Although this site has been created primarily for my students, everyone is welcome. In these pages you'll find many sources of information.
The Online Resources section below has numerous links that are of current interest. For more links to material on just about any topic you're looking for, use the E-Links button above. Linked off of that page are pages containing hundreds of links to sites covering a number of topics.
Visit often ... I update frequently! Hope you enjoy the site!
Quote of the Month
When they talk about the government shutdown, they’re going to be talking about the president of the United States, who the president was at that time. They’re not going to be talking about who was the head of the House, the head the Senate, who’s running things in Washington. So I really think the pressure is on the president.
~Donald Trump, during the 2013 17-day shutdown in Barak Obama’s presidency
Numbers of the Month
Since the modern congressional budgeting process took effect in 1976, there have been a total of 17 separate government shutdowns. The longest government shutdown in US history (35 days) began on December 22, 2018. When the fiscal year began on October 1, 2018, Congress had passed just 5 (Defense, Labor-Health and Human Services-Education, Military Construction-Veterans' Affairs, Energy and Water and the Legislative Branch) out of 12 appropriations bills setting discretionary spending levels. Lawmakers had until midnight on December 21st to enact legislation to fund the programs covered by the remaining 7 appropriations bills, but they allowed that funding to lapse. The federal government then partially shut down. Conveniently, the 5 fully-funded appropriations bills - unaffected by any shutdown - constituted roughly three-quarters of total discretionary spending. Still, that left one-quarter of appropriations that had to shut down. In short, the effect of the partial shutdown varied across the government.
While estimates vary widely, evidence suggests that shutdowns tend to cost, not save, money. Federal agencies are required to develop contingency plans but putting those in place has a real cost. In addition, many user fees and other charges are not collected during a shutdown. Contractors sometimes include premiums in their bids to account for uncertainty in being paid. And although many federal employees are forced to be idle during a shutdown, they have historically received back pay, negating much of those potential savings. About 380,000 federal employees were furloughed, and an additional 420,000 employees in the affected agencies were expected to work with their pay delayed until the end of the shutdown, totaling 800,000 workers affected out of 2.1 million civilian non-postal federal employees. However, on January 4, The Washington Post reported that because the shutdown was triggered by the failure to enact spending bills that continued a federal government pay freeze, hundreds of senior Trump administration political appointees would receive a roughly $10,000 pay raise the following day. The White House press secretary said the pending pay raise was an "unnecessary byproduct of the shutdown."
An analysis from Standard & Poor's (S&P) released on January 11 reported that the shutdown had cost the US economy $3.6 billion as of that date. Similarly, the White House's Council of Economic Advisers estimated on January 15 that the shutdown reduced economic growth by 0.13% each week, for a total hit to economic growth of 0.5%. Fitch Ratings warned that an extended shutdown might lead to a downgrade in the US Triple-A credit rating. That, in turn, would make borrowing more costly for companies and American households, because it is the benchmark for many other lines of credit. The shutdown directly affected nearly 3% of the US labor force … in a typical recession, unemployment increases 2–4%. The reduction in spending by those households combined with the reduction of government services could have macroeconomic results similar to a typical recession. By mid-January 2019, the White House Council of Economic Advisors estimated that each week of the shutdown reduced GDP growth by 0.1%, the equivalent of 1.2% per quarter. The Congressional Budget Office estimated the shutdown cost the American economy at least $11 billion, not counting indirect costs that were difficult to quantify.
Trump's approval sharply plummeted during the shutdown, with an overwhelming majority of voters opposed to exploitation of the shutdown as a negotiating strategy. A January 2019 poll found that 70% of Americans did not want a government shutdown over the issue of building a border wall and 66% believed that Trump should agree to a budget without wall funding. Many Republicans in Congress were also strongly criticized for standing by Trump's demand for the border wall. A poll by The Washington Post and ABC News found that 53% of Americans blamed Trump and Republicans for the shutdown, with 34% blaming Democrats and 10% blaming both parties.
Trump has insinuated that if Congress fails to reach a deal by February 15, he will shut down the government again or declare a national emergency and use military funding to build the wall.
Then and Now
February is Black History Month.
