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Posts Tagged ‘White House

“We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.*…

 

In a seminar room in Oxford, one of the reporters who worked on the Panama Papers is describing the main conclusion he drew from his months of delving into millions of leaked documents about tax evasion. “Basically, we’re the dupes in this story,” he says. “Previously, we thought that the offshore world was a shadowy, but minor, part of our economic system. What we learned from the Panama Papers is that it is the economic system.”

Luke Harding, a former Moscow correspondent for The Guardian, was in Oxford to talk about his work as one of four hundred–odd journalists around the world who had access to the 2.6 terabytes of information about tax havens—the so-called Panama Papers—that were revealed to the world in simultaneous publication in eighty countries this spring. “The economic system is, basically, that the rich and the powerful exited long ago from the messy business of paying tax,” Harding told an audience of academics and research students. “They don’t pay tax anymore, and they haven’t paid tax for quite a long time. We pay tax, but they don’t pay tax. The burden of taxation has moved inexorably away from multinational companies and rich people to ordinary people.”…

More from Alan Rusbridger (former editor of The Guardian, now Principal of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, and Chair of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism) in The New York Review of Books: “Panama: The Hidden Trillions” (the first of two parts).

* Leona Helmsley, New York property heiress

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As we fulminate on fairness, we might recall that it was on this date in 1792 that a group of 12 Freemasons laid the cornerstone of The White House.  Eight years later, John and Abigail Adams moved in.

The White House was designed by James Hoban, an Irish immigrant architect living in Charleston, South Carolina, who won a competition for the commission (and a $500 prize) with a design modeled after Leinster House in Dublin, Ireland.  He beat out a future resident, Thomas Jefferson, whose Monticello/UVa-like design was among the many losers.

It’s not known whether there was anything contained within the cornerstone.  In fact, though the building stills stands (albeit rebuilt and expanded after being burned down during the War of 1812), the whereabouts the stone itself are a bit of a mystery.

 source

Written by LW

October 13, 2016 at 1:01 am

“It’s the movies that have really been running things in America ever since they were invented”*…

 

From Network and The Magic Christian to Bergman’s Autumn Sonata and Star Wars (which he screened with Anwar Sadat while preparing for the Camp David peace talks)– Every Single Movie That Jimmy Carter Watched at the White House.

* Andy Warhol

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As we settle into our seats, we might recall that it was on this date in 1875 that Henry McCarty was arrested for the first time (for stealing a basket of laundry) and jailed.  He promptly escaped and went on to a career in crime– for which he’s better known by his assumed names, William H. Bonney and Billy the Kid.

Billy the Kid posing for a ferrotype photograph

source

 

Written by LW

September 23, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Only when the clock stops does time come to life”*…

 

Inspired by the Egyptian Pyramid and tomb openings in the first half of the 20th century, Thornwell Jacobs, President of Oglethorpe University (near Atlanta) and “the father of the modern time capsule,” was the first in modern times to conceive the idea of purposely preserving man-made objects for posterity by placing them in a sealed repository.  He began work in 1936; then in 1940, he sealed “The Crypt of Civilization,” a 20′ X10′ X 10′ space built into the foundation of one of the buildings on campus.

Set to be opened in 8113, the time capsule contains microfilm on cellulose acetate film capturing more than 800 classic works of literature, including the Bible, the Koran, Homer’s Iliad, and Dante’s Inferno–approximately 640,000 pages in all– and an original copy of the script of Gone With the Wind; modern techonology, including a typewriter, a cash register, an adding machine, an electric toaster, a sewing machine, and a radio receiver; and a host of other “artifacts of the time,” including: seed samples, dental floss, the contents of a woman’s purse, a collection of Artie Shaw records, a pacifier, a specially sealed bottle of Budweiser beer, a set of Lincoln Logs, and plastic toys of Donald Duck, the Lone Ranger, and a Black doll.  The National Bureau of Standards offered professional and technical advice for the artifacts and construction of the crypt, and recommended methods of storage: many artifacts are stored in stainless steel cylinders lined with glass and filled with an inert gas to prevent aging.

