Noted documentary photographer Robert Nickelsberg’s photographs help bring into focus the day-to-day consequences of war, poverty, oppression, and political turmoil in Afghanistan.
On December 5, 1922, James Couzens resigned as Mayor of Detroit to accept his appointment to the U.S. Senate. Couzens was appointed by Governor Alexander Groesbeck to fill the Michigan senate seat that was vacated by the resignation of Truman H. Newberry in the wake of election campaign irregularities. Couzens went on to be elected in his own right for two additional terms before his death in 1936.
Source : Detroit Historical Society
On this day, the namesake for Okemos, Michigan, died near Portland and is honored to this day with a grave marker. Although details on his life are spotty, Chief John Okemos was the nephew and a scout for Chief Pontiac, who attempted to drive the British out of Michigan by laying siege to Detroit early in Michigan's history. During the Battle of Sandusky, he was severely wounded fighting on the side of the British against the Americans and bore saber scars for the rest of his life. Later on Chief Okemos made his peace with the Americans at Fort Wayne in Detroit in 1814 and later signed the Treaty of Saginaw with Lewis Cass, the first territorial Governor of Michigan in 1819.
Michigan Every Day.
Chief Johnny Okemos with pictures.
The Sebewa Recollector, June 1994, Volume 29, Number 6; “Danby Township – Grand River Heritage” from the Grand River Heritage Water Trails Assn.; The Portland, Michigan Centennial Book
Built at Erie, Pennsylvania and commissioned in 1843, the U.S.S. Michigan spent its entire career patrolling the Great Lakes. For most of its term of service, it was the only iron-hulled ship patrolling the Great Lakes in the United States Navy. During its early years of service, the ship and its crew patrolled the Great Lakes for timber pirates. On one occasion, a timber-pirate steamer rammed the U.S.S. Michigan, but due to the U.S.S. Michigan's iron hull, the pirate ship was disabled and captured by the U.S.S. Michigan's crew. In may 1851, the U.S.S. Michigan also assisted in the arrest of James Jesse Strang, the leader of a dissident Mormon colony on Beaver Island in Lake Michigan.
During the Civil War, the U.S.S. Michigan continued to patrol the Great Lakes. Union officials utilized the ship to protect the Great Lakes as well as to quell civilian unrest in port cities. Authorities dispatched the U.S.S. Michigan to prevent draft riots in Detroit, Michigan and in Buffalo, New York. Following the Detroit expedition, John C. Carter, the commander of the U.S.S. Michigan, reported, I found the people suffering under serious apprehensions of a riot....The presence of the ships perhaps did something toward overawing the refractory, and certainly did much to allay the apprehensions of the excited, doubting people."
On multiple occasions during the war, Confederate forces hoped to commandeer the ship. In early 1863, William Henry Murdaugh, a lieutenant in the Confederate Navy, intended to capture the U.S.S. Michigan by sailing a steamship, which he would purchase in Canada, alongside the warship and commandeering the ship with Southern naval officers. Confederate authorities never endorsed the plan, and the mission did not occur.
In September 1864, Confederates actually carried out an attempt to capture the U.S.S. Michigan. The leaders of this attempt were Captain Charles Cole, a purported member of Nathan Bedford Forrest's Confederate cavalry, and Captain John Yates Beall, a member of the Southern navy. Confederate officials hoped that these two men could free the Confederate officers at Johnson's Island, a Northern prison camp on an island in Sandusky Bay of Lake Erie. The freed men would then proceed by hijacked railroad train to Camp Chase, a Union prison camp for Confederate enlisted men, which was located in Columbus, Ohio, where the former prisoners at Johnson's Island would free these other inmates. The two sets of prisoners would return to Sandusky, Ohio, where they would form a new army with the 2,700 prisoners currently at Johnson's Island and the approximately 5,000 inmates from Camp Chase. Commanded by Major General Isaac Trimble, the highest-ranking officer imprisoned at Johnson's Island, this new Confederate Army of the Northwest would principally operate in Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan, helping other Southern armies defeat the North.
