Portal:North America/Selected article

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Selected articles list[edit]

Portal:North America/Selected article/1

Flag of Canada

The National Flag of Canada, also known as the Maple Leaf, and l'Unifolié (French for "the one-leafed"), is a red flag with a white square in its centre, featuring a stylized 11-pointed red maple leaf. Its adoption in 1965 marked the first time a national flag had been officially adopted to replace the Union Flag. The Canadian Red Ensign had been unofficially used since the 1890s and was approved by a 1945 Order-in-Council for use "wherever place or occasion may make it desirable to fly a distinctive Canadian flag". In 1964, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson appointed a committee to resolve the issue, sparking a serious debate about a flag change. Out of three choices, the maple leaf design by George F. G. Stanley based on the flag of the Royal Military College of Canada was selected. The flag made its first appearance on February 15, 1965; the date is now celebrated annually as National Flag of Canada Day.Many different flags have been created for use by Canadian officials, government bodies, and military forces. Most of these flags contain the maple leaf motif in some fashion, either by having the Canadian flag charged in the canton, or by including maple leaves in the design. The Royal Union Flag is also an official flag in Canada, used as a symbol of Canada's membership in the Commonwealth of Nations, and of its allegiance to the Crown. The Union Flag forms a component of other Canadian flags, including the provincial flags of British Columbia, Manitoba and Ontario.


Portal:North America/Selected article/2

The new 7 World Trade Center

7 World Trade Center is a building in New York City located across from the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan. The name "7 World Trade Center" has referred to two buildings: the original structure, completed in 1987, and the current structure. The original building was destroyed on September 11, 2001 and replaced with the new 7 World Trade Center, which opened in 2006. Both buildings were developed by Larry Silverstein, who holds a ground lease for the site from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.The original 7 World Trade Center was 47 stories tall, clad in red exterior masonry, and occupied a trapezoidal footprint. An elevated walkway connected the building to the World Trade Center plaza. The building was situated above a Consolidated Edison (Con Ed) power substation, which imposed unique structural design constraints. When the building opened in 1987, Silverstein had difficulties attracting tenants. In 1988, Salomon Brothers signed a long-term lease, and became the main tenants of the building. On September 11, 2001, 7 WTC was damaged by debris when the nearby North Tower of the WTC collapsed. Its structural integrity was further compromised by fires that burned throughout the afternoon and the building collapsed completely at 5:20 p.m. Investigators are currently trying to determine exactly how the combination of local structural damage and fire caused the collapse of the whole structure. A final report is expected in or after July 2008.


Portal:North America/Selected article/3

Flag of Mexico

The Flag of the United Mexican States or Mexico is a vertical tricolor of green, white, and red with the national coat of arms charged in the center of the white stripe. While the meaning of the colors has changed over time, these three colors were adopted by Mexico following independence from Spain during the country's War of Independence. The current flag was adopted in 1968, but the overall design has been used since 1821, when the First National Flag was created. The current law of national symbols, Law on the National Arms, Flag, and Anthem, that governs the use of the national flag has been in place since 1984. France was the inspiration of those who detached Mexico from Spain in 1821, and they devised a new tricolor based on the flag of the liberation army. At that time the Italian tricolor was not in use. The flag now contains the coat of arms, in order to distinguish it from that of Italy. Red, white, and green are the colors of the national liberation army in Mexico. The central emblem is the Aztec pictogram for Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City), the center of their empire. It recalls the legend that inspired the Aztecs to settle on what was originally a lake-island. The form of the coat of arms was most recently revised in 1968. Aztec legend held that they should found their city on the spot where they saw an eagle on a cactus, eating a snake. Ribbon in the national colors at are the bottom of the coat of arms. Throughout history, the flag has changed 4 times, as the design of the coat of arms and the length-width ratios of the flag have been modified.


