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Saturday, December 1, 2018

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Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Super Bowl Sex-Trafficking Myth

Here come the Super Bowl prostitutes! An annual exercise in fear-mongering over a threat that never materializes. This myth says as many as 100,000 sex workers will come into town for the big game. Now compare that to the total number of people who come to the game: 200,000 to 300,000.

The media is spinning the usual BS about how these big sporting events create dollar signs in the eyes of prostitutes, pimps, and sex traffickers, all of whom allegedly flock to the host city in slavering hordes. The media repeats the big lie that a large sports venue—especially the Super Bowl—acts as a "sex-trafficking magnet." It's an effective fundraising strategy. It gets a lot of media attention. But the statistics are exaggerated.

According to all the media hype there would have been hundreds of thousands of underage child sex-slaves kidnapped and forced to have sex with Super Bowl fans each year. But it never happens. What happens is they re-play the same BS hype each year. So what happens to all of these thousands of kidnapped underage sex-slaves? Where are these kidnapped, forced into Super Bowl sex slaves? Where did they go?

Politicians, women's groups, police, and child advocates always predict large numbers of hookers (e.g., 100,000 or more) will be shipped into the big cities for the Super Bowl. But they lie. Big, fat lies told by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, government officials, and various anti-prostitution groups: Traffick911, Not for Sale, Change-org, Future Not A Past, Polaris Project, Salvation Army, Women's Funding Network, and the Dallas Women’s Foundation. Anti-prostitution groups that tell these lies do it in order to get grant money from the government and charities to pay their high salaries, and get huge amounts of money into their organizations.

Sex trafficking is a legitimate issue outside of the convenient Super Bowl news bubble. But there's no evidence that a mass influx of sports fans increases the problem or contributes to it in some way. Ultimately, spreading misinformation can end up undercutting efforts to bring awareness to the very real problem of sex trafficking and forced prostitution.

The "Super Bowl = Prostitutes" story is just a lazy journalistic trope. An urban legend. A cheap attempt by politicians using the Super Bowl media blitz to score points by trying to stand up to the "menace" of sex work. A host of lies spread by anti-prostitution groups so they can get easy grant money.

All the evidence shows the statistics regarding hookers at the Super Bowl are nothing out of the ordinary. Law enforcement officials in the cities where past Super Bowls occurred never actually saw any increases in prostitution busts or the number of trafficked prostitutes, even despite increased efforts to catch johns, pimps, and traffickers. No influx in prostitutes, the arrests were not a lot higher. They were almost the same, nothing at all out of the ordinary.

The Super Bowl Sex-Trafficking Story That Just Won't Die (The Wire)

The Myth of the Super Bowl Sex Slaves, Sex Trafficking in Sports, Football Myths, Facts (The True Facts About Sex Trafficking Blog)

The Super Bowl Trafficking Myth (Salon)

Super Bowl Prostitution Myth (snopes.com)

The Mythical Invasion of the Super Bowl Hookers (Reason.com)

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Friday, January 18, 2013

The Boston Tea Party Myth

The Boston Tea Party was not a protest against high taxes, but a protest of several things. Mostly it was an anti-monopoly protest. And it demonstrated colonial resistance to British interference in the American economy.

A popular understanding of the Boston Tea Party is that the colonial Americans were protesting against high taxes on imported British tea. However, this is not the truth. This is a popular myth that this article clearly debunks. The truth is that the price of tea was actually lowered by the British. The lowering of the price was an attempt to give a monopoly to the East India Trading company. There were many reasons for the colonists to be angered by British manipulation and interference.

Myths of the Boston Tea Party
The Boston Tea Party, of course wasn't an actual party, but was a famous incident in American history in which some American colonists in Boston disguised themselves as Indians and dumped chests of tea into Boston Harbor as a protest. This protest by American colonists arose from two issues confronting the British Empire in 1773: the financial problems of the British East India Company, and an ongoing dispute about the extent of Parliament's sovereignty over the British American colonies.

