My photo was used to illustrate this post
The Biggest Box Office Bombs of the Modern Era. #6, John Carter. Photo Credit – Flickr User – Seth Anderson.
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The Biggest Box Office Bombs of the Modern Era | American News
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Refreshing summer libation…
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I took Lemon Daiquiri on July 07, 2014 at 06:58PM
and processed it in my digital darkroom on July 08, 2014 at 12:02AM
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I took Seem Never Satisfied on July 05, 2014 at 04:57PM
and processed it in my digital darkroom on July 05, 2014 at 09:57PM
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I took Caught in Your Symmetries on July 01, 2014 at 01:45PM
and processed it in my digital darkroom on July 05, 2014 at 09:58PM
As we’ve discussed previously, we don’t know how this is considered acceptable behavior. Are the shareholder pressures on Walgreen Co. really so intense that the board would consider this drastic move to shave a few pennies off of their operating costs? Really? Maybe they should look to fire management, and find more competent oversight. Oh wait, Walgreen Co. CEO Greg Wasson was paid $13,700,000 last year. How about returning some of that to shareholders instead? Not to mention, per Walgreens “Net earnings for fiscal 2013 ended Aug. 31 determined in accordance with GAAP were $2.5 billion”. I guess that’s not enough. More, more, more…
The nation’s largest drugstore chain is considering a move that would allow it to significantly cut its tax bill and increase profits. But it’s being painted by critics as un-American for looking to make money for shareholders through financial engineering at the expense of the communities that it grew up in. Walgreen is considering a so-called corporate tax inversion, in which an American company is able to incorporate abroad by acquiring a foreign company. The buyer, in effect, becomes a subsidiary of a foreign parent.
The average person who pays taxes cannot take advantage of the tax loopholes exploited by corporations, and they don’t think it’s fair, said Klaus Weber, associate professor of management and organizations at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
“I do think people now more than before care because of rising issues of income inequality and justice and the fact that large companies have come under more scrutiny,” Weber said. “People expect corporations to fulfill their citizen duties as taxpayers like everyone else.”
While several U.S. companies have moved to lower-tax countries since 2012, Walgreen has caught the attention of taxpayer groups and unions that have criticized the potential tax maneuver. They have blasted Walgreen for contemplating fleeing the United States even though it benefits from government insurance programs. Nearly one-quarter of Walgreen’s $72 billion in sales in its last fiscal year came from Medicaid and Medicare, according to a report by Americans for Tax Fairness and Change to Win Retail Initiatives, a union-backed group.
“It is unconscionable that Walgreen is considering this tax dodge — especially in light of the billions of dollars it receives from U.S. taxpayers every year,” Nell Geiser, associate director of Change to Win Retail Initiatives, said in a statement. “Walgreen should show its commitment to our communities and our country by staying an American company.”
(click here to continue reading Walgreen considers headquarters move – chicagotribune.com.)
Walgreen Co. is busily calculating the cost of moving corporate infrastructure, relocating executives and staff, and the very real risk of losing their Medicaid/Medicare cash cow, not to mention the also very real risk of consumer boycott to save a few percentage points of tax revenue. Sleazy, no? And ironic, since Medicaid and Medicare is responsible for about 21% of our national budget. Why should Walgreen’s get any of taxpayer money for it when they refuse to pay in?
Would shareholders care if Walgreen Co. was kicked out the the S&P 500? Probably, but Walgreens executives will get handsomely paid either way.
[The CtW Investment Group] said an inversion could hurt Walgreen’s stock price.
“Reincorporation carries risk of removal from the S.&P. 500 and other stock indices,” it said, citing the examples of Ace and Transocean, which were removed from the index after they moved to Switzerland. It added that some investors like big pension funds could be required to sell shares of the company if it were not included in the S.&P. 500-stock index.
If Walgreen reincorporated in Switzerland, where Alliance Boots is based, the influence of shareholders could be diminished, CtW said. Swiss law gives shareholders less protection, CtW said, making it harder for investors to seek remedies through courts in the event of fraud or a dereliction of board duties.
