May 2013 archive

May 31

On This Day In History May 31

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

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May 31 is the 151st day of the year (152nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 214 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1859, Big Ben goes into operation in London

The famous tower clock known as Big Ben, located at the top of the 320-foot-high St. Stephen’s Tower, rings out over the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London, for the first time on this day in 1859.

After a fire destroyed much of the Palace of Westminster–the headquarters of the British Parliament–in October 1834, a standout feature of the design for the new palace was a large clock atop a tower. The royal astronomer, Sir George Airy, wanted the clock to have pinpoint accuracy, including twice-a-day checks with the Royal Greenwich Observatory. While many clockmakers dismissed this goal as impossible, Airy counted on the help of Edmund Beckett Denison, a formidable barrister known for his expertise in horology, or the science of measuring time.

Denison’s design, built by the company E.J. Dent & Co., was completed in 1854; five years later, St. Stephen’s Tower itself was finished. Weighing in at more than 13 tons, its massive bell was dragged to the tower through the streets of London by a team of 16 horses, to the cheers of onlookers. Once it was installed, Big Ben struck its first chimes on May 31, 1859. Just two months later, however, the heavy striker designed by Denison cracked the bell. Three more years passed before a lighter hammer was added and the clock went into service again. The bell was rotated so that the hammer would strike another surface, but the crack was never repaired.

Great Bell

The main bell, officially known as the Great Bell, is the largest bell in the tower and part of the Great Clock of Westminster. The bell is better known by the nickname Big Ben.

The original bell was a 16.3-tonne (16 ton) hour bell, cast on 6 August 1856 in Stockton-on-Tees by John Warner & Sons. The bell was named in honour of Sir Benjamin Hall, and his name is inscribed on it. However, another theory for the origin of the name is that the bell may have been named after a contemporary heavyweight boxer Benjamin Caunt. It is thought that the bell was originally to be called Victoria or Royal Victoria in honour of Queen Victoria, but that an MP suggested the nickname during a Parliamentary debate; the comment is not recorded in Hansard.

Since the tower was not yet finished, the bell was mounted in New Palace Yard. Cast in 1856, the first bell was transported to the tower on a trolley drawn by sixteen horses, with crowds cheering its progress. Unfortunately, it cracked beyond repair while being tested and a replacement had to be made. The bell was recast at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry as a 13.76-tonne (13 1/2 ton) bell. This was pulled 200 ft up to the Clock Tower’s belfry, a feat that took 18 hours. It is 2.2 metres tall and 2.9 metres wide. This new bell first chimed in July 1859. In September it too cracked under the hammer, a mere two months after it officially went into service. According to the foundry’s manager, George Mears, Denison had used a hammer more than twice the maximum weight specified. For three years Big Ben was taken out of commission and the hours were struck on the lowest of the quarter bells until it was reinstalled. To make the repair, a square piece of metal was chipped out from the rim around the crack, and the bell given an eighth of a turn so the new hammer struck in a different place. Big Ben has chimed with an odd twang ever since and is still in use today complete with the crack. At the time of its casting, Big Ben was the largest bell in the British Isles until “Great Paul”, a 17 tonne (16 3/4 ton) bell currently hung in St Paul’s Cathedral, was cast in 1881.

May 31

Cartnoon

May 31

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

Abstract 12 A

May 31

Late Night Karaoke

May 31

Friday Night at the Movies

The Hunger Games Economy

Transcript

Democrats’ Vision for Economy is GOP-Lite

Transcript

May 31

Corporate Taxes: Getting a Bite of Apple

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

At a recent hearing before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Apple CEO Tim Cooke testified how the company managed to evade paying billions in taxes using tax loopholes particularly and overseas subsidiaries, like Apple’s subsidiary in Ireland.

Apple’s massive cash hoard, and the danger of soaring corporate profits

by Steve Gentile, Up with Steve Kornacki

The major flaw of our recovery has not been the pace, although certainly it could have been much faster. Instead, the major flaw is distribution. The economy is growing, but corporations and the richest Americans are capturing the lion’s share of the proceeds from that growth. You’ve likely heard a lot about the one percent-in the first year of the recovery, they captured 93% of the income gains – but the story of America’s corporations is even more troubling.

