Federal Government's Debt Ceiling Dates to 1917
The debt ceiling, established by a 1917 law, is the legal limit on how much money the U.S. Government can borrow to pay its bills. The Government needs this limit because it is usually in the position of needing to spend more money than it takes in. If no new revenues, from taxes or from borrowing, are available, then the Treasury Department cannot pay for a great many things.

New 3D Scans Reveal Titanic in Super Detail
May 18, 2023
Experts have completed a first-of-its-kind full-scale digital scan of the famous ocean liner Titanic, which sank on its maiden voyage in April 1912. Specialists at Magellan, a deep-sea mapping company, piloted a pair of submersibles for six weeks, employing sonar equipment and videocameras to create a virtual twin of the massive ship and the area three miles around it, including debris from the wreck. The sonar images alone, taken during 200 hours of surveying, numbered more than 715,000. The result is very, very fine detail, such that viewers can zoom in and appreciate tiny details in the 3D model, such as clear views of individual rivets and even the serial number on the propeller. Experts hope that such availability will address many of the still unanswered questions about the last hours in the life of the giant ship.


Patrick Henry: Voice of Freedom
Patrick Henry was one of the leading lights of the American Revolution, a voice that would not be silenced until Americans were free and could govern themselves.

Samuel Adams: Ringleader of the American Revolution
Described as a firebrand, a revolutionary, and a patriot, the young Adams was perhaps the most vocal of his generation to demand independence from Great Britain. He believed in the higher cause of independence, and he didn't often let laws that he thought unjust stand in his way.

Benjamin Franklin: America's Renaissance Man
Benjamin Franklin was one of the most famous people of his generation, his country, and his country’s history. He was as close as Colonial America came to having a Renaissance man.

John Hancock: The Money Behind the Revolution
John Hancock is perhaps best known for his very large signature on the Declaration of Independence. However, he was much more important to the American Revolution and the Revolutionary War as a businessman who had large sums of money at his disposal and used that money to support the American cause.

The Boston Tea Party
What caused Americans to get so upset about tea? Find out in this easy-to-read article.


Brooklyn Bridge Opens to the Public
After a 14-year construction period, the Brooklyn Bridge finally opened to the public on May 24, 1883. It was the world's longest steel-suspension bridge. When it opened, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world.

The Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge, one of the world's most recognizable landmarks, is the result of determination and complicated mathematics. It took four years to build and cost $27 million. Under the guidance of famed engineer Joseph Strauss, who had built more than 400 drawbridges, construction on the Golden Gate Bridge began on January 5, 1933. Construction went on steadily for four years, until the bridge was opened to traffic on May 27, 1937. (Actually, it was opened to foot traffic on that day; vehicles could not cross until the next day.)

The Wars of the Roses
Many struggles for power through the years have had to do with succession. The Wars of the Roses were no exception. Pitting two warring houses in a bloody civil war, the struggle for supremacy in England began in the 14th Century and extended well into the 15th. The Lancastrians claimed that their standard-bearer, Henry VI, had a legitimate claim to the throne. So, too, did the Yorkists, with their champion, the eventual King Edward IV. The first official battle of the Wars of the Roses was on May 22, 1455, at St. Albans.



The European Union

EU 2021
The European Union is an international economic and political organization comprising most of the countries of Europe. It dates to 1992 but had its origins in the wake of World War II. The European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) began as an attempt to forestall yet another military conflict between France and Germany. French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman proposed a common market for coal and steel, an agreement that would unite those two countries (West Germany, since the post-World War II division) in an economic and political association aimed at cooperation and common benefit. It wasn't just France or West Germany onboard; also joining were Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. (All but Italy were already engaged in negotiations that would eventually create the Benelux Union.) The parliaments of all six nations voted in favor of creating and joining the ECSC and so it came into being, signed on April 18, 1951 and beginning operation on July 23, 1952. Eventually, 40 years later, the EU emerged.

