not with the priority given to maintaining or increasing war spending. Not to worry, he assures us, "missile defense" actually works, or might someday, so that'll protect us -- although he parenthetically admits it won't. The point is it's warlike, and war is good, because war spreads peace. That's the role the U.S. must play for the good of all: policeman of the world. Morris, while clearly a huge fan of Barack Obama, believes that all recent U.S. presidents should have a Nobel Peace Prize. Never does Morris comment on the fact that the rest of the world sees the United States as the greatest threat to world peace.
Morris admits that the United States is encircling China with weapons, but he describes in sinister tones China's response of building weaponry that will only serve a function near China's own shores, not as defensive or unimperialistic, but at "asymmetrical" -- and we all know what that means: unfair! China might make it hard for the globocop to wage war on and around China. This Morris sees as the looming danger. The solution, he thinks, is for the United States to keep its militaristic edge (never mind that its military makes China's look like a child's toy). More drone killing is not only good but also (and this sort of nonsense always makes you wonder why its advocate bothers advocating) inevitable. Of course, the United States won't start a war against China, says Morris, because launching wars hurts a nation's reputation so severely. (You can see how badly the U.S. reputation has suffered in Morris' eyes following its latest string of wars.)
And yet, what lies on the horizon, almost inevitably, Morris contends, is World War III.
There's nothing you can do about it. Don't bother working for peace, Morris says. But a solution may arrive nonetheless. If we can go on dumping our money into wars for just one more century, or maybe more, proliferating weapons, destroying the environment, losing our liberties in the model land of the free, then -- if we're really lucky -- the computer programmers of Silicon Valley will save us, or some of us, or something, by . . . wait for it . . . hooking us up to computers so that our minds all meld together.
Morris may be more confident than I that the result of this computerized rapture will be worldwide empathy rather than revulsion. But then, he's had longer to get used to living with the way he thinks.
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Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
The subtitle of the newly released documentary film Big Men is "everyone wants to be big" and to say the film covers a "big" topic is to put it mildly.
Executive produced by Brad Pitt and directed by Rachel Boynton, the film cuts to the heart of how the oil and gas industry works and pushes film-watchers to think about why that's the case. Ghana's burgeoning offshore fields — in particular, the Jubilee Field discovered in 2007 by Kosmos Energy — serve as the film's case study.
Another bs article about the bs program that is Pre-Check. And, of course, a discussion thread full of comments by the Special People o-woe-is-me-ing their fate.
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Darcy Ike, San Diego, CA
WE, THE PEOPLE, CHARGE THE UNITED STATES PRESIDENT, BARAK OBAMA AND THE FULL MILITARY CHAIN OF COMMAND TO COMMANDER COLONEL JIM CLUFF, EVERY DRONE CREW, AND SERVICE MEMBERS at CREECH AIR BASE, WITH CRIMES AGAINST PEACE & CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY, WITH VIOLATIONS OF PART OF THE SUPREME LAW OF THE LAND, EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS, VIOLATION OF DUE PROCESS, WARS OF AGGRESSION, VIOLATION OF NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY, AND KILLING OF INNOCENT CIVILIANS.
The bigger threat is the National Security Agency: Despite Heart Bleed, the Internet’s Alive and Well!
By Alfredo Lopez
Some are calling it a "worst nightmare". There have been dire predictions that it represents the end of the Internet or that there is, in fact, no real Internet security or that Free and Open Source Software is dangerous to use.
One thing is sure. The week-old saga of the Heart Bleed flaw (or bug) and its potential exploits has shown more light on the Internet and its security issues than anything else in recent memory.
by AFRI (Action from Ireland)
Our society has lost a great activist today with the death of John Judge. No one spoke more clearly, strongly, and informedly on political power, militarism, and activism for positive change. While John lived nextdoor to Dennis Kucinich -- and with one of the best views and one of the best collections of political books and documents -- in Washington, D.C., it was as staff person for Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney that he advanced numerous causes of peace and justice and accountability for the powerful on Capitol Hill. On impeaching Bush and Cheney he was there first. John's expertise reached back into history and across continents. From the Kennedy assassination to conscientious objection to how-a-bill-becomes-a-law, he was a person to turn to for information and wisdom who was never anything but helpful, friendly, cheerful, and energetic. He could describe the hiring of Nazis in Operation Paperclip and the creation of the Cold War and then suggest that perhaps the Nazis actually won World War II. He could explain the creation of standing armies in such a manner that you knew without a doubt that either our society was insane or you were. He could get you thinking and get you active. And always with complete humility and good will. He will be missed.