February is American Heart Month.
02/01/1861 - Texas voted to secede from the Union.
02/01/1920 - The Royal Canadian Mounted Police began operations.
02/01/2003 - NASA's Columbia exploded over east Texas on reentry.
02/01/2019 - National Freedom Day
02/02/1536 - Pedro de Mendoza of Spain founded Buenos Aires.
02/02/1653 - New Amsterdam - now New York - was incorporated.
02/02/1848 - The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, ending the Mexican War, was signed.
02/02/1971 - Idi Amin assumed power in Uganda.
02/02/2019 - Groundhog Day
02/02/2019 - Imbolc (or Oimelc) – Wicca, Celtic
02/02/2019 - Candlemas – Christian
02/03/1690 - The colony of Massachusetts issued the first paper money in America to pay soldiers fighting in the war against Quebec. (It probably wasn't worth much more than it is now ... which is probably why they paid soldiers with it.)
02/03/1913 - The US ratified the 16th Amendment to the Constitution, providing for a federal income tax.
02/03/1959 - A plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa, claimed the lives of rock-and-roll stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and JP "The Big Bopper" Richardson.
02/03/2019 - Setsubun (Bean Scattering) – Shinto
02/04/1783 - Britain declared a formal cessation of hostilities with its former colony, the United States of America.
02/04/1789 - Electors unanimously chose George Washington to be the first US President.
02/04/1801 - John Marshall became chief justice of the US Supreme Court.
02/04/1861 - Delegates from six southern states met in Montgomery AL to form the Confederate States of America.
02/04/1962 - The Soviet Union's news agency Pravda claimed the Russians invented baseball.
02/04/1974 - Members of the Symbionese Liberation Army kidnapped newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst was from her apartment in Berkeley CA.
02/05/1631 - Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island, and his wife arrived in Boston from England.
02/05/1917 - Congress passed, over President Wilson's veto, an immigration act severely curtailing the influx of Asians.
02/05/1917 - Mexico adopted its constitution.
02/05/1937 - President Franklin Roosevelt proposed increasing the number of justices on the Supreme Court. Critics accused Roosevelt of attempting to "pack" the high court.
02/05/2019 - Chinese New Year
02/06/1952 - Britain's King George VI died. His daughter, Elizabeth II, succeeded him.
02/06/1959 - The US successfully test-fired for the first time a Titan intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) from Cape Canaveral FL.
02/06/2001 - Israel elected Ariel Sharon as prime minister in a landslide victory over Ehud Barak.
02/07/1936 - FDR authorized a flag for the office of the vice president.
02/07/1940 - Walt Disney's Pinocchio had its world premiere.
02/07/1964 - The Beatles began their first American tour, arriving in NY.
02/07/1986 - Haitian President-for-Life Jean Claude Duvalier fled his country ending 28 years of Duvalier rule.
02/08/1910 - The Boy Scouts of America was incorporated.
02/08/1922 - President Harding had a radio installed in the White House.
02/08/1924 - The first execution by gas in the US took place at the Nevada State Prison in Carson City.
02/08/1978 - Radio broadcast the deliberations of the Senate for the first time as members opened debate on the Panama Canal treaties.
02/08/2019 - Boy Scout Day
02/09/1825 - The House of Representatives elected John Quincy Adams president after no candidate received a majority of the electoral votes.
02/09/1861 - The Provisional Congress of the Confederate States of America elected Jefferson David president and Alexander Stephens vice president.
02/09/1870 - The US Weather Bureau was established.
02/09/1943 - The WWII battle of Guadalcanal in the southwest Pacific ended with an American victory over Japanese forces.
02/09/1950 - Senator Joseph McCarthy charged that the State Department was riddled with Communists.
02/09/1964 - The Beatles made their first live American TV appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on CBS.
02/09/1971 - The Apollo 14 returned to earth after man's third landing on the moon.
02/09/2019 - Vasant Panchami – Hinduism
02/10/1846 - Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the Mormons, began an exodus to the west from Illinois.
02/10/1949 - Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman opened on Broadway.
02/10/1967 - The 25th Amendment to the Constitution, dealing with presidential disability and succession, went into effect.
