Day: October 5, 2011

Balancing Treason and Rights of Citizenship

  Anwar al-Awlaki knew that America targeted him as a leader of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. In early February The New York Times reported that President Obama authorized al-Awlaki’s targeted killing. If he missed that article, the Hellfire Missiles that hit his car on May 5, 2011 in an unsuccessful attempt to take him out must have surely been a sign that America took his threats seriously. Al-Awlaki, an American citizen, was no saint and there is little doubt that had his capture taken place, he would have been found guilty of high treason.   Major Nidal Hasan sought al-Awlaki’s blessing before the Fort Hood shootings in November 2009, and al-Awlaki engineered the unsuccessful underwear and printer cartridge bombings in 2009 and 2010. After September 11, the U.S. Kill/Capture programs run by both the Special Forces Command and the Central Intelligence Agency became a grisly necessity in a war where enemies crossed borders and sought the protection of “friendly” foreign governments.  While President Obama’s administration did not introduce Kill/Capture to the battlefield, it has expanded its depth and breadth.  Drone missions in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia have increased since Obama came into office and have not slowed after Osama Bin Laden’s death in May. On September 30, the missile hit the targeted car and the U.S. Kill/Capture program killed its first American citizen. We must not take the targeted...

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All’s Fair in Danish Taxation – But What About the U.S.?

  Two weeks ago, when President Obama announced his plan to ensure that millionaires pay at least the same tax rate as middle-income Americans, tax cut advocates came out in force. Some fiscal conservatives rumbled against the United States’ overly progressive taxation system, arguing that many countries, like Denmark, have flatter tax rates than the United States. Others argued that lower income earners should step up to the plate and pay more taxes, especially since wealthy Americans are supposed to pay 35 percent of most of their income in marginal taxes  (though 2009 IRS data indicates wealthy Americans actually pay 24 percent). Still others, like Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) called the plan “class warfare.” Dr. Richard W. Rahn, an economist and chairman of the Institute for Global Economic Growth, argued in an op-ed published in The Washington Times entitled “Growing the Economy for Dummies” that even Scandinavian countries tax their citizens much more fairly than the United States does.  He also cited Denmark as an example, where the bottom third of income earners pay 14.1 percent of all taxes and the richest pay 48.7 percent, while the bottom third of Americans pay only 6.1 percent compared to 65.3 percent for the top third. The argument that the United States could learn from Denmark or other Scandinavian countries’ flatter tax systems, or that lower income Americans should “pull their weight” ignores the...

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We Should Have Seen This Coming

  How is it possible that in 2011 the world failed prevent famine in the Horn of Africa? The signs of disaster were present: two years of drought, no food storage, political instability, civil war and banned foreign assistance, but no one acted until it was too late.   Now, three months later, thousands of people have died and millions more are still in need of aid. So why do we still call a situation that is prone to turn into a famine and lead to the death of thousands of people adrought? Texas is currently experiencing a drought.  We had one of the hottest summers on record resulting in $5 billion of crop loss and wildfires that destroyed 1,600 homes.  But most of us remain unaffected, only aware of the drought because of imposed water restrictions, burn bans and a poor tubing season. Drought in Austin means we can still run our washing machines, our dishwashers, water our yards with a hose, take hot showers, keep our pools full and provide enough food for our families. That is not what defines this drought in Somalia. Ten million people in the Horn of Africa are still in need of immediate aid.  In the last three months, tens of thousands of people have died of starvation, including 29,000 children under the age of 5.  The UN estimates about 750,000 people (approximately...

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