CONFUCIUS – THE MOST INFLUENTIAL CHINESE PHILOSOPHER

The Chinese teacher and philosopher Confucius was the founder of the school of philosophy known as the Ju or Confucianism, which is still very influential in China. He was born on 551 B.C.E in Tuo, China.

INFO OF HIS LIFE

Confucius is the Latinized name of K’ung Fu-tzu (Great Master K’ung). His original name was K’ung Ch’iu; he is also known as K’ung Chung-ni. The most detailed traditional account of Confucius’s life is contained in the Records of the Historian (Shih chi) by Ssu-ma Ch’ien, who lived from 145 B.C.E. to 86 B.C.E. Many modern scholars have dismissed this biography as only legend. Nevertheless, from this manuscript one can reconstruct a satisfactory outline of the philosopher’s life and influence.

According to the Records of the Historian, Confucius was a descendant of a branch of the royal house of Shang, the dynasty (a family of rulers) that ruled China prior to the Chou, and a dynasty which ruled China from around 1122 B.C.E. to 221 B.C.E. His family, the K’ung, moved to the small state of Lu, located in the modern province of Shantung in northeastern China.

It was believed that Confucius’s father divorced his first wife at an advanced age, because she had borne him only daughters and one disfigured son. He then married a fifteen-year-old girl from the Yen clan, who gave birth to Confucius. Ssu-ma Ch’ien refers to the relationship as a “wild union,” which very possibly indicates that Confucius was an illegitimate child, or a child born out of wedlock.

In the Analects, Confucius’s book of teachings, he writes that during his youth he was poor and was forced to acquire many different skills. It is clear that even though the fortunes of his family had declined, he was no commoner. Confucius unquestionably belonged to the aristocratic (ruling) class known as the shih. In the time of Confucius most shih served as court officials, scholars, and teachers. Confucius’s first occupation appears to have been as keeper of the Lu granary. Later he worked as supervisor of the fields. Both were low positions but consistent with his shih status.

CAREER AS A TEACHER

It is not known exactly when Confucius began his teaching career, but it does not appear to have been much before the age of thirty. In 518 B.C.E. he is said to have met the famous teacher Lao Tzu (sixth century B.C.E. ), who reportedly bluntly criticized Confucius for his stuffiness and arrogance. Confucius eventually returned to Lu around 515 B.C.E. For several years after his return he does not appear to have accepted a governmental position. Instead it appears he spent most of his time studying and teaching, gathering a large number of students around him. Although one can only guess about the school’s exact course work, it undoubtedly included instruction in ritual, music, history, and poetry.

Around 498 B.C.E. , Confucius decided to leave his home in Lu and embark on a long journey throughout eastern China. He was accompanied by several of his disciples (followers). They wandered throughout the eastern states of Wei, Sung, and Ch’en and at various times had their lives threatened. Confucius was almost assassinated (killed) in Sung. On another occasion he was mistaken for the adventurer Yang Hu and was arrested and held until his true identity became known.

Confucius was received with great respect by the rulers of the states he visited, and he even seems to have received occasional payments. He spent much of his time developing his ideas on the art of government, as well as continuing his teaching. He acquired a large following, and the solidification of the Confucian school probably occurred during these years. Not all of his disciples followed him on his travels. Several of them actually returned to Lu and assumed positions with the Chi clan. It may have been through their influence that in 484 B.C.E. Confucius was invited back to Lu.

FINAL YEARS

Confucius was warmly received in Lu, but there is no indication that he was given a responsible position. Little is known about his last years, although this would have been a logical time for him to work on the many texts and documents he supposedly gathered on his journey. Much of his time was devoted to teaching, and he seems to have remained more or less distant from political affairs. This was an unhappy period for Confucius. His only son died about this time; his favorite disciple, Yen Hui, died the very year of his return to Lu; and in 480 B.C.E. another disciple, Tzu-lu, was killed in battle. Confucius felt all of these losses deeply, and his sadness and frustration must have been intensified by the realization that his political ideas had found no support among the rulers of his own state. Confucius died in 479 B.C.E in Qufu, China. His disciples conducted his funeral and observed a mourning period for him.