02/11/1812 - Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry signed a redistricting law favoring his party ... giving rise to the term "gerrymandering."
02/11/1945 - FDR, Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin signed the Yalta agreement.
02/11/1979 - Followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini seized power in Iran.
02/11/1983 - Janet Reno became the first female attorney general.
02/11/1990 - South Africa freed black activist Nelson Mandela after 27 years in captivity.
02/12/1733 - English colonists led by James Oglethorpe founded Savannah GA.
02/12/1909 - The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was founded.
02/12/1915 - The US House of Representatives rejected a proposal to give women the right to vote.
02/12/1932 - Mrs. Hattie Caraway became the first woman elected to the US Senate.
02/12/1966 - Adam West premiered as Batman in the US.
02/12/2019 - Academic Freedom Day (Charles Darwin’s birthday)
02/13/1635 - America's oldest public school, the Boston Public Latin School, was founded.
02/13/1795 - The University of North Carolina became the first US state university to admit students. The first was Hinton James, who was the only student on campus for two weeks.
02/13/1920 - The League of Nations recognized the perpetual neutrality of Switzerland.
02/13/1960 - France exploded its first atomic bomb.
02/14/1778 - The American ship Ranger carried the recently adopted Stars and Stripes to a foreign port for the first time as it arrived in France.
02/14/1918 - Tarzan of the Apes was released for the first time. There were a number of protests since people reasoned that Tarzan was living in sin with Jane without the benefit of matrimony.
02/14/1920 - The League of Women Voters was founded in Chicago.
02/14/1931 - The movie Dracula was released, with Bela Lugosi as the Count.
02/14/1945 - Peru, Paraguay, Chile and Ecuador joined the UN.
02/14/1989 - Iran's Ayatollah put out a $1 million bounty for Salman Rushdie, the author of The Satanic Verses, considered blasphemous by members of the Islamic community.
02/14/2019 - Valentine's Day
02/15/1564 - Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei was born in Pisa.
02/15/1764 - The city of St. Louis was established.
02/15/1879 - President Hayes signed a bill allowing female attorneys to argue cases before the Supreme Court.
02/15/1898 - The US battleship Maine mysteriously blew up in Havana Harbor, killing more than 260 crew members and bringing the US closer to war with Spain.
02/15/1950 - Disney released the movie Cinderella.
02/15/1989 - The Soviet Union announced that the last of its troops had left Afghanistan, after more than nine years of military intervention.
02/15/2019 - Susan B. Anthony Day
02/15/2019 - Parinirvana – Buddhism
02/16/1959 - Fidel Castro became premier of Cuba after the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista.
02/16/1968 - Haleyville AL began the first 911 emergency telephone system in the nation.
02/17/1801 - The House of Representatives broke an electoral tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, electing Jefferson president and Burr vice president.
02/17/1817 - A street in Baltimore became the first lit with gas from America's first gas company.
02/17/1897 - The forerunner of the National PTA, the National Congress of Mothers, was founded in Washington.
02/17/1947 - The Voice of American began broadcasting to the Soviet Union.
02/17/1964 - The Supreme Court ruled that congressional districts within each state had to be roughly equal in population.
02/18/1861 - The Confederate States of America swore in Jefferson Davis as president.
02/18/1885 - Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published for the first time.
02/18/1930 - The ninth planet of our solar system, Pluto, was discovered.
02/18/1985 - Jonathan Isaac Horsky Glenn was born in Mansfield OH.
02/18/2019 - Presidents Day
02/19/1846 - The Texas state government was formally installed in Austin.
02/19/1942 - President Roosevelt signed an executive order giving the military the authority to relocate and intern Japanese-Americans as well as Japanese nationals living in the US.
02/19/1945 - The Marines landed on Iwo Jima.
02/19/2019 - Magha Puja Day – Buddhism
02/20/1792 - President Washington signed an act creating the US Post Office.
02/20/1809 - The Supreme Court ruled the power of the federal government is greater than that of any individual state. (It's been downhill ever since.)
02/20/1839 - Congress prohibited dueling in the District of Columbia.
