Monday, December 31, 2007

Ibish attended Emerson College and earned a bachelor of science in mass communications in 1986.

Ibish was a founding member of the Progressive Muslim Union but later resigned.

Senior Fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine
Executive Director of the Hala Salaam Maksoud Foundation for Arab-American Leadership.
Communications Director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), 1998-2004
Vice-President of the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom. 2001-2004
Washington Correspondent, Daily Star, Beirut
Teaching Assistant, African-American Studies Dept., UMass, Amherst. Afro-Am 236: History of the Civil Rights Movement, September 1996 - December 1997.
Editor, The Voice, Fall 1993 - Spring 1995; Spring 1997.
Graduate Intern, Bilingual Collegiate Program, UMass, Amherst, Sept. 1992 - May 1993. Career
Dedicated Service Award, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, 2004.
Best TV Spokesperson for the Arab Cause, the New York Press, 2003.
Arab-American of the Year, 2002, Arab-American Community Center for Economic and Social Services in Ohio (AACCESS, Ohio).


Hate Crimes and Discrimination against Arab Americans 1998-2000 (ADC, 2001) and *Sept. 11, 2001-Oct. 11, 2002 (ADC, 2003)
"At the Constitution's Edge: Arab Americans and Civil Liberties in the United States" in States of Confinement (St. Martin's Press, 2000), *"Anti-Arab Bias in American Policy and Discourse" in Race in 21st Century America (Michigan State University Press, 2001)
"Race and the War on Terror," in Race and Human Rights (Michigan State University Press, 2005) and Symptoms of Alienation: How Arab and American Media View Each Other" in "Arab Media in the Information Age (ECSSR, 2005).
"The Palestinian Right of Return" (ADC, 2001) and "The Media and the New Intifada" in The New Intifada (Verso, 2001).
Editor, Principles and Pragmatism (ATFP, 2006).
Numerous Op-eds in newspapers and magazines including the Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, Arab American News, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Newsday, Lexington Herald Leader (Kentucky), The San Diego Union-Tribune, Milwaukee Journal, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, The Washington Post, Detroit Free Press, Dallas Morning News,The Record,Sunday Gazette-Mail, The Boston Globe, The Houston Chronicle, and The Nation. Hussein Ibish Invited Talks & Debates

Friday, December 28, 2007

Coordinates: 40°43′48″N, 73°59′42″W
New York University
New York University (NYU) is a private, nonsectarian, coeducational research university in New York City. NYU's main campus is situated in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan. Founded in 1831, NYU is the largest private, non-profit institution of higher education in the United States, with an enrollment of more than 40,000.

Washington Square and Greenwich Village have been hubs of cultural life in New York City since the early nineteenth century. Much of this culture has intersected with NYU at various points in its history. Artists of the Hudson River School, the United States' first prominent school of painters, settled around Washington Square then. Samuel F.B. Morse, the first chair of Painting and Sculpture at NYU, and Daniel Huntington were early tenants of the Old University Building in the mid-nineteenth century. (The University rented out studio space and residential apartments within the "academic" building.) Many artists and intellectuals such as Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, Herman Melville and Walt Whitman contributed to the artistic scene near NYU. As a result, they had notable interaction with the cultural and academic life of the University.

New York University Cultural setting

Main article: Campus of New York University Campus
Since the late 1970s, the central part of NYU has been its Washington Square campus in the heart of Greenwich Village. Despite being public property, and expanding the Fifth Avenue axis into Washington Square Park, the Washington Square Arch is the unofficial symbol of NYU. Every year, the Washington Square campus holds its commencement ceremonies in Washington Square Park.
In the 1990s, NYU became a "Two Square" university by building a second community around Union Square, about a 10-minute walk from Washington Square. NYU's Union Square community consists of the sophmore cluster residence halls of Carlyle Court, Palladium Residence Hall, Alumni Hall, Coral Towers, Thirteenth Street Hall, and freshmen residence halls Third North Residence Hall and University Hall.
NYU operates several theaters and performance facilities that are often used by the university's music conservatory and Tisch School of the Arts but also external productions. The largest performance accommodations at NYU are the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts (850 seats) at 566 LaGuardia Place, just south of Washington Square South; and the Eisner-Lubin Auditorium (560 seats) in the Kimmel Center. Recently, the Skirball Center hosted important speeches on foreign policy by John Kerry

Washington Square campus
The Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, built between 1967 and 1972, is the largest library at NYU and one of the largest academic libraries in the U.S. Designed by Philip Johnson and Richard Foster, the 12-story, 39,000 m² (425,000 square feet) structure sits on the southern edge of Washington Square Park and is the flagship of an eight-library, 4.5 million volume system. The library is visited by more than 6,500 users each day, and circulates almost one million books annually.

Bobst Library
Over the last few years, NYU has developed a number of new facilities on and around its Washington Square Campus. The Kimmel Center for University Life was built in 2003 to house the majority of the University's student services offices. The center also houses the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, the Rosenthal Pavilion, the Eisner & Lubin Auditorium, and the Loeb Student Center. The School of Law built Furman Hall was built in 2004, incorporating elements of two historic buildings into the new facade, one of which was occupied by poet Edgar Allan Poe.

New facilities
The main NYU Medical Campus is situated at the East River waterfront at First Ave. between East 30th and East 34th Streets. The campus hosts the Medical School, Tisch Hospital, and the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine. Other NYU Centers across the city include NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases and the Bellevue Hospital Center. NYU's Ehrenkranz School of Social Work manages branch campus programs in Westchester County at Manhattanville College and in Rockland County at St. Thomas Aquinas College.
In Sterling Forest, near Tuxedo, New York, NYU has a research facility that contains several institutes, in particular the Nelson Institute of Environmental Medicine. The Midtown Center at 11 West 42nd Street and the Woolworth Building in the financial district are home to NYU's continuing education programs.
NYU has a host of foreign facilities used for study abroad programs. Most noteworthy is the 57-acre campus of NYU Florence Villa LaPietra in Italy, bequeathed by the late Sir Harold Acton to NYU in 1994.
NYU also has several international houses on campus, including the Deutsches Haus, La Maison Française, the Glucksman Ireland House, Casa Italiana, the King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center, the Hagop Kevorkian Center, an Africa House and a China House. NYU was also the founding member of the League of World Universities.

