You are browsing the archive for 2019 December 04.

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When Viking Kings and Queens Ruled Medieval Russia

December 4, 2019 in History

By Becky Little

For four centuries, Vikings held sway over parts of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, with the greatest expansion happening under Prince Oleg the Prophet.

The historical people known as Vikings, who hailed from Scandinavia in Northern Europe, are well-known today for their exploits in the west. But the merchant-warriors also made their way into Eastern Europe, where they helped found a medieval federation in territory now known as Belarus, Ukraine and part of Russia. Their loose federation of principalities called Kievan Rus survived for nearly 400 years, finally collapsing during the 13th-century Mongol invasion.

Early Scandinavian settlements in the East

Vikings founded Kievan Rus in the mid-9th century, but Scandanavian settlements in Eastern Europe actually date back to at least A.D. 750. This is when pre-Viking-Age Scandanavians likely settled the northwestern Russian town of Staraya Ladoga (or “Old Ladoga”), across Lake Ladoga from what is now Finland. One of the artifacts archaeologists have unearthed from the city is a talisman with the face of Odin, the Norse god of war.

“The early Scandinavians were particularly attracted to Ladoga by the appearance of Islamic silver coins or dirhams there,” writes scholar Thomas S. Noonan. “The regular flow of Islamic dirhams from Russia to Scandinavia via Ladoga began in the early ninth century and is further evidence of a Viking presence in Ladoga long before 840.”

READ MORE: 10 Things You May Not Know About the Vikings

Prince Oleg expands territory, moves the capital to Kiev

Rurik and his brothers arriving in Staraya Ladog.

It was after 840 that Scandanavian Vikings—who were known in Eastern Europe as “Varangians” or “Rus”—established Viking rule over Slavic tribes in what came to be called Kievan Rus. At first, the region was divided between three noble brothers.

“The oldest, Rurik, located himself at Novgorod; the second, Sineus, at Beloozero; and the third, Truvor, in Izborsk,” recounts the Russian Primary Chronicle, a history of the region completed in the 12th century by Kievan monks. “On account of these Varangians, the district of Novgorod became known as the land of Rus.” (“Rus,” which is where the name “Russia” comes from, purportedly derives from an old Nordic word for “men who row.”)

Rurik’s brothers died within two years, so he claimed their territory and established Novgorod as the capital of his domain. After Rurik died, his successor Prince Oleg of Novgorod (or Oleg the Prophet) captured the city of Kiev in 882 and …read more

Source: HISTORY

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When Santa Claus Was Deployed in Wartime

December 4, 2019 in History

By Christopher Klein

The modern image of Santa Claus first appeared in a Civil War illustration, and it wasn’t the last time St. Nick was deployed in wartime.

Although “peace on earth” may never have seemed more elusive than during the …read more

Source: HISTORY

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NATO’s Dirty Little Secret Is Out

December 4, 2019 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

Pro-NATO politicians and pundits never tire of citing polls and studies showing that a majority of Americans continue to support the Alliance. Frequently, that argument is presented as part of the larger case that President Trump’s periodic expressions of skepticism about NATO’s relevance are out-of-touch with the views of the American public. However, the pro-NATO case is built on a fundamental deception.

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Few (if any) surveys of U.S. public opinion about NATO even hint about the extent of the risks Americans incur because of Washington’s obligations under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, which commits the signatories to consider an attack on any member as an attack on all. A typical poll question will ask respondents whether the United States should defend country X, if Russia attacks that country. A more honest question would be whether the United States should defend country X from a Russian attack, even if doing so might result in a nuclear war with Russia that could kill millions of Americans.

Granted, such an outcome is a worst-case scenario, but Washington’s Article 5 obligations bring it into play. The escalation risk is especially relevant with respect to defending Estonia and the other Baltic republics. A 2016 RAND Corporation study concluded that it would be nearly impossible for NATO to defend its Baltic members against a full-scale Russian invasion for more than a few days without an extensive upgrade of the Alliance’s existing force deployment. Even after such an upgrade, the outcome of a struggle waged solely with conventional weapons would be uncertain. Escalation to the nuclear level would remain an ever-present danger.

Even without a robust “truth in advertising” requirement, U.S. public support for NATO is slipping. Mark Hannah, a senior fellow at the Eurasia Group Foundation, concedes that point following a survey his organization recently conducted. He notes: “For a second year in a row, when faced with a hypothetical scenario in which Russia invaded Estonia, a NATO ally, Americans were roughly split on whether they wanted the United States to respond militarily. And that was after respondents were reminded of Article 5, the part of the NATO treaty that obligates the United States to respond to such aggression, and after they were told that U.S. action could be the only way to expel Russia.”

