Wikipedia:Today's featured article/May 2007

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May 1

Ayrton Senna

The 1994 San Marino Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held on May 1, 1994 at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola, Italy. It was the third race of the 1994 Formula One season, and the first race of the season to be held in Europe. The race weekend was marred by the deaths of Austrian Roland Ratzenberger and three-time world champion Ayrton Senna as well as numerous other accidents and injuries, and was described by BBC Television commentator Murray Walker as "the blackest day for Grand Prix racing that I can remember". The race was eventually won by Michael Schumacher. In the press conference following the race, Schumacher said that he "couldn't feel satisfied, couldn't feel happy" with his win following the events that had occurred during the race weekend. (more...)

Recently featured: Military bratArctic TernAdam Gilchrist

May 2

The new Scottish Parliament Building at Holyrood

The Scottish Parliament Building is the home of the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood, within the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Edinburgh. Construction on the building commenced in June 1999 and the Members of the Scottish Parliament held their first debate in the new building on Tuesday, 7 September 2004. The formal opening by Queen Elizabeth II took place on 9 October 2004. Enric Miralles, the Catalan architect who designed the building, died during the course of its construction. From the outset, the building and its construction have proven to be highly controversial. The choices of location, architect, design and construction company were all criticised by politicians, the media and the Scottish public. Scheduled to open in 2001, it did so in 2004, more than three years late with an estimated final cost of £414m, substantially higher than initial costings of between £10m and £40m. A major public inquiry into the handling of the construction, chaired by the former Lord Advocate, Peter Fraser, was established in 2003. The inquiry concluded in September 2004 and criticised the management of the whole project from the realisation of cost increases down to the way in which major design changes were implemented. Despite these criticisms and a mixed public reaction, the building was welcomed by architectural academics and critics. (more...)

Recently featured: 1994 San Marino Grand PrixMilitary bratArctic Tern

May 3

William Monahan

William Monahan is an American novelist and screenwriter. Monahan went to work in Hollywood in 1998, when Warner Bros. bought the film rights to Light House: A Trifle, which had not yet been published, and contracted him to adapt it to the screen for director Gore Verbinski. In 2001, 20th Century Fox bought Monahan's spec script about the Barbary Wars called Tripoli, with Ridley Scott, who was to become Monahan's primary collaborator, attached to direct. Monahan, immediately successful as a screenwriter, has since worked with Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, among other filmmakers. His first produced screenplay, Kingdom of Heaven was made into a film by Ridley Scott and released in theaters in 2005. His second produced screenplay was The Departed, a film which earned him a WGA award and an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Monahan prefers that screenplays be written by one writer rather than a collaboration of multiple screenwriters writing competing drafts. Thus far he has followed his scripts through production, and is one of very few sole credit writers in the film business. (more...)

Recently featured: Scottish Parliament Building1994 San Marino Grand PrixMilitary brat

May 4

Gilwell Park (2006)

Gilwell Park is a campsite and activity centre for Scouting groups, as well as a training and conference centre for Scout Leaders. The 44 hectare (109 acre) site is located in Sewardstonebury, Epping Forest close to Chingford, London. In the late Middle Ages, it started as a farm, growing to a wealthy estate that fell into disrepair towards 1900. It was given in 1919 by Scout Commissioner William De Bois Maclaren to The Scout Association of the United Kingdom to provide camping facilities to London Scouts, and training facilities for Scouters. As Scout Leaders from all countries of the world have come to Gilwell Park for their Wood Badge training, it is one of the great landmarks of the world Scouting movement. The site contains campfields for a small patrol up to a 1200 people camp, indoor accommodations, historical sites, monuments of Scouting, and activities suitable for all sections of the Scouting Movement. It can accommodate events for up to 10,000 people. Accommodation of Gilwell Park can also be hired for non-Scout activities such as school group camping, wedding receptions and conferences. (more...)