CONFUCIUS’S TEACHINGS

Although we cannot be certain that Confucius wrote any of the works he is credited with, it is still possible to know something about the general nature of his philosophy. Shortly after his death his disciples compiled a work known as the Lun yü, commonly translated as the Analects but more accurately rendered as the Edited Conversations. This work consists of conversations between Confucius, his students, and an occasional ruler. The primary emphasis of the Lun yü is on political philosophy. Confucius taught that the primary task of the ruler was to achieve the welfare (well-being) and happiness of the people of his state. To accomplish this aim, the ruler first had to set a moral (good character) example by his own conduct. This example would in turn influence the people’s behavior.

Confucius is the first Chinese thinker to introduce concepts that became fundamental not only to Confucian philosophy but to Chinese philosophy in general. The most important of these are jen (benevolence), yi (propriety, or being proper), and li (ritual, or ceremony). Confucius believed that the chün-tzu, or “gentleman,” must set the moral example for others in society to follow. In the Lun yü jen, what has been translated as humaneness or benevolence (being kind) is a quality a chün-tzu should develop and attempt to encourage in others. Li is considered the rules and ritual that are observed in religious and nonreligious ceremonies and, as applied to the chün-tzu, composed rules of behavior. Yi represents what is right and proper in a given situation. The chün-tzu, by observing the ritual and because of his good nature, always knows what is right.

Confucius was basically a humanist and one of the greatest teachers in Chinese history. His influence on his immediate disciples was deep. His students continued to explain his theories until, in the first Han dynasty (206 B.C.E. –8 C. E.), the theories became the basis of the state ideology, the body of ideas reflecting the social needs of a culture.

JESUS CHRIST – THE SAVIOUR

It is likely that Jesus was born not later than 4 B.C., the year of King Herod’s death. Jesus’ crucifixion was probably in A.D. 29 or 30. (The term Christ is actually a title, not a proper name; it comes from the Greek Christos, meaning the anointed one; in the Bible it is the Greek equivalent for the Hebrew word Messiah.) Information about Jesus is in some ways scant, in other ways plentiful. Although such ancient historians as Tacitus and Suetonius mention him, as does the Jewish Talmud, the only detailed information comes from the New Testament. There are a few other ancient accounts of Jesus’ life, called Apocryphal Gospels because of their poor historical reliability; and in 1946 a Gospel of Thomas, actually a collection of sayings attributed to Jesus, was discovered in Upper Egypt. But none of these sources adds significantly to the New Testament. The letters of Paul are the earliest biblical records that tell about Jesus. But the four Gospels by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, although written later, used sources that in some cases go back very close to the time of Jesus.EARLY YEARS

Jesus first came to general attention at the time of his baptism, just prior to his public ministry. He was known to those around him as a carpenter of Nazareth, a town in Galilee, and as the son of Joseph (John 6:42). Matthew and Luke report that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, a town near Jerusalem, famous in Jewish history as the city of David. They further report that he was miraculously born to the Virgin Mary, although they both curiously trace his Davidic ancestry through Joseph, to whom Mary was betrothed.

Little is known of Jesus’ childhood and youth. But about the year A.D. 28 or 29 his life interacted with the career of John the Baptist, a stormy prophet-preacher who emerged from the wilderness and called on the people to repent and be baptized. A controversial character, he was soon jailed and killed by Herod Antipas, the puppet ruler of Galilee under the Roman Empire. Jesus heard John’s preaching and joined the crowds for baptism in the Jordan River. Following his baptism Jesus went into the desert for prayer and meditation.

It is clear that Jesus had some consciousness of a divine calling, and in the desert he thought through its meaning. The Gospels report that he was tempted there by Satan as to what kind of leader Jesus would choose to be – a miracle worker, a benefactor who would bring people what they wanted, a king wielding great power. Jesus accepted a harder and less popular mission, that of the herald of the kingdom of God.GALILEAN MINISTRY

Returning from the desert, Jesus began preaching and teaching in Galilee. His initial proclamation was similar to John’s: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15; Revised Standard Version). This message was both frightening and hopeful. It told people not to cling to the past, that God would overthrow old institutions and ways of life for a wonderful new future. This future would be especially welcomed by the poor, the powerless, the peacemakers. It would be threatening to the rich, the powerful, the cruel, and the unjust.

