News 09.06.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 09.06.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 09.06.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 09.06.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Early in 2004, a buoy was released into the waters off Argentina. Half of the buoy was dark and the other light, like a planet in relief. The buoy sailed east, accompanied by the vastness of the ocean and all the life it contains, the long-lived great humpback whales with their complex songs that carry for kilometers, and the short-lived Argentine shortfin squid. Along the way, many thousands of minuscule creatures were colonizing this new surface, which had appeared like a life raft in the open waters of the South Atlantic.

The researchers who’d dropped the buoy followed its movement in hopes of learning more about ocean currents than generations of science and sailing history had revealed. They watched the buoy float into the wide-open ocean between South America and Africa, those twin coastlines that struck me, as I gazed at them on the pull-down map in first grade, as two puzzle pieces that once linked. They surveilled its movements by GPS. Eighteen months later, the signal ceased. Silence from the satellites.

Read the rest of this article at: Hakai Magazine

News 09.06.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 09.06.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Nothing can go wrong!” Boris Johnson said, jumping into the driver’s seat of a tram he was about to take for a test ride. “Nothing. Can. Go. Wrong.”

The prime minister was visiting a factory outside Birmingham, campaigning on behalf of the local mayor ahead of “Super Thursday”—a spate of elections across England, Scotland, and Wales in early May. These elections would give voters a chance to have their say on Johnson’s two years in office, during which quite a lot did go wrong.

Johnson was, as usual, unkempt and amused, a tornado of bonhomie in a country where politicians tend to be phlegmatic and self-serious, if not dour and awkward. Walking in, he had launched into a limerick about a man named Dan who likes to ride trams. The mayor, Andy Street, looked horrified, tomorrow’s disastrous headlines seeming to flash before his eyes. (The limerick, I’m sorry to say, was not at all filthy.)

Johnson’s aide told me the prime minister had been excited about his tram ride all morning. He loves infrastructure, mobile infrastructure especially—planes, trains, bicycles, trams, even bridges to Ireland and airports floating in the sea. And he loves photo ops. There would be no point in displaying action and intent and momentum if no one were present to document it.

“All aboard!” he yelled, though there were no passengers. News photographers crowded around and men in hard hats stood by. The tram (British for “streetcar”) inched forward, only to jerk and shudder to a halt. That’s £2.5 million worth of vehicle, the chief executive of the tram company told me with a nervous laugh. When Johnson finally made it around the bend and neared the end of the circuit, he slammed on the brakes and blasted the horn. “Nothing went wrong!” he said gleefully.

Nothing, really, could have gone wrong. The tram was limited to three miles an hour and had an automatic-override system to protect it from reckless prime ministers, among others. No matter. It provided Johnson with the chance to do what he loves: to put on a show, to create a little tumult where there is none. He became famous in the late 1990s and early 2000s for his appearances on a popular satirical news program, Have I Got News for You. Each time, he was the butt of the jokes and also the center of attention. After he was first elected to Parliament, in 2001, his colleagues told him that he would have to become serious to succeed in politics. To spend time with Johnson, as I have done over the past several months, is to watch a politician completely indifferent to such advice.

Johnson is nothing like the other prime ministers I’ve covered. Tony Blair and David Cameron were polished and formidable. Gordon Brown and Theresa May were rigid, fearful, cautious. Johnson might as well be another species. He is lively and engaged, superficially disheveled but in fact focused and watchful. He is scruffy, impulsive, exuberant. He is the first British leader I’ve seen who genuinely appears to be having a good time. His conversations with members of the public are peppered with “That’s amazing!” and “You’re joking!” and “Wonderful!” and “Fantastic, fantastic!”

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic


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The Secret IRS Files: Trove of Never-Before-Seen Records Reveal How the Wealthiest Avoid Income Tax

In 2007, Jeff Bezos, then a multibillionaire and now the world’s richest man, did not pay a penny in federal income taxes. He achieved the feat again in 2011. In 2018, Tesla founder Elon Musk, the second-richest person in the world, also paid no federal income taxes.

Michael Bloomberg managed to do the same in recent years. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn did it twice. George Soros paid no federal income tax three years in a row.