Recently featured: William MonahanScottish Parliament Building1994 San Marino Grand Prix

May 5

Tanjore painting depicting two rulers of Tanjavur

The history of Tamil Nadu and the civilisation of the Tamil people are among the oldest in the world. Throughout its history, spanning from the early Palaeolithic age to the modern time, this region has coexisted with various external cultures. Except for relatively short periods in its history, the Tamil region has remained independent of external occupation. The three Tamil dynasties of Chera, Chola and Pandya were of ancient origins. With the decline of the three ancient dynasties during the fourteenth century, the Tamil country became part of the Vijayanagara Empire. Under this empire the Telugu speaking Nayak governors ruled the Tamil land. The brief appearance of the Marathas gave way to the European trading companies, who began to appear during the seventeenth century and eventually assumed greater sway over the indigenous rulers of the land. The Madras Presidency comprising of most of southern India was created in the eighteenth century and was ruled directly by the British East India Company. After the independence of India, the Tamil Nadu state was created based on linguistic boundaries. (more...)

Recently featured: Gilwell ParkWilliam MonahanScottish Parliament Building

May 6

Elliott Smith at Seattle's 2000 Bumbershoot festival

Elliott Smith was an American singer-songwriter and musician. His primary instrument was the guitar, but he was also proficient at piano, clarinet, bass, harmonica and drums. Smith had a distinctive vocal style characterized by his "whispery, spiderweb-thin delivery", and use of multi-tracking to create vocal harmonies. Although born in Omaha, Nebraska and raised primarily in Texas, Smith spent the majority of his life in Portland, Oregon. After playing in the rock band Heatmiser for several years, Smith began his solo career in 1994 with releases on the independent record labels Cavity Search and Kill Rock Stars. He eventually signed a major label contract with DreamWorks Records in 1997, for which he recorded two albums. Smith rose to mainstream prominence when his song "Miss Misery", written for the film Good Will Hunting, was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Original Song category in 1998. Smith battled with depression, alcohol and drug addiction for years, and these topics would often appear in his lyrics. In 2003, at age 34, he died from two apparently self-inflicted stab wounds to the chest; the autopsy evidence was, however, inconclusive. (more...)

Recently featured: History of Tamil NaduGilwell ParkWilliam Monahan

May 7

Moses Montefiore's audience with the Sultan led to the firman denouncing the blood libel.

The Rhodes blood libel was an instance of the blood libel against Jews in which the Jews of the island of Rhodes were accused of the ritual murder of a Christian boy in February 1840. The libel originated in the Greek Orthodox community and enjoyed active support from the consuls of several European countries, including the United Kingdom, France, the Austrian Empire, Sweden, and Greece. Most importantly, the Ottoman governor of Rhodes broke with the long tradition of the Ottoman governments (which had previously shielded the Jews from blood libel accusations) and supported the ritual murder charge. Several Jews were arrested. Some of them made false confessions under torture. The entire Jewish quarter was blockaded for twelve days. The Jews of Rhodes appealed for help to the Jewish community in Constantinople, who forwarded the materials on the Rhodes affair to Europe. In the United Kingdom and Austria, Jewish communities were able to win support from their governments, and dispatches sent to the ambassadors in Constantinople unequivocally condemned the blood libel; thus, a consensus favorable to the Jews formed within the European diplomatic community. In addition, the governor of Rhodes proved unable to force the case to any formal conclusion and turned for instructions to the central government, which initiated a formal inquiry into the affair. In July 1840, that investigation established the innocence of the Jews. Finally, in November of the same year, the Ottoman sultan issued a decree (firman) denouncing the blood libel. (more...)

Recently featured: Elliott SmithHistory of Tamil NaduGilwell Park

May 8

View of Mars from Hubble Space Telescope

Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and is known as the Red Planet due to its reddish appearance as seen from Earth. The planet is named after Mars, the Roman god of war. A terrestrial planet, Mars has a thin atmosphere and surface features reminiscent both of the impact craters of the Moon and the volcanoes, valleys, deserts and polar ice caps of Earth. It has the highest mountain in the solar system, Olympus Mons, and the largest canyon, Valles Marineris. Mars' rotational period and seasonal cycles are also similar to those of the Earth. Of all the planets in our solar system other than Earth, Mars is the most likely to harbor liquid water, and perhaps life. Mars is currently host to three functional orbiting spacecraft: Mars Odyssey, Mars Express, and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. This is more than any planet except Earth. The surface is also home to the two Mars Exploration Rovers (Spirit and Opportunity). Geological evidence gathered by these and preceding missions suggests that Mars previously had large-scale water coverage, while observations also indicate that small geyser-like water flows have occurred in recent years. Mars has two moons, Phobos and Deimos, which are small and irregularly shaped. (more...)

