Islamic Banking

Islamic banking is a system of banking that is consistent with Islamic Sharia law. In particular, it prohibits usury—the collection and payment of interest—and investment in businesses considered unlawful. In the late 20th century, a number of Islamic banks were created to cater to the needs of the Muslim banking market. These institutions rely on the common Islamic concepts of profit sharing, safekeeping, joint venture, and leasing. How are these banks able to operate without charging interest? Discuss
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François Quesnay (1694)

While serving as consulting physician to Louis XV at Versailles, Quesnay developed an interest in economics. In his 1758 Tableau économique, he described the relationship between the different economic classes of society and the flow of payments among them, and he developed the concept of economic balance used by many later economic analysts. An advocate of laissez-faire economics, he believed that all wealth originated with the land. What school of economics is he credited with founding? Discuss
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Festival of the Sea

The Festival of the Sea is based on the Icelandic tradition of Seamen’s Day, an occasion to honor all who make their living from the sea. It takes place annually, primarily in the city of Reykjavík. Traditionally, fishermen compete during the festival in swimming and rowing races and other tests of strength, including the popular tug-of-war. The festival also includes numerous cultural activities, parades, arts-and-crafts activities for kids, food fairs, and sailing competitions. Tourists come from far and wide to participate in the fun and to view boats and ships as they rest in the harbors. <a target="_blank" …read more


Definition: (adjective) Seen by the eye.
Synonyms: visual.
Usage: The evidence that the house is haunted is of two kinds: the testimony of disinterested witnesses who have had ocular proof, and that of the house itself.
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Unusual Deaths throughout History

Throughout history, myriad unfortunate individuals have suffered unusual deaths in all manner of bizarre circumstances. In 458 BCE, Greek playwright Aeschylus was allegedly killed when an eagle dropped a tortoise on his head. In 1771, Swedish King Adolf Frederick reportedly “ate himself to death.” Distinguished as the only jockey to posthumously win a race, Frank Hayes died astride his horse before being carried over the finish line in 1923. What are some other bizarre deaths? Discuss
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Raoul Dufy (1877)

Dufy was a French designer and painter best known for his outdoor scenes of gaiety and leisure, like horse races, parades, and concerts. He also designed textiles and illustrated books. Dufy studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and experimented with Impressionism and, later, Fauvism. In the early 1920s, he developed his distinctive style characterized by sketchily drawn objects on bright, decorative backgrounds. Later, he completed one of the largest modern paintings, an ode to what? Discuss
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Kazanlak Rose Festival

Bulgaria supplies 90 percent of the world’s rose attar, and roses are raised for food and medicinal purposes as well. The 10-day festival that celebrates Bulgaria’s cultivation and export of roses is held in Kazanlak, a small town in what is known as the Valley of the Roses. It begins with a procession of farmers and young people dressed in native costume and carrying baskets for the ritual picking of the rose petals. Rose-decorated floats, costumed paraders, and folk dancers follow a route through all the nearby towns. Folk dance and song programs complete the festival activities. …read more

The first Friday in June is National Donut Day a good excuse to celebrate with this tasty treat – the Massachusetts official state donut! #NationalDonutDay

The first Friday in June is National Donut Day a good excuse to celebrate with this tasty treat – the Massachusetts official state donut! #NationalDonutDay

Massachusetts State Donut | Boston Cream Donut

The Boston cream donut was designated the official state donut of Massachusetts in 2003; Boston cream pie was adopted as the state dessert in 1996. …read more

US President Grover Cleveland Gets Married in the White House (1886)

Though President Cleveland entered the White House a notorious bachelor—having allegedly fathered a child out of wedlock—he did not remain single for long. Having become the executor of his deceased law partner’s estate a decade earlier, Cleveland had supervised the upbringing of his partner’s daughter, Frances. She visited him in the White House in 1885, and the two were married in the Blue Room a year later, making him the only president to be married there. He was how many years her senior? Discuss
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The Nika Riots

Nearly half of Constantinople was destroyed and some 30,000 people were killed in the Nika riots of 532 CE. Chariot racing was quite popular at the time, and rivalries between the fans of competing teams often became mingled with political or religious disputes, sometimes leading to riots. The Nika riots began when spectators at a chariot racing event, angered by the emperor’s refusal to pardon two rioters accused of murder, started attacking his palace. How was the rebellion finally suppressed? Discuss
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Johnny Weissmuller (1904)

Weissmuller was a five-time Olympic gold medalist with 67 world records in swimming when, in 1932, he turned in his swimsuit for a loincloth and became Tarzan, the Ape Man. He starred in 12 Tarzan films and created the memorable “Tarzan yell” before being replaced by a younger actor in 1948. He then went on to star in a series of Jungle Jim movies adapted from comic books. Afterward, he ran his own swimming pool company. His face appears in the collage on the cover of what iconic record album? Discuss
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Black Music Month

