Saturday, June 25, 2005

Argentina, A Brief History of 19th Century

A Brief History of 19th Century Argentina - Summary of events and trends in 1810-1890 Argentina by Heath S. Douglas, a graduate student at Mississippi State University. The career of Juan Manuel Rosas seems particularly noteworthy in a scandalous outragous dictator sort of way.

From the site:

The biggest mistake one can make when studying Argentina in the 1800s is to assume that it was a true union from independence. The country declared itself independent of Spain in 1810, but it was decades before there was a true unity in Argentina, and some people will argue that unity is not complete even today. Old Argentina, or the northwest, was not under the power of emerging Buenos Aires in the early 1800s, and sectionalism was rampant throughout the country. The mainly rural northwest resisted all attempts by the porteƱos of Buenos Aires to exercise power.

By 1826 the people began to realize something had to be done to unify the country. So there was a meeting in Buenos Aires. A new constitution was written and Bernardino Rivadavia was elected president. The provinces took offense to this, so Rivadavia resigned and civil war ensued from 1826-1828.

It was at this time of civil war that the most influential man in 19th century Argentine history arose, Juan Manuel de Rosas. In 1829 he was elected to a three year term as a federalist, meaning he was an advocate of a government sharing power between the national and provincial sectors, as opposed to an unitario, who would support the idea of a strong central government. Rosas was really nothing more than a gaucho (an Argentine cowboy). But he managed to make alliance with the Catholic Church and even was successful in enacting laws to improve education. Yet despite his success, he left after his term ended in 1832 to help drive out natives in the south and open up more lands for civilization. These achievements of course made Rosas a national hero, and all the while his wife was back in Buenos Aires stirring things up. This would eventually give Juan Manuel de Rosas the chance to again be the savior of Argentina. As the situation worsened in Buenos Aires, it became ever easier for Rosas to ride back in and take power. He did this in 1835 and was elected to a five year term as president. What he did was establish a dictatorship. Opponents were exiled or killed, and school children were taught of the "Great Rosas".

Friday, June 24, 2005

History of Vanuatu

History of Vanuatu. This is short but informative essay on the history of the Pacific Island of Vanuata. I have not seen a lot of history relating to Vanuata so I found this of interest. Of course, I have heard of Vanuata. It hosted the TV show Survivor in 2004!

From the site:

The prehistory of Vanuatu is obscure; archaeological evidence supports the commonly held theory that peoples speaking Austronesian languages first came to the islands some 4,000 years ago. Pottery fragments have been found dating back to 1300-1100 B.C.

The first island in the Vanuatu group discovered by Europeans was Espiritu Santo, when in 1606 the Portuguese explorer, Pedro Fernandez De Quiros, spied what he thought was a southern continent. Europeans did not return until 1768, when Louis Antoine de Bougainville rediscovered the islands. In 1774, Captain Cook named the islands the New Hebrides, a name that lasted until independence.

In 1825, trader Peter Dillon's discovery of sandalwood on the island of Erromango began a rush that ended in 1830 after a clash between immigrant Polynesian workers and indigenous Melanesians. During the 1860s, planters in Australia, Fiji, New Caledonia, and the Samoa Islands, in need of laborers, encouraged a long-term indentured labor trade called "blackbirding." At the height of the labor trade, more than one-half the adult male population of several of the Islands worked abroad.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Chinese Famine of 1958-1961

Chinese Famine of 1958-1961 - An account of the genesis and the course of the disastrous induced famine of the late 1950's, as part of the Great Leap Forward. Or, as many have called this horrible social movement, the Great Leap Backwards.

Communism doesn't really work. All the governments that have tried it either are now gone or have introduced liberal amounts of capitalism into their economies. I would hope that the example of the Chinese famine and other communist blunders would discourage future attempts at communist style state control of national economies but it probably won't.

From the site:

To understand the cause of the Chinese famine, first the reader must look back to the Soviet famine of 1931-3. Under Stalin, peasants and others were forced into large collective farms where the state dictated farming methods and production quotas – any and all private farming efforts were strictly forbidden. To make matters worse, Stalin placed Trofim Denisovitch Lysenko in charge of agricultural science in the Soviet Union.

To put matters bluntly, Lysenko was a quack. He rejected modern genetics theory, for example, as "fascist" and instead adopted a modified form of Lamarckism that incorporated some Marxist ideas. In keeping with these ideas, Lysenko argued that seeds could be dramatically altered by merely altering their environment. For example, Lysenko believed that if seeds were soaked in extremely cold water, they would then grow in cold environments. The Soviets wasted valuable time and money instituting Lysenko's harebrained schemes, and Lysenko used his position to promote the careers of other pseudo-scientists with similarly bizarre ideas (2).

