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Why Did Pontius Pilate Have Jesus Executed?

March 6, 2019 in History

By Christopher Klein

Historical accounts of the man who sentenced Jesus to death paint him as arrogant and cruel; the Bible goes easier on him, shifting the blame.

In the Gospel of John, Pontius Pilate poses a question to Jesus of Nazareth: “What is truth?”

It’s a question that could also be asked about Pilate’s own history. From the perspective of the New Testament of the Christian . That sort of behavior wouldn’t have been all that extraordinary for a Roman ruler, but Pilate apparently did it more ruthlessly than most.”

Problem is, it’s not easy to know how historical Philo’s account actually was, says Helen Bond, head of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Divinity and author of Pontius Pilate in History and Interpretation. “Philo is a hugely dramatic writer,” she notes, and one with very clear biases: “People who uphold Jewish laws are recorded in highly positive ways, while people who do not are described in highly negative terms.”

Given Pilate’s opposition to Jewish law, Philo describes him “very harshly.”

READ MORE: The Bible Says Jesus Was Real. What Other Proof Exists?

The scourging of Jesus, who was tortured prior to his crucifixion.

Pilate clashed with the Jewish population in Jerusalem.

Philo also wrote that Pilate permitted a pair of gilded shields inscribed with the name of the Roman Emperor Tiberius into King Herod’s former palace in Jerusalem, in violation of Jewish customs. Writing a half-century later, the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus told a similar tale that Pilate permitted troops carrying military standards bearing the likeness of the emperor into Jerusalem, although Jewish law forbade images in the city. A great crowd traveled to the Judean capital of Caesarea in protest and lay prostrate around Pilate’s palace for five days until he relented.

“Josephus was born in Jerusalem the year Pilate left office and so would have had reasonably good information,” Bond says. “The story has the ring of a new governor seeing what he can get away with and completely underestimating the strength of local opinion when it came to graven images.” At the same time, Bond notes, the story shows his willingness to back down and respect public opinion.

In another incident—with a bloodier ending—Josephus recounted that Pilate used funds from the Temple treasury to build an aqueduct to Jerusalem. This time when protesters amassed, Pilate dispatched plain-clothed soldiers to infiltrate the crowd. On his signal, they removed clubs …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Roy Cohn: From Ruthless 'Red Scare' Prosecutor to Donald Trump's Mentor

March 6, 2019 in History

By Becky Little

There are certain behind-the-scenes figures in American politics who, like Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump, seem to turn up everywhere. One of the most notorious is Roy Cohn, a man whose influence spans several decades of hot button issues, Republican politicians and LGBT history.

Cohn was a prosecutor in the .

News conference by Donald Trump and attorney Roy Cohn where they announced a billion dollar lawsuit against the National Football League in 1984.

Donald Trump’s mentor

Fast forward to Manhattan, 1973. Cohn was at Le Club—a hangout for rich people—when a man turned to him and asked his advice about Justice Department allegations that his real estate company had discriminated against black tenants. That man was future Republican president Donald Trump, and Cohn advised, “tell them to go to hell.”

Soon afterward, Cohn started working as Trump’s personal lawyer. Cohn served as a mentor to the businessman, helping him to navigate the world of New York’s power brokers. Cohn also famously introduced him to the disgraced political strategist Roger Stone, who advised his presidential campaign.

Trump was one of many prominent clients during Cohn’s career, including Nancy Reagan, to whom he became close; the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York and suspected Mafia bosses Carmine Galante and “Fat Tony” Salerno.

AIDS and Later Portrayal

Cohn was diagnosed with AIDS in 1984. Although Ronald Reagan was famously slow to take action during the AIDS epidemic, he helped Cohn secure an experimental treatment after his diagnosis. As with the Lavender Scare, Reagan’s assistance was an instance in which Cohn’s personal politics and connections protected or benefited him as a gay man, but not LGBT people as a group.

