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Barry Landau and the grim decade of archives theft

By Travis McDade

Ten years ago, responding to $200,000 worth of thefts by curator Shawn Aubitz, United States Archivist John Carlin said he had “appointed a high-level management task force to review internal security measures” at the National Archives. “A preliminary set of recommendations are under review and a number of new measures are already in place.” Four years later, an unpaid summer intern smuggled 160 documents out of the very same Archives branch. His only tool was a yellow legal pad.

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The Sack of Rome

This Day in World History
On May 6, 1527, a mass of German Lutheran and Spanish Catholic troops—unlikely allies—reached Rome angry at being unpaid for months and resentful of the riches of the papacy. As the soldiers—by now a rampaging mob—entered the Vatican, Pope Clement VII was saying a mass in the Sistine Chapel. With Swiss Guards being slaughtered in St. Peter’s Square, the pope was hustled away to safety in the stout Castel Sant’Angelo. And the sack of Rome was on.

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Why are Russians attracted to strong leaders?

By Geoffrey Hosking
After a decade of a chaotic but exhilarating democracy in the 1990s, Putin as president and prime minister has been restoring a strong state. At least, that is how we usually understand it. He has certainly restored an authoritarian state. On assuming office in 2000, he strengthened the ‘power vertical’ by ending the local election of provincial governors and sending in his own viceroys – mostly ex-military men – to supervise them. Citing the state’s need for ‘information security’, he closed down or took over media outlets which exposed inconvenient information or criticised his actions. Determined opponents were bankrupted, threatened, arrested, even murdered. He subdued the unruly Duma (parliament) by making it much more difficult for opposition parties to register or gain access to the media, and by encouraging violations of electoral procedure at the polls. Until recently, the Russian public seemed to accept this as part of the natural order.

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Roger Williams & Church-State Separation

These days, separation of church and state is in danger of becoming a hollow cliché. And on other days, it has been in danger of being regarded as a communist plot or, more recently, as a secularist one.

A look back at the life of the seventeenth-century founder of Rhode Island corrects these misunderstandings as well as gives a passionate freshness to the whole subject. Roger Williams was no communist, no secularist, and above all no huckster of empty slogans.

He was a deeply religious believer, in some ways even more religious than the Puritans who ejected him from Massachusetts in 1635. And he advocated religious liberty not because religion mattered so little but because it mattered so much.

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