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Charles Darwin

by Terence Rice ~ April 23rd, 2010

Charles Robert Darwin was one of the greatest English naturalist of all. His greatest contributes are his idea of Scientific theory and Natural selection. Everything started for Darwin after his publication of hid book On The Origin of Species. This book was a very convincing for the scientific community to accept the idea of evolution as a fact. The book also had Controversy with the church. Which later the pope had his book banned form the church.

Although now Darwin is thought to be a more excepted but still controversial topic. As shown above in the image people of the time thought (some people still do) that the idea was a matter to joke at. The picture depicting Darwin half ape is also simulating the hard time for some of the people to grasp the nature of Darwin’s thought.

Another huge topic of Charles Darwin was his concept of Survival of the fittest. As shown above was a modern interpretation of the matter showing what bird will be soon extinct.

Global Conflict

by ariellep ~ April 23rd, 2010

In the beginning of the 16th century all of the major European powers had essentially split up the New World, and had even attempted to set up colonies in the Oriental world, but were thwarted quickly and easily by the Japanese and Chinese merchants and military.

France had colonies in Africa, Canada, and along the Mississippi, as well as whole islands such as (now) Haiti, and Martinique.  The British owned territories in Jamaica, Barbados, and most of the eastern coast of North America.  Spain controlled Florida, California, New Mexico, and many sugar producing islands in the Caribbean, as well as a majority of mainland South America (except for Brazil which was populated and controlled by the Portuguese).  After the Spanish War of Succession in the early 1700’s the Spanish monarchy set out to strengthen their grip on those particular colonies.  The Dutch also had a sprawling colonial hold. They were in control of colonies in India and Africa, and many other islands, which are now a part of the Republic of Indonesia.

The colonies didn’t have much political power but they were indispensable to their controlling countries.   And when the home countries have issues with one another, you can be sure that the colonists get involved.  The rivals between the French and the British were the most intense. Other than the War of Spanish Succession, the War of Austrian Succession and the Seven Years Wars brought the European soldiers over to North America to settle a conflict that essentially had nothing to do with the colonies.

These conflicts led to the movement of the colonial boundaries in North America.  For example the British captured the French city of Quebec, and a majority of the French islands in the Caribbean, as well as the Bengal province in India. By 1763 the French had only a portion of the land they originally controlled in 1754 when the conflict began in the Americas.

Britain Civil Rights

by Tank ~ April 23rd, 2010

Four decades following the American Revolutionary War a similar series of events was stirring in the midst of Britain.  Severe inequality had developed between the landowning and poverty-stricken populations of the country, and by 1815 <5% of the male population had achieved suffrage.

Poster Depicting Events of Peterloo Massacre

Poster depicting the Peterloo Massacre

Additionally, redistricting issues plagued the country with political instability.  Parliamentary reapportionment (or, lack there of) had led to uneven representation- the densely crowded, less wealthy regions were often entirely unheard in Parliament while the sparsely-filled aristocratic areas of the nation were clearly present in matters concerning legislative decisions.

In 1819, 50,000 workers assembled in St. Peter’s fields to rally against their inability to participate in government (both through suffrage, and there being little-to-no representation) and the downturn of economic conditions country-wide.  In a turn of events familiar to large-scale petition, government forces unsheathed their sabers and proceeded to wreak havoc upon the masses.  Hundreds were injured, 11 died.

Map of the so-called "Peterloo Massacre

The map shows the development of the day (visiting the link below demonstrates this).  Additionally, it provided a cunning image of contrasting the area surrounding modern-day Manchester with Britain of 150 years ago.

Interactive Map

Improving Conditions: Crime & Punishment

by tinacastillo ~ April 22nd, 2010

What makes inmates behave when let outside (yet surrounded by fence) and makes guards relax a bit more? The tower in the middle of the prison is like someone is always watching you. This constant fear, one may call, is what may keep inmate continually behaving. Instead of being locked up, inmates today to daily chores, eat meal, and have time to write letters, read books or call family. However, the legal system was not like this in the 17th century…

In a typical jailhouse, murderers would sit next to debtors. A rapist and debtor would both be put to death. To fix this cruel punishment to those that today would be called misdemeanors, reformer Cesare Beccaria drew out a new legal system. He called for the irrational legal system to concentrate less on the punishment but instead on how to get the person back out as an active member of society. In his book of Crime and Punishments 1764, he condemned the use of torture and capital punishment.

