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These Despots Had Different National Identities at Birth

January 8, 2020 in History

By Jesse Greenspan

Napoleon and Hitler were among those who hailed from outside the countries they ultimately ruled.

Autocrats tend to stir up nationalistic fervor as a way to cement their authority. Yet a surprising number in history, including some of the most ruthless, weren’t actually from the main territory of the countries they ended up ruling.

Below are four autocrats—Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Catherine the Great—who reinvented their national identities prior to taking absolute power.

Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte was born as Napoleone di Buonaparte in Corsica.

A native of Corsica, Napoleon Bonaparte was born as Napoleone di Buonaparte just months after France took over the Mediterranean island from the Italian city-state of Genoa. Despite living under French rule, the future emperor initially considered France to be a foreign nation.

Napoleone grew up speaking Corsican, and first learned to read and write in Italian. He wasn’t taught French until being sent to school in mainland France at age 9, and he never lost his Corsican accent, much to the amusement of his classmates and, later, the soldiers under his command, who purportedly mocked him for it.

As a teenager, Napoleone craved Corsican independence, writing in 1786 that his fellow countrymen were “bound in chains” and that the French, “not content with having robbed us of everything we held dear, have also corrupted our character.”

Napoleone’s thinking began to shift following the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789. Yet it wasn’t until 1793, when political infighting forced his family to flee their native island, that he completely turned his back on the Corsican independence movement.

From that point on, the “Little Corporal” deemed himself French, downplaying his Italian lineage and changing his name to the French-sounding Napoleon Bonaparte. Meanwhile, he rose through the military ranks, seizing power in a 1799 coup d’état, and then conquered much of Europe on behalf of his newfound country.

Adolf Hitler


Adolf Hitler was born in Austria but later gave up his Austrian citizenship.

Born in a small Austrian town adjacent to Germany, Adolf Hitler moved around a lot as a youth, spending time on both sides of the border. After several years as a struggling artist in Vienna, he left Austria for good in 1913. Some historians believe Hitler left to avoid serving in the army of the multi-ethnic Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Instead, Hitler served in the German army during …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Bernie Sanders Is on to Something in Education

January 8, 2020 in Economics

By Neal McCluskey

Neal McCluskey

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is taking the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), and test-centric education policy, to task. “We do not need an education system in which kids are simply taught to take tests,” Sanders writes in  USA Today. “We need a system in which kids learn and grow in a holistic manner.”

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Sanders is right that federal law has narrowed education largely to a test score (though it has  moved away from that a bit with NCLB’s successor). Unfortunately, he is way off when it comes to solutions.

NCLB was signed into law in early 2002 to improve the academic outcomes for all students, especially those in schools with the worst test scores. And it was passed with  strong bipartisan support , because a lot of people had reached the logical conclusion that too many families, especially low-income, were powerless. They had far too little political capital to change their districts, and could not afford the cost of homes in “good” ones. The only hope for them, many concluded, was for the federal government to forcestates and districts to pay attention to everyone.

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The intentions behind NCLB were good, and the assessment of a fundamental public schooling flaw—families have little power—was dead on. But the practical effect was to concentrate power even further from families and communities, putting it in Washington, D.C. And the law relied on essentially one measure—standardized test scores—to determine “good” or “bad” performers, and did so without accounting for unique situations, from poverty levels to English-language learner concentrations, before slapping labels and sanctions on schools and districts.

Senator Sanders is right to criticize NCLB. But he is greatly mistaken to also attack school choice, which he does based on some charter schools being managed by for-profit companies, most being non-union, and none supposedly being “publicly accountable.”

The fact is, only school choice empowers families to hold their …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Progressive Governments’ Economic War on the NRA Fails in Court

January 8, 2020 in Economics

By Walter Olson

Walter Olson

Some politicos just can’t stop grandstanding, even if it means their court case goes down in flames. Consider what just happened in a federal court in Los Angeles.

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Not long ago, progressive state and local officials nationwide were vowing to take down the hated National Rifle Association by targeting its pocketbook. When city authorities in Los Angeles and San Francisco gave that idea a try, they were following the lead of Governor Andrew Cuomo, who had unleashed New York financial regulators to go after the gun-rights organization’s access to insurance and banking services.

Now all three are facing a reckoning in court, based not on the Second Amendment but on the First. Without needing to even consider the issue of gun rights, federal courts are recognizing that boycotts enforced by government power can menace free speech and free association.

The amusing part is that the public officials themselves are helping to provide the basis for these rulings by tweeting and speechifying about how much damage they intend to do the NRA.