CtW also said it was sensitive to the brewing political debate about inversions. In recent months, several senators and President Obama have proposed legislation that would curtail the practice. No new laws are yet in place, but there is a belief on Wall Street that the window for such deals could close soon.
“In addition to the concerns outlined above, we fear that there could be political and reputational risks following an inversion, which would pose a clear contradiction with Walgreen’s quintessentially American brand,” CtW wrote. “Accordingly, we strongly urge you to end the controversy over Walgreen’s potential
(click here to continue reading Walgreen Shareholder Opposes Potential Deal to Reincorporate Abroad – NYTimes.com.)
Senator Dick Durbin is troubled by this cowardly plan as well:
As Walgreen Co, the largest U.S. drugstore chain, edged closer to potentially moving its tax home base abroad, the senior U.S. senator from its home state said on Wednesday that he hoped the company would not take such a step.
Illinois Democrat Richard Durbin told Reuters in an interview that he spoke with a Walgreen lobbyist on Tuesday. “I told him I hope that the rumor’s not true,” Durbin said.
Durbin, the Senate’s second-highest ranking Democrat, said Walgreen, now based in a Chicago suburb, would be ill-advised to pursue an “inversion” deal with Switzerland’s Alliance Boots Holding Ltd.
“Because of their national reach, they are a uniquely American company, and I think it would really hurt their image if they decided to give up on this country and to head overseas to make a couple extra dollars,” he said.
(click here to continue reading Exclusive: U.S. senator warns as Walgreen weighs overseas tax deal | Reuters.)
and despite the Patriot Employer Tax Credit Act bill having a slim chance of passing through the reactionaries in the US House, Sen. Durbin is at least trying:
Sen. Richard Durbin said Monday he will introduce legislation this week that would close tax loopholes for corporations that take jobs out of the country.
Durbin announced the “Patriot Employer Tax Credit Act” at Wheatland Tube in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. He plans to introduce the measure Thursday, a spokeswoman said.
The proposal would give tax credits to companies “that provide fair wages and good benefits to workers while closing a loophole that allows corporations to claim tax savings for activities such as building a manufacturing plant overseas,” according to a news release from Durbin’s office.
To qualify for the credits, a company must maintain its corporate headquarters in the U.S., maintain the same number or increase the number of U.S. workers compared with the number overseas and provide health insurance benefits that comply with the Affordable Care Act.
(click here to continue reading Durbin bill would close tax loopholes for corporations sending jobs overseas – chicagotribune.com.)
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I took Across The Evening Sky All The Birds Are Leaving – Polapan Blue on June 26, 2014 at 07:38PM
and processed it in my digital darkroom on June 27, 2014 at 03:39PM
Per Chuck Sudo of the Chicagoist, the Division Street Bridge lost its race to collapse before being repaired…
Starting Monday crews will begin demolishing Division Street Bridge near Goose Island. The city will be replacing the 111-year-old Bascule Bridge with an interim span while building a permanent Bascule replacement. The bridge was originally built in 1903 and has served as an integral link across Goose Island for cars, bikes, pedestrians and trains over the years, but currently isn’t wide enough to accommodate the size and flow of modern traffic. The Division Street Bridge is one of several Bascule bridges that made the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois’ 2013 list of the 10 most endangered historic places in the state.
(click here to continue reading Replacement Of Division Street Bridge Begins Monday: Chicagoist.)
Per Historic Bridges, this bridge was last rehabbed in 1992, but as these photos demonstrate, the bridge is a little rickety.
Circumstantial Evidence – Panatomic X
Crossing the North Branch Chicago River Canal onto or off of Goose Island, this is one of the very first highway bascule bridges built in Chicago, constructed just a couple years after Cortland Street. Given the influence that Chicago’s development of the bascule bridge had on bridge construction nationwide, this prototypical example of a Chicago type trunnion bascule bridge is nationally significant and its preservation should be given a paramount level of priority.
