Meg Jannott, a design student at The College for Creative Studies in Detroit, is giving each U.S. president his own visual identity.
Scott Thomas thinks Mitt Romney’s typography could use some work. In a conversation with The Atlantic earlier this fall, the Chicago-based graphic designer explained how the “lack of polish and uneven canter” of the design work across Romney’s campaign is “parallel to his lack of rapport and makes him appear untrustworthy.” To be fair, Thomas might be a bit biased; he was the man responsible for the Obama campaign’s visual identity in 2008. Still, his critique serves as a reminder that modern elections are, in many ways, high-stakes battles of the brand, visual showdowns complete with logos, websites, TV spots, and all the other trappings of a good ad blitz. But while our current president might be typographically synonymous with Gotham, his predecessors typically didn’t leave behind visual identities that were anywhere near as distinct. So Meg Jannott made some up.
Jannott, a senior at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, started the project two months ago as a diversion that didn’t involve clients or classroom assignments. She knew she wanted to tackle some sort of series–something where she could work on one item a day–
and the around-the-clock news coverage of the upcoming presidential election gave her an obvious option: commanders-in-chief.
The designer has since completed images for our first 40 presidents. Some include little logos, others feature nicknames or famous quotations from the great men. But they’re not intended to be fully realized brands as much as quick and dirty exercises. “When I started to work on a president,” Jannott tells Co.Design, “I did do some research to find out traits and characteristics about them–what they were known for, nicknames, etc. Then, I tried to use photography and typography to emulate those things. Some are more successful than others, but that’s all part of the process of the set, I think.” All in all, she says, she tries not to spend more than an hour or two on each.
But even with that scant spare time, some of the results are powerful enough to make you want to grab a history book and dive in. A few of my favorites include James Madison, his initials rendered in stretched-out letterforms, and LBJ’s, whose image manages to convey a bit of his infamously intimidating stature by cropping off the top part of his head. As for the designer’s faves? She’s fond of George Washington’s treatment. “I feel like I had to start out right,” she says, “and I’ve been partial to that one since. It’s also one of the more popular ones of the set.”
Still, she’s definitely right about some being more gripping than others–the images for the Whig presidents in particular don’t do much to elevate them out of their hazy place in history. Though I’m not sure how much of that is Jannott’s fault. Millard Fillmore would be a tough sell for anyone.
“When I started to work on a president,” she says, “I did do some research to find out traits and characteristics about them–what they were known for, nicknames, etc. Then, I tried to use photography and typography to emulate those things.”
Some are more convincing than others–Millard Fillmore isn’t the most exciting historical figure.
And who knew William McKinley’s nickname was the “Idol of Ohio”?
But if Teddy Roosevelt could pick any photo to represent his brand, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was this one of him fording a river on a moose.
Calvin Coolidge, understated as usual.
Jannott says she tries to limit herself to an hour or two on each image.
LBJ’s cropped top imparts some sense of his famously intimidating stature.
I’m not sure “fox” is the first word I’d use to describe Martin Van Buren.
Nixon surveilling something, as was his wont.
Jannott’s currently stuck on Ronald Reagan–though she says she hopes to complete the set when her school schedule permits.
A recent study exposed an alarming trend in the tech industry. Immigrant entrepreneurs, who in recent years have launched half the startups in Silicon Valley, are founding drastically fewer companies. Except for one group: Indians. What makes entrepreneurs from India so different?
The startup study was sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation and conducted by Vivek Wadhwa, who’s the director of research at the Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization at Duke University. His data showed that the number of immigrant-founded startups in Silicon Valley has fallen from 52.4% to 43.9% since 2005, a drop that Wadhwa calls “shocking.”
Indian Startups Buck The Trend
But another statistic surprised Wadhwa as well: the number of startups founded by Indians is actually climbing. Against the decline in immigrant-founded startups – and our ever more xenophobic immigration policy – Indians are still launching startups.
“The data showed that Indians are defying gravity and starting more companies,” Wadhwa says. “The number of Indian startups went up from 26% to 33% of all immigrant startups.”
The immigrant founders surveyed in Wadhwa’s study hail from 60 different countries – but a full third of them are from India. What gives? Why are entrepreneurs from the subcontinent such overachievers?
Wadhwa says one reason is that Indian entrepreneurs have a very strong support network here in the U.S. Thirty years ago, when Indians began building momentum in Silicon Valley, that first generation of successful startup founders worked hard to help those who followed. They built organizations and created a U.S. ecosystem of successful Indian entrepreneurs – and, crucially, angel funders – to accelerate newcomers.
