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The Nazis’ War on Christmas

December 19, 2017 in History

By Erin Blakemore

A Hitler Youth and a small girl in front of a Christmas tree , 1938. (Credit: Max Ehlert/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

During the Christmas season in Germany, you’ll hear plenty of Silent Night and O Tannenbaum—two Christmas carols that originated there. But during the Third Reich, you were more likely to hear a hymn called Exalted Night instead of one about a silent night.

The popular hymn, which dwelled on motherhood, renewal, and holiday fires, seemingly fit right in with the rest of the Christmas songs. But like so much in Nazi Germany, it was a carefully constructed fake, written by a Nazi songwriter as part of an attempt to apply Adolf Hitler’s hateful ideology to Christmas.

During the 1930s and 1940s, the Nazis did their best to transform Germany’s beloved Christmas traditions into Nazi ones. Though Hitler’s attempts to create a national church failed, his party’s attempt to redefine religious celebrations was more successful. To do this, they used ideology and propaganda to put the holiday in line with the national socialists’ anti-Semitic values.

The Nazis’ problem with Christmas was baked into Christmas itself. After all, Jesus was a Jew—and both anti-Semitism and the goal of eradicating Jews and Jewishness were at the very core of Nazi ideology.

This presented a problem when it came to Germany. Not only was the nation devoutly Christian, but it was the place where many Christmas traditions, like Advent calendars, Christmas trees and Christmas markets, were born. The Nazis knew it would be impossible to eradicate Christianity entirely, so they decided to rework it in their own image.

A Hitler Youth and a small girl in front of a Christmas tree , 1938. (Credit: Max Ehlert/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

At first, notes historian Gerry Bowler, Nazis simply tried to take over Christmas as a party ritual. They inserted Nazi imagery and even Nazi party officials into things like nativity scenes and Christmas parties. They also worked to create positive associations between the Nazis and winter with gigantic welfare drives during the colder months.

The Hitler Youth and the Band of German Girls, the party’s official youth organizations, helped collect coats and money for party members and poor Germans affected by the Great Depression. But as the years went on and Germans continued to celebrate a Christian Christmas, the Nazis’ …read more

Source: HISTORY

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The Most Amazing Artifacts Discovered While Building Rome’s Subway

December 19, 2017 in History

By Becky Little

A view of the excavation site in the future Roman metro station. (Credit: Eric Vandeville /Sipa USA/AP Photo)

The city of Rome is over 2,700 years old. Dig into the ground and you’ll eventually bump into what the old residents left behind.

Over the past decade, the construction and extension of Rome’s third subway line—Line C—has unearthed a treasure trove of artifacts. In December 2017, The New York Times reported that archaeologists had found petrified peach pits and images of an extinct elephant species at the site where the new San Giovanni station will open next year.

Some of the archaeological discoveries will go on display at the San Giovanni station. But there are a lot of other discoveries that have already gone into museums or storage. Here’s a look at some of the amazing things that Rome’s subway construction has unearthed.

Medieval kitchens with pots and pans

A view of the excavation site in the future Roman metro station. (Credit: Eric Vandeville /Sipa USA/AP Photo)

When Italian dictator Benito Mussolini started work on Rome’s first subway in 1937 (which didn’t open till 1955), he wasn’t very concerned about preserving artifacts. Consequently, workers ended up destroying a lot of historic objects that they encountered.

Today, the story is different. Between the beginning of Line C’s construction in 2007 and its opening in 2014, archaeologists have painstakingly recorded and preserved historical artifacts. In 2008, they publicly announced their discovery of imperial medieval homes.

These homes had kitchens that still contained pieces of pots and pans. In particular, researchers were excited to find a ninth-century kitchen with three sauce-heating pots. Before then, only two such pots had been found in Italy.

A copper factory


Archaeologists working in an archaeological dig in Rome’s central Piazza Venezia Square in 2007, in preparation for a new subway line, where a sixth-century copper factory have been found. (Credit: Alessandra Tarantino/AP Photo)

In addition to the kitchens, researchers announced in 2008 that they had found a sixth-century copper factory during Line C’s construction.

Like the kitchens, the factory still had its own tools—specifically, ovens that were used to melt copper alloy. In the Roman Empire, copper was an important component of coins, architecture, and Rome’s famously extensive plumbing system.