Jesus attracted 12 disciples to follow him. They were mainly fishermen and common workers. Of the 12 it seems that Peter, James, and John were closest to Jesus. Peter’s home in Capernaum, a city on the Sea of Galilee, became a headquarters from which Jesus and the disciples moved out into the countryside. Sometimes he talked to large crowds. Then he might withdraw with the 12 to teach only them. Or he might go off by himself for long periods of prayer. On one occasion he sent out the disciples, two by two, to spread the message of God’s kingdom.

THE MIRACLES

The records concerning Jesus report many miracles. Through the years there have been great disagreements about these reports. For centuries most people in civilizations influenced by the Bible not only believed literally in the miracles but took them as proofs that Jesus had a supernatural power. Then, in an age of rationalism and skepticism, men often doubted the miracles and denounced the reports as fraudulent.

Today, partly because of psychosomatic medicine and therapy, people are more likely to believe in the possibilities of faith healing. The Bible candidly reports that on some occasions, when people had no faith, Jesus could do no mighty works. People were especially skeptical in his home-town, where they had known him as a boy (Mark 6:1-6). However, usually the Gospels report the healings as signs of the power of God and His coming kingdom.

TEACHINGS OF JESUS

Jesus taught people in small groups or large gatherings; his sayings are reported in friendly conversations or in arguments with those who challenged him. At times he made a particularly vivid comment in the midst of a dramatic incident. The starting point of his message, as already noted, was the announcement of the coming of the kingdom of God. Since this kingdom was neither a geographical area nor a system of government, it might be better to translate the phrase as “God’s reign.”

The rest of Jesus’ teaching followed from this message about the reign of God. At times he taught in stories or parables that described the kingdom or the behavior of people who acknowledged God’s reign. Perhaps the most famous of his many parables are those of the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan. At times he pronounced ethical commandments detailing the demands upon men of a loving and righteous God. At times Jesus taught his disciples to pray: the words that he gave them in the Lord’s Prayer are often used today. Jesus’ teaching was a subtle teaching, and often it was directed to the needs of a particular person in a specific time and place. Therefore almost any summary can be challenged by statements of Jesus that point in an opposite direction. One way to explore the dynamics of his teachings is to investigate some of its paradoxes. Five are worth mentioning here.First, Jesus combined an utter trust in God with a brute realism about the world. On the one hand, he told men not to be anxious about life’s problems, because God knows their needs and will look out for them. So if men trust God and seek His kingdom, God will look out for the rest of their needs. Yet, on the other hand, Jesus knew well that life can be tough and painful. He asked men to give up families and fortunes, to accept persecution out of faithfulness to him, thus promising them a hard life.Second, Jesus taught both ethical rigor and forgiveness. He demanded of men more than any other prophet or teacher had asked. He criticized the sentimentalists who call him “Lord, Lord” but do not obey him, and he told men that, if they are to enter God’s kingdom, their righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, who made exceedingly conscientious efforts to obey God’s laws. He told men not to be angry or contemptuous with others, not to lust after women, and not to seek revenge but to love their enemies. Yet this same Jesus understood human weakness. He was known as a friend of sinners who warned men not to make judgments of others whom they consider sinful. He forgave men their sins and told about a God who seeks to save sinners.

Third, Jesus represented a kind of practicality that offends the overly spiritual-minded; but he also espoused an expectation of a future world (God’s reign) that will make the attractions of this world unimportant. As a worldly man, he wanted to relieve hunger and sickness. He wanted no escape from responsibility into worship. He taught that sometimes a man would better leave church and go to undo the wrongs he has done. But with this attention to the world was coupled the recognition that men are foolish to seek security and happiness in wealth or possessions. They would do better to give away their riches and to accept persecution. Jesus promised – or warned – that God’s reign will reverse many of the values of this world.

Fourth, Jesus paradoxically combined love and peace with conflict. His followers called him the Prince of Peace, because he sought to reconcile men to God and each other. He summed up all the commandments in two: love for God and love for men. He refused to retaliate against those who had harmed him but urged his followers to forgive endlessly – not simply seven times but seventy times seven. Yet he was not, as some have called him, “gentle Jesus, meek and mild” he attacked evil fearlessly, even in the highest places.

Fifth, Jesus promised joy, freedom, and exuberant life; yet he expected sacrifice and self-denial. He warned men not to follow him unless they were ready to suffer. But he told people to rejoice in the wonders of God’s reign, to celebrate the abundant life that he brings.