In other words, even with wording designed to elicit …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Auto-factory architect Albert Kahn dies

December 4, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

On December 8, 1942, the architect and engineer Albert Kahn–known as “the man who built Detroit”–dies at his home there. He was 73 years old. Kahn and his assistants built more than 2,000 buildings in all, mostly for Ford and General Motors. According to his obituary in The New York Times, Kahn “revolutionized the concept of what a great factory should be: his designs made possible the marvels of modern mass production, and his buildings changed the faces of a thousand cities and towns from Detroit to Novosibirsk.”

Albert Kahn was born in Germany in 1869. When he was 11, his family moved to the United States and settled in Detroit, where the teenager took a job as an architect’s apprentice. In 1902, after working at a number of well-known architectural firms in Detroit, Kahn started his own practice.

While building factories for Packard, the young architect found that swapping reinforced concrete for wood or masonry sped up the construction of manufacturing plants considerably. It also made them sturdier and less combustible. Moreover, reinforced-concrete buildings needed fewer load-bearing walls; this, in turn, freed up floor space for massive industrial equipment. Kahn’s first concrete factory, Packard Shop No. 10, still stands today on East Grand Boulevard in Detroit.

“Architecture,” Kahn liked to say, “is 90 percent business and 10 percent art.” His buildings reflected this philosophy: they were sleek, flexible, and above all functional. Besides all that utilitarian concrete, they incorporated huge metal-framed windows and garage doors and acres of uninterrupted floor space for conveyor belts and other machines. Kahn’s first Ford factory, the 1909 Highland Park plant, used elevators and dumbwaiters to spread the Model T assembly line over several floors, but most of his subsequent factories were huge single-story spaces: Ford’s River Rouge plant (1916), the massive Goodyear Airdock in Akron (1929), the Glenn Martin aeronautics factory in Maryland (built in 1937 around an assembly floor the size of a football field) and, perhaps most famous of all, the half-mile–long Willow Run “Arsenal of Democracy,” the home of Ford’s B-24 bomber in Ypsilanti.

Though Kahn designed a number of non-factory buildings, including the Ford and GM office towers in downtown Detroit, he is best known for building factories that reflected the needs of the industrial age. We still celebrate his innovations today.

…read more

Source: HISTORY

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2020 Democrats Are School Choice Hypocrites

December 4, 2019 in Economics

By Corey A. DeAngelis, Tommy Schultz

Corey A. DeAngelis and Tommy Schultz

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander — unless you’re talking about the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates and education policy. The majority of the front-runners either attended private schools themselves or sent their own children to private schools, yet they’re fighting hard against programs that would grant similar options to the less fortunate.

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Here’s their latest school choice hypocrisy.

For starters, Sen. Elizabeth Warren recently released an education plan that is radically anti-choice. It would ban many high-quality charter schools, end federal funding of charter schools, and make it even more difficult to open new charters. She also calls to end private school choice programs — programs that overwhelmingly serve low-income families.

But about a month ago, one of us uncovered that Warren sent her son, Alex, to expensive private schools starting in fifth grade when she was teaching at the University of Texas at Austin. Then, cellphone footage shows the senator lied about it to an African American woman, moments after giving a speech about the rights of black women, before her campaign finally admitted Warren’s son attended private school.

Other Democratic candidates have also come out swinging against school choice. Sen. Bernie Sanders called for a moratorium on the expansion of charter schools, Mayor Pete Buttigieg denounced for-profit charter schools and is against vouchers because “they take away funding from public schools,” and Sen. Kamala Harris, who just dropped out of the race, said she’s “particularly concerned with expansions of for-profit charter schools” and said “our country needs an administration that supports public education, not privatization.”

But our new discoveries suggest these candidates are just as hypocritical as Warren.

It’s well-known that Mayor Pete Buttigieg exclusively attended private schools and that his husband, Chasten Buttigieg, taught at the private Montessori Academy in Indiana. What isn’t well-known is that Chasten’s Montessori school accepts students who use the state’s tax credit scholarship program. Unfortunately, Buttigieg opposes private school choice programs that provide disadvantaged children with financial resources to attend his husband’s private Montessori school.

To top it all off, although Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign did not respond to requests about where his four children went to school, his wife, Jane O’Meara Sanders, attended a Catholic private school in Brooklyn.

Even though she’s not campaigning anymore, Harris could run for president again in …read more

Source: OP-EDS