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Twitter launches

June 28, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

On this day in 2006, the San Francisco-based podcasting company Odeo officially releases Twttr—later changed to Twitter—its short messaging service (SMS) for groups, to the public.

Born as a side project apart from Odeo’s main podcasting platform, the free application allowed users to share short status updates with groups of friends by sending one text message to a single number (“40404”). Over the next few years, as Twttr became Twitter, the simple “microblogging” service would explode in popularity, becoming one of the world’s leading social networking platforms.

Twitter co-founder Evan Williams first made his name in the Silicon Valley tech world by founding the Web diary-publishing service Blogger, which he sold to Google in 2003 for several million dollars. In 2005, William co-founded Odeo with another entrepreneur, Noah Glass; that fall, however, Odeo’s main service was made obsolete when Apple launched iTunes (including a built-in podcasting platform).

After Williams asked the team of 14 employees to brainstorm their best ideas for the flailing startup, one of the company’s engineers, Jack Dorsey, came up with the concept of a service allowing users to share personal status updates via SMS to groups of people. By March 2006, they had a working prototype, and a name—Twttr—inspired in part by bird sounds, and adopted after some other choices (including FriendStalker) were rejected. Dorsey (@Jack) sent the first-ever tweet (“just setting up my twttr”) on March 21.

At the time Twttr launched to the public in July 2006, it was still a side project of Odeo, while the company’s primary offering, the podcasting platform, was going nowhere. That fall, according to a report in Business Insider, Williams bought out the company’s investors, changed Odeo’s name to Obvious Corporation and fired Glass, whose role in the birth of Twitter (including coming up with its name) wouldn’t become public until years later.

Within six months after the launch, Twttr had become Twitter. Once the service went public, its founders imposed a 140-character limit for messages, based on the maximum length of text messages at the time; this was later expanded to 280 characters.

Use of Twitter exploded at the South by Southwest convention in Austin, Texas, in March 2007, when more than 60,000 tweets were sent per day, and grew rapidly from there. By 2013, the New York Times reported that the company had more than 2,000 employees and more than 200 million …read more

Source: HISTORY

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“To Kill a Mockingbird” published

June 28, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

On this day in 1960, the 34-year-old novelist Nelle Harper Lee publishes her first novel, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Set in Maycomb, a small Alabama town much like Lee’s native Monroeville, To Kill a Mockingbird is populated with indelible characters, including the book’s tomboy narrator, Jean Louise Finch (known as “Scout”), the mysterious recluse Boo Radley and Scout’s father, Atticus Finch, an upstanding lawyer who defends a black man accused of raping a white woman. Now a staple of junior high and high school classrooms and the subject of numerous censorship efforts, it offers a vivid depiction of life in the Jim Crow South during the Great Depression.

By the mid-1950s, Lee had followed her dreams of a writing career to New York City, where her childhood friend Truman Capote had already won fame in literary circles. For Christmas in 1956, her good friends Michael and Joy Brown gave her a check equal to a year’s salary, so she could quit her job and devote more time to her writing.

Soon, Lee had produced a novel manuscript, titled Go Set a Watchman, which she was able to sell to the publisher J.B. Lippincott and Company for $1,000 after her editor, Tay Hohoff, suggested she revise the story and expand on flashback sequences set during the narrator’s childhood. Lee spent two years rewriting her book, calling the revised manuscript To Kill a Mockingbird. (She dropped her first name for publication, in order to avoid people mispronouncing it “Nellie.”)

Lee’s book became an immediate success, winning the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961 and eventually selling more than 40 million copies worldwide. Gregory Peck won an Oscar for his portrayal of Atticus in the 1962 film version, which also nabbed statuettes for screenwriting and art direction.

But the famously private Lee didn’t come out with a follow-up; in fact, she wouldn’t publish another book for 55 years. Then in 2015, HarperCollins published the recently rediscovered Go Set a Watchman. The book is set 20 years after the time period depicted in Mockingbird and features an aging Atticus who has embraced racist views and even attends a meeting of the Ku Klux Klan. Despite seriously mixed reviews, and doubts surrounding whether Lee actually wanted it published, the book was a huge hit, selling 1.1 million copies in its first week. The following year, Harper Lee …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Why Kaiser Wilhelm Was Never Tried for Starting World War I

June 28, 2019 in History

By Erin Blakemore

The accusations were explosive: a head of state had not only begun an illegal war, but egged his troops on to a series of horrific atrocities that left thousands dead and an entire continent in ruins. By then, the accused was one of history’s most hated and debated figures, a monarch known for making erratic decisions and doubling down on his sometimes inexplicable actions.

