Wikipedia:Today's featured article/September 2006

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September 1

Gremlins is an American horror-comedy film directed by Joe Dante and released in 1984. The action follows a young man who receives a strange creature named Gizmo as a pet. The creature then spawns other creatures that transform into small, destructive monsters. This story was continued with a sequel, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, which was released in 1990. Unlike the lighter sequel, the original Gremlins opts for more black comedy, which is balanced against a Christmastime setting. Experienced filmmaker Steven Spielberg was the film's executive producer. The screenplay was written by Chris Columbus. Gremlins stars Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates, with Howie Mandel providing the voice of Gizmo. Gremlins was a commercial success and received some positive feedback from critics. It was also at the center of a large merchandising campaign. However, the film has also been heavily criticized for some of its more violent sequences; critics alleged these scenes made the film inappropriate for younger audiences who could be admitted into theatres under its PG rating. In response, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) reformed its rating system. (more...)

Recently featured: Chew ValleyTalbot TagoraHistory of Central Asia

September 2
A potassium Faraday filter

An atomic line filter is an advanced optical filter, specifically a narrow band-pass filter, used in the physical sciences for filtering electromagnetic radiation with precision, accuracy, and minimal signal strength loss. The three major types of atomic line filters are absorption-re-emission, Faraday filters and Voigt filters. Atomic line filters take advantage of the narrow lines of absorption or resonance in a metallic vapor and manipulate a specific frequency of light past a series of filters that block all other light. Atomic line filters are used in scientific applications requiring the effective detection of laser light that would otherwise be obscured by broadband EMF sources, such as daylight. They are used regularly in LIDAR and are being studied for their potential use in laser communication systems. Atomic line filters are superior to conventional dielectric optical filters such as interference filters and Lyot filters, but their greater complexity makes them practical only in background-limited detection, where a weak signal is detected while suppressing a strong background. (more...)

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September 3
Hoplites in combat

The Corinthian War was an ancient Greek military conflict between Sparta and four allied states, Thebes, Athens, Corinth, and Argos, which were initially backed by Persia. The immediate cause of the war was a local conflict in northwest Greece in which both Thebes and Sparta intervened. The deeper cause, however, was hostility towards Sparta provoked by that city's unilateral domination of Greek politics in the nine years after the end of the Peloponnesian War. The war was fought on two fronts, on land near Corinth and Thebes and at sea in the Aegean. On land, the Spartans achieved several early successes in major battles, but were unable to capitalize on their advantage, and the fighting soon became stalemated. At sea, the Spartan fleet was decisively defeated by a Persian fleet early in the war, an event which effectively ended Sparta's attempts to become a naval power. Taking advantage of this fact, Athens launched several naval campaigns in the later years of the war, recapturing a number of islands that had been part of the original Athenian Empire during the 5th century BC. Alarmed by these Athenian successes, the Persians stopped backing the allies and began supporting Sparta. This defection forced the allies to seek peace. The Peace of Antalcidas, commonly known as the King's Peace, was signed in 387 BC, ending the war. (more...)

Recently featured: Atomic line filterGremlinsChew Valley

September 4
An Emu

The Emu is the largest bird native to Australia and the only extant member of the genus Dromaius. It is also the second-largest flightless bird in the world, after its ratite relative, the Ostrich. The soft-feathered, brown birds reach up to 2 m in height and weigh up to 45 kg. The Emu is common over most of mainland Australia, although it avoids heavily-populated areas, dense forest and very arid areas. Emus can travel great distances at a fast, economical trot and, if necessary, can sprint at 50 km/hour for some distance at a time. They are opportunistically nomadic, and may travel long distances to find food; they feed on a variety of plants and insects. The Emu subspecies that inhabited Tasmania became extinct following the European settlement of Australia in 1788; the distribution of the mainland subspecies has also been affected by human activities. The Emu was once common on the east coast, but is now uncommon there; by contrast, the development of agriculture and the provision of water for stock in the interior of the continent has increased the range of the Emu in arid regions. Emus are farmed for their meat, oil and leather. (more...)

