You are browsing the archive for 2019 March 25.

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Rare Viking Ship Lies Buried in Norway, Radar Suggests

March 25, 2019 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

Archaeologists have found what they believe is a buried Viking-era ship in a region of Norway that is already famous for its wealth of Viking treasures.

Using ground-penetrating radar (also known as GPR, or geo-radar), a team of experts spotted the vessel-shaped irregularity in the soil of Borre National Park in Vestfold County, located about 100 km south of Oslo. The evidence suggests it is a ship burial, a Viking practice in which ships buried on land served as tombs for high-ranking individuals.

“The GPR data clearly show the shape of a ship, and we can see weak traces of a circular depression around the vessel,” said Terje Gansum, leader of Vestfold’s department for cultural heritage management, in a statement reported by Agence France-Presse (AFP).‘’This could point to the existence of a mound that was later removed.”

Borre Park is the largest burial mound site in Northern Europe, and contains the most Viking graves of any site in Norway. The new find is located near a museum dedicated to local Viking heritage. Of the seven Viking Age ship burials found in Europe, three of them are located in Vestfold County, including the famed Oseburg ship, excavated in 1904.

Ships played a vital role in in the lives and livelihoods of the Vikings, allowing them to spread across Europe and the world in the centuries spanning A.D. 800 to 1050. According to Norse mythology, the vessels also symbolized a safe passage into the afterlife for their dead. Ship burials were reserved for kings, queens and other prominent Vikings, who were placed in their seaworthy tombs along with a lavish array of grave goods. These ranged from weapons and jewelry to animal remains and even—in some grisly cases—human sacrifices.

Before this most recent find, researchers had used ground-penetrating radar to uncover another rare Viking ship in 2018, along with burial mounds and longhouses. The 66-foot-high vessel was found buried under a farm field located alongside a freeway in Jellestad in southeastern Norway. Scientists were able to create a digital model of the vessel, dubbed the Jellestad ship.

Gansum said that scientists have no plans to unearth the new ship burial found in Vestfold, but will use non-invasive methods to investigate it further.

Life of a Viking (TV-PG; 2:23)

READ MORE: Massive Rare Viking Ship Revealed by Radar

…read more


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The Myth that Won't Die: Donald Trump as Russia's Puppet

March 25, 2019 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

Donald Trump’s political adversaries, along with an
assortment of Russia haters in the foreign-policy community and the
news media, keep pushing the narrative that Trump is Vladimir
Putin’s puppet. That allegation shows few signs of
dissipating even though no credible evidence supporting it has
emerged. Unfortunately, the situation is unlikely to change even
though Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation
concluded that the Russian government’s meddling in the 2016
presidential election did not entail collusion with the Trump

Yet, shrill allegations of treason have been commonplace, reaching a
crescendo following last year’s Trump-Putin summit in
Helsinki, when the president made some highly favorable comments
about his Russian counterpart. The innuendos and outright
accusations persist. And despite the bland outcome of the Mueller
investigation, congressional Democrats, most notably House
Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA), insist that
they will continue to investigate the “Russia
collusion” angle.

Russophobes seem to believe that if they repeat an absurdity
often enough, it somehow becomes true. The myth that Trump has been
Putin’s puppet falls into that category. Trump did commit the
apparently unpardonable sin during the 2016 campaign of advocating
better relations with Moscow, and he was guilty of using effusive
diplomatic language at Helsinki. But if one examines his
administration’s actual policies toward Russia, the notion
that he is “doing Putin’s bidding” or even
pursuing an appeasement policy evaporates.

Critics who contend otherwise need to cite specific Trump
administration policies that Putin welcomes. It would be a very
difficult task.

It certainly would not be Russian enthusiasm about Trump’s
decision to end U.S. adherence to the Intermediate
Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. The Kremlin reacted firmly to that
action and warned that Washington’s withdrawal from the INF Treaty
would compel Russia to develop new missiles ; in response, Russia
would resume targeting U.S. bases in Europe and important assets of
America’s NATO allies. That is a curious reaction from Putin if his
aim was to prompt his puppet to take that step.

