Topic: Biography/politics and government
Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706 [O.S. January 6, 1705] – April 17, 1790) was an American polymath and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Franklin was a leading writer, printer, political philosopher, politician, Freemason, postmaster, scientist, inventor, humorist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. As an inventor, he is known for the lightning rod, bifocals, and the Franklin stove, among other inventions. He founded many civic organizations, including the Library Company, Philadelphia's first fire department and the University of Pennsylvania.
Franklin earned the title of "The First American" for his early and indefatigable campaigning for colonial unity, initially as an author and spokesman in London for several colonies. As the first United States Ambassador to France, he exemplified the emerging American nation. Franklin was foundational in defining the American ethos as a marriage of the practical values of thrift, hard work, education, community spirit, self-governing institutions, and opposition to authoritarianism both political and religious, with the scientific and tolerant values of the Enlightenment. In the words of historian Henry Steele Commager, "In a Franklin could be merged the virtues of Puritanism without its defects, the illumination of the Enlightenment without its heat." To Walter Isaacson, this makes Franklin "the most accomplished American of his age and the most influential in inventing the type of society America would become."
Franklin became a successful newspaper editor and printer in Philadelphia, the leading city in the colonies, publishing the Pennsylvania Gazette at the age of 23. He became wealthy publishing this and Poor Richard's Almanack, which he authored under the pseudonym "Richard Saunders". After 1767, he was associated with the Pennsylvania Chronicle, a newspaper that was known for its revolutionary sentiments and criticisms of British policies.
He pioneered and was the first president of Academy and College of Philadelphia which opened in 1751 and later became the University of Pennsylvania. He organized and was the first secretary of the American Philosophical Society and was elected president in 1769. Franklin became a national hero in America as an agent for several colonies when he spearheaded an effort in London to have the Parliament of Great Britain repeal the unpopular Stamp Act. An accomplished diplomat, he was widely admired among the French as American minister to Paris and was a major figure in the development of positive Franco-American relations. His efforts proved vital for the American Revolution in securing shipments of crucial munitions from France.
He was promoted to deputy postmaster-general for the British colonies in 1753, having been Philadelphia postmaster for many years, and this enabled him to set up the first national communications network. During the revolution, he became the first United States Postmaster General. He was active in community affairs and colonial and state politics, as well as national and international affairs. From 1785 to 1788, he served as governor of Pennsylvania. He initially owned and dealt in slaves but, by the late 1750s, he began arguing against slavery and became an abolitionist.
His life and legacy of scientific and political achievement, and his status as one of America's most influential Founding Fathers, have seen Franklin honored more than two centuries after his death on coinage and the $100 bill, warships, and the names of many towns, counties, educational institutions, and corporations, as well as countless cultural references.
- "Benjamin Franklin's 13 virtues" | 2012-09-04 | 101 Upvotes 73 Comments
Greta Tintin Eleonora Ernman Thunberg (Swedish: [ˈɡrêːta ˈtʉ̂ːnbærj] (listen); born 3 January 2003) is a Swedish environmental activist who has gained international recognition for promoting the view that humanity is facing an existential crisis arising from climate change. Thunberg is known for her youth and her straightforward speaking manner, both in public and to political leaders and assemblies, in which she criticizes world leaders for their failure to take sufficient action to address the climate crisis.
Thunberg's activism started after convincing her parents to adopt several lifestyle choices to reduce their own carbon footprint. In August 2018, at age 15, she started spending her school days outside the Swedish parliament to call for stronger action on climate change by holding up a sign reading Skolstrejk för klimatet (School strike for climate). Soon, other students engaged in similar protests in their own communities. Together, they organised a school climate strike movement under the name Fridays for Future. After Thunberg addressed the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference, student strikes took place every week somewhere in the world. In 2019, there were multiple coordinated multi-city protests involving over a million students each. To avoid flying, Thunberg sailed to North America where she attended the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit. Her speech there, in which she exclaimed "how dare you", was widely taken up by the press and incorporated into music.
Her sudden rise to world fame has made her both a leader and a target for critics. Her influence on the world stage has been described by The Guardian and other newspapers as the "Greta effect". She has received numerous honours and awards including: honorary Fellowship of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society; Time magazine's 100 most influential people and the youngest Time Person of the Year; inclusion in the Forbes list of The World's 100 Most Powerful Women (2019) and two consecutive nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize (2019 and 2020).
- "Greta Thunberg" | 2019-05-26 | 32 Upvotes 18 Comments
Herman Cain (born December 13, 1945) is an American politician, business executive, syndicated columnist, and Tea Party activist.
