Questions surround latest Ashmolean treasures

first_imgOXFORD’S Ashmolean Museumhas acquired a collection of Renaissance silverware that has been described as “the most important gift of its type to a British museum for over a century”, though some questions have arisen surrounding the origins of some of the artefacts.The collection was the bequest of the late collector Michael Wellby, who was a friend of Professor Tim Wilson, Keeper of Western Art at the Ashmolean, and is believed to be worth in excess of £10 million.As with all Ashmolean exhibits, the silverware will be free to view for students.Professor Wilson said, “A selection of some of the finest pieces from the Wellby collection will be put on display from late February in the West Meets East Gallery, where they can be appreciated in the wider context of artistic and cultural exchange in the modern world.”Following the refurbishment of one of the museum’s permanent galleries, the collection will be relocated to a space that can house the entirety of the bequest.The important acquisition has provoked controversy owing to unconfirmed rumours that some of the artefacts that will go on display in the Ashmolean were looted from Jewish collectors during Nazi rule.Responding to these concerns, Professor Wilson asserted that Michael  Wellby’s father, who collected the art, “Would not have knowingly acquired any object which he had reason to believe had been looted from or sold under duress by a Jewish family in the period of Nazi rule.”He confirmed that the Ashmolean would be taking steps to “publish information as soon as it can about the objects and, where possible, about their provenance.”Despite Professor Wilson’s assurances, some students still seem concerned about the new display. Adam Cobb, Jewish Society Vice-President, commented, “Proper background research should always be essential for any item being displayed in a museum, especially when the pieces of artwork have a suspicious background. In this particular case I personally do not believe the objects should go on display until their origins have been established so that any potential cause for offence can be suitably avoided.”Despite the controversy, members of the student population have been positive about the new exhibits. Laura Martin, a first-year History of Art student at Wadham, opined, “I think that the Ashmolean’s acquisition is a wise one, as the decorative arts are way too marginalised in the art historical world” and noted that, out of the new collection, “the lapis lazuli was the most beautiful, as it’s unusual to see it in any other form than paint.”Ashmolean enthusiast Tim Keasley, a second-year musician from Pembroke, explained his excitement about the new exhibition, saying, “Seeing the actual objects is an opportunity not to be missed, why would you bore yourself to death reading about them in a library, when you could go and see them, right here in Oxford?”last_img read more

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$13 million estate tax windfall boosts Vermont’s revenue results for May