Other campuses and facilities

Main article: NYU residence halls Residence halls

New York University is comprised of 15 colleges, schools, and divisions. The College of Arts and Science was the first and only school when NYU was founded. The other undergraduate schools include: the Gallatin School of Individualized Study, the School of Social Work, the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development - the first school of education in the United States, the Stern School of Business, and Tisch School of the Arts. A number of these schools also offer graduate and professional programs.
In addition, the University offers programs in postgraduate schools and divisions: the College of Dentistry, the College of Nursing, the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, the Institute of Fine Arts, the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, the School of Law, the School of Medicine Graduate School of Arts and Science, and the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.
NYU closed their School of Aeronautics in 1973, their College of Veterinary Surgeons in 1922, and merged some of their previous programs with other schools. For example, their School of Engineering was merged with the Polytechnic University of New York in 1973, and NYU's former College Hofstra Memorial is Hofstra University as of 1963.

Schools and colleges
According to the three most well-known university ranking systems, NYU is ranked:
Regarding academic disciplines and programs, NYU is ranked #11 in the social sciences among Shanghai Jiao Tong University's world's top 100 universities. New York University Rankings
NYU has a large, diverse student population exceeding 40,000 representing more than 130 countries.

Student life
NYU's policy of needing only four members to constitute a club makes this trend a popular one among today's students. Apart from the sports teams, fraternities, sororities, and clubs that focus on fields of study, other organizations on campus focus on entertainment, arts, and culture. These organizations include various print media clubs: for instance, the daily newspaper the Washington Square News, comedy magazine The Plague, and the literary journals Washington Square Review and The Minetta Review, as well as student-run event producers such as the NYU Program Board and the Inter-Residence Hall Council.
During the University Heights era, an apparent rift evolved with some organizations distancing themselves from students from the downtown schools. The exclusive "Philomathean Society" operated from 1832-1888 (formally giving way in 1907 and reconstituted into the Andiron Club). Included among the Andiron's regulations was "Rule No.11: Have no relations save the most casual and informal kind with the downtown schools". Today freshman take part in a number of university sponsored activities during what is called "Welcome Week". In addition, throughout the year the University traditionally holds Apple Fest (an apple-themed country fest started at the University Heights campus), Violet Ball (a dance in the atrium of the library), Strawberry Fest (featuring New York City's longest Strawberry Shortcake), and the semi-annual Midnight Breakfast where Student Affairs administrators serve students free breakfast before finals.

Student organizations
Greek life first formed on the NYU campus in 1837 when Psi Upsilon chartered its Delta Chapter.

Greek life

Main article: New York University Violets Athletics

Main article: List of New York University people Notable NYU faculty and alumni

Main article: NYU in popular culture See also

Dim, Joan, The Miracle on Washington Square. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2000.
Frusciano, Tom and Pettit, Marilyn New York University and the City, an Illustrated History. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1997.
Gitlow, Abrahm L., NYU's Stern School of Business: A Centennial Retrospective, New York, NY: NYU Press, 1995
Harris, Luther S., Around Washington Square : An Illustrated History of Greenwich Village,Baltimore, MD, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003
Hester, James M. New York University; the urban university coming of age New York, Newcomen Society in North America, 1971. OCLC: 140405
Jones, Theodore F.New York University, 1832 - 1932, London, H. Milford, Oxford University Press, 1933
Lewis, Naphtali, Greek papyri in the collection of New York University, Leiden, E.J. Brill, 1968
Tonne, Herbert A. (ed.), Early Leaders in Business Education at New York University, National Business Education Association, Reston, Va., 1981
Potash, David M., The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at New York University: A History. New York: NYU Arts and Sciences Publications, 1991.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (usually abbreviated as NAACP) is one of the oldest and most influential radical civil rights organizations in the United States.

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People The song "You Can't Stop the Beat" from the Broadway musical Hairspray (as well as the (film adaptation) features the lyric "And if they try and stop us, Seaweed, we'll call the NAACP." The lyric is sung by Penny Pingleton, a white character, to her African-American boyfriend Seaweed J. Stubbs.
Richard Dalfiume, "The Forgotten Years of the Negro Revolution," Journal of American History 55 (June, 1969): 99-100. fulltext in JSTOR
Fleming, Cynthia Griggs. In the Shadow of Selma: The Continuing Struggle for Civil Rights in the Rural South Rowman and Littlefield, 2004. 349 pp.
Goings, Kenneth W. The NAACP Comes of Age: The Defeat of Judge John J. Parker (1990). late 1920s
Hughes, Langston. Fight for Freedom: The Story of the NAACP (1962)
Janken, Kenneth Robert. White: The Biography of Walter White, Mr. NAACP. New Press, 2003.
Jonas, Gilbert S. Freedom's Sword: The NAACP and the Struggle against Racism in America, 1909-1969. Routledge, 2005. 240 pp.
Lewis, David Levering. W.E.B. DuBois (2 vol, 1994, 2001); Pulitzer Prize
Mosnier, L. Joseph. Crafting Law in the Second Reconstruction: Julius Chambers, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and Title VII. U. of North Carolina, 2005. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund is an entirely separate organization despite its similar name
Barbara Joyce Ross, J. E. Spingarn and the Rise of the NAACP, 1911-1939 (1972)
Warren D. St. James, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People: A Case Study in Pressure Groups (1958)
Mark Robert Schneider. We Return Fighting: The Civil Rights Movement in the Jazz Age (2001)
Simon Topping; "'Supporting Our Friends and Defeating Our Enemies': Militancy and Nonpartisanship in the NAACP, 1936-1948," The Journal of African American History, Vol. 89, 2004
Robert Zangrando, The NAACP Crusade Against Lynching, 1909-1950 (1980)
Events on the NAACP timeline (1939 - Present)
Association for the Study of African American Life and History
List of progressive organizations
Niagara Movement
NAACP Image Award
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
Racial integration
National Association for the Advancement of White People
Official site
Annual ACT-SO Contest
Official site of the Brooklyn, New York Branch
George W. Bush addresses NAACP national convention for the first time, July 20 2006 (Video)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

List of European Union member states by political system
This is a list of European Union member states, their forms of government and their parliaments. The European Union is a sui generis supranational union of democratic states. At a European Council Summit held in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 21 June and 22 June 1993, Form of government
See also: Self-governance
Most of the European Union's member states are unitary states, which means that most of the competences lie with the central government and only minor or local issues are within the authority of regional governments. However, three states are federations (Austria, Belgium and Germany) of states or regions with equal competences, and six other states have either devolved certain powers to special regions or are federacies (or both):


  • in Denmark, the Faroe Islands and Greenland are autonomous (and neither is part of the European Union);
    in Finland, Åland has substantial autonomy;
    in France, the collectivité sui generis New Caledonia (which is not part of the European Union) has a large degree of autonomy;
    in the Netherlands, the Caribbean island groups of Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles are equal partners to the Netherlands within the Kingdom of the Netherlands;
    in the United Kingdom, the Channel IslandsGuernsey and Jersey — and the Isle of Man are a special case, being neither part of the United Kingdom nor of the European Union; these islands are British Crown dependencies;
    devolved states:

    • in Spain, the central government has devolved various powers to the historic nationalities among the autonomous communities, namely Andalusia, the Basque Country, Catalonia and Galicia;
      in the United Kingdom, various competences have been devolved to the Home Nations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The Greater London Authority also has extensive devolved powers. Degree of self-governance
      A further distinction is the number of chambers in the national legislature. While there had been legislatures with more than two chambers (tricameral and tetracameral ones), nowadays there are only unicameral and bicameral ones. There is no clear trend towards either model as of 2006, and there's also no real common factor which determines whether a country's legislature is unicameral or bicameral, except for the fact that federations and countries with strong regional differences or regional identities are normally bicameral to reflect the regions' interests in national bills.
      In the member states of the European Union, if the parliament has only one chamber, it is wholly directly elected in all cases. If there are two chambers, the lower house is directly elected in all cases, while the upper house can be directly elected (e.g. the Senate of Poland); or indirectly elected, for example, by regional legislatures (e.g. the Federal Council of Austria); or non-elected, but representing certain interest groups (e.g. the National Council of Slovenia); or non-elected (though by and large appointed by elected officials) as a remnant of a non-democratic political system in earlier times (as in the House of Lords in the United Kingdom).

      Houses of parliament

      Listed by type of parliament
      I^ : Due to Belgium's complex federal structure the Brussels Regional Parliament (Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Parlement / Parlement de la Région de Bruxelles-Capitale / Brüsseler Regionalparlament) (25, community assembly) have competences in federal legislation that affects their interests.
      II^ : In addition to the 71 elected senators, the ruling monarch's children (or, in case there are none, her or his siblings) are also entitled to sit in the Senate after reaching the age of 18 and entitled to vote after reaching the age of 21 as senators by law (senator van rechtswege / sénateur de droit / Senator von Rechts wegen), although they do not use the right to vote by constitutional convention. There are currently three such senators.
      III^ : The number of Senators will gradually increase to 341 in 2008 and 346 in 2011 to reflect changes in French demography.
      IV^ : While there is a Federal Assembly (Bundesversammlung) similar to the Austrian Federal Assembly, it is not simply a joint session of the Federal Diet and the Federal Council and as such not the overall name of the legislature.
      V^ : Technically, the Federal Diet only has 598 members; the additional sixteen seats are overhang seats.
      VI^ : In addition to the 315 elected members, there are currently seven senators for life (senatore a vita); these include three former Italian Presidents, who are ex officio senators for life, as well as four senators appointed by the President "for outstanding patriotic merits in the social, scientific, artistic or literary field". There can only be five appointed senators in addition to the ex officio ones at any one time.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Athenian Empire
The Delian League was an association of Greek city-states in the 5th century BC. Because many of the league's poleis were too poor to contribute ships to the collective navy, they paid their phoros (membership dues) to Athens in the form of money, so that there would be enough money to build the expensive triremes.
In 478 BC, following the defeat of Xerxes' invasion of Greece, Pausanias the Spartan led Hellenic forces against the Persians. He was an unpopular commander (who may have conspired with the Persians), and although he was cleared of all accusations of conspiracy, Sparta, eager to stop prosecuting the war, decided to remain outside the war against Persia. Spartans were of the view that with the liberation of the Greek cities in Asia Minor, the war's purpose had already been reached; in this wise being opposed to the Athenians, who felt related to the Ionian Greeks, and wanted more than to free them: they wanted to continue the war in order to provide security to the Greeks in Asia Minor. In this way, Sparta surrendered the leadership of the ongoing campaign to Athens, which was eager to accept it. The Delian League by the military actions of the Athenians. The justification for this was that Carystus was enjoying the advantages of the League (protection from pirates and the Persians) without taking on any of the responsibilities. Furthermore, Carystus was a traditional base for Persian occupations. Athenian politicians had to justify these acts to Athenian voters in order to get votes. The island of Naxos, a member of the Delian League, attempted to secede, and was enslaved; Naxos is believed to have been forced to tear down its walls, lose its fleet and its vote in the League.
Thucydides tells us that this is how Athens' control over the League grew.
In 454 BC, Athens moved the treasury of the Delian League from Delos to Athens, allegedly to keep it safe from Persia. However, Plutarch indicates that many of Pericles' rivals viewed the transfer to Athens as usurping monetary resources to fund elaborate building projects. Athens also switched from accepting ships, men and weapons, to only accepting money. The new treasury established in Athens was used for many purposes, not all relating to the defense of members of the league. It was from tribute paid to the league that Pericles sent to build the Parthenon in the acropolis, as well as many other non-defense related expenditures. Some claim that during this time the Athenian Empire arose, as the technical definition of empire is a group of cities paying taxes to a central, dominant city, while keeping local governments intact. The Delian League was turning from an alliance into an empire.
In 465 BC Thasos revolted against the Delian League. After two years Thasos surrendered to Cimon. In result, the fortification walls of Thasos were torn down, their land and naval ships were confiscated by Athens. The mines of Thasos were also turned over to Athens and they had to pay yearly tribute and fines.
In 461 BC, Cimon was ostracized, and was succeeded in his influence by democrats such as Ephialtes and Pericles. This signaled a complete change in Athenian foreign policy, neglecting the alliance with the Spartans and instead allying with her enemies, Argos and Thessaly. Megara deserted the Peloponnesian league and allied herself with Athens, allowing construction of a double line of walls across the isthmus of Corinth, protecting Athens from attack from that quarter. Around the same time, due to encouragement from influential speaker Themistocles, they also constructed the Long Walls connecting their city to the Piraeus, its port, making it effectively invulnerable to attack by land.
Soon war with the Peloponnesians broke out. In 458 BC, the Athenians blockaded the island of Aegina, and simultaneously defended Megara from the Corinthians by sending out an army composed of those too young or old for regular military service. The next year Sparta sent an army into Boeotia, reviving the power of Thebes to help hold the Athenians in check. Their return was blocked, and they resolved to march on Athens, where the Long Walls were not yet completed, winning a victory at the Battle of Tanagra. All this accomplished, however, was to allow them to return home via the Megarid. Two months later, the Athenians under Myronides invaded Boeotia, and winning the battle of Oenophyta gained control of the whole country except Thebes.
War with the Persians continued, however. In 460 BC, Egypt had revolted under Inarus and Amyrtaeus, who requested aid from Athens. Pericles led 250 ships, originally intended to attack Cyprus, to their aid because it would hurt Persia. Persia's image had already been hurt when it failed to conquer the Greeks and Pericles wanted to further this. After four years, however, the rebellion was defeated by general Megabyzus, who captured the greater part of the Athenian forces. In fact, according to Isocrates, the Athenians and their allies lost some 20,000 men in the expedition. The remainder escaped to Cyrene and thence returned home.
This was Athenians' main (public) reason for moving the treasury of the League from Delos to Athens, further consolidating their control over the League. The Persians followed up their victory by sending a fleet to re-establish their control over Cyprus, and 200 ships were sent out to counter them under Cimon, who returned from ostracism in 451 BC. He died during the blockade of Citium, though the fleet won a double victory by land and sea over the Persians off Salamis.
This battle was the last major one fought against the Persians. Many writers report that a formal peace treaty, known as the Peace of Callias, was formalized in 450 BC, but some writers believe that the treaty was a myth created later to inflate the stature of Athens. However, an understanding was definitely reached, enabling the Athenians to focus their attention on events in Greece proper.
The peace with Persia, however, was followed by further reverses. The Battle of Coronea, in 447 BC, led to the abandonment of Boeotia. Euboea and Megara both revolted, and while the former was restored to its status as a tributary ally, the latter was a permanent loss. The Delian and Peloponnesian Leagues signed a peace treaty, which was set to endure for thirty years. It only lasted until 431 BC, when the Peloponnesian War broke out.
Those who revolted unsuccessfully during the war saw the example made of the Mytilenians, the principal people on Lesbos. After an unsuccessful revolt, the Athenians ordered the death of the entire male population. After some thought, they rescinded this order, and only put to death the leading 1000 ringleaders of the revolt, and redistributed the land of the entire island to Athenian shareholders, who were sent out to reside on Lesbos.
This type of treatment was not reserved solely for those who revolted. Thucydides documents the example of Melos, a small island, neutral in the war, though originally founded by Spartans. The Melians were offered a choice to join the Athenians, or be conquered. Choosing to resist, their town was besieged and conquered; the males were put to death and the women sold into slavery (see Melian dialogue).
The Delian League was never formally turned into the Athenian Empire; but by the start of the Peloponnesian War, only Chios and Lesbos were left to contribute ships, and these states were by now far too weak to secede without support. Lesbos tried to revolt first, and failed completely. Chios, the greatest and most powerful of the original members of the Delian League (save Athens), was the last to revolt, and in the aftermath of the Syracusan Expedition enjoyed a success of several years, inspiring all of Ionia to revolt. Athens was, however, still able to eventually suppress these revolts.
The Athenian Empire was very stable, and only 27 years of war, aided by the Persians and internal strife, were able to defeat it. The Athenian Empire did not stay defeated for long. The Second Athenian Empire, a maritime self-defense league, was founded in 377 BC and was led by Athens; but Athens would never recover the full extent of her power, and her enemies were now far stronger and more varied.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Elliot N. Dorff (born 24 June 1943) is a Conservative rabbi, a professor of Jewish theology at the American Jewish University (formerly the University of Judaism) in California (where he is also Rector), author, and a bio-ethicist.
Dorff is an expert in the philosophy of Conservative Judaism, Bioethics, and acknowledged within the Conservative community as an expert decisor of Jewish law. Dorff was ordained as a rabbi from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1970. He earned a Ph.D in philosophy from Columbia University in 1971.
Dorff is a prolific member of the Rabbinical Assembly's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, and has written many responsa (opinion papers and legal rulings) on many aspects of Jewish law and philosophy. (There is a separate article on Conservative responsa.)
In the spring of 1993, Dorff served on the ethics committee of Hillary Rodham Clinton's Health Care Task Force, and in March 1997 and May 1999, he, along with other rabbis, testified on behalf on the Jewish tradition on the subjects of human cloning and stem cell research before the president's National Bioethics Advisory Commission. In 1999-2000, he served on the U.S. Surgeon General's Task Force to create a Call to Action for responsible sexual behavior, and between 2000-2002 he served on the National Human Resources Protections Advisory Commission, charged with reviewing and revising the federal guidelines on research on human beings. He is now on the California Ethics Advisory Commission for embryonic stem cell research done within the state.
In Los Angeles, he is a member of the Board of Jewish Family Service and has served as its president (2004-2006). He is also a member of the Ethics Committee of UCLA Medical Center and the Jewish Homes for the Aging. He is co-chairman of the "Priest-Rabbi Dialogue" sponsored by the Los Angeles Archdiocese and the Board of Rabbis of Southern California.
Dorff has written over two hundred articles on Jewish ethics, Jewish thought, Jewish law and customhalakhah, and bioethics.
On December 6th, 2006, the law committee accepted a paper by Rabbis Elliot Dorff, Daniel Nevins and Avram Reisner on homosexual marriage and ordination of homosexual rabbis, while it upheld the biblical prohibition on male intercourse.
Elliot Dorff

