CURRENT EVENTS

House Again Votes to Impeach Trump
January 13, 2021
Donald Trump is the first President ever to be impeached twice. The House of Representatives has voted 232–197 to impeach the President on a charge of "incitement of insurrection," with regard to remarks he made that resulted in a group of his supporters' storming the U.S. Capitol on January 6. The violence resulted in bloodshed and a handful of deaths. Lawmakers, at the time gathered to certify the results of the Electoral College vote affirming the presidential election victory of Joe Biden, huddled behind closed doors, fearing for their lives. Of the 440 members of the House (six of which vote in special cases), 222 are Democrats, and 211 are Republicans. (Two seats are vacant.) The total of 232 votes to impeach Trump included 10 Republicans, or members of the President's political party. The next phase is a trial in the Senate. Majority Leader Mitch Connell has ruled out such an occurrence happening this week.

National Guard Deployment for Biden Inauguration to Top 20,000
January 12, 2021
National Guard in the U.S. Capitol The total number of National Guard troops on hand for the inauguration for the new President, Joe Biden, could be more than 20,000, officials said. The inauguration is January 20. National Guard officials said that the D.C. deployment would not take away from any needs in the states. Many reports cite the possibility of further demonstrations at state capitols before or during Biden's inauguration. After a number of angry supporters of President Trump pushed past Capitol Police and stormed into the U.S. Capitol on January 6, law enforcement officials erected a tall fence around the building and installed metal detectors just inside the building. Another element of security ahead of the inauguration is a series of road blocks and steel barriers creating a cordon of several blocks around the Capitol. Security officials have also set up road blocks around the White House.

Scythian 'Royalty' Comes Alive in 3D Facial Reconstructions
January 12, 2021
Scythian king and queen The visages of the famous Scythian "King" and "Queen" once again can be seen, thanks to months of painstaking recreation by anthropologists. Archaeologists from Germany and Russia found the pair of royals buried at the Arzhan-2 site in 1997 and made intensive study of them and their surroundings in the early 2000s. Using photogrammetry and laser scanning, the anthropologists from the Moscow Miklukho-Maklai Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology and from the Novosibirsk Institute of Archeology and Ethnography produced three-dimensional models of the pair's skulls. The pair are thought to have been buried 2,600 years ago. They were part of the Scythian culture, which held sway in central Asia and the near Middle East to varying degrees for a few centuries. The archaeologists who found the pair termed them "king" and "queen" because they were the skeletons of a male and a female found together in the same grave and because the burial chamber contained a rich assortment of nearly 10,000 valuables, including many items made of gold.

Indonesia Pig Painting Dates to 43,000 Years Ago
January 12, 2021
Warty pig cave painting Archaeologists say that they have found one of the world's oldest known cave paintings. The life-size wall-art depiction of pigs, found in Indonesia, has been dated as 43,900 years old. The cave is on the island of Sulawesi, at a site called Leang Tedongnge. On one of the walls of the cave is a painting that shows a confrontation between three warty pigs, one of which is 54 inches long and 21 inches high. Descendants of the short-legged, wart-faced porcine creatures are living in Indonesia and elsewhere even today.

Congressional Democrats Seek to Remove Trump from Office
January 11, 2021
Storming the Capitol Members of the House of Representatives moved ahead with plans to attempt to hold President Trump to account for his role in the violence that overwhelmed the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Three lawmakers introduced an article of impeachment into the House proceedings, charging the President with "inciting violence against the government of the United States," citing Trump's words in a speech that may have led many in the crowd to pursue violent actions at the U.S. Capitol, including the ransacking of the office of several lawmakers. Many people were injured in the fracas, and a handful of people have died, including a member of the Capitol Police. Some in the mob threatened high-ranking members of Congress. While the mob roamed the halls and offices of the Capitol, lawmakers stood behind locked doors in their chambers. One member of the House also introduced a resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence to activate Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, declaring Trump unfit for office, and then take over as Acting President.


IN DAYS GONE BY
Queen Elizabeth I crowned
Queen Elizabeth IQueen Elizabeth I was crowned monarch of England on Jan. 15, 1559. She spent the next few decades defending her realm from enemies foreign and domestic. She built a reputation for being a popular, cautious, and inspirational heir apparent and ruler, a woman so beloved by her people that the date of her ascension to the throne was celebrated as a national holiday for 200 years. England experienced tremendous economic and cultural growth while Elizabeth was queen. The country became an economic powerhouse, with round-the-world voyages like that led by Sir Francis Drake bringing new goods and prestige to the tiny island nation. This was also the age of William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Francis Bacon, and other famous writers. Without the threat of invasion from abroad or division from within, the English queen and her people were free to expand their horizons on multiple fronts. The reign of Elizabeth I, or "Gloriana," as many people called her, has been called a Golden Age.