Roemheld & Gallery of Chicago were both the designers and builders of the bridge. This bridge is similar to bridges like Cortland Street, but it has one very unusual and distinctive characteristic which sets it aside from these other bridges. The overhead sway/portal bracing for this bridge is composed of simple plate steel with decorative designs on them that includes an upside-down “Y” design with a circle around it that is used in Chicago to refer to the three branches of the Chicago River. The symbol became an officially designated symbol appearing in Chicago’s municipal code as the “Municipal Device.” Easy to miss unless you are looking for it, the symbol can be found on buildings and structures throughout the city including on a few other bridges. This Division Street Bridge however is the only bridge in the entire city that includes this design in its overhead bracing. The bridge is different from the other early bascule bridges including the bascule bridge in sight of this one also on Division Street, which have a more intricate network of built-up sections of v-laced and latticed steel for bracing. The plates with the Municipal Device symbol on this bridge are an interesting and decorative element that adds a lot to the bridge.
(click here to continue reading Division Street North Branch Canal Bridge (Division Street Eastern Bridge) – HistoricBridges.org.)
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I took Congress Hotel in the Fog on June 22, 2014 at 08:51PM
and processed it in my digital darkroom on June 27, 2014 at 02:44AM
In case you hadn’t heard…
“Star Wars” creator George Lucas has selected Chicago over Los Angeles and San Francisco as the future home of his collection of art and movie memorabilia, according to a spokeswoman for the museum.
The museum’s board Wednesday is expected to vote on a name change — from the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum to the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art — and destination.
Pending approval by the Chicago Plan Commission, Lucas’ institution would be built on what are now parking lots between Soldier Field and McCormick Place and would open in 2018. Architectural renderings will be presented to city officials in early fall, according to a statement from the museum.
(click here to continue reading Chicago wins George Lucas museum – chicagotribune.com.)
Our first question about the proposal has already been answered, will there be lawsuits against this private museum being placed on the lakeshore? Yes:
Still, the museum has drawn opposition from open-space advocates, such as Friends of the Parks.
Among the 14 “basic policies” of the Lakefront Plan of Chicago, adopted by the city council in 1973, is that “in no instance will further private development be permitted east of Lake Shore Drive.” And the Lakefront Protection Ordinance says that the plan commission’s decisions “shall be made in conformity with” those policies.
“We will do what it takes and that very well may be a lawsuit,” Friends of the Parks President Cassandra Francis said. “We are in coalition-building mode, but we are very optimistic, based on discussions, that we will have a broad group of organizations joining us” in opposing the lakefront location for the museum.
Our second question: are there public funds being used for the George Lucas Megalomania Museum? Apparently, no, at least at first:
Under Emanuel’s plan, the two Chicago Park District-owned parking lots would be leased to the museum for $1, which is similar to arrangements other large cultural institutions have with the Park District.
But unlike other museums, the Lucas museum would not receive taxpayer subsidies to cover a portion of its operations, a top mayoral aide has said.
The parking lots would be moved underground at Lucas’ expense, the city has said.
That’s positive news, and different than how the Chicago Children’s Museum fiasco played out.
I haven’t yet seen the plans, so I still wonder if the proposed museum will shrink the available green space along the lakeshore? If I’m reading the description correctly, the museum will take over 17 acres of asphalt parking, and put a 5 acre museum building and 12 acres of new green space. That sounds ok to me, but then I’m not a Chicago Bears tailgating maniac. Friends of the Park make a good point too: the land may be a parking lot now, but parking lots are easily converted to grassy knolls, much easier than removing a building once it is built.
Cassandra Francis, President of Friends of the Parks says:
Although the proposed site is now used as a parking lot, its future reversion to parkland is possible. Once a building is in place, it is forever precluded from being public open space.
For the record, I haven’t watched a Star Wars film in 25 years or more, but perhaps there will be other items of narrative film history of interest.
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I took Templeton Rye Old Fashioned with mashed cherries on June 22, 2014 at 02:43PM
and processed it in my digital darkroom on June 22, 2014 at 09:26PM
Fulton Market Lineup
Update on the still-in-proposal-stage plan for making a Fulton Market Historical District…
The city plans to allocate more than $42 million to improve parts of the West Loop included in its proposed Fulton Market Innovation District, a plan being pushed by the mayor as a way to encourage yet corral the neighborhood’s explosive growth.
