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Conspiracy Theories

A conspiracy theory is an explanation of an event or situation that invokes a conspiracy without warrant, generally one involving an illegal or harmful act carried out by government or other powerful actors. Conspiracy theories often produce hypotheses that contradict the prevailing understanding of history or simple facts. The term is a derogatory one.

According to the political scientist Michael Barkun, conspiracy theories rely on the view that the universe is governed by design, and embody three principles: nothing happens by accident, nothing is as it seems, and everything is connected. Another common feature is that conspiracy theories evolve to incorporate whatever evidence exists against them, so that they become, as Barkun writes, a closed system that is unfalsifiable, and therefore “a matter of faith rather than proof”.

People formulate conspiracy theories to explain, for example, power relations in social groups and the perceived existence of evil forces. Conspiracy theories have chiefly psychological or socio-political origins. Proposed psychological origins include projection; the personal need to explain “a significant event [with] a significant cause;” and the product of various kinds and stages of thought disorder, such as paranoid disposition, ranging in severity to diagnosable mental illnesses. Some people prefer socio-political explanations over the insecurity of encountering random, unpredictable, or otherwise inexplicable events. Some philosophers have argued that belief in conspiracy theories can be rational.


 

Third Reich

Nazi Germany is the period in German history from 1933 to 1945, when Germany was governed by a dictatorship under the control of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party (NSDAP). Under Hitler’s rule, Germany was transformed into a fascist state in which the Nazi Party took totalitarian control over nearly all aspects of life. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich (“Greater German Reich”) from 1943 to 1945.

The period is also known under the names the Third Reich (German: Drittes Reich) and the National Socialist Period (German: Zeit des Nationalsozialismus, abbreviated as NS-Zeit). The Nazi regime came to an end after the Allied Powers defeated Germany in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe.

Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany by the President of the Weimar Republic Paul von Hindenburg on 30 January 1933. The Nazi Party then began to eliminate all political opposition and consolidate its power. Hindenburg died on 2 August 1934, and Hitler became dictator of Germany by merging the powers and offices of the Chancellery and Presidency. A national referendum held 19 August 1934 confirmed Hitler as sole Führer (leader) of Germany.

All power was centralised in Hitler’s person, and his word became above all laws. The government was not a coordinated, co-operating body, but a collection of factions struggling for power and Hitler’s favour. In the midst of the Great Depression, the Nazis restored economic stability and ended mass unemployment using heavy military spending and a mixed economy. Extensive public works were undertaken, including the construction of Autobahnen (motorways). The return to economic stability boosted the regime’s popularity.


 

British Overseas Territories

Elbow Beach
Elbow Beach

The British Overseas Territories (formerly known as a dependent territories or earlier as a crown colonies) are territories that are under the sovereignty and formal control of the United Kingdom, though not part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Overseas territories should be distinguished from crown dependencies (the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, which have a different constitutional relationship with the United Kingdom), and protectorates (which were not formally under the sovereignty of the United Kingdom).

Following the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997, the remaining British overseas possessions are mostly small island territories with small populations, the only territory of significant area being the uninhabited British Antarctic Territory. The reasons for these territories not achieving independence vary, and include:

lack of support for independence among the local population;
a small population size making the possibility of success as a sovereign state more difficult;
dependence on economic aid from the UK;
being uninhabited territories used for scientific or military purposes;
a lack of any economic or political justification for independence.
In 2002, the UK Parliament passed the British Overseas Territories Act 2002. This reclassified the UK’s dependent territories as overseas territories and, with the exception of those people solely connected with the Sovereign Base Areas of Cyprus, restored full British citizenship to their inhabitants.


 

Crown Dependencies

ITV Channel Islands
Channel Islands

The Crown dependencies are self-governing possessions of the British Crown. They are distinct from on the one hand, the overseas territories of the United Kingdom, and on the other hand – the Commonwealth Realms.
As of 2014, three jurisdictions held this status: the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey in the English Channel and the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea.
Being independently administered jurisdictions, none forms part of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth of Nations, or the European Union.

“The Crown” is defined differently in each Crown dependency. In Jersey, statements in the 21st century of the constitutional position by the Law Officers of the Crown define it as the “Crown in right of Jersey”, with all Crown land in the Bailiwick of Jersey belonging to the Crown in right of Jersey and not to the Crown Estate of the United Kingdom.
Legislation of the Isle of Man defines the “Crown in right of the Isle of Man” as being separate from the “Crown in right of the United Kingdom”.
In Guernsey, legislation refers to the “Crown in right of the Bailiwick”, and the Law Officers of the Crown of Guernsey submitted that “The Crown in this context ordinarily means the Crown in right of the république of the Bailiwick of Guernsey” and that this comprises “the collective governmental and civic institutions, established by and under the authority of the Monarch, for the governance of these Islands, including the States of Guernsey and legislatures in the other Islands, the Royal Court and other courts, the Lieutenant Governor, Parish authorities, and the Crown acting in and through the Privy Council.” This constitutional concept is also worded as the “Crown in right of the Bailiwick of Guernsey”.

Although the Crown dependencies are British possessions of the Crown, and are not sovereign nations in their own right, the power to pass legislation affecting the islands ultimately rests with their own respective legislative assemblies, with the assent of the Crown (Privy Council, or in the case of the Isle of Man in certain circumstances the Lieutenant-Governor).
In 2005, Jersey followed the Isle of Man and Guernsey in creating the role of Chief Minister to serve as the island’s head of government.
All three Crown dependencies are members of the British–Irish Council.


 

British Empire

britanniaThe British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the largest empire in history and, for over a century, was the foremost global power.

By 1922 the British Empire held sway over about 458 million people, one-fifth of the world’s population at the time, and covered more than 33,700,000 km2 (13,012,000 sq mi), almost a quarter of the Earth’s total land area. As a result, its political, linguistic and cultural legacy is widespread. At the peak of its power, it was often said that “the sun never sets on the British Empire” because its span across the globe ensured that the sun was always shining on at least one of its numerous territories.During the Age of Discovery in the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal and Spain pioneered European exploration of the globe, and in the process established large overseas empires.

Envious of the great wealth these empires bestowed, England, France and the Netherlands began to establish colonies and trade networks of their own in the Americas and Asia. A series of wars in the 17th and 18th centuries with the Netherlands and France left England (Britain, following the 1707 Act of Union with Scotland) the dominant colonial power in North America and India. The loss of the Thirteen Colonies in North America in 1783 after a war of independence deprived Britain of some of its oldest and most populous colonies. British attention soon turned towards Africa, Asia and the Pacific.

Following the defeat of Napoleonic France in 1815, Britain enjoyed a century of almost unchallenged dominance, and expanded its imperial holdings across the globe. Increasing degrees of autonomy were granted to its white settler colonies, some of which were reclassified as dominions.

 

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