You are browsing the archive for 2019 March 03.

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The Monster Blizzard That Turned Kansas Into a Frozen Wasteland

March 3, 2019 in History

By Erin Blakemore

View of several people and a train stopped on snow-covered tracks after the great blizzard of 1886. This photograph was taken in Ford County, Kansas.

As the stage coach drove up to Camp Supply, its passengers must have felt relieved. They’d been caught in a storm, and the coach’s horses had lost their path in the Kansas snow. Finally, the coach arrived at Camp Supply, a military outpost in Indian Territory in what is now Oklahoma.

When the passengers got out of the coach, they realized they were many miles away from their original destination—and that they’d been riding in a coach without a driver. He was still sitting on top of the coach. His stiff, frozen body, that is. As the passengers had huddled for warmth inside the bumpy stage coach, he had died in the storm.

It was January 1886, and the passengers had just lived through the worst blizzard Kansas had ever seen. Trains filled with hogs had frozen solid, along with their living cargo, as they sat idle, prevented from moving forward by drifting snow. People who had been outdoors on the prairie when the storm struck were found frozen, killed while searching for shelter. And then there were the cows—more than 100,000 of them, dead in the storm. All in all, the January 1886 blizzard killed at least 100 people and wiped out about 75 percent of the state’s livestock.

The first indicators that there might be a monster storm in the works came not with snowflakes, but high temperatures. Previous winters had been mild, and late December had been warm, too. But on December 31, 1885, settlers noticed a strange purple-yellow color on the horizon, and soon temperatures were plummeting. Rain quickly turned to fierce winds, driving snow and sub-zero temperatures. Between January 1 and 3, Kansas experienced 36 hours of continuous blizzard conditions. Then, a second, even more severe storm developed. On January 7, the temperature plummeted even further, with wind chills of up to 40 below zero.

The mild temperatures of previous winters had fooled settlers. So had the abundant grassland of the Kansas prairies. Despite failing crops, more and more settlers had invested in cattle, lured by rising beef prices. Between 1866 and 1885, Kansas had become a shipping center for cattle driven north by Texas cowboys looking for grazing land and a place to prepare …read more


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The Wall Won't End Pot Smuggling at the Border. Legalization Will.

March 3, 2019 in Economics

By David Bier

David Bier

Pot is bulky and pungent. That makes it difficult to conceal in,
say, a suitcase or a truck. For that reason, marijuana traffickers
tend to avoid legal ports or entrances, preferring instead to
traverse the expanses of deserts and canyons where Border Patrol
agents are often the only signs of human life. To the extent that
other drugs cross outside normal entry points, they are most often
hitchhikers along for the ride with the weed. In 2013, for example,
Border Patrol agents seized 274 pounds of marijuana for every one
pound of other drugs.

So for those familiar with the history of drug smuggling, there
was a dog that didn’t bark in Donald Trump’s early January Oval
Office address, which was intended to frighten Americans into
supporting a border wall and give him leverage to end the shutdown.
While Trump described the southern border as “a pipeline for vast
quantities of illegal drugs,” he only specifically mentioned “meth,
heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl”—all drugs that typically come
in through formal points of entry. He did not speak of what has
been, for most of living memory, the most-smuggled item over the
Mexican-American border: marijuana.

Pot, and the impoverished undocumented immigrants who often
bring it, are no longer flowing across the border at the rate they
once were. This decline has virtually nothing to do with expensive
security innovations at the border and everything to do with
legalization in the United States. If it were any other industry,
one imagines the president would be delighted: When it comes to
pot, customers prefer to buy American.

Until the government
learns that its own policies are the causes of illegal immigration
and drug smuggling, the problems will continue.

A Century of Fecklessness

President Trump is far from the first politician to use drug
smuggling to justify greater border security. During the 1920s, the
“need” to combat smuggling served as a primary justification for
the creation of the Border Patrol. In 1922, the commissioner
general of immigration warned that “dope, liquor, Chinese, and
alien smuggling has become a lucrative business and is being
carried on by international gangs in which there have been found
the hardest, most daring, and cleverest criminals.” These nefarious
forces, he added, were “backed by no limit of funds and possessed
of the highest powered vehicles.”

In 1924, Congress responded to these concerns and the need to
enforce new restrictions on legal immigration by creating the
Border Patrol. During alcohol Prohibition, the agency went on to
confiscate millions of quarts of liquor. Year after year, the
immigration commissioner’s reports requested more agents, vehicles,
and even airplanes to compete with the traffickers.

Then, …read more

Source: OP-EDS