Remember when the Times said council member Sawant was too hard-left for Seattle? Turns out, shes just what wed been waiting for.
  • Anna Minard
  • Remember when the Times said council member Sawant was "too hard-left for Seattle"? Turns out, she's just what we'd been waiting for.

Seattle just made a little bit of labor history. Now what? They're talking about yesterday's unanimous city council vote to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour—and our trailblazing, socialist city council member Kshama Sawant—all over the globe. (Let's take a moment to remember her single-sentence dismissal in the Times's 2013 political endorsements: "Economics teacher Kshama Sawant argues passionately for social justice but is too hard-left for Seattle.") But the next question, as Anna Minard wrote yesterday, is whether we can enforce the damn thing.

The Silk Road reduced violence (marginally) in the drug-selling world: A criminology student and a law student found that sales on the Silk Road were more dealer-to-dealer (instead of dealer-to-user) and sellers relied on positive, Yelp-style internet feedback instead of muscle and murder to keep their sales high, leading to better behavior overall. Which is yet another piece of evidence that drug prohibition maximizes violence (not to mention accidental overdose deaths).

The US spends over $16 billion a year on counter-terrorism: Just a figure to hold in your mind for the next item.

What Russia is doing in Ukraine is terrorism: "A pro-Russia militant shoots from a loft of a residential building at border guards defending the Federal Border Headquarters building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk on June 2, 2014. Ukrainian forces killed five rebels on Monday while repelling an attack by 500 pro-Russia gunmen on a federal border guard camp in the strife-torn separatist east, Kyiv officials said."

But the US can't do much besides finger-wag: "Putin 'has a choice to make' on Ukraine, Obama said during a news conference in Warsaw, calling on the Russian President to continue to pull back Russian troops from the border with Ukraine, persuade pro-Russia separatists to stand down and back Ukraine's recent presidential election."

And spend $1 billion in beefing up military presence—remember that $16 billion figure?—in countries that aren't being invaded: "Obama is under pressure from critics at home, who say he is not showing enough firm leadership on the world stage, and from some Nato allies in eastern Europe who fear they may be the next targets for Russian expansion and want more US protection."

So what are all our counterterrorism dollars being used for? Richard Clarke, former top US counterterrorism official—who first began pushing to arm drones, then resigned in protest over the Iraq War in 2003—says the drone assassination program "got out of hand": "They can fly an eight hour shift, they can fly even longer. That entire time, they’re looking at a screen shot, a live screen shot on an area in Pakistan or Afghanistan. And they think they are there. They get into it. They think they’re flying over Pakistan. They are all trained pilots. They’re all people who actually know how to fly fighter planes and have flown them in the past. Most days, they do nothing except reconnaissance. But some days, they actually do a strike, and kill people. Then they get up and walk out from this darkened, air-conditioned room into Nevada. They get in their sports cars and perhaps drive down the road to Las Vegas. It is a very incongruous sort of war. It looks a lot like playing a computer game and it has to change the way they think about things. I think they have to really work at realizing that they’re killing people, that these are real people, this is not a video game."

Syria "votes" amid bombings and rocket attacks: "Waving photos of their leader and dancing with flags, thousands of Syrians pledged renewed allegiance to President Bashar Assad as they voted Tuesday in the country's presidential election decried by the opposition as a charade. Some stamped their ballots with blood after pricking their fingers with pins supplied by the government in a symbolic act of allegiance and patriotism. Others chose to vote in full sight of other voters and television cameras—rather than go behind a partition curtain for privacy.... The balloting is only taking place in government-controlled areas and Assad's win—all but a foregone conclusion—would give him a third seven-year term in office, tighten his hold on power."

Consumer spending rises in Ghana, falls in US: Which is why you'll be seeing Sunglass Huts in Accra soon.

Vampire burial found in Poland: "Teeth had been removed, a fragment of rock was inserted in the mouth, and a leg had been staked (presumably to prevent the body rising from the grave)... Kajkowski says the last recorded instance of this kind of deviant burial was in 1913. As with the skeletons found in Gliwice last year, the head had been cut off and placed by the legs."

What's the discussion in China, 25 years after Tiananmen Square? "Twenty-five years after the bloody military crackdown on the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests, China is seeking to quell all discussion of the massacre by locking up, charging or harassing artists, scholars, lawyers, bloggers and relatives of victims. The anniversary has been preceded by scores of detentions, with others placed under house arrest. Some detainees have been charged with offences carrying prison terms of several years for holding a private memorial gathering. Google services have been disrupted and police have warned some foreign journalists they face unspecified consequences for covering sensitive issues."