“It was a very conscious effort put in place by several dozen successful entrepreneurs,” Wadhwa says.
Indian Startups Are Cool
Another factor is the societal value placed on entrepreneurial endeavor. Indian kids think it’s cool to start companies. They don’t grow up aspiring to be the next Justin Bieber. They want to be the next Sabeer Bhatia.
The founder of Hotmail. “He’s a rock star in India,” Wadhwa says.
How did that happen? Wadhwa gives a brief history lesson. Just a few decades ago India was going nowhere. “The economy was stagnant, India was known as a country of beggars and snake charmers,” Wadhwa says. “Pessimism abounded. India was basically a loser of a country. Suddenly you had these people coming to Silicon Valley making extraordinary amounts of money. This caught the attention of people back home. The media was shocked that Indians could be so successful. Kids started dreaming of coming to Silicon Valley and creating companies like Hotmail.”
So OK. That’s how the Indian community pulled itself to success in Silicon Valley. What’s with other immigrant communities? Why haven’t they done the same?
Can Other Immigrants Emulate The Indians?
Wadhwa thinks Indians benefit from their heritage, which suits them better than many other immigrants to making it in America. They speak English. They come from a democratic society. More than that, they have a serious independent streak.
“Just like here, Indians are free to speak out against the government,” Wadhwa says. “There is a history of breaking the rules, just like here. Culturally, Americans and Indians are similar and that gives Indians a big advantage when they come to America because they fit right in.”
Compare that to the Chinese experience, he suggests. “In China you’re terrified of authority, you dare not speak out against the government because you’ll be taken away the next day. There is a culture shock from that perspective – people who come from authoritative regimes are afraid of defying authority. But to be an entrepreneur you need to defy authority, you need to break all the rules, you need to take a risk.”
The Indians Are Going Home
Now, a lot of Indian entrepreneurs are taking their risks back home. Although his recent study shows Indians are still starting a lot of companies in Silicon Valley, lately Wadhwa has noticed a change. U.S. immigration and employment laws have grown so unfriendly that even the indefatigable Indians are getting discouraged.
“The tide has turned,” Wadhwa says. “Many people could not get their visas to stay here after they graduated from U.S. schools so they went back to India to start their companies, taking their values, experience and education with them. Taking their money with them.”
Result: the tech startup culture in India is booming. Yes, ours is too. But for how long? Wadhwa wonders.
“We’re exporting our prosperity,” he says. “Even though Indian entrepreneurs have had tremendous success here, their numbers could be even stronger. We could have tens of thousands more startups.”
Instead, the top Indian graduates from U.S. universities are going back to the sub-continent. “Gladly returning home,” Wadhwa says. “Every year I see this more and more. There is a gradual but noticeable change in attitude. Many don’t even think of staying.”
3 June 1961: Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev and President John F Kennedy talk in the residence of the US ambassador in a suburb of Vienna, just over a month after the botched Bay of Pigs invasion
On 14 October 1962, a US air force plane captured photographic proof of Soviet missile bases under construction in Cuba, setting in train the crisis which brought the US and the Soviet Union close to nuclear war
Cuban leader Fidel Castro gives a speech in Cuba circa 22 October 1962 during the crisis
24 October 1962: President Kennedy in the White House signing the order to launch a naval blockade of Cuba
Members of the Cuban militia mobilised during the missile crisis in October 1962
A handout picture released by Cuban newspaper Granma, showing Cuban militiamen manning an anti-aircraft battery of Czechoslovakian-made M53 12.7mm quad guns at Havana’s Malecón during the 1962 missile crisis
Another handout picture released by the Cuban newspaper Granma, showing Cuban leader Fidel Castro inspecting an artillery unit at an undisclosed spot during the 1962 missile crisis
Another Granma picture, showing Cuban leader Fidel Castro talking with the crew of a field artillery battery at an undisclosed place during the 1962 missile crisis
A group from Women Strike for Peace holding placards relating to the Cuban missile crisis. They were part of a larger group of 800 women strikers for peace on 47th St near the United Nations building in New York in 1962
Miami, Florida, 22 October 1962: Federico Fidel Fernandez, a Miami Cuban refugee, listens to President Kennedy’s television address in which the president explained the United States’ position on the Cuban situation to the American people and the world
A Kennedy administration official showing aerial views of one of the Cuban medium-range missile bases, taken in October 1962, to the members of the United Nations security council, at the request of Adlai Stevenson, US ambassador to the United Nations
An aerial view of one of the Cuban medium-range missile bases, taken October 1962
An aerial picture taken 9 November 1962 off the Cuban coast of the Soviet freighter Anosov carrying missiles in accordance with the US-Soviet agreement on the withdrawal of the Russian missiles from Cuba. American planes and helicopters flew at low level to keep close check on the dismantling and loading operations, while US warships watch over Soviet freighters carrying missiles back to the Soviet Union
Aerial picture taken 4 December 1962 of the Soviet freighter Okhotsk carrying Ilyushin IL 28 missiles in accordance with the US-Soviet agreement
The coffin of Major Rudolf Anderson Jr, the sole casualty of the Cuban missile crisis, is lifted on to a Swiss plane at Havana’s airport on 6 November 1962. Major Anderson’s U-2 spy plane was shot down by a Soviet-supplied SA-2 missile, on 27 October 1962 over Cuba.
