Monday, December 31, 2018

Number of journalists, deep media dragons, tweeters slain increased in 2018

Number of journalists slain increased this year

The most dangerous place to be a journalist was Afghanistan, where 16 media workers lost their lives. In Mexico 11 media workers were killed.

Monks set fire to cathedral to create top tourist attraction

In the 12th century, saints were a huge tourist draw, and the cathedral with the most popular saint and most attractive interiors drew the most visitors.

Sydney New Year's Eve revellers camp out overnight to secure the perfect spot

Balmain residents Marie Fox, 60, and Mark Cole, 58, used their dog Axel to guard the perfect seat.

Russia detains US citizen in Moscow, cites espionage

The charges he faces could carry a prison term of as much as 20 years, according to Russia's criminal code.
Richard Overton (1906–2018), oldest U.S. WWII veteran Legacy 

MMXVIII Year in Review

Always look on the bright side of life and feelings…

NEWS YOU CAN USE: How Exercise Keeps Us Young. Well, you’ll still get old if you exercise, but it’ll be a slower process, and you’ll look and feel better doing it

HOLD THE PRESSES: Alcohol, coffee use could be key to living longer

Apple is offering 6 free audiobooks read by celebrity narrators. Titles include Pride and Prejudice, The Time Machine, and Frankenstein

Viktor and Ilsa 

The unspoken tremor in most wartime movie romances is that the picture needs to address the feelings of couples separated by war. It's not just whether they will both survive, but whether love and desire can overcome the temptations that come with separate lives. There's another element at work (vital to romance and the age of censorship in the movies) which is that desire may mean the most when it cannot be consummated: the wish for intimacy is so intense because the act is forbidden or impossible.

In Casablanca, we assume that Rick (Humphrey Bogart) and Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) had a good deal of sex in Paris, but in their awkward reunion in north Africa, sex is not renewed. Rather, the triangle of Rick-Ilsa-Victor (Paul Henreid) must contemplate the ultimate selection of just two of them to go forward. And we know now what Rick's decision is, even if in our enlightened time we may ask whether Ilsa shouldn't have been doing some of the deciding. But the romantic or erotic energy is sublimated in the most impeccable cause of all – the war effort. Rick forsakes Ilsa as part of his new commitment to the fight against fascism.
Casablanca stands for movie romance in great part because it is hardly true to life. It won the best picture Oscar and seemed to be history coming to life – it opened just after the allies had occupied the real Casablanca. In fact, divorce and infidelity rates increased rapidly during the war. But Casablanca reassured us all; it promised that honour was intact.

The most straightforward hero in Casablanca (1942) would seem to be Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), the Czech resistance fighter who has rallied multitudes with his moral leadership to battle German tyranny in Europe. After escaping from imprisonment in a concentration camp, he comes to Casablanca, like numerous others, in hopes of getting letters of transit so that he can fly to Lisbon – and eventually America – with his wife, Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman). Even in Casablanca, he risks his life for his beliefs, as when he defies German officers and orders the band at Rick’s (the film’s central watering hole in which the disparate lives of locals, officers and refugees intersect) to play La Marseillaise as a reminder of the necessity of French resistance. Even more dangerously, he meets with the local members of the resistance movement to encourage them to keep up the fight against the Nazis... 
Meanwhile, Rick (Humphrey Bogart), owner of the eponymous bar, is the film’s central character, but what type of hero is he? He appears to be a lapsed one. The film reveals that he once helped in the fight against fascism, always siding with the underdogs. However, he was disillusioned by the apparent betrayal of the love of his life, Ilsa, who didn’t show up at a train station in Paris on the day they were supposed to leave the city to flee the Nazi onslaught. Maybe he chose Casablanca not for “healing waters,” as he jokingly says at one point, but for just the opposite reason – because its desert surroundings reflect the barrenness of his cynical soul. He has become a person who says he sticks his neck out for nobody, asserting,“I’m the only cause I’m interested in.” He has no allegiance to any country; when asked about his nationality, Rick drily responds, “I’m a drunkard.” More seriously, he now also does business with criminals, such as the one played by Peter Lorre, and corrupt officials like Captain Renault (Claude Rains), who collaborates with the Nazis and takes advantage of women seeking escape from Casablanca.
Despite Rick’s current moral ambiguity and anger about Ilsa, Rick still admires Laszlo. When the latter says that he tries to help the cause, Rick says, “Many try. You succeed.” Laszlo’s presence and actions in Casablanca awaken in Rick an awareness of the necessity of self-sacrifice for one’s ideals and the nobility of working for a cause. When Rick finds out that Ilsa thought her husband was dead when they were together in Paris and only left once she found out Laszlo was alive, he sees that she still loves him, and his cynicism melts away. He is the one who allows the band to play the French anthem, and he eventually rises to Laszlo’s level by sacrificing his love for Ilsa, putting her on the plane with her husband because he knows that Laszlo needs her. Rick is finally willing to join the resistance; as Laszlo says to Rick, “Welcome back to the fight.” Rick finally learns that their lives don’t amount to “a hill of beans” in the larger context of the world’s problems.
One could say that Laszlo is the model others must emulate to become heroes, as his heroism inspires others in the film, including Rick, those singing at Rick’s club, and the other resistance fighters. You can see Ilsa’s admiration for Laszlo in her eyes, and even Captain Renault catches the patriotic fever, joining Rick at the end to form their “beautiful friendship.” But ideals are abstractions and hard to touch -- and, throughout the film, we never see Ilsa kiss Laszlo on the lips.
But perhaps both men represent the types of heroes the world needed at the time of the film’s release. Laszlo is a champion for those already immersed in the European struggle with Nazi Germany, affirming the need to fight for the patriotic ideals that preserve their independence and human rights. Meanwhile, Rick can be seen to symbolize the United States, which had to overcome the comfort of isolationism to join the rest of the world in the heroic fight against totalitarianism.
Rick is the type of hero that the rest of us hope to become. Unlike the saintly Laszlo, he feels love, anger, hurt, and jealousy, but he can transcend his self-centeredness to perform heroic actions when the chips are down.
12 Reasons Why Casablanca is the Greatest Film of All Time -