Portal:North America/Selected article/4

Location of Canada

Canada /ˈkænədə/ is a country occupying most of northern North America, extending from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west and northward into the Arctic Ocean. It is the world's second largest country by total area (after Russia), and shares land borders with the United States to the south and northwest. The land occupied by Canada was inhabited for millennia by various aboriginal people. Beginning in the late 15th century, British and French expeditions explored and later settled the Atlantic coast. France ceded nearly all of its colonies in North America in 1763 after the Seven Years War. In 1867, with the union of three British North American colonies through Confederation, Canada was formed as a federal dominion of four provinces. This began an accretion of additional provinces and territories and a process of increasing autonomy from the United Kingdom, highlighted by the Statute of Westminster in 1931, and culminating in the Canada Act in 1982 which severed the vestiges of French

yeah!


Portal:North America/Selected article/5

A schematic of the Panama Canal, illustrating the sequence of locks and passages

The Panama Canal is a man-made canal in Panama which joins the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. One of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken, it had an enormous impact on shipping between the two oceans, replacing the long and treacherous route via the Drake Passage and Cape Horn at the southernmost tip of South America. A ship sailing from New York to San Francisco via the canal travels 9,500 km (6,000 miles), well under half the 22,500 km (14,000 mi) route around Cape Horn. Although the concept of a canal near Panama dates back to the early 16th century, the first attempt to construct a canal began in 1880 under French leadership. After this attempt failed and saw 21,900 workers die, the project of building a canal was attempted and completed by the United States in the early 1900s, with the canal opening in 1914. The building of the 77 km (48 mi) canal was plagued by problems, including disease (particularly malaria and yellow fever) and landslides. By the time the canal was completed, a total of 27,500 workers are estimated to have died in the French and American efforts. Since opening, the canal has been enormously successful, and continues to be a key conduit for international naval trade. The canal can accommodate vessels from small private yachts up to large commercial vessels. The maximum size of vessel that can use the canal is known as Panamax; an increasing number of modern ships exceed this limit, and are known as post-Panamax vessels. A typical passage through the canal by a cargo ship takes around nine hours. 14,011 vessels passed through in 2005, with a total capacity of 278.8 million tons, making an average of almost 40 vessels per day.


Portal:North America/Selected article/6

Salsa dancing

Salsa music is a diverse and predominantly Latin American and Caribbean genre that is popular across Latin America and among Latinos abroad. Salsa incorporates multiple styles and variations; the term can be used to describe most any form of popular Cuban-derived genre, such as chachachá and mambo. Most specifically, however, salsa refers to a particular style developed in the 1960s and '70s by Cuban and Puerto Rican immigrants to the New York City area, and stylistic descendants like 1980s salsa romantica. The style is now practiced throughout Latin America, and abroad. Salsa's closest relatives are Cuban mambo and the son orchestras of the early 20th century, as well as Latin jazz. The terms Latin jazz and salsa are sometimes used interchangeably; many musicians are considered a part of either, or both, fields, especially performers from prior to the 1970s.

Salsa is the primary music played at Latin dance clubs and is the "essential pulse of Latin music", according to Ed Morales, while music author Peter Manuel called it the "most popular dance (music) among Puerto Rican and Cuban communities, (and in) Central and South America", and "one of the most dynamic and significant pan-American musical phenomena of the 1970s and 1980s". Modern salsa remains a dance-oriented genre and is closely associated with a style of salsa dancing.


Portal:North America/Selected article/7 Eagle Scout is the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouting program of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). Those who attain this rank are called an Eagle Scout or Eagle. Since its introduction in 1911, the Eagle Scout rank has been earned by more than 1.7 million young men. The title of Eagle Scout is held for life, thus giving rise to the phrase "Once an Eagle, always an Eagle".

Requirements include earning at least 21 merit badges and demonstrating Scout Spirit, service, and leadership. This includes an extensive service project that the Scout plans, organizes, leads, and manages. Eagle Scouts are presented with a medal and a badge that visibly recognizes the accomplishments of the Scout. Additional recognition can be earned through Eagle Palms, awarded for completing additional tenure, leadership, and merit badge requirements.


