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When a Mob Boss Out for a Steak Dinner Was Murdered in Cold Blood

March 15, 2019 in History

By Becky Little

Just before 5:30 on a December evening in 1985, mob boss Paul Castellano stepped out of a limo in front of Sparks Steakhouse in midtown Manhattan and was shot to death. The four assassins who gunned him down were conspicuously dressed in trench coats and Russian fur hats. John Gotti, the man who arranged the hit, sat in a car nearby to make sure “Big Paul” was dead.

“It was daring in the sense that it was done in Manhattan, in the Christmas season, early in the evening,” says Howard Blum, author of Gangland: How the FBI Broke the Mob. “They planned it like a military operation.”

The 70-year-old Castellano was the reputed boss of the Gambino crime family, a decades-old Mafia family in New York City. Gotti was a 45-year-old member of the Gambino family who didn’t like boss Castellano’s recent instruction not to trade in drugs. Castellano was worried the federal government was paying too much attention to their drug activities.

Reputed Mafia bosses Paul Castellano seen leaving Federal Court in February, 1985.

Gotti ignored Castellano’s edict and continued to have his people trade heroin. But because the federal government was watching, news of wiretaps showing Gotti and his associates were still dealing drugs became public.

“They figured their days were numbered,” Blum says. “So rather than wait around for Castellano to get to them, they planned a very daring hit on the mob boss.”

After killing Castellano, Gotti seceded him as the leader of the Gambino family, and went on to become one of the notorious mob bosses in history. The federal government took Gotti to trial three times in the late ‘80s, failing each time to get a conviction. Gotti’s seeming inability to be charged earned him the nickname “Teflon Don.” In 1992, the government finally convicted Gotti on numerous charges, including Castellano’s murder.


The crime scene after the shooting of Paul Castellano (body on sidewalk) and Thomas Bilotti (body in street ) outside Sparks Steak house on December 16, 1985.

One of the important witnesses in the 1992 conviction was Salvatore Gravano, a former member of the Gambino family. He testified that he sat in the car with Gotti during Castellano’s assassination and that they used walkie-talkies to notify the gunmen when Castellano’s limo was approaching.

The New York Times reported at the time that “Gotti maintained a fixed smile as he stared …read more

Source: HISTORY

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The Failed Soviet Rival to the Flapper Dress

March 15, 2019 in History

By Natasha Frost

In post-revolutionary Russia, as the country’s thinkers attempted to work out a new way of life for citizens of the Soviet Union, a small number of artists grappled with a different problem: the clothes of the future.

Soviet clothing, they reasoned, should be “rational,” practical and comfortable and a place where art and politics came together on the body. This meant garments that were blocky and structured, with an androgynous quality not unlike the flapper dresses making headway over in the Capitalist west. They were known as ‘prozodezhda,” a portmanteau of the Russian words for industrial (proizvodstvennaya) and clothing (odezhda), and intended to serve as the post-revolutionary uniform for decades to come.

Artists in the Soviet Union looked towards Western fashion and saw unthinking fussiness and waste, with “luxury and privilege sewed into [the] seams” of garments, as one put it. In the Soviet Union, they declared, an entire repudiation of the fashion industry was necessary, from the shop window to the mannequin through to bespoke craft production.

Prozodezhda,” a portmanteau of the Russian words for industrial (proizvodstvennaya) and clothing (odezhda), was intended to serve as the rational post-revolutionary uniform for decades to come.

View the 6 images of this gallery on the original article

The enemy, after all, was profit. “The question of a rational dress could not be left to a fashion magazine which dictates to the masses the will of the capitalist manufacturers,” writer Sergei Tret’iakov explained in the radical Constructivist magazine Lef.

Instead, they felt, clothing should be utilitarian and produced on grand industrial scale, with no emphasis on profiteering or market trends. Aesthetically, the focus was on action, with a modernist bent that prioritized movement and purity of form. And so Constructivist artists, who were often referred to as “artist-engineers,” set to solving these problems—though their abstract thinking usually led to work that was functionally impossible to replicate and altogether too conceptual to be of much practical use.

