Africa in 1970s – 1990s: a continent in crisis
Colonialism is a relic of the past, but plenty of troubles remain
“Seek ye first the political kingdom”, advised Kwame Nkrumah, who followed his own advice and became the first leader of an independent Ghana. Indeed, most of Africa followed his counsel. As Gavin Williams, a professor at Oxford University, has noted, the period from World War II to the present in Africa has been dominated by two related themes: political nationalism and economic development. With the independence of Eritrea from Ethiopia in 1993 and the election of Nelson Mandela as president of South Africa in April 1994, the African struggle for national independence reached its successful culmination. (more…)
Words That Changed the World From Biblical Times
From Biblical times to the present, these documents have shaped our history
Code of Hammurabi, c. 1750 B.C: one of the oldest known legal codes, it lays down the principle of “an eye for an eye”. (more…)
Selected Religious Holidays
Ramadan, Islam, Begins January, 21: The fourth of the five pillars of Islam is to keep the fast of Ramadan, which celebrates Muhammad’s reception of the divine revelations recorded in the Koran. During the month-long fast, Muslims (except soldiers and the sick) may not eat between sunrise and sunset. (more…)
Selected International Holidays
New Year, China, February 19, Second new moon after winter solstice: In Chinese tradition, twelve years’ cycle is used. Families gather on New Year’s Eve for a sumptuous banquet (the fish dish served last is not eaten, symbolizing the hope that there will be food left at the end of the year) and children awaken the next morning to find red envelopes filled with money under their pillows. Chinese tradition says babies are one year old at birth, and everyone’s birthday is New Year’s Day. So a child born at 11.59 p.m. on New Year’s Eve hits the terrible twos in under three minutes. (more…)
The States of the Union
The United States continue in the great tradition of regionalism in which they were founded. A look at what sets them apart – and what binds them: (more…)
Portrait of a Nation
America’s population is growing, graying, and moving West
Americans love statistics about themselves. Hardly a day passes without a poll being released. Here, gleaned from the pages of the Statistical Abstract of the United States, the national data book published annually by the Department of Commerce, are some other facts and figures that describe how we lived and how the country is changing. (more…)
Presidential Reading List
The following books are lauded by historians and pundits as the best sources of information about the institution and the individuals that make up the presidency
Presidential Power and the Modern Presidents: the Politics of Leadership from Roosevelt to Reagan by Richard E. Neustadt: The classic. A prominent Harvard professor looks at the leadership abilities of presidents from WWII to the end of the Cold War. (more…)
First-Rate Presidents and Fascinating First Ladies
Who were the most successful presidents? The most interesting? The most overrated? And what about the first ladies? Some picks are listed here in chronological order.
Most successful presidents
George Washington: He established precedence and assured the democratic future of the republic. He gave us stability after a long war, during the difficult period following the Articles of Confederation. (more…)
Making of Presidency
How the office has changed in more than 250 years. How has the institution of the presidency evolved since George Washington took office in 1789?
How has the presidency changed over the years?
It was created by Washington, who was very conscious that he was the first president, and that everything he did would create a precedent.If there hadn’t been a strong figure in the beginning, the office would not have evolved the way it did. The president was known then as the Great White Father. (more…)
Presidents of the U.S.
They Had the Right Stuff
Gerald Ford once commented on the early days of his troubled presidency, “I guess it just proves that in America anyone can be president.” Of course, it helps if you’re white, male and protestant. Following are some of the traits that America’s top executives have had in common, and a few that they haven’t. (more…)