Glenn Greenwald: Commencing immediately upon the 9/11 attack, the U.S. government under two successive administrations has spent 12 straight years inventing and implementing new theories of government power in the name of Terrorism. Literally every year since 9/11 has ushered in increased authorities of exactly the type Americans are inculcated to believe only exist in those Other, Non-Free societies: ubiquitous surveillance, impenetrable secrecy, and the power to imprison and even kill without charges or due process. read more
Tourists have long flocked to Egypt to see the pyramids, take a trip up the majestic Nile or relax on one of its many sun-kissed beaches. But, in a potentially damaging blow to its economy, Egypt has now been ranked below countries such as Pakistan, Yemen and Chad for "safety and security" in an influential report on tourism by the World Economic Forum. "We have over 400 boats on the Nile, there is still 20 to 25 percent occupancy on some of the most popular boats, but others are just sitting and not operating," said Emile Asaad, manager of a travel agency in Luxor. "We don't know how the future looks."
Daniel Ellsberg: Today, the Freedom of the Press Foundation, an organization that I co-founded and of which I'm on the board, has published an audio recording of Bradley Manning's speech to a military court from two weeks ago, in which he gives his reasons and motivations behind leaking over 700,000 government documents to WikiLeaks. Whoever made this recording, and I don't know who the person is, has done the American public a great service. This marks the first time the American public can hear Bradley Manning, in his own voice explain what he did and how he did it. read more
A $100 million scheme to steal from government-backed crop insurance has been uncovered by federal investigators in North Carolina. The scheme involved dozens of insurance agents and brokers, claims adjusters and farmers, authorities said. Forty-one people have either entered guilty pleas or reached plea agreements for their role in the scheme, in which false claims were made on losses of corn, wheat, soybeans and tobacco. "These defendants make it harder on the honest farmer," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Banumathi Rangarajan. "The more they lie and steal the more premiums and costs go up for the farmers who play by the rules."
The FBI and other U.S. agencies said on Tuesday they were investigating a website that posted financial and personal information about first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and other government figures as well as celebrities including singers Beyonce and Jay-Z. It was unclear how much of the data, which first appeared on the website www.exposed.su on Monday, was accurate or who posted it. The site listed social security numbers, telephone numbers, addresses and credit reports purportedly belonging to 18 prominent Americans.
Ezra Klein: Here is Paul Ryan's path to a balanced budget in three sentences: He cuts deep into spending on health care for the poor and some combination of education, infrastructure, research, public-safety, and low-income programs. The Affordable Care Act's Medicare cuts remain, but the military is spared, as is Social Security. There's a vague individual tax reform plan that leaves only two tax brackets -- 10 percent and 25 percent -- and will require either huge, deficit-busting tax cuts or increasing taxes on poor and middle-class households, as well as a vague corporate tax reform plan that lowers the rate from 35 percent to 25 percent. read more
Arizona state officials have won a significant legal battle in a long-running saga over a controversial Tucson schools ethnic-studies program, with a federal judge ruling that a law designed to ban it is constitutional. Authorities instrumental in the law's passage said Monday that they feel vindicated in their efforts to ban what they deemed to be racially divisive courses in public schools. The challenge to the new state law was initially launched in 2010 by teachers of the Tucson Unified School DistrictÃÂ's Mexican-American studies program, which offered a slate of history, government and literature classes at four high schools. read more
The first budget from Senate Democrats in four years includes nearly $1 trillion in new taxes but would not balance the budget. The blueprint unveiled by Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) on Tuesday to her Democratic colleagues would also turn off the next nine years of the sequester and replace those spending cuts with a 50-50 mix of tax increases and spending cuts. The budget would dedicate $100 billion to economic stimulus in the form of infrastructure spending and job training. The $975 billion in spending cuts include $240 billion in savings from the end of the Afghanistan war and $242 billion in reduced interest payments, according to a source.
A judge Monday vacated the 124-year sentence received by rapist Andrew Luster in 2003 and ordered a hearing to determine a new sentence. Luster, the great-grandson of cosmetics giant Max Factor, was convicted on 86 rape and drug charges after a jury viewed videotapes he made of himself engaging in sex with three women rendered unconscious by the date rape drug GHB. Judge Kathryne Ann Stoltz refused to grant Luster a new trial but ruled his unusually long sentence needed to be reconsidered. read more
Legal and medical experts are questioning the decision of a Colorado judge to allow James Holmes, the suspected gunman in the Aurora movie theater shooting, to be tested with a "truth serum" should he plead not guilty by reason of insanity. The idea would be that such a "narcoanalytic interview" could confirm whether he was legally insane when he allegedly embarked on his shooting spree on July 20, 2012. The precise drug that would be used has not been released, other than a statement that it would be "medically appropriate," but it would most likely be a short-acting barbiturate such as sodium amytal. read more
TPM: When he unveils his budget plan this week, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) will complete a 720-degree flip on President Barack Obama's cuts to Medicare providers in the Affordable Care Act. As he revealed on Fox News Sunday, Ryan's upcoming budget will sustain the cuts. "We end the raid and we apply those savings to Medicare to make Medicare more solvent and extend the solvency of the Medicare trust fund," he said. Ryan ran for vice president last year against Obama's cuts to Medicare, which don't target beneficiaries but instead lower reimbursements for hospitals and private insurance companies under Medicare Advantage. read more
South Korea's government scoffed at North Korea's announcement Monday that it had nullified the 1953 Korean War armistice, saying such unilateral action is prohibited under the terms of the cease-fire. It suggested the North's belligerence is a tactic it has used in past times of tension to build support among its own people. "If they launch a provocation, we will respond more strongly and make sure that they suffer far more," said Kim Min-seok, spokesman for the South Korean Defense Ministry.
Five American soldiers were killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan's Kandahar province Monday. Officials said that the crash, which happened around 11 p.m., was under investigation, but that "there was no enemy activity in the area at the time." On the same day, an Afghan police officer in eastern Afghanistan opened fire with a gun mounted on the back of a truck, killing two members of U.S. special operations forces and wounded 10 others.
Last year, Cowan's Auctions put up a lot of 282 Vietnam War-era Zippo lighters featuring personalized and anonymous engravings chosen by U.S. soldiers, sailors, and airmen during deployment. The collection was compiled by American artist Bradford Edwards over several years in the 1990s, on-site in Vietnam. Edwards was careful not to target specific sentiments or designs in the engravings, but simply to seek out authenticity and let the objects speak for themselves. As such, the lighters capture a wide range of feelings and opinions about the war, from the obscenity-laden anti-army mottoes of the unwilling draftees, to the simple love notes of the homesick, to the 8 Special Forces emblazoned lighters, conspicuously absent of any further embellishment.
A Maryland woman was pulled over on Interstate 95 in Laurel last week, but not for speeding. She was ticketed for driving too slow -- 63 mph in a 65 mph zone. "I thought, 'Oh my God, you've got to be kidding me,'" the woman told NBC Washington. She has filed a complaint with Maryland State Police and plans to fight the ticket. read more
The Democrat-controlled Colorado legislature passed a bill to legalize gay civil unions and sent it to Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), who is expected to sign it. The bill passed 39-26 with all Democrats and two Republicans voting in favor. Voters in the state approved a gay marriage ban seven years ago, making civil unions the only option available at present. "I ask for a 'yes' vote for love, a 'yes' vote for family, and a 'yes' vote for equal protection," said House Speaker Mark Ferrandino (D), the first openly gay male legislator in the state's history.