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The Left Loves Activist Judges — Unless They Rule Right

March 31, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

The Trump administration is transforming the courts. So far the
president has made two Supreme Court appointments and won
confirmation of another 30 judges to the 13 circuit courts, which
are the final arbiters in most federal cases. After Democratic
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid dispensed with the filibuster to
push through President Barack Obama’s lower federal court
appointments, his Republican successor Sen. Mitch McConnell
returned the favor, speeding up the approval process and lifting
the filibuster on high court nominations.

Suddenly left-wing activists noticed that courts sometimes
thwart legislatures and presidents. These progressives were shocked
and saddened to realize that democracy was being undermined. Never
before had they imagined that judicial review might stand in the
way of them imposing their preferred policies on the American
people. Obviously, conservatives must be playing politics with the
courts. Complained Joan McCarter of the Daily Kos:
“the Senate’s constitutional advise-and-consent role
has been thrown entirely out the window by McConnell.”

Of course, the Obama administration loaded the federal bench
with liberals. He placed Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, his
solicitor general, on the Supreme Court. He added 55 appellate
judges and 268 district court judges. In the main, Republican
senators disliked his nominees, but nevertheless voted for many of
the latter.

Leftists who want to
“pack the courts” should stop whining and learn from the Trump
experience – win elections and nominate good candidates.

Moreover, the Left attempted to subvert the then-soft
conservative majority on the Supreme Court. Liberals played to
Chief Justice John Roberts’ inflated view of his duty to
protect the Court from political pressures, even when doing so
undermined sound constitutional decision-making. In 2012 he flipped
from anchoring a 5-4 majority to overturn Obamacare to creating a
similar majority to uphold the law, treating the constitutional
issue as a political question. His opinion bizarrely upheld the law
based on its minor tax provisions, which were barely mentioned
during oral arguments. However, that case proved sui
generis
. Although distrusted by the Right, Roberts continued
to mostly vote with his right-leaning colleagues.

Still, the Left didn’t give up. In reviewing a new book by
Joan Biskupic, The Chief: The Life and Turbulent Times of Chief
Justice John Roberts
, Michael O’Donnell lauded the
jurist: “Roberts is the most interesting judicial
conservative in living memory because he is both ideologically
outspoken and willing go to break with ideology in a moment of
great political consequence. His response to the constitutional
crisis that awaits will define not just his legacy, but the Supreme
Court’s as well.” National Review’s
David French wrote that “the legal Left is beckoning”
Roberts “by putting him at war with himself — setting
up a …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The Rigged Quiz Shows That Gave Birth to 'Jeopardy!'

March 29, 2019 in History

By Erin Blakemore


Jeopardy! creator Merv Griffin, with the game show’s original host, Art Flemming.

A 55-year-old show that commands 23 million viewers and is the top-rated game show in history. The answer is: “What is Jeopardy!?”

In 1965, the answers-first show made its debut. But if not for a group of popular—and fraudulent—quiz shows, it may never have existed in the first place.

Throughout the late 1950s, viewers were riveted by a series of scandals related to TV quiz shows. The high-stakes games were extremely popular…and extremely rigged. Once the nation realized they were rooting for contestants in televised frauds, a grand jury, a congressional investigation, and even a change in communications law followed. But though the shows were short-lived, their format lives on in Jeopardy!.

Game shows were born right around the dawn of television, but first became popular on the radio. In 1938, Information Please, a radio show that rewarded listeners for submitting questions that stumped an expert panel, debuted. Later that year TV’s first game show, Spelling Bee, appeared. The format really took off after World War II, as more households got TVs. Low-stakes shows like This Is the Missus, which had contestants participate in silly contests, and Queen For a Day, which rewarded women for sharing their sob stories, reeled in daytime viewers.


CBS television quiz and audience participation program, Missus Goes A Shopping, in 1944. (CBS via Getty Images)

But it took a Supreme Court suit to usher in big prizes for the shows. In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in FCC v. American Broadcasting Co., Inc. that giveaways weren’t gambling. This decision paved the way for higher stakes in game shows. Suddenly, prime-time viewers could choose between a new rash of game shows with massive prizes.

The first popular high-stakes show, The $64,000 Question, created by CBS producer Louis Cowan and based on an older radio show, Take It or Leave It, paid the winners of a riveting general-knowledge quiz the equivalent of over $600,000 in modern dollars if they could beat out experts in their own fields. It was an immediate hit, and so were its most frequent winners. Soon another show, Twenty-One, reeled in NBC viewers by pitting two players against one another in a trivia game that involved isolation booths and headphones.