It is also unlikely that Russia is happy about the Trump
administration’s approval of two major arms sales to Ukraine. The latter
sale in spring 2018 even included Javelin anti-tank missiles. Since
Moscow backs a secessionist war in eastern Ukraine and is on very
bad terms overall with the government in Kiev, the U.S. decision to
boost the military capabilities of Russia’s nemesis is a hostile
act, not one of appeasement. Indeed, it is a step that Barack Obama
pointedly refused to take. A similar escalation of Washington’s
support for Kiev is evident with the Trump administration’s program
to to train Ukrainian …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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How the Horrific Tragedy of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Led to Workplace Safety Laws

March 25, 2019 in History

By Patrick J. Kiger

The tragedy of the 1911 blaze shocked the nation and spurred dozens of new regulations to protect factory workers.

Young women became trapped by tables, bulky equipment and doors that locked or opened the wrong way as flames enveloped the eighth, ninth and 10th floors of the Asche Building in New York City’s Greenwich Village on March 25, 1911. As people struggled to escape, several fell into the flames, their bodies piling by blocked exits. Others leapt—in twos and threes—out the burning building’s high windows.

The March 25, 1911 . “They moved production out of NYC in 1909 to avoid the strike, hired thugs to beat writers and most likely bribed the police to arrest strikers.”

Triangle Factory’s Fire Safety: Empty Water Buckets

On the afternoon of March 25, a Saturday, 500 people were working in Triangle’s factory, which occupied three floors in a building that had been built just 10 years before. Court testimony later placed the blame for the blaze on a fire that started in a fabric scrap bin on the eighth floor, which probably was ignited by a discarded cigarette, shortly before the factory’s 4 pm closing time.

Triangle had water buckets in place for extinguishing fires, a common practice in garment factories at the time. But as one worker, Mary Domsky-Abrams, later recalled in an early 1960s interview with author Leon Stein, the buckets were empty. “On that particular morning, the day of the tragedy, I remarked to my colleagues that the buckets were empty, and that if anything were to happen, they would be of no use,” she said.

Another worker, Cecilia Walker Friedman, who worked on the ninth floor, said that she was ready to leave work when she looked to the window and saw flames. Everyone around her started to scream and holler, but many were hindered in getting away. “The girls at the machines began to climb up on the machine tables, maybe because it was that they were frightened or maybe they thought they could run to the elevator doors on top of the machines,” Friedman said. “The aisles were narrow and blocked by the chairs and baskets. They began to fall in the fire.

The gutted remains of the tenth floor, with only the floors and walls intact.

Firefighters eventually found a six-foot-high pile of bodies jammed up against a door to the back stairway, according to …read more


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Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Kills 146 in New York City

March 25, 2019 in History

By Editors

In one of the darkest moments of America’s industrial history, the Triangle Shirtwaist Company factory in New York City burns down, killing 146 workers, on this day in 1911. The tragedy led to the development of a series of laws and regulations that better protected the safety of factory workers.

The Triangle factory, owned by Max Blanck and Isaac Harris, was located in the top three floors of the 10-story Asch Building in downtown Manhattan. It was a sweatshop in every sense of the word: a cramped space lined with work stations and packed with poor immigrant workers, mostly teenaged women who did not speak English. At the time of the fire, there were four elevators with access to the factory floors, but only one was fully operational and it could hold only 12 people at a time. There were two stairways down to the street, but one was locked from the outside to prevent theft by the workers and the other opened inward only. The fire escape, as all would come to see, was shoddily constructed, and could not support the weight of more than a few women at a time.

Blanck and Harris already had a suspicious history of factory fires. The Triangle factory was twice scorched in 1902, while their Diamond Waist Company factory burned twice, in 1907 and in 1910. It seems that Blanck and Harris deliberately torched their workplaces before business hours in order to collect on the large fire-insurance policies they purchased, a not uncommon practice in the early 20th century. While this was not the cause of the 1911 fire, it contributed to the tragedy, as Blanck and Harris refused to install sprinkler systems and take other safety measures in case they needed to burn down their shops again.

Added to this delinquency were Blanck and Harris’ notorious anti-worker policies. Their employees were paid a mere $15 a week, despite working 12 hours a day, every day. When the International Ladies Garment Workers Union led a strike in 1909 demanding higher pay and shorter and more predictable hours, Blanck and Harris’ company was one of the few manufacturers who resisted, hiring police as thugs to imprison the striking women, and paying off politicians to look the other way.

On March 25, a Saturday afternoon, there were 600 workers at the factory when a fire broke out in a rag bin on the eighth floor. …read more


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Fire kills 146 at Triangle Shirtwaist factory

March 25, 2019 in History

By Editors

In one of the most infamous incidents in America’s industrial history, the Triangle Shirtwaist Company factory in New York City burns down on this day in 1911, killing 146 workers. The tragedy led to the development of a series of laws and regulations that better protected the safety of factory workers.

