Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Mueller’s Collusion Case Comes into Focus: Annie Leibovitz Reflects on the Obama Years

The citizenship crisis that has convulsed the Turnbull government and forced Barnaby Joyce to a byelection may have claimed another high-profile Coalition MP. The president of the Senate, Liberal senator Stephen Parry, informed the government on Tuesday that he may be a dual citizen through descent citizen8?

The Tax Havens at the Heart of the Manafort Indictment  

If Paul Manafort had not been such a crummy and absentee Brooklyn neighbor, he might not be in such hot water. He would not have crossed an urbane housewife-turned-blogger who doesn't consider herself a journalist but smelled something fishy around an unsightly townhouse. There's no more improbable anecdote to Manafort's indictment for laundering millions of dollars than the saga of Katia Kelly, a German-born former aspiring fashion designer who stumbled upon the curious purchase history of a Brooklyn brownstone that's now evidence in the money laundering case against Manafort.  If ever there was a tale of all politics being local — and ramifications occasionally being national — this is it."I am not really a reporter," Kelly told me Tuesday as she helped her father close up his North Carolina beach house. She grew up in Germany and France and moved with the family at age 14 to Long Island, which she hated ("so dreadfully dull"). 

Meet the blogger who helped indict Paul Manafort

What does Paul Manafort's indictment mean for US tax reform?  

Today’s Not a Good Day to Be George Papadopoulos on Twitter Wired

Here’s why Ukraine paid Manafort insane amounts of money VICE

In our defence we didn’t think you were thick enough for this to work, says Russia Daily Mash

Russian Influence Reached 126 Million Through Facebook Alone

Annie Leibovitz Reflects on the Obama Years

The 2016 election spoiled her plans for a tidy ending, but in her new book, Leibovitz still finds meaning in a momentous and complicated decade...

Mueller’s Collusion Case Comes into Focus

A former Trump campaign adviser has pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. And he’s cooperating

Just How Screwed Is Trump in Papadopoulos-gate?

Wherever this investigation goes—either into a fever that suddenly breaks or into genuine prosecutions of White House officials—one of the most troubling questions is over whether Trump will allow Mueller to do his work

On May 17, 2017, Robert S. Mueller III was appointed by acting Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein to serve as Special Counsel by the order below. Order 3915-2017

Related Court Documents and a selected overview of articles pertaining to the indictments:

U.S. v. Paul J. Manafort, Jr., and Richard W. Gates III (1:17-cr-201, District of Columbia)
Paul J. Manafort, Jr., of Alexandria, Va., and Richard W. Gates III, of Richmond, Va., have been indicted by a federal grand jury on Oct. 27, 2017, in the District of Columbia. The indictment contains 12 counts: conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts. The case was unsealed on Oct. 30, 2017, after the defendants were permitted to surrender themselves to the custody of the FBI.
U.S. v. George Papadopoulos (1:17-cr-182, District of Columbia)
George Papadopoulos, of Chicago, Illinois, pleaded guilty on Oct. 5, 2017, to making false statements to FBI agents, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1001. The case was unsealed on Oct. 30, 2017.
“Papadopoulos has to stay within US, surrendered passport and is prohibited from contacting certain US individuals, per court papers. $10 million bond, house arrest, ankle bracelet.”

Netflix Is Ending House of Cards, “Deeply Troubled” by Kevin Spacey Allegations

Where Music Meets Politics for Jason Isbell and St. Paul & the Broken Bones

Two Alabama natives, singer-songwriter Isbell and St. Paul & the Broken Bones frontman Paul Janeway, talk about the sound and soul of the South.

Hanged, Burned, Shot, Drowned, Beaten

In a region where symbols of the Confederacy are ubiquitous, an unprecedented memorial takes shape.

Sydney Harbour Image Unesco Award

Holtermann's three giant images of Sydney Harbour from 1875 capture the harbour at the time. The glass negative plates,  ...

