You are browsing the archive for 2019 January 14.

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How Prohibition Put the ‘Organized’ in Organized Crime

January 14, 2019 in History

By Dave Roos

Kingpins like Al Capone were able to rake in up to $100 million each year thanks to the overwhelming business opportunity of illegal booze.

The term “organized crime” didn’t really exist in the United States before Prohibition. Criminal gangs had run amok in American cities since the late 19th-century, but they were mostly bands of street thugs running small-time extortion and loansharking rackets in predominantly ethnic Italian, Jewish, Irish and Polish neighborhoods.

In fact, before the passing of the 18th Amendment and the nationwide ban on the sale or importation of “intoxicating liquor” in 1919, it wasn’t the mobsters who ran the most organized criminal schemes in America, but corrupt political “bosses,” explains Howard Abadinsky, a criminal justice professor at St. John’s University and author of Organize Crime.

“The gangs were thugs in the employ of the political machines,” says Abadinsky, intimidating opposition candidates and funneling votes to the boss. In return, the politicians and police chiefs would turn a blind eye to illegal gambling and prostitution rings.

READ MORE: Al Capone

But the underworld power dynamics shifted dramatically with the onset of Prohibition and the overnight outlawing of every bottle of beer, glass of wine and shot of booze in America. With legitimate bars and breweries out of business, someone had to step in to fuel the substantial thirst of the Roaring Twenties. And no one was better equipped than the mobsters.

Mobsters Hired Lawyers

The key to running a successful bootlegging operation, Abadinsky explains, was a paramilitary organization. At first, the street gangs didn’t know a thing about business, but they knew how to handle a gun and how to intimidate the competition. They could protect illegal breweries and rum-running operations from rival gangs, provide security for speakeasies and pay off any nosey cops or politicians to look the other way.

It wasn’t long before the mobsters were raking in absurd amounts of money and it was bosses and cops who were taking the orders. As the money kept pouring it, these formerly small-time street thugs had to get smart. They had to hire lawyers and accountants to launder the millions in ill-gotten cash piling up each month. They had to start thinking about strategic partnerships with other gangs and shipping logistics and real estate investment.

“They had to become businessmen,” says Abadinsky. “And that gave rise to what we now call organized crime.” …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Why America Targeted Italian-Americans During World War II

January 14, 2019 in History

By Erin Blakemore

Louis Berizzi was in his pajamas when FBI agents burst into his Manhattan apartment and arrested him. As his daughter, Lucetta, and the rest of the family watched, wiping the sleep from their eyes, he hurried into clothing and was taken away.

Soon after, FBI agents questioned Lucetta, too. Why did she speak such good Italian? Had her father engaged in suspicious activities? Was she a traitor? She was released without being charged, but soon after suffered the consequences of the anti-Italian sentiment that had spread like wildfire since the United States entered World War II. After being seen speaking Italian with a customer, she was fired from her job as a salesperson at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Her father wasn’t a traitor, either. His only crime was being born in Italy. During the early years of World War II however, that was enough to classify him as an “enemy alien”—and to justify freezing his assets, interrogating his family, and interning him for months.

The Berizzis were just a few of at least 600,000 Italians and Italian Americans—many of them naturalized citizens—swept up in a wave of racism and persecution during World War II. Hundreds of Italian “enemy aliens” were sent to internment camps like those Japanese Americans were forced into during the war. More than 10,000 were forced from their homes, and hundreds of thousands suffered curfews, confiscations and mass surveillance during the war. They were targeted despite a lack of evidence that traitorous Italians were conducting spy or sabotage operations in the United States.

A sign posted on Terminal Island in California in 1942 denoting it as an Alien Enemy Prohibited Area and states that all aliens of Japanese, Italian & German origin must vacate the area by midnight by order of the US government.