The Triangle factory, owned by Max Blanck and Isaac Harris, was located in the top three floors of the Asch Building, on the corner of Greene Street and Washington Place, in Manhattan. It was a true sweatshop, employing young immigrant women who worked in a cramped space at lines of sewing machines. Nearly all the workers were teenaged girls who did not speak English and made only about $15 per week working 12 hours a day, every day. In 1911, there were four elevators with access to the factory floors, but only one was fully operational and the workers had to file down a long, narrow corridor in order to reach it. There were two stairways down to the street, but one was locked from the outside to prevent stealing and the other only opened inward. The fire escape was so narrow that it would have taken hours for all the workers to use it, even in the best of circumstances.

The danger of fire in factories like the Triangle Shirtwaist was well-known, but high levels of corruption in both the garment industry and city government generally ensured that no useful precautions were taken to prevent fires. The Triangle Shirtwaist factory’s owners were known to be particularly anti-worker in their policies and had played a critical role in breaking a large strike by workers the previous year.

On March 25, a Saturday afternoon, there were 600 workers at the factory when a fire began in a rag bin. The manager attempted to use the fire hose to extinguish it, but was unsuccessful, as the hose was rotted and its valve was rusted shut. As the fire grew, panic ensued. The young workers tried to exit the building by the elevator but it could hold only 12 people and the operator was able to make just four trips back and forth before it broke down amid the heat and flames. In a desperate attempt to escape the fire, the girls left behind waiting for the elevator plunged down the shaft to their deaths. The girls who fled via the …read more


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Statewide Rent Control Will Ultimately Please Nobody

March 25, 2019 in Economics

By Ryan Bourne

Ryan Bourne

Governor Kate Brown recently signed into law the rent-control
control legislation passed by the Oregon House of Representatives.
Unaffordable housing and heart-rending stories of tenants forced to
move after steep rent hikes have triggered another policy response,
including capping statewide rent increases to seven percent per
year above the Consumer Price Index (currently three percent.)

This latest wheeze, though, will ultimately please nobody. It
not only fails to solve for the underlying problems of the Oregon
housing market, but also risks exacerbating them.

Why? In areas where tenants face rent increases above earnings
but below the cap, rent controls will have no effect. Increases
will eat into families’ incomes further, and with
affordability worsening, tenant groups are likely, in time, to
demand tighter controls.

The only way to improve
affordability and prevent abrupt rent spikes is to deliver a
flexible housing supply. That requires abolishing or relaxing
cost-inflating urban growth boundaries around cities.

Yet where market rents really are spiraling, capping them to
prevent so-called “economic eviction” dampens the
incentive for developers to bring new supply to market. Some
tenants will benefit from lower rents. The cost will be worsened
availability of housing precisely where it is needed most.

Liberal and conservative economists both have understood these
impacts of rent control for decades. Practitioners of the dismal science believe prices are
signals of supply and demand. Fixing rents below market levels
gives the false signal that housing is plentiful. That ensures a
shortage, with demand for rental property exceeding supply.
Landlords find converting properties to other uses more attractive
and developers find new rentable accommodations less profitable to
build, compounding this scarcity problem.

A 1994 rent-control expansion in San Francisco, for example,
landlords converting rental properties to condos for
higher-income families, and market rents increased by over 5
percent. Rent control not only increased the cost of non-controlled
accommodation, but it also accelerated gentrification. On the flip
side, positive effects have been seen when rent controls were
abolished. In Cambridge, Massachusetts, for example, economists found that direct dollar investments in
housing units more than doubled over a few years.

This evidence might prove cold comfort to Oregon families with
crippling rent bills today. But it strongly suggests rent control
will not help.

That’s not to say there is not a problem, or potential
solutions. Demographia calculates affordability measures for U.S.
metropolitan housing markets each year, comparing house prices to
income levels. They find that, of Oregon’s three biggest
cities, two have “severely unaffordable” housing
markets (Eugene and Portland), and Salem is “seriously
unaffordable” too.