Recently featured: Rhodes blood libelElliott SmithHistory of Tamil Nadu

May 9

Bagramyan in 1938

Hovhannes Bagramyan was a Soviet Armenian military commander and Marshal of the Soviet Union. During World War II, Bagramyan became the first non-Slavic military officer to become a commander of a Front. Bagramyan's previous experience in military planning as a chief of staff officer allowed him to distinguish himself as a capable commander during the war in the early stages of the Soviet counter-offensives against Nazi Germany. He was given his first command of a unit in 1942 and in November 1943, received his most prestigious command as the head of the First Baltic Front. As head of the Baltic Front, he participated in the offensives which moved westwards to push German forces out of the occupied Soviet Union and the recapturing of the Baltic republics. After the war, he served as a deputy member of the Supreme Soviets of the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic and Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic and was a regular attendant of the Party Congresses. In 1952, he became a candidate for entry into the Central Committee and, in 1961, was inducted as a full member. For his contributions during the war, he was widely regarded as a national hero in the Soviet Union, and continues to hold such esteemed status among many Armenians today. (more...)

Recently featured: MarsRhodes blood libelElliott Smith

May 10

Campbell's Soup Cans is the title of a work of art produced in 1962 by Andy Warhol (pictured). It consists of thirty-two canvases, each measuring 20 inches in height × 16 inches in width (50.8 × 40.6 cm) and each consisting of a painting of a Campbell's Soup can—one of each of the canned soup varieties the company offered at the time. The individual paintings were produced with a semi-mechanised silkscreen process, using a non-painterly style. Campbell's Soup Cans' reliance on themes from popular culture helped to usher in pop art as a major art movement. For Warhol, a commercial illustrator who became a successful author, painter and film director, the work was his first one-man gallery exhibition as a fine artist. This exhibition marked the West Coast debut of pop art. The combination of the semi-mechanized process, the non-painterly style, and the commercial subject initially caused offense, as the work's blatantly mundane commercialism represented a direct affront to the technique and philosophy of abstract expressionism. The public commotion helped transition Warhol from being an accomplished 1950s commercial illustrator to a notable fine artist, and it helped distinguish him from other rising pop artists. (more...)

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May 11

The Flag of Minnesota

Minnesota is a state in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is the 12th largest state in the U.S., and the 21st most populous, with just over five million residents as of 2006. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the 32nd state on May 11, 1858. While the state's residents are primarily white and Northern European, substantial influxes of African, Asian, and Hispanic immigrants have joined the descendants of European immigrants and of the original Native American inhabitants. Nearly 60% of Minnesota's residents live in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area known as the Twin Cities, the center of transportation, business, and industry, and home to an internationally known arts community. The remainder of the state, often referred to as Greater Minnesota, consists of western prairies now given over to intensive agriculture; eastern deciduous forests, also heavily farmed and settled; and the less-populated northern boreal forest. The state, known as the "Land of 10,000 Lakes," is known for its moderate-to-progressive politics and social policies, its civic involvement, and high voter turnout. (more...)

