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Best Gifts for History Buffs

December 14, 2018 in History

By Lesley Kennedy

Got history lovers on your list? Stock up here.


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Fans of tea and American history will cozy right up to this Boston Tea Party sampler set from Solstice Tea Traders. Complete with six 4-ounce assorted loose-leaf teas (oolong, bohea, congou, souchong, singlo and hyson)—the same types thrown over the side of British ships during the famous revolt—it also includes reusable tins and a history fact sheet.

READ MORE: The Boston Tea Party

Good Judgment

BUY HERE: Dissent Collar Earrings, about $18, Amazon

Know a big fan of RGB? These cool-looking “dissent” collar earrings make a subtle call-out to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s iconic ruffle-collar accessory. Bonus: Half of your purchase dollars go to charities.

READ MORE: Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Landmark Opinions on Women’s Rights

The Rooms Where It Happened

BUY HERE: Lego Architecture U.S. Capitol Building Kit, about $100, Amazon

Bills! Amendments! Filibusters! Add a little political history to your gift-giving this year with Lego Architecture’s U.S. Capitol building kit, a detailed 1,000-plus-piece model of the home of America’s Congress. When built, it measures 6 inches high, 17 inches wide and 6 inches deep. Ages 12 and up.

READ MORE: The Capitol cornerstone is laid

Gods’ Gift

BUY HERE: Pop-Up Book of Mythological Gods and Heroes, about $27, Amazon

A 3-D Thor swings his hammer. Spider Woman weaves her celestial web. And the Greek Gods hang out—where else?—on Olympus. Percy Jackson fans will appreciate Encyclopedia Mythologica: Gods and Heroes, this gorgeous pop-up book from Matthew Reinhart and Robert Sabuda. Filled with dimensional tales of Ra-Atum, Zeus, Odin, the Jade Emperor and more, it’s a wonderful introduction to mythological divinities from around the globe. Ages 5 and up.

READ MORE: Greek Mythology

Dino-Mite!

BUY HERE: Dinosaur Nightlight/Desk Lamp, about $20, Amazon

Wow the future paleontologist on your list with Fullosun’s 3-D illusion night light/desk lamp that looks from afar like a cool sci-fi rendering of a dino—choose from velociraptor, T-Rex and more—but up close it’s really a nifty thin acrylic sheet. A remote control lets you choose from seven color options.

READ MORE: Do We Have to Rewrite the Dinosaur Family Tree?

Puzzling Propaganda

BUY HERE: World War II Poster Collage, about $18, Amazon

White Mountain Puzzle’s WWII 1,000-piece poster collage is comprised …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Here are the top 10 reasons I don't believe in God

December 14, 2018 in Blogs

By Greta Christina, AlterNet

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“Does God exist?” is a valid and relevant question. Here are my top reasons why the answer is a resounding, “No.”


The following is an excerpt from Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godlessby Greta Christina. The book is available electronically on Kindle, Nook, and  soon in print.

“But just because religion has done some harm — that doesn't mean it's mistaken! Sure, people have done terrible things in God's name. That doesn't mean God doesn't exist!”

Yup. If you're arguing that — you're absolutely right. And the question of whether religion is true or not is important. It's not the main point of this book: if you want more thorough arguments for why God doesn't exist, by me or other writers, check out the Resource Guide at the end of this book. But “Does God exist?” is a valid and relevant question. Here are my Top Ten reasons why the answer is a resounding, “No.”

1: The consistent replacement of supernatural explanations of the world with natural ones.

When you look at the history of what we know about the world, you see a noticeable pattern. Natural explanations of things have been replacing supernatural explanations of them. Like a steamroller. Why the Sun rises and sets. Where thunder and lightning come from. Why people get sick. Why people look like their parents. How the complexity of life came into being. I could go on and on.

All these things were once explained by religion. But as we understood the world better, and learned to observe it more carefully, the explanations based on religion were replaced by ones based on physical cause and effect. Consistently. Thoroughly. Like a steamroller. The number of times that a supernatural explanation of a phenomenon has been …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Mick Mulvaney to serve as Trump's new chief of staff — but it appears to be a temporary job

December 14, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

Trump announced last week that John Kelly would be leaving.


President Donald Trump's search for a new chief of staff is over — at least for a little bit.

He announced on Twitter Friday that he has picked Mick Mulvaney, his current director for the Office of Management and Budget, to serve in the role he recently booted John Kelly out of. But in his announcement, Trump said Mulvaney will only be serving in an “acting” capacity.

