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The 1840 U.S. Census Was Overly Interested in Americans' Mental Health

May 15, 2019 in History

By Becky Little

The 2020 census won’t ask you about how many people in your family are “idiots” or “insane,” but in 1840 that , and “associated with all kinds of social problems.” The belief was “it’s necessary to institutionalize them and keep them away from the rest of us, because they tend to be engaged in petty crimes.”

Many nativists felt that, because they perceived a large number of social problems in their communities, there must be many “feeble-minded” people causing them—far more than the census was counting. Even the U.S. Census Bureau seemed to think this, writing in an 1880 report that its tally of “insane” and “idiotic” people “was certainly less than half the number actually present.”

These concerns about the census’ accuracy may have been the reason the U.S. Census Bureau stopped counting people with mental disabilities on its national census in 1900. However, the concern with “feeble-minded” people didn’t go away. The Census Bureau performed a couple of mini-censuses after 1900 focusing only on people in asylums, hospitals or other institutional facilities.

By that time, these institutions were no longer focusing solely on caring for mentally disabled people and teaching them work skills. Increasingly, they wanted to keep feeble-minded people locked up indefinitely so they couldn’t reproduce. “The founder of the New York State Asylum for Idiots…create[d] what becomes a eugenic institution, in many ways, for feeble-minded women,” Rose says. “Women were released after menopause, and they were often then just dumped in the poor house.”

American eugenics was most popular in the early 20th century, during the same period when Nazi Germany was obsessed with creating a “master race” (the Nazis actually took inspiration from discriminatory U.S. laws). But eugenic practices like forced sterilization continued all the way up until the 1970s and ‘80s in the U.S., targeting especially people who were poor, Indigenous, non-white or immigrants.

READ MORE: 10 Things You May Not Know About the U.S. Census

…read more


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Irish Republican Army

May 15, 2019 in History

By Editors

Established in 1919 to halt British rule in Northern Ireland using armed forces, the Irish Republican Army, or IRA, fought for independence and a reunified republic—often in tandem with, but independent of, the Irish nationalist party, Sinn Fein.

In 1969, demanding British withdrawal from Northern Ireland but differing on tactics, the IRA split into two factions: officials and provisionals. Officials sought independence through peace, while the provisionals used violence to further its efforts, which resulted in an estimated 1,800 deaths, including more than 600 civilians. As the Provisional IRA and other paramilitary groups waged an increasingly violent campaign and the British Army retaliated, the period known as the “Troubles” roiled the region and beyond for nearly 30 years.

Below is a timeline of notable events.

Bloody Sunday Leads to New IRA Recruits

Dec. 28, 1969: Aiming to protect the Catholic minority from discrimination from loyalist militants and the Protestant-Majority police force, the Provisional Army Council, officially splinters off from the IRA. The Provisional IRA soon becomes known as simply the IRA, while the other faction, known as the Original IRA, quickly diminishes in stature.

Jan. 30, 1972: Known as Bloody Sunday, 13 unarmed Catholic civil rights demonstrators are killed, with 15 wounded, by British paratroopers during a civil rights march in Derry in Northern Ireland. The British Army falsely called the victims gunmen and bombers—a report finalized in 2010 found none of the dead were threats. The shooting lead hundreds to join the IRA.

July 7, 1972: Unsuccessful secret peace talks take place between the IRA and British government in Chelsea’s Cheyne Walk, the first meeting of the two groups since 1921.

July 21, 1972: Twenty-plus IRA bombs explode in Belfast, leaving nine dead and 130 injured on what will come to be called Bloody Friday. The British retaliate 10 days later, with Operation Motorman, bringing in tanks to enter “no-go” areas controlled by the IRA in Derry and West Belfast.

Nov. 21, 1972: Targeting two pubs in Birmingham, England known to be popular among off-duty law enforcement, the IRA sets off bombs that kill 21 and injure 182. This marks the deadliest year of the long-running conflict, with nearly 500 casualties, more than half of them civilians.