There was just one problem: The accused, Wilhelm II of Germany, couldn’t testify. The accused had been dead for 75 years.

It could have been the trial of the century—if it had been conducted a century before. The trial of Wilhelm II, Germany’s emperor between 1888 and 1918, was a moot one, conducted by historians and legal experts grappling with one of the great mysteries of 20th-century history. Was Wilhelm II guilty of war crimes?

A German soldier forces English prisoners to pilfer corpses of fallen soldiers.

It’s a question that was never answered during Wilhelm’s lifetime. Though the Allies accused him of starting one of history’s bloodiest wars and violating international law, and his troops of committing barbaric acts, he never stood trial. Today, these accusations are remembered as the first stirrings of a modern conception of war crimes. But at the end of World War I, Wilhelm’s responsibility for the bloodshed was a hotly contested—and ultimately unresolved—issue.

The thought of trying him at all was a radical notion. Until World War I, going to war had been seen as the right of any nation or head of state, and war crimes were considered part of war. A sense of victors’ justice held that atrocities committed by the winning side would go unpunished, while the victors could punish or even execute those on the losing side with impunity.

But World War I changed the face of war—and combat norms—forever. Armed with newly destructive weapons of war like tanks, heavy artillery and gas, both sides sustained huge numbers of casualties while deadlocked in years of trench warfare. Over 6.6 million casualties and 8 million combatants died during the war.

From the beginning, atrocities were part of the Great War. After Germany invaded Belgium in August 1914, German troops began murdering civilians. The massacres, sparked in part by the false belief that Belgian villagers were snipers, claimed over 5,000 victims and sparked a fierce debate about which methods of violence were justified during …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Neil Gorsuch Catches a Hail Mary for the Constitution

June 28, 2019 in Economics

By Trevor Burrus

Trevor Burrus

Last week, the Supreme Court took a major step toward rolling
back one of the most unconstitutional features of our federal
government: the over-delegation of lawmaking power to the executive
branch and administrative agencies. In Gundy v. United
States
, the Court took a relatively obscure case filed by a
public defender—one with no support from amicus briefs or
popular commentary—and revisited the nondelegation doctrine,
a crucial but largely forgotten part of our Constitution. And while
we can’t know for sure, this turn of events was likely due to
the actions of Justice Neil Gorsuch.

In his second term, Gorsuch is again showing how a principled
commitment to the Constitution can help reshape the Court into a
more nonpartisan and just institution.

Herman Gundy ultimately lost his case. Justice Elena
Kagan’s majority opinion maintains the status quo of allowing
Congress to abdicate its responsibility to pass laws. Justice
Samuel Alito gave Kagan a fifth vote, though he also unequivocally
voiced his support for revisiting the nondelegation doctrine:
“If a majority of this Court were willing to reconsider the
approach we have taken for the past 84 years, I would support that
effort.” That’s a big deal, and it’s an
invitation to litigators to bring forward another nondelegation
case.

His opinion in a
little-noticed case could eventually roll back decades of executive
overreach.

How Gundy’s case got to the Court, however, is an
interesting story.

Gundy was convicted under Maryland law for sexually assaulting a
minor. His conviction happened before Congress approved the Sex
Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) in 2006. But
SORNA requires registration even for sex offenders who were
convicted before it was passed, and lets the attorney general
define which past offenders have to register, certainly a broad
delegation of legislative power to the executive branch. But that
happens all the time, and as Alito pointed out, it’s been 84
years since the Supreme Court held that Congress had over-delegated
its constitutional responsibilities.

When Gundy didn’t update his status upon moving to New
York, he was prosecuted for violating the act. He filed his appeal
to the Supreme Court in forma pauperis, which is a request
by an indigent defendant to waive the usual filing fees. The
Supreme Court gets between 7,000 and 8,000 petitions per year, and
about two thirds are filed in forma pauperis, often from
prisoners and often pro se(representing yourself).
Gundy’s chances weren’t good.

Here’s where things get interesting: Gundy’s
petition to the Supreme Court was a Hail Mary pass intended for
Gorsuch, and Gorsuch caught it.

Gundy’s petition raised a few reasons why the Court should
take his case. It is standard practice to ask the Court to …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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7 Facts About the Stonewall Riots and the Fight for LGBT Rights

June 28, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

The struggle for LGBT rights dates at least as far back as 1924 and accelerated in the wake of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising.