Trump appeared to be clearly embarrassed as other candidates had turned down the job. Nick Ayers, for vice president's chief of staff, turned down the job even though reports had found that Trump believed Ayers had accepted the position. 

And on Friday, Chris Christie, who many thought was the most likely contender for the job, announced publicly that he was not interested.

By saying Mulvaney will be the “acting” chief of staff, Trump seems to imply that he won't be sticking around long in the job. Perhaps it was the only way he could get Mulvaney, who was reportedly hesitant to take the job, to accept.

White House reporters tried to get a comment about the announcement, but officials did not make themselves available for comment.

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Convicted Trump aide George Papadopoulos already under FBI investigation again immediately after release from prison: report

December 14, 2018 in Blogs

By Matthew Chapman, AlterNet

Trump's former “coffee boy” can't seem to keep himself out of trouble.


George Papadopoulos, the foreign policy adviser to President Donald Trump's campaign whose contacts with a foreign professor about Russian involvement in the election and subsequent comments to an Australian diplomat led to the FBI's initial investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russia, was recently released from federal prison after a two-week sentence for lying to the FBI.

But according to investigative journalist Scott Stedman, the FBI is now opening a fresh investigation into him, barely a week after Papadopoulos' sentence was completed. Specifically, Stedman writes, the FBI is looking into the author of a letter sent to Congress making new allegations about Papadopoulos' dealings with Russia:

The memo sent to Congressman Adam Schiff by a former confidant of Papadopoulos on November 19, as first reported by this reporter and Natasha Bertrand of the Atlantic, made a series of allegations against the ex-Trump campaign adviser. First and foremost, the letter claimed that in December 2016, Papadopoulos said “that he was doing a business deal with Russians which would result in large financial gain for himself and Mr. Trump. Mr. Papadopoulos told me that this deal with Russians would set him up for life.” The author also says that (s)he witnessed a phone call between Trump and Papadopoulos. None of the claims have been substantiated, though Congress plans to dig into the specific allegations.

The FBI's interest in the letter and its writer signals that federal authorities are taking the allegations seriously and continue to investigate Papadopoulos even after he served 12 days in a federal prison for lying to investigators about his interactions with a Maltese professor who claimed that Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails.

Papadopoulos, who Trump previously tried to dismiss as a mere “coffee boy,” has shown little remorse for his involvement in the Russia affair, trying to argue he was “framed” by special counsel Robert Mueller and go back on his plea agreement. He …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Watergate prosecutor argues this week was a 'turning point' in Trump's presidency as momentum mounts against him

December 14, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

She linked it to key moments in the case against President Richard Nixon.


As new revelations and evidence emerge relating to the mounting investigations against President Donald Trump, a former prosecutor from the Watergate era is seeing close parallels to the case that brought down President Richard Nixon.

“This feels very much like a turning point to me,” said Jill Wine-Banks on MSNBC's “Deadline: White House.” “It is the first time I feel the momentum starting to go. It's sort of the equivalent of finding out there were White House tapes that confirmed John Dean's testimony. Or, maybe it's even as big as finding the June 23rd 'smoking gun' tape.”

She continued: “Because this really puts the president in the room when crimes were committed. It's not just Michael Cohen's word anymore — now you have AMI confirming that he also was involved in a campaign violation. And it's a serious one.”

Cohen, the president's former fixer, has pleaded guilty to paying off two women who say they had affairs with Trump. He said Trump knew the payments were illegal, directed him to carry them out, and that they worked together to conceal the crime. Now, America Media, Inc., the company that owns National Enquirer, said to be corroborating Cohen's version of events.

“He starts arguing ridiculously that it looks like the John Edwards case; it's nothing like that. The John Edwards affair was an ongoing one. There was a child being born, and money was being paid to help pay for the baby,” said Wine-Banks, referring to a case that was brought against the former Democratic vice presidential candidate.

“This is an affair that happened years before the election, and the payments were right before the election to make sure it didn't interfere with the election,” she said. “The American people have been fooled and deprived of a fair amount of information, and their vote was affected by that. So it's a much more serious case. I really feel this is a big week for justice.”

Watch the clip below:

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A top GOP senator said he didn't care if Trump committed crimes — now he's changed his mind

December 14, 2018 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson, AlterNet

His previous statement was a stunning affront to the rule of law.


After receiving a barrage of negative publicity this week for comments he made to CNN’s Manu Raju about President Donald Trump's hush money payments, outgoing Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has issued an official retraction and admitted that the statements were “irresponsible.”

