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7 Invasive Species That Have Wreaked Havoc in the US

February 24, 2020 in History

By Becky Little

Feral swine. Rodents of unusual size. And a python that swallowed three deer.

The history of invasive species is usually one of unforeseen consequences. When an animal, fish, insect or plant is taken out of its original ecosystem and introduced to a new one—whether by accident or on purpose—it’s less likely to have any natural predators.

Which can lead to environmental havoc.

Without anything to keep their population in check, some invasive species—especially the prolific breeders—often flourish. They can destroy native plants, gobble up native animal populations and introduce disease, upending the delicate balance of organisms that provide food or support for each other, or provide a check on each other’s growth. Extinctions have proliferated.

Globalization has fueled the problem of invasive species. When European colonizers sailed to the Americas, they disrupted existing animal populations while also introducing new ones. Invading creatures have long affected the United States, as people imported new animals for study, sport, fur or even the love of Shakespeare. (Yes, really.) Here are seven invasive species that still pose a threat to the U.S. today.

READ MORE: How Burmese Pythons Took Over the Florida Everglades

1. FERAL SWINE (Sus scrofa)

Other names: Wild or feral boars, hogs or pigs; Eurasian or Russian wild boars

Originate from: Parts of Europe, Asia and North Africa

Reason in U.S.: European settlers brought them for food beginning in the 1500s; others brought them for sport hunting in the 1900s

Destructive superpowers: Devour crops and native vegetation

Newsworthy moment: Twitter’s 2019 viral meme of ’30 to 50 feral hogs’

The very real problem of invasive feral swine went viral in August 2019 when Twitter user @WillieMcNabb of Arkansas tweeted: “How do I kill the 30-50 feral hogs that run into my yard within 3-5 mins while my small kids play?” The phrase “30 to 50 feral hogs” quickly became a meme; and while it’s unlikely that many wild hogs actually run into McNabb’s yard at once, the discussion did highlight the growing issue of wild hogs in the U.S.

Feral swine are the same species as the pigs found on farms, and are descended from farm escapees and/or Eurasian or Russian wild boars brought to the U.S. for sport hunting in the 1900s. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates there are at least 6 million feral swine spread throughout some 35 states. They have been a particularly virulent problem throughout the south, especially <a target=_blank …read more


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How US Presidents Have Communicated with the Public—From the Telegraph to Twitter

February 24, 2020 in History

By Dave Roos

From carefully staged speeches to radio to TV to Twitter, U.S. presidents have always leveraged the cutting edge to connect directly with voters.

Two centuries before Twitter, U.S. presidents understood the power of communicating directly with the people. From George Washington to Donald Trump, presidents have always adopted the latest media and technology to connect with voters and forward their political agenda.

George Washington’s State of the Union Address

George Washington was well-aware of the public scrutiny surrounding his presidency, the first experiment with executive power in political experiment that was the United States. America had just unshackled itself from an English monarch and was on high alert for any signs of despotism in its new president. That’s why George Washington played it very safe in his inaugural address, humbly declining to offer any suggestions or ideas to Congress.

Nine months later, on January 8, 1790, Washington fulfilled his constitutional duty (Article II, Section 3) to “from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”

Washington’s first State of the Union, like the first inaugural, was a “precisely calibrated political statement,” writes Anna Groves of George Mason University. The president praised Congress and gently offered suggestions regarding the creation of a national currency, a post office and a system of weights and measures, while also weighing in on more controversial topics (even then) like the national debt and immigration.

Washington knew that the speech would be published in the newspapers, so it was a message to the American people as well as Congress. Not unlike modern times, the president’s appearance was as important as his words. The Virginia Herald and Fredericksburg Advertiser noted that Washington “was dressed in a crow coloured suit of clothes, of American manufacture.”

Abe Lincoln Masters Debate—and the Telegraph

As presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin told HISTORY, Abraham Lincoln’s talent as president was the written word, but he first made his name as a gifted debater.

“He’s living in a time when you have to communicate through debates with people, as he did with Stephen Douglas,” says Kearns Goodwin. “They would be there for six hours, and [Lincoln] was so great at these debates.”

Presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln speaking on stage during a debate with Steven Douglas and other opponents, October 7, 1858.

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