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American colonists resented this favored treatment of a major company, (East India Company) which employed lobbyists and wielded great influence in Parliament. At this stage in American history rebellion was brewing beneath the surface of society. Colonial protests resulted in both Philadelphia and New York, but it was those at the Boston Tea Party that made their mark on American history. John Hancock organized a boycott of tea from China sold by the British East India Company, whose sales in the colonies then fell dramatically. By 1773, the company had large debts, huge stocks of tea in its warehouses and no prospect of selling it because smugglers, such as Hancock, were importing tea from Holland without paying import taxes.

The British government passed the Tea Act, which allowed the East India Company to sell tea to the colonies directly and without "payment of any customs or duties whatsoever" in Britain, instead paying the much lower American duty. This tax break allowed the East India Company to sell tea for half the old price and cheaper than the price of tea in England, enabling them to undercut the prices offered by the colonial merchants and smugglers.

Bostonians suspected the removal of the Tea Tax was simply another attempt by the British parliament to squash American freedom. Samuel Adams, wealthy smugglers, and others who had profited from the smuggled tea called for agents and consignees of the East India Company tea to abandon their positions; consignees who hesitated were terrorized through attacks on their warehouses and even their homes.

The Truth Behind the Boston Tea Party: The Tea Act Actually Lowered Taxes
Many people today think the Tea Act—which led to the Boston Tea Party—was simply an increase in the taxes on tea paid by American colonists. Instead, the purpose of the Tea Act was to give the East India Company full and unlimited access to the American tea trade, and exempt the company from having to pay taxes to Britain on tea exported to the American colonies. It even gave the company a tax refund on millions of pounds of tea they were unable to sell and holding in inventory.

One purpose of the Tea Act was to increase the profitability of the East India Company to its stockholders (which included the King), and to help the company drive its colonial small business competitors out of business. Because the company no longer had to pay high taxes to England and held a monopoly on the tea it sold in the American colonies, it was able to lower its tea prices to undercut the prices of the local importers and the mom-and-pop tea merchants and tea houses, not only in Boston, but in every town in America.

This meddling infuriated the independence-minded colonists, who were, by and large, unappreciative of their colonies being used as a profit center for the multinational East India Company corporation. One historical interpretation is that the truth of the Boston Tea Party is that it was a protest against this meddling. The American colonists resented their small businesses still having to pay the higher, pre-Tea Act taxes without having any say or vote in the matter. (Thus, the cry of "no taxation without representation!") Even in the official British version of the history, the 1773 Tea Act was a "legislative maneuver by the British ministry of Lord North to make English tea marketable in America," with a goal of helping the East India Company quickly "sell 17 million pounds of tea stored in England ..."

"Taxation Without Representation" had a Populist Context which plays a large role in the Boston Tea Party
"Taxation without representation" also meant hitting the average person and small business with taxes while letting the richest and most powerful corporation in the world off the hook for its taxes. It was government sponsorship of one corporation over all competitors.

The Boston Tea Party Was Similar to Modern Day Anti-globalization Protests
The Boston Tea Party resembled in many ways the growing modern-day protests against transnational corporations and small-town efforts to protect themselves from chain-store retailers or agricultural corporations. With few exceptions, the Tea Party's participants thought of themselves as protesters against the actions of the multinational East India Company and the government that "unfairly" represented, supported, and served the company while not representing or serving the residents.

◊ ◊ ◊

In England, Parliament gave the East India Company what amounted to a monopoly on the importation of tea in 1698. When tea became popular in the British colonies, Parliament sought to eliminate foreign competition by passing an act in 1721 that required colonists to import their tea only from Great Britain. But many Americans purchased the less expensive, smuggled Dutch tea.

The East India Company did not export tea to the colonies; by law, the company was required to sell its tea wholesale at auctions in England. British firms bought this tea and exported it to the colonies, where they resold it to merchants in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston.

In order to help the East India Company compete with smuggled Dutch tea, in 1767 Parliament passed the Indemnity Act, which lowered the tax on tea consumed in Great Britain, and gave the East India Company a partial refund of the duty on tea that was re-exported to the colonies. To help offset this loss of government revenue, Parliament also passed the Townshend Revenue Act of 1767, which levied new taxes, including one on tea, in the colonies. Instead of solving the smuggling problem, however, the Townshend duties renewed a controversy about Parliament's right to tax the colonies.