02/20/1962 - Astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth, flying aboard Friendship Seven.
02/21/1878 - The first telephone directory was issued.
02/21/1965 - Former Black Muslim leader Malcolm X was shot to death in New York.
02/21/1972 - President Nixon began his historic visit to China.
02/22/1819 - Spain ceded Florida to the US.
02/22/1879 - Frank Woolworth opened a 5-cent store in Utica NY.
02/22/1924 - Calvin Coolidge delivered the first presidential radio broadcast from the White House.
02/22/1935 - It became illegal for airplanes to fly over the White House.
02/22/1980 - The US Olympic hockey team upset the Soviets 4-3 and went on to win the gold medal.
02/23/1836 - The siege of the Alamo began in San Antonio.
02/23/1945 - US Marines on Iwo Jima captured Mount Suribachi where they raised the American flag.
02/23/1997 - Scientists in Scotland announced they had succeeded in cloning an adult sheep producing a lamb named Dolly.
02/24/1868 - The House of Representatives impeached President Andrew Johnson following his attempted dismissal of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. The Senate acquitted him.
02/24/1903 - The US signed an agreement acquiring a naval station at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
02/24/1920 - A fledgling German political party - the Nazi Party - held its first meeting in Munich. Its chief spokesman was Adolf Hitler.
02/24/1942 - The Voice of America went on the air for the first time.
02/24/1980 - The US hockey team defeated Finland, 4-2, to clinch the gold medal at the Winter Olympic Games.
02/25/1570 - Pope Pius V excommunicated England's Queen Elizabeth I.
02/25/1793 - The department heads of the US government met with President Washington in the first Cabinet meeting.
02/25/1836 - Inventor Samuel Colt patented his revolver.
02/25/1913 - Secretary of State Philander C. Knox declared the 16th amendment ratified, allowing Congress to levy and collect income taxes.
02/25/2019 - Norriture Rituelle des sources tęt d' l'eau – Voudon
02/26/1919 - Congress established Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.
02/26/1940 - The US Air Defense Command was created.
02/26/1951 - The US ratified 22nd Amendment to the Constitution, limiting a president to two terms of office.
02/26/1952 - Prime Minister Winston Churchill announced that Britain had developed its own atomic bomb.
02/26/1993 - A bomb built by a group of Islamic extremists exploded in the parking garage of NY's World Trade Center, killing 6 people and injuring more than 1,000 others.
02/27/1801 - The District of Columbia was placed under the jurisdiction of Congress.
02/27/1922 - The Supreme Court unanimously upheld the 19th Amendment to the Constitution that guaranteed the right of women to vote.
02/28/1827 - The first US railroad chartered to carry passengers and freight, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company, was incorporated.
02/28/1854 - Around 50 people opposed to slavery met at a schoolhouse in Ripon WI, to call for a new political organization. The group would later take the name of the Republican Party.
02/28/1863 - President Lincoln signed the first military draft law in the US. Rich people could opt out if they paid $300.
02/28/1953 - Scientists James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the double-helix structure of DNA.
02/28/1979 - Mr. Ed, TV's talking horse, died.
02/29/1504 - Christopher Columbus, stranded in Jamaica during his fourth voyage to the West, used a correctly predicted lunar eclipse to frighten hostile natives into providing food for his crew.
Online Resource Links
What ISIS Really Wants: The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy and for how to stop it | ISIS Claims Responsibility, Calling Paris Attacks First of the Storm | Syria Iraq: The Islamic State Militant Group | Isis: The Inside Story | Frontline: The Rise of ISIS | Council on Foreign Relations: A Primer on ISIS Iraq | Cracks in ISIS Are Becoming More Clear | How ISIS’ Attacks Harm the Middle East
Check out Today's Front Pages. Each day, you can see the front pages of more than 800 newspapers from around the world in their original, unedited form.
Whether or not you noticed, the earth's population passed 7 billion a while back. You might enjoy NPR's wonderful video, Visualizing How a Population Grows to 7 Billion.
Check out the St. Louis Fed's presentation The Financial Crisis: What Happened?. The original video is no longer available but you can view the power point presentation.