The movement for LGBT rights in the United States dates at least as far back as the 1920s, when the first documented gay rights organization was founded. Since then, various groups have advocated for LGBT rights and the movement accelerated in the wake of the Stonewall Riots of 1969. Below is a list of surprising facts about Stonewall and the struggles and milestones of the gay rights movement.

1. The first documented U.S. gay rights organization was founded in Chicago in 1924.

Henry Gerber, a German immigrant, founded the Society for Human Rights, the first documented gay rights organization in the United States. During his U.S. Army service in

3. Three years before Stonewall, a protest for gay rights started in another New York City bar.

After pouring their drinks, a bartender in Julius’s Bar refuses to serve John Timmins, Dick Leitsch, Craig Rodwell, and Randy Wicker, members of the Mattachine Society who were protesting New York liquor laws that prevented serving gay customers, 1966.

In 1966, three members of the Mattachine Society, an early organization dedicated to fighting for gay rights, staged a “sip-in”—a twist on the “sit-in” protests of the 1960s. The trio visited taverns, declared themselves gay, and waited to be turned away so they could sue.

Although the State Liquor Authority initially denied the men’s discrimination claim, the Commission on Human Rights argued that gay individuals had the right to be served in bars. For the next few years in New York, the gay community felt empowered. Police raids became less commonplace and gay bar patrons, while still oppressed in society, had recovered their safe havens.

READ MORE: The Gay Sip-In That Drew From the Civil Rights Movement

4. The Mafia ran gay bars in NYC in the 1960s.


An NYPD officer grabs someone by their hair as another officer clubs a young man during a confrontation in Greenwich Village, New York City in 1970.

It was an unlikely partnership. But between New York’s LGBT community in the 1960s being forced to live on the outskirts of society and the Mafia’s disregard for the law, the two became a profitable, if uneasy, match.

The State Liquor Authority and the New York Police Department regularly raided bars that catered to gay patrons. Where the law …read more

Source: HISTORY

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France gives the Statue of Liberty to the United States

June 28, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

In a ceremony held in Paris on this day in 1884, the completed Statue of Liberty is formally presented to the U.S. ambassador as a commemoration of the friendship between France and the United States.

The idea for the statue was born in 1865, when the French historian and abolitionist Édouard de Laboulaye proposed a monument to commemorate the upcoming centennial of U.S. independence (1876), the perseverance of American democracy and the liberation of the nation’s slaves. By 1870, sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi had come up with sketches of a giant figure of a robed woman holding a torch—possibly based on a statue he had previously proposed for the opening of the Suez Canal.

Bartholdi traveled to the United States in the early 1870s to drum up enthusiasm and raise funds for a proposed Franco-American monument to be located on Bedloe’s Island, in New York’s harbor. Upon his return to France, he and Laboulaye created the Franco-American Union, which raised some 600,000 francs from the French people.

Work on the statue, formally called “Liberty Enlightening the World,” began in France in 1875. A year later, the completed torch and left forearm went on display in Philadelphia and New York to help with U.S. fundraising for the building of the statue’s giant pedestal.

Constructed of hammered copper sheets formed over a steel framework perfected by engineer Gustave Eiffel (who joined the project in 1879), the completed Statue of Liberty stood just over 151 feet high and weighed 225 tons when it was completed in 1884. After the July 4 presentation to Ambassador Levi Morton in Paris that year, the statue was disassembled and shipped to New York City, where it would be painstakingly reconstructed.

Meanwhile, publisher Joseph Pulitzer of the New York World had stepped in to help raise funds for the pedestal’s construction, raising more than $100,000 in donations by mid-1885. In October 1886, the pedestal on Bedloe’s Island was completed, and the Statue of Liberty was formally dedicated in a ceremony presided over by President Grover Cleveland.

Six years later, the inspection station on neighboring Ellis Island opened, welcoming more than 12 million immigrants to the United States between 1892 and 1954. Above them, the Statue of Liberty brandished her torch, embodying the most famous words from Emma Lazarus’ 1883 poem “The New Colossus,” written to raise funds for the pedestal and later …read more

Source: HISTORY

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With Administrative Law Rollback, Supreme Court Begins To Drain The Swamp

June 28, 2019 in Economics

By Ilya Shapiro

Ilya Shapiro

In an otherwise obscure case about veterans’ benefits, the
Supreme Court on Wednesday took its first step in pushing back
against the overweening administrative state that, at a time
Congress isn’t legislating much, creates most of the law by
which Americans live our daily lives.

In Kisor v. Willkie, the court was asked
to decide how much judges should defer to bureaucrats who
re-interpret their own regulations. It didn’t overturn that
Auer deference,” but it limited it in
significant ways: All nine justices agreed that courts need to
ensure that a regulation truly is ambiguous before giving the
agency re-interpreting it any sort of leeway. (If a regulation
isn’t ambiguous, then there’s no reinterpretation
possible.)

