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Why Have There Been So Many UFO Sightings Near Nuclear Facilities?

June 21, 2019 in History

By Adam Janos

It started in the 1940s, near A-bomb development sites. More recently, something has been stalking nuclear carrier strike groups.

Why are so many UFOs being reported near nuclear facilities—and why isn’t there more urgency on the part of the government to assess their potential national-security threat?

Those are questions being asked by a team of high-ranking former U.S. defense and intelligence officials, aerospace-industry veterans, academics and others associated with To the Stars Academy of Arts & Science. The team has been investigating a wide range of these sightings—and advocating more serious government attention.

Their investigations are the subject of HISTORY’s limited series “Unidentified.”

Project Blue Book: Declassified – The True Story of the Foo Fighters (TV-PG; 2:09)

Throughout history, unexplained aerial phenomena (UAPs) have shocked, frightened and fascinated sky watchers. And in the last century, more than a few have been reported in military contexts. In late World War II, U.S. airmen called them “foo fighters”: strange orange flying lights by the French-German border. During the Korean War, some soldiers claimed a blue-green light emitting “pulsing rays” made their whole battalion sick with what, to some, resembled radiation poisoning.

Less known: In the last 75 years, high-ranking U.S. military and intelligence personnel have also reported UAPs near sites associated with nuclear power, weaponry and technology—from the early atomic-bomb development and test sites to active nuclear naval fleets.

“All of the nuclear facilities—Los Alamos, Livermore, Sandia, Savannah River—all had dramatic incidents where these unknown craft appeared over the facilities and nobody knew where they were from or what they were doing there,” says investigative journalist George Knapp, who has studied the UAP-nuclear connection for more than 30 years. Knapp has gathered documentation by filing Freedom of Information Act requests to the departments of defense and energy.

“There seems to be a lot of correlation there,” says Lue Elizondo, who from 2007 to 2012 served as director of a covert team of UAP researchers operating inside the Department of Defense. he program, called received $22 million of the Pentagon’s $600 billion budget in 2012, The New York Times reported. Elizondo now helps lead To the Stars’ investigations.


The UFO-nuclear connection began at the dawn of the atomic age.

Nuclear-adjacent sightings go back decades, says Robert Hastings, a UFO researcher and author of the book UFOs and Nukes: Extraordinary Encounters at Nuclear Weapons Sites. Hastings says he’s interviewed more than …read more


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How the GI Bill's Promise Was Denied to a Million Black Veterans

June 21, 2019 in History

By Erin Blakemore

When Eugene Burnett saw the neat tract houses of Levittown, New York, he knew he wanted to buy one. It was 1949, and he was ready to settle down in a larger home with his family. The newly established Long Island suburb seemed like the perfect place to begin their postwar life—one that, he hoped, would be improved with the help of the GI Bill, a piece of sweeping legislation aimed at helping World War II veterans like Burnett prosper after the war.

But when he spoke with a salesman about buying the house using a GI Bill-guaranteed mortgage, the door to suburban life in Levittown slammed firmly in his face. The suburb wasn’t open to black residents.

“It was as though it wasn’t real,” Burnett’s wife, Bernice, recalled. “Look at this house! Can you imagine having this? And then for them to tell me because of the color of my skin that I can’t be part of it?”

G.I. Bill (TV-PG; 0:46)

The Burnetts weren’t the only black Americans for whom the promise of the GI Bill turned out to be an illusion. Though the bill helped white Americans prosper and accumulate wealth in the postwar years, it didn’t deliver on that promise for veterans of color. In fact, the wide disparity in the bill’s implementation ended up helping drive the growing gaps in wealth, education and civil rights between white and black Americans.

While the GI Bill’s language did not specifically exclude African-American veterans from its benefits, it was structured in a way that ultimately shut doors for the nearly one million black veterans who had bravely served their country during World War II, in segregated ranks.

Fear of Black Advancement

When lawmakers began drafting the GI Bill in 1944, some Southern Democrats feared that returning black veterans would use public sympathy for veterans to advocate against Jim Crow laws. To ensure that the GI Bill largely benefited white people, the southern Democrats drew on tactics they had previously used to ensure that the New Deal helped as few black people as possible.

During the drafting of the law, the chair of the House Veterans Committee, Mississippi Congressman John Rankin, played hardball and insisted that the program be administered by individual states instead of the federal government. He got his way. Rankin was known for his virulent racism: He defended segregation, opposed interracial marriage, and had …read more


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These Historic Strongmen Could Bend a Frying Pan and Lift an Elephant

June 21, 2019 in History

By Robert Kahn

Some of their feats of strength have yet to be surpassed.

