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Radio host Don Imus makes offensive remarks about Rutgers' women's basketball team

November 13, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

On April 4, 2007, syndicated talk radio host Don Imus ignites a firestorm after making racially disparaging remarks about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team, insulting their appearance and tattoos and, most infamously, calling them “nappy-headed hos.” After a nationwide torrent of criticism, Imus apologized and lost his job but ultimately salvaged his career.

The remarks came during a discussion between Imus, his producer, and a reporter about a game between Rutgers and the University of Tennessee. Activists and journalists began to call for Imus to be fired almost immediately. Imus apologized on his show two days later, calling himself “a good man who did a bad thing,” but numerous sponsors, including General Motors, Staples, and other major companies, pulled their advertising. The Rev. Al Sharpton called for Imus to be “taken off the airwaves,” and Barack Obama, who would become the nation’s first African American president the following January, called Imus’ remarks “divisive, hurtful, and offensive.” MSNBC, which simulcast Imus in the Morning on television, dropped the show on April 11. The following morning, Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson met with Les Moonves, CEO of CBS, who announced the cancellation of Imus in the Morning that afternoon.

Imus’ defenders—as well as Imus himself—pointed to the frequent use of words like “ho” in rap music as the source of the problem, arguing that Imus was merely using offensive language that was commonplace in the world of hip-hop. Though many commentators decried what they felt was an over-reaction that ruined Imus’ career, Imus was in fact only off the air from April until December. He signed a five-year deal worth $40 million with New York station WABC and returned to the air on December 3. Two years later, Imus in the Morning returned to television, simulcast on Fox Business News. Imus’ career survived the incident, and he retired due to health reasons in 2018.

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Source: HISTORY

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Hank Aaron ties Babe Ruth's home run record

November 13, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

As the 1974 Major League Baseball season began, all eyes were on Hank Aaron. He had finished 1973 with 713 career home runs, one shy of the all-time record set by Babe Ruth. On April 4, Opening Day, a 39-year-old Aaron sent the very first pitch he saw over the wall, finally tying Ruth and setting the stage for his ascent to the top of the all-time home runs list.

Aaron, who played in the majors from 1954 until 1976, was known for his longevity and consistency in addition to his power-hitting. He had hit 40 homers the previous season, drawing the nation’s attention as he approached Ruth’s record. The Post Office declared that Aaron received the most mail of any private citizen in the country, and although the majority was positive he was also the recipient of hate mail and death threats. Ruth’s record had stood for four decades, and racist fans were upset at the thought of Aaron, one of the last MLB players to have played in the Negro Leagues, breaking it.

The ownership of the Braves wanted to sit Aaron for the first series of the 1974 season to ensure that he broke Ruth’s record in Atlanta. The league, however, insisted that he play at least two of the three games. It looked for all the world like he would break the record in Cincinnati after he homered on the very first pitch of the season, but 715 eluded him until he returned to Atlanta. He broke Ruth’s record in the fourth inning of the Atlanta Braves’ home opener on April 8.

Aaron retired two years later with a career total of 755 home runs. That record would stand until 2007, when it was broken by Barry Bonds, but Bonds’ well-documented and extensive use of performance-enhancing drugs has made his record illegitimate in the eyes of many fans and kept him out of the Hall of Fame. Aaron was inducted into the Hall in 1982, as soon as he was eligible, and continues to hold a number of MLB records, including most runs batted in and most total bases.

READ MORE: Jackie Robinson’s Battles for Equality On and Off the Baseball Field

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Source: HISTORY

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British physicist J.J. Thomson announces the discovery of electrons

November 13, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

On April 30, 1897, British physicist J.J. Thomson announced his discovery that atoms were made up of smaller components. This finding revolutionized the way scientists thought about the atom and had major ramifications for the field of physics. Though Thompson referred to them as “corpuscles,” what he found is more commonly known today as the electron.

Mankind had already discovered electric current and harnessed it to great effect, but scientists had not yet observed the makeup of atoms. Thomson, a highly-respected professor at Cambridge, determined the existence of electrons by studying cathode rays. He concluded that the particles making up the rays were 1,000 times lighter than the lightest atom, proving that something smaller than atoms existed. Thomson likened the composition of atoms to plum pudding, with negatively-charged “corpuscles” dotted throughout a positively-charged field.