I just opened this small selection of videos of John all at once, and it wasn't enough:
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Nevada Desert Experience to serve Creech AFB with a War Crimes Indictment on Wednesday, April 16, 2014
By David Hartsough, WagingNonviolence
As April 15 approaches, make no mistake: The tax money that many of us will be sending to the U.S. government pays for drones that are killing innocent civilians, for “better” nuclear weapons that could put an end of human life on our planet, for building and operating more than 760 military bases in over 130 countries all over the world. We are asked by our government to give moral and financial support to cutting federal spending for our children’s schools, Head Start programs, job training, environmental protection and cleanup, programs for the elderly, and medical care for all so that this same government can spend 50 percent of all our tax dollars on wars and other military expenditures.
My wife Jan and I have been war tax resisters since the war in Vietnam. We cannot in good conscience pay for killing people in other parts of the world.
Does it make sense to work every day for peace and justice and then contribute one day’s pay each week for war and war-making? In order to wage wars, governments need young men and women willing to fight and kill, and they need the rest of us to pay our taxes to cover the cost of soldiers, bombs, guns, ammunition, planes and aircraft carriers. The cost of just the wars being fought now is in the trillions of dollars.
Increasingly, we are able to recognize that most wars are based on lies — weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the Gulf of Tonkin in Vietnam, and now al-Qaeda behind every bush and in every country our government wants to attack.
As our government uses drones that kill thousands of innocent people, we create ever more enemies, thus assuring that we will have wars to fight in perpetuity. The war against communism used to be the rationale for all our military expenditures. Now it is the war on terror. But the problem is that all war is terrorism. It just depends which end of the gun or bomb you are on. One person’s freedom fighter is another person’s terrorist.
At what point do we the people refuse to cooperate with these immoral, illegal and senseless wars? The government cannot fight these wars without our tax dollars and our moral support. And I bet that if the Pentagon sent people out door to door to ask us to contribute to its wars, aircraft carriers, drones and new fighter jets, most of us would not contribute.
Some people argue that the Internal Revenue Service is so powerful that it will get the money anyway from our paychecks or bank accounts, so what good does it do to refuse to pay the 50 percent of our taxes that go for war? My response is that if the Pentagon has to take the money we were planning to contribute to schools and organizations working for peace and justice, at least we aren’t paying for the wars voluntarily. And if millions of us refused to pay our war taxes, the government would have a real crisis on its hands. It would be forced to listen.
As President Nixon’s chief of staff Alexander Haig looked out the White House window and saw more than 200,000 anti-war demonstrators marching by, he said, “Let them march all they want to as long as they pay their taxes.”
If our country put even 10 percent of the money we presently spend on wars and military expenditures into building a world where every person has shelter, enough to eat, an opportunity for education and access to medical care, we could be the most loved country in the world — and the most secure. But perhaps even more pressing is the question of whether we can in conscience continue to pay for the killing of other human beings and perpetuate the war system for all the world’s children.
The choice is ours. Hopefully many of us will join the increasing number of people who are refusing to pay the portion of taxes that pay for war and are redirecting their refused taxes to funding human and environmental needs.
My wife and I engage in war tax resistance by simply deducting 50 percent of the taxes we owe and depositing it in the People’s Life Fund. The fund keeps the money in case the IRS seizes our bank account or paycheck and will return it to us so we have the funds to replenish what the IRS has taken. Interest on the money in the People’s Life Fund is contributed to peace and justice organizations and programs addressing the needs of people in our communities. That way, as long as the IRS leaves us alone, the funds we refuse to pay go to the places we would like to see it go. The IRS may add penalties and interest on what we owe, but for me that is a small price to pay for refusing to voluntarily pay for wars and the American empire.
Someday, we hope to see a special fund set up by the government itself for those who cannot in good conscience allow their money to be used for war, such as the one that the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund has outlined. In the meantime, there are more resources about tax resistance available through the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee.
If your conscience so directs you, refuse to pay $1, $10, $100 or 50 percent of the taxes you owe, and send letters to your elected representatives and your local newspaper explaining why you are doing so. For the 50 percent of our taxes that my wife and I do pay, we make out a check to the Department of Health and Human Services instead of to the IRS and send it along with our 1040 form. We ask the IRS to allocate all the funds we pay to programs for health, education and human services.
For acts like this to become truly powerful, however, we need to make war tax resistance a mass movement. We need to reach out to all people who want to help build a more peaceful and just world, people who don’t believe in killing other people, people who are hurting because of the massive cuts in programs aimed at meeting human needs while the military gets the lion’s share, and people who are tired of living in the center of an empire that inflicts death and destruction on those who stand in the way. If all or even many of the people who feel this way were to refuse to pay the war and military portion of their taxes, we would have a mass movement that couldn’t be stopped.