The investments will kick off with the construction of a $500,000 gateway arching over Fulton Market at Halsted Street to welcome visitors to a proposed historic market district honoring the meatpacking companies and food wholesalers that have been operating there for a century.
The bulk of the $42.6 million allocation of public money, about $16 million of which is still pending approval from the city’s Department of Transportation, would go to infrastructure improvements like street paving and sidewalk repairs along Kinzie, Fulton Market, Randolph and Lake streets. Most of the money will come from the existing tax increment financing district, set up in 1998, though an estimated $10 million proposed for rebuilding Lake Street would be a mix of local, state and federal funds.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who spearheaded the innovation district plan, said the driving force for it was the surge in real estate deals that followed the 2012 opening of the $38 million Morgan Street CTA station.
“When we make these investments, they spur a series of private-sector economic development and opportunities for the city and growth,” Emanuel said. “And here, which is unique, you’ve got to do it in a way that strikes a balance between the history, and the preservation of that, while you embrace the change that is occurring simultaneously. And I think we’ve come up with that equitable balance.”
Designating the area an “innovation district,” a growing trend in cities, highlights the mix of traditional manufacturing, tech companies, social scene and transit access that has become important to attracting a young, creative workforce. Some of the employers coming to the area, including Google, SRAM, Uber, Brooklyn Bowl and Soho House, are expected to add 2,385 jobs, according to figures provided by the mayor’s office.
“It is and represents a new direction of the city’s economy,” said Andrew Mooney, commissioner of the city’s Department of Planning and Development. While the city has other emerging “innovation centers,” the restaurant-rich Fulton Market area is unique because of its historic and current connection to food, and the fact that it is not linked to a university.
(click here to continue reading Chicago Tribune – Top Business – Planned Fulton Market district to get $42M from city.)
Also, first time we’ve heard of this plan:
The city also announced a new public bike station it has planned for the lower level of an 83,000-square-foot former meatpacking building under redevelopment at 210 N. Green St., where New York-based WeWork plans to open a collaborative workspace next year.
The 3,100-square-foot bike station, which aims to accommodate bike commuters with locker rooms and showers as well as bike storage, will be privately operated by WeWork as a business and use no public funds, though the mayor brokered the arrangement, city officials said.
and still some current property owners are whining about not being able to sell their historic buildings to developers who will then raze the building, and replace the 19th century brick structure with a drab condo building with architecture inspired by Home Depot. Viva capitalism!
The land use plan, which will be adopted as policy by the planning department this summer, does not overtly change zoning but imposes guidelines for how parts of the proposed district — bordered by Halsted, Ogden, Randolph and Hubbard Streets — should be developed.
The most controversial part of the plan calls for portions of Fulton Market and Randolph Street to be given historic landmark status to preserve the character of storefronts that are the last remnants of the city’s food-manufacturing past. The neighborhood’s three major community groups — the Randolph/Fulton Market Association, the West Central Association and the West Loop Community Organization — have all formally opposed the landmark proposal, saying they’re concerned about the restrictions that would prevent demolition of some buildings and dictate the design of all.
Words I didn’t expect to type in the 21st C.E., “Good for Sting!”. If only Sam Walton had been as insistent upon his progeny finding their own way, or Donald Trump’s father…
Sting’s children cannot expect to inherit his multimillion-pound wealth, the rock star has said, joining the ranks of the super-rich who have claimed that passing on their vast fortunes to their offspring could do more harm than good.
The 62-year-old musician, who is estimated to be worth £180m and has three sons and three daughters, said he did not want “to leave them trust funds that are albatrosses round their necks”.
“They have to work,” he told the Mail on Sunday’s Event magazine . “All my kids know that and they rarely ask me for anything, which I appreciate. Obviously, if they were in trouble I would help them, but I’ve never really had to do that. They have this work ethic that makes them want to succeed on their own merit.”
Sting insisted there would in fact not be a huge fortune left for his children, who are aged between 18 and 37.
“I told them there won’t be much money left because we are spending it,” he said. “We have a lot of commitments. What comes in we spend, and there isn’t much left.”
(click here to continue reading Sting: My Children Won’t Inherit My Wealth – Business Insider.)