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Amateur astronomy
Amateur astronomy, a subset of astronomy, is a hobby whose participants enjoy studying celestial objects.
The amateur astronomer is one who does not depend on the field of astronomy as a primary source of income or support, and does not have a professional degree or advanced academic training. Many amateurs are beginners, while others have a high degree in astronomy and often assist and work along side professional astronomers. The term "amateur astronomer" comes from the Latin amātor, meaning '"lover", so "amateur astronomy" means "lover of astronomy".
Amateur astronomy is usually associated with viewing the night sky when most celestial objects and events are visible, but sometimes amateur astronomers also operate during the day for events such as sunspots and solar eclipses. Amateur astronomers often look at the sky using nothing more than their eyes, but common tools for amateur astronomy include portable telescopes and binoculars.
People have studied the sky throughout history in an amateur framework, without any formal method of funding. It is only within about the past century, however, that amateur astronomy has become an activity clearly distinguished from professional astronomy, and other related activities.

Amateur astronomy objectives
Amateur astronomers use a range of instruments to study the sky, depending on a combination of their interests and resources. Methods include simply looking at the night sky with the naked eye, using binoculars, using a variety of telescopes of varying power and quality, as well as additional sophisticated equipment, such as cameras, to study light from the sky in both the visual and non-visual parts of the spectrum. Commercial telescopes are available and used, but in some places it is also common for amateur astronomers to build (or commission the building of) their own custom telescope. Some people even focus on amateur telescope making as their primary interest within the hobby of amateur astronomy.
Although specialised and experienced amateur astronomers tend to acquire more specialised and more powerful equipment, it's not unusual for relatively simple equipment to be preferred for certain tasks. Binoculars, for instance, although generally of lower power than the majority of telescopes, also tend to provide a wider field of view, which is preferable for looking at some objects in the night sky.
Amateur astronomers also use star charts that, depending on experience and intentions, may range from simple planispheres through to detailed maps of very specific areas of the night sky. A range of astronomy software is available and used by amateur astronomers, including software that generates maps of the sky, software to assist with astrophotography, and software to perform various calculations pertaining to astronomical phenomena.
Amateur astronomers often like to keep records of their observations, which may take the form of an observing log. Observing logs typically record details about which objects were observed and when, as well as describing the details that were seen. Sketching is sometimes used within logs, and photographic records of observations have also been used in recent times.