Cain grew up in Georgia and graduated from Morehouse College with a bachelor's degree in mathematics. He then graduated with a master's degree in computer science at Purdue University, while also working full-time for the U.S. Department of the Navy. In 1977, he joined the Pillsbury Company where he later became vice president. During the 1980s, Cain's success as a business executive at Burger King prompted Pillsbury to appoint him as chairman and CEO of Godfather's Pizza, in which capacity he served from 1986 to 1996.
Cain was chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City Omaha Branch from 1989 to 1991. He was deputy chairman, from 1992 to 1994, and then chairman until 1996, of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. In 1995, he was appointed to the Kemp Commission, and in 1996, he served as a senior economic adviser to Bob Dole's presidential campaign. From 1996 to 1999, Cain served as president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association.
In May 2011, Cain announced his presidential candidacy. By the fall, his proposed 9–9–9 tax plan and debating performances had made him a serious contender for the Republican nomination. In November, however, his campaign faced allegations of sexual misconduct—all denied by Cain—and he announced its suspension on December 3.
- "First president with a CS degree?" | 2011-11-19 | 13 Upvotes 4 Comments
Lord Buckethead is a satirical political candidate who has stood in four British general elections since 1987, portrayed by several individuals.
The character, an intergalactic villain similar to the Star Wars character Darth Vader, was created by American filmmaker Todd Durham for his 1984 science fiction film Hyperspace. British video distributor Mike Lee adopted Lord Buckethead to stand in the 1987 UK general election and again in the 1992 general election. The character went unused until comedian Jonathan Harvey stood as Lord Buckethead in the 2017 general election; his televised appearance standing next to prime minister Theresa May went viral, drawing media coverage and an online following.
After the 2017 election, Durham asserted his ownership of the character and displaced Harvey. With Durham's authorisation, Lord Buckethead returned in 2019, now played by David Hughes; he appeared at People’s Vote rallies calling for a second Brexit referendum, and stood in the 2019 general election representing the Monster Raving Loony Party. Harvey also stood, using a new character, Count Binface.
Judge Noah S. "Soggy" Sweat, Jr. (October 2, 1922 – February 23, 1996) was a judge, law professor, and state representative in the U.S. state of Mississippi, notable for his 1952 speech on the floor of the Mississippi state legislature concerning whiskey. Reportedly the speech took Sweat two and a half months to write. The speech is renowned for the grand rhetorical terms in which it seems to come down firmly and decisively on both sides of the question. The speech gave rise to the phrase if-by-whiskey, used to illustrate such equivocation in argument.
- "The "If By Whiskey" speech" | 2010-09-25 | 83 Upvotes 6 Comments
Sir Douglas Ralph Nicholls, (9 December 1906 – 4 June 1988) was a prominent Aboriginal Australian from the Yorta Yorta people. He was a professional athlete, Churches of Christ pastor and church planter, ceremonial officer and a pioneering campaigner for reconciliation.
Nicholls was the first Aboriginal Australian to be knighted when he was appointed Knight Bachelor in 1972 (he was subsequently appointed a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in 1977). He was also the first — and to date the only — Indigenous Australian to be appointed to vice-regal office, serving as Governor of South Australia from 1 December 1976 until his resignation on 30 April 1977 due to poor health.
- "Sir Douglas Nicholls" | 2021-04-29 | 55 Upvotes 17 Comments
Isaac Newton (4 January 1643 – 31 March 1727) was considered an insightful and erudite theologian by his Protestant contemporaries. He wrote many works that would now be classified as occult studies, and he wrote religious tracts that dealt with the literal interpretation of the Bible. He kept his heretical beliefs private.
Newton's conception of the physical world provided a model of the natural world that would reinforce stability and harmony in the civic world. Newton saw a monotheistic God as the masterful creator whose existence could not be denied in the face of the grandeur of all creation. Although born into an Anglican family, and a devout but unorthodox Christian, by his thirties Newton held a Christian faith that, had it been made public, would not have been considered orthodox by mainstream Christians. Scholars now consider him a Nontrinitarian Arian.
He may have been influenced by Socinian christology.
- "Religious Views of Isaac Newton" | 2022-02-11 | 13 Upvotes 1 Comments
José Alberto "Pepe" Mujica Cordano (Spanish: [xoˈse muˈxika]; born 20 May 1935) is a Uruguayan politician and farmer who served as the 40th President of Uruguay from 2010 to 2015. A former guerrilla with the Tupamaros, he was tortured and imprisoned for 14 years during the military dictatorship in the 1970s and 1980s. A member of the Broad Front coalition of left-wing parties, Mujica was Minister of Livestock, Agriculture, and Fisheries from 2005 to 2008 and a Senator afterwards. As the candidate of the Broad Front, he won the 2009 presidential election and took office as President on 1 March 2010.