VIEWS OF HIS CONTEMPORARIES

To some people Jesus was a teacher or rabbi. The healing ministry did not necessarily change that conception of him, because other rabbis were known as healers. But Jesus was a teacher of peculiar power, and he was sometimes thought to be a prophet.

Jesus certainly was a herald of the kingdom of God. But then a question arises: was he simply talking about God and his reign, or did he have some special relationship to that kingdom? Those who heard Jesus were frequently perplexed. In some ways he was a modest, even humble man. Instead of making claims for himself or accepting admiration, he turned people’s thoughts from himself to God. But at other times he asked immense loyalty of his disciples. And he astonished people by challenging time-honored authority – even the authority of the Bible – with his new teachings. He was so audacious as to forgive sins, although men said that only God could do that.

There was also the question whether it was possible that Jesus was the Messiah. For generations some of the Jewish people had hoped that God would send a king, an heir of the great King David of past history, who would undo the oppression that the Jews suffered, would reestablish the glorious old kingdom, and would bring justice. Some expected even more – that a divine savior would come and inaugurate a radical transformation of life.

Various reports in the New Testament lead to various possible conclusions. Today some scholars think that Jesus never claimed to be the Messiah. Others feel that he clearly did. But there was one occurrence that is especially interesting. Once, in the neighborhood of Caesarea Philippi, a city north of the Sea of Galilee (Mark 8:27-30), Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do men say that I am?” They gave various answers: John the Baptist, Elijah, or another of the prophets. Then Jesus asked, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “You are the Christ [Messiah].” Jesus’ answer was curious, for “He charged them to tell no one about him.”

Why, if he accepted the designation, did he want it kept a secret? One persuasive answer often given is that Jesus was radically revising the traditional idea of the Messiah. If the people thought he was the promised Messiah, they would demand that he live up to their expectations. He had no intention of becoming a conquering king who would overthrow Rome.

Jesus, who knew the Old Testament well, had read the Messianic prophecies. He had also read the poems of the suffering servant in Second Isaiah, the unknown prophet whose writings are now in Isaiah, chapters 40-55. These tell of a servant of God and man, someone despised and rejected, who would bear the cost of the sins of others and bring healing to them. It may be that Jesus combined in his own mind the roles of the Messiah and the suffering servant. The undeniable fact is that his life and character were of such a sort that they convinced his followers he was the Messiah who, through his suffering love, could bring men a new experience of forgiveness and new possibilities for human and social life.

PASSION WEEK

Soon after Peter’s confession Jesus led his disciples to Jerusalem in an atmosphere of gathering crisis. On the day now known as Palm Sunday he entered the city, while his disciples and the crowds hailed him as the Son of David, who came in the name of the Lord. The next day Jesus went to the Temple and drove out the money changers and those who sold pigeons for sacrifices, accusing them of turning “a house of prayer” into a “den of robbers.” This act was a direct challenge to the small group of priests who were in charge of the Temple, and they clearly resented it. During the following days he entered into controversies with the priests and authoritative teachers of religion. Their anger led them to plot to get rid of him, but they hesitated to do anything in the daytime, since many people were gathered for the feast of Passover.

On Thursday night Jesus had a meal with his disciples. This meal is now reenacted by Christians in the Lord’s Supper, the Mass, or the Holy Communion. After the meal Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane, where he prayed alone. His prayer shows that he expected a conflict, that he still hoped that he might avoid suffering, but that he expected to do God’s will. There into the garden one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, led the priests and the temple soldiers, who seized Jesus. That same night Jesus’ captors took him to a trial before the temple court, the Sanhedrin. Several evidences indicate that this was an illegal trial, but the Sanhedrin declared that Jesus was a blasphemer deserving death. Since at that time only the Roman overlords could carry out a death sentence, the priests took Jesus to Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea.

Pilate apparently was reluctant to condemn Jesus, since it was doubtful that Jesus had disobeyed any Roman laws. But as the ruler of a conquered province, Pilate was suspicious of any mass movements that might become rebellions. And he also preferred to keep the religious leaders of the subjugated people as friendly as possible. Jesus, as a radical intruder into the conventional system, and believing that obedience to God sometimes required defiance of human authority, represented a threat to both the Sanhedrin and the Romans. Pilate thus ordered the crucifixion of Jesus. Roman soldiers beat him, put a crown of thorns on his head, and mocked him as a fraudulent king. Then they took him to the hill Golgotha (“the Skull”), or Calvary, and killed him as an insurrectionist. Pilate ordered a sign placed above his head: “King of the Jews.” Among the “seven last words,” or sayings, from the cross are two quotations from Jewish psalms, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Psalms 22:1) and “Into thy hands I commit my spirit” (Psalms 31:5); and the especially memorable “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). That same day (now known as Good Friday) Jesus was buried in a cavelike tomb.