Portal:North America/Selected article/8 The history of merit badges in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has been tracked by categorizing them into a series of merit badge types. In addition to the Boy Scouts of America, many other Scouting and Scouting-like organizations around the world, such as Pathfinders, Baden-Powell Scouts and Royal Rangers, issue merit badges or their equivalent; though they are sometimes called honors or proficiency badges. Other organizations, such as fire brigades, issue badges or awards that they refer to as merit badges, but that are in some respects different from the badges awarded by the BSA.

Merit badges have been an integral part of the Scouting program since the start of the movement in the United Kingdom on August 1, 1907. Scouting came to the United States in 1910; the BSA quickly issued an initial list of just 14 merit badges, but did not produce or award them. In 1911, the BSA manufactured the first official 57 merit badges and began awarding them. The number of badges available has been as high as 140 and, as of 2006, is 121. Merit badge types are identifiable by the cloth and manufacturing process used to make them.


Portal:North America/Selected article/9

Army, Navy/Marine Corps and Air Force medals

The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed on a member of the United States armed forces who distinguishes himself "conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States". Because of the nature of its criteria, the medal is often awarded posthumously.

Members of all branches of the U.S. military are eligible to receive the medal, and each service has a unique design with the exception of the Marine Corps and Coast Guard, which both use the Navy's medal. The Medal of Honor is often presented personally to the recipient or, in the case of posthumous awards, to next of kin, by the President of the United States. Due to its high status, the medal has special protection under U.S. law.


Portal:North America/Selected article/10

Companion, Officer and Member insignia

The Order of Canada comprises the highest civilian honours within the Canadian system of honours, with membership awarded to those who exemplify the order's Latin motto, taken from Hebrews 11:16, desiderantes meliorem patriam, meaning "They desire a better country."

Created in 1967, the three-tiered order was established as a fellowship that recognizes the achievement of outstanding merit or distinguished service by Canadians, through life-long contributions in every field of endeavour, and who made a major difference to Canada, as well as the efforts made by non-Canadians who have made the world better by their actions. The Canadian monarch, at present Elizabeth II, is Sovereign of the order, and the serving Governor General, Michaëlle Jean, is its Chancellor and Principal Companion. Appointees into the order are selected by an advisory board and formally inducted by the Governor General; as of April 2008, 5,479 people have been appointed to the Order of Canada, including musicians, politicians, artists, athletes, television and film stars, benefactors, and others.


Portal:North America/Selected article/11

Ribbon bar

The Victoria Cross of Canada is a military award for extraordinary valour and devotion to duty while facing a hostile force. It can be awarded to members of the Canadian Forces of any rank in any service, and to allies serving under or with Canadian military command; it is the highest honour in the Canadian honours system, placed before all other orders, decorations and medals, including the Order of Canada, in the Order of Precedence. Whereas in many other Commonwealth countries, the Victoria Cross can only be awarded for actions against the enemy in a wartime setting, the Canadian government has a broader definition of the term "enemy," and so the Victoria Cross can be awarded for action against armed mutineers, pirates or other such hostile forces without war being officially declared. The recipient is entitled to an annuity of CAD$3,000 a year.

The Canadian medal is based on the original Victoria Cross, instituted in 1856, although the Canadian version has several small changes in its appearance. It is presented to the recipient by the Monarch or the Governor General of Canada. It can be awarded more than once, but no one has received the award since its creation in 1993.


Portal:North America/Selected article/12

scout wood badge bead and neckerchief

Wood Badge is a Scouting leadership program and the related award for adult leaders in the programs of Scout associations around the world. Wood Badge courses aim to make Scouters better leaders by teaching advanced leadership skills, and by creating a bond and commitment to the Scout movement. Courses generally have a combined classroom and practical outdoors-based phase followed by a Wood Badge ticket, also known as the project phase. By "working the ticket", participants put their newly gained experience into practice to attain ticket goals aiding the Scouting movement. The first Wood Badge training was organized by Francis "Skipper" Gidney and lectured at by Robert Baden-Powell and others at Gilwell Park (United Kingdom) in September 1919. Wood Badge training has since spread across the world with international variations.