To fully understand the resentment of the colonies to Great Britain and King George III, one must understand that there were a series of events in which the colonists were treated unfairly. In previous years, the 13 colonies saw a number of commercial tariffs including the Sugar Act of 1764, which taxed sugar, coffee, and wine, the Stamp Act of 1765, which put a tax on all printed matter, such as newspapers and playing cards, and the Townshend Acts of 1767 which placed taxes on items like glass, paints, paper, and tea. The Tea Act of 1773 was the last straw.

"If our trade be taxed, why not our lands, in short, everything we posses? They tax us without having legal representation." —Samuel Adams

In an attempt to transfer part of the cost of colonial administration to the American colonies, the British Parliament had enacted the Stamp Act in 1765 and the Townshend Acts in 1767. Colonial political opposition and economic boycotts eventually forced repeal of these acts, but Parliament left the import duty on tea as a symbol of its authority. Under the Townshend Act, many goods brought into the colonies were heavily taxed by the British. To attempt to appease the disgruntled Americans, these tariffs were repealed, except for tea, and they remained upset since the tax on tea remained in effect.

In an atmosphere of continuing suspicion and distrust, the British and Americans each looked for the worst from the other. In 1772 the crown, having earlier declared its right to dismiss colonial judges at its pleasure, stated its intention to pay directly the salaries of governors and judges in Massachusetts.

The situation remained comparatively quiet until May 1773, when the faltering East India Company persuaded Parliament that the company's future and the empire's prosperity depended on the disposal of its tea surplus. At this point, the East India Company was facing bankruptcy due to corruption, mismanagement, and competition.

The plan was to export a half a million pounds of tea to the American colonies for the purpose of selling it without imposing upon the company the usual duties and tariffs. With these privileges, the company could undersell American merchants and monopolize the colonial tea trade. Not only did this action create unfair commerce for the merchants of the colonies but it also proved to be the spark that revived American passions about the issue of taxation without representation.

Because the American tea market had nearly been captured by tea smuggled from Holland, Parliament gave the company a drawback (refund) of the entire shilling-per-pound duty, enabling the company to undersell the smugglers. It was expected that the American colonists, faced with a choice between the cheaper company tea and the higher-priced smuggled tea, would buy the cheaper tea, despite the tax. The company would then be saved from bankruptcy, the smugglers would be ruined, and the principle of parliamentary taxation would be upheld.

Resisting the Tea Act
Due to the popularity of inexpensive tea smuggled from Holland, British tea manufacturers were accumulating a large surplus of unsold tea, about 17 million pounds.

Instead of rescinding the remaining Townshend tax and exploring inoffensive methods of aiding the financially troubled British East India Company, Parliament enacted the Tea Act of 1773, designed to allow the company to bypass middlemen and sell directly to American retailers.

In September and October 1773, seven ships carrying East India Company tea were sent to the colonies: four were bound for Boston, and one each for New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston. Americans learned the details of the Tea Act while the ships were en route, and opposition began to mount. Whigs, sometimes calling themselves Sons of Liberty, began a campaign to raise awareness and to convince or compel the consignees to resign, in the same way that stamp distributors had been forced to resign in the 1765 Stamp Act crisis.

The truth is that the protest movement that culminated with the Boston Tea Party was not a dispute about high taxes. The price of legally imported tea was actually reduced by the Tea Act of 1773. Protestors were instead concerned with a variety of other issues. Several myths are wrapped up in the story of the Boston Tea Party. The familiar "no taxation without representation" argument, along with the question of the extent of Parliament's authority in the colonies, remained prominent. Some regarded the purpose of the tax program—to make leading officials independent of colonial influence—as a dangerous infringement of colonial rights. This was especially true in Massachusetts, the only colony where the Townshend program had been fully implemented.

