In late December, Anonymous hacked the Steubenville, Ohio, high school football team's fan website in retaliation for its players' involvement in the gang rape of a 16-year-old girl. The hackers threatened to post students' and teachers' Social Security numbers unless the girl received an apology; someone else sent the school a bomb threat. The hactivist group's antagonistic relationship with Steubenville High quickly made headlines, but what has gone unreported until now was how Anonymous quietly reached out to the school at the same time, hoping to visit classes and teach students how to identify and prevent rapes.
A female Anonymous member approached Steubenville High about teaching rape prevention. Not surprisingly, she was rebuffed.
In early January, the Anonymous spokesman in Steubenville, @Master_of_Ceremonies (MC for short), convinced a female Anonymous member to pitch school officials on the idea of a rape awareness class. "He believed that there needed to be someone to get into the schools to bring a new approach to the system on assault, bullying, rape, and when not to be afraid to speak up and do something when someone is in trouble," she wrote me via MC. The Anons also wanted to "give the kids a different viewpoint of what [the group's Steubenville operation] was all about, other than what the teachers were telling them," she wrote.
Her call wasn't well received. "Our teachers are qualified and more than capable of teaching our students about rape, not people in masks, who go around terrorizing people," the Anon recalls a school official saying before hanging up. (Administrators with Steubenville High could not be reached for comment.)
Since then, Anonymous' success in making the Steubenville rape a national story has prompted dozens of pleas for help from other alleged rape victims. MC and his friends can't possibly fact-check all of their stories, and they're reluctant to blindly become "somebody's personal army," as he puts it. Moreover, he isn't sure that investigating and publicizing another sexual crime is even the best way to cut down on rapes. The problem, as he now sees it, is a lack of education. One of the convicted Steubenville rapists had claimed in his defense that he didn't know rape could include fingering a girl's genitals. "If you don't know that," MC says, "that means you don't get taught that."
"I've never seen anything like this and we don't know anybody who has ever seen anything like this," Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said yesterday of Apple's baroque tax avoidance strategies. But Apple CEO Tim Cook, who will testify before the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations today, is aggressively spinning what Levin called "gimmickry" as patriotic, commonsensical, and no big deal. Here are the most remarkable talking points from his pre-released Senate testimony:
1. Apple's taxes are straightforward. Spin: "Apple does not use tax gimmicks." Reality: Yet somehow, according to an analysis by Citizens for Tax Justice, Apple has paid almost no income taxes to any country on its $102 billion in offshore holdings. Between 2009 and 2012, Apple avoided paying US taxes on some $74 billion in income, an amount equal to the entire budget of Florida.
2. Paying American salaries through a subsidiary based in Ireland saves American jobs.
Spin: Apple and its Irish subsidiaries are engaged in a "cost sharing agreement" whereby the subsidiaries "partially fund R&D costs incurred by Apple Inc." The agreements "play an important role in encouraging companies like Apple to keep R&D efforts in the US." Reality: This is how Apple brings back money from overseas without having to pay federal taxes on it.
3. Apple is awesome because it runs huge data centers right here in the United States. Spin: "In 2010, Apple built one of the country's largest data centers in North Carolina, and it is in the process of constructing two additional data centers in Oregon and Nevada." Reality: Apple only agreed to build the North Carolina data center after getting a $46 million state tax break, its local property taxes halved, and local taxes on its assets slashed by 85 percent—all for creating 50 jobs. To build its data center in deficit-plagued Nevada, it extracted an $88 million state tax break, the largest in state history. And Apple chose to build a data center in Prineville, Oregon, because Oregon has no sales tax and Prineville is in a "rural enterprise zone" that offers a 15-year property tax exemption.
4. "Apple supports comprehensive corporate tax reform." Spin: "Apple recognizes that these and other improvements in the US corporate tax system may increase the company's taxes." Reality: Cook wants to reduce the tax that corporations pay when they repatriate profits, which could save Apple a lot of money considering that 61 percent of its profits are earned overseas. But lowering the repatriation tax probably wouldn't benefit most Americans. After Congress enacted a one-time repatriation holiday in 2004, a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that 92 percent of the repatriated cash was used to pay for dividends, share buybacks, or executive bonuses.
When Florida high school student Kaitlyn Hunt was a senior in high school, she began dating a 15-year-old teammate on her school's girls' basketball team.* Kaitlyn's parents say the parents of the 15-year-old never complained to them about the (consensual) relationship. But halfway through the school year, the younger girl's parents had her arrested. She was charged with a felony—"lewd and lascivious battery of a child 12-16 years old." The girl's parents also succeeded in getting her expelled from school by appealing to the school board after the school and a judge refused to grant their request, according to Kaitlyn's mother, Kelly Hunt Smith.
"That is absolutely ludicrous," Smith wrote on Facebook last Friday in a widely shared plea for help. "We need justice in this situation, not to feed into these parents' hates and insanity."
Enter Anonymous, the global hacker collective, which recently has raised eyebrows by pursuing justice for rape victims. In this case, some of the same Anonymous members are rallying behind a girl they feel has been wrongly accused of sexual misconduct. On Saturday, they launched the twitter hashtag #OPJustice4Kaitlyn, and a press release that begins: "Greetings, Bigots."
"The truth is, Kaitlyn Hunt is a bright young girl who was involved in a consensual, same-sex relationship while both she and her partner were minors," reads the release.* "She has a big future ahead of her and there are people, thousands of people in fact, that have no intention of allowing you to ruin it with your rotten selective enforcement."
Poor residents in cities and suburbs, 1970 - 2010 (millions)
Brookings Institution analysis and ACS data
Suburbs such as Highland Park (Detroit), Carol Stream (Chicago), and Forest Park (Atlanta) once stood for escape from the hard times of the inner city. Now their deceptively bucolic names conceal a national epidemic of suburban poverty. According to a report released today by the Brookings Institution, the suburban poor now far outnumber the rural and urban poor: Their ranks grew by 64 percent during the aughts to 16.4 million—a rate of increase more than twice that seen in America's cities.
What's going on here? Well, for one, Ward and June Cleaver's house wasn't exactly built to last. And as retiring baby boomers downsize and young millennials flock to hip inner cities, not that many people want to live in a half-century-old suburban tract home—except people with no other options.
In what may be the first move toward a federal shutdown of the wildly popular online currency known as Bitcoin, the Department of Homeland Security today issued an order that has restricted the transfer of funds in and out of Mt. Gox, the Bitcoin exchange that handles some 60 percent of the transactions.
A creation of bank-fearing techies, Bitcoins are now worth more than $1 billion, and consumer interest has been skyrocketing. For more background, read our Bitcoin explainer.