Common tools
Many methods are used in amateur astronomy to locate items in the sky, but most are variations of a few specific techniques.
Star hopping is a method often used by amateur astronomers with low-tech equipment such as binoculars or a manually driven telescope. It involves the use of maps (or memory) to locate known landmark stars, and "hopping" between them. Because of its simplicity, star hopping is a very common method for finding objects that are close to naked-eye stars.
More advanced methods of locating objects in the sky include setting circles, which assist with pointing telescopes to positions in the sky that are known to contain objects of interest, and GOTO telescopes, which are fully automated telescopes that are capable of locating objects on demand (having first been calibrated).
Setting circles are angular measurement scales that can be placed on the two main rotation axes of some telescopes. Since the widespread adoption of digital setting circles, classical engraved setting circles are now specifically identified as "analog setting circles." By knowing the coordinates of an object (usually given as equatorial coordinates), the telescope user can use the setting circles to align the telescope in the appropriate direction before looking through its eyepiece. Computerized setting circles are called "digital setting circles." Although digital setting circles can be used to display a telescope's RA and Dec coordinates, they are not simply a digital read-out of what can be seen on the telescope's analog setting circles. As with go-to telescopes, digital setting circle computers (commercial names include Argo Navis, Sky Commander, and NGC Max) actually contain databases of tens of thousands of celestial objects and projections of planet positions. To find an object, such as globular cluster NGC 6712, one does not need to look up the RA and Dec coordinates in a book, and then move the telescope to those numerical readings. Rather, the object is chosen from the database and arrow markers appear in the display which indicate the direction to move the telescope. The telescope is moved until the distance value reaches zero. When both the RA and Dec axes are thus "zeroed out," the object should be in the eyepiece. The user therefore does not have to go back and forth from some other database (such as a book or laptop) to match the desired object's listed coordinates to the coordinates on the telescope. However, many dscs, and also go-to systems, can work in conjunction with laptop sky programs. Computerized systems provide the further advantage of computing coordinate precession. Whereas printed sources are, by tradition, updated only every fifty years (J1900, J1950, J2000, etc.) computerized sources will calculate the right ascension and declination of the "epoch of date"--literally to the day (J2005, J2007, etc.).
GOTO telescopes have become more popular in recent times as technology has improved and prices have been reduced. With these computer-driven telescopes, the user typically enters the name of the item of interest and the mechanics of the telescope point the telescope towards that item automatically. They have several notable advantages for amateur astronomers intent on research. For example, GOTO telescopes tend to be faster for locating items of interest than star hopping, allowing more time for studying of the object. On the other hand, the necessary complex electronics and mounting systems add an element of cost that could otherwise be utilized for higher quality optics.
Arguably, the increased affordability of GOTO telescopes has also resulted in a new type of beginning amateur astronomer, because GOTO telescopes offer a form of instant gratification, sometimes allowing difficult objects to be found quickly without requiring the experience of learning to find them. About ten years ago there was some debate, usually light-hearted, within the amateur astronomy community about which method is superior. Some astronomers argued that beginning with the lower end of technology and using star hopping techniques is an excellent method of learning the sky, and that a good knowledge of the night sky can be advantageous for people who prefer simpler equipment with less calibration and setup time, and is therefore more versatile. Star hopping involves the use of printed media that is dependent on computer generated sources. The user prints out star maps at home or uses books, atlases, and magazine articles that have computer generated graphics in them to aid in the quest to find an object.
GOTO telescopes, on the other hand, do make the hobby more accessible. They may be preferred by people who are more serious about studying objects, because less time and effort are required for finding objects when they are well prepared. But digital setting circle or go-to systems also provide touring functions whereby the user can set parameters such as magnitude and class of object, and, for example, view a series of planetary nebulae in Cygnus. A user who has discovered that his list of close double stars is impossible to view because of the seeing conditions can select an alternative viewing program within minutes. Many middle-aged and older amateur astronomers discovered that electronic pointing systems not only were convenient but spared them the difficult postures and associated aches and pains that go with pointing a telescope at zenith (with the common straight-through finder) or near to the horizon (on elevated mounts the finder can be out of reach). The explosion of astrophotography, in which a webcam or CCD camera is mounted on a telescope and downloads data to a nearby laptop, further enhanced demand for robotic systems that would point the telescope while the operator could stay seated and set imaging parameters.
All told the market for amateur equipment has moved decisively in the direction of some form of computerized finding assistance. This includes inexpensive digital setting circles for introductory level telescopes ($300 to $1,000), where pointing assistance only is provided, to more sophisticated systems that not only aim the telescope but provide tracking. In the popular Dobson style Newtonian reflectors object tracking is made possible by computers that can keep an object placed in the field of view by calculating the gear motions required in both the altitude and azimuth axes. The advantage of being able to view a planet at high power without having to keep moving the telescope manually to keep it in view has seduced many telescope owners into accepting the additional set-up time and equipment complexity required for computerized systems.
Nonetheless, the unalloyed pleasure and simplicity of a non-computerized telescope continues to have its appeal, and many observers take pleasure in surveying the heavens without electronic guidance.

Common techniques
Scientific research is most often not the main goal for many amateur astronomers, unlike professional astronomy. Work of scientific merit is possible, however, and many amateurs successfully contribute to the knowledge base of professional astronomers. Astronomy is sometimes promoted as one of the few remaining sciences for which amateurs can still contribute useful data. To recognise this, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific annually gives Amateur Achievement Awards for significant contributions to astronomy by amateurs.
The majority of scientific contributions by amateur astronomers are in the area of data collection. In particular, this applies where large numbers of amateur astronomers with small telescopes are more effective than the relatively small number of large telescopes that are available to professional astronomers. Several organisations, such as the Center for Backyard Astrophysics [1], exist to help coordinate these contributions.
Amateur astronomers often contribute toward activities such as monitoring the changes in brightness of variable stars, helping to track asteroids, and observing occultations to determine both the shape of asteroids and the shape of the terrain on the apparent edge of the Moon as seen from Earth. With more advanced equipment, but still cheap in comparison to professional setups, amateur astronomers can measure the light spectrum emitted from astronomical objects, which can yield high-quality scientific data if the measurements are performed with due care. A relatively recent for amateur astronomers is searching for overlooked phenomena (e.g. Kreutz Sungrazers) in the vast libraries of digital images and other data captured by Earth and space based observatories, much of which is available over the Internet.
In the past and present, amateur astronomers have played a major role in discovering new comets. Recently however, funding of projects such as the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research and Near Earth Asteroid Tracking projects has meant that most comets are now discovered by automated systems, long before it is possible for amateurs to see them.