Colonial merchants, some of them smugglers, played a significant role in the protests. Because the Tea Act made legally imported tea cheaper, it threatened to put smugglers of Dutch tea out of business. Other, legal tea importers who had not been named as consignees by the East India Company were also threatened with financial ruin by the Tea Act. Another major concern for merchants was since the Tea Act gave the East India Company a monopoly on the tea trade, it was feared that this government-created monopoly might be extended in the future to include other goods. And this served to alarm the conservative colonial mercantile elements into uniting with the more radical patriots.

South of Boston, protestors successfully compelled the tea consignees to resign. Merchants agreed not to sell the tea, and the designated tea agents in New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston canceled their orders or resigned their commissions.

In Charleston, the consignees had been forced to resign, and the unclaimed tea was seized by customs officials. There were mass protest meetings in Philadelphia, and eventually the Philadelphia consignees had resigned and the tea ship returned to England with its cargo. The tea ship bound for New York City was delayed by bad weather; by the time it arrived, the consignees had resigned, and the ship returned to England with the tea.

Revolutionary sentiment mounted . . .
In Boston, however, the tea consignees were friends or relatives of Governor Hutchinson, who was determined to uphold the law. The opposition, led by Samuel and John Adams, Josiah Quincy, and John Hancock, was determined to resist Parliamentary supremacy over colonial legislatures.

Three ships from London, the Dartmouth, the Eleanor and the Beaver, sailed into Boston Harbor from November 28th to December 8, 1773. Loaded with tea from the East India Company, they were all anchored at Griffin’s Wharf but were prevented from unloading their cargo.

When the first ship, the Dartmouth, reached Boston with the cargo of tea, the Sons of Liberty prevented owner Francis Rotch from unloading the tea, but they could not force the consignees to reject it. Rotch and the captains of two newly arrived ships, the Eleanor and the Beaver, agreed to leave without unloading the tea, but they were denied clearance by Governor Hutchinson.

According to the law, if the tea was not unloaded within 20 days (by December 17), it was to be seized and sold to pay custom duties. Convinced that this procedure would still be payment of unconstitutional taxes, the radical patriots resolved to break the deadlock. On December 14, Rotch was called before a mass meeting and ordered to seek clearance again to sail from Boston. But neither the customs collector nor the governor would grant it.

Fearing that the tea would be seized for failure to pay customs duties, and eventually become available for sale, something had to be done. Demanding that the tea be returned to where it came from or face retribution, the Sons of Liberty, led by Samuel Adams began to meet to determine the fate of the three cargo ships in the Boston harbor.

On the cold evening of December 16, 1773, a crowd of several thousand spectators gathered and shouted encouragement to about 60 men disguised as Mohawk Indians. The band of patriots in Boston burst from the South Meeting House with the spirit of freedom burning in their eyes. The patriots headed towards Griffin's Wharf and the three ships. Quickly, quietly, and in an orderly manner, they boarded each of the tea ships. Once on board, the patriots went to work striking the chests with axes and hatchets.

Only the sounds of axe blades splitting wood rang out from Boston Harbor. Once the crates were open, the patriots dumped the tea into the sea. By nine o'clock p.m., the Sons of Liberty, with the aid of the ships' crew, had emptied a total of 342 crates of tea into Boston Harbor. Fearing any connection to their treasonous deed, the patriots took off their shoes and they swept the ships' decks, and made each ship's first mate attest that only the tea was damaged.

The furious royal government responded to this "Boston Tea Party" by the so-called Intolerable Acts of 1774, practically eliminating self-government in Massachusetts and closing Boston's port.

The news of the destruction of the tea raised the spirit of resistance in the colonies. On April 22, 1774, the London attempted to land tea at New York. It was boarded by a mob, and the tea was destroyed. Similar incidents occurred at Annapolis, Md., on October 19 and at Greenwich, N.J., on December 22, and the tea was boycotted throughout the colonies.


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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Modern man as "apocoholic" who craves more frightening predictions of apocalyptic doom

The media keep feeding us more doomsday stories of fear that never come true. Modern man seems to be an "apocoholic," always craving more frightening predictions of apocalyptic doom. Why do people keep falling for it?