Holtermann's three giant images of Sydney Harbour from 1875 capture the harbour at the time. The glass negative plates, the largest 1.6 metres wide, have been recognised by Unesco.  Photo: State Library NSW

photography been invented than it became inextricably connected with lying. Such deceptions were born from a hope that the camera could transcend death  

Grasping Reality With Both Hands: Tunnel Vission of Satisfied v Successful Life

An artist must be a reactionary. He has to stand out against the tenor of the age and not go flopping along
~Evelyn Waugh, born in 1903

Astronomers Spot First-Known Interstellar “Comet” Sky and Telescope

Memo to the CEO: Are you the source of workplace dysfunction?
Mckinsey, September 2017. Rudeness and bullying are rife, says Stanford professor Bob Sutton. Wise leaders figure out how to fix their teams and organizations; and they start by taking a long look in the mirror.

I'm a riddle in nine syllables,
An elephant, a ponderous house,
A melon strolling on two tendrils.
O red fruit, ivory, fine timbers!
This loaf's big with its yeasty rising.
Money's new-minted in this fat purse.
I'm a means, a stage, a cow in calf.
I've eaten a bag of green apples,
Boarded the train there's no getting off

Do you agree with this statement "The pharmaceutical industry does not create cures, they create customers'?
BBC: Honor among thieves and pharma culture

British drinkers are paying 14 times more tax on a pint than Germans 

O’Neill credited his hospitalization with inspiring him to plumb the depths of his psyche, a tool necessary for a life of composing profound dramas. How a serious illness gave Eugene O’Neill his dark literary power | PBS NewsHour

In his study of 19th-century American democracy, Alexis de Tocqueville explained his mission this way: “I undertook to see, not differently, but further than the parties; and while they are occupied with the next day, I wanted to ponder the future.” Nearly two centuries later, all of us — Republican, Democrat, Trump supporter, Trump critic — should be able to agree that some future-pondering about the state of our democracy is in order.  A few ideas for improving democracy?

Some research showing that there's no link between tax rates and competitiveness: Reality of Real Politics

`A Little Pinch of Salt'

How Much Do Chicago Actors Get Paid? Less If You’re Not A White Guy, Finds Equity Study…

Straw director in massive ATO tax fraud Simon McIntyre pleads guilty

Never mind, if you feel that you are still the stable, rational,  person you always were, just avoid investing in real estate.

Fear, Not Debt, Limits Our Spending on Education and Infrastructure FAIR 

Invisible women: Domestic workers underpaid and abused Al Jazeera

A TELEVISION advertisement for Monte dei Paschi di Siena begins with a toddler tumbling and a gymnast stumbling. “Falling is the first thing we learn,” declares the voice-over. “The second is getting up again.”

Rolex Daytona Sells For $17,752,500, Becoming The World’s Most Expensive Wristwatch Ever Sold Hodinkee. Mason K: “This is auction report for Paul Newman’s watch. It was the most expensive wrist watch ever sold. Also, 80,200 people are homeless in Chicago, where I live, and where nighttime lows are already in the 30s.” Moi: And Rolexes aren’t particularly good watches either.

The Disruptors: Finance isn’t just an industry. It’s a system of social control. Jacobin (resilc). Note it does not have to be that way. As Michael Hudson points out, the German model in the 19th century was one of industrial capitalism, with banks playing a subordinate role. Even in the US, prior to ~1980, people in financial services had the same average wages as those of the economy as a whole.

Gottiboff: After the housing collapse comes the job losses MacroBusiness. Sydney’s wildly overpriced housing market is finally taking a hit.

Outhinking Crime: Bad brains can lead tobad behaviour

Hope you're having a great week! -- Dan

The Problem with Seven Eights

Steve Wozniak, pictured above, co-founded Apple Computer in the 1970s with Steve Jobs. Woz, as the less-famous Steve is often called, was the more technical of the duo; he’s credited with being the primary design lead for the Apple II. And as he’d be the first to tell you, he loves numbers. (Earlier this year, he tweeted “I love number games” and that if Silicon Valley Comic Con’s Twitter account reached 3,313 followers, “we’ll give away 3 3-day passes to 13 new followers” and noted that those were “all prime numbers.” I’m still trying to figure out if they hit that mark in time.)

How does a rich tech mobile turn his love of numbers into a hobby? By collecting phone numbers.

But when he finally got the one he wanted, he couldn't do much with it.