The shows were popular because of their tense gameplay and gimmicks like audience …read more

Source: HISTORY

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9 Outrageous Pranks in History

March 29, 2019 in History

By Becky Little

From a Swiss “spaghetti harvest” to a fake UFO landing, these pranks went above and beyond.

April Fool’s Day, once a time to pull a prank on both friends and enemies, has turned into a day for corporations to try and fool customers with predictable internet hoaxes. Come April 1, we can all count on an announcement about a fake new show, feature or a tinkered application.

Here, we’ve compiled a list of truly original (and elaborate) pranks that will actually surprise you.

Satirist Jonathan Swift.

A Modest Prank-posal

One year, satirist Jonathan Swift decided to play a very elaborate All Fools’ Day prank on John Partridge, a famous astrologer who sold bogus predictions to the public in almanacs. After Partridge predicted in his 1708 almanac that a fever would sweep London in early April, Swift published an almanac under a fake name predicting that on March 29 at 11 p.m., Partridge would die “of a raging fever.”

The public was intrigued, but Partridge was irate, and he published a rebuttal to Swift’s almanac calling its author a fraud. Then, on the night of March 29, Swift published an elegy (again, under a fake name) announcing that Partridge—a “cobbler, Starmonger and Quack”—had died, and admitted on his deathbed that he was a fraud.

News of Partridge’s death spread over the next couple of days, so that when Partridge walked down the street on April 1, people stared at him in surprise and confusion. Partridge angrily published a pamphlet saying he was alive, and Swift again publicly asserted that Partridge was dead, and claimed Partridge’s pamphlet was written by someone else. The whole escapade helped to discredit Partridge, who eventually stopped publishing almanacs.


A man in a bottle.

Prankster in a Bottle

In January of 1749, London newspapers advertised that in an upcoming show, a man would squeeze his entire body into a wine bottle and then sing while inside of it. The ad promised that, “during his stay in the bottle, any Person may handle it, and see plainly that it does not exceed a common Tavern Bottle.” The ad promised the show would feature other tricks as well, including communicating with the dead.

Legend has it that the ad was the result of a bet between the Duke of Portland and the Earl of Chesterfield. Reportedly, the duke bet that he could advertise something impossible and …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Neanderthals Resorted to Cannibalism in the Face of Climate Change

March 29, 2019 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

We know that Neanderthals were carnivores, with a diet that consisted primarily—if not exclusively—of meat.

But a new study by researchers in France suggests that around 120,000 years ago, when a period of sudden climate change wiped out many of the animals who made up their food supply, some Neanderthals resorted to cannibalism.

In the 1990s, the remains of six Neanderthals were found in Baume Moula-Guercy, a small cave in the Rhône valley in southern France. The remains, which belonged to two adults, two adolescents and two children, showed many of the tell-tale signs of cannibalism: , suggests one explanation. The Neanderthal remains in the cave at Moula-Guercy were discovered in the layer of sediment dated to the last interglacial period, which lasted from around 128,000 to 114,000 years ago. During that time, temperatures jumped several degrees higher from the era that occurred directly before the interglacial period, as well as from the period that came directly after it.

Tooth of an adult Neanderthal from Les Cottés in France. Her diet consisted mainly of the meat of large herbivore mammals.

When researchers examined the animal remains found in the layers of cave floor, they noticed the sudden change in climate had caused a dramatic shifting in food sources. Before the interglacial period, remains of larger mammals such as bison, reindeer and woolly mammoths, along with smaller ones like lemmings and mice, were found. But after the temperature warmed, they saw no evidence of large mammals, with snakes, tortoises and rodents discovered instead.

Scientists have long debated how meat-centric the Neanderthal diet actually was, and some evidence supports the idea that they consumed plants as well. But one recent study based on nitrogen isotope ratios, a measure scientists use to track the position of an organism in the food chain, found that Neanderthals mainly consumed meat, usually in the form of large herbivorous mammals.

The findings at Moula-Guercy suggest that as the climate warmed, and open grasslands turned into temperate forests, Neanderthals would have found fewer of these animals to hunt. As their food supply dwindled, apparently, some of them took drastic steps to assuage their hunger.

“The change of climate from the glacial period to the last interglacial was very abrupt,” Emmanuel Desclaux, co-author of the study, told Cosmos. He suggested the bodies were likely devoured over a short period of time, after their killers grew …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Obamacare's Enemy No. 1 Says This Is the Wrong Way to Kill It

March 28, 2019 in Economics

By Michael F. Cannon

Michael F. Cannon

In a dramatic reversal, the Trump administration has asked a
federal appellate court to uphold a lower-court ruling striking
down all of ObamaCare as unconstitutional.

You might expect me to be happy. The New Republic calls me
“ObamaCare’s single most relentless antagonist.”
The Week says I’m “ObamaCare’s fiercest
critic.” Give me five minutes, and I’ll explain how the
so-called “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”
ironically makes health insurance less ­affordable and reduces
protections for the sickest patients. I seethed when the US Supreme
Court unilaterally rewrote ObamaCare first in 2012 and again in
2015.

But rather than experience elation at this latest ruling,
I’m seething again, and for the same reason. In Texas v.
Azar, federal judge Reed O’Connor did ­exactly what Chief
Justice John Roberts did at the high court: jettison the rule of
law to achieve a politically desired outcome.

If opponents want to
strike down ObamaCare, they need better legal arguments than what
Judge O’Connor offered in Texas v. Azar, which is no different from
what Chief Justice Roberts did in his own rulings. Two wrongs don’t
make a right.

O’Connor followed the John Roberts playbook all the way
down to the tortured reasoning. He pretended the ObamaCare law
still mandates the purchase of health ­insurance, when it no longer
does. He pretended this phantom mandate injures the plaintiffs,
when it clearly does not. And he pretended Congress considered the
mandate inseverable from the rest of ObamaCare, even though
Congress itself had already severed the two.

To set the table, ObamaCare originally said taxpayers
“shall” obtain health insurance or else pay a
“penalty” of potentially thousands of dollars per year.
A command plus a penalty equals a mandate. Right there in the
statute, Congress claimed its authority to impose those provisions
come from its constitutional power “to regulate
Commerce.” The Supreme Court nearly struck down the whole law
in 2012, when a five-justice majority concluded the
Constitution’s Commerce Clause grants Congress no such
power.

The statute survived because one of those five justices —
Roberts — argued that one can interpret this penalty
“as a tax . . . on those without health ­insurance” and
therefore a constitutional use of Congress’ taxing power.
Roberts thus voted with four other justices to ­uphold
ObamaCare.

He was so busy rewriting the statute to achieve his desired
outcome that Roberts failed to notice the Constitution forbade such
a tax.

Back in 2009, ObamaCare’s authors initially sought to
impose a “tax” on those who failed to purchase health
insurance. But when they realized such a tax would have prevented
the bill from passing, they ­replaced it, invoking the Commerce
Clause to issue a command backed up by a …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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There Are Two Marylands, and One Refuses to Listen to the Other

March 28, 2019 in Economics

By Walter Olson, Ryan Bourne

Walter Olson and Ryan Bourne

On the map, Maryland is not a large state, but economically it’s
big enough to encompass a stark contrast between a prosperous
midsection and a deeply depressed periphery two hours’ drive to the
east or west. One thing we’ve learned in this year’s debate over a
statewide $15 minimum wage, now set to become law after the
legislature overrode Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) veto today, is that
affluent central Maryland doesn’t want to listen to hard-hit rural
Maryland.

According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, average wages in Montgomery County ($1,333 a
week), Howard County ($1,220), and Baltimore City ($1,183) are more
than twice as high as those in Worcester County on the Eastern
Shore ($588 a week). Weekly wages in the three westernmost counties
ranged from $641 in Garrett to $736 in Allegany to $776 in
Washington, all figures being from the second quarter of 2017.

Affluent sections of
Maryland can vote for $15 without much worry that a large share of
their job base will disappear. Poor counties can’t.

In the debate over the $15 minimum wage, lawmakers from
Montgomery County, Baltimore City and Howard County were nearly
unanimously in favor, with most delegates supporting strong
versions of the scheme. Meanwhile, most lawmakers from depressed
parts of the state were passionately opposed.

Guess who had the numbers to outvote whom?

Both chambers rejected the rural lawmakers’ plea to depart from
a uniform $15 in favor of letting the rate vary by county or region
within the state. Behind this regional divide is a simple fact:
Affluent sections of Maryland can vote for $15 without much worry
that a large share of their job base will disappear. Poor counties
can’t.

Even if you set aside the greater prevalence of seasonal and
part-time work in the outlying parts of the state, a direct
job-vs.-job comparison shows why. In Columbia (average salary per
PayScale.com:
$63,327), jobs that pay less than $15 an hour
represent the low end of the employment curve, and many are paying
at $12 or $13 already, even for entry-level jobs.

In Cumberland ($39,800), a $15 minimum is likely to upend the
economics of hiring for positions such as sales associate ($9.16).
In mountain Maryland, even job categories requiring certification
in specialized medical skills often pay well below $15. That would
include certified nurse assistant and certified pharmacy
technician, both around $12.10 in Cumberland. As for hiking
restaurant, clinic or carwash prices by a few bucks to make up the
difference, that’s something that may run into more customer
resistance in Hagerstown (average home value …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Africa and the Blood of Christians

March 28, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

ABUJA, NIGERIA — Nigeria has the largest economy and
population in Africa. Unfortunately, it is also home to growing
violence against Christians.

The Religious Liberty Partnership recently hosted a conference
of international activists in Abuja to both show solidarity with
Nigeria’s Christians and consider strategies to battle
discrimination and persecution. Stories told by Nigerian
participants highlighted the threat posed by violent extremism in a
country that otherwise seems destined to become a regional and
perhaps world leader.

Unfortunately, Nigeria is not alone. Africa has become an
epicenter of religious persecution. Much of the continent is
inhospitable to those who worship a different god or the same god
differently. Open Doors estimates that 245 million out of 631
million African Christians currently experience high levels of
persecution, up from 215 million last year.

Religious persecution
there is horrific. And America’s military interventions have only
made things worse.

Africa remains far from the center of U.S. foreign policy.
However, it has begun a long march forward, with democracy
expanding and economies growing. That makes the fight against
religious extremism and intolerance ever more important. Otherwise
stability and peace are likely to remain out of reach, including in
Nigeria.

The status of religious freedom varies widely by region and
country. The most obvious difference is between the Arabic north
and largely black Africa.

For instance, the latest report from the Aid to the Church in
Need cites significant violations of religious liberty in Algeria,
Egypt, Eritrea, Kenya, Libya, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia,
Sudan, and Tanzania. The United States Commission on International
Religious Freedom focuses on the worst of the worst, highlighting
the cases of the Central African Republic, Egypt, Eritrea, Nigeria,
and Sudan.

Open Doors also lists the world’s 50 worst persecutors.
They include 14 African countries, home to “extreme” or
“very high” levels of persecution: Algeria, the Central
African Republic, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Mali,
Mauritania, Morocco, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, and Tunisia.

The Pew Research Center separates government restrictions from
social hostility, rating a dozen nations as having high or very
high levels of state control on religion: Algeria, Comoros, Egypt,
Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mauritania, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania,
Tunisia, and Western Sahara. Eleven were on the high and very high
social hostility lists: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the
Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt,
Kenya, Libya, Nigeria, Somalia, and Uganda.

Egypt is on every list. Nigeria, Eritrea, Somalia, and Sudan are
on all but one list. Algeria, the Central African Republic,
Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Mauritania, and Tunisia are on multiple
lists.

Nigeria may face the greatest challenge. Christians in some of
its Muslim-majority states are treated like second-class citizens.
Boko Haram and other radical forces, most notably …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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How the Three Mile Island Accident Was Made Even Worse By a Chaotic Response

March 27, 2019 in History

By Erin Blakemore

For tellers at a Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania bank, the final days of March 1979 should have felt like business as usual. Instead, they were sheer chaos: customers piled up, trying to withdraw money in the days before ATMs.

“Customers were stopping by with their cars packed up to flee, withdrawing their cash,” recalled bank teller Bailey Brown in 2014. “One even showed me the diamond necklace she bought; she figured we were all going to die and she wouldn’t have to pay for it!”

Shrewsbury wasn’t under evacuation orders during the nuclear disaster at Three Mile Island. But people were evacuating from the town 40 miles away from the power station anyway. The response by local, state and national officials had been so alarming—and confusing—that the public didn’t know what to think.

Journalist and TV news broadcaster Walter Cronkite, anchor for the ‘CBS Evening News,’ reporting on the meltdown of a reactor at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in 1979.

The disaster itself was made worse by human error. And the botched public response was no different. During the tense days following the accident, conflicting reports and recommendations made it hard to know what to believe. Was the area on the verge of a China Syndrome-style catastrophe, or was it just fine to stay at home?

Today, the response to the Three Mile Island nuclear crisis is considered a textbook example of what not to do during an emergency. But before 4:00 a.m. on the morning of March 28, 1979, nobody had made adequate plans as to how to respond to an accident at the nuclear power plant. That morning, a chain reaction began inside one of Three Mile Island’s nuclear reactors. Due to a constellation of mechanical and human errors, the reactor’s automatic cooling system didn’t cool down the reactor as expected, and a partial meltdown occurred. For hours, the radioactive core of the reactor was left uncovered, causing radiation levels to spike throughout the facility.

It took until nearly 7:00 a.m. for reactor staff to notify local and state authorities about the situation, and at 7:24 a.m., an emergency was declared. But though officials had begun responding to what they considered to be an emergency, the outward-facing message downplayed the danger. The day after the partial meltdown occurred, an official from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) told the public the danger had passed. …read more

Source: HISTORY

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When American Women Were Yanked off the Streets and Jailed in Droves for ‘Promiscuity’

March 27, 2019 in History

By Scott W. Stern

Under the government-backed American Plan, many were injected with mercury and forced to ingest arsenic-based drugs as ‘treatment.’

For much of the 20th century in America, a little-known but widespread government program locked people up without trials simply for having sexually transmitted infections—and then forced them to undergo dangerous, poisonous “treatments.”

If they were women, that is.

Take, for example, the nearly two dozen women rounded up by authorities on a single day in Sacramento, California in 1919. Margaret Hennessey was one of them, apprehended while walking with her sister to the meat market. It was Tuesday, February 25, a clear winter morning with a gentle wind and temperatures rising to the 40s or 50s. Hennessey—who lived in Richmond, California with her husband, H.J., a Standard Oil foreman—had been staying in town, recovering from influenza at the home of her sister, known from press reports only as Mrs. M. Bradich. As the two women walked to the market, they were approached by an Officer Ryan and other members of Sacramento’s “morals squad”—a unit formed that very morning, tasked with cleansing the city of vice and immorality. The police told the two lone women they were under arrest as “suspicious characters.”

Mrs. Hennessey tried to explain who she was and what she was doing in Sacramento. She offered to show the officers identification. She told the officers her 6-year-old son was attending school in a local convent, and if they arrested her, someone would have to care for him. The officers, Hennessey later told the press, “paid no heed, but took my sister and I to the hospital.” The morals squad delivered Hennessey and Bradich to the “Canary Cottage,” as the city’s isolation hospital was known. There, a doctor probed and prodded the two women’s genitalia, examining them for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). “At the hospital I was forced to submit to an examination just as if I was one of the most degraded women in the world. I want to say I have never been so humiliated in my life,” Mrs. Hennessey told the local newspaper. “My reputation means something to me and I am going to defend it.”

Margaret Hennessey’s experience was far from unusual. She had been detained under a program she likely had never heard of: the “American Plan.” From the 1910s through the 1950s, and in some places into the 1960s and 1970s, tens of thousands—perhaps hundreds of …read more

Source: HISTORY

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When the Pentagon Dug Secret Cold War Ice Tunnels to Hide Nukes

March 27, 2019 in History

By Eric Niiler

The project, dubbed “Project Iceworm,” sounds like a setting for a James Bond spy movie—except it was real and the remains present a toxic mess

On a clear, cold day in May 1959, two U.S. Army officers clad in polar gear gazed through their aviator sunglasses at the endless white horizon before them. Standing heroically in front of Arctic personnel carriers, Col. John Kerkering and Capt. Thomas Evans took measurements for a new military installation to be buried beneath Greenland’s ice cap. They called it “Camp Century.”

The proposed facility in northwestern Greenland was publicly touted as a “nuclear-powered Arctic research center” nestled in a wilderness of ice and snow. But the real reason for this Cold War base was to build and maintain a secret network of tunnels and missile silos connected by rail cars known as “Operation Iceworm.”

Photo of PM-2A Nuclear Power Plant.

It was the tense days of the Cold War when a rivalry between the nuclear powers of United States and the Soviet Union had military leaders constantly scheming new ways to outfox the other side. Pentagon planners thought that by shuttling 600 nuclear-tipped “Iceman” missiles (a new moniker for the existing Minuteman) back and forth between 2,100 silos, they could keep their counterparts in the Soviet Union guessing. Imagine a potentially deadly game of atomic “whack-a-mole” spread out across 52,000 square miles of northern Greenland.

“We needed a flat surface, a level with less than one degree of slope,” Evans says in a voiceover of a U.S. Army film, released in 1960, documenting the scout mission for the site. “This would minimize construction problems by enabling us to keep all of our tunnels on the same level.”

Once the location was settled, hundreds of military engineers and technicians trekked 150 miles from the existing Thule Air Base along Greenland’s northwest coast to the Camp Century site. From 1959 to 1961, they dug hundreds of feet into the compacted snow, fashioning an underground city with a sleeping quarters, laboratories, offices, a barber shop, laundry, library and warm showers for 200 soldiers.

The American public didn’t know about Project Iceworm until a Danish Parliament investigation published documents about the secret project in 1997, but they did know about Camp Century. Television crews and journalists from National Geographic and the New York Times visited as the camp took shape. So, too, were an unlikely pair of Boy Scouts, one …read more

Source: HISTORY