Recently featured: Campbell's Soup CansHovhannes BagramyanMars

May 12

Estonia rehearsing at the 2006 Contest

The Eurovision Song Contest is an annual competition held among active member countries of the European Broadcasting Union, in which participating countries each submit a song to be performed on live television; then proceed to cast votes for the other countries' songs, in order to find the most popular song in the competition. Each country participates via one of their national EBU-member television stations, whose task it is to select a singer and a song to go forward to represent the country in the international competition. The Contest has been broadcast every year since its inauguration in 1956, and is one of the longest-running television programmes in the world. It is also one of the most-watched non-sporting events in the world, with audience figures having been quoted in recent years as anything between 100 million and 600 million internationally. The Contest is historically known for being mainly a bastion of formulaic, orchestrated pop music. However it has featured a vast, diverse array of songs, including such musical genres as Arab, Balkan, Celtic music, Dance, Folk, Israeli, Greek, Latin, Metal, Nordic, Pop-rap, Rock, and Turkish. (more...)

Recently featured: MinnesotaCampbell's Soup CansHovhannes Bagramyan

May 13

Y chromosome

The Baby Gender Mentor test is a blood test designed to determine if a pregnant mother is carrying a boy or a girl. The test is made by Acu-Gen Biolab, Inc., an American biotech company in Lowell, Massachusetts, and is marketed to detect the sex of a fetus as early as five weeks after conception. According to Acu-Gen, the test looks for markers on the Y chromosome and the accuracy of the test exceeds that of conventional methods, such as ultrasonography, amniocentesis, or chorionic villus sampling techniques, and that the test offers "unsurpassed accuracy, unrivaled earliness, and uncompromised promptness". The company has so far chosen not to release details of how the test works or proof of its accuracy, as they consider this information proprietary. Since the test made a prominent media debut on 17 June 2005 on the Today Show, it has been the center of several controversies. Customers and scientists question the accuracy of the test; and legal action is being pursued against Acu-Gen as well as a major supplier of the test kit. Concerns have also been raised by bioethicists that use of the test could lead to practices such as sex selection and Acu-Gen has allegedly used the test to illegally offer medical diagnoses. (more...)

Recently featured: Eurovision Song ContestMinnesotaCampbell's Soup Cans

May 14

HeLa cells with their nuclei stained blue

The cell nucleus is a membrane-enclosed organelle found in most eukaryotic cells. It contains most of the cell's genetic material, organized as multiple long linear DNA molecules in complex with a large variety of proteins such as histones to form chromosomes. The genes within these chromosomes make up the cell's nuclear genome. The function of the nucleus is to maintain the integrity of these genes and to control the activities of the cell by regulating gene expression. The main structural elements of the nucleus are the nuclear envelope, a double membrane that encloses the entire organelle and keeps its contents separated from the cytoplasm, and the nuclear lamina, a meshwork within the nucleus that adds mechanical support much like the cytoskeleton supports the cell as a whole. The nuclear membrane is impermeable to most molecules, and movement of molecules across the envelope is restricted to nuclear pores. Although the interior of the nucleus does not contain any membrane-delineated bodies, its contents are not uniform, and a number of subnuclear bodies exist, made up of unique proteins, RNA molecules, and DNA conglomerates. The best known of these is the nucleolus, which is mainly involved in assembly of ribosomes for translation in the cytoplasm. The nucleus was the first organelle to be discovered, and was first described by Franz Bauer in 1802. It was later described in more detail by Robert Brown in 1831. (more...)

Recently featured: Baby Gender MentorEurovision Song ContestMinnesota

May 15
Flag of Japan

Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of China, Korea, and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea in the south. Japan's capital and largest city is Tokyo. Japan comprises over three thousand islands, the largest of which are Honshū, Hokkaidō, Kyūshū and Shikoku. Most of the islands are mountainous, many volcanic; for example, Japan’s highest peak, Mount Fuji, is a volcano. Japan has the world's tenth largest population, with about 128 million people. Influence from the outside world followed by long periods of isolation has characterized Japan's history. Thus, its culture today is a mixture of outside influences and internal developments. Since adopting its constitution in 1947, Japan has maintained a unitary constitutional monarchy with an emperor and an elected parliament, the Diet. A great power, Japan is the world's second largest economy by nominal GDP and is a member of the United Nations, G8 and APEC. (more...)

