You are browsing the archive for 2019 February 21.

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The Torrid Affair That Torpedoed Princess Margaret's Marriage

February 21, 2019 in History

By Erin Blakemore

They drank. They swam. They smiled. But they didn’t hear the click of the cameras–or acknowledge that their secret romance could constitute a national scandal. They were Princess Margaret and Roddy Llewellyn, and they were about to grace the cover of a British tabloid with images that would end a marriage and change the face of British royalty forever.

Margaret’s marriage to Antony Armstrong-Jones, the First Earl of Snowdon, was already on the rocks, but it would take the photographs of her frolicking on a private island with another man to put the final nail in its coffin. In another era, the affair might have been private, too. But Margaret’s intense life was a tabloid editor’s dream, making her every move fodder for media scrutiny.

It happened on Mustique, a private island that is part of the Grenadines. In 1958, Colin Tennant, a British aristocrat who had once courted Princess Margaret, purchased and began developing it. The island had once been home to sugar plantations, all of which had been abandoned and overgrown since the 19th century. Under Tennant’s supervision, Mustique went from a scrubby, amenity-free island to a lush playground for the rich and famous. And when Margaret married Antony Armstrong-Jones, a free-spirited photographer, in 1960, Tennant gave her a plot of land as a wedding present.

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Source: HISTORY

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In 1303 the French King Sent Goons to Attack and Kidnap the Pope

February 21, 2019 in History

By Greg Daugherty

They held the pontiff hostage for three harrowing days. He never recovered.

A power-mad dictator sends agents to kidnap the pope, plunder his palace and force him to resign in disgrace on trumped-up charges.

That may sound like the plot line of a contemporary action thriller. But it actually happened in 1303—a real-life drama featuring King Philip IV of France and Pope Boniface VIII.

The incident capped a bitter struggle between two of the most powerful men in the medieval world. And it didn’t end with the pontiff’s death. The French king later sought to obliterate not only the pope’s reputation—but his actual bones as well.

Philip IV the Fair (1268-1314), King of France.

Rivals driven by greed and power

Philip, born in 1268, was also known as Philip the Fair, not for his sense of justice but for his handsome face. By many accounts, he was ruthless, insatiably greedy and convinced that he ruled by divine right.

Boniface was no saint, either. Born Benedetto Caetani (or Gaetani) to a noble Italian family around the year 1235, he studied law before becoming a cardinal in 1281 and pope in 1294. Like several of his papal predecessors, he believed his authority was supreme, exceeding even that of kings. He was also said to be autocratic, vengeful and not above using his position to enrich himself and his family. His enemies even claimed he murdered his predecessor, Pope Celestine V, by driving a nail into the man’s head (an accusation disputed by a 2013 forensic analysis).

It was probably inevitable that relations between these strong-willed leaders would eventually reach a breaking point. “Europe could not contain two such men,” the historian Stephen Howarth observed in his book, The Knights Templar.

READ MORE: 10 Reasons the Knights Templars Were History’s Fiercest Fighters

Early skirmishes

Their showdown began in 1296, when Boniface issued a decree forbidding kings from taxing the clergy without his consent. Philip, who constantly needed cash and considered taxation his legal right, retaliated by prohibiting the export of gold, silver and other items of value without his approval, a move meant to deprive the pope of donations from French Catholics.

In 1301, Philip went further, arresting a French bishop close to Boniface on an assortment of phony allegations. Boniface retaliated, issuing a “bull,” or official document, demanding the bishop’s release, asserting his rightful power over Philip and threatening the king with punishment. As …read more

Source: HISTORY

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These Photos Show the Harsh Reality of Life in a Japanese-American Internment Camp

February 21, 2019 in History

By Madison Horne

In February of 1942, just 10 weeks after the attacks on

How Two Japanese-Americans Fought Nazis Abroad—and Prejudice at Home

Unlikely World War II Soldiers Awarded Nation’s Highest Honor

George Takei on Internment, Allegiance and “Gaman”

How “Tokyo Rose” Became WWII’s Most Notorious Propagandist

…read more

Source: HISTORY

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Minimum Wage Rises May Prompt Firms to Switch to Zero-Hours Jobs

February 21, 2019 in Economics

By Ryan Bourne

Ryan Bourne

The UK’s labour market performance continues to confound.
The employment rate is at its highest level since figures began in
1971. Unemployment is at its lowest rate
since early in 1975
. Yet a supposed bogeyman still stalks the
workforce statistics: the near million folk who identify as being
on zero-hours contracts (ZHCs) for their main job.