In other words, the Supreme Court limited the types of cases
where judges defer to agencies, while setting standards for
evaluating those cases that boil down to “when the agency is
correct and employs special expertise, having considered the
reliance interests of those being regulated” rather than just
making legal or political judgment calls willy-nilly. So
Auer deference technically survives, but this new rule
sounds an awful lot like reining in the administrative state! (Full
disclosure: I filed
a brief for the Cato Institute
, joined by superstar law
professors Jonathan Adler, Richard Epstein, and Michael McConnell,
arguing for Auer’s overruling.)

Executive agencies are on
notice that it’s no longer ‘anything goes’ when they rewrite their
own rules, that judges will hold their feet to the statutory
fire.

At first blush, Justice Neil Gorsuch’s magisterial opinion
(joined by three colleagues) that concurred only in the
judgment—which remanded the case so a lower court can
scrutinize the clarity of the regulation at issue—reads like
a dissent. This conservative quartet would’ve thrown out
Auer altogether, but now is left to complain that the
majority “maimed and enfeebled—in truth,
zombified” Auer deference. Keeping it “on life
support” deprives the lower courts of clarity and litigants
of the independent judicial decisions that the Constitution
guarantees.

But Chief Justice John Roberts—who joined the majority
opinion, but only on stare decisis grounds (there
weren’t five votes to sustain Auer on its own
terms!)—echoed by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who joined
Gorsuch’s concurrence, explains that in practice the distance
between the two positions isn’t all that great.

Roberts characterizes Justice Elena Kagan’s standard for
granting deference as follows: “The underlying regulation
must be genuinely ambiguous; the agency’s interpretation must
be reasonable and must reflect its authoritative, expertise-based,
and fair and considered judgment; and the agency must take account
of reliance interests and avoid unfair surprise.” Meanwhile,
he sees Gorsuch’s view of when courts can be persuaded by an
agency rationale thus: “The agency thoroughly considered the
problem, offered a valid …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Bahrain: The Next Middle East Powder Keg?

June 28, 2019 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

Worries about another war in the Middle East receded modestly
when President Donald Trump rejected the wishes of his hawkish
advisers and called off a planned airstrike on Iran for shooting
down a U.S. spy drone. However, his decision to impose new economic
sanctions on the Iranian regime has worsened already alarming tensions, and an
armed conflict remains a serious possibility. Iran also now has a
stronger incentive to cause maximum problems for the United States
and its key ally, Saudi Arabia.

The toxic U.S.-Iranian relationship is just one component of a
matrix of intense geo-strategic rivalries in the region. An
especially dangerous aspect is the Sunni-Shia religious and
political feud, which pits Iran, the leading Shia power, against
Saudi Arabia, a key Sunni power. That rivalry for regional
preeminence is already playing out in several arenas. It is a major
element in the Syrian civil war, the bloodbath in Yemen, and the
jockeying for political influence in Iraq.

Bahrain may be the next country in which Tehran and Riyadh
engage in a brass knuckle fight for dominance. The hostile,
deteriorating relationship between the United States and Iran
significantly increases the likelihood of an Iranian initiative.
Indeed, Bahrain is an ideal location for Tehran to give both
Washington and Riyadh bloody noses.

Our hypocritical policies
allow the autocratic monarchy (and the Saudis) to crack down on the
Shia there. Don’t be surprised if Iran steps in.

Bahrain’s religious composition creates an inherent powder keg.
Barely 20 percent of the country’s citizens are Sunni, while over
50 percent are Shia. Yet the government is a brutal autocracy under
the total control of a Sunni royal family. There was a major Shia uprising in 2011, and tensions
flared again with large anti-government demonstrations in May 2017.

Saudi Arabia intervened with several thousands of its own
troops in 2011 to keep its Sunni client regime in power, and Riyadh
has maintained a substantial, if relatively concealed, security
presence in the country since then. The Bahrain government has
imprisoned numerous Shia political activists, and only recently did
the king restore citizenship to more than 500 individuals whom the rubber-stamp
courts had stripped of that status. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and other organizations
have repeatedly issued reports condemning the regime in Manama for
human rights violations, including jailing critics and torturing them.

U.S. policy toward Bahrain reflects brazen hypocrisy. Even as
Obama administration officials routinely condemned Iran for
interference in the internal affairs of Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon,
Washington’s criticism …read more

Source: OP-EDS