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The Black Death: A Timeline of the Gruesome Pandemic

April 16, 2020 in History

By John Seven

One of the worst plagues in history arrived at Europe’s shores in 1347. Five years later, some 25 to 50 million people were dead.

Nearly 700 years after the . It is possibly passed to humans by a tarabagan, a type of marmot. The deadliest outbreak is in the Mongol capital of Sarai, which the Mongols carry west to the Black Sea area.

Mongol King Janiberg and his army are in the nearby city of Tana when a brawl erupts between Italian merchants and a group of Muslims. Following the death of one of the Muslims, the Italians flee by sea to the Genoese outpost of Caffa and Janiberg follow on land. Upon arrival at Caffa, Janiberg’s army lays siege for a year but they are stricken with an outbreak. As the army catapults the infected bodies of their dead over city walls, the under-siege Genoese become infected also.

May, 1347

Both sides in the siege are decimated and survivors in Caffa escape by sea, leaving behind streets covered with corpses being fed on by feral animals. One ship arrives in Constantinople, which, once infected, loses as much as 90 percent of its population.

October, 1347

Another Caffan ship docks in Sicily, the crew barely alive. Here the plague kills half the population and moves to Messina. Fleeing residents then spread it to mainland Italy, where one-third of the population is dead by the following summer.

November, 1347

The plague arrives in France, brought by another of the Caffa ships docking in Marseille. It spreads quickly through the country.

A New Strain Enters Europe

The plague in Tournai, 1349.

January, 1348

A different plague strain enters Europe through Genoa, brought by another Caffan ship that docks there. The Genoans attack the ship and drive it away, but they are still infected. Italy faces this second strain while already battling the previous one.

Y. pestis also heads east from Sicily into the Persian Empire and through Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and Poland, and south to Egypt, as well as Cyprus, which is also hit with destruction from an earthquake and deadly tidal wave at the same time.

Venice faces its own outbreak by pioneering the first organized response, with committees ordering ship inspections and burning those with contagions, shutting down taverns, and restricting wine from unknown sources. The canals fill with gondolas shouting official instructions for disposing of dead bodies. Despite those efforts, the plague kills 60 percent of the Venetian population.

April, 1348

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When the Founding Fathers Settled States' vs. Federal Rights—And Saved the Nation

April 16, 2020 in History

By Dave Roos

The word ‘federalism’ doesn’t appear in the Constitution, but the concept is baked into the document as a novel approach to establishing state and national powers.

When the 13 United States of America

The Middle Road of Federalism

When the United States cut ties with Britain, the founders wanted nothing to do with the British form of government known as “unitary.” Under a unitary regime, all power originates from a centralized national government (Parliament) and is delegated to local governments. That’s still the way the government operates in the UK.

Instead, the founders initially chose the opposite form of government, a confederation. In a confederation, all power originates at the local level in the individual states and is only delegated to a weak central government at the states’ discretion.

When the founders met in Philadelphia, it was clear that a confederation wasn’t enough to hold the young nation together. States were scuffling over borders and minting their own money. Massachusetts had to hire its own army to put down Shays’ Rebellion.

The solution was to find a middle way, a blueprint of government in which the powers were shared and balanced between the states and national interests. That compromise, woven into the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, became known as federalism.

Two Kinds of ‘Separation of Powers’

The Constitution and the Bill of Rights created two different kinds of separation of powers, both designed to act as critical checks and balances.

The first and best-known of the separation of powers is between the three branches of government: Executive, Legislative and the Judiciary. If the president acts against the best interests of the country, he or she can be impeached by Congress. If Congress passes an unjust law, the president can veto it. And if any law or public institution infringes on the constitutional rights of the people, the Supreme Court can remedy it.

READ MORE: How Many U.S. Presidents Have Faced Impeachment?

But the second type of separation of powers is equally important, the granting of separate powers to the federal and state governments. Under the Constitution, the state legislatures retain much of their sovereignty to pass laws as they see fit, but the federal government also has the power to intervene when it suits the national interest. And under the “supremacy clause” found in Article IV, federal laws and statutes supersede state law. …read more