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September 5
Seal of the US House of Representatives

The United States House of Representatives is, along with the United States Senate, one of the two houses of the Congress of the United States. Each state is represented in the House proportionally to its population, but each state is entitled to at least one Representative. The total number of Representatives is currently fixed at 435 by the Reapportionment Act of 1929, though Congress could increase that number. Each Representative serves for a two-year term and may be re-elected an unlimited number of times. The presiding officer of the House is known as the Speaker. The bicameral Congress arose from the desire of the Founders to create a "house of the people" that would closely resemble and follow public opinion, in addition to a more deliberative, learned and reserved Senate which would be less susceptible to the frenzies of mass sentiment. It is conventional to consider the House as the "lower house," and the Senate as the "upper house," although the Constitution does not use such language. The Constitution provides that the approval of both houses is necessary for the passage of legislation. (more...)

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September 6
South facade of Belton House

Belton House is a country house near Grantham, Lincolnshire, England. The mansion is surrounded by formal gardens and a series of avenues leading to follies within a greater wooded park. Belton has been described as a compilation of all that is finest of Carolean architecture, the only truly vernacular style of architecture that England had produced since the Tudor period. Only Brympton d'Evercy has been similarly lauded as the perfect English country house. For three hundred years, Belton House was the seat of the Brownlow and Cust family, who had first acquired land in the area in the late 16th century. Between 1685 and 1688 the young Sir John Brownlow and his wife had the present mansion built. Despite great wealth they chose to build a modest country house rather than a grand contemporary Baroque palace. The contemporary, if provincial, Carolean style was the selected choice of design. However, the new house was fitted with the latest innovations such as sash windows for the principal rooms, and more importantly completely separate areas for the staff. (more...)

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September 7
Hilary Putnam

Hilary Putnam is an American philosopher and a central figure in Western philosophy since the 1960s, especially in philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, and philosophy of science. He is known for his willingness to apply an equal degree of scrutiny to his own philosophical positions and those of others, subjecting each position to rigorous analysis until he exposes its flaws. As a result, he has acquired a reputation for frequently changing his own position. In philosophy of mind, Putnam is known for his hypothesis of multiple realizability, and for the concept of functionalism, an influential theory regarding the mind-body problem. In philosophy of language, along with Saul Kripke and others, he developed the causal theory of reference, and formulated an original theory of meaning, inventing the notion of semantic externalism based on a famous thought experiment called Twin Earth. In philosophy of mathematics, he and his mentor W.V.O. Quine developed the "Quine-Putnam indispensability thesis," an argument for the reality of mathematical entities, later espousing the view that mathematics is not purely logical, but "quasi-empirical." In the field of epistemology, he is known for the "brain in a vat" thought experiment, which challenges epistemological skepticism. (more...)

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September 8
Random dot Stereogram and the shark hidden within

An autostereogram is a single-image stereogram, designed to trick human eyes and brains into seeing a three-dimensional scene in a two-dimensional image. In order to "see" 3D shapes in these autostereograms, the brain must decouple focusing operations of the eyes from convergence. The simplest type of autostereogram consists of horizontally repeating patterns and is known as a wallpaper autostereogram. When viewed with proper convergence, the repeating patterns appear to float in the air above the background. The Magic Eye series of books features another type of autostereogram called a random dot autostereogram. In this type of autostereogram, every pixel in the image is computed from a pattern strip and a depth map. Usually, a hidden 3D scene emerges when the image is viewed with proper viewing technique. There are two ways an autostereogram can be viewed: wall-eyed and cross-eyed. Most autostereograms are designed to be viewed in only one way. Wall-eyed viewing requires that the two eyes adopt a relatively divergent angle, while cross-eyed viewing requires a relatively convergent angle. (more...)