On the other hand, Immanuel Kant refuted Beccaria’s idea of no capital punishment. Kant believed that the punishment should fit the crime. For example in a case that a mother killed her child, the mother should be put to death. Kant criticized Beccaria for being too sensitive and Kant did not emphasize the criminal becoming a better person but first being punished, and whether or not he or she become a better person was up to them.

Lastly, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel believed that punishment was the right of the criminal. “Crime, he argued, is an affront to the verystructure of legality and criminals have metaphorically torn the mask of legal personality from both their victims and themselves, revealing the naked contingency of the law. Punishment “annuls” the crime by re-asserting the proper status of both parties as legal subjects. Thus punishment is a right of the criminal as much as of the victim (which does not mean that the criminal desires it).”

Quote from:  Punishment – The Enlightenment

Voltaire’s Take on Leibniz, Jesuits, and Monkeys

by tinacastillo ~ April 22nd, 2010

My research paper was all about Voltaire’s Candide and the social commentary it made on the Enlightenment era. Briefly I will describe the plot of this satirical work and how it pokes fun of the time. Candide is roughly 100 pages long and easy to read. So whether you wish to read up  on Voltaire’s viewpoints or are just plain bored, it should take you no more than an hour and a half.

Candide was brought up in the noble castle of Baron Thunder-ten-tronckh in Westphalia where he feel in love with the the forbidden Mademoiselle Cunegonde. Once caught kissing her, Candide is immediatly kicked out of the castle left to die. The rest of the short story details the many, many misfortunes he faces while trying to relocate his lover Cunegonde. His best friend is the philosophical Pangloss. Throughout the story Candide accepts the bad luck as good because according to Pangloss: “all is for the best”. Candide kills two men, finds then loses Cunegonde several times, travels to El Dorado, becomes a slave, meets with Jesuits, and shoots two monkeys chasing after young women (the women mourn the death of the monkeys because they were their lovers). By the end, old, ugly Cunegonde, Candide, Pangloss (coming back from the ‘dead’), and the old woman live in peace at last.

El Dorado

 Alongside several Enlightenment figures, Voltaire asserted that reason triumphs, to hell with the Catholic Church, and the importance of logical thinking. Voltaire once was a Jesuit, but now renounced religion for the sake of reason. Voltaire vented in Candide about another philosopher named Leibniz. This man believed in the idea of optimism, where everything happens for a reason. The character, Pangloss is the equilvalent to Leibniz with his blind optimism (‘all is for the best’). Voltaire was fed up with the idea that people of his time contributed every tragedy as something God had planned for all.

Philosopher Leibniz

 Voltaire was known to be a Deist. Deism refers to the idea that God exists but acts as a ‘watchmaker’ in that He created the world, but instead of constantly interfering, God stands back and watches. Ironically in Candide, the only reason Candide is not killed by the natives of El Dorado is because he is not a Christian. Candide also states to the Emperor: “Do you mean to say you have no  monks teaching and disputing, governing and intriging, andhaving people burned if they don’t subscribe to their opinion”? Voltaire suggests the missionaries have become vain and zealous in their pursuit to convert others to Christianity. Voltaire also calls out the corruption of the church. Although the characters in the story don’t make a big deal over it, the Catholic Pope has a daughter despite his vow of celibacy.

Again, Candide is only about 100 pages and enjoyable to read about Voltaire’s pet peeves of the Enlightenment.

Voltaire writing.

interesting Facts

by beachbum90 ~ April 22nd, 2010

Henry VIII and marriage: Because Pope Clement VII refused to grant him a divorce, Henry repudiated papal authority, and established the Anglican church, with the KING as the head. This reorganization of the church of England was primarily based on the teachings of Erasmus and Luther.

Role of Printing Press: This fueled the beginnings of religious change during the protestant reformation, by making literature more accessible to the public. The books were affordable to the public.

John Wycliffe: known as the “morning star” of the reformation, because he was born before the reformation began. He was the first man to translate the Bible into English. His books were banned in England, and his writings were ordered to be burned at the Council of Constance in 1415

Pan-European Article

by mattrunner ~ April 22nd, 2010

This article I found interesting due to the similarities between the EU and Cromwell’s ideology of nations in agreement with one another. This article also touches upon the debate if Turkey and the Ukraine are technically considered Europe.


