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Venezuelan Refugees May Help Liberalize Latin America’s Closed Economies

September 25, 2019 in Economics

By Gabriela Calderon de Burgos, Alex Nowrasteh

Gabriela Calderon de Burgos and Alex Nowrasteh

Venezuela is at the heart of the worst refugee crisis the world has faced since the Syrian civil war, which in 2017 culminated with an exodus of more than 6 million Syrians. Now, about 4.3 million Venezuelans—equal to 15 percent of those who remain in that country—have fled the ongoing economic and political collapse of their homeland. The United Nations projects that the number could rise to 5.4 million by the end of the year. Many have left legally as immigrants. Others are refugees and asylum-seekers. Still others are taking their chances crossing illegally.

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Latin American countries have responded to the influx in increasingly harsh ways. After an initial open-door policy toward Venezuelan refugees, Ecuador and Peru imposed new border controls. Juan Sebastián Roldán, an Ecuadorian government official, claimed that his government’s new restrictions reduced the inflow from 2,000 daily crossings in August to about 50. And at the beginning of September, Peruvian Foreign Minister Néstor Popolizio claimed that Venezuelan migration had fallen by 90 percent since new controls were implemented in mid-June.

Ecuador’s and Peru’s restrictive policies will only push Venezuelans into making dangerous illegal crossings. And given the extent of this crisis, rather than trying to make the problem go away, it is time for Latin American countries to start planning how they’ll accommodate Venezuelans over the long term. Venezuelans need the opportunity to work, both to support themselves and to boost the economies of the countries they’re living in. Ultimately, accommodating these exiles will require that the host countries liberalize their economies so that they are able to absorb the new arrivals.

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Recent economic research shows that it can be done. In new academic papers, one of the authors of this piece, along with other researchers, examined how Israel and Jordan adapted to separate massive refugee surges in the 1990s. In response, both countries were able to open their economies by doing things like lowering trade barriers, securing property rights, and reducing regulations.

For …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Delano Grape Strike begins

September 25, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

September 8, 1965 marks the beginning of one of the most important strikes in American history. As over 2,000 Filipino-American farm workers refused to go to work picking grapes in the valley north of Bakersfield, California, they set into motion a chain of events that would extend over the next five years. We know it as the Delano Grape Strike.

Filipino and Mexican immigrants had worked for decades along the West Coast, moving with the seasons to harvest the region’s crops. The Filipino contingent in particular was growing restless, as many of the workers were aging and anxious for decent medical care and retirement funds. When one of their number, labor organizer Larry Itliong, declared a strike on September 8, he asked for the support of the National Farm Workers Association and its Mexican-American founders, Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta. Although Chavez had reservations about his union’s capacity to pull off the strike, he put the issue to the workers, who enthusiastically joined.

The strike lasted five years and went through a number of phases. From the outset, the already poor farm workers faced opposition from law enforcement and cruel attempts at sabotage by the growers—some reported that farmers shut off the water supply to their meager dormitories. As frustration grew and workers increasingly spoke of violence three years into the strike, Chavez decided to go on a hunger strike, emulating his hero Mahatma Gandhi. In addition to ending the calls for violence, the hunger strike drew further attention to the movement, earning praise from figures like Martin Luther King, Jr., and Senator Robert F. Kennedy.

The union, by then known as the United Farm Workers, also called for a boycott of table grapes. Individual households stopped buying grapes, and union workers in California dockyards let non-union grapes rot in port rather than load them. Eventually, the industry could take no more, and the growers came to the table. In July of 1970, most of the major growers in the Delano area agreed to pay grape pickers $1.80 an hour (plus 20 cents for each box picked), contribute to the union health plan, and ensure that their workers were protected against pesticides used in the fields.

“We said from the beginning that we were not going to abandon the fight, that we would stay with the struggle if lit took a lifetime, and we …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Sonia Sotomayor is sworn in as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court

September 25, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

On August 8, 2009, Sonia Sotomayor is sworn in as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Born in the Bronx to Puerto Rican parents, Sotomayor is the first Hispanic justice to serve on the nation’s highest court.

Sotomayor’s mother was an orphan from rural Puerto Rico. Her father had a third-grade education, did not speak English, and died when Sotomayor was 9 years old. Sotomayor grew up in the Bronx and claims that watching the CBS legal drama Perry Mason in her youth led her to aspire to a career as a judge. She received a scholarship to attend Princeton University, where she advocated strongly on behalf of the school’s underserved minority communities, and received her J.D. from Yale Law School in 1979.