Casablanca: The Best Love Movie Ever—And Possibly the Best Movie, Period - Gizmodo

Number One, Kold Ocean 11, is already a post-Christmas/pre-NYE tradition here at Villa  Matra ...

YOU WILL BE MADE TO CARE OBEY: Greatest Female Tennis Player in History Martina Navratilova Says That It’s Not Fair for Men to Compete Against Women; Trans Activists Attack Her Until She Deletes the Tweet and Apologizes.

The culture industry is wrapped in a security blanket of cloying agreeability. Where is the ruthless critique, the anger, the hate?  Ruthless World 

Sydney's New Year's Eve celebrations to honour queen of soul

Sydney's New Year's Eve celebrations, which will feature a tribute to the late queen of soul Aretha Franklin, will be bigger than ever.

Multi-Million Dollar Funding for Philosopher-Led Project on Machine Intelligence

Seth Lazar, associate professor of philosophy at Australian National University (ANU), is leading an interdisciplinary project on machine intelligence that just received a funding commitment from its university of AUD$1.65 million (US$1.17 million) per year for up to five years. (more…)

Prime Number: 282,589,933-1 Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (EM). EM writes: “That Amazon AWS independent-verify run mentioned in the press release was using my code. Less than one full year since we found the last one … an unexpected Christmas surprise. Unfortunately it’s a very bad time of the year for such discoveries, publicity-wise, so there’s been far less press coverage than the last time around. Some primes are simply publicity-shy! Perhaps we should’ve used a bit of Trumpian bombast in the PR – “this prime is yuuuuuuuuge!” – or found a way to get the Twitterer-in-chief to tweet about it. :)”

Now Here’s An Inventive Re-Purposing Of An Old Church: A Skate Park

“Before its official closing in 1992, St. Liborius was declared a City Landmark in 1975 and recognized as a National Historic Place four years later. Today, it exists as a shell of a church, where the stained glass windows shine vibrant light on skate ramps instead of pews.” — Atlas Obscura

Mapping The ‘Cartography’ Of Conscious Feelings Onto The Body

When a team of research psychologists asked subjects to describe where in their bodies they experience various emotional states, they were surprised by just how consistent the correspondence of emotion to bodily area was. — Aeon

Early TV-Age Media Theorists Understood A Lot About Our Current Age

These observers captured the moment when civilization turned from typographic culture—itself a massive break from the largely oral culture that preceded it—to electronic media. They’re the metaphorical physicians who noted the first symptoms of a worsening malaise we’re seeing now. In other words, our internet-and-smartphone-driven age does not represent, as we might think, its own huge shift from the Enlightenment tradition, but rather the most recent stages of a shift that started with disembodied voices and faces streaming out of clunky boxes. – Wired

Krampus The Christmas Demon Joins The 21st Century

The half-goat-half-devil has been St. Nicholas’s sidekick and enforcer for hundreds of years, warning little Austrian children that they’d better not be naughty. Traditionally he’d only appear once a year and his mask and costume would be more-or-less homemade, but today’s masks have things like glowing LED eyes, and there are Krampus shows with heavy-metal accompaniment that “feels like a rock concert mixed with a rodeo.” — Public Radio International

Bearing a grudge at Latitude is no cause for shame. Resentments remind us that our senses are attuned. If we eliminated grievances, we'd eliminate moral judgment... Revenge served in Cold River II 

Doerfler, Ryan, Can a Statute Have More Than One Meaning? (December 12, 2018). New York University Law Review, Vol. 94, 2019. Available at SSRN:

What statutory language means can vary from statute to statute, or even provision to provision. But what about from case to case? The conventional wisdom is that the same language conventional wisdom is that the same language can mean different things as used in different places within the United States Code. As used in some specific place, however, that language means what it means. Put differently, the same statutory provision must mean the same thing in all cases. To hold otherwise, courts and scholars suggest, would be contrary both to the rules of grammar and to the rule of law.This Article challenges that conventional wisdom. Building on the observation that speakers can and often do transparently communicate different things to different audiences with the same verbalization or written text, it argues that, as a purely linguistic matter, there is nothing to prevent Congress from doing the same with statutes. More still, because the practical advantages of using multiple meanings — in particular, linguistic economy — are at least as important to Congress as to ordinary speakers, this Article argues further that it would be just plain odd if Congress never chose to communicate multiple messages with the same statutory text

Wickenby on Steroids

Heather M. Field (UC-Hastings), Offshoring Tax Ethics: The Panama Papers, Seeking Refuge From Tax, and Tax Lawyer Referrals, 62 St. Louis U. L.J. 35 (2017):
The fallout from the “Panama Papers” scandal leaves many questions unanswered, including: How did U.S. taxpayers get to the Panamanian law firm of Mossack Fonseca? And what were the ethical responsibilities of the individuals (particularly U.S. lawyers) who connected these U.S. clients with Mossack Fonseca, especially in the cases where the U.S. clients sought offshore assistance in order to avoid or evade U.S. taxes? This symposium essay answers these questions and uses insights gained from an examination of the Panama Papers leak to make recommendations about how to respond ethically to referral requests for assistance with offshore tax avoidance/evasion.

Behind the $430m Wickenby saga - Financial Review

Mastering the art of the narrative - Michael O'Neill

Police target lawyers and accountants helping families become frauds. Charles Miranda, News
Corp Australia Network
Supt O'Mahony also said it could be networked and part of a scam known as “phoenixing” where liquidators or ... via a string of Australian accountants offeringtax avoidance schemes, ...Police target lawyers and accountants helping families become frauds

Fraud, white collar crime: AFP targets Medicare, NDIS, day care tax avoidance | Daily Telegraph

Perth tax scam gambler's luck runs out after 14 years

Taxman sues Acquire Learning directors

New York Times editorial, A Gutted I.R.S. Makes the Rich Richer:
Let’s take a moment to pity the Internal Revenue Service. Yes, to many Americans, it’s a money-grabbing ogre siphoning hard-earned cash to the faceless federal bureaucracy.
But the nation’s tax collector today is an enfeebled enforcer. Its budget has been bled dry by a Republican Congress in service to wealthy donors and businesses aggressively pursuing tax avoidance, leaving uncollected 18 percent to 20 percent of potential tax revenues annually. 
That’s the conclusion in articles by the journalism site ProPublica, co-published by The Atlanticand The Times.

Tax Court Case Shows That the IRS Burden to Prove Fraud by Clear and Convincing Evidence Is Formidable Indeed 

Article on Ethics Issues in Referring Clients to Foreign Aggressive Tax Planners/Enablers 

Tax Crimes enthusiasts may be interested in this law review article:  Heather M. Field, Offshoring Tax Ethics: The Panama Papers, Seeking Refuge From Tax, and Tax Lawyer Referrals,, St. Louis U L.J.  62 St. Louis U. L.J. 35 (2017), Offshoring Tax Ethics: The Panama Papers, Seeking Refuge From Tax, and Tax Lawyer Referrals,

Despite the investigative research and scholarly analyses of the Panama Papers, many questions remain, including: How did U.S. clients get to the Panamanian law firm of Mossack Fonseca? What were the ethical responsibilities of the individuals (particularly lawyers) who connected these U.S. clients with MF, especially in cases where the U.S. clients sought offshore assistance in order to avoid or evade U.S. taxes? And what, if anything, should individuals in similar situations do differently in the future? 

Survey finds one in four Aussies had their personal information Survey finds one in four Aussies had their personal information misused

Shopping sprees using stolen credit card details have declined as identity thieves increasingly try to extract money by lodging fraudulent tax returns or accessing superannuation funds.

ATO in Five Eyes blitz on tax crime


ATO deputy commissioner Will Day says the new inter­national body would pursue cyber-related identity theft, tax evasion using cryptocurrencies, corporate ‘phoenixing’ and international tax evasion using tax havens. Picture: AAP

ATO deputy commissioner Will Day says the new inter­national body 
would pursue cyber-related identity theft, tax evasion using, 
corporate ‘phoenixing’ and international tax evasion using tax havens. Picture: AAP
The Netherlands is seen as crucial to the co-operation agreement, after research last year found the country was a channel for nearly one-quarter of cor­porate investments around the world that finally ended up in a tax haven.
The Australian Taxation Office will launch an unprecedented international blitz on tax crimin­als that is being compared to the intelligence community’s “Five Eyes” alliance.