Recently featured: Hilary PutnamBelton HouseUnited States House of Representatives

September 9
A poster advertising the match between Alexander McKay and Simon Byrne

Simon Byrne was an Irish bare-knuckle prize fighter. The champion heavyweight boxer of Ireland, he was drawn to England by the larger sums of prize money and by hopes to become the heavyweight champion there as well. He became one of only four boxers worldwide to have been involved in fatal fights both as survivor and as deceased since records began in 1741. His death was a factor contributing to the improvement of safety standards in English boxing. Byrne fought in an era when English boxing, though illegal, was patronised by the most powerful. Its patronage and popularity did not, however, free it from corruption, gambling, and staged fights. Byrne fought just eight recorded matches. His career and notability can be measured by just three of those fights: his fight against Alexander McKay, Champion of Scotland, for the right to fight Jem Ward, Champion of England, in which his opponent was killed; the following fight against Ward, which Byrne lost and for which he was said to have been unfit to fight; and his final fight against Ward's successor as champion of England, James Burke, in which Byrne himself was killed. (more...)

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September 10
Damage from Hurricane Katrina

Actuaries are business professionals who deal with the financial impact of risk and uncertainty. Actuaries are highly trained experts with a deep understanding of financial security systems, their reasons for being, their complexity, their mathematics, and the way they work. They evaluate the likelihood of future events and design creative ways to quantify the contingent outcomes in order to minimize losses associated with uncertain undesirable events. These risks can impact both sides of the balance sheet and require asset management, liability management, and valuation skills. It takes a combination of strong analytical skills, business knowledge and understanding of both human behavior and the vagaries of information systems to design and manage programs that control risk. Actuaries work in a number of insurance disciplines, which may be classified as life, health, pensions, annuities, and asset management, social welfare programs, property, casualty, liability, general insurance and reinsurance. (more...)

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September 11

Rudolf Vrba was Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics at the University of British Columbia in Canada. In April 1944, Vrba and Alfréd Wetzler became the second and third of only five Jews to escape successfully from the German death camp at Auschwitz and pass information to the Allies about the mass murder that was taking place there. The 32 pages of information that the men dictated to horrified Jewish officials in Slovakia became known as the Vrba-Wetzler report. It is regarded as one of the most important documents of the 20th century, because it was the first detailed information about the death camp to reach the Allies that they accepted as credible. Although the report's release to the public was controversially delayed until after the mass transport of 437,000 Jews from Hungary to Auschwitz had begun on May 15, 1944, it is nevertheless credited with having saved many lives. Yehuda Bauer, Professor of Holocaust Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has called Vrba "one of the Heroes of the Holocaust". (more...)

Recently featured: ActuarySimon ByrneAutostereogram

September 12
Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton at the Smithsonian museum of Natural History

Tyrannosaurus is a famous dinosaur genus and a fixture in popular culture. Known colloquially as T. rex, the species Tyrannosaurus rex hails from what is now western North America. Some scientists consider the slightly older Tarbosaurus bataar from Asia to represent a second species of Tyrannosaurus, while others maintain Tarbosaurus as a separate genus. Like other tyrannosaurid theropods, Tyrannosaurus was a bipedal carnivore with a massive skull balanced by a long, heavy tail. Relative to the large and powerful hindlimbs, Tyrannosaurus forelimbs were small, and retained only two digits. Although other theropods rivaled or exceeded T. rex in size, it was the largest known tyrannosaurid and one of the largest known land predators, measuring over 12 meters (40 feet) in length and weighing as much as an elephant. Fossils of T. rex have been found in North American rock formations dating to the very end of the Cretaceous Period; it was among the last dinosaurs to exist prior to the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event. More than 30 specimens of T. rex have now been identified, some nearly complete, which has allowed significant research into many aspects of its biology, including its life history and biomechanics. However, the feeding habits and potential speed of T. rex remain controversial.(more...)

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September 13
Mariah Carey at Edwards Air Force Base in Dec. 1998

Mariah Carey is an American pop and R&B singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress. Carey made her debut in 1990 under the guidance of Columbia Records executive Tommy Mottola and became the first recording act to have her first five singles top the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. Following her marriage to Mottola in 1993, a series of subsequent hit records established her position as Columbia's highest-selling act. According to Billboard magazine, she was the most successful artist of the 1990s in the United States. Carey took full creative control over her image and music following her separation from Mottola in 1997, and she introduced elements of hip hop into her album material. Her popularity was in decline when she left Columbia in 2001, and she was dropped by Virgin Records the following year after a highly publicized physical and emotional breakdown and the poor reception of Glitter, her film and soundtrack project. Carey later signed with Island/Def Jam and, after an unsuccessful period, returned to the forefront of popular music in 2005. In 2000 the World Music Awards named Carey the best-selling female artist of all time, and she has recorded the most U.S. number-one singles for a female artist. (more...)