Prozodezhda began in the theater. Inspired by the overalls worn by factory workers in the late 19th century, in 1921, artists Liubov’ Popova and Varvara Stepanova began designing costumes with colorful geometric patterns that echoed the actors’ movements across the stage—running, crouching, jumping. They would printed in red and black onto cheap, mass-produced cotton. These decorations were not merely ornamental, Stepanova wrote in Lef, but instead communicated something important about the body and its ability …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Why Jesus Was Betrayed by Judas Iscariot

March 15, 2019 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

Once one of Jesus’s most trusted disciples, Judas became the poster child for treachery and cowardice.

From the moment he plants a kiss on Jesus of Nazareth in the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas Iscariot sealed his own fate: to be remembered as history’s most famous traitor.

But by identifying Jesus to the Jewish authorities, Judas set into motion the series of events that became the foundations of the Christian faith: Jesus’s arrest, his trial, his death by crucifixion, and eventually his resurrection, known collectively as the Passion of Christ.

Given how little we actually know about him from the Bible, Judas Iscariot remains one of the most enigmatic—and important—figures in Jesus’s story. In recent years, the discovery of the long-lost Gospel of Judas, a Gnostic text originally dating to the second century, has led some scholars to reconsider his role, and even to ask whether he might have been unfairly blamed for betraying Jesus.

READ MORE: in 2006. “Almost since the death of Christ, Judas has been held up by Christians as a symbol of the Jews: their supposed deviousness, their lust for money and other racial vices.”

The historical tendency to identify Judas with anti-Semitic stereotypes led, after the horrors of the Holocaust, to a reconsideration of this key Biblical figure, and something of a rehabilitation of his image. Professor William Klassen, a Canadian biblical scholar, argued in a 1997 biography of Judas that many of the details of his treachery were invented or exaggerated by early Christian church leaders, especially as the church began to move away from Judaism.

The Gospel of Judas

In 2006, the National Geographic Society announced the discovery and translation of a long-lost text known as the “Gospel of Judas,” believed to have been originally written around A.D. 150, then copied from Greek into Coptic in the third century. First alluded to in writing by the second-century cleric Irenaeus, the Gospel of Judas is one of many ancient texts discovered in recent decades that have been linked to the Gnostics, a (mostly) Christian group who were denounced as heretics by early church leaders for their unorthodox spiritual beliefs.

Rather than denounce Judas as Jesus’s betrayer, the author of the Gospel of Judas glorified him as Jesus’s most favored disciple. In this version of events, Jesus asked Judas to betray him to the authorities, so that he could be freed from his …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Victorian Era Timeline

March 15, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

The period of Queen Victoria’s reign, from 1837 until her death in 1901 was marked by sweeping progress and innovations, from telephones to trains to a whole new theory on humankind’s origins on Earth.

It was the time of the world’s first by Charles Darwin, is published, presenting his theory of natural selection and questioning the theory of creation.

Dec. 9, 1868: Liberal William Gladstone defeats Conservative Benjamin Disraeli to become prime minister, a position he held for four terms. His legacy includes reform for Ireland, establishing an elementary education program and instituting secret ballot voting.

March 7, 1876: Scotsman Alexander Graham Bell is awarded a patent on his invention of the telephone, and, three days later, famously makes the first phone call to Thomas Watson, his assistant.

May 1, 1876: India, which has been under British rule since 1858, declares Queen Victoria empress, under direction of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli.

Aug.-Nov. 1888: An unknown killed, named Jack the Ripper, murders and mutilates five prostitutes in London.

Jan. 22, 1901: Queen Victoria dies on the Isle of Wight at age 81, ending the Victorian Era. She is succeeded by Edward VI, her eldest son, who reigned until his death in 1910.