On completion of the course, participants are awarded the Wood Badge beads to recognize significant achievement in leadership and direct service to young people. The pair of small wooden beads, one on each end of a leather thong (string), is worn around the neck as part of the Scout uniform. The beads are presented together with a taupe neckerchief bearing a tartan patch of the Maclaren clan, honoring William De Bois Maclaren. Recipients of the Wood Badge are known as Wood Badgers or Gilwellians.


Portal:North America/Selected article/13

Wall Street, Bankers Panic of 1907

The Panic of 1907, also known as the 1907 Bankers' Panic, was a financial crisis that occurred in the United States when the New York Stock Exchange fell close to 50 percent from its peak the previous year. Panic occurred during a time of economic recession, when there were numerous runs on banks and trust companies. The 1907 panic eventually spread throughout the nation when many state and local banks and businesses entered into bankruptcy. Primary causes of the run include a retraction of market liquidity by a number of New York City banks, loss of confidence among depositors, and the absence of a statutory lender of last resort.

The crisis occurred after the failure of an attempt in October 1907 to corner the market on stock of the United Copper Company. When this bid failed, banks that had lent money to the cornering scheme suffered runs that later spread to affiliated banks and trusts, leading a week later to the downfall of the Knickerbocker Trust Company—New York City's third-largest trust. The collapse of the Knickerbocker spread fear throughout the city's trusts as regional banks withdrew reserves from New York City banks. Panic extended across the nation as vast numbers of people withdrew deposits from their regional banks.


Portal:North America/Selected article/14

Oliver typewriter.png

The Oliver Typewriter Company was an American typewriter manufacturer headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. The Oliver Typewriter was the first effective "visible print" typewriter, meaning text was visible to the typist as it was entered. Oliver typewriters were marketed heavily for home use, utilizing local distributors and sales on credit. Oliver produced more than one million machines between 1895 and 1928 and licensed its designs to several international firms. Competitive pressure and financial troubles resulted in the company's liquidation in 1928. The company’s assets were purchased by investors who formed The British Oliver Typewriter Company, which manufactured and licensed the machines until its own closure in the late 1950s. The last Oliver typewriter was produced in 1959.

Thomas Oliver was awarded his first typewriter patent, US Patent No. 450,107, on April 7, 1891. After four years of development, a "crude working model" composed of 500 parts had been produced. Oliver resigned his ministry and moved to Epworth, Iowa, where he found investors willing to provide $15,000 of capital, and leased a building in which to manufacture his machines.


Portal:North America/Selected article/15

New Orleans Mint, 1907

The New Orleans Mint operated in New Orleans, Louisiana, as a branch mint of the United States Mint from 1838 to 1861 and from 1879 to 1909. During its years of operation, it produced over 427 million gold and silver coins of nearly every American denomination, with a total face value of over US$307 million. It was closed during most of the American Civil War and Reconstruction.

After its decommissioning as a mint, the building served a variety of purposes, including as an assay office, a United States Coast Guard storage facility and a fallout shelter. Since 1981 it has served as a branch of the Louisiana State Museum. Damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, after over two years of closure for repair and renovation, the museum reopened in October 2007. The New Orleans Mint has been designated a National Historic Landmark, and is currently the oldest surviving structure to have served as a U.S. Mint. Along with the Charlotte Mint, it is one of two former mint facilities in the United States to house an art gallery.


Portal:North America/Selected article/16

FairTax rally in Orlando

The FairTax is a proposed change to the federal tax laws of the United States that would replace all federal income taxes with a single national retail sales tax. The plan has been introduced into the United States Congress as the Fair Tax Act (H.R. 25/S. 1025). The tax would be levied once at the point of purchase on all new goods and services for personal consumption. The proposal also calls for a monthly payment to all family households of lawful U.S. residents as an advance rebate, or 'prebate', of tax on purchases up to the poverty level. The sales tax rate, as defined in the legislation, is 23 percent of the total payment including the tax ($23 of every $100 spent in total—calculated similar to income taxes). This would be equivalent to a 30 percent traditional U.S. sales tax ($23 on top of every $77 spent before taxes).

