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Treaty of Versailles

December 18, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

At the end of World War I, during a peace conference held in Paris, France, the victorious Allies concluded a series of peace treaties that would be imposed on the defeated Central Powers. The most important of these was the Treaty of Versailles, signed in June 1919 at the Palace of Versailles in Paris. The treaty, which codified peace terms between the Allies and Germany, held Germany responsible for starting the war, and imposed harsh penalties in terms of loss of territory, massive reparations payments and demilitarization.

Far from the “peace without victory” that U.S. President Woodrow Wilson had outlined in his famous Fourteen Points in early 1918, the Treaty of Versailles humiliated Germany while failing to resolve the underlying issues that had led to war in the first place. Economic distress and resentment of the treaty within Germany helped fuel the ultra-nationalist sentiment that led to the rise of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party, as well as the coming of a second World War just two decades later.

From the Fourteen Points to the Paris Peace Conference

In a speech to Congress in January 1918, Wilson laid out his idealistic vision for the post-war world. In addition to specific territorial settlements based on an Entente victory, Wilson’s so-called Fourteen Points emphasized the need for national self-determination for Europe’s different ethnic populations. Wilson also proposed the founding of a “general association of nations” that would mediate international disputes and foster cooperation between different nations in the hopes of preventing war on such a large scale in the future.

When German leaders signed the armistice ending hostilities in World War I on November 11, 1918, they believed this vision articulated by Wilson would form the basis for any future peace treaty. This would not prove to be the case.

The Paris Peace Conference opened on January 18, 1919, a date that was significant in that it marked the anniversary of the coronation of German Emperor Wilhelm I, which took place in the Palace of Versailles at the end of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871. Prussian victory in that conflict had resulted in Germany’s unification and its seizure of Alsace and Lorraine provinces from France. In 1919, France and its prime minister, Georges Clemenceau, had not forgotten the humiliating loss, and intended to avenge it in the new peace agreement.

Did WWI Lead to WWII? …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Tobacco Sales Ban for Those Under 21 Would Make Teen Vaping and Smoking Worse

December 18, 2019 in Economics

By Trevor Burrus

Trevor Burrus

At a time when teenage smoking is dropping to unheard-of levels, the federal government this week is likely to raise the legal age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21. The provision is included in a massive spending package that President Donald Trump is expected to soon sign to pass in the coming days to avert a government shutdown. This move is not only unwarranted and unnervingly paternalistic, but it could also result in more dangerous tobacco use by young adults, as the ban would have the perverse effect of pushing them to consume more traditional combustible tobacco rather than comparatively safer vaping products.

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We sometimes forget that those over 18 are legally adults. Being 18 means you can vote, die for your country, get married, have children, get a credit card and buy a rifle. As with drinking, it is dismaying that there are those who would give a gun to an 18-year-old to kill people in foreign countries, yet they would not let them buy tobacco products.

But even if you don’t have an ideological objection to restricting the sale of tobacco products to younger adults, there is a very practical reason to oppose the pending tobacco ban if you care about public health: Raising the legal purchase age for tobacco and vaping products would encourage young adults to consume more cigarettes, because they are more common and therefore would be more accessible under a ban than the relatively new, smaller supply of vaping materials on the market would be. Similarly, use of combustible tobacco that is more cost-effective (such as rolling tobacco) would also likely increase, as it always becomes more popular when cigarettes become more expensive, a common result of scarcity.

A prohibitionist ban would additionally probably result in more teenage vapers using illicit counterfeit vaping products, because that’s what people turn to when legal channels are shut off. But these products are much more dangerous than regulated products from reputable companies, as demonstrated by the recent wave of vaping-related illnesses and deaths — most of which (though not all) were linked to illegal and off-brand vapes.

Moreover, the unprecedented decline in youth cigarette smoking should be seen as a great public health victory, and vaping should be …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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How out of Control Is Our Surveillance State?

December 18, 2019 in Economics

By Julian Sanchez

Julian Sanchez

The F.B.I.’s investigation of the former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, we can now say with assurance, was a train wreck. In his report, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz cataloged a damning list of egregious errors, omissions or misrepresentations in filings to the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which approved nearly a year’s worth of wiretaps on Mr. Page.

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Many Republicans have taken this as proof that the investigation was hopelessly contaminated by anti-Trump political bias. That would be the optimistic scenario. Unfortunately, it’s probably much worse than that.