Dec. 22, 1974: The IRA announces a Christmas-season ceasefire until Jan. 2, 1975 following secret talks with the British, The ceasefire is then extended on February 8, but the truce ends just …read more


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Taiwan's Growing Political Turbulence Creates a Problem for Washington

May 15, 2019 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

U.S. policy goals over the decades since President Richard Nixon
initiated a rapprochement with the People’s Republic of China
(PRC) have been quite consistent. Officials in various
administrations, conservative and liberal, Republican and Democrat,
have sought to preserve the status quo between Taiwan and the PRC.
That means perpetuating Taiwan’s de facto independence, but
encouraging steps to reduce tensions between the island and the
mainland. As far as U.S. officials are concerned, decisions about
Taiwan’s ultimate political status should be put on hold
indefinitely. In essence, Washington’s
“Goldilocks” scenario favors a cautious relationship
between Taipei and Beijing that eschews both confrontation and
progress toward reunification. Unfortunately, growing political
volatility in Taiwan, impacting both the governing Democratic
Progressive Party (DPP) and the opposition Kuomintang Party (KMT),
poses a major threat to that goal.

It’s not the first time that there are troubling
developments in Taiwan from the standpoint of U.S. interests.
During the initial years of the twenty-first century, Taiwanese
President Chen Shui-bian alarmed U.S. officials because he seemed to
take too seriously the DPP’s official position in favor of
full-fledged, official independence for the island. Chen repeatedly
blindsided Washington with pro-independence initiatives that
provoked Beijing. U.S. leaders were more relaxed with Chen’s
successor, KMT leader Ma Ying-jeou, who pursued an array of closer
economic and cultural ties with the mainland. As the number of
cross-strait agreements grew, however, some hawkish elements in the
U.S. foreign policy community began to fret that ties between
Beijing and Taipei might be growing a little too close.

A majority of Taiwanese voters appeared to harbor similar
concerns, not only electing DPP candidate Tsai Ing-wen as president
in 2016 but also giving the DPP control of the national legislature
for the first time. Tsai has proceeded more cautiously than Chen
did regarding independence, but Beijing’s disappointment and
anger at Taiwan’s retreat from Ma’s
conciliatory policies has led the PRC to adopt even more belligerent measures than during
Chen’s years in office.

Washington has seemed reasonably content with Tsai. Indeed, the
Trump administration and Taiwan’s admirers in Congress have
adopted measures to increase U.S. backing for Taipei in response to
Beijing’s bullying behavior. Support at
home for Tsai’s presidency, though, has ebbed, and the DPP
suffered major setbacks in November 2018 local
elections. Tsai was pressured to quit her post as party chair, and
she now faces a strong internal challenge for re-election as
Taiwan’s president from her onetime prime minister, William
Lai, who is competing with Tsai for the DPP’s
in an upcoming primary.

Washington has reason to see Lai as another Chen Shui-bian – a
potential loose cannon …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Teddy Roosevelt Got Sued for Libel. He Said He ‘Enjoyed’ the Trial

May 15, 2019 in History

By Greg Daugherty

Author and legal expert Dan Abrams talks to HISTORY about his new book Theodore Roosevelt for the Defense: The Courtroom Battle to Save His Legacy.

It was the trial of the century. Or so it seemed in April 1915, when ex-President Teddy Roosevelt and one-time New York Republican Party boss William Barnes squared off in a Syracuse, New York courtroom. Barnes was the plaintiff, Roosevelt the defendant. The charge was libel, based on a written statement Roosevelt had released to the newspapers, accusing Barnes and his Democratic Party counterpart, Charles Murphy, of collaborating in an “invisible government” built on an “alliance between crooked business and crooked politics.”

Before the trial was over, Roosevelt would occupy the witness chair for eight consecutive days, 38 ½ hours in all, perhaps the longest time that the famously energetic ex-president ever sat still. But true to form, he played to the jury as if it was his audience at a campaign rally, becoming so animated on the stand that the plaintiff’s lead attorney objected to his “gesticulation” and asked the judge to restrain him. The judge, knowing that was probably impossible, declined. Newspaper reporters, meanwhile, filled column after column of type with his every word.

Little more than a century later, the case is all but forgotten. “Despite the fact that it made headlines everywhere for six weeks, the trial has somehow become a footnote to history,” marvels Dan Abrams, who, with coauthor David Fisher, aims to change that in the new book Theodore Roosevelt for the Defense: The Courtroom Battle to Save His Legacy.

Abrams, who is also the chief legal-affairs correspondent for ABC News and host of “Live PD” on A&E, recently talked about the case with’

HISTORY: As you point out in the book, lots of trials have been hyped as the ‘trial of the century’—including the O.J. Simpson case, which you covered. What made Barnes v. Roosevelt rise to that level?

Dan Abrams: When you have a former president of the United States testifying for eight days, I think that inevitably you’re going to get widespread attention. But this wasn’t just any president, it was Teddy Roosevelt. And Teddy Roosevelt, whether you loved him or hated him, was a character.