The five-nation tax intellig­ence-sharing operation is being described by experts as “Project Wickenby on steroids”, a reference to the ATO’s much-­debated, nine-year war on tax evasion that ended in 2015, and which claims to have resulted in nearly 50 criminal convictions.

In an exclusive interview with The Australian, ATO deputy commissioner Will Day revealed that a $182 million grant in the federal government’s mid-year economic and fiscal outlook this month would be used from early next year to “supercharge” Aust­ralia’s involvement in the new body, known as the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement (or J5 for short).
Mr Day said the new inter­national body would pursue cyber-related identity theft, tax evasion using cryptocurrencies, corporate “phoenixing” and international tax evasion using tax havens.
He said J5 applied similar principles to that of Five Eyes, one of the most far-reaching espionage pacts ever signed.
“The fact we are relying on longstanding relationships with these other countries with a ­history of an alliance with us, and the fact that they also face similar threats, means it is analogous to the Five Eyes,” Mr Day said.
“It is pretty similar from a tax point of view.”
The intelligence-sharing org­an­isation, quietly established five months ago, includes the heads of tax crime and senior officials from Australia, the US, Britain, The Nether­lands and Canada.
Its composition closely resembles Five Eyes, the only difference being that The Netherlands is a member instead of New Zealand.
So far, the joint efforts have involve­d identifying targets.
“A number of operations have been identified, and a number are to be commenced,” Mr Day said. “We’ll be starting to initiate them in the first half of next year.”

Mr Day said a key realisation from the body’s work had been the need to target “enablers” of tax evasion, who he declined to identify. He described them as “shadowy characters who sit behin­d websites that encourage people to hide income and assets offshore to avoid tax”.
“The focus is to track down the internationally located enablers of that tax crime, even when they’re sitting offshore,” he said.
“Bringing together the five countries is a large part of that, and we’ve made significant progres­s in identifying operational targets, utilising the improved partnerships.”
Mr Day said at a meeting in Utrecht in The Netherlands in November, each of the J5 member­s had identified one huge international criminal target actin­g as an enabler.
“We actually all agreed on an enabler of inter­national tax crime who was rated the highest level of threat for all of the J5 countries,” he said.
This revelation has echoes of Wickenby, in which the primary focus was Swiss accountant ­Phillip Egglishaw, whose firm Strachans, based in the tax haven of Jersey, was linked to hundreds of Australians.
He remains on an ­Interpol most-wanted list.
The ATO alleged he set up a $300 million network of tax-avoidance schemes and said it had recouped nearly $1 billion in cash collections through the Wickenby investigation.

Pressed for more details on who the ATO was targeting, Mr Day would not reveal whether the enabler was an individual, a firm or a company.
He said the details were “very operationally sensitive”.
An industry source who did not wish to be named said the new program was likely to be targeted against tax advisers who promoted offshore tax-­evasion schemes.
The source said that the J5 appeare­d to be less about recouping money and more about creat­ing an effective deterrent against ­future tax crime.
“If they put a tax adviser in jail, it will send an earthquake through the shadowy world of people who create and promote these schemes,” the source said.
Mr Day said the “Five Eyes of tax” was not setting specific financial targets, but its success would be measured by the number of criminals it caught. “We do a lot of it to ensure the ongoing confidence in the Australian tax system,” he said. “We’ve taken a lot of corrective action already, and we want to maintain that confidence going forward.”
PwC’s Australian head of tax, Pete Calleja, said the new inter­national pact between the five countries looked set to become a much larger version of Wickenby, the ATO-led cross-agency taskforce that became one of the country’s biggest tax investigations. “This seems to me like a ­supercharged, new-age version of Wickenby,” he said.

Mr Day conceded that “in a way, the mischief hasn’t changed” since Wickenby. “It’s about the use of secrecy or low-tax jurisdictions to channel funds that have been illegally held through other entities, such as trusts,” he said.
Another major emerging problem area, Mr Day said, was “cyber-enabled identity crime”.
“It’s about using identity theft as a way of evading tax, or of committing refund fraud,” he said.
“Phoenixing”, or the practice of using a new company to rebirth failed businesses of a previous company, was also being targeted by the J5. “It is domestically facilitated, but we would certainly see the laundering of the proceeds of illegal phoenix activity offshore, in tax havens,” he said.
Mr Day also said the body was particularly interested in “cryptocurrencies on the dark net”.
Mr Calleja believes the new international tax pact will be primarily targeted at the inter­national black economy.
“If we know the Australian share of the black economy is $50 billion, the ‘Five Eyes’ black economy has to be hundreds of billions of dollars,” he said.