Speaking of estates, a couple years ago, my parents mentioned that they’ve executed their will, splitting their estate three ways between my brother, my sister and me, with my sister getting 34%. We are lucky in that we get along well, and that the amount we are talking about is certainly less than $2,000,000…
Some other wealthy folks of note also doing the right thing:
Bill Gates, the world’s richest man, has said that his children could not expect to inherit the vast majority of his estimated $76bn fortune.
“They won’t have anything like that. They need to have a sense that their own work is meaningful and important,” he has been quoted as saying. “You’ve got to make sure they have a sense of their own ability and what they’re going to go and do.”
Simon Cowell, the music mogul whose son Eric was born earlier this year, has said he will most likely leave his estimated £225 million fortune for charity, explaining: ““I don’t believe in passing on from one generation to another.”
British celebrity chef Nigella Lawson has said she was “determined” that her children should have no financial security as “it ruins people not having to earn money”.
Anita Roddick, the Body Shop founder, left her entire £51m fortune to charity after describing leaving money to one’s own family as “obscene”.
…And John Roberts, the chief executive of white goods retailer ao.com, has said he will not pass his estimated £500m wealth to his children, in order that they could have normal lives and a sense of achievement.
Surprising nobody, Ted Cruz and the Tea Party Republicans have their own version of history, a version where Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon were the same kind of obstructionist asshole as Ted Cruz. Of course, that isn’t factual, but since when have the 6,000 year old Earthers required facts to get in the way of narrative?
Jeffrey Toobin hangs out with Senator Cruz a bit:
Cruz’s ascendancy reflects the dilemma of the modern Republican Party, because his popularity within the Party is based largely on an act that was reviled in the broader national community. Last fall, Cruz’s strident opposition to Obamacare led in a significant way to the shutdown of the federal government. “It was not a productive enterprise,” John McCain told me. “We needed sixty-seven votes in the Senate to stop Obamacare, and we didn’t have it. It was a fool’s errand, and it hurt the Republican Party and it hurt my state. I think Ted has learned his lesson.” But Cruz has learned no such lesson. As he travels the country, he has hardened his positions, delighting the base of his party but moving farther from the positions of most Americans on most issues. He denies the existence of man-made climate change, opposes comprehensive immigration reform, rejects marriage equality, and, of course, demands the repeal of “every blessed word of Obamacare.” (Cruz gets his own health-care coverage from Goldman Sachs, where his wife is a vice-president.) Cruz has not formally entered the 2016 Presidential race, but he is taking all the customary steps for a prospective candidacy. He has set up political-action committees to raise money, travelled to early primary states, like Iowa and New Hampshire, and campaigned for Republican candidates all over the country. His message, in substance, is that on the issues a Cruz Presidency would be roughly identical to a Sarah Palin Presidency.
Still, Cruz’s historical narrative of Presidential politics is both self-serving and questionable on its own terms. Conveniently, he begins his story after the debacle of Barry Goldwater, a conservative purist whom Cruz somewhat resembles. Nixon ran as a healer and governed, by contemporary standards, as a moderate, opening up relations with China, signing into law measures banning sex discrimination, expanding the use of affirmative action, establishing the Environmental Protection Agency, and signing the Clean Air Act. Reagan’s record as governor of California included support for tax increases, gun control, and abortion rights, so he sometimes appeared less conservative than his modern reputation suggests. George W. Bush won (if he won) as a self-advertised “compassionate conservative.” So, at this point, Cruz’s concerted attempt to establish himself as the most extreme conservative in the race for the Republican nomination has not evoked much fear in Democrats. “We all hope he runs,” one Democratic senator told me. “He’s their Mondale.” (Running against Reagan as an unalloyed liberal in 1984, Walter Mondale lost every state but his native Minnesota.)
(click here to continue reading Jeffrey Toobin: The Rise of Ted Cruz : The New Yorker.)
I also hope Ted Cruz continues running for President, as I anticipate being amused that the Tea Bagger Birthers will find ways to twist pretzel logic so they can support a Natural Born ‘Murican who wasn’t actually born in the US. Even the most ardent Birthers never claimed Obama’s mother wasn’t American, just that Obama wasn’t really born in Hawaii. Ted Cruz’s mother may have been born in Delaware1 but Ted Cruz was born in Alberta, Canada. It says so right on his birth certificate! The U.S. hasn’t invaded and annexed Alberta, yet.