Best-selling ecologist Paul Ehrlich said in 1968: “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s ["and 1980s" was added in a later edition] the world will undergo famines—hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death.” Jimmy Carter said in a speech in 1977: “We could use up all of the proven reserves of oil in the entire world by the end of the next decade.”

Laughable, except that people actually believed this junk. And continue to believe similar predictions of doom. Why do they keep getting it so wrong? And why do people fall for it? Matt Ridley (Wired Magazine) spells it all out in an excellent article on this topic.

Predictions of global famine and the end of oil in the 1970s proved just as wrong as end-of-the-world forecasts from millennialist religious zealots. Since Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring kickstarted the modern environmentalist movement in 1962, prophecies of doom on a colossal scale have become routine. The past 50 years have brought us warnings of population explosions, global famines, oil exhaustion, climate catastrophes, plagues, Y2K bugs, water wars, mineral shortages, ozone holes, acid rain, nuclear winters, mad cow epidemics, and cell-phone-induced brain-cancer epidemics. So far all of these predictions have turned out to be exaggerated.

In 1976 people were panicked about swine flu. Then in the 1980s, the media scared the hell out of Americans with the threat of the heterosexual AIDS epidemic: "... one in five heterosexuals could be dead from AIDS at the end of the next three years. That’s by 1990." It never happened of course. Then came Ebola.

The biggest threat of all is "us." Humans are the disease that must be eradicated. Activists like Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society: “We need to radically and intelligently reduce human populations to fewer than one billion." And other experts agreed. “It is already too late to avoid mass starvation,” said Denis Hayes, organizer of the first Earth Day in 1970. Sending food to India was a mistake and only postponed the inevitable, William and Paul Paddock wrote in their best seller, Famine—1975!

Ever since Thomas Robert Malthus, doomsayers have tended to underestimate the power of innovation. In reality, driven by price increases, people simply develop new technologies.

In the 1970s experts were predicting that lead, zinc, tin, gold, and silver would all be gone by 1990, bringing about a collapse of civilization when we'd no longer have the raw materials to make machinery. These claims were soon being repeated in schoolbooks. We were told that the world’s known supplies of oil, tin, copper, and aluminum will be used up within our lifetime. The fearmongers scare us repeatedly with dubious predictions. And many people are gullible enough to believe this nonsense. Just take a look at the results of a famous wager between Paul Ehrlich and economist Julian Simon when the metals did not run out. Indeed, they grew cheaper.

Over the past half century, none of these threatened eco-pocalypses have played out as predicted. With a track record like this, why do people keep on falling for various cataclysmic claims? Humanity is a fast-moving target. We will combat our ecological threats in the future by innovating to meet them as they arise. We always do.

Apocalypse Not: Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Worry About End Times
by Matt Ridley (Wired Magazine)

Doomsayer Paul Ehrlich Strikes (Out) Again
by Michael Fumento

The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS
by Michael Fumento

Read More . . .

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Phony Fear Mongering with the Debt Ceiling

Scare tactics on economic catastrophe, automatic "default" on U.S. public debt, the political theater from Washington DC, secret negotiations on the debt limit. This is all fake political posturing. Phony baloney. A fiction used for political purposes. In a word, it's bull.

by Hal Dunn

If the U.S. government defaults on any public debts, it will only be because President Obama and Treasury Secretary Geithner decide to default on certain public debts, not because they have to. They would have to make a deliberate decision not to pay bondholders, which is highly unlikely.

The Default Myth
The Treasury Secretary isn't supposed to play politics, but at times, Geithner does just that. It's not likely that Geithner would decide not to pay bondholders, since the Treasury Secretary might end up being personally liable if there is a default. It is a myth that "not raising the debt ceiling" is equivalent to "default."

Obama claims that if the debt ceiling is not raised, there will be big trouble. And trouble is probably not an overstatement. Yes, it could be bad. The economic consequences do not look good. When a government runs up debts to the tune of $14 trillion, the outcome will not be pleasant, no matter how they slice it. There is no easy way out. However Obama has threatened to withhold Social Security checks, which is not likely to be something he would choose not to pay if money was to get real tight.