Cole was the principal ringleader of the expedition. During the summer of 1864, he entered Sandusky, posing as the secretary of the Mount Hope Oil Company of Titusville, Pennsylvania. He soon befriended several officers on the U.S.S. Michigan. Cole hoped that he and his associates could seize control of the ship and use the vessel to free the Confederate prisoners on Johnson's Island. He also had ten Confederate soldiers successfully enlist in the 128th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry, which served as the main force that guarded the prisoners. Cole also sought assistance from members of the Sons of Liberty, a group of Confederate sympathizers who resided in Northern states, and from Jacob Thompson, the Confederate States of America's commissioner to the Canadian government. Beall also recruited twenty-five men to assist him in his portion of the expedition.
On September 19, 1864, Cole and Beall launched their plan. Beall and his compatriots boarded the Philo Parsons, a passenger and transport ship that principally travelled from Detroit, Michigan, to Toledo, Ohio, and finally to Sandusky, with stops at Windsor, Malden, and Sandwich, ports on Lake Erie that are located in Canada. Some of these twenty-six raiders boarded the Philo Parsons at each Canadian stop. The only luggage that these men brought onboard the ship was a single trunk, filled with revolvers and hatchets. Following a stop at Kelley's Island, Ohio, the Confederates seized control of the ship. They ordered the helmsman to head for Middle Bass Island, Ohio, where the Southerners put the Philo Parsons's passengers, including thirty-five members of recently discharged Company K of the 130th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry, onshore. While the Confederates were still at Middle Bass Island, another ship, the Island Queen, came along side and tied onto the Philo Parsons. The Confederates seized this new ship, but in the process, gunshots occurred, with the Southerners wounding the Island Queen's engineer and Alonzo Miller, a resident of Put-in-Bay, Ohio. Beall then had these two ships sail towards Sandusky, but approximately three miles from Middle Bass Island, he had his crew scuttle theIsland Queen on a reef. The Philo Parsons continued towards Johnson's Island, where it stopped just short, in sight of the U.S.S. Michigan but disguised by darkness.
Meanwhile, Cole was onboard the U.S.S. Michigan. He was participating in a dinner with his befriended Union officers. His intention was to drug the wine, incapacitating the Union officers. Beall would then sail the Philo Parsons alongside the U.S.S. Michigan, allowing Beall's men to jump onboard the U.S.S. Michigan, taking control of the ship. The Confederates would then use the U.S.S. Michigan to free the prisoners on Johnson's Island.
Several factors caused the plan to fail. First, seventeen of Beall's men became convinced that Union authorities knew of the plan and refused to participate. Beall immediately sailed for Sandwich, where he destroyed the Philo Parsons and dismissed his crew. Union officials did know of the plan, due to a prisoner, a Colonel Johnson from Kentucky, notifying his guards at Johnson's Island. A Union officer from Johnson's Island boarded the U.S.S. Michigan shortly before midnight, the appointed time for the attack. He approached Cole and stated, "Captain Cole, you are my prisoner." Cole responded, "Captain--captain of what? Certainly no man will accuse me of being a soldier." The Northern officer responded, "No. But here is a telegram saying you are a Confederate spy and are in a conspiracy to capture Johnson's Island. It orders your arrest. We must at least take you into custody." Thus ended Cole's attempt to seize Johnson's Island.
Following the Civil War, the U.S.S. Michigan continued to patrol the Great Lakes. On June 17, 1905, officials renamed the ship the U.S.S. Wolverine, as the U.S. Navy was preparing to commission a new battleship named the U.S.S. Michigan. Authorities decommissioned the warship on May 6, 1912, when it joined the Pennsylvania Naval Militia. The ship remained with the Pennsylvania Naval Militia until August 12, 1923, when a connecting rod in the warship's port cylinder broke, ending its military career. The U.S.S. Michigan's prow is now part of the Erie (Pennsylvania) Maritime Museum.
"U.S.S. Michigan" (2012) In Ohio Civil War Central, Retrieved August 19, 2012, from Ohio Civil War Central.
Naval Warfare, December 31, 2007.