READ MORE: 10 Things You May Not Know About Teddy Roosevelt

Now that the 20th century is behind us, do you have a pick for the true trial …read more


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The Folly of Protectionist Tariffs

May 15, 2019 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

Conventional wisdom holds that it is the “elites”
who are opposed to President Trump’s protectionist policies,
including his recent ramp-up of tariffs on Chinese goods, and it is
true, insofar as support for free trade increases with education
and income. But the reality is that poor and working-class
Americans will be hurt the most by Trump’s trade war.

Trump’s trade war will
hurt poor and working-class Americans the most.

Trump’s insistence to the contrary notwithstanding, most of the
cost of tariffs is paid by American consumers (through higher
prices), not by the countries being sanctioned. For instance, it is
estimated that the president’s latest round of
tariffs on China will cost the American family an average of at
least $767.

But that cost does not fall equally on poor and rich alike. To
state the obvious, $767 means a lot more to a poor family
struggling to pay its bills than it does to a wealthy one.
Moreover, tariffs are more likely to fall on goods and services
that the poor depend on, daily necessities of which they often lack
a reserve supply.

Consider that among the companies that have announced they will
be most impacted by the China tariffs are Walmart, Target, and
Costco, none of which are known as the store of choice for global

Studies show that the lower your income is, the harder you’ll be
hit by tariffs. Tariffs imposed by Trump last year have already
cost poor families 0.33 percent of after-tax
income, as opposed to 0.28 percent for wealthy families, and hurt
single parents even more than they hurt families. Trump’s latest
tariffs will likely be even more regressive. And while each new
tariff’s impact is relatively small, they cumulatively take a big
hit out of poor people’s income.

If that wasn’t bad enough, there is little doubt that an
extended trade war with China will damage the broader American
economy. Some economists estimate that Trump’s tariffs on
Chinese goods and China’s retaliatory tariffs on American
goods will cost the U.S. economy $62 billion in lost output. One
research group, Oxford Economists, fears that if the trade war
expands and tariffs on both sides are extended to the full range of
traded goods, it could reduce U.S. GDP by more than 2 percent, and
even push the U.S. economy into a recession. The Trade Partnership,
an industry group, warns that anywhere from 900,000 to 2 million
jobs could be at risk if the trade war drags on, roughly eight jobs
lost for every job saved. Very few of those lost jobs are held by

If we should …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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How Donald Trump May Push America into a War with Iran

May 15, 2019 in Economics

By John Glaser

John Glaser

Is the Trump administration readying war plans against Iran?
Somebody certainly wants us to think so. The question is who, and
for what purpose?

A bombshell New York Times article details an
updated military plan that was presented by Acting Defense
Secretary Patrick Shanahan last week. The plan calls for up to
120,000 U.S. troops to be deployed to the Persian Gulf region
“should Iran attack American forces or accelerate work on
nuclear weapons.” This is cause for alarm. But the plan
apparently does not call for a full ground invasion of Iran, which
would require a much higher number of troops. And President Trump,
who recently asked Iran’s leaders to call him on the
phone, seems unlikely to authorize such a war, which would dismay a
significant portion of his base as the 2020 campaign picks up.

The Trump
administration’s frenzied provocations could lead America to the
brink of a conflict with Iran-one that almost no one actually

So, why are we reading about this in the newspaper? One
possibility is that the war hawks in Trump’s White House want
to publicly signal to Iran and the international community that the
administration is prepared to use force in response to Iranian
misbehavior. Another possibility is that the anonymous
national-security officials who leaked this have grown uneasy about
National Security Advisor John Bolton’s determination to attack Iran and change its regime. They might see his recent
bureaucratic maneuvers, including a highly unusual visit to CIA headquarters and a recent
incident in which he deliberately exaggerated raw intelligence in
order to depict a long-scheduled carrier deployment to the Gulf as
a deterrent threat to Iran, as dangerously provocative posturing that could unintentionally start a
war. A third possibility is that both of these are happening

The ongoing internal drama over Iran policy demonstrates how
ill-equipped Trump is for the job of president. Three years into
his first term, Trump is on his third national security advisor,
his second Secretary of State, and the position of Defense
Secretary has been vacant for four months following Mattis’s
resignation in December. The president appears unable to unite his
own cabinet around a clear strategy.

He has filled his national security team with war hawks and,
with Iran tensions rising, the policy results reflect this quite
well. The White House recently took the unprecedented measure of
designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist
organization, which officials have warned could put U.S. forces in
the region at risk. The United States has also embarked on a
concerted …read more

Source: OP-EDS