Although the result of instituting Lysenko's pseudoscience and Stalin's collectivization techniques caused a famine that killed millions in the USSR, Mao and other Chinese Communists were enamored of Stalin and insisted on replicating the Soviet experience in China (apparently against the advice of the Kruschev and other Soviet officials).

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Arizona Ghost Towns

Arizona Ghost Towns - Photos of Bisbee, Pearce, Courtland, and other ghost towns in Cochise County and southern Arizona. This is a good site which has plenty of interesting pictures.

From the site:

The deserts of the American Southwest hide many ghost towns. Southern Arizona, and Cochise County in particular, has more than its fair share, thanks to the boom-and-bust silver trade of the late 19th and early 20th century. Some of the towns that flourished in those days -- Tombstone and Bisbee, for example -- still flourish today, due in no small part to the efforts of residents. Most others are in their own individual state of decay; some are relatively well preserved, some stand as a shell of what they once were, and still others have vanished without a trace.

Most of the black and white images on this page were shot with Ilford SFX 200, a near-infrared film, to add a more dramatic effect than that offered by more conventional monochromatic films. The color photos were shot with Kodak E100VS professional slide film.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Hawaiian Independence?

Hawaiian Independence? How many states are there in the American Union? It is 50 of course. But some will try to claim there are only 49!

How? They misread history by claiming Hawaii is not really an American state. The root of this confusion has to do with how Hawaii was legally acquired by the USA. In 1898, the Republic of Hawaii gave sovereignty of the islands to the United States. As the internationally recognized government of the islands, it was entitled to do this. At that moment, Hawaii became an American possession under international law.

Was this legal? The Hawaiian Revolution of 1893 overthrew the monarchy of Hawaii. Was this legal under prior Hawaiian Law? Of course not. All revolts are illegal under the laws of the nations who have to deal with them. The Cuban Revolution was illegal according to Fulgencio Batista. The Russian Revolution of 1917 was illegal according to the Czar of Russia as well. However, do we recognize the legal rights of the current Cuban government? Do we acknowledge that the Russian revolutionaries had the right to vote away the sovereignty of the Russian state and give it to the Soviet Union? We all do. This is the same as the legal status of Hawaii. The rebels of 1893 in Hawaii won and their actions as a government are just as legal under international law as the actions of those of the current Cuban regime.

Deny this fact and your denying any current legal internationally recognized state that has it origins in any revolution or coup! This includes the USA, France, the United Kingdom, etc. The fact that a single American gunboat assisted in the Hawaiian Revolution of 1893 does not change this. The Soviets aided Castro and the French helped the Americans at Yorktown in the American Revolution as well. The resulting governments are still internationally recognized.

Further, Hawaiian citizens voted to join the USA as a state. And the United Nations recognized the vote! The vote was overwhelming as it was 8-1 in favor of statehood.

Hawaiian separatists deny this vote based on two points. One, the vote allowed American military personnel stationed in Hawaii to vote. If the vote had been close, this would be a valid point. However, if you take away the votes of the military, the result would have been the same. Hawaiians voted overwhelmingly in favor of statehood. The military vote does not change the final result.

The second point is that the vote is illegal under UN rules as there was no choice for independence on the ballot. However, the UN certified this vote by removing Hawaii from the list of non self-governing territories. As this was a requirement of the UN, the UN had the legal right to interpret the vote. Hawaii was deemed to be a part of the USA by the international community by this action of the UN.

You might think a referee is wrong in a football game, but despite a bad call, the results of the game are still upheld later. This is the case of Hawaii and the UN. Maybe it was the wrong decision (and the size of the Hawaiian vote indicates it was not), but the results are still binding. Hawaii = USA and the world agreed.

All the rest of the stuff that comes from these Hawaiian Independence sites is based on the flawed logic that Hawaii is currently undergoing occupation by the USA and that the Kingdom of Hawaii still legally exists! This logic then leads these sites to argue that Hawaii should be allowed to secede from the USA (or in their words restored) without a vote of the people of Hawaii. Further, if there ever was a vote, any one without the correct magic DNA (the majority of Hawaiians!) would be denied a vote as only Hawaiians with ancestors who were citizens under the Hawaiian Kingdom would be allowed to vote in the new government. That is a cause that is assured to go nowhere. Can you really see world opinion swinging in favor of the disenfranchisement of the majority of Hawaiian citizens? Grandfather clauses are so post-Civil War American South...