ProPublica has obtained a vast trove of Internal Revenue Service data on the tax returns of thousands of the nation’s wealthiest people, covering more than 15 years. The data provides an unprecedented look inside the financial lives of America’s titans, including Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch and Mark Zuckerberg. It shows not just their income and taxes, but also their investments, stock trades, gambling winnings and even the results of audits.

Read the rest of this article at: ProPublica

News 09.06.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 09.06.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Nations, like individuals, tell stories in order to understand what they are, where they come from, and what they want to be. National narratives, like personal ones, are prone to sentimentality, grievance, pride, shame, self-blindness. There is never just one—they compete and constantly change. The most durable narratives are not the ones that stand up best to fact-checking. They’re the ones that address our deepest needs and desires. Americans know by now that democracy depends on a baseline of shared reality—when facts become fungible, we’re lost. But just as no one can live a happy and productive life in nonstop self-criticism, nations require more than facts—they need stories that convey a moral identity. The long gaze in the mirror has to end in self-respect or it will swallow us up.

Tracing the evolution of these narratives can tell you something about a nation’s possibilities for change. Through much of the 20th century, the two political parties had clear identities and told distinct stories. The Republicans spoke for those who wanted to get ahead, and the Democrats spoke for those who wanted a fair shake. Republicans emphasized individual enterprise, and Democrats emphasized social solidarity, eventually including Black people and abandoning the party’s commitment to Jim Crow. But, unlike today, the two parties were arguing over the same recognizable country. This arrangement held until the late ’60s—still within living memory.

The two parties reflected a society that was less free than today, less tolerant, and far less diverse, with fewer choices, but with more economic equality, more shared prosperity, and more political cooperation. Liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats played important roles in their respective parties. Americans then were more uniform than we are in what they ate (tuna noodle casserole) and what they watched (Bullitt). Even their bodies looked more alike. They were more restrained than we are, more repressed—though restraint and repression were coming undone by 1968.

Since then, the two parties have just about traded places. By the turn of the millennium, the Democrats were becoming the home of affluent professionals, while the Republicans were starting to sound like populist insurgents. We have to understand this exchange in order to grasp how we got to where we are.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

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News 09.06.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

PROTECTION ISLAND, Wash. — From their perch atop a dead tree on the edge of a cliff, a pair of bald eagles enjoyed a panoramic view of a small island in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, off the coast of Washington State. Far below, seated on a bench surrounded by tall, swaying grasses, the island’s lone human resident, Marty Bluewater, watched them through binoculars.

For the past 50 years, Protection Island National Wildlife Refuge has been his touchstone. He has accumulated a lifetime of memories here, welcoming six deer who swam over from the mainland and have grown to a small herd, hosting five pairs of nesting swallows in his eaves every spring, and celebrating two weddings — one his own.

Mr. Bluewater, 72, is the only person to have a lifetime tenancy on the roughly 370-acre, two-mile-long island. In the 1970s, developers envisioned it as a beach community with an airstrip and a marina. They flew prospective buyers over in small airplanes. The pilots doubled as salesmen, driving people around to select their lots. Several hundred were sold.

Mr. Bluewater, 23 in 1971, saw the island and fell in love. With help from his parents, he purchased land on a high bluff for $7,000.

“They flew us there, gave us hot dogs and sold us this island dream,” he said. “You just feel how special that place is. It sits in one of these little magical vortexes on the planet.”

By 1973, using materials hauled from the mainland by boat, he began construction of a small, rustic cabin with a view of the Olympic Mountains to the west and Discovery Bay to the south.

But not everyone bought into the island dream. The Nature Conservancy and other environmental groups fought the development, concerned it would destroy the habitat of nesting seabirds like rhinoceros auklets, which burrow into the steep cliffs to lay their eggs, and glaucous-winged gulls. Mr. Bluewater agreed that the island should be protected, but he also wanted to keep his property. He and a group of other owners battled it out.

During public hearings in the early 1980s, Mr. Bluewater testified, “With regard to the future of the island, I have two major concerns. First, that the island always remain the special place that it now is, and secondly, that my rights as a property owner are not lost. I believe that both of those things are possible.”

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.