Secretary of State Jim Condos announced today that records relating to the first hundred years of the Vermont Constitution, including proposals of amendments, are now available online at: http://vermont-archives.org/publications/publicat/pdf/Council_of_Censors…(link is external) Some examples are displayed below.Secretary Condos noted, ‘The records of the Vermont Council of Censors, 1777-1870 provide unique insights not only into the evolution of our state constitution but also on persisting issues such as the nature of representation, constitutions, and citizenship.’ The Council of Censors was a constitutional body of thirteen men, elected to one year terms every seven years. It had the authority to review the actions of state government in the preceding seven years to see if they conformed to constitutional requirements. It also was the sole body that could propose amendments to the constitution. Proposed amendments would then be presented to a constitutional convention for ratification or rejection. The publication of the Council’s records was originally done in 1991 under then Secretary of State Jim Douglas. The Council’s journals were transcribed and annotated by Paul Gillies and Gregory Sanford. Secretary Condos explained that, ‘Putting Gillies and Sanford’s work online reflects our enhanced opportunities for distributing information through technology. It is part of my commitment to making public information as broadly available, for free, as we can.’ The Censors successfully proposed two-year terms of office; the creation of a state senate; and their own replacement with the current amendment process, though with a ten-year time lock as opposed to the current four years. The Council also foreshadowed the current make-up of the House of Representatives when in 1856 it proposed replacing town-representation with a 150 member chamber based on population. While their proposals failed at the time, their system of proportional representation was essentially adopted in 1965. The debates surrounding even the Council’s failure are fascinating. The 1869 Council’s debates over extending the vote to women followed along the lines of 20th Century debates over the equal rights amendment. The Council’s proposal in support of women’s suffrage lost in convention 1 to 233. ‘Making records on the evolution of our state constitution widely accessible is important to our civic education, as students and as Vermonters,’ said Condos. The online presentation is full-text searchable, easing the ability to search issues over time. Source: Secretary of State, December 15, 2011 Selections from the Records of the Council of Censors, 1770-1870 On Women’s Suffrage ‘We believe that woman, married or unmarried, was made to be the companion of man and not his mere servant; that she has the same right to control her property that he has to control his; that she has the same right to aspire to any occupation, profession, or position, the duties of which she is competent to discharge, that he has. A right is worth nothing without the power to protect it. The ballot alone can do this.’ July 28, 1869 (p. 642)On the Creation of a Senate ‘With these views, we propose, as a safeguard against hasty and improvident legislation, and to remedy, in some degree, the inequality of representation in the most numerous branch of the legislature, a Senate as a substitute for the present Council. The Senate to consist of thirty members, to be apportioned to the several counties, as near as may be, in the ratio of population–providing however, that each county shall have, at least, one Senator.’ January 16, 1835 (p. 374)On the Disadvantage of Annual Sessions of the Legislature ‘Your committee are of the opinion that a careful scrutiny of the history of our State Legislature for the past twenty years will show that in most cases our public legislation has been confined to trivial matters, and that no important changes have been made in our laws as often as once in two years, nor indeed for much longer periods. Such scrutiny will also show that in many instances, such changes as have been made, have been had unadvisedly, so that no inconsiderable part of the business has been to undo and repeal what had been so hastily done the year before. In this view your committee are of opinion that we have had too much legislation; that the continual tinkering of the laws, by making amendments one year and repealing them the next, and the numerous minor modifications of our statute which our legislation has produced, have not been profitable to the State.’ July 29, 1869 (p. 645) Foreshadowing Current Use In our enquiry, “whether the public taxes have been justly laid and collected in all parts of this commonwealth,” we are of opinion, that the act passed by the legislature in October 1797, laying a tax of one cent per acre, on all lands in this state indiscriminately,” was unequal and unjust. It is a principle universally allowed, that property ought to be taxed in proportion to its real value, and annual income; and though it is impossible by any general rule to do perfect justice, yet the mode that makes the nearest approach thereto is to be preferred. The taxing the wild and uncultivated mountains per acre, equal to the lands of the highest cultivation, or covered with elegant buildings, can bear no proportionate estimate, either in value or income. Feb 4, 1800 (p. 170)On the People’s Role in Amending the Constitution It is evident that the people at the present time take but little interest in amending their Constitution, nor have they since 1850. They have become so indifferent that it is a matter of doubt whether one in ten really knows and understands what our Constitution is, or how it is amended; and the question arises, is it best or expedient to perpetuate and continue a system so little understood, and in which so little interest is manifested? It should be brought home nearer to the people; they should have a direct influence, instead of an indirect and remote one. This is an age of improvement, and a republican government is never wiser nor better, in our State, at least, and at the present time, than the people who elect it; and such a government fails to answer its design when the people become indifferent to its workings. The people of Vermont are at the present time vastly more intelligent, better informed, better educated than formerly, and no good reason exists in the opinion of the minority for not trusting them directly in the final amendments to their Constitution. July 31, 1869 (pp. 659-660)On the Purpose of a Constitution ‘Again it is urged that the Council of Censors is a body unknown to sister states, and has arrived at that “respectable old age” in our own that entitles it to funeral honors. We are unable to see any force in this argument. The very soul of an organic law–of a constitution for a commonwealth, is permanency. The people demand some permanent law so that legislatures of partisan bias shall not trample upon the rights of minorities.’ August 3, 1869 (p. 680)