With the rebate taken into consideration, the FairTax would be progressive on consumption, but would also be regressive on income at higher income levels. Opponents argue this would accordingly decrease the tax burden on high income earners and increase it on the middle class. Supporters contend that the plan would decrease tax burdens by broadening the tax base, effectively taxing wealth, and increasing purchasing power.


Portal:North America/Selected article/17

Elderly Instruments in Lansing, Michigan

Elderly Instruments is a musical instrument retailer in Lansing, Michigan, United States, with a reputation as a "megastore", a repair shop and a locus for folk music including bluegrass and "twang". Specializing in fretted instruments, including acoustic and electric guitars, banjos, mandolins, and ukuleles, Elderly maintains a selection of odd or rare instruments. Elderly is known as the premier repair shop for fretted instruments, as one of the larger vintage instrument dealers in the United States, and as a major dealer of Martin guitars in particular.

Industry publications, music retail trade, and bluegrass music journals have featured articles about the Elderly repair staff. The company also provides consignment services for rare and vintage instruments. Since its founding in 1972, Elderly has undergone two major expansions: into mail order in 1975 and then into Internet sales in the 1990s. In 2005 it was the subject of a lawsuit by Gibson Guitar Corporation concerning trademark infringement. Today it is recognized internationally for its services and products; its mail order and Internet business account for 65–70 percent of its total revenue. Elderly grossed $12 million in 1999 and by 2007 was grossing $17 million annually.


Portal:North America/Selected article/18

Iroquois with western goods

The economy of the Iroquois originally focused on communal production and combined elements of both horticulture and hunter-gatherer systems. The tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy and other Northern Iroquoian-speaking peoples, including the Huron, lived in the region including what is now New York State and the Great Lakes area. The Iroquois Confederacy was composed of five different tribes — a sixth was added later — who had banded together shortly before European contact. While not Iroquois, the Huron peoples fell into the same linguistic group and shared an economy similar to the Iroquois. The Iroquois peoples were predominantly agricultural, harvesting the "Three Sisters" commonly grown by Native American groups: maize, beans, and squash. They developed certain cultural customs related to their lifestyle. Among these developments were ideas concerning the nature and management of property.

The Iroquois developed a system of economics very different from the now dominant Western variety. This system was characterized by such components as communal land ownership, division of labor by gender, and trade mostly based on gift economics. Contact with Europeans in the early 1600s had a profound impact on the economy of the Iroquois. At first, they became important trading partners, but the expansion of European settlement upset the balance of the Iroquois economy.


Portal:North America/Selected article/19

2002 Dime

The dime is a coin worth ten cents, or one tenth of a United States dollar. The dime is the smallest in diameter and the thinnest of all U.S. coins currently minted for circulation. The 32nd President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, is featured on the obverse of the current design, while a torch, oak branch, and olive branch covering the motto E pluribus unum are featured on the reverse. The dime's value is labeled as "one dime," since the term 'dime' also applies to a unit of currency worth 10 cents or 1/10 of a dollar.

Mintage of the dime was commissioned by the Coinage Act of 1792, and production began in 1796. A feminine head representing Liberty was used on the front of the coin, and an eagle on the back. These motifs were used for three different designs through 1837. From 1837 to 1891, "Seated Liberty" dimes were issued, which featured Liberty seated next to a shield. In 1892, a feminine head of Liberty returned to the dime, and it was known as a "Barber dime". The backs of both of the latter two designs featured the words "ONE DIME" enclosed in various wreaths. In 1916, the head of a winged-capped Liberty was put on the dime and is commonly known by the misnomer of "Mercury dime"; the back featured a fasces. The most recent design change was in 1946.