Since the steep increase in this prevalence from 2013, the
Labour party has made hay of the 901,000 people currently
contracted without guaranteed hours of work. It is evidence, they
say, of a jobs market characterised by low wages, few benefits,
little security and scant hope of building human capital. Despite
these workers representing just 2.8pc of overall employment, ZHCs
have become the totemic issue in the debate about labour market
regulation. In their 2017 manifesto, Labour promised to ban them
entirely.

The virulence of this criticism is wrong-headed. ZHCs can
clearly be mutually beneficial for employers and employees. But
Jeremy Corbyn and co never stop to ask why companies may have
expanded their use in recent years. Are bosses simply greedier than
half a decade ago? That seems unlikely. The wider acknowledgement
and awareness from workers of what ZHCs are may have contributed to
their burgeoning number in official statistics. But new evidence
suggests they may also be a consequence of a policy the Labour
party is rather fond of: raising minimum wage
rates
.

In industries dominated by low-paid workers and where labour
costs are a high proportion of total costs (such as retail and
health and social care), ZHCs allow companies to buffer hits from
rising statutory pay by reducing the number of staff on guaranteed
hours. In effect, the burden of risk and insecurity is outsourced
to employees, worsening their employment conditions, but better
allowing firms to manage higher costs.

A recent paper by economists from the LSE’s Centre for
Economic Performance suggests the introduction of the National
Living Wage in April 2016 had such an impact. The paper examined
closely the effects on the social care sector, which at 15pc had
the highest proportion of ZHC workers of any single industry. The
sector’s dependence on council funding also meant the
opportunity to pass on cost increases through to higher consumer
prices was very limited for these businesses.

Firms reacted to the minimum wage rise for over-25s by replacing
some fixed hours jobs with ZHCs. The overall proportion of those
employed in the social care sector on ZHCs increased by one
percentage point – raising it 24pc above the pre-National Living
Wage level.

According to their calculations, a domiciliary worker doing care
in individuals’ homes and earning the minimum wage …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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How NATO Pushed the U.S. Into the Libya Fiasco

February 21, 2019 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

A key worry among American critics of NATO is that expanding the
alliance into Eastern Europe may entangle the United States in
conflicts that have little or no relevance to our genuine security
needs.

But the 2011 NATO intervention in Libya is a reminder that even
Washington’s long-time allies like France and Britain can
create the same danger. In their memoirs, Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense
Robert M. Gates reveal (at times perhaps
unintentionally) how those nations prodded the reluctant Obama
administration into taking such a fateful step in Libya. Clinton
herself was favorable to “humanitarian” military
missions, while Gates was openly hostile, yet their accounts track
closely, confirming how much of an impact allied lobbying had on
American decision-making.

As rebellions against authoritarian regimes erupted throughout
the Greater Middle East in late 2010 and early 2011 (the so-called
Arab Spring), the United States and its European allies pondered
how to respond. Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi was the target of
one uprising.

Obama officials reveal
how relentlessly our ‘allies’ lobbied for this ill-advised regime
change war.

At first, even Clinton seemed wary of U.S. involvement in any
military action to unseat Gaddafi. “When I met with French
President Nicolas Sarkozy, he urged the United States to support
international military intervention to stop Qaddafi’s advance
toward the rebel stronghold of Benghazi in eastern Libya,”
she recalled. “I was sympathetic but not convinced.”
Clinton noted, “The United States had spent the previous
decade bogged down in long and difficult wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan.”

In testimony before Congress, Clinton not only stressed the need
for “international authorization” before Washington
embarked on such a venture, she cited a key reason for her
wariness: “Too often, other countries were quick to demand
action but then looked to America to shoulder all the burdens and
take all the risks.” Her comment was an unsubtle swipe at
NATO’s European members.

Members of the Arab League, who had long loathed the volatile
Gaddafi, were also pressing for international intervention. The
League included such close U.S. security partners as Saudi Arabia,
Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. But Clinton noted that at a
meeting of the G-8 economic powers, “the Europeans were even
more gung ho. I got an earful about military intervention from
Sarkozy.”

Similar pro-intervention lobbying from Britain impressed her
even more. “When I saw British Foreign Secretary William
Hague at dinner that night, he pressed the case for action.”
And if Hague thought war in Libya was necessary, “that
counted for a lot.” In Clinton’s opinion, Hague was a
prudent pragmatist, not an impulsive crusader or inclined to engage
in international grandstanding.

Gates also …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Stonehenge

February 21, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

For centuries, historians and archaeologists have puzzled over the many mysteries of Stonehenge, the prehistoric monument that took Neolithic builders an estimated 1,500 years to erect. Located in southern England, it is comprised of roughly 100 massive upright stones placed in a circular layout. While many modern scholars now agree that Stonehenge was once a burial ground, they have yet to determine what other purposes it served and how a civilization without modern technology—or even the wheel—produced the mighty monument. Its construction is all the more baffling because, while the sandstone slabs of its outer ring hail from local quarries, scientists have traced the bluestones that make up its inner ring all the way to the Preseli Hills in Wales, some 200 miles from where Stonehenge sits on Salisbury Plain. Today, nearly 1 million people visit Stonehenge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986, every year.

