You are browsing the archive for 2019 January 30.

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There’s Cold—and Then There Was February 1899

January 30, 2019 in History

By Christopher Klein

Snow weighed down the fronds of palm trees of Fort Myers, .

Nearly three feet of snow fell in Cape May, New Jersey, while 19 inches fell in Philadelphia and 16 in New York City and Boston. In Brooklyn, the bitter temperatures and 36 consecutive hours of snow left mail carriers so frostbitten that the postal service restricted delivery to just one round a day.

No amount of snow, though, could keep the Mardi Gras revelers in New Orleans from making their appointed rounds. The day after temperatures hit an all-time low of 7 degrees and as ice flowed down the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico, the traditional carnival and Rex parade went on as scheduled through the streets of New Orleans.

Valentine’s Day saw the last of the bitter cold, and hearts began to warm along with the temperatures. Days after experiencing record cold, Washington, D.C., saw temperatures hit 61 degrees—a 77-degree swing. By February 22, the three-foot snow pack in the nation’s capital had melted to mere traces.

A surface temperature map from February 1899 outlining the maximum (solid black lines), minimum (dashed black lines), and average (solid red lines) temperatures across the contiguous United States.

Even with the warmer temperatures that came in the latter half of the month, February 1899 remains the second-coldest February ever recorded in the United States—behind only 1936. The geographic range of the icy temperatures, however, remains historic.

The Great Arctic Outbreak caused millions of dollars of damage to crops and cooled the economy as barge traffic stalled on the Mississippi River and Great Lakes. Fish and game birds died in large numbers as did livestock that froze to death. There was a human toll as well. The U.S. Weather Bureau reported that between January 29 and February 13, 105 Americans died from avalanches and the freezing temperatures brought on by the Great Arctic Outbreak.

…read more


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1969 Moon Landing

January 30, 2019 in History

By Editors

On July 20, 1969, two American astronauts landed on the moon and became the first humans to walk on the lunar surface. The event marked the culmination of a nearly decade-long intense push to meet a challenge posed by President John F. Kennedy.

On July 20, 1969, American astronauts Neil Armstrong (1930-2012) and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin (1930-) became the first humans ever to land on the moon. About six-and-a-half hours later, Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon. As he set took his first step, Armstrong famously said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” The Apollo 11 mission occurred eight years after President John F. Kennedy (1917-63) announced a national goal of landing a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. Apollo 17, the final manned moon mission, took place in 1972.

The Apollo Program

The American effort to send astronauts to the moon had its origins in an appeal President John F. Kennedy made to a special joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961: “I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth.”

At the time, the United States was still trailing the Soviet Union in space developments, and Cold War-era America welcomed Kennedy’s bold proposal.In 1966, after five years of work by an international team of scientists and engineers, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) conducted the first unmanned Apollo mission, testing the structural integrity of the proposed launch vehicle and spacecraft combination.

Then, on January 27, 1967, tragedy struck at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, when a fire broke out during a manned launch-pad test of the Apollo spacecraft and Saturn rocket. Three astronauts were killed in the fire.

Despite the setback, NASA and its thousands of employees forged ahead, and in October 1968 Apollo 7, the first manned Apollo mission, orbited Earth and successfully tested many of the sophisticated systems needed to conduct a moon journey and landing.

In December of the same year, Apollo 8 took three astronauts …read more


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The Founding Fathers

January 30, 2019 in History

By Editors

These military leaders, rebels, politicians and writers varied in personality, status and background, but all played a part in forming a new nation and hammering out the framework for the young democracy.

Without them, there would have been no United States of America. The Founding Fathers, a group of predominantly wealthy plantation owners and businessmen, united 13 disparate colonies, fought for independence from Britain and penned a series of influential governing documents that steer the country to this day.

All the Founding Fathers, including the first four U.S. presidents, at one point considered themselves British subjects. But they revolted against the restrictive rule of King George III—outlining their grievances in the Declaration of Independence, a powerful (albeit incomplete) call for freedom and equality—and won a stunning military victory over what was then the world’s preeminent superpower.

The Founders proved equally adept later on in peacetime. When the federal government tottered under the Articles of Confederation, prominent citizens met anew to hammer out the U.S. Constitution, overcoming major areas of disagreement between large and small states and Southern and Northern ones to form a stable political system. Showing foresight, they included a Bill of Rights, which enshrined many civil liberties into law and provided a blueprint for other emerging democracies.