The African Union
African Union emblem The African Union is a 55-member body that looks to address issues common to all African nations. Member states founded the African Union (AU) on May 26, 2001, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and its operations began the following year, on July 9, 2002, in Durban, South Africa. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was the first head of the African Union. The Ethiopian capital is the political center of the AU. Most of the body's important decisions are made as a result of a semi-annual meeting of the heads of state called the Assembly of the African Union, which meets once a year. A head of state from of the member states serves as the Chairperson of the AU for a year. The chairperson represents the AU at international meetings, including the G-8 and the G-20. The post rotates among the continent's five geographic regions: Central, Eastern, Northern, Southern, and Western.

The Gulf Cooperation Council
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is a political organization that works to serve the collective interests of its six members: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The member nations founded the GCC in 1981, as a way to foster cooperation in economic, scientific, environmental, and social issues. The GCC has several political bodies. The Supreme Council is the highest decision-making body; the Council meets annually, and each member nation has one representative who has one vote. Presidency of the Council rotates annually. Substantive decisions of the Supreme Council must be unanimous; procedural matters can be approved by a majority. Foreign ministers make up the Ministerial Council, which meets every three months, and make policies and recommendations to the Ministerial Council. The GCC's executive branch, the Secretariat General, implements decisions made by the two Councils. The head of this apparatus is the Secretary-General, who serves a three-year term. Member nations have pursued collective economic efforts in recent years, forming a common market in 2008 and a monetary council the following year and then a customs union in 2015. A move to incorporate a common currency is ongoing.



The Development of Austria Before Habsburg Rule
Like many other areas of Europe, what is now Austria has a past that includes Celtic and Roman influences. Other pre-Habsburg rulers included the Holy Roman Empire and a handful of Babenbergs.

Leopold I, Margrave of Austria
Leopold the

Leopold I: Margrave of Austria
Leopold the Illustrious (left) was the first Margrave of Austria and the progenitor of the Babenberg dynasty that ruled over Austria for many decades.

Henry I: Margrave of Austria
Henry I was the second Margrave of Austria. He ruled in the last part of the 10th Century and into the early 11th Century.

Adalbert: Margrave of Austria
Adalbert followed in his father's and brother's footsteps by extending the borders of the realm.

Ernest: Margrave of Austria
Ernest was the fourth Margrave of Austria. He ruled for two decades in the 11th Century and both fought against and lent support to the Holy Roman Empire.

Leopold II: Margrave of Austria
Leopold II was the fifth Margrave of Austria. He ruled for two decades in the late 11th Century and continued his father's struggle against the Holy Roman Empire.

Leopold III: Margrave of Austria
Leopold III was the sixth Margrave of Austria. He ruled for more than four decades in the late 11th Century and early 12th Century. He is also known for establishing a number of monasteries.

Leopold IV: Margrave of Austria
Leopold III was the seventh Margrave of Austria. He ruled for just a few years and had a relatively peaceful reign.

Henry II: Margrave of Austria, Duke of Austria
Henry II was the eighth and last Margrave of Austria and the first Duke of Austria. He ruled in that capacity for 15 years and then served as Duke of Austria for 21 years after that. He also fought in the Second Crusade.

Leopold V: Duke of Austria
Leopold V was the second Duke of Austria. He reigned for nearly two decades near the end of the 12th Century. He also fought in the Third Crusade and later kidnapped England's King Richard I, an act that shaped the histories of England and France for generation.

Frederick I: Duke of Austria
Frederick I was the third Duke of Austria, ruling for three short years at the end of the 12th Century. He died on Crusade, in the Holy Land.

Leopold VI: Duke of Austria
Leopold VI was the fourth Duke of Austria, ruling for more than three decades at the beginning of the 13th Century. He fought in the Fifth Crusade

Frederick II: Duke of Austria
Frederick II was the fifth and last pre-Habsburg Duke of Austria, ruling for more than three decades in the first half of the 13th Century. One of his signal achievements was a victory over the feared Mongols.

The Babenberg Succession Conflict
In the ruling history of Austria, the bridge between the House of Babenberg and the House of Habsburg was a succession controversy.

Habsburg coat of arms

Rudolf I
The King of Germany won a power struggle and then initiated Habsburg rule of Austria, cementing immediate succession by installing his sons as leaders of the largest provinces.