Stonehenge’s Multiphase Construction

Archaeologists believe England most iconic prehistoric ruin was built in several stages, with the earliest constructed 5,000 or more years ago. First, Neolithic Britons used primitive tools—possibly made from deer antlers—to dig a massive circular ditch and bank, or henge, on Salisbury Plain. Deep pits dating back to that era and located within the circle—known as Aubrey holes after John Aubrey, the 17th-century antiquarian who discovered them—may have once held a ring of timber posts, according to some scholars.

Several hundred years later, it is thought, Stonehenge’s builders hoisted an estimated 80 non-indigenous bluestones, 43 of which remain today, into standing positions and placed them in either a horseshoe or circular formation. During the third phase of construction, which took place around 2000 B.C., sarsen sandstone slabs were arranged into an outer crescent or ring; some were assembled into the iconic three-pieced structures called trilithons that stand tall in the center of Stonehenge. Some 50 sarsen stones are now visible on the site, which may once have contained many more. Radiocarbon dating suggests that work continued at Stonehenge until roughly 1600 B.C., with the bluestones in particularly being repositioned multiple times.

The Megaliths of Stonehenge

Stonehenge’s sarsens, of which the largest weighs more than 40 tons and rises 24 feet, were likely sourced from quarries 25 miles north …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Trump Treats Iraq like a Conquered Province

February 21, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

The driving force behind American foreign policy in recent years
has been hubris. The United States sees itself as the essential
unipower, endowed with the right, indeed the duty, to intervene
around the world. Any nation that gets in the way must be
crushed—but in a moral, compassionate way.

Fortunately, President Donald Trump rejects Full Neocon, the
foreign policy equivalent of the Full Monty. In his State of the
Union speech, he declared: “Great countries do not fight
endless wars.” He appears ready to pull U.S. troops out of
Syria and Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, hubris continues to dominate his
administration’s policy towards another nation: Iraq.

The Bush administration invaded Iraq based on a lie and a
fantasy. The former was Baghdad’s supposed possession of a
nuclear program; the latter was the expectation that adoring
acolytes would enthusiastically create America on the
Euphrates.

He recognizes the folly
of staying in Syria and Afghanistan forever. So why is Baghdad the
exception?

Thousands of Americans died, tens of thousands of U.S. personnel
were injured, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis perished, and
millions were displaced in a crescendo of sectarian violence. The
indigenous Christian community was destroyed.

Out of the war emerged al-Qaeda in Iraq, which eventually
morphed into the Islamic State. Only with substantial assistance
from Washington and other governments was the Iraqi military able
to liberate ISIS territory. Meanwhile, majority Shiite Iran gained
influence among its neighboring coreligionists. Indeed, a new
detailed U.S. Army study of the war concluded that “an
emboldened and expansionist Iran appears to be the only
victor.”

You’d think such a record would make Washington cautious
in dealing with Iraq in the future. The relationship there now is
both practical and transactional, with significant undercurrents of
hostility. Baghdad wants American support but not its
domination.

Yet Trump has treated Iraq as a conquered province.

Most Americans don’t remember when Washington was
fervently pro-Saddam Hussein. In 1980, he invaded Iran, after which
he enjoyed plentiful U.S. backing. That changed only in 1990 after
he seized Kuwait. In 2003, George W. Bush used the 9/11 attacks as
a pretext for invading Iraq.

The neoconservatives promised an easy victory—a
“cakewalk,” one said—followed by an even easier
occupation that would require few troops and cost few dollars.
Alas, these plans went dramatically awry. Nevertheless, as the
sectarian conflict finally wound down, American officials still
hoped to maintain a permanent military presence. What’s the
fun in invading and occupying another state if you can’t
leave some forces behind?

The Bush administration insisted on a Status of Forces Agreement
(SOFA) to protect American troops in Iraq. Prime Minister Nouri
al-Maliki refused. He explained: “We did not realize that the
U.S. demands would so deeply …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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War Weary: Why Washington Needs to Bring Its Troops Home

February 21, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Great countries do not fight endless wars,” intoned
President Donald Trump in his State of the Union address, and he is
right. Certainly, nations that do fight them don’t stay
great, which should serve as a powerful warning for American
policymakers.