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May 16

Gilberto Silva

Gilberto Silva is a Brazilian football player. He has played most of his club football for the English club, Arsenal, as a defensive midfielder. Gilberto was raised in a poor family, and as a child he balanced playing football with various labouring jobs. He began his football career in 1997 with América Mineiro, where good form earned him a move to Atlético Mineiro in 2000. He became a star player for Atlético, playing for three years in the Brazilian Campeonato Brasileiro Série A. He came to particular prominence when he helped the Brazilian national team win the 2002 FIFA World Cup, playing in all seven of Brazil's matches. In August of 2002 he joined Arsenal for £4.5 million, with whom he has won the 2004 FA Premier League, and two FA Cup trophies. In his first five seasons with the club he played 208 games and scored 23 goals. On 19 August 2006 he scored Arsenal's first ever competitive goal at the newly built Emirates Stadium. He was made vice-captain of Arsenal in 2006 and is contracted to the club until June 2009, after which he is expected to move back to Brazil. (more...)

Recently featured: JapanCell nucleusBaby Gender Mentor

May 17
35 mm film frames

35 mm film is the basic film gauge most commonly used for both still photography and motion pictures, and remains relatively unchanged since its introduction in 1892 by William Dickson and Thomas Edison, using film stock supplied by George Eastman. The photographic film is cut into strips 1 3/8 inches or 35 mm wide — hence the name. The standard negative pulldown is four perforations per frame along both edges, which makes for exactly 16 frames per foot. A wide variety of largely proprietary gauges were used by the numerous different camera and projection systems independently invented around the late 19th century and early 20th century, ranging from 13 mm to 75 mm. 35 mm was eventually recognized as the international standard gauge in 1909, and has by far remained the dominant film gauge for both image origination and projection. Despite threats both from smaller and larger gauges, and novel formats, its longevity is largely because its size allows for a relatively good tradeoff between the cost of the film stock and the quality of the images captured. Since the beginning of the 21st century, the manufacturing of 35 mm motion picture film has been a duopoly between Eastman Kodak and Fujifilm. (more...)

Recently featured: Gilberto SilvaJapanCell nucleus

May 18
The Hamilton Williams Campus Center

Ohio Wesleyan University is a private liberal arts college in Delaware, Ohio. It was founded in 1842 by Methodist leaders and Central Ohio residents as a non-sectarian institution, and is a member of the Ohio Five — a consortium of Ohio liberal arts colleges. Wesleyan has always admitted students irrespective of religion or race and maintained that the university "is forever to be conducted on the most liberal principles." In this capacity, Wesleyan has espoused internationalism and community activism. The 200-acre site is 20 miles (45 km) north of Columbus, Ohio. It includes the main academic and residential campus, the Perkins Observatory, and the Kraus Wilderness Preserve. In 2005, Wesleyan had the ninth highest percentage of international students among liberal arts colleges for the twelfth straight year. U.S. News & World Report ranked Wesleyan 95th among U.S. liberal arts colleges in its 2007 edition. Notable alumni include former U.S. Vice President Charles W. Fairbanks and Nobel Laureate Frank Sherwood Rowland. (more...)

Recently featured: 35 mm filmGilberto SilvaJapan

May 19
Passing of the Parliament Bill, 1911

The Parliament Acts are two Acts of Parliament of the United Kingdom, passed in 1911 and 1949. They form part of the Constitution of the United Kingdom. The first Parliament Act, the Parliament Act 1911, asserted the supremacy of the House of Commons by limiting the legislation blocking powers of the House of Lords—the suspensory veto. Providing the provisions of the Act are met, legislation can be passed without the approval of the House of Lords. Additionally, the 1911 Act amended the Septennial Act to reduce the maximum permitted time between general elections from seven years to five years. The first Parliament Act was amended by the second Parliament Act, the Parliament Act 1949, which further limited the power of the Lords by reducing the time that they could delay bills, from two years to one. The Parliament Acts have been used to pass legislation against the wishes of the House of Lords on only seven occasions since 1911, including the passing of the Parliament Act 1949. Doubts which had existed in academic circles concerning the validity of the 1949 Act were refuted in 2005 when members of the Countryside Alliance unsuccessfully challenged the validity of the Hunting Act 2004 which had been passed under the auspices of the Act. (more...)