The roots of the actions taken by the U.S. government against Italian Americans can be found not just in Italy’s role as an Axis power during World War II, but in longstanding prejudice in the United States itself. Beginning in the second half of the 19th century, Italians began immigrating to the United States in droves. By 1920, more than ten percent of all foreign-born people in the U.S. were Italian, and more than 4 million Italian immigrants had come to the United States.

Italians were the biggest group of immigrants to enter the U.S., and vibrant Italian American enclaves …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Benedict Arnold, American traitor, born

January 14, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

Benedict Arnold, the American general during the Revolutionary War who betrayed his country and became synonymous with the word “traitor,” was born on this day in 1741.

Arnold, who was raised in a respected family in Norwich, Connecticut, apprenticed with an apothecary and was a member of the militia during the French and Indian War (1754-1763). He later became a successful trader and joined the Continental Army when the Revolutionary War broke out between Great Britain and its 13 American colonies in 1775.

During the war, Arnold proved himself to be a brave, skilled leader, helping Ethan Allen’s troops capture Fort Ticonderoga in 1775 and then taking part in the unsuccessful attack on British Quebec later that year, which earned him a promotion to brigadier general. Arnold distinguished himself in campaigns at Lake Champlain, Ridgefield and Saratoga, and gained the support of George Washington. However, Arnold had enemies within the military and in 1777, a group of lower-ranking men were promoted ahead of him. Over the next several years, Arnold married a second time and he and his wife led a lavish lifestyle in Philadelphia, racking up substantial debt. Money problems and the resentment Arnold felt over not being promoted faster were factors in his decision to become a turncoat.

In 1780, Arnold was given command of West Point, the American fort on the Hudson River in New York (and future home of the United States Military Academy, established in 1802). Arnold contacted Sir Henry Clinton, head of the British forces, and proposed handing over West Point and its men. On September 21 of that year, Arnold met with British Major John Andre and made his traitorous pact, in which the American was to receive a large sum of money and a high position in the British army. However, the conspiracy was uncovered and Andre was captured and killed. Arnold fled to the enemy side and went on to lead British troops in Virginia and Connecticut. He later moved to England, though he never received all of what he’d been promised by the British. The former American hero and patriot died in London, in relative obscurity, on June 14, 1801.

…read more

Source: HISTORY

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Adams, Jefferson and Madison help to ratify the Treaty of Paris

January 14, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

On this day in 1784, at the Maryland State House in Annapolis, the Continental Congress ratifies the Treaty of Paris. The document, negotiated in part by future President John Adams, contained terms for ending the Revolutionary War and established the United States as a sovereign nation. The treaty outlined America’s fishing rights off the coast of Canada, defined territorial boundaries in North America formerly held by the British and forced an end to reprisals against British loyalists. Two other future presidents, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, were among the delegates who ratified the document on January 14, 1874.

Thomas Jefferson had planned to travel to Paris to join Adams, John Jay and Benjamin Franklin for the beginning of talks with the British in 1782. However, after a delay in his travel plans, Jefferson received word that a cessation of hostilities had been announced by King George III the previous December. Jefferson arrived in Paris in late February after the treaty had already been negotiated by Adams, Franklin and Jay.

Adams’ experience and skill in diplomacy prompted Congress to authorize him to act as the United States’ representative in negotiating treaty terms with the British. Following his role in ending the Revolutionary War and his participation in drafting the Declaration of Independence, Adams succeeded George Washington as the second president of the United States in 1797.

…read more

Source: HISTORY

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Roosevelt ushers in Japanese-American internment

January 14, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

On this day in 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issues Presidential Proclamation No. 2537, requiring aliens from World War II-enemy countries–Italy, Germany and Japan–to register with the United States Department of Justice. Registered persons were then issued a Certificate of Identification for Aliens of Enemy Nationality. A follow-up to the Alien Registration Act of 1940, Proclamation No. 2537 facilitated the beginning of full-scale internment of Japanese Americans the following month.