If an alien invader with a face were attacking the earth, the difficulties that governments have getting populations to support wars on other humans would be multiplied a thousand fold. The most common response to officials calling some petty foreign despot "a new Hitler" would shift from "yeah, right" to "who cares?" The people of the world would unite in common defense against the hostile alien.
If only it had a face. And what's a face anyway? Doctors can create faces now. You'd still love your loved ones if they lost their faces. And I hear there's a movie in which a guy falls in love with his faceless computer.
The point is that there is an alien invader attacking the earth. Its name is climate change. And Uncle Sam wants YOU to fight it, as does Uncle Boris and Aunt Hannah and Cousin Juan and Brother Feng. The whole family is in agreement on this one, and we are a family now all of a sudden.
Climate change breathes fire on our land and roasts it, killing crops, drying up water supplies, breeding dangerous diseases and infestations. Climate change circles over the oceans and blows tidal waves toward our coasts. It melts the icebergs in its evil claws and sinks our beach resorts beneath the sea.
How do we fight back? We organize quickly, as only humans can. We grab the $2 trillion that we spend on wars among ourselves each year, plus a few trillion more from some multi-billionaires who suddenly realize they don't have another planet to spend it on. We start coating the rooftops with solar panels, aimed right at the face of the monster. We put up windmills that will turn his nasty breath against himself.
And we hit him where it really hurts, we cut off his supplies with crippling sanctions: we stop buying and making and consuming and discarding such incredible piles of crap every day. Consumerism becomes rapidly understood as planetary treason, support for the Evil One. We put a stop to its worst excesses and begin reining it in systematically -- working together as we never have before.
Ah, but the dark lord of the heat is subtle. He has cells of loyalists among us. They push fossil fuels on us and tell us comforting lies. No longer! We will drag them before the House UnEarthly Activities Committee. "Are you now or have you ever been a promoter of oil, gas, or coal consumption?" They'll crumble under the pressure.
Imagine how we could unite for this battle, what wits and courage and self-sacrifice we could put into it, what inspiring acts of bravery, what stunning creations of intellect!
Ah, but climate change is not a person, so forget the whole thing. Did you ever notice what a funny grin Vladimir Putin has? It's beginning to get on my nerves.
Winslow Myers is an artist and activist who lives in mid-Coast Maine. For ten years he coordinated events and activities for Beyond War in central Massachusetts and led many seminars on personal and social change. Later he served on the board of Beyond War while it was based in Portland OR. He has written over a hundred opinion-editorial pieces on the subject of the prevention of war and building a world beyond war, some of which have seen print in national newspapers like the Christian Science Monitor, the San Jose Mercury News, and the San Francisco Chronicle, and all of which have been published online. He is the author of Living Beyond War: A Citizen’s Guide. He serves on the Advisory Board of the War Prevention Initiative, and is active in WorldBeyondWar.org. His website is WinslowMyers.com.
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How Not to End Violence in a War-Torn Land
By Nick Turse, TomDispatch.com
Is the U.S. secretly training Libyan militiamen in the Canary Islands? And if not, are they planning to?
That’s what I asked a spokesman for U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). “I am surprised by your mentioning the Canary Islands,” he responded by email. “I have not heard this before, and wonder where you heard this.”
As it happens, mention of this shadowy mission on the Spanish archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa was revealed in an official briefing prepared for AFRICOM chief General David Rodriguez in the fall of 2013. In the months since, the plan may have been permanently shelved in favor of a training mission carried out entirely in Bulgaria. The document nonetheless highlights the U.S. military’s penchant for simple solutions to complex problems -- with a well-documented potential for blowback in Africa and beyond. It also raises serious questions about the recurring methods employed by the U.S. to stop the violence its actions helped spark in the first place.
Ever since the U.S. helped oust dictator Muammar Gaddafi, with air and missile strikes against regime targets and major logistical and surveillance support to coalition partners, Libya has been sliding into increasing chaos. Militias, some of them jihadist, have sprung up across the country, carving out fiefdoms while carrying out increasing numbers of assassinations and other types of attacks. The solution seized upon by the U.S. and its allies in response to the devolving situation there: introduce yet another armed group into a country already rife with them.
By Michael Uhl
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Your doctors are worried about your health―in fact, about your very survival.
No, they’re not necessarily your own personal physicians, but, rather, medical doctors around the world, represented by groups like International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW). As you might recall, that organization, composed of many thousands of medical professionals from all across the globe, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985 for exposing the catastrophic effects of nuclear weapons.
Well, what seems to be the problem today?
Pay Your Taxes, Go to Gitmo?
Does Paying Taxes Violate the Law against Providing Aid and Support to a Terrorist Organization?
Gar Smith / Environmentalists Against War (www.envirosagainstwar.org)
(April 13, 2014) -- With April 15 fast approaching, 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.