Recently featured: Ohio Wesleyan University35 mm filmGilberto Silva

May 20
Uncle Tom's Cabin, Boston edition

Uncle Tom's Cabin is American author Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel about the evils of slavery. Published in 1852, the novel had a profound effect on the world's view of African-Americans and slavery, so much so in the latter case that people have said the book laid the groundwork for the American Civil War. The novel focuses on the character of Uncle Tom, a long-suffering Black slave around whose life the stories of other characters—both fellow slaves and slave owners—revolve. The sentimental novel depicts the harsh reality of slavery while also asserting that Christian love and faith can overcome something as evil as enslavement of fellow human beings. Uncle Tom's Cabin was the best-selling novel of the 19th century and the second best-selling book of the 19th century, following the Bible. The book's impact was so great that when Abraham Lincoln met Stowe at the start of the American Civil War, Lincoln is often quoted as having declared, "So this is the little lady who made this big war." The book also helped create a number of common stereotypes about Blacks, many of which endure to this day. These include the affectionate, dark-skinned mammy; the Pickaninny stereotype of black children; and the Uncle Tom, or dutiful, long-suffering servant faithful to his white master or mistress. In recent years, the negative associations with Uncle Tom's Cabin have to a large degree overshadowed the historical impact of the book as a "vital antislavery tool." (more...)

Recently featured: Parliament ActsOhio Wesleyan University35 mm film

May 21
Page 9 of the Dresden Codex showing the classic Maya language

Mayan languages are 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. 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 5000 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. 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. (more...)

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May 22
Paul performing at the Twickenham Folk Club

Ellis Paul is an American singer-songwriter and folk musician. Paul is a chief architect of what has become known as the Boston school of songwriting, a literate, provocative and urbanely romantic folk-pop style that helped ignite the folk revival of the 1990s. While remaining among the most pop-friendly of today's singer-songwriters with songs that have appeared in movies and on television, Paul has bridged the gulf between the modern folk sound and the populist traditions of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger more successfully than many of his songwriting peers. To date, Paul has released more than ten albums and has been the recipient of 13 Boston Music Awards, considered by some to be a pinnacle of contemporary acoustic music success. He has published a book of original lyrics, poems, and drawings and released a DVD that includes a live performance, guitar instruction, and a road-trip documentary. As a touring musician, Paul plays close to 200 dates each year and his extensive club and coffeehouse touring, together with radio airplay, has brought him a solid national following. (more...)

Recently featured: Mayan languagesUncle Tom's CabinParliament Acts

May 23
Jerusalem, seen from Mt. Olives

Jerusalem is Israel's capital, seat of government, and largest city, both in terms of population and area, with 732,100 residents in an area of 126 sq. km (49 sq. mi.). Located in the Judean Mountains between the Mediterranean Sea and the Dead Sea, the city has a history that goes back as far as the 4th millennium BCE. The walled area of Jerusalem, which constituted the entire city until the 1860s, is now called the Old City, and was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1982. The Old City is home to several sites of key religious importance: the Temple Mount and its Western Wall for Jews, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for Christians, and the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque for Muslims. Modern Jerusalem has grown up around the Old City, with its civic and cultural hub extending westward toward the country's urban center in Gush Dan. Today, Jerusalem remains a bone of contention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem (captured in the 1967 Six-Day War) has been particularly controversial, as there are Palestinians who view this part of the city as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Thus, the status of a united Jerusalem as Israel's "eternal capital" has not been recognized by the United Nations and much of the international community. (more...)