As my Cato colleague and Oregon resident Randal O’Toole
has …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Admissions Scandal Doesn't Serve To Justify Racial Preference

March 25, 2019 in Economics

By Walter Olson

Walter Olson

When the news broke that dozens of affluent families had paid
admissions fixer William Singer to lie their kids’ way into
elite colleges – inventing athletic achievements, hiring stand-ins
to take tests, obtaining bogus disability diagnoses – some pundits
greeted the revelations as somehow proving what might seem
something unrelated: that advocates of racial preferences in
admissions were right all along.

The scandal “makes all those people who went to court
arguing that their Caucasianism had been discriminated against
through affirmative action look completely ridiculous,”
claimed Charles Pierce in Esquire. According
to an ACLU attorney interviewed at the Huffington Post, “race-conscious
admissions programs” are intended “to even the playing
field at least slightly” against the sort of parents who used
Singer’s services. “Shame on anyone who still thinks
affirmative action is unnecessary,” wrote Monique Judge at The Root.

This is a really odd line of argument. After all, more than one
form of unjustified advantage can be “real” at the same

Public universities
should not discriminate by race, especially not on the excuse that
someone managed to game the system on other grounds.

If racial preference in college admissions is unjust, it
doesn’t magically become just because
people identify some other injustice that has different

Many of those arguing that the admissions scandal somehow
vindicates racial preferences seem unaware that Singer repeatedly falsified students’ ethnicities to get
them into affirmative action categories.

No wonder he’d want to do that. A recent Princeton study found being in a
favored racial or ethnic group gave a boost in admissions
equivalent to 180-230 SAT points, while being an Asian-American, a
disfavored category, was like having to shoulder a handicap of 50

Those who want to defend this state of affairs should be frank
and defend it, rather than pointing to some other unfairness in
admissions and claiming things somehow equal out.

It’s also worth the effort to quantify the effects.

“Legacy” admissions of students with alumni parents
or relatives are not implicated in the new scandal, but it’s
worth pointing out that a recent study found legacy admittees have
on average higher, not lower, test scores than other
members of their incoming class.

No one doubts that some poorly qualified students make it in
because they have relatives who donate massive sums, a group not
plentiful in number. Another batch of low-performing students get
in through athletic preference.

If you’re an applicant who doesn’t fit in *either*
the celebrities-and-cheaters pool or the racial-preference pool,
things definitely aren’t somehow canceling out. You’re
competing with other families like yours …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The Great Miscalculator

March 25, 2019 in Economics

By Arnold Kling

Arnold Kling

In the minds of economists, market outcomes are deterministic.
The price system is an efficient calculating machine, leading
households and firms to make reliable decisions. To be sure,
economists can identify “market failures,” but these are isolated,
predictable, and amenable to correction with taxes or regulation.
This standard economic story takes the fundamental soundness of the
market for granted.

But in the real world, the market cannot possibly make the sort
of reliable calculations that economists expect from it. Market
outcomes are highly contingent on strategies, beliefs, and past
choices that are somewhat arbitrary. The market is not as well
informed as we would like to believe, which in turn makes
policymaking more problematic than we would like to think. Actual
markets miscalculate an awful lot.

This distance between our expectations of markets and their
actual abilities has numerous implications. It argues for humility
about economic analysis and public policy, and for a sense of
perspective about what the tools of economists offer us. The work
of economists and policymakers is not entirely without such
humility, of course. And the distance between economic theory and
practice is hardly an unknown problem. But the most important
implication of this view of the market as a great miscalculator is
actually badly underappreciated. More fully accounting for the
limits of markets as calculators would suggest that policy should
focus, above all, on the fragility of the economy.

Our prosperity has come to rely on certain key companies,
business practices, habits of thought, and assumptions about
government finances. When there is a major shift in beliefs or
conventions, these institutions can come under sharp, severe, and
sudden stress. This will happen; there is no getting around it. But
when it does, just how will these important firms, practices, and
norms handle the problem? Whether they will degrade gracefully or
fail catastrophically ought to be a foremost concern of

Economists and
policymakers tell themselves that they are dealing with a robust,
predictable system with easily recognized points of failure and
that they have reliable regulatory tools for steering it toward
more optimal results. In reality, they are dealing with a fragile,
complex system.


Anyone who attempts to learn economics in college will encounter
a curriculum that uses mathematics. The further one advances in the
subject, the greater the reliance on mathematical models and

Economists have come to have faith in mathematics because they
see the market as a mechanism for solving one giant math problem,
to be taken up in two key steps. In step one, they take certain
conditions as given: the initial endowments of resources held by
individuals, as well …read more

Source: OP-EDS