…read more

Source: HISTORY

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Golda Meir elected as Israel's first female prime minster

March 15, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

On this day in 1969, 70-year-old Golda Meir makes history when she is elected as Israel’s first female prime minister. She was the country’s fourth prime minister and is still the only woman to have held this post.

Meir, who was born in Kiev, Ukraine and raised in Wisconsin, began her career as a Zionist labor organizer, and later held several positions in Israeli government, including Minister of Labor and Minister of Foreign Affairs. Upon the sudden death of Prime Minister Levi Eshkol in 1969, Meir was chosen as his successor.

During her tenure, Meir gained a reputation as a savvy diplomat. She saw the country through the Yom Kippur War in October 1973, after Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack on Israel. Although Israel was victorious, over 2,500 Israelis died, and many criticized the government for a lack of preparedness.

Due in part to her age and ailing health, Meir resigned in October 1974. She was succeeded by Yitzhak Rabin.

Meir died in Jerusalem on December 8, 1978, at the age of 80.

…read more

Source: HISTORY

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Trump Can Turn America’s Defense Welfare into a Profit Center

March 15, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

The largest welfare system in the world today is run by the
Pentagon. Americans subsidize the defenses of many countries,
plenty of which are very rich. In fact, most of the U.S.
“defense” budget devoted to power projection is really
protecting other nations—and making America less safe.

The obvious solution is to stop protecting countries able to
defend themselves. However, President Donald Trump tends to look at
everything, including foreign policy, through a profit and loss
lens. According to Bloomberg, the administration is now considering
a “Cost Plus 50” initiative, under which nations would
be expected to pay the full basing cost of any U.S. troops
stationed within their borders plus at least a 50 percent
supplement. The surcharge would run higher for wealthier
states.

Recent negotiations with South Korea over host nation support
were unusually contentious because Washington demanded a large
payment increase. A compromise was reached, but the process was a
harbinger of more difficult financing battles to come.

He’s right to say other
nations should start paying for our military protection.

Bloomberg’s report has set off the usual frenzy. Those who
believe America should fill its globe-spanning empire with foreign
military facilities were aghast. Argued Douglas Lute, former U.S.
ambassador to NATO, about those bases, “we maintain them
because they’re in our interest.”

Perhaps that was true during the Cold War, when Washington had
reason to shield allied states as they recovered from World War II.
But today those overseas military facilities number some 800, and
they only encourage adventurism. Better for Washington to negotiate
emergency base access for crises, while relying on friends and
allies to solve their regions’ mundane problems. Americans
have no reason to base troops in Europe to defend, say,
Montenegro.

British journalist Edward Lucas, whose nation has long benefited
from U.S. military subsidies, insists that “NATO is not an
American protection racket.” But neither should it be a
welfare program. Prosperous and populous European nations see
little reason to worry about problems that they assume America will
rush in to solve. Several Europeans governments have increased
outlays a bit in recent years, but they are starting off small and
seem more interested in placating Washington than building serious
militaries. Even nations with relatively powerful armed forces lag
far behind both America and their own potential.

Lucas contends that the regions hosting our bases are vital to
the United States. If so, why isn’t America vital to those
lands? Why aren’t the Europeans sending manpower and materiel
to protect the U.S. from attack? To safeguard trade with America?
To ensure that North America does not fall under enemy control? Why
is the U.S. the only nation …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The Amnesia of the U.S. Foreign Policy Establishment

March 15, 2019 in Economics

By John Glaser

John Glaser

Donald Trump is undermining the rules-based
international order
.” The Economist’s
headline last summer summarized a common refrain within
America’s foreign policy establishment. Trump “wants to
undo the liberal international order the United States
built,” Thomas Wright of the Brookings Institution warned on Inauguration Day in 2017. Trump could
“bring to an end the United States’ role as guarantor
of the liberal world order,” Princeton professor G. John
Ikenberry wrote.