first_imgSecretary Lunderville concluded by saying, We are hopeful that the unexpected May estate tax receipts will keep revenue at or slightly above target for the current fiscal year (FY 2009). However, economists remain guarded about the state economy. There is still no clear indication that Vermont has reached the bottom of this recession. Although there are some small favorable signs, it is not clear whether Vermont will come out of this recession in a U pattern, or a W recovery, meaning that after the beginning of some growth, we could fall again before beginning the true recovery.Attachments: Detailed schedules of revenue results comparing the current fiscal year-to-date period with the same period from the last fiscal year. AttachmentSize May 2009 Revenue Results.pdf36.42 KB Today, Secretary of Administration Neale F. Lunderville released revenue results for the month of May. General Fund revenues exceeded the recently revised target for the month, as compared to the consensus revenue target, due solely to unexpected one-time $13 million Estate Tax receipts.  Year-to-date, General Fund revenues of $1,003.78 million (+$10.81 million, +1.09%) were slightly above target. Transportation funds were also up by almost 4 percent. Meanwhile, the non-property tax Education Fund revenues were off 2 percent. The person who died last year was not identified by the Vermont Tax Department, but the value of the estate was worth somewhere between $80 million to $100 million.General FundThe General Fund revenues of $65.61 million (+$11.61 million, +21.50%) for the month of May 2009 were above target against the recently revised forecast of $54.00 million. Without the unanticipated Estate Tax receipts for the month, the General Fund revenues for May would have been below target by -$1.98 million. Although the General Fund results for the month of May were above target, this was the result of unexpected estate tax receipts, rather than the beginning of a return to increasing revenues. Even with this one-time estate tax receipt, General Fund revenue receipts through May 2009 were -$87.73 million or -8.04% below the results through May 2008, said Secretary Lunderville.The monthly targets reflect the most recent FY 2009 consensus revenue forecast that was agreed to by the Emergency Board on April 24, 2009. The state s consensus revenue forecast is normally updated two times per year in January and July. However, with the downturn in the national and regional economy, the Emergency Board has been scheduling interim revenue reviews. The next consensus forecast is scheduled to be reviewed by the Emergency Board on July 16, 2009.Personal Income Tax receipts are the largest single state revenue source, and are reported Net of Personal Income Tax refunds. Different types of Personal Income Tax (PI) payments and refunds are included in this category, such as PI Withheld, PI Estimates, PI Refunds, PI Paid Returns, and PI Other . Net Personal Income Tax Receipts for May of $18.37 million were slightly under the target of $18.76 million (-$0.39 million or -2.08%). Year-to-date, the net Personal Income Tax results of $477.78 million were -$1.48 million or -0.31% below the target of $479.25 million.Corporate Tax receipts are also reported net of refunds. Corporate Income Tax revenue results for May were $0.40 million versus the monthly target of $0.51 million, or -$0.11 million (-21.03%) below target for the month. Year-to-date, Corporate Income Tax receipts of $53.41 million were +$1.61 million or +3.11% above the target of $51.80 million.For the month, receipts for the consumption taxes (Sales & Use Tax and Meals & Rooms Tax) were slightly below target. Sales & Use Tax receipts of $14.68 million fell below target by -$0.06 million or -0.43%, and Rooms & Meals Tax receipts of $6.91 million fell short of the target by -$0.15 million or -2.12%. Year-to-date, Sales & Use Tax was $197.87 million (-$0.29 million, -0.15%) and Rooms & Meals Tax receipts were $108.86 million (-$0.56 million, -0.51%).The remaining components of the General Fund revenue were below target for the month, except Insurance and Estate Tax. Estate Tax receipts are inconsistent and subject to wide variation. For this reason, Estate Tax is always difficult to project accurately. The non-major tax component results for the month were: Insurance Premium, $5.92 million (+$0.23 million, +3.99%); Inheritance/Estate Tax, $14.05 million (+$13.59 million, +2952.07%); Real Property Transfer Tax, $0.51 million (-$0.06 million, -10.43%); and Other , $4.77 million (-$1.44 million, -23.16%). Year-to-date results for these components were: Insurance Premium, $52.45 million (-0.29%); Inheritance/Estate Tax, $22.12 million (+157.05%); Real Property Transfer Tax, $7.91 million (-2.20%); and Other , $83.39 (-1.95%).Transportation FundSecretary Lunderville also released the non-dedicated Transportation Fund revenue results today. Transportation Fund receipts for the month were $18.31 million, exceeding the current forecast by +$0.69 million or +3.92%. The favorable result for the month is due to above target performance in the Gas Tax, indicating that people have begun to drive more miles as the summer approaches. Year-to-date, the Transportation Fund revenues of $181.00 million were +0.34% above target. The results for the individual Transportation Fund revenue components were mixed for the month. Diesel Fuel Tax, Motor Vehicle Purchase & Use, and Motor Vehicle Fees all fell short of the monthly target. In addition to Gasoline Tax exceeding target as previously noted, Other Transportation Fund revenues also exceeded target for the month. The components of the Transportation Fund revenue for the month were: Gasoline Tax, $5.34 million (+27.87%); Diesel Tax, $0.73 million (-21.02%); Motor Vehicle Purchase & Use Tax, $4.01 million (-7.10%); Motor Vehicle Fees, $6.48 million (-6.03%); and Other , $1.76 million (+33.92%). Year-to-date, the Transportation Fund revenue components for May were: Gasoline Tax, $55.56 million (+0.66%); Diesel Tax, $13.08 million (+0.20%); Motor Vehicle Purchase & Use Tax, $38.70 million (-0.79%); Motor Vehicle Fees, $57.56 million (-0.08%); and Other , $16.10 million (+3.72%).Education Fund Non-Property Tax Education Fund revenue receipts of $11.04 million were released by Secretary Lunderville today; these receipts are -$0.24 million (-2.10%) below the May monthly target of $11.28 million. Non-Property Tax Education Fund revenues constitute approximately 12% of the total Education Fund receipts. Year-to-date, non-Property Tax Education Fund revenues were $135.67 million or -$0.40 million (-0.29%) below target. Results for the components of the non-Property Tax Education revenue for May: Sales & Use Tax, $7.34 million (-0.44%); Motor Vehicle Purchase & Use, $2.01 million (-7.08%); Lottery Transfer, $1.69 million (-1.65%); and Investment Income, $0.01 (-66.48%). Year-to-date results were: Sales & Use Tax, $98.93 million (-0.15%); Motor Vehicle Purchase & Use, $19.35 million (-0.79%); Lottery Transfer, $17.13 million (-0.22%); and Investment Income, $0.25 million (-19.56%).Conclusionlast_img read more