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September 14
Yamato explodes

Operation Ten-Go was the last major Japanese naval operation in the Pacific campaign of World War II. The Japanese battleship Yamato, the largest battleship in the world, along with nine other Japanese warships, sortied from Japan on an intentional one-way mission to attack the Allied forces that were invading Okinawa. The Japanese force was attacked, stopped, and almost completely destroyed before reaching Okinawa by U.S. carrier aircraft which sank Yamato and five other Japanese warships. The battle emphasized the aerial control that the U.S. had attained in the Pacific theater as well as the vulnerability of surface ships to aerial attack. The battle also exhibited Japan's willingness to sacrifice large numbers of its people in desperate and suicidal tactics in an attempt to slow or stop the Allied advance on the Japanese homeland. (more...)

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September 15

Jabba the Hutt is a fictional character in George Lucas's science fiction saga Star Wars. He first appeared on film in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi as an obese, slug-like alien. Jabba was originally portrayed by an immense latex puppet, but in other films he is a computer-generated image. The character's role in Star Wars is primarily antagonistic. He is a 600-year-old Hutt crime lord and gangster who employs a retinue of criminals, bounty hunters, smugglers, assassins, and bodyguards to operate his criminal empire. Jabba has a grim sense of humor, a bellicose laugh, an insatiable appetite, and an affinity for gambling, slave girls, and torture. The character was incorporated into the Star Wars merchandising campaign that corresponded with the theatrical release of Return of the Jedi. Jabba the Hutt's image has since played an influential role in popular culture, particularly in the United States. His name is used as a satirical literary device and a political caricature to underscore negative qualities such as morbid obesity and corruption. (more...)

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September 16
Chemical structure of Caffeine

Caffeine is a xanthine alkaloid compound that acts as a stimulant in humans. It is found in the leaves and beans of the coffee plant, in tea, yerba mate, guarana berries, and in small quantities in cocoa, the kola nut and the Yaupon Holly. Overall, caffeine is found in the beans, leaves, and fruit of over 60 plants, where it acts as a natural pesticide that paralyzes and kills certain insects feeding upon them. Its name is derived from the Italian caffè plus the alkaloid suffix -ine. Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant, having the effect of warding off drowsiness and restoring alertness. Beverages containing caffeine, such as coffee, tea, soft drinks and energy drinks, enjoy popularity great enough to make caffeine the world's most widely consumed psychoactive substance. In North America, 90% of adults consume caffeine daily. Many natural sources of caffeine also contain widely varying mixtures of other xanthine alkaloids, including the cardiac stimulants theophylline and theobromine and other substances such as tannins. When a given caffeine mixture appears to have different effects, depending on its source, it is due primarily to varying concentrations of other stimulants and absorption rates of the mixture. (more...)

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September 17

Windows 2000 is a business-oriented graphical operating system that was designed to work with either uniprocessor or symmetric multi-processor (SMP) 32-bit Intel x86 computers. It is part of the Microsoft Windows NT line of operating systems and was released on February 17 2000, but has since been superseded by newer Microsoft operating systems. Windows 2000 came in four versions: Professional, Server, Advanced Server, and Datacenter Server. Additionally, Microsoft offered Windows 2000 Advanced Server Limited Edition, which was released in 2001 and runs on 64-bit Intel Itanium microprocessors. Windows 2000 is preemptible and interruptible, and is classified as a hybrid kernel operating system, as its architecture is divided into user mode and kernel mode. The kernel mode provides unrestricted access to system resources and facilitates the user mode, which is heavily restricted and designed for most applications. All versions of Windows 2000 have common functionality, including many system utilities such as the Microsoft Management Console and standard system management applications such as a disk defragmentation utility. (more...)