Dr. Thornwell Jacobs, president of Oglethorpe University, shown sealing the last cylinder to be placed in the Crypt of Civilization.

source

The 1990 Guinness Book of World Records cited the Crypt as the “first successful attempt to bury a record of this culture for any future inhabitants or visitors to the planet Earth.”

Message to the Generations of 8113

This Crypt contains memorials of the civilization which existed in the United States and the world at large during the first half of the twentieth century. In receptacles of stainless steel, in which the air has been replaced by inert gasses, are encyclopedias, histories, scientific works, special editions of newspapers, travelogues, travel talks, cinema reels, models, phonograph records, and similar materials from which an idea of the state and nature of the civilization which existed from 1900 to 1950 can be ascertained. No jewels or precious metals are included.

We depend upon the laws of the county of DeKalb, the State of Georgia, and the government of the United States and their heirs, assigns, and successors, and upon the sense of sportsmanship of posterity for the continued preservation of this vault until the year 8113, at which time we direct that it shall be opened by authorities representing the above governmental agencies and the administration of Oglethorpe University. Until that time we beg of all persons that this door and the contents of the crypt within may remain inviolate.

– A statement from Jacobs, inscribed on a plaque on the door of the Crypt, which is welded shut.

* William Faulkner

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As we try to wait patiently, we might recall that it was on this date in 1792 that a group of 12 Freemasons laid the cornerstone of The White House.  Eight years later, John and Abigail Adams moved in.

The White House was designed by James Hoban, an Irish immigrant architect living in Charleston, South Carolina, who won a competition for the commission (and a $500 prize) with a design modeled after Leinster House in Dublin, Ireland.  He beat out a future resident, Thomas Jefferson, whose Monticello/UVa-like design was among the many losers.

It’s not known whether there was anything contained within the cornerstone.  In fact, thought the building stills stands (albeit rebuilt and expanded after being burned down during the War of 1812), the whereabouts the stone itself are a bit of a mystery.

 source

 

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time”*…

 

Artemisia Gentileschi, “Judith Slaying Holofernes”/Destiny’s Child, “Independent Women”

Images by the masters; words by Beyonce… Beyonce Art History.

Eadweard Muybridge, “Boys Playing Leapfrog” / Destiny’s Child, “Jumpin’ Jumpin’”

Diego Velazquez, “Las Meninas”/Beyonce, “Diva”

Fernando Botero, “The Toilet”/Destiny’s Child, “Bootylicious”

More.

[TotH to AH]

* Thomas Merton

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As we muse on the timelessness of great art, we might recall that it was on this date in 1969 that The Turtles played a formal White House ball at the request of their fan, President Nixon’s elder daughter.  The New York Times reported:

Tricia Nixon covered her face with a white lace mask, shimmering with crystals and held like a lorgnette, to greet some 450 of Washington’s prettiest, handsomest, slimmest 20-to-30-year-olds at a masked ball tonight, her first White House party.

It was likely one of the stranger social gatherings in the recent history of that august home.  The Turtles’ web site recounts:

Kids with obvious SDS connections were passing out literature, while Tricia was dashing around with all the genuine charm of a Cinderella. Despite the fact that the tipsy [Mark] Volman kept falling off the stage and was challenged by Pat Nugent because Mark was trying to pick up on Lucy Baines Johnson,

Still, the Turtles were a big enough hit to be asked by one of the guests, the daughter of the president of U.S. Steel, to play at her coming out party.

Tricia Nixon dances with her date, U.S. Rep. Barry Goldwater Jr., at her masked ball

The Turtles on the cover of their 1969 album “Turtle Soup.” (Mark Volman, second from left)

source

Written by LW

May 10, 2013 at 1:01 am

The mechanics of minority rule…

In this visualization, we see the tipping point where minority opinion (shown in red) quickly becomes majority opinion. Over time, the minority opinion grows. Once the minority opinion reached 10 percent of the population, the network quickly changes as the minority opinion takes over the original majority opinion (shown in green).

