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The Office of Homeland Security is founded

July 18, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

The Office of Homeland Security is founded on this day in 2001, less than one month after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Now a cabinet department, Homeland Security is now one of the largest organs of the federal government, charged with preventing terror attacks, border security, immigrations and customs, disaster relief and prevention and other related tasks.

President George W. Bush announced the creation of a new office to “develop and coordinate the implementation of a comprehensive national strategy to secure the United States from terrorist threats or attacks” a mere ten days after September 11. On October 8, former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge assumed his role as director and the office opened. Despite concerns about adding to the federal bureaucracy and dramatically re-organizing the security state, Congress officially voted to make the office a cabinet-level department in November of 2002. The Department of Homeland Security eventually absorbed no fewer than 22 agencies into its fold. Entities absorbed by DHS included the Secret Service, Customs and Border Protection and even Coast Guard.

DHS has faced criticism for much of its brief history. Many condemned its response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005—despite having been founded, in part, to coordinate a government-wide disaster response, DHS reportedly did not develop such a plan until two days after Katrina made landfall.

Since the election of Donald Trump, DHS’ border enforcement and immigration duties have come under scrutiny. In particular, many Americans are critical of one DHS office, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which was founded in 2003. In recent years, ICE has stepped up its raids on undocumented immigrant communities, leading to a rising number of deportations. ICE is responsible for detaining migrants at America’s southern border, where the conditions of its facilities and its practice of separating detained children from their families have led to widespread condemnation and the rise of an “Abolish ICE” movement.

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Source: HISTORY

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John Lennon’s "Imagine" is released

July 18, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

October 11, 1971 sees the release of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” one of the most influential songs of the 20 century.

Lennon began writing the song while still a member of the Beatles, at a time when the band had achieved unprecedented popularity but struggled to cope with their new reality. The song’s idealistic, utopian lyrics were heavily influenced by Lennon’s wife, conceptual artist Yoko Ono. He would later assert that the “lyric and concept” were “straight out of Grapefruit,” a book of poetry by Ono, and she officially received a joint writing credit in 2017.

A little over a year after the Beatles broke up, Lennon recorded “Imagine” in a single session at his and Ono’s country estate, Tittenhurst Park, with producer Phil Spector. Unlike other Lennon releases from that era, such as “Give Peace a Chance,” “Power to the People,” and “Happy Xmas (War is Over),” the song did not contain an overt political message. Nonetheless, lines such as “Imagine all the people/ sharing all the world” embodied a radical utopian vision as well as the desire of Lennon and many others for an end to the Vietnam War and a return to the optimistic humanism that had defined much of the previous decade.

The song and its eponymous album were a massive success, ultimately the most commercially and critically successful of Lennon’s solo catalogue. Particularly in light of Lennon’s assassination in 1980, “Imagine” has become associated with both idealism and struggle. Since 2006, it has been played immediately before the dropping of the Times Square Ball on New Year’s Eve in New York City, and it was included in the closing ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympics as well as the opening ceremonies of the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang. The word “Imagine” is the only text to appear on the Strawberry Fields memorial to Lennon in Central Park, and Liverpool’s John Lennon International Airport uses as its motto a lyric from the song, “Above us, only sky.”

READ MORE: When Beatlemania Swept America

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Source: HISTORY

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New York Times publishes bombshell investigation into allegations against Harvey Weinstein

July 18, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

On this day in 2017, The New York Times publishes a detailed investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against film producer Harvey Weinstein. The bombshell report led to Weinstein’s eventual arrest on charges of rape and other sexual misconduct. It has since become recognized as one of the defining early moments of the #MeToo movement.

Within certain circles, Weinstein’s predatory behavior had been widely known for some time—in the wake of the revelations, it became clear that many celebrities and journalists had been at least partially aware of the allegations. Multiple reporters had been scrambling to break the story—reporter Ronan Farrow had brought the story to NBC News in 2016 but was turned away, eventually publishing his expose in The New Yorker five days after the Times’ ran its investigation. The list of Weinstein’s accusers eventually grew to several dozen women, ranging from well-known actresses like Ashley Judd and Gwyneth Paltrow to women who had worked for as little as one day at Miramax or the Weinstein Company.

Weinstein was immediately fired from his company and expelled from the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences. The allegations set off a chain reaction, as more women came forward with sexual misconduct allegations against important figures throughout the entertainment industry, the fashion industry, politics, the sports world and elsewhere. In addition to the public shaming of a number of high-powered media figures and celebrities, the #MeToo Movement, as it came to be known, forced many Americans to examine the power dynamics and institutional sexism that allowed powerful men in virtually every field to commit and cover up all manner of sexual misconduct.

Some of the men who faced #MeToo allegations have either apologized and attempted to move on with their careers or simply denied the charges and kept their positions of power. Most notably, over 20 women have accused President Donald Trump of misconduct ranging from verbal harassment to rape. Meanwhile, as new allegations continue to arise in workplaces across the world, it’s clear that the Weinstein scandal was an important step in the struggle to expose and stamp out sexual misconduct.

