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Politicians’ Support for Population Control Is Dangerous

September 13, 2019 in Economics

By Chelsea Follett

Chelsea Follett

Recently, when asked if he would act to “curb population growth” because “the planet cannot sustain this growth,” Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders answered in the affirmative, noting he would focus on “poor countries around the world.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden, one of Sanders’ rivals and current leading contender for the Democratic nomination, previously voiced acceptance of China’s one-child (now two-child) policy, telling a Chinese audience, “Your policy has been one which I fully understand — I’m not second-guessing — of one child per family.”

The problem with embracing a demographic goal to “curb population growth” rather than leaving each family to make their own decisions is that it often results in coercion. Also, the very idea of “overpopulation” is fundamentally misguided.

Today, China’s two-child policy still limits family sizes and requires that parents apply for birth permits. This year, one couple who could not afford a fine of $9,570 for violating family planning regulations, had their modest life savings seized. While rarer than under the one-child policy, there are even still cases of forced sterilization and abortion.

“A third baby is not allowed so we are renting a home away from our village. The local government carries out pregnancy examinations every three months. If we weren’t in hiding, they would have forced us to have an abortion,” one Chinese father of three told the BBC.

The idea of population control is old. In 1798, an English clergyman, Thomas Robert Malthus, published An Essay on the Principle of Population, warning population growth would deplete natural resources. To prevent famine, he thought it morally permissible to “court the return of the plague” by having the poor live in swamps and even to ban “specific remedies for ravaging diseases.” His nonchalant attitude toward the welfare of the poor would prove an enduring part of overpopulation alarmism.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Malthus’ view became resurgent. In 1966, U.S. President Lyndon Johnson made foreign aid dependent on countries adopting population control. In 1969, President Richard Nixon established a separate Office of Population within USAID and gave it a $50 million annual budget. In 1977, the head of the office, Dr. Reimert Ravenholt, said that he hoped to sterilize a quarter of the world’s women.

By the 1980s, the background document to the International Conference on Family Planning, co-written by the United Nations Population Fund, International Planned Parenthood Federation, and Population Council, decreed, “When …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Afghanistan: A Failure to Tell the Truth

September 13, 2019 in Economics

By John Glaser, John Mueller

John Glaser and John Mueller

Speaking to the press in the Oval Office in July, President Trump acknowledged the need to “extricate ourselves” from Afghanistan. “We have been there for 19 years,” he complained. “It’s ridiculous.” This was not the first time Trump had talked about the war this way. He clearly does not believe in the mission. Negotiations with the Taliban—led by Zalmay Khalilzad, the administration’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation—showed considerable progress, until President Trump ostentatiously canceled a prospective meeting at Camp David to formalize the framework deal that had been reached “in principle.”


Though talks will likely continue, despite Trump’s insistence that they are “dead,” major obstacles remain. It still is not clear how the Kabul government, in which the United States has so heavily invested for almost two decades, can survive in the face of a resurgent Taliban without the U.S. military there to protect it. And many in the Trump administration who favor an indefinite residual U.S. counter-terrorism force in Afghanistan would prefer no deal rather than one calling for complete withdrawal.

Nevertheless, the reality is that the United States cannot win the war in Afghanistan on the terms stipulated by the three presidents who have waged it, at least not at an acceptable cost. As Lisa Curtis, deputy assistant to the president and senior director for South and Central Asia at the National Security Council, puts it, “no one believes that there is a military solution to this conflict.” The Taliban now holds more territory than at any point since 2001, and the regime in Kabul ranks as one of the worst in the world on corruption and human rights. After 18 years of trying to quell the Taliban insurgency and to build an independent and competent Afghan government, army, and police force, a recent Inspector General report concludes that security forces are still “not able to protect the population from insurgents in large parts of the country.”

The Need for an Honest Assessment

One of the reasons the war has persisted, despite the many signs of mission failure, is because of the culture in the Department of Defense and how it interacts with U.S. politics at the national level. In their public portrayal of the war, U.S. military leaders have persistently depicted a rosier picture than the …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Ancient Roman Hand-Holding Skeletons Were Both Men

September 13, 2019 in History

By Lesley Kennedy

The relationship between the two 1,600-year-old individuals is unknown, but their burial suggests a close bond.

Brothers? Friends? Soldiers? Life partners? Researchers don’t know the relationship between two individuals buried side-by-side holding hands. But new findings surrounding the archeological find, called the “Lovers of Modena,” show both were adult males.

Discovered in the Ciro Menotti cemetery in Modena, Italy in 2009, the 1,600-year-old skeletons captivated the public who had widely assumed the pair was a man and woman (partly because one skeleton was slightly smaller than the other). But the sex of the pair was not determined at the time due to poor preservation.

However, according to a study out of the Universities of Bologna and Modena, researchers were able to extract proteins from the dental enamel of both skeletons. The proteins from the teeth contained a peptide found only in men.