Around the same time that researchers discovered the factory and kitchens, they found parts of the ancient road of Via Flaminia. More morbidly, they also found the remains of two children. Several years …read more

Source: HISTORY

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What China Can Learn from America's Great Depression

December 19, 2017 in Economics

By Richard M. Ebeling

Rothbard depression

By: Richard M. Ebeling

When Murray Rothbard’s America’s Great Depression first appeared in print in 1963, the economics profession was still completely dominated by the Keynesian Revolution that began in the 1930s. Rothbard, instead, employed the “Austrian” approach to money and the business cycle to explain the causes for the Great Depression, and to analyze the misguided and counterproductive policies that were followed in the early 1930s, which, in fact, only intensified and prolonged the economic downturn.

To many of the economists in the early 1960s, Rothbard’s “Austrian” approach seemed out-of-step with the then generally accepted textbook, macroeconomic approach that focused on a highly “aggregate” analysis of economic changes and fluctuations on general output and employment as a whole. There was also the widely held presumption that governments could easily maintain economy-wide growth and stability through the use of a variety of monetary and fiscal policy tools.

Mises, Hayek and the Austrian Theory of Money and the Business Cycle

However, in the early and middle years of the 1930s, the Austrian explanation of the Great Depression was at the forefront of the theoretical and policy debates of the time. Ludwig von Mises (1881–1973), first developed this “Austrian” theory of the causes of inflations and depressions in his book, The Theory of Money and Credit (1912; 2nd revised ed., 1924) and then in his monograph, Monetary Stabilization and Cyclical Policy (1928).

But its international recognition and role in the business cycle debates and controversies in the 1930s were particularly due to Friedrich A. Hayek’s (1899–1992) version of the theory as presented in his works, Prices and Production (1932) Monetary Theory and the Trade Cycle (1933), and Profits, Interest and Investment (1939). A professor of economics at the London School of Economics throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Hayek was, at the time, considered by many to be the main competitor against John Maynard Keynes’s “New Economics” that emerged out of Keynes’s 1936 book, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money.

Ludwig von Mises had restated and refined his version of the Austrian theory of the business cycle in his 1949 treatise, Human Action in a way that attempted to respond to many of the criticism made against the theory in the 1930s. But by the end of the 1940s and into the early 1950s, the Austrian theory was soon submerged in the Keynesian tidal wave of macroeconomic aggregates and averages that swept away all alternative …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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The Father of Modern Libraries Was a Serial Sexual Harasser

December 19, 2017 in History

By Erin Blakemore

Books on a college library bookshelf. (Credit: Kickstand/Getty Images)

Adelaide Hasse was used to professional challenges. As a young woman, she struggled to be taken seriously by mostly male executive boards. She created a groundbreaking new way to classify government documents—and was disappointed when a male colleague claimed the credit. But armed with a new job at the New York Public Library, a better salary, and an ambitious new project, she finally felt optimistic about her career.

To pull off her newest plan, she’d need support, so she approached the leading voice in her field, Melvil Dewey, a man whose innovations made him a household name. He suggested they meet privately about her new project. Encouraged, she made her way to Albany, New York—only to find that he had arranged what amounted to a weekend-long date. It’s unclear what happened next, but Hasse departed hastily after being taken for a long drive by Dewey, and later spoke to colleagues about how offensive his behavior had been.

The story sounds like it could involve a Harvey Weinstein or Matt Lauer, but it didn’t. It took place in 1905, more than a century before the #metoo movement that exposed the sexual misconduct of America’s most powerful men. And the man in question was Melvil Dewey, the library pioneer whose decimal system of classification is still used in libraries today—a “protean genius” who raised himself from a poor farmer’s son to an icon during his lifetime.

Dewey is remembered today as an innovator who ushered American librarianship into the modern age. He helped invent the modern library, shaping everything from its organizational methods to its look to the roles of the librarians who were their stewards. But his pattern of sexual harassment was so egregious that women like Hasse dared to speak out against it, at a time when women were harshly judged for reporting sexual harassment. So many came forward that he was kicked out of the profession’s most prestigious association after an industry cruise in Alaska turned dangerous for women.

Books on a college library bookshelf. (Credit: Kickstand/Getty Images)

The pattern of abuse cost Dewey money and his professional reputation—and was brought to light by women whose careers he could make or break. And it was so …read more

Source: HISTORY

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The Chilling Trump Propaganda Airing Across Local News, Courtesy of Sinclair Broadcast Group

December 19, 2017 in Blogs

By Pam Vogel, Media Matters

Americans are being told there was no collusion, and the president did a bang-up job in Puerto Rico.


As it closes in on a significant expansion into major cities and battleground states across the country, conservative local news behemoth Sinclair Broadcast Group has gone into overdrive with its pro-Trump and anti-media propaganda.

Sinclair is known for its history of injecting right-wing spin into local newscasts, most notably with its nationally produced “must-run” commentary segments. The segments, which all Sinclair-owned and operated news stations are required to air, have included (sometimes embarrassingpro-Trump propaganda missivesfrom former Trump aide Boris Epshteyn since the spring.

