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Monday, January 15, 2018

Alexander Hamilton wrote to Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton on September 6, 1780, two months before their marriage. According to a mid-19th century publication of the Hamilton papers, the letter was entirely about a battle of the Revolutionary War and begins: "Most people here are groaning under a very disagreeable piece of intelligence just come from the southward, that Gates has had a total defeat near Camden, in South Carolina." In the mid-20th century, Columbia University history professor Harold C. Syrett published the Hamilton papers again. In Syrett's edition the same letter begins: "I wrote you My Dear Betsey a long letter or rather two long letters by your father." The "disagreeable piece of intelligence" from South Carolina starts at paragraph two. Syrett also includes the end of the letter, excluded by John Hamilton, where Hamilton apologizes: "Pardon me my love for talking politics to you. What have we to do with any thing but love?" read more


The precise extent of human-induced climate change is unclear, but the basic science is unequivocal, as is the danger it poses to the United States. This threat comes from the direct impact of climate change on agricultural production and sea levels but equally importantly from the huge waves of migration that climate change is likely to cause, on a scale that even the world's richest states and societies will be unable either to prevent or accommodate. The Trump administration has recently decided to remove climate change from the list of security threats to the United States under its new National Security Strategy (NSS). Going forward, the most urgent and important task facing climate change activists in the United States is to persuade the U.S. national security establishment of the mistakenness of this decision. read more


Mark Nutsch and Bob Pennington, Army Green Berets, were assigned to help Afghan fighters take back their nation from the Taliban during the weeks after the 9/11 attacks on the United States. One thing no one thought about, though, was how to get around the mountainous terrain of northern Afghanistan. The locals, it seems, rode horses. With limited previous riding experience 12 members of the 5th Special Forces Group's Operational Detachment Alpha 595 survived painful saddles, bad-tempered horses, wary allies, harsh elements and an overwhelming enemy force to help defeat the Taliban in less than two months. They earned fame as the Horse Soldiers, memorialized in a statue overlooking ground zero at Liberty Park in New York. Now, 17 years later, their story -- or a fictionalized piece of it -- is told in 12 Strong, a major Hollywood movie opening in theaters Jan. 19. read more


Sunday, January 14, 2018

UCF, which finished its football season undefeated by beating Auburn in the Peach Bowl, is claiming that it won the 2017 national championship and will hang a banner inside Spectrum Stadium and have a parade at Magic Kingdom for the team, athletic director Danny White said. The Knights beat the Tigers 34-27 to cap a 13-0 season, finishing the season as the only undefeated team in college football. read more


Monday, January 08, 2018

Last month we talked about a paper by some tax lawyers looking for loopholes and glitches in the new tax plan. I described one glitch: States should solicit charitable donations to pay for roads and schools, and make those donations fully creditable against state taxes. The rough idea is that if you have $50,000 of state tax liability, that is no longer deductible from your federal taxes -- but if you instead donate $50,000 to the state, that is deductible from your federal taxes as a charitable donation, and if the state reduces your taxes by the $50,000 donation then you come out ahead. This is the simplest and clearest of all regulatory arbitrages: Giving money to the state as taxes, and giving money to the state as a donation, are economically equivalent, but they will be treated differently by the federal tax code and so there will be incentives to shift from one to another. read more


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