None of Your Business
On June 6, 2011, Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Bureau of Public Debt (BPD) seeking an answer to a simple question: What is the Obama administration prepared to do if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling? But the Obama administration did not provide a serious response. The BPD found 172 pages of records that were responsive to this question, but the White House chose to release only 17 unhelpful pages.

Should these debt negotiations be done in secret or should they be public? Judicial Watch says it's not being done in accordance with the Constitution and they are willing to sue the Federal government to open up the debt negotiation process to the public, as they say it should be, to force it to be transparent and televised on C-Span or any neutral TV station. This would demonstrate to American citizens that it's all a political game, and it's not a serious debate to avoid default as they portray it to be.

Playing Politics
The White House wants to force the debt deal to be big enough to last beyond the 2012 elections and the GOP wants the deal to be a short-term deal, small enough so that we bump up against the debt ceiling again before the 2012 election. The GOP is betting that these debt debates hurt Obama politically more than it hurts the Republicans, so they want to guarantee that this debate is re-played again before the next election. In fact, they want it to happen next year in the middle of Obama's 2012 presidential campaign attempt to win re-election.

Both sides are playing games in an attempt to gain political advantage. The liberal Democrats want to raise tax revenues to solve the short-term "debt crisis" before August 2nd. This is short-sighted, but it could allow the government to keep on paying its bills . . . for a while. The White House and many in the media see this as the most important issue to solve right away.

The conservative Republicans want to cut spending in an attempt to help reduce the long-term problem of government debt and endless spending. This is a bigger problem than the August 2nd debt-limit issue. They know that raising tax revenues won't solve the bigger problem, so they're using this particular debt-limit debate to address the overall spending and overall debt issue.

Political gamesmanship during debt debates is nothing new in America. This sort of thing has been going on since before the USA was officially formed in the late 1700s. And the debt ceiling laws have been set and then revised again over a hundred times. But at some point, we'll need to realize there really is a ceiling that can't be adjusted upward forever.

Do the Math
The federal government takes in between $170 billion and $200 billion a month in revenues, but it only pays out $29 billion a month in interest payments on the debt. So Geithner could meet all of the federal government's debt obligations and still have more than $140 billion left over for other spending. That $140 billion is short of the $300 billion in spending the federal government is scheduled to spend for all of August, but missing any those payments would not qualify as a default on the debt.

As the Bipartisan Policy Center has confirmed, Geithner could pay: the interest on the debt, all Social Security obligations, all Medicare and Medicaid obligations, all Defense contractor bills, all Veterans payments, and all active duty troops; and still have almost $7 billion left over for other items.

Geithner would still have to cut overall federal spending by 44%, and that would have economic consequences. But those consequences would not be as bad as defaulting on the debt. Not paying civilian federal workers would be unpopular, but it's not the same as a default. Not raising the debt limit would cause a limited government shutdown, not a default, as Obama has been claiming. The mostly likely reason why Obama has not been honest with the American people about that fact is because he wants to maximize their fear.

Both sides of these negotiations have been playing these games, and not being honest with the American people. The Republicans and Democrats in Congress, as well as the Obama White House and Tim Geithner. It's political theater, and not a real worry about "economic Armageddon." The debt ceiling deadline actually passed a few months ago, and Geithner pushed it out to August 2nd. If there was any real concern, the international financial markets would have been panicking during the last several months, and that hasn't happened.

But at least the Republicans have put forth some concrete plans. The White House has not. The House Republicans have already passed Cut, Cap, and Balance. Paul Ryan has put forth detailed plans for dealing with the debt ceiling, government spending, and deficits. The GOP has presented plenty of details, while the Democrats have offered vague promises and pouty speeches. Even the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has commented on how they can't score speeches; they need a proposal of some sort. They've got nothing to work with.

The White House has had more than two years (over 800 days) to do their job and create a budget, but they have not done it yet. Obama and the Democrats have not put forth a budget yet. Instead they have just been winging it and spending taxpayer money at will. There has been no talk of a Federal investigation to determine if there has been any negligence or to find out why they have not produced a budget after two years.