READ MORE: How Sonia Sotomayor Overcame Adversity to Become the United States’ First Hispanic and Latina Justice

Sotomayor spent much of her career in private practice but also served on the board of the New York State Mortgage Agency, where she became a vocal proponent of affordable housing and frequently called attention to the effects of gentrification. She also served on the New York City Campaign Finance Board and the board of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund. In 1991, Republican President George H.W. Bush fulfilled her childhood dream by nominating her to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Six years later, she was confirmed to the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Over the course of her judicial career, she issued an injunction that ended the 1994 Major League Baseball strike in favor of the players, sided with an employee of the New York Police Department who had been fired for sending racist materials through the mail, and gained a reputation for dealing bluntly with the lawyers who argued before her.

Sotomayor was the first Supreme Court justice nominated by President Barack Obama, who had taken office the previous January. The choice of a Hispanic woman by the nation’s first non-white president led to a backlash that set the tone for her confirmation hearings. In particular, a comment she had made in 2001 about “a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences” being a better-qualified than being “a white male who hasn’t lived that life” rankled her opponents. Nearly every Republican on the Senate Judicial Committee—all of whom were white men—brought up the …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Hispanics are officially declared the largest minority group in the U.S.

September 25, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

On January 22, 2003, the U.S. Census Bureau releases detailed statistics on race and ethnicity, the first time such numbers had been released since the 2000 census. The numbers showed that the Hispanic population of the United States had increased by 4.7 percent since the last count, officially making Hispanics the largest minority group in the country.

The trends of the last several decades had indicated that this milestone was approaching. The foreign-born population of the United States had been increasing exponentially, from just 9.6 million in 1970 to 31.1 million by 2000, and immigrants from Latin America accounted for a large percentage of those newcomers. The 2000 census showed that 29 percent of immigrants in the U.S. had come from Mexico alone, while immigrants from other Latin American nations made up another 22 percent. Birth rates in the Hispanic-American community were also among the highest in the nation.

The demographic shift was significant for several reasons. Robert Puro from the Pew Hispanic Center told the New York Times that it challenged the way Americans thought about race: “[M]uch of this nation’s history is wrapped up in the interplay between black and white,” he said. “This serves as an official announcement that we as Americans cannot think of race in that way any more.” The announcement marked one of the inciting moments for an undercurrent of racism that has brewed in America every since, as some whites have become increasingly concerned with brith rates and the notion that America will someday no longer be majority-white. But Sonia Perez, from the National Council of La Raza, framed the landmark as a moment for unity. “Rather than comparing groups,” she said, “we should be looking at the status of communities.”

The Hispanic-Americans represented by the census data have had a profound effect on American society. In many parts of the nation Spanish is now on at least equal footing with English, and American music and culture would be unrecognizable without the contributions of its largest minority group.

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Source: HISTORY

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How T. Rex Got Its Powerful Bite

September 25, 2019 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

With blunt, serrated teeth and a bite powerful enough to crush the bones of its prey, Tyrannosaurus rex has earned a reputation as one of the largest and most terrifying predators of the dinosaur world. Scientists have estimated T. Rex had a maximum bite force of more than six tons (12,000 pounds), more than any other known terrestrial animal.

T. Rex’s bite is known to be so powerful, in fact, that scientists have long wondered how the massive therapod managed to bite down so hard without breaking its own skull. They assumed that, like many modern birds and reptiles, the dinosaur’s skull may have been flexible enough to move around and change shape as it bit down—a trait known as cranial kinesis.

But in a study published in The Anatomical Record in September 2019, scientists at the University of Missouri argue that T. Rex’s jaw was actually fused and stiff, much like the jaws of modern crocodiles, rather than flexible.

An artist’s rendition of the Tyrannosaurus rex with the 3D imaging showing muscle activation in its head.

After studying how the jaws of two modern relatives of T. Rex, grey parrots and geckos, worked when they chewed, the researchers used computer simulations to apply those models to a 3-D model of a T. Rex skull. They observed that the joints and ligaments of the T. Rex skull did not respond well to being moved around in the way the bird and lizard skulls did, and that biting down with the force that T. Rex did would have broken its jaw if it had exhibited the flexibility associated with cranial kinesis.

“When you put a lot of force on things, there’s a tradeoff between movement and stability,” Casey Holliday, associate professor of anatomy at the MU School of Medicine and a co-author of the study, said in a university press release. “Birds and lizards have more movement but less stability. When we applied their individual movements to the T. Rex skull, we saw it did not like being wiggled in ways that the lizard and bird skulls do, which suggests more stiffness.”

The researchers concluded that T. Rex’s joints were likely tightly fused, making its skull extremely rigid and inflexible, able to withstand the tremendous force it used to bite down on its prey. This kind of skull resembles those of other powerful biters such as tigers and …read more

Source: HISTORY