Last week (one day after reportedly partying at Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C.), Epshteyn produced a new must-run segment essentially arguing that media are being too mean to the Trump administration:

Epshteyn’s latest video is yet another effort by Sinclair to adopt the Fox News model: By arguing that media at large is not to be trusted, it’s attempting to isolate local news audiences, suggesting to communities across the country that the only news they can trust is coming from Sinclair. (Not to be outdone, Sinclair’s other must-run personality Mark Hyman released a new segment the same day asserting full-blown anti-Trump “media collusion.”)

This segment is far from Epshteyn’s first defense of Trump from what he views as unfair attacks by the press, nor is it the first to suggest mainstream media are hopelessly biased and untrustworthy. It’s also not alone in looking like straight-up Trump propaganda.

In recent months, Epshteyn segments have also told viewers that:

All Americans should be more like actor Bryan Cranston, who remarked  during an interview that people ought to hope Trump succeeds for the good of the country. (Yes, this warranted an entire must-run segment.)

The FBI just might be targeting Trump because of his political leanings.

Deregulation under the Trump administration has led to a spectacularly growing economy.

The Colin Kaepernick-led NFL protests are really about how Trump gets genuinely upset when the flag is “disrespected,” as Epshteyn can personally attest.

The Trump administration’s response to devastation in Puerto Rico deserved a little criticism, but only polite criticism.

These are just (perhaps) the most egregiously propagandistic of Epshteyn’s must-run segments since Media Matters last documented his …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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The FCC Needs To Abolish a Lot More than Net Neutrality

December 19, 2017 in Economics

By Sam Estep

net.PNG

By: Sam Estep

The end of the Obama administration's regulatory regime known as net neutrality has brought with it prophecies of impending doom from across the political spectrum. Leaving aside the hyperbole, most objections stem from concerns that Internet service providers (ISPs) will start “discriminating” by offering preferential speeds and bandwidth allocation to certain websites or companies that pay for a higher tier of service. ISPs would, therefore, start to throttle the Internet speeds of normal users. This may well be the result, however, imposing stifling regulations that cement the current dominant players is only going to make to situation worse.

The reasons ISPs might be inclined to engage in these practices are mainly twofold: one, ISPs lack any competition in many parts of the country. Two, Internet traffic is increasing and ISPs are looking for ways to raise capital in order to accommodate that growth.

Before we address these issues it is worth making an important distinction: so-called “net neutrality” isn't simply a regulation, it is a total reclassification of the Internet from an “information service” to a “telecommunication service.” This may seem like simple semantics, but the latter classification has been around far longer, and has, consequently, accumulated a bevy of regulations and restrictions confining it.(In fact the classification “information service” was created specifically to help the Interet avoid the more stringent regulation of telephone and cable services.) The FCC’s goal in this reclassification was to bring the Internet under the purview of Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, specifically, SEC.202:

It shall be unlawful for any common carrier to make any unjust or unreasonable discrimination in charges, practices, classifications, regulations, facilities, or services for or in connection with like communication service, directly or indirectly, by any means or device, or to make or give any undue or unreasonable preference or advantage to any particular person, class of persons, or locality, or to subject any particular person, class of persons, or locality to any undue or unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage.

However, this reclassification has far more implications than the above. One must only peruse a little further down Title II until they happen upon this passage from Sec 214:

No carrier shall undertake the construction of a new line or of an extension of any line, or shall acquire or operate any line, or extension thereof, or shall engage in transmission over or by means of such …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Sally Yates Calls on Americans to Rise Up in Powerful Op-Ed

December 19, 2017 in Blogs

By Sarah K. Burris, Raw Story

“It is not enough for us to admire our nation’s core values from afar.”


Americans find themselves at a critical moment in their nation's history, when they must decide what kind of country they want to have, according to former acting Attorney General Sally Yates.

In a searing op-ed for USA Today, the Trump foe reveals she tried to warn and help the administration, only to be thrown out of office. Now she is calling on her fellow Americans to uphold the “country’s core values.”

“Our founding documents set forth the values that make us who we are, or at least who we aspire to be,” Yates writes. “I say aspire to be because we haven’t always lived up to our founding ideals — even at the time of our founding. When the Declaration of Independence proclaimed that all men are created equal, hundreds of thousands of African Americans were being enslaved by their fellow Americans.”

She recalls the Jim Crow South when Americans were forced to choose between segregation and racial justice. And while we have often failed to live up to our ideals, we have always had a shared vision of what the country means and what is expected of its leaders.