Trump is certainly hostile to what he sometimes refers to as
“globalism”: multilateralism, free trade agreements,
international institutions, and any international legal regime that
could impose constraints on U.S. power. He is antagonistic toward
allies and treaties, withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris climate
agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Iran nuclear
deal, the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), the UN
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the
UN Human Rights Council.

But those excoriating Trump for his disregard for rules and
norms rarely mention similar, routine violations of this
rules-based order by his predecessors. And while the foreign policy
establishment is firm in its condemnation of Trump’s
“turning away from global engagement,” as Richard Haass
of the Council on Foreign Relations put it, their harshest criticisms seem reserved
for those few sporadic instances in which Trump tries to jettison lengthy and failed military
deployments, as in Syria and Afghanistan, or expresses
insufficient enthusiasm for
permanent overseas garrisons
.

President Trump is not
the first president to weaken the international liberal
order.

The pundits, practitioners, and politicians that make up the
foreign policy establishment have rarely respected the
non-interventionist principles at the core of the United Nations,
an institution exemplifying the liberal rules-based international
order that the United States helped establish following World War
II. Article 2(4) of the UN Charter says “All Members shall
refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of
force against the territorial integrity or political independence
of any state…” According to the Charter, which American
post-war planners helped write, the use of force is illegal and
illegitimate unless at least one of two prerequisites are met:
first, that force is used in self-defense; second, that the UN
Security Council authorizes it.

This prohibition against war is not some trivial aspiration.
Non-intervention is the centerpiece of international law and the
United Nations has repeatedly sought to underline its significance.
In 1965, the General Assembly declared “No state or group of states has the
right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason
whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any state.”
Again in 1970, it unanimously <a target=_blank href="http://www.un-documents.net/a25r2625.htm" …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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A Progressive Political Agenda for Slave Reparations

March 15, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Slavery is evil. Virtually every American believes that. Even
most foreigners, other than a few ISIS fighters who now are
enduring the great beyond, almost certainly bereft of the 72
virgins they were expecting. However, there was a time when most of
humankind accepted the practice. Even those ever so civilized
Greeks and Romans, upon whose thought much of modern civilization
rests, enjoyed lives made more comfortable by the labor of those in
bondage.

Which means much of humanity is descended either from those who
were slaves or who owned slaves. Few nations evolved untouched by
the practice. Go back to the beginning of time and virtually
everyone alive today probably should receive or pay – and perhaps
both simultaneously – reparations. There is a lot of ancient
injustice to redistribute.

But that’s hard to do at either the global or the national
level. All those responsible for enslaving people far and wide are
dead. All those who bought and sold people are but dust. All those
who established legal codes allowing human chattel are long gone.
Not a single perpetrator stands among us, ready to atone for his or
her sins. (Other than those responsible for the occasional case of
illegal captivity and coercion today.)

Reparations might be good
Democratic politics, but it is bad policy and fake
justice.

By the same token, there are no former slaves left among us.
Millions upon millions lived and died as property. Most have
disappeared without a trace. A few survive as faces in old
photographs and names on old gravestones. However, they are well
beyond our help today.

It is worth noting that timing matters. There was a moment when
reparations were possible and justifiable. But it passed quickly.
That is when slaves were freed. Surely they were owed for their
forced “service.” However, to have asserted such a
claim likely would have prevented or at least delayed their
release.

The Civil War overcame that difficulty by forcibly ending the
practice. So-called Radical Republicans advocated redistributing
land of former masters to freedmen. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman
even settled former slaves on 40-acre plots of confiscated land.
However, such limited steps were soon swept away by the politics of
Reconstruction, when most seized lands were returned to their
previous owners.

What to do today? Americans should have learned long ago that
they cannot save the world. Fixing their own nation is hard enough,
Moreover, rather than focusing on injustices of the past, our
challenge today is to address unfair social and political
practices, which prevent far too many people from taking advantage
of manifold opportunities created by a generally wealthy and free
society. Although we …read more

Source: OP-EDS