The plum pudding analogy was disproved by Ernest Rutherford, a student and collaborator of Thomson’s, in Thomson’s lab at Cambridge in 1910. Rutherford’s conclusion that the positive charge of an atom resides in its nucleus established the model of the atom as we know it today. In addition to winning his own Nobel Prize, Thomson employed six research assistants who went on to win Nobel Prizes in physics and two, including Rutherford, who won Nobel Prizes for chemistry. His son, George Paget Thomson, also won a Nobel Prize for his study of electrons. Combined with his own research, the network of atomic researchers Thomson cultivated gave humanity a new and detailed understanding of the smallest building-blocks of the universe.

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Source: HISTORY

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Venezuela’s Hyperinflation Drags on for a Near Record — 36 Months

November 13, 2019 in Economics

By Steve H. Hanke

Steve H. Hanke

Venezuela is the only country in the world that is suffering from the ravages of hyperinflation. But, you wouldn’t know it from reading the press, where playing fast and loose with words is commonplace. Indeed, the word “hyperinflation” is thrown around carelessly and misused frequently, with claims that multiple countries are suffering from hyperinflation. The debasement of language in the popular press has gone to such lengths that the word “hyperinflation” has almost lost its meaning.

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So, just what is the definition of this oft-misused word? The convention adopted in the scientific literature is to classify an inflation as a hyperinflation if the monthly inflation rate exceeds 50%. This definition was adopted in 1956, after Phillip Cagan published his seminal analysis of hyperinflation, which appeared in a book, edited by Milton Friedman, Studies in the Quantity Theory of Money.

Since I use high-frequency data to measure inflation in countries where inflation is elevated, I have been able to refine Cagan’s 50% per month hyperinflation hurdle. With improved measurement techniques, I now define a hyperinflation as an inflation in which the inflation rate exceeds 50% per month for at least thirty consecutive days.

Just what is Venezuela’s inflation rate? Today, the annual inflation rate is 10,398% per year. How do I measure elevated inflation? The most important price in an economy is the exchange rate between the local currency – in this case, the bolivar – and the world’s reserve currency, the U.S. dollar. As long as there is an active black market (read: free market) for currency and the black-market data are available, changes in the black-market exchange rate can be reliably transformed into accurate measurements of countrywide inflation rates. The economic principle of purchasing power parity (PPP) allows for this transformation. The application of PPP to measure elevated inflation rates is both simple and very accurate.

Evidence from Germany’s 1920–23 hyperinflation episode – as reported by Jacob Frenkel in the July 1976 issue of the Scandinavian Journal of Economics – confirms the accuracy of PPP during hyperinflations. Frenkel plotted the Deutschmark/U.S. dollar exchange rate against both the German wholesale price index and the consumer price index (CPI). The correlations between Germany’s exchange rate and the two price indices were very close to unity throughout the period, with the …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Paul Revere

November 13, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

Paul Revere was a colonial Boston silversmith, industrialist, propagandist and patriot immortalized in the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem describing Revere’s midnight ride to warn the colonists about a British attack. He gave the local militia a key advantage during the Battles of Lexington and Concord, sparking the Revolutionary War and eventual American independence.

Who Was Paul Revere?

Paul Revere was born in Boston’s North End at the end of 1734 (the exact date is unknown) to a French Huguenot father who ran a silversmith shop and a mother from a local family.

The young Revere was educated in reading and writing in school before completing his training as an apprentice to his silversmith father. At age 19, Revere inherited the business upon is father’s death. But he would leave the business briefly and show his political tendencies as he enlisted in a provincial army in 1756 during the French and Indian War.

Children

Revere returned to Boston after a failed military expedition and started to build his family life and business. He wed Sarah Orne in 1765, and they would have eight children before she died nearly two decades later.

The silversmith was resourceful and dabbled in a range of work, taking on apprentices and workers who created specialty flatware, silver bowls, tea sets and even casting the first bell in Boston in his foundry. He turned to dentistry to augment his income when the colonial economy faltered during a recession.

Revere’s network was also expanding to include local activists angered by British rule. In the mid-1760s, as tensions were rising between the colonists and the British, he joined the rebellious Sons of Liberty.