Albert I
Albert I was King of Germany and ruler of Austria for a decade on either side of the turn of the 14th Century. His reign came to a violent end.

Rudolf II
Rudolf II was King of Germany and Holy Roman Emperor for a time in the late 16th Century and early 17th Century. He was born in Vienna and ruled Austria as well but only for a short time.

Frederick III: Duke of Austria
Frederick III was Duke of Austria and Styria for more than two decades in the 14th Century, sharing power with two of his brothers. He won selection as Holy Roman Emperor for a time but then lost it again, retiring to rule Austria in peace.

Albert II: Duke of Austria
Albert II was Duke of Austria and Styria for more than two decades in the 14th Century, sharing power with his brother Otto. With his mind on succession, Albert established the Albertinian House Rule, stipulating that the principle of primogeniture (the right of the firstborn child–and, ideally, son–to inherit his father's main estate, lands, and titles) should apply.

Rudolf IV: Duke of Austria
Rudolf IV was Duke of Austria and Styria for seven years in the mid-14th Century. Denied a role as an elector for choosing the Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolf issued the Privilegium maius, a series of "found" documents that elevated Austria to the status of an archduchy and, in the duke's minds, deserving of elector status.

Albert III: Duke of Austria
Albert III was Duke of Austria for three decades in the 14th Century, sharing power with his brother Leopold.

Albert IV: Duke of Austria
Albert IV was Duke of Austria for nine years on either side of the start of the 15th Century.

Albert V: Duke of Austria
Albert the Magnanimous was one of his handful of titles. He was also King of Germany and Holy Roman Emperor. Among his prime achievements were the ending of private warfare and feuds and the division of Germany into administrative circles, from which his successors benefited much more than he did.

Ladislaus: Duke of Austria
Ladislaus was Duke of Austria and King of Bohemia, Croatia, and Hungary for many years in the 15th Century. He was the last Duke of Austria.

Austria was ruled for an extended period of time, and at various intervals, by a series of Holy Roman Emperors.

Holy Roman Empress Maria Theresa

Maria Theresa: Empress of Austria
Maria Theresa (left) was Holy Roman Empress for four decades in the 18th Century, surviving a devastating war over her succession and ruling over a period of great reform.

Joseph II: Ruler of Austria
The second husband of Maria Theresa, he was Holy Roman Emperor in his own right after she died, becoming a proponent of enlightened absolutism.

Leopold II: Ruler of Austria
Succeeded his brother on the thrones of Austria and the Holy Roman Empire. His desire to reverse the enlightened policies of his predecessor led to deep discontent in the country and resulted in the enmity of revolutionary France.

Francis II: Ruler of Austria
Son of Leopold II, he was the last Holy Roman Emperor and the last Archduke of Austria. He took command of troops fighting in the coalition wars against France. In the middle of it all, he declared himself the first Emperor of Austria. His most famous advisor was Klemens von Metternich.

Ferdinand I: Emperor of Austria
Ferdinand I was Emperor of Austria for more than a dozen years in the 19th Century, giving way in the wake of the revolutionary fervor that swept many European countries in the middle of the century.

Franz Josef: Emperor of Austria
Franz Josef was Austrian emperor from 1848 to 1916. During that time, he presided over a large number of changes in his homeland, including the advent of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the devastation of World War I.

The Austro-Hungarian Empire
The Austro-Hungarian Empire was in existence for just more than 50 years.

Karl: Emperor of Austria-Hungary
Karl I was the last emperor of Austria-Hungary. He reigned for nearly two years, in the waning days of World War I.

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Why Is It?

Why Is It Called a River Delta?
As with many things, the answer lies in Ancient Greece.

Why Is It That American Elections Are on Tuesday?
Elections in American happen on a Tuesday. That's the law. But why?

Why Is It Called Big Ben? Big Ben clock tower
Big Ben is actually the giant bell inside the famous Clock Tower in London. It is not the only bell in the tower, and it is certainly not the tower itself. The giant bell, the official name of which is the Great Bell, is more than 7 feet tall and more than 9 feet wide and weighs 13.5 tons. It sounds an E-natural note. As to why any of it is called Big Ben, that's a matter of some debate.

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David White