Black Music Month is observed in June each year in the United States. Created by music executives Kenny Gable and Ed Wright as a way to celebrate and promote black music, the special designation has been proclaimed each year since 1979 by the President. At the White House in Washington, D.C., a concert and reception is held each year that features various genres of African-American music, including R&B, jazz, blues, and hip hop. Throughout the country, public and private organizations host numerous educational programs and cultural festivals recognizing the achievements of black musicians. Discuss
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Definition: (adjective) Broadly or extravagantly humorous; resembling farce.
Synonyms: ludicrous, ridiculous.
Usage: The clown, with his farcical exuberance, rainbow striped hair, and poorly timed gags, drew enthusiastic applause and laughter from the audience.
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The Ultimate Fate of the Universe

A number of theories have been proposed regarding the ultimate fate of the universe. Some, like the Big Crunch and the Big Rip, suggest the universe will come to an end, while others conclude that it will exist for an infinite period of time. Most cosmologists agree that the universe’s average density, the rate at which it expands, and the physical properties of the mass and energy in the universe will determine its ultimate fate. What is the difference between an open universe and a closed one? Discuss
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James Hadley Billington (1929)

Billington is a US scholar and the 13th Librarian of Congress. He earned his PhD in 1953 as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, taught at Harvard and Princeton, and published several significant books on Russia. He served as director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars from 1973 to 1987, when he became Librarian of Congress. There, he has fostered cooperation between libraries worldwide and encouraged the use of digital media. He has been decorated by what countries? Discuss
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Court Martial of Benedict Arnold Begins (1779)

When Arnold was court-martialed in 1779, it was not for the treason that would later make his name synonymous with betrayal. The charges involved fiscal irregularities and were relatively minor. Though he was largely exonerated, the trial sullied his reputation. Despite having distinguished himself in various American military campaigns—he was wounded more than once—Arnold was subsequently passed over for promotion. Embittered, he hatched what plot to aid the British in the American Revolution? Discuss
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Brigham Young’s Birthday

Often referred to as “the American Moses,” Brigham Young led thousands of his religious followers across 1,000 miles of wilderness from their Illinois settlement to find refuge in what is now Salt Lake City, Utah. He became the second president of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints, whose members are also known as Mormons. The anniversary of Young’s birth on June 1, 1801, is observed by Mormon churches worldwide, as is July 24, the date on which he arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. Discuss
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Definition: (noun) An abrupt failure of function or complete physical exhaustion.
Synonyms: collapse.
Usage: The weakness of the young missionary became so extreme that they had to lay him again on the bed, where a prostration, lasting for several hours, held him like a dead man.
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Royal Brunei Armed Forces Day

The formation of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces took place on May 31, 1961, and is commemorated each year. Brunei had been a British protectorate since 1888, dependent on the British armed forces for its defense. In 1961, Brunei recruits began training as part of a transition period toward independence for the country, which occurred in 1984. Around the country, there may be parades and military displays put on by various units of the armed forces. In the capital city of Bandar Seri Begawan, it is usually commemorated at the Taman Haji Sir Omar Ali Saifuddien in …read more

Lady Margaret Beaufort (1443)

Beaufort was an English noblewoman, wife of Edmund Tudor, and the mother of Henry VII, founder of the Tudor Dynasty. She gave birth to Henry at 13, shortly after being widowed, and developed a close bond with her only child. Renowned for her philanthropy, she endowed professorships of divinity at Oxford and Cambridge and with the help of her confessor, John Fisher, founded Christ’s College and St. John’s College, Cambridge. She later acted as regent for Henry VIII. How many times did she marry? Discuss
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Copyright Act of 1790 Signed into US Law (1790)

After the US Constitution was ratified in 1788, one of the first issues that the fledgling government faced was the lack of a copyright law. Without it, Congress would be swamped with individual petitions for protection from piracy. Modeled on Britain’s Statute of Anne, the Copyright Act of 1790 was soon signed into law by President Washington. Instituted to encourage learning by securing US authors the sole rights to their work for 14-year periods, it drew what complaint from Charles Dickens? Discuss
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An allusion to the appearance of divers clad in shiny wetsuits and wearing large fins on their feet, the term “frogman” was first used to describe scuba divers around 1940. Although scuba users prefer to be called “divers,” the word “frogman” is often used, especially by the media, to refer to professional divers, such as soldiers, who carry out amphibious assaults, sabotage operations, and clandestine surveys. What types of tools and weapons can frogmen carry underwater? Discuss
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Mel Blanc (1908)

One of the most prolific voice actors of all time, Blanc began his career in radio. In 1933, he began to work for a daily radio program, for which he created several voices. In 1937, he joined the cartoon department of Warner Brothers. During his 50-year career, he supplied voices in more than 3,000 animated cartoons for hundreds of characters, including Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and Woody Woodpecker. What nod to Blanc’s career is inscribed on his tombstone? Discuss
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