Alas, the Washington blob, the bipartisan foreign-policy elite
that has kept the United States at war for years, appears to have
learned nothing. Indeed, members of Congress didn’t greet the
president’s pronouncement with much enthusiasm. Legislators
had voted against his plan to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria and
Afghanistan. Members also had opposed his stated interest in doing
the same from South Korea. These are the same congressmen who
can’t be bothered to fulfill their constitutional
responsibility to approve America’s wars, yet they fear the
president might end one.

Indeed, some Washington policymakers reject any accountability.
Five years ago Samantha Power, one of the high tribunes of
humanitarian military intervention, reflected on what most
Americans recognize to be years of disastrous war-making: “I
think there is too much of, ‘Oh, look, this is what
intervention has wrought’ … one has to be careful about
overdrawing lessons.”

But they must be drawn. And the lessons from America’s
recent decades of intervention and war have not been pretty. For
instance, Ronald Reagan took the United States into Lebanon’s
bitter civil war, backing the “national” government,
which controlled little more than the capital of Beirut. Americans
became combatants and died for nothing.

The lessons from
America’s recent decades of intervention and war have not been
pretty.

Bin Laden and Al Qaeda had no interest in America’s
domestic institutions. They launched their terrorist operations in
response to U.S. intervention and war-making in the Middle East.
Bush administration Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz argued
that one benefit of the Iraq war was the removal of U.S.
“occupation” forces from Saudi Arabia, one of bin
Laden’s grievances.

American troops have been fighting in Afghanistan for more than
seventeen years, making it the longest war in U.S. history.
Washington almost immediately achieved its objectives of striking
Al Qaeda and ousting the Taliban; since then the war’s apparent
goal has been to impose a centralized liberal democracy in Kabul,
an effort neither worth war nor achievable at reasonable cost.
Today Americans are dying to kick the final withdrawal to the next
president.

The Iraq invasion was uniquely disastrous. The Bush
administration wrecked a nation, unleashed terror, triggered
sectarian war and religious cleansing, killed hundreds of thousands
of civilians, destroyed indigenous minority religious communities,
spawned Al Qaeda in Iraq—which morphed into the Islamic
State—and expanded Iran’s influence. Intervention in Libya
destabilized another country, spread weapons throughout the region,
and created a deadly vacuum for the Islamic …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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50 Year After Landmark Ruling, Public Schools Still Struggle Mightily with Speech

February 21, 2019 in Economics

By Neal McCluskey

Neal McCluskey

This coming Sunday will mark the 50th anniversary of the U.S.
Supreme Court ruling in
Tinker v. Des Moines
, which famously intoned that public
school students and teachers don’t “shed their constitutional
rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse
gate.” Some may hear about the celebrated ruling and think it
ended any notion that public school officials can fetter
expression. But as the Cato Institute’s Public
Schooling Battle Map
illustrates, it did not. Student and
teacher expression is frequently curbed, and often for
understandable reasons.

Within the Tinker ruling, the irresolvable conflict in
public schooling is laid bare: government must not curb free
expression—see the
First Amendment
—but public schools, which are government
institutions, sometimes must fetter speech to effectively educate.
For instance, the Court wrote, “Clearly, the prohibition of
expression…at least without evidence that it is necessary to
avoid material and substantial interference with schoolwork or
discipline
[emphasis added], is not constitutionally
permissible.”

As the Battle Map, an interactive database of values- and
identity-based conflicts in public schools reveals, the need to
maintain order is just one concern among many that has spurred
public school officials to restrain speech. Administrators have
also curbed expression they feared would render a school
inhospitable
, even
threatening
, to students from minority groups. They have spiked
articles in student newspapers they thought were
unfair to their subjects
. They have punished speech by teachers
that appeared to be
political pronouncements
. And the list goes
on
.

Many—perhaps most—peoples’ sympathies likely lie
with students and teachers more than school officials. Hopefully
everyone’s first reaction is that government must not censor
speech. But these other concerns—disruption, marginalization,
captive political speech—are also utterly understandable
worries. For instance, as Justice Black wrote in his dissent, the
armbands that the Tinker students donned to protest the
war in Vietnam really did disrupt education:

[Students’] armbands caused comments, warnings by other
students, the poking of fun at them, and a warning by an older
football player that other nonprotesting students had better let
them alone. There is also evidence that a teacher of mathematics
had his lesson period practically “wrecked,” chiefly by disputes
with Mary Beth Tinker, who wore her armband for her
“demonstration.” Even a casual reading of the record shows that
this armband did divert students’ minds from their regular lessons,
and that talk, comments, etc., made John Tinker “self-conscious” in
attending school with his armband…the record overwhelmingly shows
that the armbands did exactly what the elected school officials and
principals foresaw they would, that is, took the students’ minds
off their classwork and diverted them to …read more

Source: OP-EDS