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September 1, 2005 Letters

first_img Letters JNC Process I couldn’t help but chuckle as I read the August 1 News article about the Judicial Independence Committee’s “exploration” of Florida’s JNC process.Several commentators in the article expressed concerns about the governor’s preference for six, rather than three, candidates for judicial vacancies, and suggested that a larger pool of candidates makes it less likely that the “best of the best” will be selected for judgeships.In truth, the governor’s changes to the JNC have simply reduced the power of a subset of Bar elites, who all too often concluded that the “best of the best” included only those whose views and backgrounds mirrored their own.The numbers speak for themselves. Since Gov. Bush took office and demanded changes, a record number of women and minorities have made it through the JNC process and joined the ranks of Florida’s judges. In addition, there has been a marked increase in the diversity of viewpoints represented on the bench. The governor should be praised for his leadership, not pilloried for politicizing the process. Reginald J. Brown Washington, D.C. Shakespeare Revisited “I hate attorneys” is an often heard refrain. There are those who always wish to share their kind words about attorneys with a Shakespearean quote: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” We are referred to as gunslingers or mouthpieces. What happened to counselors or advisors? These issues of perception and civility have troubled me over the years.We are supposed to be able to communicate a point of view. But what is the point of view we are to communicate? How society views what is right and what is wrong ultimately determines what attorneys will reflect back in their practice of law. It is the attitudes prevalent in a society which impact our legal system.Although we as professionals have our shortcomings and are not perfect, so it is the same with the society in which we practice. It is not perfect. We are influenced by society’s values. Can we create for society a better format for communication than currently exists? Absolutely. We have the ability to maintain civility with our colleagues. We have the opportunity to mediate and help people settle their differences in a more civil manner. We have the ability and knowledge to help change laws which are unfair, ineffective, or overly burdensome. We have the ability to advise people that a matter is not appropriate for litigation and that we will not handle the matter. We have the ability when on the bench to throw out a frivolous case. We have the ability to express our points of view and leave the door open for meaningful discussion without resorting to inappropriate behavior or coercive tactics.I know this is possible because I see the changes in attitude when parties so desire. Even in hostile litigation, counsel can rise above the bickering and communicate on a professional level. They can extend courtesies to opposing counsel so that the process can run smoothly and channels of communication can remain open. Attorneys do not have to be reflective of society’s norms. We can set the tone of how people can communicate on a civil basis, although they may have strong differences of opinion.It is sad that society forgets the intent of Shakespeare’s suggestion to kill all of the lawyers. No lawyers meant no one to protect against antisocial behavior. The statement was actually a compliment and acknowledgment of the important role lawyers play in maintaining law and order in a society.I am an attorney, and I am proud of being one who counsels and mediates. Michael Garlick Boca Raton The Name Game The “It is important to practice under your real name” UPL Update column in the August 15 News misstates the law and illustrates misplaced priorities.The author’s example is that a lawyer licensed as Cynthia R. Jones may not call herself Cindy Jones in her law practice. This contradicts the only formal authority we have in Florida on the subject, Florida Bar Ethics Opinion 74-20, which says, in pertinent part:“We do not believe that a William signing a letter Bill, a Henry signing a letter Hank, or a Francis signing as Frank is going to mislead anyone, particularly where his full name is set out on his letterhead, although we know of no rule absolutely requiring this.”There is simply no possible reasonable reading of Rule 1-3.3 that forbids, for example, use of a middle initial in a signature instead of spelling out an entire middle name or entirely omitting the middle name from the signature or using Jill instead of Jillian. The purpose is to prevent misleading identifications, not to nitpick at practices so universal that enforcement in accordance with this article would make offenders out of perhaps a majority of the members of the Bar.In presenting an overreaching and insupportable interpretation of an otherwise legitimate rule, this column invites resentment and the sense of harassment that fuels so much of the attack, in the legislature and elsewhere, on the Bar’s regulatory authority. Rick Johnson (a/k/a Richard Errol Johnson) Tallahassee( Bar UPL Counsel Lori Holcomb Responds: Mr. Johnson’s letter gives an example from an ethics opinion on how letters may be signed. I do not believe that the column contradicts the ethics opinion. It states that the nickname may be used “particularly where his full name is set out on his letterhead.” Someone seeing the letter would have the full name and be able to find the attorney in the Bar’s records.) September 1, 2005 Letters September 1, 2005 Letterslast_img read more

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