Yates asks Americans to look back at the Preamble to the Constitution for inspiration:

“’We the people of the United States’ (we are a democratic republic, not a dictatorship),” she writes. “‘In order to form a more perfect union’ (we are a work in progress dedicated to a noble pursuit) ‘establish justice’ (we revere justice as the cornerstone of our democracy) ‘insure domestic tranquility’ (we prize unity and peace, not divisiveness and discord), ‘provide for the common defense’ (we should never give any foreign adversary reason to question our solidarity) ‘promote the general welfare’ (we care about one another; compassion and decency matter) ‘and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity’ (we have a responsibility to protect not just our own generation, but future ones as well).”

She goes on to explain that the Bill of Rights guarantees individual liberty and other rights that Americans …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Republican Senators Are Making Out Like Bandits with Special Real-Estate Tax Break

December 19, 2017 in Blogs

By Alex Kotch, International Business Times

The GOP isn't even masking its greed and corruption.



When the U.S. Senate takes up the final tax bill this week, more than a quarter of all GOP senators will be voting on a bill that includes a special provision that could give them a new tax cut through their real estate shell companies, according to federal records reviewed by International Business Times. The provision… Read the rest of this entry →

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Is Trump an 'Aspiring Despot' or a 'Bumbling Showman'? Why Not Both?

December 19, 2017 in Blogs

By Chauncey DeVega, Salon

Author Brian Klaas warns the damage of Trump's presidency will last a generation.


The presidency of Donald Trump has forced the American people to confront questions most of us had never before considered possible. What happens when a president has no respect for the Constitution and the country's democratic institutions and traditions? When a president and his allies consider themselves above the law, what is to be done? If a president creates his own version of reality by behaving like a political cult leader, what forms of resistance are effective — or even possible? Is the president of the United States a fascist and demagogue who may be under the influence of the country's enemies?

Too many Americans believed their country to be exceptional and unique. This blinded them to the threat to democracy embodied by Donald Trump — as well as other members of the extreme right-wing — until it was too late to stop him from stealing control. Moreover, the rise of Trump's authoritarian movement (dishonestly operating under the mask of “populism”) has both empowered and revealed the tens of millions of Americans who have authoritarian or fascist leanings. The threat to American democracy is deep; it will take a long time to purge this civic sickness and political disease from the body politic.

In an effort to understand the true dimensions of Trump's rise to power as a direct threat to American democracy, I recently spoke with Brian Klaas. He is a fellow in Comparative Politics at the London School of Economics. In addition to writing columns and essays that have appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Guardian, Foreign Affairs and numerous other publications, Klaas is the author of several books. His latest, published in November, is “The Despot's Apprentice: Donald Trump's Attack on Democracy.”

In our conversation, Klass explained his view that Trump is an aspiring despot whose behavior mimics other authoritarians both past and present, the role of Fox News and other elements of the right-wing media in maintaining and expanding Trump's malignant reality and power, and the decline of the country's …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Trump Diehards Take Over Taylor Swift's New App, Instantly Start Spewing Hate

December 19, 2017 in Blogs

By Sarah K. Burris, Raw Story

The pop star has come under fire for her refusal to condemn the so-called alt right.


Taylor Swift launched a new app for her loyal fans last week and within days, it was overrun by fans of President Donald Trump, according to a new report from the Daily Beast.

Swift’s followers rushed to the app store, and by Monday, it was among the top trending apps, giving Swift fans a place on social media to see exclusive videos, use “Tay-mojis” and enjoy their own Swift-centric newsfeed. But the most popular feature, which allows supporters to meet each other and chat, has been dominated by right-wing trolls.

Many Swift fans already know each other and have met on Facebook and Twitter. They’ve formed a collective ready to respond to any criticism of their favorite star. While the singer’s followers have something in common with Swift, their political ideologies don’t mesh well. When the conversation turned to politics, they immediately began lobbing attacks at Hillary Clinton.

“Republicans and Trump supporters have just as much right to be here as everyone. There are people who voted for him or may vote Republican but didn’t vote for him. They may not agree with his beliefs but at least he supports our troops,” one fan wrote.

The comment spawned an argument in the comments section which soon saw Swift fans saying things like, “I just don’t accept gays lesbians and bisexuals.”

In a separate comment, one user claims that her husband serving in the military is safer with Trump in office. Hillary has “done some things I don’t agree with when it comes to the safety of our troops… at the end of the day it came down to what I felt was best. There are people who voted for reasons other than Trump being a bigoted, sexist, homophobe,” she wrote in another post.

The backlash was swift.

Those who love Swift and Trump quickly flocked to her …read more

Source: ALTERNET