John Dobson perfected the Dobsonian telescope mount that revolutionised the building of large-apature Newtonian reflector telescopes for faint-object observing.
William D. Ferris discovered several comets and was the first to observe near-Earth objects.
Robert Fried founded the Braeside Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, in the 1960s.
Will Hay, the famous comedian and actor, who discovered a white spot on Saturn.
David H. Levy discovered or co-discovered 22 comets including Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, the most for any individual.
Leslie Peltier was a prolific discoverer of comets and well-known observer of variable stars.
Russell W. Porter founded Stellafane and has been referred to as the "founder of amateur telescope making."
Isaac Roberts was the first to apply photography to astronomy.
Leon Stuart photographed a Lunar flare on November 15, 1953.
Amateur Thomas Bopp shared the discovery of comet Hale-Bopp in 1997 with unemployed PhD physicist Alan Hale.
Sir Patrick Moore, presenter of the BBC's long-running The Sky at Night and author of many books on astronomy.
Suraj Manjunath discovered several near-Earth comets.
Robert Owen Evans is a minister of the Uniting Church in Australia and an amateur astronomer who holds the all-time record for visual discoveries of supernovae. See also

The Stars: A New Way to See Them, by Hans Augusto Rey, ISBN 0-395-08121-1
NightWatch: An Equinox Guide to Viewing the Universe, by Terence Dickinson, ISBN 0-920656-89-7
The Backyard Astronomer's Guide, by Terence Dickinson and Alan Dyer, ISBN 0-921820-11-9
Turn Left at Orion, by Guy Consolmagno, ISBN 0-521-34090-X
Skywatching, by David H. Levy and John O'Byrne, ISBN 0-7835-4751-X
Seeing in the Dark: How Backyard Stargazers Are Probing Deep Space and Guarding Earth from Interplanetary Peril, by Timothy Ferris, ISBN 0-684-86579-3
The Complete Manual Of Amateur Astronomy, by P. Clay Sherrod
Burnham's Celestial Handbook: An Observer's Guide to the Universe Beyond the Solar System (3 vols.), by Robert Burnham, Jr., (Vol 1) ISBN 0-486-23567-X, (Vol 2) ISBN 0-486-23568-8, (Vol 3) ISBN 0-486-23673-0

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Pockerley Waggonway
A typical North Eastern Railway (NER) station is reconstructed at Beamish. The station itself came from Rowley just a few miles from Beamish Museum; it was demolished and reconstructed at Beamish in 1975. In the yard there are a variety of wagons on display; under the footbridge the line goes down past the town ending in an open area beyond Barclays Bank, a distance of 1/4 mile. The line used to connect the railway station and colliery sidings until 1991 when the line between them was pulled up so that a tram line could be laid. Sometimes there is a working steam locomotive at the station, hauling the wagons up and down the line. The latest locomotives were Andrew Barclay No 22 from the Bowes Railway and Andrew Barclay W.S.T. also from the Bowes railway.
There used to be a lot of working steam at Beamish station with the NER J21 and Hawthorn Leslie No 14 hauling the restored NER coach and wagons up and down; the working of locomotives ceased in 1995 due to No 14 being at the end of its 10 yr certificate or finance, J21 already having been static since 1984. There was a NER Coach at the station but has now gone to the Tanfield Railway and there is a Regional Museums Store which has a lot of NER stock under cover including wagons and coaches. (Check the Beamish website for more details on running dates.)

The Railway Station
Beamish is home to 6 trams, some of which operate every day on the full track around the museum area.

  • Gateshead Single Decker no. 10 built in 1925. Out of operation for mechanical re-build.
    Sunderland Enclosed Double Decker No 16 built in 1900. In service after a three year restoration.
    Blackpool Open Topper no. 31 built in 1901. In regular service in the summer months at Beamish.
    Newcastle Open Topper no. 114 built in 1901. A unique example and in regular service in the summer months.
    Beamish Single Decker no. 196 built in 1935. In excellent restored condition and used regularly at Beamish.
    Sheffield Open Balcony Double Decker no. 264 built in 1907. Out of service undergoing a major overhaul to its body and mechanics. Beamish MuseumBeamish Museum Tramway

    • Newcastle Double Decker 501 built in 1948. On loan to the Sandtoft Trolleybus Museum as it is too recent to operate at Beamish.
      Keighley Single Decker 12 built in 1924. Undergoing a major restoration. Trolleybuses
      Please note that both of these are replicas.
      Other exhibits include a coal mine where it is possible to take an underground tour of the museum's 'Drift Mine'. The 1855 Colliery Winding Engine can be seen in steam during the summer months; and there are also miners' houses, a chapel and a school.

      • London General Bus DET 720D from the early 20th Century. In regular use on bus services round the museum.
        Daimler Double Decker design from 1913 J2503. In regular use and has been at Beamish the longest. Town

        Black Country Living Museum
        Blists Hill Victorian Town
        National Tramway Museum

Friday, December 21, 2007

MLB 2K7 History
The new iteration features a stunningly lifelike batter/pitcher interface on seventh generation console systems, as well as more detailed models and AI tweaks. Last year's "Inside Edge" also returns, with a tweak in that playing to a player's strengths causes a boost in ability.
Other new features, as published by 2K Sports, include:
Other additions include a ramped up player and manager ejection system, including a minigame in which the player controlling the manager will tap a button to argue with the umpire; in multiplayer, the opponent will take control of the umpire and try to precision tap a button to eject the opponent's manager. A managerial ejection will cause the player's team to be controlled by the CPU MLB 2K7 Gameplay
On June 28, 2007, the Xbox 360 version received an online update, and announced that a line of classic stadiums would be appearing on Xbox Live Marketplace, starting with Stade Olympique for free.

Sportsman's Park, Forbes Field, Griffith Stadium, Shibe Park, Polo Grounds, and Crosley Field for 800 Microsoft Points ($10 USD).
The other three packages offered 2 of each of the above stadiums for 300 Microsoft Points each. Reception
The chiefly alternative rock soundtrack includes the following artists and songs:
(Only 12 of the 21 songs are included on the Playstation 2 and Xbox versions.)