He has been described as "the world's humblest head of state" due to his austere lifestyle and his donation of around 90 percent of his $12,000 monthly salary to charities that benefit poor people and small entrepreneurs. An outspoken critic of capitalism’s focus on stockpiling material possessions which do not contribute to human happiness, Pepe is often seen riding his 60-year-old bicycle. The Times Higher Education called him the "philosopher president" in 2015, a play on words of Plato's conception of the philosopher king.
- "José Mujica" | 2022-02-24 | 17 Upvotes 2 Comments
Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; 21 April 1926 – 8 September 2022) was Queen of the United Kingdom from 6 February 1952 until her death in 2022. Her reign of 70 years and 214 days was the longest of any British monarch and the second-longest recorded of any monarch of a sovereign country. At the time of her death, Elizabeth was queen of 14 other Commonwealth realms in addition to the UK.
Elizabeth was born in Mayfair, London, as the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth). Her father acceded to the throne in 1936 upon the abdication of his brother, King Edward VIII, making Elizabeth the heir presumptive. She was educated privately at home and began to undertake public duties during the Second World War, serving in the Auxiliary Territorial Service. In November 1947, she married Philip Mountbatten, a former prince of Greece and Denmark, and their marriage lasted 73 years until his death in April 2021. They had four children together: Charles III; Anne, Princess Royal; Prince Andrew, Duke of York; and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.
When her father died in February 1952, Elizabeth—then 25 years old—became queen regnant of seven independent Commonwealth countries: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon (known today as Sri Lanka), as well as Head of the Commonwealth. Elizabeth reigned as a constitutional monarch through major political changes such as the Troubles in Northern Ireland, devolution in the United Kingdom, the decolonisation of Africa, and the United Kingdom's accession to the European Communities and withdrawal from the European Union. The number of her realms varied over time as territories have gained independence and some realms have become republics. Her many historic visits and meetings include state visits to China in 1986, Russia in 1994, the Republic of Ireland in 2011, and visits with five Popes.
Significant events include Elizabeth's coronation in 1953 and the celebrations of her Silver, Golden, Diamond, and Platinum Jubilees in 1977, 2002, 2012, and 2022, respectively. Elizabeth was the longest-lived and longest-reigning British monarch, and the second-longest verifiable reigning sovereign monarch in world history, only behind Louis XIV of France. She faced occasional republican sentiment and media criticism of her family, particularly after the breakdowns of her children's marriages, her annus horribilis in 1992, and the death of her former daughter-in-law Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997. However, support for the monarchy in the United Kingdom remained consistently high, as did her personal popularity. Elizabeth died on 8 September 2022 at Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire. She was succeeded by her eldest son, Charles III.
- "Queen Elizabeth II has died" | 2022-09-08 | 11 Upvotes 1 Comments
Anna Stepanovna Politkovskaya (Russian: Анна Степановна Политковская, IPA: [ˈanːə sʲtʲɪˈpanəvnə pəlʲɪtˈkofskəjə]; Ukrainian: Ганна Степанівна Політковська, IPA: [ˈɦɑnːɐ steˈpɑn⁽ʲ⁾iu̯nɐ pol⁽ʲ⁾itˈkɔu̯sʲkɐ]; née Mazepa, Мазепа, IPA: [mɐˈzɛpɐ]; 30 August 1958 – 7 October 2006) was a Russian journalist, and human rights activist, who reported on political events in Russia, in particular, the Second Chechen War (1999–2005).
It was her reporting from Chechnya that made Politkovskaya's national and international reputation. For seven years, she refused to give up reporting on the war despite numerous acts of intimidation and violence. Politkovskaya was arrested by Russian military forces in Chechnya and subjected to a mock execution. She was poisoned while flying from Moscow via Rostov-on-Don to help resolve the 2004 Beslan school hostage crisis, and had to turn back, requiring careful medical treatment in Moscow to restore her health.
Her post-1999 articles about conditions in Chechnya were turned into books several times; Russian readers' main access to her investigations and publications was through Novaya Gazeta, a Russian newspaper that featured critical investigative coverage of Russian political and social affairs. From 2000 onwards, she received numerous international awards for her work. In 2004, she published Putin's Russia, a personal account of Russia for a Western readership.
On 7 October 2006, she was murdered in the elevator of her block of apartments, an assassination that attracted international attention. In June 2014, five men were sentenced to prison for the murder, but it is still unclear who ordered or paid for the contract killing.
- "Anna Politkovskaya" | 2022-10-08 | 38 Upvotes 1 Comments