Recently featured: Ellis PaulMayan languagesUncle Tom's Cabin

May 24
A tornado in central Oklahoma

A tornado is a violently rotating column of air which is in contact with both a cumulonimbus cloud base and the surface of the earth. Tornadoes can come in many sizes, but are typically in the form of a visible condensation funnel, with the narrow end touching the earth. Often, a cloud of debris encircles the lower portion of the funnel. Most tornadoes have winds of 110 mph (175 km/h) or less, are approximately 250 feet (75 meters) across, and travel a few miles (several kilometers) before dissipating. However, some tornadoes can have winds of more than 300 mph (480 km/h), be more than a mile (1.6 km) across, and stay on the ground for dozens of miles (more than 100 kilometers). Tornadoes have been observed on every continent except Antarctica; however, most of the world's tornadoes occur in the United States. Other areas which commonly experience tornadoes include New Zealand, western and southeastern Australia, south-central Canada, northwestern and central Europe, Italy, south-central and eastern Asia, east-central South America, and Southern Africa. (more...)

Recently featured: JerusalemEllis PaulMayan languages

May 25
Set of Luke Skywalker's home, a traditional building type in Tunisia

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope is a 1977 science fantasy film written and directed by George Lucas. It is the first of six films released in the Star Wars saga; three later films precede the story in the series' internal chronology. The film is set nineteen years after the formation of the Galactic Empire; construction has finished on the Death Star, a weapon capable of destroying a planet. After Princess Leia, a leader of the Rebel Alliance, receives the weapon's plans in the hope of finding a weakness, she is captured and taken to the Death Star. Meanwhile, a young farmer named Luke Skywalker meets Obi-Wan Kenobi, who has lived in seclusion for years on the desert planet of Tatooine. When Luke's home is destroyed, Obi-Wan begins Luke's Jedi training as they attempt to rescue the Princess from the Empire. Inspired by films like the Flash Gordon serials and such literary works as The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Lucas began work on Star Wars in 1974. Produced with a budget of US$11 million and released on May 25, 1977, the film became one of the most successful of all time, earning $215 million in the United States and $337 million overseas during its original theatrical release. The film received several Academy Awards and was listed by the U.S. National Film Registry. (more...)

Recently featured: TornadoJerusalemEllis Paul

May 26
A modern depiction of Diplodocus

Diplodocus is a genus of diplodocid sauropod dinosaur whose fossilised skeleton was first discovered in 1878. The generic name, Greek for "double bar", refers to its double-beamed chevron bones located in the underside of the tail. They were initially believed to be unique to Diplodocus; however, they have since then been discovered in other diplodocids. It lived in what is now western North America at the end of the Jurassic Period. Diplodocus was one of the more common dinosaurs found in the Upper Morrison Formation, about 150 to 147 million years ago, in what is now termed the Kimmeridgian and Tithonian stages. This was an environment and time dominated by gigantic sauropod dinosaurs such as Camarasaurus, Barosaurus, Apatosaurus and Brachiosaurus. Diplodocus is among the most easily identifiable dinosaurs, with its classic dinosaur shape, long neck and tail and four sturdy legs. For many years, it was the longest dinosaur known. Its great size may have been a deterrent to the predators Allosaurus and Ceratosaurus: their remains have been found in the same strata, which suggests they coexisted with Diplodocus. (more...)

Recently featured: Star Wars Episode IV: A New HopeTornadoJerusalem

May 27
"Anonymous" seal of Simeon I

Simeon I ruled over Bulgaria from 893 to 927, during the First Bulgarian Empire. Simeon's successful campaigns against the Byzantines, Magyars and Serbs led Bulgaria to its greatest territorial expansion ever, making it the most powerful state in contemporary Eastern Europe. His reign was also a period of unmatched cultural prosperity and enlightenment later deemed the Golden Age of Bulgarian culture. During Simeon's rule, Bulgaria spread over a territory between the Aegean, the Adriatic and the Black Sea, and the new Bulgarian capital Preslav was said to rival Constantinople. The newly-independent Bulgarian Orthodox Church became the first new patriarchate besides the Pentarchy and Bulgarian Glagolitic translations of Christian texts spread all over the Slavic world of the time. Halfway through his reign, Simeon assumed the title of Emperor (Tsar), having prior to that been styled Prince (Knyaz). (more...)