The US Congress apologized for any past injustice in Hawaii in 1993. This was a political move to shore up support amongst Democratic voters. It may have helped in Hawaii but the Democrats lost control of both houses of Congress in the 1994 election anyway. This resolution has no legal force of law and is merely a PR act equivalent to the state of New Jersey declaring April 4th State Cherry Pie Day. Yet, the separatists always point to it as some great proof that Hawaii is not American...

The final argument is this. If the USA does not legally own Hawaii, why haven't the majority of people heard of this before? If the Hawaiian vote of 1959 was interpreted illegally by the UN, why didn't the Soviet Union veto it? They were pretty good at doing their best at making the USA look bad. Why haven't current American antagonists made an issue of this? China hasn't even when they are critiqued about Tibet. Cuba, Iran, and North Korea are silent on this point. If Hawaii is not American and there was any legal case internationally to be made of this, don't you think the UN, the World Court, and the international media would be all over this? The deafening silence you hear tells you exactly what the world community believes about Hawaii and the USA.

This issue will probably go away in another century or so. Nature being what it is most Hawaiians will eventually have DNA from both the original Hawaiians and the "occupiers" by then. (You don't hear claims now from Saxons complaining about the injustice inflected on them by the Normans in 1066 do you?) It would be pretty dead now if it were not for the Internet and the ability of every fringe group to have their message heard on the Web. As it is, it will probably provide another generation or two of radicals the opportunity to confuse the public and be paid speakers on the university anti-American circuit.

Monday, June 20, 2005

History of the United States of America

History of the United States of America. Another seemingly impossible task for a short essay. Yet, it reads well and sums up American history in a reasonable fashion.

From the site:

When the London Company sent out its first expedition to begin colonizing Virginia on December 20, 1606, it was by no means the first European attempt to exploit North America. In 1564, for example, French Protestants (Huguenots) built a colony near what is now Jacksonville, Florida. This intrusion did not go unnoticed by the Spanish, who had previously claimed the region. The next year, the Spanish established a military post at St. Augustine; Spanish troops soon wiped out the French interlopers residing but 40 miles away.

Meanwhile, Basque, English, and French fishing fleets became regular visitors to the coasts from Newfoundland to Cape Cod. Some of these fishing fleets even set up semi-permanent camps on the coasts to dry their catches and to trade with local Indians, exchanging furs for manufactured goods. For the next two decades, Europeans' presence in North America was limited to these semi-permanent incursions. Then in the 1580s, the English tried to plant a permanent colony on Roanoke Island (on the outer banks of present-day North Carolina), but their effort was short-lived.

In the early 1600s, in rapid succession, the English began a colony (Jamestown) in Chesapeake Bay in 1607, the French built Quebec in 1608, and the Dutch began their interest in the region that became present-day New York. Within another generation, the Plymouth Company (1620), the Massachusetts Bay Company (1629), the Company of New France (1627), and the Dutch West India Company (1621) began to send thousands of colonists, including families, to North America. Successful colonization was not inevitable. Rather, interest in North America was a halting, yet global, contest among European powers to exploit these lands.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Bible History Online: Augustus

Bible History Online: Augustus - General overview of the life and history of Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus. Provides biographical timeline, maps and images, text of dictionary and encyclopedia entries, and selected translations from the Res Gestae and De Vita Caesarum.

From the site:

Augustus is very possibly the single most important person in all of Roman history. During his very long and fantastic career, he provided many answers for the major problems of the Republic and his solutions for Roman government remained solid for another three centuries. His system was called the "Principate," and although it had its problems, it brought to the Roman Empire a succession of rulers who controlled an incredibly long period of peace and prosperity, more than Europe and the Middle East had ever known.

Even though most of the rulers had their problems, the achievements of Augustus in establishing this system is amazing. Augustus was a remarkable man, well known for the fact that he could be very ruthless and at the same time be tolerant and forgiving.

Augustus was the imperial title given to Octavius, successor of Julius Caesar. He was born in 63 B.C. and was educated by his great-uncle, Julius Caesar, who eventually made him his heir.

Octavian was the first Roman emperor and the Bible refers to him as "Caesar Augustus". It was this same Emperor who had ordered the census that brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem where the real King would be born.