When Raju asked Hatch about hush money paid on Trump’s behalf during he 2016 presidential election, Hatch commented Monday, “The Democrats will do anything to hurt this president.” And when Raju noted that hush money allegations were made by U.S. attorneys for the Southern District of New York, Hatch responded, “OK, but I don’t care. All I can say is he’s doing a good job as president.”

A backlash quickly followed. And Hatch issued a formal retraction Friday, saying, “Earlier this week, in an unplanned hallway interview with CNN, I made comments about allegations against the president that were irresponsible and a poor reflection on my lengthy record of dedication to the rule of law.”

Attorney Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney, has been sentenced to three years in federal prison for a long list of crimes he has pleaded guilty to, ranging from campaign finance violations to bank and tax fraud. The eight crimes Cohen confessed to on August 22 were for charges brought about by federal prosecutors for the Southern District of New York, but in late November, Cohen also pled guilty to lying to Congress about his role in plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow—and that plea was made as part of his agreement with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

In pleading guilty to the hush money campaign finance violations, Cohen said Trump directed him to carry out these crimes. He has since said that Trump was aware doing so was a crime and did so to help his campaign. Many legal experts say these comments, which have been supported by the New York federal prosecutors and accepted by the judge in the case, directly implicated Trump in crimes.

In his retraction, Hatch was critical of Cohen but avoided saying anything negative about Mueller. …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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The Unsolved Mystery of the First People Killed During the Civil Rights Movement

December 14, 2018 in History

By Erin Blakemore

It was a double celebration: Christmas, and the Moores’ 25th anniversary. Harry T. and Harriette Moore celebrated the way they had 25 years before, cutting the cake together like newlyweds. They had no idea that the tender moment would be among their last. As they settled in to their bed to sleep that evening in 1951, a massive explosion tore through their bedroom.

Within hours, Harry T. Moore was dead. Within days, his wife was, too. With the death of the Moores, the nascent Civil Rights Movement got its first martyrs.

The Moores had been murdered, victims of an improvised explosive device made with dynamite and shoved beneath their bedroom floor. It seemed like a simple case: Harry T. Moore had been fighting segregation and racism in the Jim Crow South for years, making plenty of enemies along the way.

But though the Moores’ murders produced an immediate list of suspects, even a deathbed confession, no arrest was ever made in their case. To this day, it remains unsolved, despite convincing evidence that the Moores were killed by members of the Ku Klux Klan.

The Moores had already sacrificed for their beliefs. Born in segregated Florida, both had been fired from their jobs as teachers after they founded a local chapter of the NAACP. At the time, segregation was the norm in former Confederate states, and the Moores and other black Southerners had few opportunities for economic or social advancement. Harry had met his wife after getting a job at a school for black children in Cocoa, Florida. The Titusville “Negro School” offered black students a chance at an equal education, and Moore eventually became its principal.

Family photo of Harry T. Moore and wife Harriette with their young daughters Evangeline and Annie Rosalea, circa 1931.

But his political activism—including founding the Brevard County NAACP and filing a lawsuit to try to force Florida to pay black teachers as much as white ones—put him in the crosshairs of Florida’s racist political establishment and locals. He was fired from his job as principal, and Harriette was fired from her teaching position. In response, Harry became an organizer for the NAACP, traveling Florida, registering black voters, and investigating lynchings across the state.

As Harry’s activism became more and more visible, he became a target. Lynching was still alive and well in Florida, and vigilantes …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Communism Timeline

December 14, 2018 in History

By History.com Editors

The political and economic ideology that calls for a classless, government-controlled society, surged and then receded through history.

Since its start a century ago, Communism, a political and economic ideology that calls for a classless, government-controlled society in which everything is shared equally, has seen a series of surges—and declines. What started in 1917 Russia, became a global revolution, taking root in countries as far flung as China and Korea to Kenya and Sudan to Cuba and Nicaragua.

Communism launched from Lenin’s October Revolution and spread to China with Mao Zedong’s rise to power and to Cuba, with Fidel Castro’s takeover. It was the ideology behind one side of the Cold War and saw a symbolic decline with the fall of the Berlin Wall. Today just a handful of countries remain under communist rule. Below is a timeline of notable events that shape Communism’s arc in history.

Soviet Union Emerges From October Revolution

February 21, 1848: German economist and philosopher Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels publish The Communist Manifesto, calling for a working-class revolt against capitalism. Its motto, “Workers of the world, unite!” quickly became a rallying cry.