3rd-Grade Reading, School Grade Bills Sent To Full House
On Wednesday the House Education Committee sent to the full House one of the most sweeping reforms of the state's schools: a package of bills that would affect every school by requiring the retention of third-graders who do not test proficient in reading and creating a letter grading system of the state's schools.
House Panel Allows For Retroactive Resentencing Of Juvenile Lifers
A plan that would allow resentencing for those currently serving automatic life without parole, sentenced as minors, if courts determine the ruling striking that practice is retroactive won approval Wednesday in a substitute for SB 319 from the House Criminal Justice Committee.
Snyder: Now Discussions Can Begin On Detroit
With a judicial finding that Detroit can go through a Chapter 9 bankruptcy, "important discussions" can begin on how to resolve the various issues, including the fates of city-owned art and public pensioners, as part of the bankruptcy.
Meekhof Envisions Legislation Regulating MEA Dues Opt-Out
Senate Majority Floor Leader Arlan Meekhof on Wednesday said he is considering legislation that could require the Michigan Education Association to offer an opt-out for members seeking to leave the union, or at least provide more notice of the ability to opt-out, after he and the union battled for nearly two hours at the Senate Compliance and Accountability Committee.
Senate Passes Farnum Sale Bill, Prescription Drug Pricing
The Senate on Wednesday passed a bill that would transfer ownership of the Farnum Building, which houses Senate offices and committee rooms, to the Senate majority leader's office in the event that he or she wishes to sell the building.
Bills Streamlining MEDC Incentive Programs, Beefing Up Safeguards Clear House Panel
Bills regulating how much in incentive money the Michigan Economic Development Corporation can use in its business attraction and retention programs as well as toughening some reporting requirements cleared the House Commerce Committee on Thursday.
Abortion Bill Is Not Appropriate, Snyder Says
Governor Rick Snyder said Wednesday he was still opposed to a provision that would require individuals to purchase a separate insurance policy to cover elective abortions, but that the issue was now in the hands of the Legislature.
Court Of Claims Trailer Bill Passes House Unanimously
Two House Democrats said on the House floor Wednesday that the trailer bill to the controversial Court of Claims law does not fix all the holes, but still the bill cleared the chamber with a unanimous vote.
Subscribers Please Note: Committee Defeated Truancy Bill
A story in Tuesday's Michigan Report erred in reporting that a bill that would temporarily suspend welfare benefits for parents whose children are frequently truant from school was reported from the Senate Families, Seniors and Human Services Committee. The vote on HB 4388 was 2-1, but that is an insufficient number of votes to move the bill from committee. Three votes were needed.
Bill Would Allow Legally Married Gay Couples To File Joint State Returns
Rep. Sam Singh introduced a bill on Wednesday that would allow legally married gay couples who now qualify for joint federal tax returns to file joint state tax returns as well.
Resolution On Sedenquist May Go Before GOP Committee
The Michigan Republican Party's central committee may consider a resolution to censure committee member Doug Sedenquist at its meeting next week, sources indicated, but party rules prohibit removing the troubled member from the committee unless he is convicted of a felony.
Snyder Renews Support For Immigration At Ceremony
Speaking to 25 new U.S. citizens who were sworn in at the first of its kind ceremony at the Capitol Rotunda, Governor Rick Snyder renewed his support efforts to encourage and improve the immigration system in the United States.
Appeals Court Rules Chiropractor Wrongly Put On Probation
The Court of Appeals reversed a ruling by the Bureau of Health Professions that put a chiropractor on probation for allegedly criticizing another chiropractor.
Michigan House Announces 2014 Schedule
House Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas (R-Midland) announced the chamber's schedule for 2014 on Wednesday. Session will begin on Wednesday, January 8th at noon, and convene every Tuesday and Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. and noon on Thursdays. Spring break will be the first two weeks in April and summer break would be most of July and August, with four tentative dates throughout the two months. Session is scheduled to begin again the second week of September with much of October off and the last two weeks of November off. The last day of the 2014 session is scheduled on December 18.
Source : Gongwer News Service : Michigan Report, Volume #52, Report 236, December 4, 2013. Full access requires a subscription or a visit to a subscribing library such as the Michigan State University Main Library.
Bills that could impact every public school and thousands of students in the state moved a step closer to becoming law today.
