Daily Bread for 4.15.17

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of seventy-nine. Sunrise is 6:13 AM and sunset 7:38 PM. The moon is a waning gibbous with 83% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred fifty-eighth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1945, British and Canadian soldiers liberate the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp: “The scenes that greeted British troops were described by the BBC‘s Richard Dimbleby, who accompanied them: “…Here over an acre of ground lay dead and dying people. You could not see which was which… The living lay with their heads against the corpses and around them moved the awful, ghostly procession of emaciated, aimless people, with nothing to do and with no hope of life, unable to move out of your way, unable to look at the terrible sights around them … Babies had been born here, tiny wizened things that could not live … A mother, driven mad, screamed at a British sentry to give her milk for her child, and thrust the tiny mite into his arms, then ran off, crying terribly. He opened the bundle and found the baby had been dead for days. This day at Belsen was the most horrible of my life.”

On this day in 1861, Governor Alexander W. Randall receives a telegram from Washington requesting one regiment of 780 men to serve the Union for three months in the Civil War. (Within a week ten companies, from Kenosha, Beloit, Horican, Fond du Lac, Madison, and Milwaukee were ready.)

Recommended for reading in full — 

Julie Hirschfeld Davis reports that the White House to Keep Its Visitor Logs Secret: “WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The White House announced Friday that it would cut off public access to visitor logs revealing who is entering the White House complex and which officials they are meeting, breaking with the Obama administration’s practice and returning a cloak of secrecy over the basic day-to-day workings of the government….The announcement was another turnabout for Mr. Trump after a week of changing course on an array of domestic and foreign policy matters. In a 2012 posting on Twitter, he chided Mr. Obama for failing to release certain records, including college transcripts, as President George W. Bush had. “Hiding something?” Mr. Trump wrote then. Mr. Trump has rejected other basic standards of presidential disclosures, like the release of his tax returns, leading to questions over whether he would reveal who comes and goes at the White House.”

Alan Feuer reports that At Choate, Decades of ‘I’d Rather Let It Go at That’: “That attitude — letting it go at that — typified the response of the school’s administration toward the sexual misconduct of teachers for decades, according to the report, which was prepared for the school by an investigator at an outside law firm. The response continued through the administrations of three headmasters, one of whom remains a trustee for life at Choate. Since at least the 1960s, not only did at least a dozen Choate instructors prey upon their students, but a long list of administrators helped to keep the sexual abuse under wraps, rarely telling other members of the faculty and almost never alerting the authorities.”

T.R. Reid asks that Filing Taxes in Japan Is a Breeze. Why Not Here?” “Parliaments and revenue agencies all over the world have done what Congress seems totally unable to do: They’ve made paying taxes easy. If you walk down the street in Tel Aviv, Tokyo, London or Lima, Peru, you won’t see an office of H & R Block or a similar company; in most countries, there’s no need for that industry….What’s going on in these countries — and in many other developed democracies — is that government computers handle the tedious chore of filling out your tax return. The system is called “pre-filled forms,” or “pre-populated returns.” The taxpayer just has to check the numbers. If the agency got something wrong, there’s a mechanism for appeal. Our own Internal Revenue Service could do the same for tens of millions of taxpayers. For most families, the I.R.S. already knows all the numbers — wages, dividends and interest received, capital gains, mortgage interest paid, taxes withheld — that we are required to enter on Form 1040….Questions like that have prompted some members of Congress — including Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon; Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts; and Dan Coats, a former Republican senator from Indiana — to champion pre-filled forms. But their bills never went anywhere because the tax-preparation industry lobbies strenuously against them. The “Tax Complexity Lobby,” as it has been called, includes big national preparers like H & R Block and tax-prep software companies.”

Gal Beckerman describes How Soviet Dissidents Ended 70 Years of Fake News: “True internal pushback against the Soviet regime began to emerge only in the 1960s, at the moment when the political temperature inside Russia was moving from post-Stalinist thaw back to chilly. The suppressions began with the trial of the satirical writers Yuli Daniel and Andrei Sinyavsky in early 1966. As protests and further trials followed, the dissidents were faced with an interesting dilemma: how to fight back most effectively in light of the information that was coming their way. Almost daily, they would hear the details of interrogations, stories passed around about life in the labor camps, and the drumbeat of searches and arrests. The dissidents could have presented their own form of propaganda, hyping the persecution and turning that rich Soviet lexicon of “hooligans” and “antisocial elements” into bitter screeds against the state itself. But they didn’t. They chose instead to communicate it all as dispassionately and clinically as possible. They reached for what we might call objectivity.”

So, why is Area 51 called Area 51?