Hanuman Jayanti

Hanuman, the Monkey God and a central figure in the great Hindu epic, the Ramayana, helped Rama rescue his wife Sita from the demon Ravana; for this Rama decreed the two always be worshipped together. He is revered by Hindus all over India in the form of a monkey with a red face who stands erect like a human. His birth anniversary is observed in the month of Caitra with celibacy, fasting, and reading the Hanuman-Chalisa. Hindus visit his temples, of which there are many, to offer prayers on this day and to re-paint his image with …read more

Commodus

The son of Marcus Aurelius, Lucius Aurelius Commodus Antoninus was a Roman emperor who ruled from 180 to 192 CE—a period some historians view as the beginning of the empire’s decline. Though his reign was relatively peaceful, Commodus was a tyrant who spent lavishly on gladiatorial combats, persecuted the Senate, and even renamed Rome after himself. He fancied himself a gladiator, frequently battling both men and animals, and considered himself the reincarnation of what mythical hero? Discuss
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Charles Evans Hughes, Sr. (1862)

Hughes was an American statesman and jurist. He served as governor of New York and as a Supreme Court justice before losing the 1916 presidential race, one of the closest in US history. It has been reported that, on the night of the election, Hughes went to bed believing he had won. According to the story, a reporter later called and was told that “the president is asleep,” to which he responded, “When he wakes up, tell him he isn’t the president.” What did Hughes do after losing the election? Discuss
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Buchenwald Concentration Camp Liberated by American Troops (1945)

Buchenwald was one of the first and largest concentration camps in Nazi Germany. As US forces closed in on the camp near the end of WWII, the Nazis began evacuating its prisoners, forcing them on “death marches” during which an estimated 13,500 were killed. On April 9, inmates at the camp used a makeshift radio transmitter to inform the Allies about the evacuations and beg for help. What did the prisoners do when they received word that the Americans were coming to liberate them? Discuss
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The Shrine of the Book

The Shrine of the Book is the wing of Jerusalem’s Israel Museum that houses the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of ancient documents found between 1947 and 1956 in caves on the Dead Sea’s northwest shore, at Qumran. Funded by the family of David Samuel Gottesman, a philanthropist who purchased the scrolls as a gift to Israel, the shrine features an unusual white dome that covers an underground structure. How does the museum ensure that the fragile scrolls survive the rigors of being displayed? Discuss
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Hugo Grotius (1583)

Grotius was a Dutch jurist, philosopher, and writer. He enrolled at the University of Leiden at the age of 11 and became a lawyer at 15. Among his key legal treatises is the first definitive text on international law, On the Law of War and Peace, which prescribes rules for the conduct of war and advances the idea that nations are bound by natural law. In 1615, he became involved in a religious controversy that extended to politics and was eventually imprisoned. How did he escape? Discuss
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F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby Is Published (1925)

Considered to be Fitzgerald’s masterpiece, The Great Gatsby is a devastating critique of the American Dream and materialism at the height of the Roaring Twenties. It is the story of a bootlegger, Jay Gatsby, whose obsessive dream of wealth and lost love is destroyed by a corrupt reality. Today used as required reading in many high schools, the book has been cited as the paragon of the Great American Novel. Why did Fitzgerald dislike the title, and what did he want to call his novel? Discuss
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The Ghost Dance

The Ghost Dance is the main ritual of a messianic religious movement that gained a widespread following among Native American groups in the American West during the late 19th century. The dance, which incorporates traditional circle dance rituals, was created by a member of the Paiute tribe known as Wovoka, who taught that it would hasten the ousting of whites, the restoration of traditional lands, and the resurrection of the dead. What role did the Ghost Dance play in the Wounded Knee massacre? Discuss
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Semana Santa (Guatemala)

Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is without doubt the biggest occasion of the year in Antigua, the old colonial capital of Guatemala, and one of the largest Easter celebrations in the New World. Thousands of tourists and believers come to the city to witness this massive display of religious theater. The entire Passion play, beginning with Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and ending with his Resurrection on Easter, is reenacted in the streets of Antigua—complete with armor-clad Roman soldiers on horseback, who charge through the town early on Good Friday looking for Jesus. <a target="_blank" …read more

The American Civil War Ends at Appomattox Court House (1865)

The first major engagement of the US Civil War was the First Battle of Bull Run, fought in 1861 partly on the farm of Wilmer McLean in Manassas, Virginia. A few years later, McLean moved to Appomattox Court House, a town which, coincidentally, would soon be the site of the war’s effective end. It was there that Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant in McLean’s parlor. Why did Grant stop Union troops when they began to celebrate the victory? Discuss
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ferrule

Definition: (noun) A metal ring or cap placed around a pole or shaft for reinforcement or to prevent splitting.
Synonyms: collet.
Usage: The walking stick was quite old, and the large brass ferrule at its tip was worn down and dented.
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Tennis Player Arthur Ashe Announces He Has AIDS (1992)