We were instantly drawn to Sandro Miller’s portraits of American bikers, which we spotted onInspireFirst. The Chicago native and acclaimed artist attended a biker rally in 1990, which was sponsored by a local Harley-Davidson dealership to raise money for children’s charity Little Angels. Miller was touched by the camaraderie and dedication the leather-covered crew displayed — a far cry from the bad reputation bikers are branded with by the media. He set out to meet and photograph as many motorcyclists as he could over the next five years, and his seriesAmerican Bikers is an honest and revealing look at the spirit of the nomadic subculture. Visit more of Miller’s works in our gallery, and head to the artist’s website for more compelling photographs.
The construction of the model compound as of February 15, 2011
In No Easy Day, Navy Seal Mark Bissonnette’s account of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, Bissonnette mentions that Seal Team 6 trained on a replica compound at a secret site in North Carolina.
The website Cryptome has published Bing Maps images of Harvey Point Defense Testing in North Carolina, a CIA training facility, that show what appears to be a pretty accurate model of bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound in Pakistan.
Here is a Google Maps image of bin Laden’s compound:
Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad as of May 11, 2011
It’s interesting to view the copy compound in the context of its placement near the Harvey Point Defense Testing Center on the North Carolina coast.
Harvey Point, North Carolina
We’ve come a long way since 1960. That was the year of the first televised debate between two U.S. presidential candidates. Fifty-two years after Kennedy and Nixon verbally sparred onstage, this political traditional continues, but with more ways of watching than ever before.
Much has changed even in the last four years. In 2008, watching the debates without a cable subscription involved streaming them from a clunky player on CNN’s website, which could kinda-sorta be full-screened to fit onto your television, if you were so ambitious as to plug your laptop into your HDTV. Good news: This year, things are going to be much easier. (And not just for watching online, but also for interacting with other political junkies.)
On October 3, October 16, and October 22, CNN will stream presidential debates between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney live on its website, just as it did last time around. In a new interactive twitst, the network’s Web interface will allow viewers to select specific clips from the debates and share them over Facebook and Twitter. CNN’s livestreams will also be available on many of the connected gadgets we’ve all spent the last four years purchasing. Most live feeds in CNN’s mobile apps require a cable subscription to access, but the debates will be freely available on iPads, iPhones and Android devices.
CNN isn’t the only source streaming the debates online. Huffington Post is using its new HuffPost Live platform to act as an interactive hub for both watching and discussing the debates between Obama and Romney.
Meanwhile, YouTube’s Election Hub will offer every presidential and vice presidential debate live, as well as additional coverage and commentary from media partners as diverse as ABC News, Al Jazeera and Buzzfeed. Back on their own sites, partners like ABC, CBS, Politico, and Univision will be streaming the debates live as well. The Wall Street Journal will do the same through its WSJ Live apps for iOS, Android, Boxee, Apple TV and a number of Internet-connected HDTVs on the market.
If you’re hosting a debate-watching party or simply prefer to sit in front of a big screen, you can always plug your laptop into an HDVT using VGA, HDMI or any other compatible cable. But sleeker solutions have emerged in the last few years. Xbox Live subscribers will have access to an interactive feed of the debates, although plenty of other free options exist. If you happen to own an Apple TV streaming box, you can AirPlay any iOS-friendly or Web-based streams (presuming you’re running Mountain Lion) directly to your television.
In a 301 to 118 decision, the US House of Representatives has voted in favor of the FISA Amendments Act Reauthorization Act of 2012, a bill which will extend the US government’s previously established warrantless wiretapping programs for the next five years. The bill preserves far-reaching and highly controversial enhancements to government surveillance powers granted under amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in 2008, and has been met with considerable resistance from privacy groups and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.