After taking hours of testimony in the last weeks, the House Education Committee voted this afternoon to advance proposals that would set a new reading standard for third-grade students and enact an A-F letter-grade system for rating schools.
For the full article, see "'Significant' Ed Reforms Pass House Committee Test", Inside MIRS Today, December 4, 2013.
Other topics covered include:
• Could Johnson Face GOP Challenger?
• 'Significant' Ed Reforms Pass House Committee Test
• Panel OK With 21st Century Fund Living Until '19
• Senate Committee Peers Through MEA's Side Of August Window
• MLCC Chairman: Secondary Use Rule Unnecessary
• House R's Put Retroactive Trigger On Juvenile Lifers Bill
• Senate OK With Giving Secretary Power Over Farnum Building
• Richardville On Leftover Agenda
• For 2nd Year In A Row, House Office Allotments To Increase
• Physician Shortage, Reporting Requirement Bills Still Evolving
• Scrap Metal Bills Scrape Up Industry Support
• Court Of Claims Revisited: Trailer Bill Wins Unanimous Support
• Google To Michigan: Prepare Now For Driverless Vehicle Sales
• Capitol Hosted 1st Naturalization Ceremony For 25 New Michigan Citizens
• U-M Grad Snyder: Go Green
Full access to MIRSNews.com is available via the MSU Library electronic resources page. Access is restricted to the MSU community and other subscribers.
The new FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler, raised some eyebrows this week when, at a public event, he simultaneously expressed strong support for the FCC's Open Internet rules and for the development of "two-sided markets" – in other words, paid prioritization. Paid prioritization on the Internet – ISPs picking winners and losers among online services – is a big part of what the Open Internet rules aim to prevent. So it’s no surprise that CDT and other neutrality advocates are wondering, what gives?
The Chairman's statement came in a Q&A discussion, so it's hard to know how much to read into it. This was an extemporaneous remark in a high-level conversation, not any kind of official policy announcement. But if the remark reflects a view that the Open Internet rules only bar ISPs from blocking Internet traffic, while leaving them free to discriminate for commercial purposes, that would be a serious problem. Creating two-sided markets for Internet access and discriminating accordingly among Internet traffic would fundamentally undermine the Internet's capacity for innovation and free expression. It would be bad for Internet users and online innovators alike. (CDT has explained why in detail before; see page 7 of these comments from January 2010).
On the other hand, the Open Internet rules don't necessarily bar two-sided market arrangements in all contexts. The rules allow for experimentation in the form of specialized services: services that are not Internet access, and to which the Open Internet rules therefore don't apply. So if a content provider and an ISP want to work out a special arrangement for the delivery of certain content with specified attributes such as quality guarantees, they have a path to do so under the rules - they just need to do it as a separate service that does not impair the delivery of Internet access or require favoritism among Internet traffic. Thus, to the extent the FCC Chairman just meant that he expects some development of two-sided arrangements in the marketplace at large – which presumably includes the marketplace for specialized services – his remark could be consistent with the Open Internet rules.
The bottom line is that Internet access service should carry a basic expectation of nondiscrimination among traffic. You can't square that with two-sided markets. But Internet access services aren't the only services a provider may offer. In a well-functioning marketplace, there may be room both for an open and nondiscriminatory Internet access service, and for other types of services that involve special deals, so long as the one doesn’t swallow the other. Let’s hope that’s what Chairman Wheeler meant.
Critical Issues in the Identification of Gifted Students With Co-Existing Disabilities: The Twice-Exceptional
A common question among smart Bitcoin skeptics is, “Why would one use Bitcoin when you can use dollars or euros, which are more common and more widely accepted?” It’s a fair question, and one I’ve tried to answer by pointing out that if Bitcoin were just a currency (except new and untested), then yes, there would be little reason why one should prefer it to dollars. The fact, however, is that Bitcoin is more than money, as I recently explained in Reason. Bitcoin is better thought of as a payments system, or as a distributed ledger, that (for technical reasons) happens to use a new currency called the bitcoin as the unit of account. As Tim Lee has pointed out, Bitcoin is therefore a platform for innovation, and it is this potential that makes it so valuable.
