At last week's annual summit of the Organization of American States, Latin American leaders distanced themselves from the United States' drug policies and agreed to consider the widespread legalization of marijuana.
The OAS summit "was really a tipping point for this movement" to end the war on drugs, said Pedro Abramovay, a campaign director for Avaaz, a global nonprofit group that has petitioned the OAS to liberalize its drug policies.
The move comes as Uruguay debates a bill to legalize the production and sale of pot (it is already legal there for personal use) and as Chile considers decriminalizing it. Latin American leaders also have kept a close eye on how Colorado and Washington, having legalized marijuana, will go about regulating its consumption.
Deric Lostutter, the hacker formerly known as KYAnonymous
In April, the FBI quietly raided the home of the hacker known as KYAnonymous in connection with his role in the Steubenville rape case. Today he spoke out for the first time about the raid, his true identity, and his motivations for pursuing the Steubenville rapists, in an extensive interview with Mother Jones.
"The goal of the media interviews is to get the entire nation to say 'fuck you' to these guys," said KYAnonymous, whose real name is Deric Lostutter. He was referring to the federal agents who raided his home in Winchester, Kentucky, and carted off his computers and XBox.
Lostutter may deserve more credit than anyone for turning Steubenville into a national outrage. After a 16-year-old girl was raped by two members of the Steubenville High football team last year, he obtained and published tweets and Instagram photos in which other team members had joked about the incident and belittled the victim. He now admits to being the man behind the mask in a video posted by another hacker on the team's fan page, RollRedRoll.com, where he threatened action against the players unless they apologized to the girl. (The rapists were convicted in March.)
Lostutter's hip-hop alter-ego, Shadow
A 26-year-old corporate cybersecurity consultant, Lostutter lives on a farm with his pit bull, Thor, and hunts turkeys, goes fishing, and rides motorcycles in his free time. He considers himself to be a patriotic American; he flies an American flag and enjoys Bud Light. He's also a rapper with the stage name Shadow, and recently released a solo album under the aegis of his own label, Nightshade Records. The name dovetails with that of his Anonymous faction, KnightSec.
Lostutter first got involved in Anonymous about a year ago, after watching the documentary We Are Legion. "This is me," he thought as he learned about the group's commitment to government accountability and transparency. "It was everything that I'd ever preached, and now there's this group of people getting off the couch and doing something about it. I wanted to be part of the movement."
He'd read about the Steubenville rape in the New York Times, but didn't get involved until receiving a message on Twitter from Michelle McKee, a friend of an Ohio blogger who'd written about the case. (You can read her story here.) McKee gave Lostutter the players' tweets and Instagram photos, which he then decided to publicize because, as he put it, "I was always raised to stick up for people who are getting bullied."
The ensuing tornado of media coverage took him by surprise. He mostly avoided the spotlight, except for a brief interview that he gave to CNN while wearing his Guy Fawkes mask. "I was real scared," but also inspired, he told me. "There were so many people standing behind the cause that it felt like you had an army at your disposal and you could just stick up for what's right."
Yet sometimes the Steubenville army seemed to lack discipline, ignoring the letter of the law as it pursued its own brand of justice. Lostutter says he played no role in the hacking the team's fan page; he points out that another hacker, Batcat, has publicly taken the credit. Still, Lostutter knew from a tipster that the FBI was watching him, he says, and stopped tweeting a few months ago. The FBI knocked on his door just two days after he finally went back online.
At first, he thought the FBI agent at the door was with FedEx. "As I open the door to greet the driver, approximately 12 FBI SWAT team agents jumped out of the truck, screaming for me to 'Get the fuck down!' with M-16 assault rifles and full riot gear, armed, safety off, pointed directly at my head," Lostutter wrote today on his blog. "I was handcuffed and detained outside while they cleared my house."
According to the FBI's search warrant, agents were seeking evidence related to the hacking of RollRedRoll.com.
"I'd do it again," Lostutter says.
Lostutter believes that the FBI investigation was motivated by local officials in Steubenville. "They want to make an example of me, saying, 'You don't fucking come after us. Don't question us."
If convicted of hacking-related crimes, Lostutter could face up to 10 years behind bars—far more than the one- and two-year sentences doled out to the Steubenville rapists. Defending himself could end up costing a fortune—he's soliciting donations here. Still, he thinks getting involved was worth it. "I'd do it again," he says.
Without further ado, here's the music video for "Hear 'Em Talkin,' by Shadow:
Turkey is experiencing its largest and most violent riots in decades as tens of thousands of young people voice opposition to the moderate Islamist government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Thousands of protesters have been injured as authorities have sought to disperse demonstrators with tear gas, water canons, beatings, and a tightening grip on the media. On Monday, Erdogan accused the protesters of "walking arm-in-arm with terrorism." Yet his defiant response is only making the crowds larger. In an echo of the Arab Spring and the Occupy Wall Street protests of 2011, the movement has been galvanized by images disseminated on social media, such as a picture of a policeman spraying tear gas at a young woman in a red summer dress, her long hair swept upward by the blast. "The more they spray," reads a popular Twitter caption, "the bigger we get."
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.