Ashe was the first African-American male to reach prominence in tennis and was thus a very public figure, even after his retirement, which followed a 1979 heart attack and quadruple-bypass surgery. In 1983, he contracted HIV from a blood transfusion during a second heart surgery. He kept it a secret until 1992, when a newspaper threatened to publish a story about his illness. His subsequent openness about AIDS helped combat the disease’s stigma. How much longer did Ashe live? Discuss
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Sonja Henie (1912)

Henie began ice skating at the age of eight and won the first of six straight Norwegian figure-skating championships within two years. Starting in 1927, she won the world’s figure-skating crown 10 straight years, the European title six times, and the Olympic gold medal three times. She introduced music and dance into free skating, greatly broadening its appeal, and turned professional in 1936, earning millions starring in films and ice shows. Why did many Norwegians consider her a quisling? Discuss
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Acid Rain

Acid precipitation, also known as acid rain, is any form of precipitation—snow, rain, sleet, or hail—that contains a heavy concentration of sulfuric and nitric acids. Automobiles, certain industrial operations, and electric power plants that burn fossil fuels emit pollutants that combine with atmospheric moisture to create these acids. Acid rain can contaminate drinking water, damage vegetation and aquatic life, and erode buildings and monuments. Where was acid rain first found? Discuss
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plexus

Definition: (noun) A structure in the form of a network, especially of nerves, blood vessels, or lymphatics.
Synonyms: rete.
Usage: The bullet missed his cardiac plexus by an inch, leaving all the nerves intact.
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The World Health Organization Is Established (1948)

World Health Day is observed every year on April 7 to mark the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO), a UN agency whose main objective is to promote “the highest possible level of health” in all people. Coordinating international efforts to prevent, control, and treat illness, it has worked to successfully eradicate smallpox and has made notable strides in checking polio, leprosy, cholera, and malaria. What controversies have surrounded the WHO? Discuss
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The Anatomy Act of 1832

Prior to 1832, only the corpses of executed murderers were allowed to be dissected in the UK, but with the rise of medical science and the scaling back of executions, demand came to outstrip supply. The British Anatomy Act, passed in response to public concern about the illegal trade in corpses, was an act of Parliament that increased the supply of cadavers legally available for medical research and education. What were “resurrectionists,” and how were they impacted by the Anatomy Act? Discuss
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Eleanora Fagan, AKA Billie Holiday (1915)

Despite a deeply troubled upbringing, Holiday became one of the most celebrated and influential singers in jazz history. She was also one of its most tragic figures. She debuted in the 1930s and, after performing with Benny Goodman, Count Basie, and Artie Shaw, embarked on a successful solo career. However, she suffered many personal setbacks, complicated by the drug addiction that eventually destroyed her career and hastened her death. How did she choose her stage name? Discuss
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listless

Definition: (adjective) Marked by low spirits; showing no enthusiasm.
Synonyms: dispirited.
Usage: A subtle change had transformed her from the listless woman he had known into a being who, for the moment, seemed palpitant with the forces of life.
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Gerald Joseph “Gerry” Mulligan (1927)

Mulligan was an important baritone saxophonist and one of the best-known exponents of cool jazz, a delicate, understated offshoot of bebop. He began his career in the mid-1940s as an arranger for Gene Krupa and Claude Thornhill and played on the historic Miles Davis nonet recordings in 1949. He gained considerable success with the quartet he formed with Chet Baker in 1952, and he led ensembles of various sizes thereafter. Mulligan served jail time after he was arrested in 1953 for what? Discuss
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The Nepalese Royal Massacre

On June 1, 2001, Crown Prince Dipendra of Nepal opened fire on family members attending a royal party, killing his father, King Birendra, and 9 others before shooting himself. Dipendra remained in a coma for 3 days before succumbing to his wounds and was proclaimed king during that time. Because constitutional law and tradition prevented officials from accusing Dipendra of mass murder while he was alive, they initially claimed the shooting had been accidental. What was Dipendra’s alleged motive? Discuss
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Founding of the Church of Latter-Day Saints

April 6, 1830 is the day on which Joseph Smith formally established the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints (also known as Mormons) in Fayette, New York. Three years later the anniversary of the Church’s founding was celebrated for the first time; in 1837, a general conference was held to conduct church business and to observe the anniversary. Eventually the idea of holding an annual conference became an established custom, and it was always scheduled to encompass the April 6 founding date. Discuss
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Founding of The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints (1830)

Shortly after Joseph Smith published the Book of Mormon in 1830, he officially founded The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints—also known as the Mormon Church—in Fayette, New York. The church flourished but was forced to relocate frequently. It was violently expelled from Missouri, and a mob killed Smith in Illinois in 1844. His successor, Brigham Young, led followers to Utah three years later. Tensions with the US government continued to escalate, culminating in what war? Discuss
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