Eric Posner is one of these smart skeptics. Writing in Slate in April he rejected Bitcoin as a “fantasy” because he felt it didn’t make sense as a currency. Since then it’s been pointed out to him that Bitcoin is more than a currency, and today at the New Republic he asks the question, “Why would you use Bitcoin when you can use PayPal or Visa, which are more common and widely accepted?”
He answers his own question, in part, by acknowledging that Bitcoin is censorship-resistant. As he puts it, “If you live in a country with capital controls, you can avoid those[.]” So right there, it seems to me, is one good reason why one might want to use Bitcoin instead of PayPal or Visa. Another smart skeptic, Tyler Cowen, acknowledges this as well, even if only to suggest that the price of bitcoins will fall “if/when China fully liberalizes capital flows[.]”
Another reason why one would use Bitcoin instead of PayPal or Visa is that it’s cheaper. Posner disputes this, arguing that Bitcoin’s historic volatility makes it risky to hold Bitcoins, necessitating hedging, and therefore making it no less costly than traditional payments systems. (Cowen was one of the first to make this argument.) But this is not true.
First of all, I would argue that there’s nothing inherent in Bitcoin that makes it necessarily as volatile as it has been; its volatility to date comes largely from the fact that it’s thinly traded. If its adoption continues apace, and its infrastructure continues to be developed, there’s no reason to think it will forever be as volatile as it has been to date. But that’s conjecture. More to the point is the proof that’s in the pudding: There are tens of thousands of merchants accepting bitcoins for payment today (and growing), and the number of transactions accepted by those merchants has been exploding as well, setting a record on Black Friday. Can it be that even with the necessary hedging, Bitcoin is cheaper?
At least for some types of transactions I think the answer is unquestionably yes. Take international remittances, which is a $500 billion industry. Sending money to Kenya using Western Union MoneyGram or some other traditional money transmitter costs around five to ten percent of the amount being sent, and can take days for the deposit to take place. A new startup, BitPesa, is looking to charge only three percent, and to carry out transfers virtually instantaneously. So hedging costs would have to be more than five to ten percent to make this not worthwhile. It’s an empirical question, but it seems to me the fact that so many are jumping in helps give us a hint as to the answer. Perhaps we can look to Bitpay’s 1% fee as a market estimate of the cost of hedging.
Well then, so far I count two things that Bitcoin can do that traditional payments systems cannot: it is censorship resistant and it is cheaper. Oh, wait. I actually mentioned another one: it’s faster. Traditional wire transfers can take days or even weeks to clear, while Bitcoin takes minutes. And yet there’s more.
As Eli Dourado just pointed out in a previous post, built into Bitcoin is a facility for decentralized arbitration. Essentially, Bitcoin allows for transactions that require two out of three signatures to verify a transaction, thus allowing payer and payee to turn to an arbitrator if there is a dispute about whether the payment should go through. Paypal and credit card companies essentially provide this service today, but as Eli points out, decentralized arbitration would likely be cheaper and would certainly enjoy much more competition. That’s four things Bitcoin can do that traditional payments networks cannot, but let me quickly add a fifth. There’s no reason that the arbitrator must be a human; using Bitcoin’s scripting language the arbitrator can be a trusted automated source of information that on a regular basis broadcasts facts such as the price of gold, or price of stocks, or sports scores. Make that data stream your arbitrator and, voila, you have a decentralized predictions market. (Ed Felten at Princeton is working on executing the concept.)
One more before I sign off and go drink with the rest of the Tech Liberation gang at our 15th Alcohol Liberation Front this evening, to which you’re all invited. Bitcoin allows for microtransactions in a way that’s never before been possible. First of all, because bitcoin transactions can be cheap, you can send incredibly small amounts (say five cents or half a cent) that would be cost-prohibitive using traditional payments systems. There’s a start-up called BitWall that essentially allows publishers to easily charge tiny amounts for their content. Now, believe me, I know all the arguments for and against micropayments for content. My only point is that Bitcoin has the potential to further reduce the friction of such payments. But that’s not the exciting part. More interesting are really, really small microtransactions.