November 7, 1917: With Vladimir Lenin at the helm, the Bolsheviks, ascribing to Marxism, seize power during Russia’s October Revolution and become the first communist government. Later that month, the leftist Socialist Revolutionaries defeat the Bolsheviks in an election, but, despite his promises of “bread, land and peace,” Lenin uses military force to take power. It’s during this period the Red Terror (executions of the Czar’s officials), prisoner-of-war labor camps and other police state tactics are established.

Communism Takes Hold in China and Beyond

July 1, 1921: Inspired by the Russian Revolution, the Communist Party of China is formed.

January 21, 1924: Lenin dies at age 54 of a stroke, and Joseph Stalin, who had served as Lenin’s general secretary, eventually takes over official rule of the Soviet Union until his death in 1953 from a brain hemorrhage. He industrialized the country through a state-controlled economy, but it led to famine. Under his regime, detractors were deported or imprisoned in labor camps, and, as part of the Great Purge, 1 million people were executed under Stalin’s orders.

Joseph Stalin (TV-PG; 4:04)

1940 to 1979: Communism is established by force or otherwise in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Yugoslavia, Poland, North …read more

Source: HISTORY

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The birth of quantum theory

December 14, 2018 in History

By History.com Editors

German physicist Max Planck publishes his groundbreaking study of the effect of radiation on a “blackbody” substance, and the quantum theory of modern physics is born.

Through physical experiments, Planck demonstrated that energy, in certain situations, can exhibit characteristics of physical matter. According to theories of classical physics, energy is solely a continuous wave-like phenomenon, independent of the characteristics of physical matter. Planck’s theory held that radiant energy is made up of particle-like components, known as “quantum.” The theory helped to resolve previously unexplained natural phenomena such as the behavior of heat in solids and the nature of light absorption on an atomic level. In 1918, Planck was rewarded the Nobel Prize in physics for his work on blackbody radiation.

Other scientists, such as Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Louis de Broglie, Erwin Schrodinger, and Paul M. Dirac, advanced Planck’s theory and made possible the development of quantum mechanics–a mathematical application of the quantum theory that maintains that energy is both matter and a wave, depending on certain variables. Quantum mechanics thus takes a probabilistic view of nature, sharply contrasting with classical mechanics, in which all precise properties of objects are, in principle, calculable. Today, the combination of quantum mechanics with Einstein’s theory of relativity is the basis of modern physics.

…read more

Source: HISTORY

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George Washington dies

December 14, 2018 in History

By History.com Editors

George Washington, the American revolutionary leader and first president of the United States, dies of acute laryngitis at his estate in Mount Vernon, Virginia. He was 67 years old.

George Washington was born in 1732 to a farm family in Westmoreland County, Virginia. His first direct military experience came as a lieutenant colonel in the Virginia colonial militia in 1754, when he led a small expedition against the French in the Ohio River valley on behalf of the governor of Virginia. Two years later, Washington took command of the defenses of the western Virginian frontier during the French and Indian War. After the war’s fighting moved elsewhere, he resigned from his military post, returned to a planter’s life, and took a seat in Virginia’s House of Burgesses.

During the next two decades, Washington openly opposed the escalating British taxation and repression of the American colonies. In 1774, he represented Virginia at the Continental Congress. After the American Revolution erupted in 1775, Washington was nominated to be commander in chief of the newly established Continental Army. Some in the Continental Congress opposed his appointment, thinking other candidates were better equipped for the post, but he was ultimately chosen because as a Virginian his leadership helped bind the Southern colonies more closely to the rebellion in New England.

With his inexperienced and poorly equipped army of civilian soldiers, General Washington led an effective war of harassment against British forces in America while encouraging the intervention of the French into the conflict on behalf of the colonists. On October 19, 1781, with the surrender of British General Charles Lord Cornwallis’ massive British army at Yorktown, Virginia, General Washington had defeated one of the most powerful nations on earth.

After the war, the victorious general retired to his estate at Mount Vernon, but in 1787 he heeded his nation’s call and returned to politics to preside over the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The drafters created the office of president with him in mind, and in February 1789 Washington was unanimously elected the first president of the United States.

As president, Washington sought to unite the nation and protect the interests of the new republic at home and abroad. Of his presidency, he said, “I walk on untrodden ground. There is scarcely any part of my conduct which may not hereafter be drawn in precedent.” He successfully implemented executive …read more

Source: HISTORY