Shortly before his death in 1986, Cohn was disbarred as a lawyer for “dishonesty, fraud, deceit, and misrepresentation.” The charges included a visit he made to the dying multimillionaire Lewis Rosenstiel at a hospital while Rosenstiel was semi-comatose. “Cohn held Rosenstiel’s hand to sign a document naming Cohn a co-executor of Rosenstiel’s will after falsely telling him that the document dealt with his divorce,” The Washington Post reported at the time

Cohn is remembered as a major, and unethical, player in national Republican politics. He also figures strongly into one of the major plays about the AIDS crisis, Angels in America. Playwright Tony Kushner was inspired to write about Cohn after seeing his panel on the AIDS Quilt. It said, “Roy Cohn: Bully, …read more

Source: HISTORY

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The Shady, Get-Rich Scams of the Roaring Twenties

March 6, 2019 in History

By Patrick J. Kiger

As Americans dreamed of amassing fabulous fortunes, many became vulnerable to cons.

The economy boomed during the “Those frontiers suggest the potential—and actual example—of great riches, and boom times make credit easier to obtain.”

People wanted to follow the example of heroes such as automobile mogul Henry Ford and aviator Charles Lindbergh, who had dared to dream. “These men were celebrated for their pluck, courage and daring,” says Nate Hendley, author of the 2016 book The Big Con: Great Hoaxes, Frauds, Grifts and Swindles in American History. “Intentionally or not, the message that filtered down to the public was: Be bold. Courage is good. Don’t be timid. In other words—don’t hesitate to invest your cash!”

Prohibition also played a role in making the citizens susceptible, according to Hendley. “It turned street-corner thugs such as Al Capone into millionaires. Average, law-abiding citizens had no problem buying illegal booze from such people. Once citizens had crossed that moral line and started frequenting illegal speakeasies and buying black-market booze, they naturally became more receptive to sleazy but enticing pitches to invest in get-rich-quick schemes.”

READ MORE: How Prohibition Put the ‘Organized’ in Organized Crime

Banker and financial swindler, Charles Ponzi, circa 1920.

The Original Ponzi Scheme

At the same time, many people lacked the financial literacy to understand the difference between investing in a legitimate company and a scheme such as the one operated by Ponzi, an Italian immigrant who claimed to have become a wealthy man through sheer ingenuity and hard work.

“Americans love a rags-to-riches story,” Hendley says. The Boston-based Ponzi told investors that he’d discovered a way to make a fortune by buying Spanish mail coupons and redeeming them for U.S. stamps, to take advantage of the weakness of Spanish currency. In reality, Hendley explains, what Ponzi actually did “was simply take money from new investors and give it to old investors, without actually investing in anything tangible…in other words, he merely recirculated cash.”

Some 40,000 investors entrusted Ponzi with $15 million. But after U.S. postal inspectors started probing his scheme, it collapsed, and Ponzi went to prison. Many of his investors refused to believe they’d been conned, and hung on to his worthless certificates.

READ MORE: How the Ponzi Scheme Got Its Name

A Millionaire Oil Baron Who Wasn’t

Though the scam became known as a Ponzi scheme, its namesake wasn’t the only one …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Rich People Who Want Higher Taxes Should Pay More

March 6, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Tax Day is approaching, a dreadful occasion for most Americans.
But it is pure tragedy for the rich. That is, those who believe
government should take more. Stephen Prince, whose company makes
plastic gift cards, told the New York Times that he was
“pissed off about” the Trump tax cut.

The reason? He’s paying $3 million less than before.
“People like me are not all greedy.” That’s
certainly good to know! He added: “We have to show that we
have some concern for the country, and that we’re willing to
pay some taxes.”

Of course, only the most obtuse and greedy right-winger verging
on fascism doesn’t realize that it is his/her patriotic duty
to hand Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, as well as Kevin McCarthy
and Mitch McConnell—more money to squander, er,
“invest” in America’s future. This sentiment
predates President Donald Trump. The informal “Patriotic
Millionaires” group was founded back in 2010 by Morris Pearl,
formerly with BlackRock.