Council of Europe: time for Pan-European consolidation

The election of Turkey’s Mevlüt Çavusoğlu (L) as the president of  the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, along with  positions held by other “non-EU” country representatives, opens a page  of new opportunities for the future of the Council of Europe.
The election of Turkey’s Mevlüt Çavusoğlu (L) as the president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, along with positions held by other “non-EU” country representatives, opens a page of new opportunities for the future of the Council of Europe.

In the coming two years, three key decision making bodies of the Council of Europe (CoE) will be headed by “non-European Union” Europeans: the Norwegian secretary-general, the Turkish Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) president and the Committee of Ministers’ chairmanships consecutively assumed by Switzerland, Macedonia, Turkey and Ukraine. What does this mean for Europe?


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The future of the Council of Europe and, in particular, its correlation with the overshadowing European Union have been broadly debated in its cliques and political circles in the past decade. Rejecting despair, the council strives to stir itself up and reaffirms its particular position as a genuinely pan-European organization. The issue is, however, far from being a matter of mere institutional coexistence between Strasbourg and Brussels; the very articulation between the “Greater Europe,” represented by the council, and the “Small Europe,” united by the EU, is at stake. Since in office, new Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland has come to grips with the question of interaction with the EU. Yet the new quest should extend beyond the issue of avoiding duplication and overlaps in policies; the CoE should aim to be more than a mere “standards institute,” but instead become a continent-wide political forum for more challenging projects. The new leadership conjuncture in the CoE offers the opportunity to set priorities from a broader pan-European point of view, bringing to the table issues that matter to all of Europe.Certainly, it is up to the “non-EU” wing to seize this historic opportunity of taking the helm at a critical time and to shape accordingly the priorities of their leaderships. Both the CoE and the EU have gone through a shaky period of institutional tumult and uncertainty. Finally, however, the Lisbon Treaty comforted Brussels while Strasbourg elected its high-profile secretary-general. Now it is time for business. Here we could list some challenges that would be applicable to all Europeans, summarized in two main topics: strengthening intra-European harmony and fostering the international “rayonnement” of Europe.

Deepening Greater Europe

The foremost step would be to foster the process of EU’s adhering to the European Convention on Human Rights and, as further step, joining the CoE as its 48th member. Such a development will strengthen the “EU component” of the CoE and increase its political weight. The two actors shall also share what they have built up the best. According to Terry Davis, the former secretary-general of the CoE, the EU works to achieve better living standards for its citizens, while the council cares for their quality of life. Mutual enrichment will be a clear win-win game for both. Thus, while the EU adopts the Strasbourg acquis in the field of human rights and democracy, its own standards could go far beyond its enlargement. The CoE could act as a privileged channel for spreading the EU’s consumer protection, health, food safety and environmental standards, adopting these in its conventions.

Another challenging project would be the gradual creation of a “visa-free Europe.” This is not a completely utopian goal as Europe isn’t at an astronomic distance from that ideal. Between the CoE’s 47 member states, there already exist several visa-free spaces, such as the EU-EEA-EFTA-Western Balkans area which includes some 38 countries. Turkey allows all CoE countries’ citizens to travel freely within its borders, while only few of them need a visa for Ukraine. And even Russia, which remains Europe’s most “closed” country, has been bargaining with the EU on the mutual softening of visa regimes for a while. With a pan-European commitment, these policies could be interconnected. After all, Europe must deal with something people can dream of.

Extending the outreach

Another role for the CoE would be to increase its worldwide impact, actively spreading its acquis across the Afro-Eurasian mainland. Several priorities and target areas can be outlined.

In this respect, cooperation with the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) is paramount. The fact that the CoE and the OIC, the second largest organization in the world after the United Nations (57 states), don’t enjoy observer status with each other reflects their mutual lack of awareness. Because of this, when the OIC wishes to build closer relations with Europe and to tackle the issue of Islamophobia, it “naturally” envisages opening its representative’s office in Brussels, even though, the council has more to share with the OIC than the EU does. Not only because intercultural dialogue and anti-discrimination are more the core business of the council, but also because of its dual advantage of experience and of the applicability of its solutions. Both the CoE and the OIC are international organizations and the Islamic world is not ready for the EU-style supra-national approach. Moreover, the council’s decades-long experience in inter-parliamentary cooperation is more along the lines of what the OIC needs to adopt, establishing its own parliamentary assembly. It is also time for the OIC to promote its own “CoE-like” charter on local self-government and the Organization of Islamic Capitals and Cities (OICC), its affiliate body, could also evolve into an assembly similar to the CoE’s Congress of Local and Regional Authorities. Here Turkey’s role as a bridge is crucial. A member of both groups since their foundation, today her representatives chair PACE and hold the position of secretary-general of the OIC.