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Source: HISTORY

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How John Paul Stevens' Views Evolved Over 34 Years on the Supreme Court

July 18, 2019 in History

By Erin Blakemore

When John Paul Stevens was nominated to the Supreme Court in the 1970s, he steeled himself for a bombshell from his past as a Seventh Circuit judge. There, he’d authored a, a landmark case that reinstated the death penalty after a previous case that had struck down the practice throughout the United States. Stevens also entered the court as one of affirmative action’s most vocal enemies. “As of 1980,” writes J.P. Scanlan, “no member of the Court seemed more opposed to race-conscious measures than Justice Stevens.”

But during his time on the court, Stevens found himself defending liberal causes again and again, as the makeup of the Court moved farther right—like the country at large—as Republican presidents nominated hard-line justices like Antonin Scalia. And over the years, the judge’s own opinions on issues changed, pushing him further and further from his initial stances.

Perhaps the most dramatic of the judge’s shifts was his attitude toward the death penalty. Though Stevens claimed that his views had not really changed, legal scholar Christopher E. Smith argues that Stevens’s experience investigating corruption made the judge acutely aware of judicial fairness. It pushed him to question how death penalty cases were prosecuted and whether they were skewed against defendants who were treated unfairly by law enforcement and the courts.

Over time, Stevens went from defending the death penalty to skewering it. Too often, he argued, the death penalty was applied in a discriminatory way, playing an “unacceptable role” in capital cases. Eventually, he concluded that the death penalty was cruel, unusual and not constitutionally acceptable. It concurred no benefit on society, he wrote, and could not be justified. Later in life, he stated that reinstating the death penalty in 1976 was his one regret from his tenure on the Supreme Court. He also said that District of Columbia v. Heller, a case that formally recognized individuals’ rights to own firearms, was the single worst decision of his tenure.

After initial strikes against affirmative action, writes legal scholar Diane Marie Amann, he began to think of the practice of affirmative action as a way to redress past wrongs and ensure a future that enabled people to take full advantage of their skills. Eventually, writes Amann, Stevens came to see affirmative action as “among those measures that the Constitution allows an equally impartial government.”

In later …read more

Source: HISTORY

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7 Surprising Facts About the Boston Tea Party

July 18, 2019 in History

By Dave Roos

For starters, the colonists weren’t protesting higher tax on tea.

Most Americans can tell you that the first unofficial “declaration of independence” happened in Boston, when a band of tax-hating renegades dumped King George’s beloved tea into the harbor, a spirited act of defiance that united the colonies in revolution.

But as with most well-trod origin stories, the true history of the , says that the Tea Act of 1773 was onerous in a different way. It was essentially a British government bailout of the British East India Company, which was hemorrhaging money and weighed down with unsold tea. The Tea Act allowed the East India Company to unload 544,000 pounds of old tea, commission-free, on the American Colonies at a bargain price.

Cheaper tea sounds good, says Carp, but for the Sons of Liberty—many of whom were merchants and even tea smugglers—the Tea Act smelled like a ploy to get the masses comfortable with paying a tax to the Crown.

“You’re going to seduce Americans into being ‘obedient colonists’ by making the price lower,” says Carp. “If we accept the principal of allowing parliament to tax us, they’ll eventually make the taxes heavier on us. It’s the slippery slope argument.”

2. The attacked ships were American and the tea wasn’t the King’s.

The popular notion of the Boston Tea Party is that angry colonists “stuck it to King George” by boarding British ships and dumping crate loads of the King’s precious tea into the Boston Harbor. But that story’s not true on two accounts.

First, the ships that were boarded by the Sons of Liberty, the Beaver, the Dartmouth and the Eleanor, were built and owned by Americans. Two of the ships were primarily whaling vessels. After delivering valuable shipments of sperm whale oil and brain matter to London in 1773, the ships were loaded with tea en route to the American Colonies. Although not British, some of the ship’s American owners were indeed Tory sympathizers.

Second, the tea destroyed by the night raiders was not the King’s. It was private property owned by the East India Company and transported on privately contracted shipping vessels. The value of the 340 chests of squandered tea would total nearly $2 million in today’s money.

3. The tea was Chinese, not Indian, and lots of it was green.

This is another naming problem. The East India Company exported a lot …read more

Source: HISTORY

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How the Supreme Court Undermines Its Own Legitimacy

July 18, 2019 in Economics

By Ilya Shapiro

Ilya Shapiro

Another Supreme Court term is in the books. Although the radical
right turn that liberals had feared after Justice Brett
Kavanaugh’s bruising confirmation fight failed to
materialize, there was still plenty of hand-wringing about judicial
partisanship and ominous warnings about the Court’s
“legitimacy” being in jeopardy. We’ve come to
expect this sort of “working the refs” — most
notoriously on display ahead of the Obamacare decision seven years
ago — a cynical tactic that will continue so long as it
appears to be an effective guilt trip against
“institutionalist” judges such as Chief Justice John
Roberts.