First Flight of the Frisbee
The Frisbee that we commonly know today was first produced on January 13, 1957, by the Wham-O Company. Millions of flying discs later, Frisbees are now enjoyed around the world. The origins of the Frisbee are shrouded in mystery and competing claims. That the shape is reminiscent of a pie is not in dispute. Who came up with the idea for a plastic flying disc continues to be argued.

Why Is It That STOP Signs Are Red? STOP sign
Automobiles have been in use since the late 19th Century. Road signs are not that old. One of the most famous road signs is the STOP sign. It is universally seen today as white capital letters on a red background, all painted on an octagonal sign. But the shape of the sign and the color of the sign and the letters are innovations not present at the beginning.

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The History and Political Development of the United Kingdom:
England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland

The British Isles before Rome
The British Isles before Rome arrived was not a backwater but a burgeoning society. Tribal chieftains ruled from hill forts. Trade with the Continent was extensive. Druids led the Celts in religious and secular matters. The people created their own art and clothing and weapons and coins. The Celts were fierce fighters as well. Early divisions included the Picts and the Scots.

Roman Britain
The Romans first "visited" the British Isles in the 1st Century B.C. They returned a century later and achieved a near conquest. Ruling for a handful of centuries, the Romans left their mark on British society, reshaping the people and the inhabitants.

The Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy
The Angles, Saxons, and Jutes eventually conquered most of what is now called England (after Angle-land). In doing so, they established seven major kingdoms called the Heptarchy. Learn more about these seven kingdoms, including their leaders and their fates and fortunes through a few years before the arrival of the Danes and then the Normans.

SCOTLAND

Rulers of Early Medieval Scotland
Early Scotland mapWhat is now Scotland was populated by various tribes in the days of the Roman Empire and before. These tribes included the Picts, the Scots, the Gododdin, and others. Early kingdoms included Dalriada, Galloway, Lothian, Rheged, and Strathclyde. Many historians Kenneth mac Alpinconsider Kenneth mac Alpin (right) to be the first official king of Scotland. He came to be known as The Conqueror. A series of other rulers followed, among them a number of Malcolms, David I, William the Lion, and Alexander III, whose successor-less death in the early 13th Century gave rise to the Great Cause. Into this power vacuum stepped no less than 13 men, with varying claims to the throne. The two most powerful were John Balliol and Robert Bruce. The latter's descendant Robert the Bruce achieved Scottish independence at Bannockburn in 1314. Battle of Bannockburn England's King James I A series of kings named James ruled Scotland; the last, James VI, achieved a peaceful union with England when he became King James I (left). The final step was the 1707 Act of Union, which created Great Britain.


WALES

Rulers of Early Medieval Wales
For most of the early years of its existence, Wales was a collection of largely Celtic tribes and then kingdoms. Roman soldiers eventually conquered Wales but then left a bit abruptly. Anglo-Saxon invaders took over England and some of Wales, and Danish invaders advanced on Welsh positions from both east (England) and west (Ireland); but by and large, Wales after Rome was left to advance Wales map 1066according to its own devices. By the time of the Norman Conquest in England, Wales was largely four large areas: Deheubarth, Glamorgan (or Morgannwg), Gwynedd, and Powys. Through the first millennium, some rulers were powerful indeed, ruling more than one kingdom. Succession was difficult in that the Celtic custom was to pass on a ruler's lands and possessions not to the first-born son alone but to all of the ruler's sons. The first Welsh ruler Rhodri Mawr who could lay claim to nearly all of Wales was Rhodri the Great (left), who was King of Gwynedd and then King of Powys in 855. Grufudd ap Llewelynn, in the 11th Century, was the first leader who claimed leadership of all of Wales and invaded England. The English response was delayed but finally came in the person of Harold Godwinson, Earl of Wessex, who later became King of England of Wales. Harold lost his crown to William the Conqueror, who nearly conquered Wales. Norman Marcher lords certainly ranged into Wales, but no English king attempted overlordship of Wales. Welsh rulers gradually took back land seized by the Normans. Llewelynn ap Gruffudd (right) was later leader of Wales in effect, but it was England's King Edward I who defeated the Welsh and absorbed that proud land into the English fold, in the late 13th Century.


