In March of 1804, French dragoons secretly crossed the Rhine into the German Margraviate of Baden. Acting on orders from Napoleon himself, they kidnapped Louis Antoine de Bourbon, Duke of Enghien. After a hastily-convened court-martial on charges of bearing arms against France, the duke was shot. "C'est pire qu'un crime, c'est une faute," a French official (supposedly, but probably not, Talleyrand) said of the duke's execution: "It is worse than a crime, it is a mistake."

As we enter a new year, the running-battle between the world's governments and the world-changing technology known as "cryptocurrency" continues. As 2019 drew to an end, Swiss president Ueli Maurer asserted that Facebook's digital currency (not a real cryptocurrency), Libra, has failed "because central banks will not accept the basket of currencies underpinning it." Politicians want to regulate — or, if possible, kill — cryptocurrency.

As the calendar prepared to flip from 2019 to 2020, protesters stormed the US embassy in Baghdad. As I write this, the action — a response to US airstrikes in Iraq and Syria which killed at least 25 and wounded more than 50 — hasn't yet become a reprise of the Iran hostage crisis of 40 years ago, but it's eerily reminiscent. Although few Americans seem to notice, Iraq is arguably the second-longest war in US history.

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.

To the extent that the third presidential impeachment in US history is a "victory" — the public jury is still out on that question and likely to remain so for some time — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) seems determined to snatch defeat from its jaws.

Writing at Reason magazine, Liz Wolfe lauds home-delivery culture — the increasing tendency of Americans to Netflix and chill while relying on Amazon Prime, Instacart, Grubhub, and other services to drop the goods we consume off on our front porches.

US Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) makes no bones about his position on the likely upcoming impeachment trial of US president Donald Trump. "I am trying to give a pretty clear signal I have made up my mind," he tells CNN International's Becky Anderson. "I'm not trying to pretend to be a fair juror here." Well, okay, then. Graham has publicly disqualified himself as, and should be excused from serving as, a juror.

"US officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign," the Washington Post's Craig Whitlock reports, "making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable."

Amazon is one of the largest companies in the world, boasting revenues of more than $230 billion last year. But last month, the company sued the US Department of Defense over a paltry potential  $10 billion spread over ten years. Amazon lost out to Microsoft in bidding for the Pentagon's Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (yes, JEDI, because the most important part of a government program is coming up with a cool acronym) cloud-computing program.

I don't keep count, but I see lots of headlines like this one from The Hill, dated December 5: "Congress races to beat deadline on shutdown." Reporters Jordain Carney and Niv Elis tell us that "Congress is racing the clock" and working on a "tight time frame" to pass yet another stopgap spending measure ("continuing resolution") so that the government doesn't go into one of its perennial fake "shutdown" productions.

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