History’s human powerhouses were mammoths of muscle who could tow a ship with only their teeth or roll up a frying pan as if it were a newly laundered T-shirt. Four top strongmen will reenact legendary feats of strength in HISTORY’s “The Strongest Man in History,” premiering July 10 at 10/9C. Here are some of their historical precedents.

Vikings (8th-11th centuries)

Origin: Scandinavia

Behind the Legend: The great Norse seamen of their day—known as pugnacious warriors, intrepid explorers and skilled traders—sailed the globe, sometimes requiring ships to be removed from water and transported over land to more navigable seas. One method Vikings used to ensure a stalwart crew? Stone lifting. To earn respect, a Viking seafarer was required to lift a stone weighing more than 340 pounds.

Famous Feats: According to one famous legend, more than 1,000 years ago, Icelander Orm Storolfsson (a.k.a. “Orm Storolfsson the Strong,” presumably to squash any doubt) walked three steps with the mast of the Ormen Lange, a powerful longship, on his shoulders before allegedly breaking his back. The mast, said to span 11 yards long and weigh some 1,433 pounds, had to be lifted by 50 men onto his shoulders.

Fun Facts: Strongman competitor Hafthór Björnsson (known to “Game of Thrones” fans as “The Mountain”) unofficially broke Storolfsson’s millennium-old weightlifting record at the 2015 World’s Strongest Viking competition in Norway by carrying a 1,433-pound log on his back for five steps. The sport of strongman has important ties to Viking traditions: Roughly 200 years ago, Iceland’s Húsafell village became home to a 409-pound Viking lifting stone that played a prominent role in the 1992 World’s Strongest Man contest.

READ MORE: 10 Things You May Not Know About the Vikings

William Bankier (1870-1949)

Nickname: Apollo, the Scottish Hercules

Born: Banff, Scotland

Behind the Legend: By 15, early bodybuilder and strongman William Bankier had twice run away from home, eventually joining a road show and finding a friend and mentor of sorts in its star attraction, a strongman with a drinking problem. As that performer’s absences piled up, Bankier saw an opportunity to showcase his own strength. Other circus jobs soon awaited, among them “Buffalo Bill” Cody’s Wild West Show in Wyoming.

Famous Feats: As part of his act, Bankier would harness-lift an elephant. He could also jump over the back of a chair, frontward or backward, while holding …read more


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Bobby Fischer becomes the first American to win the World Chess Championship

June 21, 2019 in History

By Staff

On this day in 1972, in what’s billed as the “Match of the Century,” American chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer defeats Russian Boris Spassky during the World Chess Championship in Reykjavik, Iceland.

In the world’s most publicized title match ever played, Fischer, a 29-year-old Brooklynite, became the first American to win the competition since its inception in 1866. The victory also marked the first time a non-Russian had won the event in 24 years.

Fischer, who started playing chess professionally at age 8, won the U.S. Open Championship when he was 14 (he would go on to win it seven more times) and became the world’s youngest international grandmaster at age 15.

Fischer’s skills and age—and demanding, arrogant attitude—made him a pop culture phenomenon. He became the subject of books and movies and even inspired a song, “The Ballad of Bobby Fischer.”

Played during the Cold War, the Reykjavik match also carried political undertones. Fischer had already accused the Soviets of rigging the tournament system and didn’t mince words in his feelings about them, saying the match was “really the free world against the lying, cheating, hypocritical Russians … They always suggest that the world’s leaders should fight it out hand to hand. And that is the kind of thing we are doing.”

Fischer missed the competition’s July 1 opening ceremony, after demanding more money, as well as a cut of TV and film rights. After a two-day delay—and a doubling of the prize purse by British millionaire Jim Slater—Fischer finally showed. A call from Henry Kissinger, national security assistant for President Nixon at the time, may have helped persuade him to compete, as well. “America wants you to go over there to beat the Russians,” he reportedly told Fischer.

“Fischer is known to be graceless, rude, possibly insane,” financier Slater once said. “I really don’t worry about that, because I didn’t do it for that reason. I did it because he was going to challenge the Russian supremacy, and it was good for chess.”

Spassky took the first game (Fischer blamed the TV cameras and ordered them to be removed). Fischer then forfeited the second game after some of his other demands weren’t met. Following much quarreling, the match resumed July 16 with a win by Fischer. Over 21 games, Fischer won seven, Spassky won three, and 11 were draws. Spassky resigned after 40 moves on the …read more


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Anne Frank writes her last diary entry

June 21, 2019 in History

By Editors

Anne Frank, the young Jewish girl hiding out in Nazi-occupied Holland whose diary came to serve as a symbol of the Holocaust, writes her final entry three days before she and her family are arrested and placed in concentration camps.