While most Americans expected the U.S. to enter the war, presumably in Europe or the Philippines, the nation was shocked to hear of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. In the wake of the bombing, the West Coast appeared particularly vulnerable to another Japanese military offensive. A large population of Japanese Americans inhabited the western states and American military analysts feared some would conduct acts of sabotage on west-coast defense and agricultural industries.

Official relations between the governments of Japan and the United States had soured in the 1930s when Japan began its military conquest of Chinese territory. China, weakened by a civil war between nationalists and communists, represented an important strategic relationship for both the U.S. and Japan. Japan desperately needed China’s raw materials in order to continue its program of modernization. The U.S. needed a democratic Chinese government to counter both Japanese military expansion in the Pacific and the spread of communism in Asia. Liberal Japanese resented American anti-Japanese policies, particularly in California, where exclusionary laws were passed to prevent Japanese Americans from competing with U.S. citizens in the agricultural industry. In spite of these tensions, a 1941 federal report requested by Roosevelt indicated that more than 90 percent of Japanese Americans were considered loyal citizens. Nevertheless, under increasing pressure from agricultural associations, military advisors and influential California politicians, Roosevelt agreed to begin the necessary steps for possible internment of the Japanese-American population.

Ostensibly issued in the interest of national security, Proclamation No. 2537 permitted the arrest, detention and internment of enemy aliens who violated restricted areas, such as ports, water treatment plants or even areas prone to brush fires, for the duration of the war. A month later, a reluctant but resigned Roosevelt signed the War Department’s blanket Executive Order 9066, which authorized the physical removal of all Japanese Americans into internment camps.

…read more

Source: HISTORY

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Patreon Is Not Waging War on Free Speech

January 14, 2019 in Economics

By Matthew Feeney

Matthew Feeney

University of Toronto psychology professor Jordan Peterson and
political commentator Dave Rubin recently announced that they would follow the
example of neuroscientist and atheist author Sam Harris and close
their Patreon accounts. The announcement came shortly after the
fundraising platform removed Carl Benjamin — who goes
by the moniker Sargon of Akkad – for hate speech.

The news is the latest battle in the online
‘censorship’ war, with those alleging bias among online
giants such as Google, Twitter and Facebook taking steps to try to
reform platforms or establish platforms of their own. But those who
value free speech and markets should defend
Patreon’s right to boot off Benjamin, and welcome Peterson
and Rubin’s call for a Patreon competitor. They should also
be sceptical of accusations of censorship and bad analogies.

Patreon banned Benjamin last month, explaining that the decision
hinged on his comments in a
February interview
with another YouTube creator. In that
interview, Benjamin used derogatory language to describe some white
supremacists in an apparent cockeyed attempt to portray them as the
people they hate. Benjamin’s comments breached Patreon’s community guidelines, despite the fact that Benjamin
did not make the comments on his channel.

Patreon is and should remain free to disassociate itself from
whomever it wants. Like all companies that have guidelines and
content-moderation policies, Patreon is open to accusations of
hypocrisy and inconsistently applying its speech standards. Anyone
looking for a company that has been entirely consistent with its
own content guidelines will be persistently disappointed.

Patreon’s decision to sever a relationship with someone
who uses foul language is not unreasonable on its face. If an
advocate of Islamic terrorism wanted to use Patreon to fund origami
YouTube videos that have nothing to do with terrorism, it would be
reasonable for Patreon and YouTube to remove the content and close
the terrorist’s accounts.

Rubin, Peterson and Harris believe that Patreon is too
discriminatory and should be more tolerant of certain kinds of
speech. On a recent appearance on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News
show, Rubin described the situation facing internet users as a
choice between a ‘free internet that respects dissenting
opinion’ or a ‘controlled internet’ that is
‘basically controlled by the social-justice mob’.

Rubin and Peterson have announced that they are building a
fundraising site in the spirit of a ‘free internet’.
Presumably, it will be tolerant of users whose writing and
commentary includes homophobic and racist language along the lines
that Benjamin used. This is the market in action and should be
welcomed. Those who want to fundraise on a site with community
guidelines …read more

Source: OP-EDS