The term dime comes from old French "di(s)me", meaning "tithe" or "tenth part," from the Latin decima [pars]. This term appeared on early pattern coins, but was not used on any dimes until 1837.


Portal:North America/Selected article/20

US Demand Notes

A Demand Note is a type of United States paper money that was issued between August 1861 and April 1862 during the American Civil War in denominations of 5, 10, and 20 dollars. Original legislation referred to the currency as "treasury notes". The term Demand Note was applied retrospectively due to the fact that the notes were redeemable on demand for gold coin. The notes were created to serve as a means of monetary exchange in place of gold and silver coins. The U.S. government used Demand Notes to pay expenses and salaries. Once the public learned the notes were redeemable in gold coin, the notes began to circulate as widely as gold and silver coins previously did.

Because of the distinctive green ink used on the reverse of all Demand Notes, the notes were nicknamed "greenbacks".The obverse of the notes contained familiar elements such as a Bald Eagle, Abraham Lincoln, and Alexander Hamilton; however, the portraits used on Demand Notes are different than the ones seen on U.S. currency today. After Demand Notes were discontinued, they were replaced with Legal Tender Notes. Legal Tender Notes of the time, however, were not redeemable in coin like Demand Notes, and thus Demand Notes took precedence. As a result, many more Demand Notes were redeemed and not as many notes exist today.


Portal:North America/Selected article/21

Dresden Codex

The Mayan languages form a language family spoken in Mesoamerica and northern Central America. Mayan languages are spoken by at least 6 million indigenous Maya, primarily in Guatemala, Mexico, and Belize. In 1996, Guatemala formally recognized 21 Mayan languages by name, and Mexico recognizes eight more. The Mayan language family is one of the best documented and most studied in the Americas. Modern Mayan languages descend from Proto-Mayan, a language thought to have been spoken at least 5,000 years ago; it has been partially reconstructed using the comparative method.

Mayan languages form part of the Mesoamerican Linguistic Area, an area of linguistic convergence developed throughout millennia of interaction between the peoples of Mesoamerica. All Mayan languages display the basic diagnostic traits of this linguistic area.

During the pre-Columbian era of Mesoamerican history, some Mayan languages were written in the Maya hieroglyphic script. Its use was particularly widespread during the Classic period of Maya civilization (c. 250–900 CE). The surviving corpus of over 10,000 known individual Maya inscriptions on buildings, monuments, pottery and bark-paper codices, combined with the rich postcolonial literature in Mayan languages written in the Latin alphabet, provides a basis for the modern understanding of pre-Columbian history unparalleled in the Americas.


Portal:North America/Selected article/22

Florentine codex

Nahuatl is a group of related languages and dialects of the Aztecan, or Nahuan, branch of the Uto-Aztecan language family. All Nahuan languages are indigenous to Mesoamerica and are spoken by an estimated 1.5 million Nahua people, most of whom live in Central Mexico.

Nahuatl has been spoken in Central Mexico since at least the 7th century AD. At the time of the Spanish conquest of Mexico in the early 16th century it was the language of the Aztecs, who dominated central Mexico during the Late Postclassic period of Mesoamerican chronology. The expansion and influence of the Aztec Empire led to the dialect spoken by the Aztecs of Tenochtitlan becoming a prestige language in Mesoamerica in this period. With the introduction of the Latin alphabet, Nahuatl also became a literary language and many chronicles, grammars, works of poetry, administrative documents and codices were written in the 16th and 17th centuries. This early literary language based on the Tenochtitlan dialect has been labeled Classical Nahuatl and is among the most-studied and best-documented languages of the Americas.

Today Nahuan dialects are spoken in scattered communities mostly in rural areas. There are considerable differences between dialects, and some are mutually unintelligible. They have all been subject to varying degrees of influence from Spanish. No modern dialects are identical to Classical Nahuatl, but those spoken in and around the Valley of Mexico are generally more closely related to it than those on the periphery.


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