Frank, 15 at the time, received the diary on her 13th birthday, writing in it faithfully during the two years she and seven others (including her parents, Otto and Edith, and sister, Margot; her father’s business associate Hermann van Pels, his wife, Auguste, and son, Peter; and Fritz Pfeffer, the dentist of Otto Frank’s secretary) lived in a secret annex behind her father’s business in Amsterdam during World War II.

In her final entry, Frank wrote of how others perceive her, describing herself as “a bundle of contradictions.” She wrote:

“As I’ve told you many times, I’m split in two. One side contains my exuberant cheerfulness, my flippancy, my joy in life and, above all, my ability to appreciate the lighter side of things. By that I mean not finding anything wrong with flirtations, a kiss, an embrace, an off-colour joke. This side of me is usually lying in wait to ambush the other one, which is much purer, deeper and finer. ….”

She continued that what she says is not what she feels, which is why, in her words, she had a reputation for being “boy-crazy as well as a flirt, a smart aleck and a reader of romances.”

“The happy-go-lucky Anne laughs, gives a flippant reply, shrugs her shoulders and pretends she doesn’t give a darn. The quiet Anne reacts in just the opposite way. If I’m being completely honest, I’ll have to admit that it does matter to me, that I’m trying very hard to change myself, but that I’m always up against a more powerful enemy.”

Of the eight prisoners, Otto Frank was the only survivor. Anne Frank died in 1945 from typhus at Germany’s Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Her diary was published by her father as The Diary of Anne Frank in 1947; it has since become a worldwide bestseller.

…read more


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The Supreme Court's Reasoning in the Bladensburg Cross Case Is a Mess

June 21, 2019 in Economics

By Ilya Shapiro

Ilya Shapiro

Thursday morning, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in American
Legion v. American Humanist Association
that a 100-year-old
World War I memorial cross in Bladensburg, Maryland, doesn’t
“establish” religion. That’s the correct result
(read my brief for Cato), but the mish-mash of
opinions—it took a paragraph to explain which justice was
joining which aspect of the decision—leaves Establishment
Clause jurisprudence in the muddled state it’s been for

That is, much like in the Ten Commandments cases of 2005, the cross here
survived largely because it’s really, really old. Justice
Samuel Alito, joined in full by Chief Justice John Roberts and
Justices Stephen Breyer and Brett Kavanaugh, and in all but two
subparts by Justice Elena Kagan—Justices Clarence Thomas and
Neil Gorsuch concurred in the judgment, but wrote
separately—offered four reasons for a “strong
presumption of constitutionality” in favor of
“retaining established, religiously expressive monuments,
symbols and practices.”

First, it’s “especially difficult” to identify
the “original purpose or purposes” of such religiously
expressive icons. Second, “as time goes by, the purposes
associated with an established monument, symbol, or practice often
multiply”; they may be maintained “for the sake of
their historical significance or their place in a common cultural

Third, the message they convey might also change over time.
Consider, for example, the Statue of Liberty, Notre Dame cathedral
in Paris, many American cities with religious names (Bethlehem,
Penn.; Las Cruces, New Mexico; Corpus Christi, Texas; etc.),
Arizona’s state motto (Ditat Deus, or “God
enriches”), and Maryland’s cross-filled flag.

Fourth, removing a historic monument “may no longer appear
neutral,” but provide evidence of anti-religious animus. As
Alito put it in one of the passages that likely led Breyer and
Kavanaugh to call the opinion “eloquent” and Kagan to
“find much to admire”: “A government that roams
the land, tearing down monuments with religious symbolism and
scrubbing away any reference to the divine will strike many as
aggressively hostile to religion.”

Alito then explained how these four considerations apply to
crosses such as WWI memorials, including the “solemn image of
endless rows of white crosses” and the popularity of the poem
“In Flanders Fields.” The Bladensburg Cross fits into
that narrative. As Justice Antonin Scalia might have put it, this
war memorial comes as a war memorial.

Justice Alito’s majority opinion thus does well not to
apply the beleaguered Lemon test—looking
to the purpose and effects of government action, as well as
“entanglement” with religion—but in squeezing
that sour fruit, he lost Justice Elena Kagan’s vote and thus
his majority (leaving a plurality). Still, with Justice Gorsuch
(joined by Justice Thomas) saying that Lemon is now
“shelved” and Justice Kavanaugh noting that “the
Court no longer …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Why a U.S.-Iran War Could End up Being a Historic Disaster

June 21, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Sixteen years ago, the George W. Bush administration manipulated
intelligence to scare the public into backing an aggressive war
against Iraq. The smoking gun mushroom clouds that National
Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice warned against didn’t exist, but
the invasion long desired by neoconservatives and other hawks
proceeded. Liberated Iraqis rejected U.S. plans to create an
American puppet state on the Euphrates and the aftermath turned
into a humanitarian and geopolitical catastrophe which continues to
roil the Middle East.

