You are browsing the archive for 2019 August 16.

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UN Leader Dag Hammarskjold Died in Mysterious Circumstances in 1961. What Really Happened?

August 16, 2019 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

Shortly after midnight on September 18, 1961, a chartered DC-6 airplane carrying , the British high commissioner at Ndola, Lord Alport, showed little concern after the U.N. plane failed to land at its scheduled time, instead insisting that Hammarskjold had decided to go elsewhere. Then there was the fact that search for the plane’s wreckage and crash site didn’t begin for hours after the crash, though witnesses had reported seeing a great flash in the sky soon after midnight.

Local residents in the area had seen a second plane in the sky that night, but their testimony was discounted or ignored by colonial authorities, the Guardian reported in 2011. The crash’s sole survivor, U.N. security officer Harold Julien, also spoke before he died of an explosion on board the plane, but the authorities assumed he was too ill and sedated to be taken seriously.

Two days after Hammarskjold’s death, former U.S. President Harry Truman insinuated to reporters that the U.N. leader had been assassinated, saying he “was on the point of getting something done when they killed him. Notice that I said ‘when they killed him.’”

Children eagerly gather to shake hands with visiting United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold on January 17, 1961 in Ridgeville, South Africa. Hammarskjold was making a tour of Pretoria province following talks with South African Prime Minister Verwoerd.

Theories on who was responsible

Such uncertainties have fueled several long-running conspiracy theories, centered around the powerful groups inside and outside Africa who hadn’t wanted Hammarskjold’s peacekeeping efforts in Congo to succeed.

According to one popular theory, Katangese separatists ordered a Belgian mercenary pilot, Jan van Risseghem, to shoot down the secretary-general’s plane. Van Risseghem was mentioned as a possible suspect in a cable sent by the U.S. ambassador to Congo just hours after the crash (but not declassified until 2014). But he was never interviewed by authorities about the crash; apparently flight logs gave him an alibi by showing he had not been flying at the time, and there are questions about whether he was even in the region.

Another long-standing theory centers on documents released from apartheid-era South Africa in the late 1990s, which suggest that a white militia group called the South African Institute for Maritime Research (SAIMR) orchestrated the plane crash that killed Hammarskjold—with the support of both British intelligence and the CIA. Though British officials claimed that the documents were …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Economic Populism on the Left and Right Is Poisoning US Political Discourse

August 16, 2019 in Economics

By Ryan Bourne

Ryan Bourne

In a 1964 US Supreme Court case, Justice Potter Stewart famously
realised the difficulty of defining hard-core pornography.
Conscious of setting an arbitrary threshold for
“obscenity”, he admitted defeat, concluding:
“Perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But
I know it when I see it …”

Economic populism is similarly hard to define. Yet there is
plenty of it around in the US and, whether it be Democrat
presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren
and Bernie
Sanders on the Left or President Donald Trump and Fox News host
Tucker Carlson on the Right, we should know it when we see or hear
it. The stakes mean it’s too important not to.

Plenty of conventional descriptions of economic populism are
inadequate. Often the term is used to signal disapproval of a
policy idea — a sort of “neoliberalism” moniker
for the age of Trump and Brexit. Left-wing chattering classes
believe that both are “populist” movements, and thus
anything they do must, by definition, be “populist”
too. For these commentators, populism is just another term for
demagoguery.

Others wrongly see populism as synonymous with widely popular,
but misguided, “common sense” economic ideas, such as
“cutting immigration to raise wages”. Its defining
feature is supposedly how it ignores or dismisses the knowledge of
professional economists, exemplified by Michael Gove’s
declaration that “we’ve had enough of experts”.
Populism’s opposite, in this view, is technocracy or
“expert rule.”

But neither of these definitions get to the heart of trends
dominating American politics. Listen to Trump or Warren long enough
and clear patterns emerge that trigger your inner economic populism
alarm.

Most obvious is the way issues are framed. Populists pitch
themselves as true representatives of “the people”,
struggling to overcome some “elite” who undermine
“the people’s” interest. Populism’s first
characteristic is to divide society between a supposed broad
interest and an establishment elite quelling it.

Villains and their supposed crimes can differ. For Elizabeth
Warren and Bernie Sanders, those rigging the system to our
detriment are the rich; mega-corporations; fossil fuel companies;
big tech; and pharmaceutical firms. They supposedly buy elections,
resist needed welfare programs, rewrite regulations in their
interests, stitch up trade deals that undermine workers, rip off
consumers and profiteer off our health.

For Trump and Carlson, the nefarious elites instead are the
Chinese, the cultural America-loathing Left, useless past
negotiators and presidents, international institutions and, again,
big tech companies. Their misdeeds? Selling out or ripping off
American workers on trade; wanting to flood the country with
migrants who hate it; and stamping out conservative voices on
social media.

A key feature of populism
as a “thin ideology” then is the idea of an
elite working against broad majoritarian interests. …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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An Old-Fashioned Recipe for Economic Growth

August 16, 2019 in Economics

By Chelsea Follett, Marian L. Tupy

Chelsea Follett and Marian L. Tupy

With the recent inversion of the yield curve sparking recession
fears in the United States and the stock market swinging wildly in
response to the ongoing trade negotiations with China, some are
wondering if the longest economic expansion in American history may
soon come to an end. Those uncertainties bring renewed urgency to
the age-old question at the heart of economics: what creates
wealth?

Throughout most of human history, there was almost no wealth.
People were very poor, and there weren’t that many of us. While our
species is roughly 300,000 years old, for the first 290,000 years
or so we were foragers barely scraping by. Even after Homo
sapiens
embraced agriculture, progress was still painfully
slow. But then, suddenly, population skyrocketed, followed shortly
by an explosion in income and standards of living.

Between 1700 and 1900, the world’s population rose from about
600 million people to about 1.5 billion people. Between 1800 and
1900, GDP per person per day doubled. Income grew over twice as
much in that century as in the preceding 18 centuries combined. The
two trends of rising income and population are related.

It is obvious how wealth allows for a larger population, but
could a larger population in turn also create more wealth? The
answer is yes — so long as people are allowed to innovate.
The computer or tablet or smartphone on which you are reading this
op-ed is the product of a complex web of human innovation and
cooperation that spans the globe.

People have been innovating since the australopithecines left
the African forests — carrying primitive weapons — some
seven million years ago. Moreover, we have been specializing at
least since Homo erectus some two million years ago. Yet
economic progress was very slow. So, what did the species do
differently in the last 250 years or so? What allowed humanity at
last to fully realize its innovative potential to create
wealth?

To figure out what caused the wealth explosion, we need to
consider where and when the change began. Economic growth started
to accelerate some 250 years ago, first in Great Britain and the
Netherlands, then the rest of Western Europe and North America, and
finally the rest of the world. What happened?

There are different theories, many of them complementary. The
Nobel-prize-winning economist Douglass North contends that the
evolution of institutions, including constitutions, laws, and
property rights, was instrumental to economic development.
Economist Deirdre McCloskey attributes the wealth explosion, or the
“great enrichment,” to a change in attitudes about
markets and innovation. Long scorned as vulgar, merchants and
inventors began to enjoy respect and institutional protection
— what she calls “bourgeois …read more

Source: OP-EDS