Denmark’s statutory pension fund ATP suffered a big loss on investments in the fourth quarter of last year, which cut the return it made over the rest of the year by nearly 40%, dragging the full-year return down to DKK5.36bn (€720m), or 6.5%.The year before, 2013, the fund reported a 17.9% return.The 2014 return – before tax on pension savings returns – was 38.6% lower than the DKK8.73bn return posted for the first nine months of the year alone.In its annual results statement, ATP said its investment portfolio made a DKK3.38bn loss in the fourth quarter. Carsten Stendevad, chief executive, said: “Investment activities generated a return of DKK6.1bn – before both expenses and tax – with most of ATP’s investments performing well.“Exceptions were oil investments and the long-term hedging strategy against rising inflation, which produced negative returns.”Inflation hedging activities alone – part of the pension fund’s inflation risk class within its investment portfolio – lost ATP DKK5.9bn over the year.ATP said a sudden rise in inflation, which would water down the buying power of pensions, was a significant risk for the scheme’s pensioners.“Therefore, ATP has bought protection against rising inflation since 2009,” it said.This insurance strategy consisted of inflation caps and swaptions, it said.“The big fall in inflation and bond yields with a long time remaining to maturity affected values very negatively,” it said.However, within the inflation risk class, DKK1.7bn and DKK1.9bn returns on property and infrastructure, respectively, helped reduce the loss for that category to DKK2.8bn.The commodities risk class ended the year with a loss of DKK2.0bn, with the portfolio consisting entirely of oil bonds and oil-related financial instruments.Over the year, the oil price fell to around $55 a barrel from $95.Equities generated DKK8.5bn for the pension fund during the year, and the credit risk class produced a return of DKK776m.ATP’s investment portfolio is only around 20% of its total assets, with the vast majority invested in the hedging portfolio, designed to underpin the yield guarantees it gives its members.This hedging portfolio – consisting mainly of bonds and related instruments – ballooned in 2014 as market interest rates dwindled and in some cases went below zero.Including the hedging portfolio, ATP made a total return over the year of DKK138.3bn, or 23.3%, on total assets, which grew to DKK823.6bn by the end of 2014, from DKK677.5bn.Looking ahead to the full 2015 year, ATP said it was applying a new long-term target.This has been set at 7% of bonus potential at the beginning of the year, it said, equivalent to just over 9% before tax and expenses.
Senior Alexina Boudreaux-Allen won a paid trip to a music festival during the Red Bull Hack the Hits hackathon after building a mask for DJs and electronic music performers with a team of students. (Julia Mazzucco | Daily Trojan)A USC senior and two other students from Stanford University and Berklee College of Music won an all-expense paid trip to a mystery music festival at the Red Bull Hack the Hits hackathon from Oct. 12 to 15 thanks to their instrument invention, the Beat Mask, which was built in just 48 hours.The winning team, known as the USBs, comprises Alexina Boudreaux-Allen, a computer science student at USC, Raul Dagir from Stanford and Claire Lim from the Berklee. Boudreaux-Allen said that her team’s interests in music and technology inspired them to create Beat Mask, a mask for DJs and electronic music performers with a machine learning algorithm that transforms voice input into live electronically-produced music. “One of the things that we all had in common is that we’re all performers,” Boudreaux-Allen said. “We just wanted to see if we could find a way to make electronic performances to be more live-feeling, like for audiences.”The product was constructed from a $4 spray painting mask from Home Depot, Boudreaux-Allen said.Using a microphone from Apple earphones, Beat Mask picks up the wearer’s beatboxing and replicates it electronically. The USBs also installed LED lights that flash with the music and a gyroscope that captures movement and controls music effects. “Being able to make something that can make a electronic producer have a more engaging set with their audience, we just thought that sounded hype, because we all perform,” Boudreaux-Allen added. The only instruction the five groups participating were given at the hackathon was to create anything that makes sound, according to Boudreaux-Allen. However, there were a few guidelines: instruments had to be a physical product and produce sound in a musical way. The criteria for a winning project included musicality, innovation, usability and awesomeness, according to Julie Covello, also known as DJ Shakey, one of the five hackathon judges. Beat Mask managed to pull together all aspects and pulled ahead with its high technicality and visual engagement, according to Covello. “It did have a high technical capability, which was incorporating the artificial intelligence and all that, which is great,” Covello said. “But I don’t want to see an instrument that only does that. It also looked really weird and unique. It had blinking lights on it, and it also had synth functions:you could turn a knob and you could filter a sound.”Matt Moldover, one of the five mentors in the music industry that helped teams over the 48-hour period, initially worried about the winning team because they spent the most time in the ideation stage. “Conceptualizing a mask as a musical instrument is something I don’t think I’ve ever seen before,” Moldover said. “It won in the novelty department and in the presentation department, and in the way they pulled it together.”The team worked through obstacles with machine learning with help from mentors like Moldover and USC alumnus Mike Gao, who specializes in the area of programming and software.“I’m a graduating senior right now, and I have no idea what I want to do with my life,” Boudreaux-Allen said. “But this hackathon … I thought it was freaking awesome for multiple reasons, like one, you just get to like come up with an idea and just make it and see it all the way through. And that’s a really satisfying thing.”