If the F.B.I. botched its applications for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants against Mr. Page because of political bias, after all, problems of the sort Mr. Horowitz identified are most likely unique to this case. The bureau obtains about 1,500 FISA warrants each year, and an overwhelming majority have no connection to domestic politics. The solution is also similarly simple: Toss out the bad apples who acted on political motives and add a few layers of safeguards for the tiny fraction of cases that are designated “sensitive investigative matters” because they do intersect with politics.

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That might be a reasonable response if we were confident the Page investigation represented an outlier or aberration. The chilling reality, however, is that we have no idea whether that’s the case.

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week, Senator Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, zeroed in on this point. When she asked Mr. Horowitz whether finding mistakes in a FISA application was “a fairly unusual occurrence,” he responded, “I would hope so.”

Americans deserve a stronger assurance than “hope” that their Fourth Amendment rights are being respected. The sheer quantity of serious defects in the FISA applications targeting Mr. Page — which officials consistently told Mr. Horowitz received far more review than normal, because agents understood the applications would doubtless attract controversy and scrutiny — raises an obvious and disturbing question: If they’re this sloppy with a target involved in a presidential campaign, how …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Washington Post Still Hasn't Corrected an Obvious Education Blunder

December 18, 2019 in Economics

By Corey A. DeAngelis

Corey A. DeAngelis

The dean of the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education claimed in a December 10 Washington Post op-ed that “public funding for schools has actually decreased since the late 1980s, adjusting for constant dollars.” However, data from the National Center of Education Statistics shows that real per-pupil spending clearly has not decreased since the 1980s. In fact, inflation-adjusted, per-pupil spending has actually increased over the last three decades.

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Robert Pianta’s claim is incorrect regardless of how the data is sliced. According to the National Center for Education Statistics’ database, inflation-adjusted education funding increased by at least 36% since 1989 — whether you look at state, local, federal, or total dollars per pupil. The increases are much larger if you look at overall spending amounts rather than per-pupil totals.

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The subheadline of Pianta’s Washington Post column alleges, “the one thing we haven’t tried in the past 30 years is sufficiently investing in our schools.” In addition to being incorrect, it is also not clear what spending level would qualify as “sufficient” to Pianta. After all, the nationwide data shows the U.S. already spends over $14,700 per student each year.

How much does each state allocate toward education? The Washington Examiner‘s Jason Russell previously summarized this information for each state using Census Bureau data from 2013. We now have more recent data from 2017 showing that about 28% of all state budget expenditures go toward education.

This statistic has remained relatively steady over time. Census Bureau data from 1993, the oldest period of data available, also indicates that about 28% of state government expenditures went toward education across the country.

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Source: OP-EDS

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What Really Happened at Roswell?

December 18, 2019 in History

By Adam Janos

Behind the rumors of America’s Most Infamous UFO incident

In the annals of American UFO history, few incidents have inspired as much fascination—and speculation—as the one in Roswell, New Mexico.

It began in the summer of 1947, at the dawn of the

The government changed its story about the Roswell ‘saucer’—a few times.

The following day, the Roswell Daily Record ran a story about the crash and the RAAF’s astonishing claim. But U.S. Army officials quickly reversed themselves on the “flying saucer” claim, stating that the found debris was actually from a weather balloon, releasing photographs of Major Marcel posing with pieces of the supposed weather balloon debris as proof.

A photograph of Jesse Marcel, the head intelligence officer who initially investigated and recovered some of the debris from the Roswell site, in the Corsicana Daily Sun, July 9, 1947.

For decades, many UFO researchers were skeptical of the government’s changed account, and in 1994, the U.S. Air Force released a report in which they conceded that the “weather balloon” story had been bogus. According to the 1994 explanation, the wreckage came from a spy device created for an until-then classified project called Project Mogul. The device—a connected string of high-altitude balloons equipped with microphones—was designed to float furtively over the USSR, detecting sound waves at a stealth distance. These balloons would ostensibly monitor the Soviet government’s attempts at testing their own atomic bomb. Because Project Mogul was a covert operation, the new report claimed, a false explanation of the crash was necessary to prevent giving away details of their spy work.

Other elements of the Roswell story—namely that some eyewitnesses claimed that there were alien bodies taken from the site—were explained as fallen parachute-test dummies in a more extensive follow-up report in 1997.


An illustration depicting the Roswell incident with aliens being carried away from the UFO crash site

Roger Launius, a historian and retired curator for the Division of Space History at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, says those two reports close most of the remaining questions about Roswell.

“This story has been resolved,” Launius says. “Has absolutely every question been answered? I can’t say that. But I’m not sure that there are significant holes.”

“You do not divulge state secrets in the context of national security… My surmise is they probably saw [the initial flying saucer explanation] as a useful cover …read more

Source: HISTORY