Revere took part in the Stamp Act protests in 1765, which eventually led the Crown to repeal a tax that ignited the colonists’ hatred of taxation without representation.

Boston Massacre

With British troops in Boston and a rebellion stewing, Revere became a master propagandist, using his artisan skills to craft engravings that incited the colonists to join in the rebellion.

The growing unrest boiled over on March 5, 1770, when British troops and a crowd of colonists faced off on Boston’s King …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Was Napoleon Short? Origins of the 'Napoleon Complex'

November 13, 2019 in History

By Una McIlvenna

A prominent cartoonist’s mocking depiction of the French emperor managed to stick through the centuries.

One of the world’s most instantly recognizable cultural icons, Napoleon Bonaparte is usually depicted with one hand in his waistcoat—and short and aggressive. His supposedly small stature and fiery temper has inspired the term the Napoleon Complex, a popular belief that short men tend to compensate for their lack of height through domineering behavior and aggression.

But was Napoleon really short?

In fact, he was probably of average height. According to pre–metric system French measures, he was a diminutive 5′2.” But the French inch (pouce) of the time was 2.7 cm, while the Imperial inch was shorter, at 2.54 cm. Three French sources—his valet Constant, General Gourgaud, and his personal physician Francesco Antommarchi—said that Napoleon’s height was just over ‘5 pieds 2 pouces’ (5’2”). Applying the French measurements of the time, that equals around 1.69 meters, or just over 5’5”. So at 5’5” he was just an inch or so below the period’s average adult male height.

British Cartoonist James Gillray’s Famous Depictions

“Buonaparte hearing of Nelson’s Victory swears by his Sword to Extirpate the English from off the Earth.”

So if Napoleon was of average height, where does the legend of his small stature come from? It was, in fact, largely the work of one man: the British cartoonist James Gillray (1756-1815). Gillray’s caricatural depictions of the French general were so popular and influential that at the end of his life Napoleon said that Gillray “did more than all the armies of Europe to bring me down.”

From the start, Gillray satirized Napoleon as a thundering, boastful character, if not necessarily short. In 1798, the English Admiral Horatio Nelson destroyed the French Fleet at the Battle of the Nile. In Gillray’s cartoon, “Buonaparte hearing of Nelson’s Victory swears by his Sword to Extirpate the English from off the Earth,” Napoleon brandishes a bloody sword and boasts of the many military victories he has already carried off—so many that the speech bubble threatens to overwhelm the image. But in this image he is more muscular than small. It was a later cartoon that ushered in the diminutive image we are so familiar with today.


“Maniac-raving’s-or-Little Boney in a strong fit,” 1803.

Gillray’s cartoon “Maniac-raving’s-or-Little Boney in a strong fit” (1803) was a satire of a genuine diplomatic incident which had occurred on March 14, …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Transatlantic Alliance Mistake: Turkey Isn't Worthy of NATO Membership

November 13, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

It is hard to imagine a less appropriate visitor or time. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is journeying to Washington. He has guided his nation, a one-time valued ally, far from America’s principles and practices. President Donald Trump’s view of Erdogan as a “friend” makes Ankara’s drift more dangerous.

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Turkey would not be invited to join the transatlantic alliance today. It has abandoned even the pretense of liberal democracy. Once viewed as a responsible Islamic model, the Turkish republic is turning into a soft dictatorship.

Ankara always was the odd man out in NATO: poor, Islamic, and at best quasi-free and -democratic. However, during the Cold War the United States was willing to overlook Turkey’s limitations and failings to bolster Western Europe’s southeast flank. That nation also offered a convenient outpost in the Middle East. The hyper-nationalistic population proved hostile to Washington, but the military, which wielded a not-so-subtle veto over the country’s politicians, ensured that policy remained on Washington’s course.

However, the secular nationalist doctrines known as Kemalism, named after the country’s founder, gradually broke down in the face of increasingly well-organized Muslims determined to live out their faith more publicly. As the economy stalled and exhausted establishment parties imploded, the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, rose along with its founder, former Istanbul Mayor Erdogan. The AKP won a dramatic national victory in 2002 and has ruled ever since.