NORTHERN IRELAND

People lived in what is now Ireland very early on, about the same time as civilization sprang up in what is now the rest of the United Kingdom. The Irish people formed tribes and then kingdoms and, like their relatives in England and Scotland, suffered invasions from Scandinavia. One of early Ireland's most famous Book of Kellsnames was Patrick, the bringer of Christianity to the Emerald Isle. Irish monks (thanks to Patrick's introduction of the Roman alphabet) played a large part in keeping alive the Greek and Roman traditions during the Dark Ages. These monks were particularly skilled at creating illuminated manuscripts, incorporating Christian stories and calligraphy. Possibly the most famous of these was the Book of Kells, created about A.D. 800. As was the case in Scotland, a power struggle after the death of a leader led to England's filling the void, and King Henry II of England ruled over Ireland in the late 12th Century. Henry set up a feudal system, along the lines of the one already running smoothly in England, and made sure that a number of Norman nobles had settled in to owning large estates in their new home of Ireland, then returned to England. The first Irish parliament convened in 1297, following the English model of summoning knights and noblemen from the wealthier areas; a subsequent parliament at the turn of the century includes representatives from the towns as well. The 16th Century English monarchs King Henry VII and King Henry VIII Ireland plantations mapasserted their authority over Ireland. The Tudor dynasty continued the heavy hand, with Edward VI sending more troops to deal with Irish chiefs who refused to recognize the young English king as King of Ireland. Also under Edward VI came the beginning of the "plantation" system, whereby English sympathizers were "planted" on lands in Ireland in order to maintain order. During the English civil wars of the 17th Century, a number of Irish leaders and troops allied themselves with the royalist forces. The parliamentarian side triumphed, even executing the king, and the new nominal leader of England was Oliver Cromwell, who wasted no time in bringing a large contingent of his New Model Army to Ireland in 1649. English troops landed in August and set about reconquering Ireland, at times exacting high amounts of retribution. Things were relatively more peaceful in the 1700s. The industrialization that rose to great heights in Great Britain in the late 18th Century entered Irish cities and towns as well but mainly in the north. Southern Ireland remained largely agricultural. In 1800, at the dawn of a new century, people in Great Britain and Ireland convinced one another that the time was right for consolidation. The Act of Union 1800 created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

ENGLAND

England began as a conglomeration of the Anglo-Saxon tribes. Various leaders of East Anglia, Kent, Mercia, Northumbria, Sussex, and Wessex were powerful enough to be named Bretwalda, an early form of overlord. Historians generally regard one of a number of 9th-Century or 10th-Century Wessex kings as the first king of all England. Saxon tribes struggled through a number of Danish invasions during this time. One of England's most famous defenders was Alfred the Great (left). Two Scandinavians sat on the throne of England: Canute and his son, Hardacanute. The last Saxon King of England was King Harold, who lost his crown and his life at the Battle of Hastings to William the Conqueror (right), who ushered in the Norman Conquest, which changed the landscape and people of England in many fundamental ways.

A period of stability ensued, during which the Norman and Saxon cultures further melded. The death of William's descendant Henry I resulted in a succession struggle known as The King Henry IIanarchy. Emerging supreme was the dynamic and very successful Henry II (left), whose marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine helped usher in the creation of the Angevin Empire, a successor of sorts to the Norman territories. French gains in subsequent years pared the English holdings to a slim few, especially during the devastating Hundred Years War. Despite sensational victories led by Henry V, England ultimately sued for a peace that had long-lasting ramifications on both sides of the English Channel. England catapulted from one war to another, with the Wars of the Roses consuming the best and brightest of the Houses of Lancaster and York in a struggle that ended the Plantagenet Dynasty at the hands of Henry VII, who ushered in the Tudor Dynasty.

King Henry VIII

Following him on the throne was perhaps England's most famous monarch, Henry VIII (left), whose three famous children (Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I) all followed him onto the throne, with varying degrees of longevity. It was during the reign of Elizabeth that William Shakespeare came to worldwide prominence.

Next to rule England were the Stuarts, the first of whom was Scotland's King James VI, who became England's King James I in 1603. The country again descended into civil war a couple of decades later, during the reign of Charles I. The accession of William and Mary in 1688 brought relative peace for a time.

King George III

Four straight kings named George comprised the Hanoverian Dynasty that ruled England and Great Britain in the 18th Century and early 19th Century, during which time the English colonies in America won their independence and British troops played a large part in defeating the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. Leading the country for nearly six decades during the 19th Century, and presiding over the height of the Industrial Queen VictoriaRevolution was Queen Victoria (right), whose descendants led the countries (since 1800 the United Kingdom) through a pair of devastating world wars in the first half of the 20th Century. Taking the throne in 1953 and still ruling today: Elizabeth II.

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Social Studies for Kids
copyright 2002–2020
David White