We’ve seen systemic inequality in our country growing for decades, even before the latest financial crisis. Between 1979 and 2007, income for the top 1% grew by nearly 300%, while it grew by just 18% for the bottom quintile of earners. [..]

Apple argues that its off-shore profits should only be subject to off-shore taxes. As if those off-shore profits had nothing to do with America. Of course, they do. Apple may sell products across the world, but the company is based in America for a reason. Apple enjoys, indeed exploits, countless legal and economic benefits by operating in America, benefits Apple wouldn’t enjoy anywhere else: basic legal protections, a judiciary that safeguards and enforces the rule of law, an intellectual property regime that affords generous-in fact, overly broad-protections for new ideas and innovations, a world-class system of higher education, a (somewhat) open immigration policy, reliable security, an advanced infrastructure for business development, and countless other benefits  from operating in a functional, developed society with a genuine social contract.

As Elizabeth Warren famously put it, “There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own.” In the same way, there is no company in this country that got rich on its own. Corporations like Apple are hampering the economy and corroding our political system by hoarding hundreds of billions of dollars in cash. They owe the American people back payments.

On her May 25 MSNBC show, Melissa Harris-Perry exams corporate money tactics and tax codes with guests Lawrence J. Korb, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress; Stephen Lerner, organizer of the Wall Street Accountability campaign; Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist David Cay Johnston, author of The Fine Print: How Big Companies Use “Plain English” To Rob You Blind; and Yves Smith, the founder and creator of the blog Naked Capitalism.

May 31

Around the Blogosphere

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

 photo Winter_solstice.gifThe main purpose our blogging is to communicate our ideas, opinions, and stories both fact and fiction. The best part about the the blogs is information that we might not find in our local news, even if we read it online. Sharing that information is important, especially if it educates, sparks conversation and new ideas. We have all found places that are our favorites that we read everyday, not everyone’s are the same. The Internet is a vast place. Unlike Punting the Pundits which focuses on opinion pieces mostly from the mainstream media and the larger news web sites, “Around the Blogosphere” will focus more on the medium to smaller blogs and articles written by some of the anonymous and not so anonymous writers and links to some of the smaller pieces that don’t make it to “Pundits” by Krugman, Baker, etc.

We encourage you to share your finds with us. It is important that we all stay as well informed as we can.

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This is an Open Thread.

Summer has arrived in the Northeast with temperatures in New York City topping out in the low 90’s with humidity to match and about the same from Washington, DC to Portland, ME. If you think there is relief out doors, nope, no breeze, not even here, right on the ocean.

At Americablog, John Aravosis tells us just how bizarre the weather may be for the Summer of’13:

Also, another Americablog friend, Gaius Publius tells us more about David Koch & PBS self-censorship.

From RH Reality Check comes some welcome news for a 22 year old Salvadoran woman who was denied her request for a life saving abortion just yesterday by the Salvadoran Supreme Court. Let’s hope they abide by the ruling.:

Trevor Timm, at Electronic Frontier Foundation, points out a very important issue in President Obama’s national security speech that was missed by the media:

Why does this article from Jim White, at emptywheel, on Rep. Dana Rohrbacher’s trip to Russia with fellow House Republicans Michelle Bachmann and Steve King to investigate Boston Marathon bombing, sound like a future movie script for Stephen Spielberg?

At FDL’s News Desk, DSWright keeps us informed about AG Eric Holder’s “off the records” meeting with news bureau heads over his policies on journalism, that he may be having in an empty room; and a great video interview with Julian Assange about the possible prosecution of Holder.

Over at naked capitalism, economics and law professor, Bill Black asks:

and Barbara Parramore Speaks About Her Arrest in “Moral Monday Protests” Against Republican Railroading of Extreme Right-Wing Agenda in North Carolina

And the last snarky words go to nemesis‘s post at Voices on the Square about Pres. Obama’s nomination of James Comey, a former hedge fund executive and a former senior Justice Department official under President George W. Bush, to replace Robert S. Mueller III as the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation:

Why not just bring back George to the Oval Office?

May 30

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May 30

Casting the Beauty Platform for a Third Party

Its been quite a while since I have cast the Beauty Platform at Docudharma ~ nearly four years since Casting the Beauty Platform for the Afghanistan Quagmire (that cast for that one was “Retreat”, by the way … with no moving lines. Just Retreat. Pretty good call for $0.03).