There’s no official consensus on who should be considered a Founding Father, and some historians object to the term altogether. On the whole, though, it’s applied to those leaders who initiated the Revolutionary War and framed the Constitution. Here are eight of the most influential characters in America’s origin story:

Advice from the Founding Fathers: George Washington (TV-PG; 1:18)

George Washington

Before he fought against the British, George Washington fought for the British, serving as a commander in the French and Indian War. A prosperous Virginia farmer who owned hundreds of slaves, he came to resent the various taxes and restrictions being imposed on the colonies by the British crown.

Once the Revolutionary War broke out in 1775, he was placed in charge of the Continental Army and quickly suffered a near-disastrous defeat at the Battle of Brooklyn. More defeats followed—all in all, Washington lost more battles than he won. Nonetheless, he kept his ragtag troops together even through a freezing winter at Valley Forge and, with the help of his French allies, was able to expel the British by …read more


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See Stunning Photos of King Tut’s Tomb After a Major Restoration

January 30, 2019 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

After almost a decade of painstaking work, conservators in Egypt have revealed the newly revamped tomb of Tutankhamen, better known as King Tut.

In addition to cleaning and restoring the paintings that adorn the walls of the tomb, the combined efforts of the Getty Conservation Institute and the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities focused on combating the wear and tear sustained through decades of tourist activity, and protecting it from further decay and deterioration.

The 12th pharaoh of the 18th Egyptian dynasty, Tutankhamen (or Tutankhamun) became king of Egypt when he was only nine years old. He ruled for less than a decade, from approximately 1332 to 1323 B.C., before dying mysteriously at the age of 19. Experts now believe he contracted gangrene from an infected leg wound.

Despite his short reign, King Tut has become the most famous of all Egypt’s pharaohs thanks to the splendour of his tomb, which was first discovered in 1922 by the British archaeologist Howard Carter. The entrance to the tomb, located in the famous Valley of the Kings, had been concealed by debris, and remained hidden for 3,000 years after the pharaoh’s death.

Conservation work being conducted on the wall paintings of King Tut’s burial chamber in spring 2016.

View the 8 images of this gallery on the original article

When Carter and his fellow archaeologist, George Herbert, Lord Carnarvon, entered, they found the tomb and its contents largely intact, including marvelous paintings, grave goods such as jewelry, statues, oils and perfumes and three coffins nestled inside each other, with the innermost gold coffin containing King Tut’s mummy.

King Tut’s tomb quickly became one of Egypt’s top tourist attractions, welcoming as many as 4,000 tourists a day by the late 1980s. By that time, experts had grown concerned about the effects of such heavy tourism on the burial chamber. In addition to carrying in dust from their clothing and shoes, some visitors even scratched graffiti on the tomb’s surfaces. Meanwhile, the flood of humid air and carbon dioxide into what had been a closed space for thousands of years had caused a large amount of what looked like microbiological or fungal growth, in the form of mysterious brown spots spreading across the walls.

Beginning in 2009, in cooperation with the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, the Getty Conservation Institute undertook the multi-year conservation effort of King Tut’s tomb. The team of conservators cleaned and …read more


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U.S. Foreign Policy Should Not Be a Religious Crusade

January 30, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Christians and other religious minorities continue to be at risk
in the Middle East, now, it is said, because the Trump
administration intends to withdraw from Syria. Their fate long has
been of concern in Washington. During his ill-fated presidential
campaign, Sen. Marco Rubio complained that “due to the
scourge of radical Islam, some churches that have existed since the
Book of Acts are on the brink of ruin.”

However, it was promiscuous military intervention backed by
Rubio and many Christian leaders that loosed this scourge upon
Middle Eastern Christians. Indeed, absent the Iraq invasion, there
would be no Islamic State. In practice, Mideast Christians may have
no more dangerous enemy than Uncle Sam. U.S. policy, often backed
by influential (if misguided) American evangelical leaders, has
consistently painted a target on their coreligionists in the
birthplace of Christianity.

Now, to redress the ill consequences of their earlier policy
prescriptions, some evangelicals want to conscript their fellow
countrymen to intervene militarily on behalf of the Christians
behalf in the same region. Washington should continue, presumably
forever, to illegally occupy Syria’s north, and confront
Turks, Iranians, Russians, Syrians, and ISIS fighters in a region
of no serious security interest to America.