It should go without saying that the holy grail of phone number is the all-one-digital number. Not only is it cool (in a nerdy kind of way) but it’s also very easy to remember, as many 800-number owners surely know. For Woz, this was a lifelong quest. As he explained in his autobiography,
iWoz, he had a lot of really great phone numbers -- 255-6666, 353-3333, 354-4444, and more. But he wasn’t satisfied; he wrote in his book “my main goal with phone numbers was to someday get a number with all seven digits the same.”

What prevented him from doing so was the first three numbers, also known as the prefix. Those were assigned by town at the time (and often still are). Few if any places have 111 or 999, and 555 is typically reserved for non-public use. The good news for Woz was that the 777 prefix was a San Francisco one; the bad news is that he lived in nearby San Jose at the time, and San Jose lacked the trifecta. (Woz’s desire to get a special phone number apparently had its limits; he wasn’t willing to move to San Fran.) The dream was delayed.

But it was not over. At some point thereafter, San Jose received the prefix 888. Woz,
per Wired, "after more months of scheming and waiting," obtained 888-8888. "This was his new cell-phone number, and his greatest philonumerical triumph," Wired proclaimed.

The triumph, though, was short-lived. Before ten-digit dialing was commonly required, you could call someone without using the area code. If you were in area code 347, for example, and you dialed 234-5326, you’d be connected to (347) 234-5326 despite the fact that you never entered the digits 347. So if you were in Woz's area code and hit 888-8888, you'd ring his cell. And the ease of that number was a double-edged sword. Woz, in his autobiography, explained:

I put the number 888-8888 on my own cell phone, but something went wrong. I would get a hundred calls a day with no one on the other line, not once. Sometimes I would hear shuffling sounds in the background. I would yell, whistle, but I could never get anyone to speak to me. Very often I would hear a tone being repeated over and over.

A lot of prank calls? Kind of. Again per Wired, "one day, with the phone pressed to his ear, Woz heard a woman say, at a distance, 'Hey, what are you doing with that?'" And then, the phone was slammed down. The person dialing his number, Woz concluded, was a baby. The little kids simply loved making the phone go beep beep, beep beep.

Woz calculated (how, exactly, is unclear) that as many as one-third of all babies in the area code would eventually call his number. That may be a gross over-estimate, but regardless; his coveted 888-8888 number, he concluded, was simply unusable.


Bonus fact: Woz dropped out of college when he co-founded Apple. In the 1980s, he re-enrolled at UC Berkeley to complete his electrical engineering degree. But when he did, he didn't use his real name, hoping to maintain some anonymity. Instead, he used the name "Rocky Raccoon Clark," the first two words being his dog's name and "Clark" being his wife's maiden name. And he used the alias all the way through; as the Los Angeles Times reported, "while his real name appears in the university records, he has opted for Rocky Clark on his diploma."

From the Archives: The 411 on Area Codes: Why New York City's original one was 212 and Los Angeles got 213, despite the fact that they're hardly neighbors

Crime Commission freezes Savas Guven's assets

As The Washington Post puts it this week , "Who’s next? A moment of reckoning for men — and the behavior we can no longer ignore."

Australian government becomes foreign finance broker for Adani?
The Australian government appears to be actively soliciting financing from foreign governments and investors towards Adani’s coal mine and rail line, projects it plans to subsidise

Robert Gottliebsen: Federal Court judge warns tax commissioner

Monday, October 30, 2017

Noise .... DaTa ... Information ... Knowledge ... Wisdom

At least 5 killed in storms in Central Europe

Prague bridge at storm Stock Photo - 33133094
Medium – Dhawal Shah: “If you haven’t heard, universities around the world offering their courses online for free (or at-least partially free). These courses are collectively called as MOOCS or Massive Open Online Courses. In the past six years or so, close to 800 universities have created more than 8,000 of these MOOCs. And I’ve been keeping track of these MOOCs the entire time over at Class Central, ever since they rose to prominence….Here’s the full list of new free online courses…”

Hacking the Holocaust – Remembering the data pirates, forgers, and social engineers who saved thousands. “During that same Nazi-punching era of WWII, ordinary people used their abilities and access to proprietary systems, data, and information security knowledge to refuse to be complacent, and instead sabotage the Axis to save lives. It’s my hope that sharing some stories of those who “hacked” the systems that were meant to execute the atrocities of the Holocaust will help us remember that there are always more ways to resist…”

How Fact Becomes Social Media Fiction

 Rejection Is Not Feedback | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

I can prove that 'William Shakespeare' is buried in Westminster Abbey – scholar | Culture | The Guardian

How to be good at literary parties: Stay away from rich people. Skip networking events. The best way to befriend famous people is to have no idea who they are... Cold River cures sleeples PM  

New York Times launches Tor Onion Service to overcome censorship and ensure privacy BetaNews. Am I missing something? Doesn’t this mean you can use Tor to evade the paywall?

