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The Christmas Truce of 1914: Proof that Peace Is Possible

The Christmas Truce of 1914: Proof that Peace Is Possible

As 1914 drew to a close, Europe had been at war for months. On the Western Front, opposing armies faced each other across a stalemated front line running from the North Sea to the Swiss border. On December 24, 100,000 soldiers from both sides of that line decided to create some peace on Earth. They decorated their trenches with holiday spirit. They sang carols to each other across “No Man’s Land,” then walked into the space between their trenches, met, smoked and drank together, and exchanged what gifts they could round up. Chaplains conducted Christmas services for all comers. Impromptu...

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Pardoning Assange Would be the First Step Back Toward Rule of Law

On April 11, the ongoing saga of journalist and transparency activist Julian Assange took a dangerous turn.  Ecuador’s president, Lenin Moreno, revoked his asylum in that country’s London embassy. British police immediately arrested him — supposedly pursuant to his “crime” of jumping bail on an invalid arrest warrant in an investigation since dropped without charges but, as they admitted shortly thereafter,  actually with the intent of turning him over to US prosecutors on bogus “hacking” allegations. The US political class has been after Assange for nearly a decade. In 2010 WikiLeaks, the...

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Mueller Report: Secrecy Shouldn’t be an Option

Mueller Report: Secrecy Shouldn’t be an Option

As February draws to an end, rumors abound that we’re about to see Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Or at least that someone — namely, newly confirmed US Attorney General William Barr — is about to see that report.  The rest of us, maybe not so much. “I don’t know at the end of the day what will be releasable,” Barr told the US Senate during his January confirmation hearing.  “I am going to make as much information available as I can consistent with the rules and regulations.” That’s not good enough. Robert Mueller has...

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The First Rule of AIPAC Is: You Do Not Talk about AIPAC

The First Rule of AIPAC Is: You Do Not Talk about AIPAC

Washington’s political establishment went berserk when US Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) publicly noted that US-Israel relations are “all about the Benjamins”  — slang for $100 bills, referring to money shoveled at American politicians by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Omar was accused of antisemitism — immediately by Republicans, shortly after by members of her own party — and bullied into apologizing. She may or may not be prejudiced against Jews,  but even if she is, that wasn’t her real offense. Her real offense was  publicly mentioning the irrefutable fact  that...

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Preparedness versus "Price-Gouging": Don't Hold Out for a Hero

As the US Gulf Coast continues to reel under the impact of Hurricane Harvey, the word “hero” finds itself in much, and appropriate, use. From government first responders to Louisiana’s “Cajun Navy” to just plain old friends and neighbors, people are pitching in and helping one another through the worst tropical storm to make landfall in the US in more than a decade. That’s a ray of sunshine for a cloudy week. But, living as I do in another hurricane-prone area (Florida) where I got a small taste of the phenomenon from Hermine last year, and having seen my share of tornadoes, blizzards,...

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Preparedness versus “Price-Gouging”: Don’t Hold Out for a Hero

As the US Gulf Coast continues to reel under the impact of Hurricane Harvey, the word “hero” finds itself in much, and appropriate, use. From government first responders to Louisiana’s “Cajun Navy” to just plain old friends and neighbors, people are pitching in and helping one another through the worst tropical storm to make landfall in the US in more than a decade. That’s a ray of sunshine for a cloudy week. But, living as I do in another hurricane-prone area (Florida) where I got a small taste of the phenomenon from Hermine last year, and having seen my share of tornadoes, blizzards,...

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Charlottesville Haters: Test Case for the Internet as Public Square

In a recent column, I celebrated the phenomenon of “Social Preferencing” and the boost Charlottesville gave to an online, crowdsourced, social media version of it, @YesYoureRacist,” which makes it easy for everyone to “ostracize a Nazi.” That column received quite a bit of pushback from readers with a darker view of the situation, pointing to the likelihood of shattered innocent lives (due to mistaken identity or intentional fraud) and predicting an era in which unpopular views are suppressed by the digital equivalent of lynch mobs. Those readers are right: Both scenarios are indeed playing...

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If You've Got Nothing to Hide, You've Got Nothing to Fear, JFK Assassination Edition

As America marked the 50th anniversary of US president John F. Kennedy’s assassination four years ago, a clear majority of Americans (according to polls by Gallup and AP/GfK) still believed that the whole truth of what happened in Dallas on November 22, 1963 remains unknown: That Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone and that the killing was in fact the result of a conspiracy. One good reason for that belief, or at least for skepticism as to the truth of the official narrative, is continued government secrecy. To this very day, thousands of government files — mostly produced by the Federal...

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