 

 Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society. The scientists, who are members of the Social Cognitive Networks Academic Research Center (SCNARC) at Rensselaer, used computational and analytical methods to discover the tipping point where a minority belief becomes the majority opinion. The finding has implications for the study and influence of societal interactions ranging from the spread of innovations to the movement of political ideals…

“In general, people do not like to have an unpopular opinion and are always seeking to try locally to come to consensus. We set up this dynamic in each of our models,” said SCNARC Research Associate and corresponding paper author Sameet Sreenivasan. To accomplish this, each of the individuals in the models “talked” to each other about their opinion. If the listener held the same opinions as the speaker, it reinforced the listener’s belief. If the opinion was different, the listener considered it and moved on to talk to another person. If that person also held this new belief, the listener then adopted that belief.

“As agents of change start to convince more and more people, the situation begins to change,” Sreenivasan said. “People begin to question their own views at first and then completely adopt the new view to spread it even further. If the true believers just influenced their neighbors, that wouldn’t change anything within the larger system, as we saw with percentages less than 10.”

Read the full story at Physorg.com.

As we dress for the Tea Party, we might recall that it was on this date in 1974 that President Richard M. Nixon released subpoenaed White House recordings after being ordered to do so by the Supreme Court… well, sort of: six days later, on August 6, the White House released another tape, recorded days after the Watergate Break-in, on which it was clear that the President knew of the burglary and conspired in the cover-up.  Nixon resigned on August 8.

Nixon departing the White House after his resignation (source)

Crime Blotter, Air Travel Edition…

Lynsie Murley, a 24-year-old Amarillo woman (pictured above, via Facebook), sued the TSA for negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress in connection with a May, 2008 incident at the Corpus Christi airport.  As Smoking Gun reports:

Murley charged in her lawsuit that she was “singled out for extended search procedures,” and that a TSA agent frisked her and “pulled Plaintiff’s blouse completely down, exposing Plaintiff’s breasts to everyone in the area.”

TSA employees, Murley added, “joked and laughed about the incident for an extended period of time.” After leaving the security line to be “consoled by an acquaintance who had brought her to the airport,” Murley returned to the line, where a male TSA worker said that he had wished he was there when she first passed through. The employee, Murley recalled, added that “he would just have to watch the video.” The incident left Murley “extremely embarrassed and humiliated,” according to her complaint.

The government settled the suit.

In a resonant but still unresolved case, SG also reports on the case of Iurii Chumak…

The 53-year-old was arrested last month after allegedly groping a flight attendant while onboard a British Airways flight traveling from London to New York…  According to the FBI, Chumak placed his hand up the flight attendant’s skirt and “grabbed her genital area” when she bent over to pour coffee for another passenger. Although the incident was witnessed by a second flight attendant, who immediately placed him in restraints, Chumak maintained that he had simply been “drinking on the airplane, fell asleep, and woke up in restraints.”

Since his bust, Chumak has been locked up at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. He was named last week in a misdemeanor criminal information charging him in connection with the in-flight April 28 incident (the filing of an information–in lieu of a grand jury presentment by federal prosecutors–often indicates that a defendant is negotiating a guilty plea).

 

As we reconsider our travel plans, we might console ourselves that it was on this date in 1886 that President Grover Cleveland married Frances Folsom in a White House ceremony.

source

 

In lieu of a graduation address…

… from xkcd:

As we avoid looking too closely at the faces of our watches, we might recall that it was on this date in 1921 at the White House that President Warren G. Harding presented Marie Curie with a gram of radium (worth $100,000 at the time).   Curie died in 1934 of aplastic anemia contracted from exposure to radiation.  Her laboratory is preserved at the Musée Curie.  But because of their levels of radioactivity, her papers are considered too dangerous to handle, and are kept in lead-lined boxes; those who wish to consult them must wear protective clothing.

Curie, with Harding at the White House (source)

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