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September 18

Bust of Pericles

Pericles was a prominent and influential statesman, orator, and general of Athens in the city's Golden Age (specifically, between the Persian and Peloponnesian wars). He was descended, through his mother, from the Alcmaeonid family. Pericles had such a profound influence on Athenian society that Thucydides, his contemporary historian, acclaimed him as "the first citizen of Athens". Pericles turned the Delian League into an Athenian empire and led his countrymen during the first two years of the Peloponnesian War. The period during which he led Athens, roughly from 461 BC to 429 BC, is sometimes known as the "Age of Pericles", though the period thus denoted can include times as early as the Persian Wars, or as late as the next century. Pericles promoted the arts and literature; this was a chief reason Athens holds the reputation of being the educational and cultural centre of the ancient Greek world. He started an ambitious project that built most of the surviving structures on the Acropolis (including the Parthenon). This program beautified the city, exhibited its glory, and gave work to the people. Furthermore, Pericles fostered the Athenian democracy, to such an extent that critics call him a populist. (more...)

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September 19
Rush, in concert in Milan, Italy

Rush is a Canadian progressive rock band comprising bassist, keyboardist and vocalist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson, and drummer and lyricist Neil Peart. Rush was formed in the summer of 1968 in Willowdale, Toronto by Lifeson, Lee, and John Rutsey. Peart replaced Rutsey on drums in July 1974, two weeks before the group's first U.S. tour, to complete the present lineup. Since the release of their eponymous debut in 1974, the band has become well-known for their instrumental virtuosity, complex compositions, erudite lyrics, and inspirational camaraderie. Rush's three decades of continued success under their current lineup of Lee, Lifeson, and Peart has earned the band the respect of their musical peers, and their supporters are often cited as some of the most intensely loyal in rock. Rush has influenced various rock artists such as Metallica, Smashing Pumpkins and Primus, as well as notable progressive bands such as Dream Theater and Symphony X. Rush has been awarded the Juno Award several times and was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1994. (more...)

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September 20
McGraw Hall and the clock tower

Cornell University is a private research university located in Ithaca, New York. The youngest member of the Ivy League, Cornell was founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White as a coeducational, nonsectarian institution where admission was offered irrespective of religion or race. Conceived shortly after the American Civil War in the midst of the Industrial Revolution, its founders intended that the new university would teach and make contributions in all fields of knowledge — from the classics to the sciences and from the theoretical to the applied. The university is organized into seven undergraduate colleges and seven graduate divisions, each defining its own academic programs in near autonomy. From a new residential college housing system to its 2001 founding of a medical college in Qatar, Cornell claims "to serve society by educating the leaders of tomorrow and extending the frontiers of knowledge." Cornell counts more than 240,000 living alumni and 40 Nobel laureates have been affiliated with the university as faculty or students. Research is a central element of the university's mission; Cornell spent $561.3 million on research and development in a diverse group of fields during the July 2004 to June 2005 fiscal year. (more...)

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September 21

Dog Day Afternoon is a 1975 film directed by Sidney Lumet and written by Frank Pierson. The film stars Al Pacino, John Cazale, Chris Sarandon, and Charles Durning. Based on the events of an attempted bank robbery in 1972, Dog Day Afternoon tells the story of Sonny Wortzik, who holds employees of a bank hostage with his partner Salvatore Naturile in Brooklyn, New York. The film was inspired by the article "The Boys in the Bank", which tells a similar story of the robbery of a Brooklyn bank by John Wojtowicz and Salvatore Naturile; this article was first published in Life in 1972. The film received generally positive reviews, some of which referred to its anti-establishment tones. Although it was nominated for major awards, Dog Day Afternoon won just a sole Academy Award and failed to win a Golden Globe. Pacino's "ATTICA!" line from the film, referencing the Attica Prison riots, has become widely quoted, and was #86 on American Film Institute's "100 Years...100 Movie Quotes" list. (more...)