"1970" - The Stooges
"Breed" - Nirvana
"Down" - 311
"Emergency" - Cities in Dust
"Hold on to Your Genre" - Les Savy Fav
"High Five Anxiety" - Nerf Herder
"I Can't Shake It" - Five Horse Johnson
"Insistor" - Tapes 'n Tapes
"Little Girl" - Death From Above 1979
"Man's Ruin" - Greatdayforup
"A Message to You Rudy" - The Specials
"Middle Management" - Bishop Allen
"Mr. Grieves" - Pixies
"Munich" - Editors
"Naïve" - The Jealous Sound
"A Passing Feeling" - The Thermals
"Plan of the Man" - The M's
"The Rat" - The Walkmen
"Set the Speed" - Dixie Witch
"Summertime" *- Sublime
"Woman" - Wolfmother

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The sociological perspective is a particular way of approaching a phenomena common in sociology. It involves maintaining objectivity, not by divesting oneself of values, but by critically evaluating and testing ideas, and accepting what may be surprising or even displeasing based on the evidence. The sociological perspective often assumes that "official" explanations are incomplete or self-serving. It involves a conscious effort to go beyond the obvious and question what is accepted as true or common sense. This is important because common sense assumptions are usually based on very limited observation. Moreover, the premises on which common sense assumptions are based are seldom examined. While sociological research might confirm common sense observation, its broader observation base and theoretical rational provide a stronger basis for conclusions.
The sociological perspective helps us to see general social patterns in the behaviour of particular individuals and offers insights about the social world that extend far beyond explanations that rely on individual quirks and personalities. Essential to the sociological perspective is the sociological imagination. This term, attributed to C. Wright Mills, means "...the vivid awareness of the relationship between experience and the wider society." It means going beyond the individual and understanding how structural forces shape individuals and their action.
The sociological perspective, as a broad way of approaching phenomena, is different to a sociological paradigm, which is a specific set of assumptions that frame a sociologist's theories and findings.

Sociological perspective See also

Sociological imagination
Sociological theory

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

This article is about the Romanian river Jiu. Jiu is also the Chinese word for alcoholic beverages, see: Chinese alcoholic beverage.
Jiu River The Jiu (Latin: Rabon; Hungarian: Zsil) is a river of southern Romania. It is formed near Petroşani by the junction of two branches: the Jiul de Vest and Jiul de Est.
It flows southward through the Romanian counties Hunedoara, Gorj and Dolj before flowing into the Danube a few kilometers upstream from the Bulgarian city of Oryahovo, 331 kilometers from its sources. It has a basin of 10,070 km².


Jiu Valley

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Maurice Greene (composer)
Maurice Greene (August 12, 1696 - December 1, 1755) was an English composer and organist.
Born in London, the son of a clergyman, Greene became a choirboy at St Paul's Cathedral under Jeremiah Clarke and Charles King. He studied the organ under Richard Brind, and after Brind died, Greene became organist at St Paul's.
With the death of William Croft in 1727, Greene became organist at the Chapel Royal, and in 1730 he became professor of music at Cambridge University. In 1735 he was appointed Master of the King's Musick. At his death, Greene was working on the compilation Cathedral Music, which his student and successor as Master of the King's Musick, William Boyce, was to complete. Many items from that collection are still used in Anglican services today.
Greene wrote a good deal of vocal music, both sacred and secular, including the oratorio The Song of Deborah and Barak (1732), settings of sonnets from Edmund Spenser's Amoretti (1739), and a collection of anthems (1743), of which the best-known is Lord, let me know mine end.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Michael Howard QC (born 7 July 1941) is a British politician, a Conservative MP since the 1983 General Election for the constituency of Folkestone and Hythe.

Early Life
Unlike his many Cambridge contemporaries, Howard continued his career at the Bar where he would become a Queen's Counsel in 1982. In June of that year Howard was selected for the constituency of Folkestone and Hythe in succession of the retiring the Sir Albert Costain. He won his seat in the general election of 1983 without difficulty. Howard had previously twice fought and lost the safe Labour seat of Liverpool Edge Hill, in 1966 and 1970 (these early races led to his support for Liverpool F.C.). In the 1970s Howard was a leading advocate of British membership of the Common Market (EEC) and served on the board of the cross-party Britain in Europe group.
Howard was named as co-respondent in the high profile divorce case of 1960s model Sandra Paul, now Sandra Howard. She and Howard subsequently married in 1975; their son Nicholas was born in 1976 and daughter Larissa in 1977.

Member of Parliament
Howard very quickly rose in the ranks of Government, becoming Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Trade and Industry in 1985 with responsibility for regulating the financial dealings of the City of London. This junior post became very important, as he oversaw the Big Bang introduction of new technology in 1986. After the 1987 election he became Minister for Local Government. On behalf of the Government, he accepted the amendment which would become Section 28, and defended its inclusion.
Howard then guided through the House of Commons the Local Government Finance Act 1988. This act brought in Margaret Thatcher's new system of local taxation, officially known as the Community Charge but almost universally nicknamed the poll tax. Howard personally supported the tax and won the respect of Mrs Thatcher for minimising the rebellion against it within the Conservative Party. After a period as Minister for Water and Planning in 1988/89 during which he was responsible for implementing water privatization in England and Wales, Howard was promoted to the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Employment in January 1990 with the resignation of Norman Fowler. Howard subsequently guided through legislation abolishing the closed shop and campaigned vigorously for Mrs Thatcher in the first ballot of the leadership contest in November 1990. He retained his cabinet post under John Major and campaigned against trade-union power during the 1992 general election campaign.
His work in the campaign led to his appointment as Secretary of State for the Environment in the reshuffle after the election. In this capacity he encouraged the United States to participate in the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, but he was soon after appointed Home Secretary in a 1993 reshuffle initiated by the sacking of Norman Lamont. His tenure as Home Secretary was especially notable for his tough approach to crime, which he summed up in the sound bite, "prison works". Howard repeatedly clashed with judges and prison reformers as he sought to clamp down on crime through a series of "tough" measures, such as reducing the right to silence of defendants in their police interviews and at their trials. Under his tenure, recorded crime fell for the first time in over 30 years by a record 18%, a feat achieved neither before or since.

In government
His reputation was dented on 13 May 1997 when a critical inquiry into a series of prison escapes was published. In advance of the publication Howard made statements to assign blame to the prison service. A further controversy came when a television interviewer, Jeremy Paxman, relentlessly asked him the same question (12 times in all, and not the widely believed 14 times) during an edition of the Newsnight programme [3]. Asking whether Howard had intervened when Derek Lewis sacked a prison governor, Paxman asked: "Did you threaten to overrule him?" Howard did not give a direct answer, instead repeatedly saying that he "did not overrule him", and ignoring the "threaten" part of the question.
The BBC subsequently revealed that the repetition of the question was in fact a "filler" to extend the interview, as the next segment of Newsnight was not ready for broadcast. This explanation however must be considered in light of Paxman's use of the same questioning technique with a number of evasive interviewees [4] The interview remains one of the most infamous in broadcasting history. In the longer term its precise impact on Howard's reputation remains disputed. Some suggest that it highlighted his arrogant refusal to answer the question; others suggest that it highlighted his resilience and refusal to be bullied, even by one of Britain's toughest interviewers. However, in the same interview, an incredulous Paxman also asked him: 'do you seriously expect to be leader of your party?'. In a November 2004 interview (see below) Paxman returned to his question from 1997. Mr Howard was surprised, remarking: "Come on Jeremy, are you really going back over that again? As it happens, I didn't. Are you satisfied now?" This was confirmed in 2005, when, under the Freedom of Information Act, the Conservative Party obtained documents proving that Howard did not threaten to overrule Derek Lewis.