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For a time, Prime Minister Erdogan followed a seemingly liberal agenda: he kept the military in its barracks, aimed for entry in the European Union, and ended many nationalist strictures. Even liberals—in the broadest sense—and feminists lauded progress under his leadership.

However, as the 2000s ended a new Erdogan emerged. Years before he reportedly said that democracy was like a street car, you get off when you arrive at your destination. Once he secured power and neutered the military, he turned authoritarian. That in part reflected his fear of rising evidence of corruption: once on the outs, AKP activists now …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Who Gets Buried at the Kremlin? Time for a Post-Revolutionary Purge

November 13, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

On November 1, 1961, Lenin’s tomb disgorged Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin’s embalmed remains. After his death in March 1953, Stalin‘s body was displayed next to that of Bolshevik founder Vladimir Ilych Lenin.

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Stalin’s death, perhaps a murder orchestrated by secret policy head Lavrentiy Beria, ended a reign marked by promiscuous and arbitrary mass murder. Stalin’s chief lieutenants, all implicated in his manifold crimes, sang his praises post-mortem. Many Soviet citizens, on the receiving end of decades of propaganda as part of an all-encompassing personality cult, were genuinely disconsolate, even hysterical.

Five days after his death from a cerebral hemorrhage or poison, his coffin was carried into the small building adjacent the Kremlin holding Lenin’s carefully preserved body. Speaking on the occasion were Beria, who carried out Stalin’s executions; Vyacheslav Molotov, the foreign minister who negotiated the infamous Hitler–Stalin pact; and Georgy Malenkov, Stalin’s henchman, who initially succeeded the dead Red Czar. In November, after careful preparation of his body, Stalin was placed next to Lenin.

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It was a singular honor for a man who competes with Mao Zedong for the title of bloodiest dictator in human history. (As architect of the Holocaust and initiator of World War II, Adolf Hitler stands alone, but the other two directly killed more people, especially their own.)

To his credit, Nikita Khrushchev, almost a liberal at that time within the Soviet Union, began a tortured process known as “destalinization.” In February 1956, he made the famous “Secret Speech,” entitled “On the Personality Cult and Its Consequences,” to the 20th Communist Party Congress, which denounced Stalin’s crimes. The text soon circulated, causing an uproar among party faithful worldwide while creating hope for an easing of the Cold War.

Left unexplored was the responsibility of those, like Khrushchev, who had served the infamous “Man of Steel,” the meaning of the surname adopted by Stalin as a revolutionary in 1912. (His birth name was Dzhugashvili.) Stalin mixed guile and finesse with brutality and treachery as he gradually …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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U.S. Military Assistance Cannot Fix Mexico's Cartel Mayhem

November 13, 2019 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

President Donald Trump’s response to the massacre of an American ex-pat family by drug cartel gunmen in northwest Mexico was both emotional and suggestive of a policy response that could have far-reaching implications for both Mexico and the United States. Trump reacted to the incident with a tweet that stated “this is the time for Mexico, with the help of the United States, to wage WAR (sic) on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth. We merely await a call from your great new president!” He added: “If Mexico needs or requests help in cleaning out these monsters, the United States stands ready, willing & able to get involved and do the job quickly and effectively.”

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It was not exactly clear as to what Trump had in mind regarding the nature of such “help.” Perhaps it was merely an offer for enhanced sharing of information about the cartels from the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and other U.S. law enforcement agencies. Such an order from the president would be merely a modest increase in the assistance that those agencies already provide to Mexico and other drug-source countries. Also, it is possible that Trump was offering to use the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies to help the Mexican government track and disrupt the drug cartels. Even that move would not constitute a dramatic increase in Washington’s participation in Mexico’s longstanding war on drugs.

There is another possibility, though, that cannot be ruled out. Does the Trump administration now contemplate direct U.S. military participation in the worsening conflict between the Mexican government and several major drug cartels? Such a role could take two forms. One initiative would entail drone strikes and other applications of airpower against targets in areas of Mexico under the de facto control of a cartel because government security forces are ineffective or have withdrawn entirely. The other possibility is that Washington would deploy Special Forces personnel on the ground to attack armed cartel units and help the Mexican government regain control over areas in which the drug gangs have run amok. Either move would be fraught with multiple negative consequences.

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