Bitcoin transactions are cheap, but you wouldn’t think they’re cheap enough that you could conduct hundreds per second. But the thing is, you can, using the micropayments channels feature of the Bitcoin protocol. It’s not yet been widely exploited, but it’s there in the spec waiting to be. I won’t go into the technical details in this post, but essentially you transmit one large transaction to the network (you can think of this like a deposit, say of $10), then you conduct as many tiny transactions between payer and payee not broadcast to the network (therefore ‘free’), and finally you broadcast how much of the initial amount remains with each party. What this means is that you can now offer metered services based on microtransactions.
One good example of how this would be useful is Wi-Fi access, which Mike Hearn explains in this video. Today we are surrounded by wi-fi hotspots, but we can’t use them because they are password protected, in part because there’s no good way to charge for their use. When you can pay to use a wi-fi hotspot, it usually entails creating an account with the provider and then purchasing a block of time, perhaps more than you need. Now imagine if you could connect to any open hotspot, without first creating any kind of account, and paying your way by the second or the kilobyte. That’s possible today with Bitcoin, it’s just going to take some time to be implemented. And think of all the other as-yet unimagined ways that this ability to meter could be put to use!
That’s six ways to answer the question, “Why would you use Bitcoin when you can use PayPal or Visa.” There are more. Hearn discusses a bunch in the video. These are all very real in the sense that they are all technically possible today, but certainly speculative in that there remain regulatory and market hurdles ahead. I can certainly understand why some would be skeptical of Bitcoin’s long-term success (I for one am not certain of it), but I really hope we can get to the point were that skepticism is based on more than misunderstandings about what Bitcoin is or what it can and cannot do.
There is bipartisan agreement that the 1996 Telecom Act was antiquated only shortly after President Clinton’s signature had dried on the legislation. There is also consensus that spectrum policy, still largely grounded in the 1934 communications statute, absolutely distorts today’s wireless markets. And there is frequent criticism from thought leaders, right and left, that the FCC has been, for decades, too accommodating to the firms it regulates and too beholden to the status quo (economist Thomas Hazlett quips the agency’s initials stand for “Forever Captured by Corporations”).
For these reasons, members of Congress every few years announce their intention to reform the 1934 and 1996 communications laws and modernize the FCC. Yesterday, some powerful House members unexpectedly reignited hopes that Congress would overhaul our telecom, broadband, and video laws. In a Google Hangout (!), Reps. Fred Upton and Greg Walden said they wanted to take on the ambitious task of passing a new law in 2015.
Much depends on next year’s elections and the composition of Congress, but hopefully the announcement spurs a major re-write that eliminates regulatory distortions in communications, much as airlines and transportation were deregulated in the 1970s–an effort led by reformist Democrats.
In 2005, then-Sen. Jim DeMint proposed such a law–the Digital Age Communications Act (or DACA). More than fifty scholars and technologists crafted the reports that formed the DeMint bill (a majority of the group had served in Democratic administrations, interestingly enough). The bill wasn’t voted on but it’s aged very well in eight years–which you can’t say about the 1996 Act–and represents a great starting point for future legislation.
As Adam has said DACA has five primary reform objectives:
- Replacing the amorphous “public interest” standard with a consumer welfare standard, which is more well-established in field of antitrust law
- Eliminate regulatory silos and level the playing field through deregulation
- Comprehensively reform spectrum not just through more auctioning but through clear property rights
- Reform universal service by either voucherizing it or devolving it to the States and let them run their own telecom welfare programs; and
- Significantly reforming & downsizing the scope of the FCC’s power of the modern information economy
DACA redefines the FCC as a specialized competition agency for the communications sector. The FCC largely sees itself as a competition agency today but the current statutes don’t represent that gradual change in purpose. The FCC is slow, arbitrary, Balkanizes industries artificially, and attempts to regulate in areas it isn’t equipped to regulate–the agency has a notoriously bad record in federal courts. These characteristics create a poor environment for substantial investments in technology and communications infrastructure. DACA isn’t perfect but it is a resilient framework that minimizes the effect of special interests in communications and encourages investments that improve consumers’ lives.