Even as the term was less heated than most from the last decade,
its final day still featured the latest chapter in Roberts’
neverending quest to preserve the Court’s reputation. The
chief cast the key votes (and wrote the controlling opinions) in
decisions to 1) remove federal courts from policing partisan
gerrymandering, seen as a “conservative” ruling even
though both parties do it; and 2) reject a question regarding
citizenship for the 2020 Census, in theory allowing the Commerce
Department to try again but in practice running out the clock on
that maneuver.

These moves came after Roberts, who upon Anthony Kennedy’s
retirement became the median vote (even if Kavanaugh pipped him as
the justice most often in the majority), faced a more-than-whisper
campaign that allowing gerrymandering and, especially the census
question, would damage the Supreme Court’s
“legitimacy.” Joshua Geltzer, executive director of
Georgetown’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and
Protection, warned in a New York Times op-ed that the Court
had to “get the census case right” — in other
words, rule against the administration — “[f]or the
sake of its own legitimacy.” UC Irvine law professor Richard
Hasen, who had urged Roberts to “show in these cases
that he is above politics,” later despaired that the census case had echoes
of Bush v. Gore, the ur-legitimacy-buster where
the justices “let politics get in the way of a fair
decision.”

Ultimately, it’s when
justices think about legitimacy that they act most
illegitimately.

Then there was a meta-piece about the legitimacy of discussing
the Court’s legitimacy published in the Washington Post by
law professors Leah Litman, Joshua Matz, and Steve Vladeck. The
trio argued that conservatives were “hypocritical” to
insist that “only a weak-willed, weak-kneed judge would ever
deviate from right-wing orthodoxy to preserve the court’s
legitimacy” because “[t]he institutional legitimacy of
the court is itself essential to the rule of law.” Legal
conservatives in this telling are purely results-oriented and
don’t hesitate to criticize when they don’t like a
ruling. But there’s a difference between doctrinal
disagreement, even of the sharp sort practiced …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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It's Not Too Late for Trump to Ignore Bolton and Get Iran Right

July 18, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, has said
that his nation will negotiate with America—if the Trump
administration will lift sanctions, the hallmark of its
“maximum pressure” campaign. To do so would be an
admission of defeat, certainly. But so far, President Donald
Trump’s policy toward Iran has been a spectacular failure,
marked by highly erroneous premises, hysterically high
expectations, and dramatically counterproductive consequences.

The president apparently believed that threatening war and the
“obliteration” of Iran would win concessions when he
called for talks. National Security Adviser John Bolton said the
president “held the door open to real negotiations.”
Indeed, he added, “all that Iran needs to do is walk through
that door.” At times, the president appeared to be begging
the Iranians to call.

However, though claiming that he wanted negotiations, Trump also
made them nearly impossible and risked starting a potentially
disastrous war. Currently, a single mistake or misjudgment by an
aggressive American or Iranian sailor or airman could inadvertently
trigger a conflict. In order to bring back diplomacy, Washington
needs to overhaul its policies.

After seven decades of
failed Washington policy, he has a chance to up the ante. But will
he?

The president’s lengthy campaign against the Joint
Comprehensive Plan of Action triggered the present confrontation
between the U.S. and Iran. Although Trump likely never understood
what the agreement entailed, he denounced it in apocalyptic terms.
After he voided the deal, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued 12
demands focused on non-nuclear issues that essentially would have
turned Iran into a puppet state.

Unsurprisingly, the Islamic Republic refused to cave or even
talk, since the latter seemed tantamount to the former. So the
administration declared economic war on Iran and anyone else,
including allies, who had any commercial relationship with any
Iranians.

As Tehran refused to bend—just as North Korea, Russia,
Cuba, and Venezuela rejected Trumpian diktats—the U.S.
steadily expanded sanctions, normally considered an act of war.
Indeed, Hesamoddin Ashena, an adviser to Iranian President Hassan
Rouhani, said that “we consider war and sanctions as two
sides of the same coin.” Thus did Iran begin preparing for a
conflict.

The Iranian economy is contracting, but so far the revolutionary
regime has retained sufficient public support and maintained
significant ability to suppress dissent. Indeed, Washington’s
attempt to wreck the economy has appeared to push nationalists
toward the Islamists in their resentment of U.S. policy. A 2018
poll undertaken by the University of Maryland found growing popular
support for restarting nuclear activities after the administration
abandoned the JCPOA. Because he was causing much of their distress,
the public dismissed President Trump’s whispered sweet
nothings about loving the Iranian people.

Unsurprisingly the regime responded with belligerence. By
killing …read more

Source: OP-EDS