Military involvement in
the Middle East should reflect the interests of the United
States—all of its people—not just

Assuaging one’s guilt for past mistakes is not a valid
reason to go to war, however.

Washington has attacked Mideast Christians for years and on
multiple fronts. The most enduring problem has been the uncritical
embrace by many evangelicals of Israel, to the exclusion of
Palestinian Christians. In 2016 Republican presidential candidates
were particularly shameless in competing to give the most absolute
and fulsome endorsement of Benjamin Netanyahu’s radical
government and occupation policies.

Yet Christians living in the West Bank suffer under military
rule and de facto colonization by sometimes violent settlers, who
often make “price tag” attacks on local Christians. In
contrast, noted the State Department, “Relations between
Palestinian Christians and Muslims were generally good, with both
groups focusing more on ethnic and political similarities than
religious differences.” On one trip to Israel I had dinner
with several Arab Christians in Bethlehem, in the occupied West
Bank, and they talked of inconvenience, hardship, harassment, fear,
and discrimination.

Even in Israel proper, vandalism and harassment of Christian
property and clergy, respectively, by ultra-Orthodox activists is
common. The extremist group Lehava explicitly targets Christians;
its head, Benzion Goptstein, called them “vampires and blood
suckers” who should be expelled. Official Israeli policy is
overtly hostile to Christians who visit to promote their faith. But
evangelical leaders usually say nothing. I met Melkite Catholic
Archbishop Abuna Elias Chacour a few years ago, …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Washington’s Incoherent Policy Towards Dictators

January 30, 2019 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

Throughout both the Cold War and the post-Cold War eras, U.S.
policy regarding dictatorships has been one of unprincipled

Behavior toward “friendly dictators” has often been
embarrassingly cozy. Indeed, Washington often seems to prefer cooperative tyrants to the unpredictability of
democratic governments in Third World countries and the policies
they might adopt. Thus, during the Cold War, the United States
avidly supported ruthless dictatorial regimes in such places as
South Korea, Taiwan, Zaire, Egypt, and Nicaragua. On several
occasions, U.S. administrations even used the CIA to overthrow
obstreperous democratic governments and help install vicious
successors deemed to be pro-American. Such operations took place in
Iran, Guatemala, Chile, and elsewhere.

Washington’s preference for autocratic allies has not
entirely disappeared. U.S. officials have shown few signs of displeasure with Egypt’s
government, even though the Egyptian military ousted Mohamed Morsi
after he was democratically elected. Likewise, the Trump
administration’s relationship with Saudi Arabia’s
murderous totalitarian theocracy remains exceedingly close, despite Riyadh’s
genocidal war in Yemen and other outrages.

It’s been either
self-serving fawning collaboration or hostile meddling. Will
Venezuela be any different?

Conversely, U.S. hostility towards autocratic governments deemed
unfriendly to American economic or strategic interests appears to
know no bounds. Both the Obama and Trump administrations have
backed an active policy of regime change against Syrian leader
Bashar al-Assad. Washington was even more proactive in the cases of
Iraq and Libya, leading regime change wars that ousted Saddam
Hussein and Moammar Gaddafi. U.S. policy toward Iran’s
clerical government clearly aims to achieve the same result.

America’s leaders thus appear incapable of adopting a balanced,
nuanced policy toward dictatorships. Washington’s stance is one of
either fawning collaboration or blatantly hostile meddling. But the
Trump administration now has an opportunity to correct that problem
and adopt a reasonable middle course with regard to developments in

Nicolás Maduro’s regime deserves no sympathy, much less support,
from anyone. Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, adopted
socialist economic policies that transformed Venezuela from one of
Latin America’s most prosperous countries into an utterly dysfunctional nightmare. In an effort
to preserve their political rule, Chavez and Maduro also pursued
ever-tightening authoritarian measures. They defenestrated the
business community, eradicated a free press, and jailed political
opponents. Even though Maduro supposedly won re-election in the May
2018 presidential contest, the balloting was a textbook example of wide-scale fraud. Venezuela
has gradually transformed from a socialist, illiberal democracy to
a thinly disguised dictatorship.

Serious political turmoil has escalated now that opposition
leader Juan Guaido, the head of the National Assembly, declared
himself acting president, challenging …read more

Source: OP-EDS