Want to take a survey but not sure how many responses to collect? This Survey Calculator gives you the number for any given population size and desired confidence level. A reverse calculator lets you enter characteristics of an existing survey and gives the confidence interval (±X%) to apply to the results. The Survey System site, sponsored by a survey software company, also gives clear explanations of statistical significance, survey design and related concepts. Also check out 20 Questions a Journalist (and You, too!) Should Ask About Poll Results.
PBS's 30 Second Candidate allows you to view more political ads than you ever knew existed. Choose the Historical Timeline link to see how political ads have changed over the years. Start with the infamous Daisy Ad that Lyndon Johnson used against Barry Goldwater. Click on Watch Johnson ads. Then click on either the QuickTime link or the Real Video link next to Daisy.
Check out Political Compass. The site does a good job of explaining political ideologies (although with definitions different from those I use) and gives you a chance to discover your own political philosophy.
Law Library of Congress: North Korea: Collection of links to websites on North Korean government, politics and law. Includes legal guides, country studies and links to constitutions and branches of government (where available). Council on Foreign Relations: North Korea: Background, articles and opinion pieces about North Korea government and politics. Many of the articles focus on North Korea's nuclear program. From the Council on Foreign Relations, "an independent membership organization and a nonpartisan think tank and publisher."
State of the Union (SOTU): The site uses an interactive timeline to provide a visual representation of prominent words in presidential State of the Union addresses by displaying significant words as "determined by comparing how frequently the word occurs in the document to how frequently it appears throughout the entire body of SOTU addresses." The Appendices section describes the statistical methods used. Also includes the full text of addresses.
Small Town Papers: This site provides access to scanned images of recent issues of dozens of small town newspapers from throughout the United States. Newspapers are updated periodically, 2-3 weeks after publication. The site also includes a searchable archive (of articles, photos and advertisements), which covers different periods for each paper, some as far back as the 1890s. Access to the archives requires free registration.
This website serves as a centralized location to learn about the Congressional Research Service and search for CRS reports that have been released to the public by members of Congress. (CRS Reports do not become public until a member of Congress releases the report.) Features a searchable database with more than 8,000 reports, a list of recently released reports, other collections of CRS reports and a FAQ about CRS.
Instances of the Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798 - 2004: This report lists hundreds of instances in which the United States has used its armed forces abroad in situations of military conflict or potential conflict or for other than normal peacetime purposes. It was compiled in part from various older lists and is intended primarily to provide a rough survey of past US military ventures abroad, without reference to the magnitude of the given instance noted.
Keeping the Shi'ites Straight Based on the opinion that no story has been more confusing for the Western news media to cover in postwar Iraq than the politics of the country's Shi'ite majority, this article provides a basic outline of Shi'ite religious history. Discusses the Sadr family (Muhammad Baqir as-Sadr, Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, and Muqtada as-Sadr), Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim and other figures.
This commercial site presents brief information about dozens of Black Inventors from the United States. Some entries include portraits and images. Also includes a searchable timeline covering 1721-1988. Does not include bibliographic information.
Annenberg Political Fact Check: This site describes itself as a nonpartisan, nonprofit, consumer advocate for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in US politics. The site provides original articles, with summaries and sources, analyzing factual accuracy in TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases. Searchable. From the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.
White House Tapes: The President Calling: Three of America's most compelling presidents -- Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon -- bugged their White House offices and tapped their telephones. In this documentary project, American Radio Works eavesdrops on presidential telephone calls to hear how each man used one-on-one politics to shape history. Includes audio, a transcript of the documentary and background information on each president and the tapes.
The State of State and Local Finances: New studies afford a state-by-state or city-by-city analysis of fiscal well being. The Year of Living Dangerously: While leaders in a growing number of states appear to believe they're serving the public good by squeezing government dry, there's little question that minimizing management carries a host of dangers that directly affect the lives of citizens.
Government Debt by Country Map: Shows countries' general government gross debt as a percentage of GDP in 2012.
First Amendment Library: Provides info on Supreme Court First Amendment jurisprudence, including rulings, arguments, briefs, historical material, commentary and press coverage.
If you need a presentation or workshop for your group,
or the link at the top of the page.