Both sides are lying. It won't be the end of the world if the debt ceiling isn't raised. It will be uncomfortable, that's for sure. But default is not inevitable just because the debt ceiling is not raised on August 2nd, no matter how many times Obama or the media repeat that lie.


Washington Examiner: There is no Risk of Default

Reason Magazine: The Facts About the Debt Ceiling

Mercatus Center - Debt and Deficits: The Symptoms, not the Disease

Daniel Mitchell: Why are Geithner and Bernanke Trying to Panic Financial Markets with Debt Limit Demagoguery

Forbes: Why the Republicans will lose the Debt Limit Fight

Mercatus Center - Debt Ceiling Key Concerns (PDF)

DownsizeDC.org - Tearing Defeat from the Clenched Jaws of Victory

Mercatus Center - Truth and Consequences: A Guide to Understanding the U.S. Government Debt and Deficits (PDF)

Fox Business - Lou Dobbs: More Transparency needed in Debt Negotiations (video)

Obama White House to American People on Debt Ceiling Plans: None of Your Business!

Washington Examiner: Washington gets $200 billion a month, Social Security costs $50 billion a month, and Obama is threatening to starve Grandma

Cato Institute: Thoughts on the Debt Limit Debate

Read More . . .

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Trivia, facts, and origins of Christmas

Christmas is celebrated as a major festival and public holiday by a large number of non-Christians worldwide, including many whose populations are mostly non-Christian.

Here are a few interesting facts about the history and origin of everyone's favorite holiday, Christmas.

December 25 was chosen to commemorate the birth of Jesus, the central figure of Christianity, although the date is not known to be the actual birthday of Jesus.

Christmas is an amalgam of the traditions from several cultures, accumulated over centuries.

Dies Natalis Solis Invicti means "the birthday of the unconquered sun". Celebrated on December 25. The Sun God, Mithras was popular among pagan Romans in the first century BC.

Winter festivals were the most popular festivals of the year in many cultures. Roman Saturnalia was in honor of Saturn, god of agriculture. Customs of the winter festivals include gift-giving and merrymaking from Roman Saturnalia, greenery, lights, and charity from the Roman New Year, and Yule logs and various foods from Germanic feasts.

Pagan Scandinavia celebrated a winter festival called Yule, held in the late December to early January period. As Northern Europe was the last part to Christianize, its pagan traditions had a major influence on Christmas.

Many historians believe that the church wanted their own winter festival to compete with the pagan festivals, and chose December 25 to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

The custom of embracing under a sprig of mistletoe (but not actually kissing) was a popular custom among the Druids in Britain in the 2nd century BC.

Father Christmas is the name used in many English-speaking countries for a symbolic figure associated with Christmas. Father Christmas is said to wear (these days) a bright red suit, but in Victorian and Tudor times he wore a bright green suit.

Father Christmas typified the spirit of good cheer at Christmas, but was neither a gift bringer nor particularly associated with children. In the English-speaking world, the character called "Father Christmas" influenced the development in the United States of "Santa Claus." The folklore of "Saint Nicholas," (Sinterklaas), the gift-giver, merged with English character Father Christmas to create the modern Santa Claus character.

The original Saint Nicholas was born in Turkey in the 400s. St. Nick brought gifts to children. He wore red and white bishop's ropes and had a long white beard. He traveled, not by reindeer and sleigh, but on a donkey. But Saint Nick was slender and elegant, not large and round.

In America in the 1860s, Cartoonist Thomas Nast created the modern Santa, with rosy cheeks and a rotund figure.

Marketing concepts at the Montgomery Ward department store in Chicago in 1939 included "Rollo, the red-nosed reindeer" and "Reginald, the red-nosed reindeer." Both were considered, but then changed to "Rudolph."

The earliest Christmas trees were undecorated, and began in Germany in the 700s.

In the 1820s, the US Postal Service complained of homemade Christmas cards that were clogging the mail. Commercially printed Christmas cards originated in London in 1843.