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May 28
Calvin Coolidge (1923)

Calvin Coolidge was the 30th President of the United States. A lawyer from Vermont, Coolidge worked his way up the ladder of Massachusetts state politics, eventually becoming governor of that state. His actions during the Boston Police Strike of 1919 thrust him into the national spotlight. He was elected as the 29th Vice President in 1920 and succeeded to the Presidency upon the death of Warren G. Harding. He was elected in his own right in 1924, and gained a reputation as a small-government conservative. In many ways, Coolidge's style of governance was a throwback to the passive Presidency of the nineteenth century. He restored public confidence in the White House after the scandals of his predecessor's administration, and left office with considerable popularity. Many would later criticize Coolidge as a part of a general criticism of laissez-faire government, especially in times of economic hardship, such as the Great Depression. His reputation underwent a renaissance during the Reagan administration, but the ultimate assessment of his presidency is still divided between those who approve of his reduction of the size of government and those who believe the federal government should be more involved in regulating the economy. (more...)

Recently featured: Simeon IDiplodocusStar Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

May 29
Rus longships as painted by Nicholas Roerich

The Caspian expeditions of the Rus were military raids undertaken by the Rus between 864 and 1041 on the Caspian Sea shores. Initially, the Rus appeared in Serkland in the 9th century traveling as merchants along the Volga trade route, selling furs, honey, and slaves. The first small-scale raids took place in the late 9th and early 10th century. The Rus undertook the first large-scale expedition in 913; having arrived on 500 ships, they pillaged Gorgan, the territory of present day Azerbaijan, and the adjacent areas, taking slaves and goods. On their return, the northern raiders were attacked and defeated by Khazar Muslims in the Volga Delta, and those who escaped were killed by the local tribes on the middle Volga. During their next expedition in 943, the Rus captured Barda, the capital of Arran, in the modern-day Azerbaijan. The Rus stayed there for several months, killing many inhabitants of the city and amassing substantial plunder. It was only an outbreak of dysentery among the Rus that forced them to depart with their spoils. Sviatoslav, prince of Kiev, commanded the next attack, which destroyed the Khazar state in 965. Sviatoslav's campaign established the Rus's hold on the north-south trade routes, helping to alter the demographics of the region. Raids continued through the time period with the last Scandinavian attempt to reestablish the route to the Caspian Sea taking place in 1041 by Ingvar the Far-Travelled. (more...)

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May 30
Dally Messenger, one of the club's first players

The Sydney Roosters are a professional rugby league club based in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, Australia. They play in the National Rugby League and are one of the most successful clubs in Australian rugby league, having won twelve New South Wales Rugby League and National Rugby League titles. The side holds the longest winning streak (nineteen) and the second largest margin of victory (87–7) in league history. The club was founded in 1908 in Paddington, Sydney, under the name "Eastern Suburbs"; in 1994, the name was changed to the "Sydney City Roosters", and in 2000 to just the "Sydney Roosters". The Bondi Junction-based Roosters have a long-standing and fierce rivalry with the South Sydney Rabbitohs from Redfern, who are, along with the Sydney Roosters, the only remaining foundation club in the National Rugby League. (more...)

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May 31

"Smells Like Teen Spirit" is a song by American rock band Nirvana, and the opening track and lead single from the band's 1991 breakthrough album Nevermind. Written by Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, and Dave Grohl and produced by Butch Vig, the song uses a verse-chorus form where the main four-chord riff is used during the intro and chorus to create an alternating loud and quiet dynamic. The unexpected success of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" propelled Nevermind to the top of the charts at the start of 1992, which marked the point where alternative rock entered the mainstream. "Teen Spirit" was Nirvana's first and biggest hit, reaching number six on the Billboard Hot 100 and placing high on music industry charts all around the world in 1991 and 1992. The song also received many critical plaudits, including topping the Village Voice Pazz & Jop critics' poll and winning two MTV Video Music Awards for its music video, which was in heavy rotation on music television. The song served as an "anthem for apathetic kids" who came to define Generation X, but the band grew uncomfortable with the success and attention they received. In the years since Nirvana's breakup, listeners and critics have continued to praise "Smells Like Teen Spirit" as one of the greatest rock songs ever. (more...)

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