FISA was originally tasked with preventing American citizens from being spied on following a 1978 scandal that found Richard Nixon’s administration using US intelligence agencies to target activists and political opponents. But those protections have since been severely eroded, first by the USA Patriot Act in 2001, and again by the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, greatly expanding government surveillance powers to allow warrantless wiretapping of phone, email, and other communications.
“THE AMERICAN PEOPLE DESERVE BETTER.”
“Many U.S. citizens, and others who have nothing to do with foreign intelligence gathering, are caught up in this surveillance, and government has an obligation to protect their rights,” said New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler, one of the bill’s opponents. “The American people deserve better, and Congress has an obligation to exert more control over spy agencies than simply to give them a blank check for another five years.”
The bill’s supporters, on the other hand, continue to fervently insist that the spying powers are essential to defend the US from terrorist threats. “Foreign terrorists continue to search for new ways to attack America,” said Rep. Lamar Smith, whom you may remember as the prime sponsor of SOPA.
The only form of oversight for these surveillance activities exists in the form of a secret judicial body known as a FISA court. The problem is it’s impossible to know how effective these courts actually are; all of their activities are obscured from both the public and members of Congress, thereby severely impairing any attempts to criticize the law.
In July, a declassified document requested by Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon revealed that “on at least one occasion,” the FISA courts found that the NSA’s intelligence-gathering efforts had caught an American citizen in its dragnet, violating Fourth Amendment rights against search and seizure.
William Binney, a former NSA codebreaker who helped expose the US government’s extensive surveillance activities, has been especially vocal on the matter. He left the NSA in 2001, after observing what he describes as a sharp pivot from foreign intelligence into domestic spying after 9/11. “NSA’s charter was to do foreign intelligence, and I was with that all the way,” he said during a panel on government surveillance at the Def Con hacking conference in July. “But then they took those systems that I built and they turned them on you, and I’m sorry about that.”
“WHEN AL QAEDA CALLS INTO AMERICA, WE SHOULD BE LISTENING.”
But despite opposition, both Presidential candidates have said that they support the bill’s warrantless wiretapping powers.
President Obama, who originally opposed provisions which gave retroactive legal immunity to telecommunications companies who assisted in the NSA’s then-illegal wiretaps, reversed his decision just prior to the passage of the FISA amendments in 2008. Mitt Romney expressed his unflagging support of the spy bill in 2007, reasoning that “When Al Qaeda calls into America, we should be listening.”
If the bill passes in the Senate, it will extend FISA’s warrantless wiretapping provisions into 2017. Meanwhile, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has sued the government, demanding that the FISA courts hand over information on how the NSA has been using (and abusing) the law.
“As Congress gears up to reconsider the FAA, the American public needs to know how the law has been misused,” said EFF Senior Counsel David Sobel in a statement. “The DOJ should follow the law and release this information to the American public.”
Obama shares with Lincoln a re-election campaign in the midst of intractable domestic problems. In 1864, the lack of success in the civil war dogged his election prospects. His supporters feared he would lose. Sharing this anxiety, Lincoln made a pledge to defeat the confederacy before leaving the White House. “This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this administration will not be re-elected,” he wrote. Lincoln did not show the pledge to his cabinet, but asked them to sign the sealed envelope that, in the event, was unnecessary. Within a year, he was dead
The Democratic nomination was hotly contested in the light of incumbent Herbert Hoover’s vulnerability. Franklin D Roosevelt built his national coalition with personal allies such as newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Kennedy Sr. He went on to win the first of an unprecedented four terms. In his acceptance speech, Roosevelt declared: “I pledge you, I pledge myself to a new deal for the American people… a call to arms.” His inaugural address, given in the midst of the great depression, offered the rallying cry: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
A cliffhanger campaign immortalised in a newspaper headline. Truman had become president on the death of FDR in 1945, but no one gave him a chance. The New York Times declared: “Thomas E Dewey’s Election as President is a Foregone Conclusion.” Dewey, however, was a dreadful candidate – stuffy, prone to gaffes and out of touch. In his final campaign speech, Truman said: “The smart boys say we can’t win… but we called their bluff; we told the people the truth. And the people are with us. The tide is rolling. The people are going to win this election.” He was right
This election was a thriller in which Kennedy, the matinee idol Democrat, was nearly defeated by the brooding figure of Eisenhower’s former vice president, Richard Nixon. It was the first campaign in which the candidates debated on live television. The popular perception among those who had listened over the radio was that Nixon had got the better of JFK. But the TV told a different story. Kennedy appeared confident, sun-tanned and relaxed. Nixon looked shifty and, sweating badly under the lights, cut a sorry figure and came across as a loser. Kennedy won and Camelot was born