Infamous interview on Newsnight
After the 1997 resignation of John Major, Howard and William Hague announced they would be running on the same ticket, with Howard as leader and Hague as Deputy Leader and Party Chairman. However, the day after they agreed this, Hague decided to run on his own. Howard also stood but his campaign was marred by attacks on his record as Home Secretary.
Howard came in last out of five candidates with the support of only twenty-three MPs in the first round of polling for the leadership election. He then withdrew from the race and endorsed the eventual winner William Hague. Howard served as Shadow Foreign Secretary for the next two years but would retire from the Shadow Cabinet in 1999, though remaining an MP.

Michael Howard First attempt to bid Leadership
Six days after the Derek Lewis incident on Newsnight, Ann Widdecombe, his former minister of state in the Home Office, made a statement in the House of Commons about the dismissal of then director of the Prison Service, Derek Lewis, and famously remarked of Howard that "there is something of the night about him", a widely quoted comment that may have contributed to the failure of his 1997 bid for the Conservative Party leadership. The comment was taken by some as a reference to his dour demeanor, which was implied was sinister and almost Dracula-like, and related to his Romanian ancestry. Melanie Phillips felt there was a hint of anti-semitism about the remark.

"Something of the night about him," claims Widdecombe
After the 2001 General Election Howard was recalled to frontline politics when the Conservatives' new leader Iain Duncan Smith appointed him Shadow Chancellor. His performances in the post won him much praise, indeed under his guidance the Conservatives decided to debate the economy on an 'Opposition Day' for the first time in several years. After Duncan Smith was removed from the leadership, Howard was elected unopposed as leader of the party in November 2003. As leader, he faced much less discontent within the party than any of his three predecessors and was seen as a steady hand. He avoided repeating such managerial missteps as Duncan Smith's firing of David Davis as Conservative Party Chairman, and imposed discipline quickly and firmly; he removed the party whip from Ann Winterton following her telling of a racial joke. His performances against Tony Blair at the despatch box were more effective than those of his predecessor as leader. He was perhaps helped in all this by the Conservative Party's exhaustion after thirteen years of party turmoil following Margaret Thatcher's overthrow, years which had left the party more willing to unite and rally round a leader.
In February 2004, Howard called on PM Tony Blair to resign over the Iraq war, for failing to ask "basic questions" regarding WMD claims and misleading Parliament [5]. In July the Conservative leader stated that he would not have voted for the motion that authorised the Iraq war had he known the quality of intelligence information on which the WMD claims were based. At the same time, he said he still believed in the Iraq invasion was right because "the prize of a stable Iraq was worth striving for". [6] His criticism of Blair did not earn Howard sympathies in Washington DC, where President Bush refused to meet him. Karl Rove is reported to have told Howard, "you can forget about meeting the president. Don't bother coming." [7]
Michael Howard was named 2003 Parliamentarian of the Year by The Spectator and Zurich UK. This was in recognition of his performance at the dispatch box in his previous role as Shadow Chancellor.

Leader of Opposition
In November 2004, Newsnight again concentrated on Howard with coverage of a campaign trip to Cornwall and an interview with Jeremy Paxman. The piece, which purported to show that members of the public were unable to identify Howard and that those who recognized him did not support him, was the subject of an official complaint from the Conservative Party. The complaint claimed that the Newsnight team only spoke to people who held opinions against either Michael Howard or the Conservatives, and that Paxman's style was bullying and unnecessarily aggressive.

Crossing swords with Paxman again
In the May 2005 general election Michael Howard's party failed to unseat the Labour Government, although the Conservatives did gain 33 seats -- five from the Liberal Democrats -- and Labour's majority shrank from 167 to 66. The Conservative share of the national vote increased by 0.6% from 2001 and 1.6% from 1997. Commentators pointed to the state of Britain's constituency boundaries coupled with the first past the post British voting system, which together heavily discriminate in favour of the ruling Labour Party. It is estimated that changes proposed by the Boundary Commission for England would result in a gain of 10-20 seats for the Conservatives with no change in the vote.Despite the third consecutive loss, Howard received much praise for the election results, which bought forward strong elections policy on crime, immigration and tax freedom day.
The day after the election, Howard stated in a speech in the newly-gained Conservative seat in Putney that he would not lead the party into the next General Election as he would be "too old", and that he would stand down "sooner rather than later", following a revision of the Conservative leadership electoral process. Despite the election of a third consecutive Labour government, Howard described the election as "the beginning of a recovery" for the Conservative party after Labour's landslide victories in 1997 and 2001.
Howard's own constituency of Folkestone and Hythe had been heavily targeted by the Liberal Democrats as the most sought after prize of their failed "decapitation" strategy of seeking to gain seats from prominent Conservatives. Yet Howard almost doubled his majority to 11,680, whilst the Liberal Democrats saw their vote fall.

Criticism of 2005 campaign
On 23 October 2006, Michael Howard revealed that he had voluntarily been questioned as a potential witness concerning the Cash for Peerages investigation surrounding fundraising and the 2005 election campaign. He is not suspected of any criminal activity.

Cash for Peerages
Despite announcing after the 2005 General Election that he would vacate the role of party leader, Howard performed a substantial reshuffle of the party's front bench on the 10th May in which several rising star MPs were given their first shadow portfolios, including George Osborne and David Cameron. This move cleared the way for David Cameron (who had worked for Howard as Policy Advisor when the latter was Home Secretary) to run for the Conservative Party leadership.
The reforms to the party's election process took a number of months and Howard held power as leader for six months of the new parliament. During that period, he enjoyed a fairly pressure-free time, often making joking comparisons between himself and Tony Blair, both of whom had declared they would not stand at the next General Election. He also oversaw Blair's first parliamentary defeat, when the Conservative Party, the Liberal Democrats and sufficient Labour Party rebels voted against government proposals to extend to 90 days the period that terror suspects could be held for without charge. Howard stood down as leader in December of 2005 and was replaced by David Cameron.

Michael Howard Resignation
Howard announced on 17th March 2006 that he will be standing down as MP for Folkestone and Hythe at the next election, expected to be held in 2009 or 2010 [10]. On February 22nd 2007, Howard became an Honorary Patron of the University Philosophical Society.


Official Opposition Shadow Cabinet (United Kingdom)