As Jeffrey Toobin puts it:
Rafael Cruz fled Batista’s Cuba for Texas in 1957 after aligning himself with the anti-Batista movement. He returned to Cuba for just a month, in 1959, and became convinced that Fidel Castro was even worse than his predecessor, so he settled in the United States for good. He majored in mathematics at the University of Texas at Austin, and met and married Eleanor Darragh, who was born and raised in Delaware. (Rafael had two daughters from a previous marriage.) Rafael and Eleanor started an oil-services company after moving to Calgary, in Alberta, Canada, where Rafael Edward Cruz was born, in 1970. (Ted’s birth in Canada, with dual American and Canadian citizenship, has raised the question of whether he is a “native born” citizen and thus eligible, under the Constitution, to be President. The answer is not completely clear, but it seems likely that the Constitution does not bar a Cruz Presidency. Recently, Ted Cruz formally gave up his Canadian citizenship.)
(click here to continue reading Jeffrey Toobin: The Rise of Ted Cruz : The New Yorker.)
Ballard Street, viaFootnotes:
- allegedly [↩]
Funny how memory works.1 A song by The Cars came on the iTunes shuffler, and I remembered the first time I heard that band when I was 13 or 14, traveling with my uncle Phil up to Frostpocket. We stopped in Atlanta because there was some Amnesty International exhibit on the death penalty and/or the Cambodian Killing Fields (as far as I can remember). We stayed with my aunt Megan, and her boyfriend at the time, Mark (whose last name I forget)2 for three days, one of those I was alone in their apartment, looking at their records, and found the Cars album, put it on the turntable…
Looking at the cover, I’m pretty sure it was the album, Panorama.
For their third album, 1980′s Panorama, the Cars decided to challenge their fans with an album unlike its predecessors. Whereas The Cars and Candy-O were both comprised of instantly catchy and distinctly tuneful songs, Panorama was much darker and not as obvious — an attempt at breaking away from the expected winning formula
(click here to continue reading Panorama – The Cars | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards | AllMusic.)
I’m not even sure I liked the album at the time – I don’t recall purchasing it when I got home, not until much, much later when I became a musical pack rat.Footnotes:
More data about the need for estate reform in the US
she requested a copy of the will. It turns out her grandmother, who was suffering from severe Alzheimer’s, had signed a will in September 2012 that reaffirmed a 2007 will that split her assets among her five children, with her son’s share going to his children. Five days later — and a week before she died — the grandmother signed another will that disinherited her son’s children.
…And it raised common competing issues in these cases: Grandma may have had diminished capacity or been swayed by her daughters, he said. “But judges work very hard to protect individual rights to dispose of their property as they wish.”
The bar to overturn a will is high. “The capacity needed to make a will is very low, lower than to enter into a legal contract,” said Adam von Poblitz, head of estate planning for Citi Private Bank. “You could have someone who had dementia, but if they had moments of lucidity they could execute a fully valid will.”
For Kate, it wasn’t only about the money but about how her aunts treated her. “They started calling us greedy from the beginning,” she said.
Disinheriting family members is an extreme step and one that is not even allowed in many countries. John Davis, faculty chairman of the families in business program at Harvard Business School, has studied inheritance laws around the world and found that in most places people have limited discretion over leaving money to heirs.
“Whether it’s sharia in Muslim countries or the Napoleonic Code throughout Europe and parts of Latin America, what you give to your heirs is tightly prescribed,” Mr. Davis said. “Anglo-Saxon countries are the exception to this rule.”
In reality, Mr. Davis said, unequal inheritance is rare even in the United States, though he often advocates for it to be used more, particularly when a family business is involved.
(click here to continue reading When a Will Divides an Estate, and Also Divides a Family – NYTimes.com.)
All too frequently the lawyers are the ones who end up with the bulk of the inheritance, especially in cases where litigation is involved. Not to mention, the estate always seems to be smaller than anticipated by the aggrieved parties…