Another challenge for the CoE would be to discuss its further enlargement. In the east, Kazakhstan has enjoyed observer status at PACE since 1999 and such debate on the country, which is the chair the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2010, is symbolically important. In the south, Morocco, which since the 1960s has cherished dreams of European integration, has recently joined the CoE’s North-South Center.

Inside and outside Europe, the CoE must fully assume “goal-setting” and “soft power” roles. It should dare to constantly push for deeper integration throughout the continent, to broaden the common space of democratic standards and to influence positive change in the Afro-Eurasian region. Of course, such an ambitious agenda requires a proactive and strategic-thinking mindset from the leadership. In this respect, the Norwegian-Turkish tandem is well-appointed. Both countries show deep-rooted commitment to the organization that they have supported since its foundation and their political classes have the courage to assume international responsibilities.

European Consolidation in the 17th and 18th centuries

by mattrunner ~ April 22nd, 2010

The seven provinces that became the United Provinces of the Netherlands emerged as a nation after revolting against Spain in 1572. The United Provinces supported religious toleration and republican government. The constitutional crisis in England that followed Elizabeth’s reign and continued until the end of the seventeenth century had a lasting impact on Western political life. This struggle cost Charles I his head, and in the end, Parliament emerged the victor. Oliver Cromwell reinstated executive authority, though under a different title and only with military backing. With the death of Oliver Cromwell in 1658, Charles I’s son Charles II ascended the bloodstained throne with Parliamentary sanction and initiated the Stuart Restoration. When his brother James II confirmed the family’s Catholic sympathies, Parliament quickly and peacefully dispatched James and called upon his son-in-law and daughter, William of Orange and Mary, to be the sovereigns of England. Meanwhile, the French monarchy had achieved its goal, becoming the sole national institution. Royal ministers such as Richelieu and Mazarin wielded enormous power and left in their wake a well-ordered governmental structure ready-made for the absolutist training of Louis XIV, who then surrounded himself with capable advisers, military reformers, and financial experts. The resulting political centralization was exemplified by the Sun King’s palatial complex at Versailles, and France’s commanding position in the European international order. French military expansion in this era was, however, largely blocked by a combination of European states led by the Dutch United Provinces and England. At the time of Louis’ death in 1715, France remained a great power in an emerging European international order, but one whose future, largely because of the Sun King’s excesses, would eventually be changed dramatically by an unprecedented political revolution. Central and eastern Europe were economically much less advanced than western Europe. After the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, the Austrian Habsburgs recognized the basic weakness of the position of the Holy Roman Emperor and started to consolidate their power outside Germany. The emergence of Russia in the late seventeenth century as an active European power was a wholly new factor in European politics. Peter the Great had laid the foundations of a modern Russia, but not the foundations of a stable state. From the fifteenth century onward, the Ottoman Empire had tried to push further westward into Europe. The Ottomans made their deepest military invasion into Europe in 1683, when they unsuccessfully besieged Vienna. This was the beginning of a deeper decline for the Ottoman Empire, which collapsed completely at the conclusion of World War I.

Source: Kagan, Donald. “European State Consolidation in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries”. Pearson. 21/4/2010 <>.

Images of John Calvin and Martin Luther

by beachbum90 ~ April 22nd, 2010

John Calvin:

John Calvin

Martin Luther:

Hapsburg-Valois Wars

by beachbum90 ~ April 22nd, 2010

Also commonly referred to as the Italian Wars, these wars were initiated when Henry II of France declared war against Charles V, in an effort to ensnare control of Italy to ensure French (not German) domination of European affairs.

Henry VIII invaded Naples, which aroused irritation in the neighboring Hapsburg territories, Spain, Sicily, and Austria. Battles amongst these nations prevailed, as the power struggle ensued, until eventually the treaty of Cateau-cambresis in 1559 was signed, giving Spain and her allies power over Italy. The Hapsburgs won the wars.