Thousands of dead Americans, tens of thousands of wounded and
maimed U.S. personnel, hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, and
millions of Iraqis displaced. There was the sectarian conflict,
destruction of the historic Christian community, the creation of Al
Qaeda in Iraq—which morphed into the far deadlier Islamic
State—and the enhanced influence of Iran. The prime question
was how could so many supposedly smart people be so stupid?

Now the Trump administration appears to be following the same
well-worn path. The president has fixated on Iran, tearing up the
nuclear accord with Tehran and declaring economic war on
it—as well as anyone dealing with Iran. He is pushing America
toward war even as he insists that he wants peace. How stupid does
he believe we are?

Naturally, the administration blames Iran for not accepting its
supposedly generous offer to talk. However, Tehran has no reason to
believe that Washington is serious. One doesn’t have to be a
hardline Shiite ayatollah to see little point in negotiating with a
president seemingly determined on surrender or war—and who
can’t be counted on to keep any agreement he makes.

The Trump administration
is essentially a one-trick pony when it comes to foreign policy
toward hostile state

Indeed, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently proposed talks
without preconditions, other than that Iran needed to behave as
“a normal nation” and accede to Washington’s many
impossible demands even before sitting down at the negotiating
table. National Security Adviser John Bolton later explained the
president was “prepared to talk about what the future”
but only after Iran gave up “their nuclear and other
unacceptable activities.” In other words, Iran needed to
surrender first. The United States would not negotiate under such
circumstances. Why would Iran do so?

The Iranian regime is malign. Nevertheless, despite being under
almost constant siege it has survived longer than the U.S.-crafted
dictatorship which preceded the Islamic Republic. And the latter
did not arise in a vacuum. Washington did much to encourage a
violent, extremist revolution in Tehran. The average Iranian could
be forgiven for viewing America as a virulently hostile power
determined to do his or her nation ill at almost every turn.

In 1953 the …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Facebook's Libra Is Part of a Welcome Trend

June 21, 2019 in Economics

By Diego Zuluaga

Diego Zuluaga

It’s not entirely surprising that, so far in the short
public life of Libra, the Facebook-led cryptocurrency project
launched this week, the discussion has focused on the
product’s potential applications and risks. “What will
Mark Zuckerberg do with our money?” is the question
commentators and policymakers probably wish to have answered but
are too afraid to ask.

Some politicians aren’t waiting for the experts to deliver
their verdict. The French Finance Minister has already expressed antipathy toward what he sees as nascent
competition against sovereign currencies. Top Democrats in the US
Congress, meanwhile, want to impose major regulatory supervision and even a
development moratorium until (in someone
else’s words) “we can figure out what the hell is going
on.” Keep in mind that Libra hasn’t yet launched and
won’t do so before the first half of 2020.

But what if we took the claims of Facebook and its Libra
partners at, um, face value? By the World Bank’s reckoning,
1.7 billion adults globally remain unbanked. While this figure is
rapidly shrinking, with 515 million having acquired a bank or
mobile money account (such as those offered by Kenya’s
M-Pesa) between 2014 and 2017 alone, there remains great untapped
potential for bringing inexpensive payment services to the
world’s poor, especially since many of them do own mobile phones.

Warnings that Facebook
wishes to supplant central banks make for interesting dystopian

That’s what Libra proposes to do. It will be a digital
asset whose value is tied to a basket of comparably stable
sovereign currencies, such as the US dollar and the euro, and
short-term government bonds. While the price of a unit of Libra
will regularly fluctuate against any of the individual currencies
in the basket, Libra’s proponents hope that such fluctuations
will be small enough not to deter user adoption. Tying Libra to a
basket rather than a single currency also makes it less likely that
users who earn and spend primarily in a currency different from the
one chosen will refuse to take up Libra.

To govern it, Facebook has formed the Libra Association together with
other large organizations, such as Uber, Spotify, Visa, Mastercard,
and Paypal, The purpose is not just to separate Facebook’s
brand from that of Libra — however unsuccessfully so far
— but also to take advantage of the partnership’s joint
network effects. On its own, Facebook brings 2.4 billion active
users to the Libra Association. With its partners, that potential
user base grows by several hundred million.

As with any medium of exchange, the more people who adopt Libra,
the more …read more

Source: OP-EDS