Recently featured: Cornell UniversityRushPericles

September 22
A Type 2 AK-47

The AK-47 is a gas-operated assault rifle designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov, produced by Russian manufacturer Izhevsk Mechanical Works and used in many Eastern bloc nations during the Cold War. It was adopted and standardized in 1947. Compared with the auto-loading rifles used in World War II, the AK-47 was generally more compact, with a shorter range, a smaller 7.62 × 39 mm cartridge, and was capable of selective fire. It was one of the first true assault rifles and remains the most widely used. The AK-47 and its numerous variants and descendants have been produced in greater numbers than any other assault rifle and are in production to this day. (more...)

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September 23
The Globular Cluster M80 in the constellation Scorpius

A globular cluster is a spherical collection of stars that orbits a galaxy core as a satellite. Globular clusters are very tightly bound by gravity, which gives them their spherical shape, and relatively high stellar density towards their core. Globular clusters contain considerably more stars than the less dense galactic, or open clusters. Globular clusters are fairly numerous; there are about 150 currently known globular clusters in the Milky Way, with perhaps 10–20 more undiscovered. Large galaxies can have more: Andromeda, for instance, may have as many as 500. Some giant elliptical galaxies, such as M87, may have as many as 10,000 globular clusters. These globular clusters orbit the galaxy out to large radii, 40 kiloparsecs or more. Every galaxy of sufficient mass in the local group has an associated group of globular clusters, and almost every large galaxy has been found to possess a system of globular clusters. The Sagittarius Dwarf and Canis Major Dwarf galaxies appear to be in the process of donating their associated globular clusters to the Milky Way, such as Palomar 12. (more...)

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September 24
A standing jaguar

The jaguar is a New World mammal of the Felidae family and one of four "big cats" in the Panthera genus, along with the lion, tiger and leopard of the Old World. The jaguar is the third-largest feline after the lion and tiger, and is the largest and most powerful feline in the Western Hemisphere. The jaguar's present range extends from Mexico (with occasional sightings in the United States) across much of Central America and south to Paraguay and northern Argentina. Physically, the spotted cat most closely resembles the leopard, although its behavioural and habitat characteristics are closer to those of the tiger. While dense jungle is its preferred habitat, the jaguar will range across a variety of forested and open terrain. It is strongly associated with the presence of water and is notable, along with the tiger, as a feline that enjoys swimming. The jaguar is a largely solitary, stalk-and-ambush predator, and is opportunistic in prey selection. It is also an apex and keystone predator, playing an important role in stabilizing ecosystems and regulating the populations of prey species. The jaguar has developed an exceptionally powerful bite, even relative to the other big cats. (more...)

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September 25
The House of Commons as drawn by Ausgustus Pugin and Thomas Rowlandson

The House of Commons of the United Kingdom is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Parliament also includes the Sovereign and the upper house, the House of Lords, but the House of Commons is the dominant branch. The House is a democratically elected body, consisting of 646 members, who are known as "Members of Parliament" (MPs). Members are elected by the first-past-the-post system of election. Except in times of national emergency, Parliament must be dissolved and general elections held every five years; the government may seek a dissolution before that time. Each member is elected by, and represents, an electoral district known as a constituency. The House of Commons is the source of the vast majority of government ministers and every Prime Minister since 1902, with the very brief exception of Sir Alec Douglas-Home in 1963. It came into existence during the fourteenth century and has been in continuous operation since. It was once far less powerful than the House of Lords, but is now by far the dominant branch of Parliament. Its legislative powers overtook those of the House of Lords when, under the Parliament Act 1911, the Lords' power to reject most bills was reduced to a mere ability to delay. Moreover, the Government of the United Kingdom is answerable to the House of Commons. The Prime Minister stays in office only as long as he or she retains the support of the lower house. (more...)

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September 26

The Tahirih Justice Center is a United States-based non-governmental organization that serves immigrant women and girls who are fleeing from gender-based violence and persecution through pro bono direct legal services and social and medical service referrals. Tahirih helps women who are attempting to escape from such abuse as female genital cutting, domestic violence, human trafficking, torture and rape. The organization also conducts public policy initiatives designed to achieve legislative change for women fleeing from human rights abuses, to highlight problems faced by immigrant women in the United States, and to end the possible exploitation of mail-order brides by international marriage brokers. The organization is named after Táhirih, an influential female poet and theologian in nineteenth century Persia who campaigned for women's rights. Tahirih is a Bahá'í-inspired organization, although its clients and employees vary widely in ethnicity, religious identification, and nationality. (more...)