In recent years PMs have visited Capitol Hill, urging higher
taxes on the rich. “We’re very concerned about this
huge inequality thing” said Pearl. The retiree said he was
paying less taxes than working people: “It’s a pretty
good deal if you can get it, but it’s not good for the
country.”

There’s nothing wrong
with someone believing he or she should pay more to the
feds.

Investor and professor Eric Schoenberg argued that “our
tax system is a monstrosity” which has “been
perpetually slanted toward the rich.” The financial benefit
to him of the Trump legislation “is completely secondary. The
whole thing is legislative malfeasance.”

Warren Buffett once appeared to be an honorary member of the
“stick it to the rich” political club, urging a minimum
tax on the wealthy. But he may have fallen out of the group last
year, when he applauded the Trump tax cut, calling it a “huge
tailwind” for business.

What will the outraged rich do with their unfair windfall? The
undertaxed rich are divided. Pearl dismisses it as just making his
“pot of money… somewhat larger than it might otherwise have
been.” John Driscoll plans to give more cash to his favorite
political causes: “The unnecessary and fiscally imprudent
reduction in the individual income tax rate gives me more
income,” which he will use “to invest more in
candidates who don’t put the income of wealthy people ahead
of people who need help.”

However, none, reported the Times, planned on doing the
obvious: writing a check to the U.S. Treasury. Inexplicably, Prince
said: “I don’t want to just give away my money to the
government.” Still, he’s dedicated to getting the
government to raise his tax rate. He admitted that …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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A Minimum Wage Compromise for Maryland

March 6, 2019 in Economics

By Thomas A. Firey

Thomas A. Firey

Maryland’s House of Delegates just voted to raise the
state’s minimum wage, and the legislation now moves to the Senate
for consideration. If you’re thinking, “Didn’t we
just raise the minimum wage?” You’re right — it
rose to $10.10 per hour last July. That follows
increases in 2017, 2016 and two in 2015 in accordance with a 2014
state law.

The new legislation would raise the wage to $15 an hour by 2025
— the latest amount that proponents say will lift Marylanders
out of poverty and promote social justice. Opponents respond that
such an increase will increase unemployment for low-skilled workers
who already face heavy disadvantages. Proponents, in turn, deny
that will happen.

As a long-time follower of economic research on the minimum
wage, I’m weary of these political disputes. The consensus
empirical understanding of the effects of minimum wage increases is
clear on three points in particular:

If Maryland’s lawmakers
are committed to their constituents and to better governance, this
is the minimum wage law they would approve

First, increases tend to result in an immediate decrease in
employment, but it’s slight — sometimes not even
statistically significant — and mainly concentrated on young
black males.

Second, other low-wage workers receive a much-appreciated
one-time boost in wages, but it is not enough to affect poverty rates. This makes
sense; poverty typically is the result of no wages, not low
wages.

And finally, a new but promising vein of research indicates that minimum wage
increases have a more significant negative effect on employment
long-term. This is not because employers fire workers but because
employers slow their hiring and realign their use of labor in light
of its higher cost. Employers may, for instance, hire two
higher-skilled employees for work that would have gone to three
lower-skilled, cheaper workers. Or employers may use equipment to
do tasks that would have gone to employees, such as restaurant
food-order kiosks and apps, self-service stations and checkouts,
and retailer use of robots to clean floors and monitor shelves.

This economics literature is robust, and the negative employment
effect is broadly accepted across the field. The issue is
much like climate change — the expert consensus is clear, and
those who say otherwise commit the equivalent of “economics
denial.”

However, that consensus doesn’t decide whether minimum
wage increases are good policy. That is a matter of values, not
economics. Reasonable and honorable arguments can be made both for
a low minimum wage (or none at all) that promotes a large number of
low-paying jobs to complement the many higher-paying …read more

Source: OP-EDS