Another thriller, with the outcome uncertain long into the morning after the poll. The election was conducted against a backdrop of turmoil that included the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, nationwide race riots, Vietnam war protests and violent clashes between police and anti-war protesters at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Hubert Humphrey, the Democrats’ candidate, was the underdog, only closing in the final days of the race. Nixon campaigned successfully on law and order and ending the war
Nixon appeared unbeatable. When George McGovern won the Democratic nomination, high-profile Democrats, including Ted Kennedy, Walter Mondale and Hubert Humphrey, turned down offers to run as VP. In desperation, McGovern chose Thomas Eagleton, a senator from Missouri. Eagleton had made no mention of his electroshock treatment for depression and frequent hospitalisations. When the press confronted Eagleton with the story, he broke down and was replaced by Sargent Shriver. On election day, McGovern took only one state, Massachusetts. Nixon resigned over Watergate in August 1974
Jimmy Carter was always a poor bet for a second term, but his Republican opponent, Ronald Reagan, was widely distrusted as a veteran cold warrior and no one had ever been elected at the age of 70 before. Coming into the final weeks of the campaign, the outcome seemed finely balanced. The televised debates were essentially a score draw, but Reagan managed to land a punch – and show a flash of humour – when he twitted Carter’s penchant for manipulating statistics with the humorous line: “There you go again.” It was Reagan’s folksy charm that delivered a landslide to the Republican party
Bill Clinton’s second term now looks like a foregone conclusion. The cold war was over and America was prosperous and at peace, with a new generation looking forward to the new century. Bob Dole, a lacklustre candidate, with the now-forgotten Jack Kemp as VP, was a grizzled war veteran whose vulnerability was underlined when he slipped and fell head first from a podium. Compared with the 50-year-old Clinton, 73-year-old Dole appeared old and frail and the Clinton-Gore ticket won a landslide. But within a year, the president was fighting for his political life over the scandal of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky
After the euphoria of the Clinton years, this was the election defeat Al Gore and the Democrats snatched from the jaws of victory. Though Gore came in second in the electoral vote, he received 543,895 more popular votes than Bush. With no outright winner, and the votes of Florida in dispute – due to problems with the paper-based punchcards ballots (creating “hanging chads”), the unresolved outcome of the popular vote was passed to the Supreme Court. After a month of high political drama, the court ruled (by a margin of 7-2) that George W Bush had won, a low point in the history of Supreme Court judicial verdicts
With no incumbent defending the White House, the McCain-Obama presidential clash was dominated by the spectacle of the Republican challenge imploding – and the emergence of Sarah Palin. Her defining moment came with her first solo appearance. Hardcore Republicans went wild as she teased them with: “You know the difference between a pit bull and an average hockey mum? [pause] Lipstick!” For a few weeks, Palin-fever swept middle America. But by polling day, her star was waning and in the end her candidacy probably did more harm than good. Today, Palin has a new political life as a TV commentator and Tea Party darling
Mexico has extradited to the United States a woman accused of setting up some of the first drug smuggling routes up the Pacific coast into California.
Sandra Avila Beltran, dubbed Queen of the Pacific, has been handed over to the American authorities to face cocaine trafficking charges.
Mexican prosecutors accuse her of having played a major part in the build up of the Sinaloa Cartel in the 1990s.
Sandra Avila, who has been in prison since 2007, denies any wrongdoing.
Prosecutors say she worked alongside Mexico’s most wanted man, Joaquin “Shorty” Guzman, to build up one of Mexico’s most powerful criminal organisations.
She was accused of being an important link between the Sinaloa Cartel and the Norte del Valle Cartel, in Colombia.
Much of the cocaine produced in Colombia is smuggled into the United States via Mexico.
Sandra Avila Beltran is the niece of Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, known in the 1980s as “The Godfather” of drug trafficking into the US.
Botox in jail
Ms Avila was arrested in September 2007 in Mexico City, charged with money laundering and drug trafficking.
She has fought the charges, saying she made her money selling clothes and renting houses.
After a legal battle against extradition, Sandra Avila was handed over to the American authorities in Mexico.
She was taken to Florida to face cocaine possession and trafficking charges.
The BBC’s Will Grant in Mexico says prosecutors unsuccessfully tried to bring drug smuggling charges against her but she remained in prison on money-laundering charges.
The authorities allege she controlled vast amounts of the illicit wealth of the now largely defunct Beltran Leyva Organisation.
In February 2011, the director of the prison where she was being held was sacked after it emerged that a doctor had been allowed in Sandra Avila’s cell to give her botox injections.