Image may contain: sky, ocean, boat, outdoor, nature and water In Australia, comedians could soon be prosecuted for parody and satire, although that won’t matter now, because there is a chatbot that can help in dealing with depression

A few weeks ago the House Republican Study Committee voted overwhelmingly to recommend abolishing the IRS. The committee called the Service "an inefficient behemoth weighing down our economy" and demanded its dissolution. The “work” of the IRS would be transferred to a new, smaller agency within Treasury. The IRS-bashing is nothing new, of course. And the anti-IRS crowd gets particularly excitable during election years. I carry no water for the IRS. I think it badly needs reform. Its actions in the Lois Lerner affair were terrible, and it will pay a reputational price for years to come. The IRS has not been a model of efficiency or efficacy; witness its dismal record in dealing with citizens in recent years. But calls to abolish it are both silly and dangerous. Silly, because it won't happen -- you can't abolish the IRS without repealing virtually every revenue law. As long as we're taxing income, somebody has to collect it. The United States has a lot of tax laws, regulations, citizens, and revenue. It takes a lot of people to administer the tax laws. Talk of a smaller agency is nonsense without fundamentally changing the American government. Silly ideas can be shrugged off as political theater. Abolishing the IRS would be dangerous because people dislike paying taxes, and they do it for two reasons. They accept the social contract that they are paying for some civilization. And they are required to pay under the law. For these reasons, tens of millions of Americans file their returns every year. And they do so with the belief that their government is doing right. When politicians attack the IRS, its leadership, and its employees, the public’s confidence in the system is shaken. When politicians imply that there is something inherently wrong with the IRS, people may not take their responsibility to pay taxes as seriously. This is a dangerous road to travel down.

A national integrity commission or federal ICAC is now under serious consideration by the Labor Party. Sources have told The New Daily that recent events – the failure of the Westminster convention of ministerial responsibility to hold Michaelia Cash accountable for the politically compromised AFP raids; the citizenship High Court scandal; and the Turnbull government’s refusal to protect Crown Casino whistleblowers – were breaking down that resistance.

The New York Times: “…In the coming weeks, executives from Facebook and Twitter will appear before congressional committees to answer questions about the use of their platforms by Russian hackers and others to spread misinformation and skew elections. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Facebook sold more than $100,000 worth of ads to a Kremlin-linked company, and Google sold more than $4,500 worth to accounts thought to be to the Russian government. Agents with links to the Russian government set up an endless array of fake accounts and websites and purchased a slew of advertisements on Google and Facebook, spreading dubious claims that seemed intended to sow division all along the political spectrum — “a cultural hack,” in the words of one expert. Yet the psychology behind social media platforms — the dynamics that make them such powerful vectors of misinformation in the first place — is at least as important, experts say, especially for those who think they’re immune to being duped. For all the suspicions about social media companies’ motives and ethics, it is the interaction of the technology with our common, often subconscious psychological biases that makes so many of us vulnerable to misinformation, and this has largely escaped notice. Skepticism of online “news” serves as a decent filter much of the time, but our innate biases allow it to be bypassed, researchers have found — especially when presented with the right kind of algorithmically selected “meme.”…”

Today sees the publication of the Thriving at Work report, commissioned by the UK Prime Minister. It was co-authored by Paul Farmer, CEO of MIND, and Lord Dennis Stevenson, businessman and entrepreneur, who has also been open about his own battles with mental health.

We say we want data privacy—then researchers put free pizza in front of us

Rewriting the rules of tax for a modern world
Optus Business Insights Blog, Oct 2017. Like many large organisations, the ATO was struggling to meet the changing demands, unexpected needs, and new expectations of today’s fast-paced, tech-driven and digitally enabled world. The agency required a thorough digital transformation to keep its customer service and operations as relevant, efficient and enjoyable as possible. ATO case study.