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In December, a federal court in California granted a preliminary injunction against a Los Angeles ordinance requiring city contractors to disclose any business links to, or memberships in, the gun group. It found the evidence “overwhelming” that the city’s intent in passing the law was “to suppress the message of the NRA.”

Public officials have been on notice about this sort of thing for at least two decades, since the 1996 Supreme Court case Board of County Commissioners v. Umbehr. In that case, the Court held that a county’s having terminated a government contract in retaliation for the contractor’s persistent and annoying political speech could violate the First Amendment. Controversial and unpopular speech is protected speech; officials cannot yank a contract from some business, or threaten to, just because it has donated to, or partnered in some venture with, the Sierra Club, the NAACP, or the NRA.

Lawyers for Los Angeles tried to defend their ordinance by …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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U.S.-Iran Tensions: From Political Coup to Hostage Crisis to Drone Strikes

January 8, 2020 in History

By Erin Blakemore

A look back at America’s long-simmering conflict with Iran.

The United States and Iran have never formally been at war, but tensions between the two countries have persisted for decades. Below is an overview of the long-running conflict between Iran and the United States—and measures taken (economic and otherwise) in the wake of flare ups.

Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq is ousted

In 1953, U.S. and British intelligence agencies collaborated to organize a coup to remove Iran’s democratically-elected Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadeq. The secular Mossadeq had sought to nationalize the Iranian oil industry, which had previously been controlled by Great Britain. U.S. officials, meanwhile, had feared Mossadeq might turn to the Soviet Union for aid. In 2013, the CIA released documents that publicly admitted its involvement in the 1953 coup. The coup, which reinstated the monarchy under the Western-friendly shah, eventually fueled a surge of nationalism which culminated in the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

Iran Hostage Crisis (TV-PG; 4:13)

The Iran hostage crisis leads Carter to mount the first U.S. sanctions against Iran

U.S. sanctions against Iran began when a group of Iranian students stormed the American embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979, taking more than 60 United States citizens hostage and sparking an international crisis. The 444-day-long hostage crisis hobbled Jimmy Carter’s presidency, ushered in a new political era for Iran, and helped skyrocket Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a revolutionary cleric who objected to United States interference, to international significance.

It also created a state of permanent deadlock between the U.S. and Iran—a tense standoff characterized by a pattern of sanctions over direct negotiations.

President Carter swiftly imposed sanctions on Iran after the hostage crisis began, cutting off sales of Iranian oil and freezing Iranian assets. These measures did nothing to help along diplomatic negotiations for the release of the prisoners, so on April 7, 1980, 212 days after the crisis began, he announced even more drastic measures. The U.S. cut off diplomatic relations with Iran, imposed economic sanctions including cutting off food aid, closed Iranian institutions within the U.S., and embargoed all imports from Iran.

“I am committed to the safe return of the hostages,” Carter told the nation. “The steps that I have ordered today are those that are necessary now. Other action may become necessary if these steps do not produce the prompt release of the hostages.”

They didn’t. As the hostage crisis continued, Carter okayed …read more

Source: HISTORY

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The Wrong Kicks on Route 36

January 8, 2020 in Economics

By Tom Miller, Todd Zywicki

Tom Miller and Todd Zywicki

Members of Congress in the House and Senate recently introduced versions of the “Veterans and Consumers Fair Credit Act,” designed to extend to all consumers the interest rate caps currently in place for active-duty service members and dependents. This proposed legislation is modeled after the 2015 update to the 2007 Military Lending Act (MLA), and mandates a nationwide 36 percent interest rate cap on consumer credit.

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Supporters of a 36 percent interest rate cap compare it to a “speed limit on small-dollar loans.” Not so. It is an abrupt “pavement ends” sign for millions of Americans. As with all price controls, interest rate caps have predictable outcomes. Interest rate caps create shortages and make credit less available for millions of families.

Small-dollar credit products serve millions of people. According to the FDIC, nearly 33 million families have no or only limited access to bank credit. A recent study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York suggests millions more may be “credit insecure.” That is, they tend to max out their credit limit, have a low credit score, and have a history of late payments. Also, 45 million primarily young, low-income, and minority Americans have poor or thin credit histories. They are ineligible for prime credit cards and bank loans.

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A primary function of credit is to smooth consumption. More than a third of households making under $50,000 experience month-to-month spikes and dips in their income. Small-dollar credit products help them deal with unforeseen expenses. The choice for these consumers is between using small-dollar credit products and simply going without.

In theory, how would a 36 percent interest rate cap eliminate consumer choices? It costs money to produce small-dollar loans. Reducing revenue too much makes loans unprofitable, and lenders will obviously not supply unprofitable loans. This includes installment loans, payday loans, and even …read more

Source: OP-EDS