The poinsettia become associated with Christmas in North America in the mid-1800s.

Following the Protestant Reformation in the 1500s, groups such as the Puritans strongly condemned the celebration of Christmas, considering it a Catholic invention and the "trappings of popery" or the "rags of the Beast." The Catholic Church responded by promoting the festival in a more religiously oriented form.

England's Puritan rulers banned Christmas in 1647. The Restoration of King Charles II in 1660 ended the ban, but many clergymen still disapproved of Christmas celebration.

In Colonial America, the Puritans of New England shared radical Protestant disapproval of Christmas. The English Parliament banned the celebration of Christmas entirely, considering it a time of wasteful and immoral behavior.

Christmas celebration was outlawed in Boston from 1659 to 1681. The ban by the Pilgrims was revoked in 1681 by English governor Sir Edmund Andros.

In the mid-19th century, celebrating Christmas became fashionable in the Boston region. At the same time, Christian residents of Virginia and New York observed the holiday freely.

Christmas fell out of favor in the United States after the American Revolution, when it was considered an English custom.

In the 1820s, some writers began to worry that Christmas was dying out. In 1843, Charles Dickens wrote the novel A Christmas Carol, that helped revive the "spirit" of Christmas and seasonal merriment.

The Roman letter X, has been used as an abbreviation for Christ since the mid-16th century. Hence, Xmas is sometimes used as an abbreviation for Christmas.

Christmastide is defined as the period from Christmas Eve to the evening of January 5, the day before Epiphany. This period is also commonly known as the Twelve Days of Christmas, as referred to in the Christmas carol of the same name, or "Yuletide."

Today, in America, Christmas is the most popular holiday of them all.


Panati's Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things
Charles Panati


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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Scary Swine Flu (Crying Wolf)

Now that the flu season is officially over, what were the results of the scary Swine Flu pandemic? 12,500 total flu deaths. This is about a third the usual number. This was a very mild flu season.

The flu season is officially over. Has the media reported the results of the scary Swine Flu pandemic? We've had about 12,500 total flu deaths. This is about a third the usual number (according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates).

This was one of the mildest flu seasons we've had in a long time, yet hospitals and first-aid clinics had the highest levels of visits for "flu-like illness" of the century. Not to mention all the school closures, work absenteeism, vaccines, ad campaigns, and other costly efforts. The Obama administration declared two national swine flu emergencies and the public swamped emergency rooms with the worried well, delaying access for the truly ill.

There was no excuse for the media induced panic. They knew what they were doing. They were well aware that the threat was grossly overstated. The media deliberately hyped it, despite the evidence. The seasonal flu is responsible for many deaths per year, and the swine flu was no more deadly that the typical flu that we see every year. See Michael Fumento's article, Purveying Pig Flu Panic at the Post.

Writing about the swine flu, Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum wrote, "Panic is what we want. Panic is good." Some op-eds claimed that U.S. deaths could be in the 89,000 to 207,000 range. Some warned that worldwide, "between 9 million and 10 million could die."

For more good info on the phony flu, see The Phony Flu: Just the Facts, M’am; Just the Facts.

Phony flu fast facts you should know:

Fumento notes that the number of flu deaths in an average season is 36,000. Yet the official estimate of flu deaths that actually occurred this season is 12,500. During the panic, all along there was ample evidence that swine flu was remarkably mild. New York City data from spring: "Seasonal flu is 10 to 40 times deadlier than swine flu."

Health authorities terrified parents, telling them swine flu was cutting a swathe through our youth, in an effort to get them to vaccinate their kids with vaccine that wasn’t even available. But, in fact, the percentage of U.S. childhood deaths caused by swine flu was 0.63 percent.

Has the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an end to the pandemic yet? Nope.

How many health officials have apologized for hyping swine flu? Zero.

How many major U.S. news outlets that have apologized for hyping swine flu? Zero.

Purveying Pig Flu Panic at the Post
By Michael Fumento
Canada Free Press, June 10, 2010

The Phony Flu: Just the Facts, M’am; Just the Facts
By Michael Fumento
Canada Free Press, June 7, 2010


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