Recently featured: British House of CommonsJaguarGlobular cluster

September 27
The reconstructed St. Michael's Golden-Domed Cathedral with its belltower as seen in 2005.

St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery is a monastery in Kiev, Ukraine. The monastery is located on the Western side of the Dnieper on the edge of a bluff northeast of the St. Sophia Cathedral. The site is located in the historic and administrative Uppertown and overlooks the city's commercial and merchant quarter, the Podil neighbourhood. Originally built in the Middle Ages by Sviatopolk II Iziaslavych, the monastery comprises the Cathedral itself, the refectory of St. John the Divine, built in 1713, the Economic Gates, constructed in 1760 and the monastery's bell tower, which was added circa 1716-19. The exterior of the structure was rebuilt in the Ukrainian Baroque style in the 18th century while the interior remained in its original Byzantine style. The cathedral was demolished by Soviet authorities in the 1930s, but was recently reconstructed after Ukraine gained its independence. (more...)

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September 28
Flag of Nepal

Nepal is a landlocked Himalayan country in South Asia, bordered by the People's Republic of China to the north and by India to the south, east and west. More than 80% of Nepalese follow Hinduism. For a small territory, the Nepali landscape is uncommonly diverse, ranging from the humid Terai in the south to the lofty Himalayas in the north. It is notable that within a very small width the elevation of Nepal increases from the plain terrain to the tallest Himalayas leading to great variegation. Nepal boasts eight of the world's ten highest mountains, including Mount Everest on the border with Tibet in the People's Republic of China. Kathmandu is the capital and largest city. The other main cities include Biratnagar, Bhairahawa, Birgunj, Janakpur, Pokhara, Nepalgunj, and Mahendranagar. After a long and rich history, during which the region splintered and coalesced under a variety of absolute rulers, Nepal became a constitutional monarchy in 1990. However, the monarchy retained many important and ill-defined powers. This arrangement was marked by increasing instability, both in the parliament and, since 1996, in large swathes of the country that have been fought over by Maoist insurgents. (more...)

Recently featured: St. Michael's Golden-Domed MonasteryTahirih Justice CenterBritish House of Commons

September 29
Hurricane Katrina near peak strength on August 28, 2005

Hurricane Katrina was the costliest and one of the deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States. It was the sixth-strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded and the third-strongest landfalling U.S. hurricane ever recorded. Katrina formed in late August during the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season and devastated much of the north-central Gulf Coast of the United States. Most notable in media coverage were the catastrophic effects on the city of New Orleans, Louisiana, and in coastal Mississippi. Katrina's sheer size devastated the Gulf Coast over 100 miles (160 km) away from its center. Katrina is estimated to be responsible for $81.2 billion (2005 U.S. dollars) in damages, making it the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history. The storm killed at least 1,836 people, making it the deadliest U.S. hurricane since the 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane. Criticism of the federal, state and local governments' reaction to the storm was widespread and resulted in an investigation by the United States Congress and the resignation of FEMA head Michael Brown. (more...)

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September 30

Aleksandr Vasilevsky was a Soviet military commander, promoted to Marshal of the Soviet Union in 1943. He was the Soviet Chief of the General Staff and Deputy Minister of Defense during World War II, as well as Minister of Defense from 1949 to 1953. As the Chief of the General Staff, Vasilevsky was responsible for the planning and coordination of almost all decisive Soviet offensives, from the Stalingrad counteroffensive to the assault on Eastern Prussia and Königsberg. In July 1945, he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of Soviet forces in the Far East, executing Operation August Storm and subsequently accepting Japan's surrender. After the war, he became the Soviet Defense Minister, a position he held until Stalin's death in 1953. With Khrushchev's rise, Vasilevsky started to lose power and was eventually pensioned off. After his death, he was buried in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis in recognition of his past service and contributions to his nation. (more...)

Recently featured: Hurricane KatrinaNepalSt. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery