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Apr 18

Portland reservoir to be drained after teen pees in water -

cognitivedissonance:

This is like something out of “Portlandia”…

Ugh.

(Source: NBCNews.com)

The 1964 New York’s World Fair.  (Photo: Vincent Marchese via The New York Times)

The 1964 New York’s World Fair.  (Photo: Vincent Marchese via The New York Times)

[video]

Apr 17

World leaders and Jewish groups condemned a leaflet handed out in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk in which Jews were told to “register” with the pro-Russian militants who have taken over a government office in an attempt to make Ukraine part of Russia, according to Ukrainian and Israeli media.

Jews emerging from a synagogue say they were handed leaflets that ordered the city’s Jews to provide a list of property they own and pay a registration fee “or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated,” reported Ynet News, Israel’s largest news website, and Ukraine’s Donbass news agency.

Secretary of State John Kerry said the language of the leaflets “is beyond unacceptable” and condemned whomever is responsible.

"In the year 2014, after all of the miles traveled and all of the journey of history, this is not just intolerable — it’s grotesque," he said. "And any of the people who engage in these kinds of activities — from whatever party or whatever ideology or whatever place they crawl out of — there is no place for that."

” — USA Today, "Leaflet Tells Jews to Register in East Ukraine"

The captain was among the first to flee. Only a couple of the 44 life rafts aboard were deployed. The hundreds of passengers were instructed over the intercom to “stay inside and wait” as the ship leaned to one side and began to sink, dragging scores of students down with it.

“I repeatedly told people to calm themselves and stay where they were for an hour,” Kang Hae-seong, the communications officer on the South Korean ferry that sank on Wednesday, said from his hospital bed. He added that he could not recall taking part in any evacuation drills for the ship, and that when a real emergency came, “I didn’t have time to look at the manual for evacuation.”

It took two and a half hours for the ferry, the Sewol, to capsize and become submerged in the blue-gray waters off the southwestern tip of South Korea. Yet in that time, only 179 of the 475 people believed to have been on board were rescued. By Thursday evening, the confirmed death toll was 25.

As rescuers battle bad weather and dwindling hopes to search for the 271 people still missing, most of them students, evidence is growing that human error contributed to one of South Korea’s worst disasters in recent decades.

Kim Su-hyun, a provincial coast guard chief, told reporters on Thursday that the ship’s captain, Lee Jun-seok, stood accused of violating his responsibilities by abandoning the ferry ahead of most of his passengers. Coast guard officials who questioned Mr. Lee on Thursday said they were reviewing possible criminal charges, while the police said they were investigating whether he had escaped aboard one of the few life rafts used.

“I can’t lift my face before the passengers and family members of those missing,” Mr. Lee said during a brief appearance before reporters on Thursday.

” —

The New York Times, "Hope Fades as Human Error Suspected in Ferry Sinking."

A profound tragedy.

1927-2014.  Gabriel García Márquez.  Rest in peace.

1927-2014.  Gabriel García Márquez.  Rest in peace.

Thank you, Edward Snowden, for everything you’ve done to help expose the NSA’s covert surveillance activities against ordinary Americans. But allowing yourself to be straight up used by Russian tyrant and ex-KGB’er Vladimir Putin as a propaganda tool makes you a fucking idiot.

Apr 16

More than 280 people, most of them students, remained unaccounted for Wednesday night as coast guard and navy divers continued to search a ferry that sank hours earlier off the southwestern tip of South Korea.

By nightfall, four people were confirmed dead, including a high school student and a member of the ferry’s crew. But fears that the sinking could become one of the worst peacetime disasters in the country increased as rescued passengers told news outlets that they believed that many people had been trapped below deck after those aboard heard a loud noise and the ship began sinking rapidly.

Some rescued passengers who had been below deck told reporters that even while the ship was tilting, they were told to stay in their seats.

“We must not give up,” President Park Geun-hye said from the headquarters of the Ministry of Security and Public Administration, which is coordinating the rescue efforts. “We must do our best to rescue even one of those passengers and students who may not have escaped from the ship.”

… Among the passengers were 325 students from Danwon High School in Ansan, south of Seoul. So far, 75 of them are known to have been rescued. The students were on an overnight voyage to Jeju, a popular resort island, where they had been scheduled to arrive Wednesday morning for a four-day field trip and sightseeing.

The ministry reported that a total of 174 passengers and crew members were known to have been rescued; given the known deaths, that left 284 of the 462 people on the ferry unaccounted for. Earlier in the day, the ministry had issued different figures, including a much lower estimate for the number of missing; it attributed the mistakes to confusing reports from the scene.

” — The New York Times, “Hundreds Missing After South Korean Ferry Sinks”

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Apr 15

Companies paid an average effective federal tax rate of 12.6 percent in 2010, the last time the Government Accountability Office measured the rate. That compares with the nominal federal tax rate of 35 percent, so all those accountants appear to have done their jobs in exploiting the loopholes in our tax code.

The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Representative Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican, proposed a vast reform of our tax code this year, eliminating a lot of the Swiss cheese that makes it so porous and, arguably, unfair. Mr. Camp’s proposal, as you might imagine, isn’t gaining a lot of traction.

In recognition of Uncle Sam’s payday, it’s only proper to take note of some of the most egregious corporate tax loopholes and some unexpected beneficiaries.

■ For the last seven years, a debate has raged over the “carried interest” benefit taken by private equity and hedge fund executives. Instead of paying ordinary rates on much of their income — typically 35 percent for the highest bracket (39.6 percent for this tax year) — these executives pay the capital gains rate of 15 percent. It’s a clear loophole that is plainly unfair. Despite repeated efforts to repeal it, the loophole has remained, in part because of well-financed industry lobbying in Washington.

■ If individual taxpayers are arrested, admit guilt and reach a civil settlement with the government, they cannot deduct the costs from their returns. But amazingly, a company is allowed to claim those costs as a business expense. JPMorgan Chase, for example, which has agreed to pay billions of dollars in fines for various transgressions, can deduct a large portion — and all the legal expenses — from its taxes.

■ A tiny but symbolic loophole still persists. Companies that own aircraft can depreciate their planes more quickly than airlines — over five years instead of seven — and claim the deduction. In total, closing the loophole is worth $3 billion to $4 billion over a decade.

■ A much larger loophole involves the deduction of executive stock options by the company issuing them. Inexplicably, many of Silicon Valley’s newest star companies will be able to shelter a large portion of their profits as a result. Citizens for Tax Justice estimated late last year that a dozen technology companies, including Twitter, LinkedIn and Priceline, “stand to eliminate all income taxes on the next $11.4 billion they earn — giving these companies $4 billion in tax cuts.”

” —

The New York Times, "Looking at Some Corporate Tax Loopholes Ordinary Citizens May Envy."

H&R cockblock.

“We own the finish line!” — A defiant Vice President JOE BIDEN, at the end of remarks delivered during a memorial ceremony for the one-year anniversary of the Boston marathon bombings.

Front page, The Boston Herald, 15 April 2014.
One year ago today, cowards struck at Boston’s heart.
And while Boston stood strong, many still hurt.
(via Newseum)

Front page, The Boston Herald, 15 April 2014.

One year ago today, cowards struck at Boston’s heart.

And while Boston stood strong, many still hurt.

(via Newseum)

Apr 14

“The bagels are terrible. …The city’s flat and ugly, and the air’s brown.” — PETE, love lettering Los Angeles, on Mad Men

Wishes for a blessed Passover for my Tumblrfriends who observe.