“Although we currently have no information on the actual relationship between the ‘Lovers of Modena’ (affective? Kin-based?), the discovery of two adult males intentionally buried hand-in-hand may have profound implications for our understanding of funerary practices in Late Antique Italy,” the study states.

The Lovers of Modena were initially found with 11 other skeletons, some of which showed signs of trauma, likely connected to a violent death during war, according to the study. In wake of the peculiar finding, the researchers note, media speculated the skeletons were those of a man and woman who had been in love.

“There are currently no other burials of this type,” Federico Lugli, an author of the study, tells the ANSA news agency. “Several tombs have been found in the past with couples holding hands, but in all cases it was a man and a woman.”

The study suggests the unusual burial, found in a what is assumed to be a war cemetery, represents a “voluntary expression of commitment between two individuals, rather than a recurring cult practice of the Late Antiquity.”

“In this sense, the two ‘Lovers’ could have been war comrades or friends, who died together during a skirmish and, thus, buried within the same grave,” the study states.

“Alternatively, the two individuals were relatives, possibly cousins or brothers given their similar ages, sharing the same grave due to their family bond. Although we cannot exclude that these two individuals were actually in love, it is unlikely that people who buried them decided to show such bond by positioning their bodies hand in hand.”

What …read more


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When Hitler Tried (and Failed) to Be an Artist

September 13, 2019 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

Long before he rose to become a ruthless dictator, the Nazi leader was a struggling young artist.

In early 1908, after the death of his mother, 18-year-old , what Kubizek didn’t know was that before moving to Vienna, Hitler had already been rejected by the city’s Academy of Fine Arts. Though he had passed the initial exam in 1907, his drawing skills were “unsatisfactory,” the admissions committee decided.

Years later, in his autobiographical manifesto Mein Kampf, Hitler claimed that the rejection struck him “as a bolt from the blue,” as he had been so convinced of his success. In the fall of 1908, he again applied to the Academy of Fine Arts, and again they rejected him. Over much of the next year, he would move from one cheap rented room to another, even living in a homeless shelter for a time.

Then in 1909, Hitler finally began earning money by making small oil and watercolor paintings, mostly images of buildings and other landmarks in Vienna that he copied from postcards. By selling these paintings to tourists and frame-sellers, he made enough to move out of the homeless shelter and into a men’s home, where he painted by day and continued studying his books at night.

In Vienna, the frustrated young artist had become interested in politics. Though Hitler claimed in Mein Kampf that his anti-semitic views formed during this period, many historians doubt this simplified story. After all, Samuel Morgenstern, a Jewish store owner, was one of the most loyal buyers of Hitler’s paintings in Vienna. But his time in Vienna did shape Hitler’s world view, particularly his admiration of the city’s then-mayor, Karl Lueger, who was known for his antisemitic rhetoric as much as his oratorical skills.

Hitler Moves to Munich

Adolf Hitler (far left) pictured with comrades of the 16th Bavarian Reserve Regiment in France, 1916.

Hitler continued his artwork after moving to Munich in May 1913, selling similar scenes of the city’s landmarks in shops and beer gardens. Though he eventually found several loyal, well-off customers who commissioned works from him, his progress came to a grinding halt in January 1914, when the Munich police tracked him down due to his failure to register for the military draft back in Linz.

As Ullrich recorded, Hitler failed his military fitness exam and was declared by the examiners “unsuitable for combat and support duty, too weak, incapable …read more


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Book Review: 'Why Meadow Died'

September 13, 2019 in Economics

By Corey A. DeAngelis

Corey A. DeAngelis

Book Review of Why Meadow Died, by Andrew Pollack & Max Eden (Post Hill Press, 336 pp.)


A sick person killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland last year. Conventional wisdom is that enacting various gun control laws, including banning assault weapons, is the solution to school shootings.

But as Andrew Pollack, the father of one of the Parkland victims, and Max Eden, an education policy expert, explain in their new book “Why Meadow Died: The People and Policies that Created the Parkland Shooter and Endanger America’s Students,” the story is far more complicated than that. 

As the book’s title suggests, government policy bears significant blame for the Parkland tragedy.

The shooter, Nikolas Cruz, showed serious signs of violent and erratic behavior for years. He mutilated animals, brought bullets to school, made death threats and attempted suicide. And everyone — local and federal law enforcement, school staff, teachers, students and his family — knew it.

Police officers were called to his house 45 times before the tragedy. His mother’s friend called the sheriff’s office, telling them “this might be Columbine in the making” — but they never called her back. Multiple students reported Cruz to school leaders. And the school security staff even had a meeting where they agreed that if anyone would become a school shooter, it would be Cruz.

Corey DeAngelis is the director of school choice at the Reason Foundation and an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute. …read more

Source: OP-EDS