But this morning I saw that Robert Reich had called for a Third Party.

Well, not really, what Robert Reich said was,  

Democrats can’t be trusted to control Wall Street. If there were ever an issue ripe for a third party, the Street would be it.

This is “Calling for a third party!” like saying “ever stronger hurricanes would suck” is “Calling for action NOW on climate change!”. Saying that the Democrats can’t be trusted to control Wall Street is one of those “The Sky is BLUE!!!” statements that is only to any degree controversial to the extend that people have been following an American media debate whether the sky is red or green (complete with supporting daily kos essays about how is it OBVIOUSLY green and anyone who thinks its red is a traitor to the country).

Its an observation of the obvious, rather than actually arguing that a Third Party would be a solution for what ails us.

Still, it got me thinking … what is the reading on the question? Is it time for a third party? As stuck in their various ruts the various established positions on the question are, this seems like an excellent question to reach for a response from the Book of Changes and reflect on the answer that results.

May 30

On This Day In History May 30

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on image to enlarge

May 30 is the 150th day of the year (151st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 215 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1922, Former President William Howard Taft dedicates the Lincoln Memorial on the Washington Mall on this day in 1922. At the time, Taft was serving as chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Taft remains the only former president ever to hold a seat on the Supreme Court. He served from 1921 to 1930. He recalled his time on the court as his most rewarding career, later saying in his memoirs, I don’t remember that I was ever president.

History

The Lincoln Memorial, designed after the temples of ancient Greece, is significant as America’s foremost memorial to their 16th president, as a totally original example of neoclassical architecture, and as the formal terminus to the extended National Mall in accordance with the McMillan Plan for the monumental core of Washington.

Demands for a fitting memorial had been voiced since the time of Lincoln’s death. In 1867, Congress heeded these demands and passed the first of many bills incorporating a commission to erect a monument for the sixteenth president. An American, Clark Mills, was chosen to design the monument. His plans reflected the bombastic nationalistic spirit of the age. His design called for a 70-foot (21 m) structure adorned with six equestrian and 31 pedestrian statues of colossal proportions, crowned by a 12-foot (3.7 m) statue of Abraham Lincoln. However, subscriptions for the project were insufficient and its future fell into doubt.

The matter lay dormant until the turn of the century, when, under the leadership of Senator Shelby M. Cullom of Illinois, six separate bills were introduced to Congress for the incorporation of a new memorial commission. The first five bills, proposed in the years 1901, 1902, and 1908, met with defeat; however, the final bill (Senate Bill 9449), introduced on December 13, 1910, passed. The Lincoln Memorial Commission had its first meeting the following year and President William H. Taft was chosen as president. Progress continued at a steady pace and by 1913 Congress had approved of the Commission’s choice of design and location. However, this approval was far from unanimous. Many thought that architect Henry Bacon’s Greek temple design was far too ostentatious for a man of Lincoln’s humble character. Instead they proposed a simple log cabin shrine. The site too did not go unopposed. The recently reclaimed land in West Potomac Park was seen by many to be either too swampy or too inaccessible. Other sites, such as Union Station, were put forth. The Commission stood firm in its recommendation though, feeling that the Potomac Park location, situated on the Washington MonumentCapitol axis, overlooking the Potomac River and surrounded by open land, was an ideal site. Furthermore, the Potomac Park site had already been designated in the McMillan Plan of 1901 to be the location of a future monument comparable to that of the Washington Monument.

With Congressional approval and a $300,000 allocation, the project got underway. On February 12, 1914, an inauspicious dedication ceremony was conducted and following month the actual construction began. Work progressed steadily according to schedule. However a few changes did have to be made. The statue of Lincoln, originally designed to be 10 feet (3.0 m) tall, was later enlarged to 19 feet (5.8 m) to prevent it from being dwarfed by its huge chamber. As late as 1920, the decision was made to substitute an open portal for the bronze and glass grille which was to have guarded the entrance. Despite these changes, the Memorial was finished on schedule. In a (May 30) celebration in 1922, Commission president William H. Taft dedicated the Memorial and presented it to President Warren G. Harding, who accepted it for the American people. Lincoln’s only remaining son, 79 year old Robert Todd Lincoln, was in attendance.

May 30

Cartnoon

May 30

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning


Abstract 11: Planet

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