THE RESURRECTION

On Sunday morning (now celebrated as Easter), the Gospels report, Jesus rose from the dead and met his disciples. Others immediately rejected the claim of the resurrection, and the controversy has continued through the centuries.

The New Testament states very clearly that the risen Christ did not appear to everybody. “God … made him manifest; not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead” (Acts 10:40-41). Among those who saw Jesus were Cephas (Peter), the 12 disciples, “more than five hundred brethren at one time,” James, “all the apostles,” and finally Paul. Other records tell of appearances to Mary Magdalene and other women and of a variety of meetings with the disciples both in the Jerusalem area and in Galilee. The four Gospels all say that the tomb of Jesus was empty on Easter morning, but Paul never mentions the empty tomb. None of the records ever tells of an appearance of the risen Christ to anyone who had not been a follower of Jesus or (like Paul) had not been deeply disturbed by him.

The evidence is very clear that the followers of Jesus were absolutely convinced of his resurrection. The experience of the risen Jesus was so overwhelming that it turned their despair into courage. Even though it might have been easier, and certainly would have been safer, to regard Jesus as dead, the disciples spread the conviction that he had risen, and they persisted in telling their story at the cost of persecution and death. Furthermore they were sure that their experiences of Jesus were not private visions; rather, as in the statement quoted above, they “ate and drank with him.” The faith in the resurrection (and later the ascension) of Jesus, despite differences in interpretation and detail, is a major reason for the rise and propagation of the Christian faith.

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DEBORAH GIST – THE COMMISSIONER OF RIDE

Deborah A. Gist, who taught and served directly in schools for more than a decade early in her career, began her service as the Rhode Island Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education on July 1, 2009.Previously, she served as State Superintendent of Education in the District of Columbia, beginning in June 2007. As the first state superintendent of education in the District, she was responsible for transitioning all state-level education functions to the newly formed office of the state superintendent of education and for putting into effect the accountability systems of the federal No Child Left Behind education law.

As state superintendent of education, Gist created new, progressive educator-certification polices for teachers and school administrators, allowing school districts and nonprofit organizations to apply to certify educators, and she enacted new standards for teacher-preparation programs to improve quality, expand opportunity, and encourage innovation. Gist worked with the first state board of education in the District to transition its role to that of a policy-setting body during its first year of existence, and she developed many important state-level education policies, including standards for health and physical education, world languages, arts education, and early-childhood learning.

Before taking on the role as State Superintendent, Gist served for three years as the state education officer in the District. In that role, she restored the confidence of Congress in the Tuition Assistance Grants program, resulting in a federal funding increase of more than 100 percent for a program that now serves more than 5,000 college students in the District each year. She also oversaw dramatic improvements in much-maligned child-nutrition programs in the District, including the Summer Food Service program, which was subsequently named the best-performing summer-food program in America for four consecutive years.

Gist began her career in education 21 years ago, as a teacher in the Ft. Worth, Texas, elementary schools, where she focused on literacy education and applied learning. She later taught in Tampa, Florida, where she founded and directed a center on environmental education and later conceived, designed, and initiated Hillsborough Reads, which served families in 108 elementary schools in Hillsborough County. She won “Teacher of the Year” honors at her schools in both Ft. Worth and Tampa.

In addition to spending 10 years serving directly in schools, Gist was a senior policy analyst at the U.S. Department of Education. She advised the secretary and deputy secretary on top issues, analyzed proposed policy initiatives, and conducted research and feasibility studies. Gist also served as the marketing and development director of the Discovery Creek Children’s Museum, in Washington, and she later worked for the Office of the Mayor, in Washington, as the executive director of the office on volunteerism and service programs, Serve DC. While in Washington, Gist served as a volunteer mentor and a board member for Mentors, Inc.

Gist earned a master’s degree in public administration from the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, where she was also selected as a Kennedy Fellow and received the Littauer Fellowship for academic excellence and community service. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in early-childhood education from the University of Oklahoma and a Master of Arts in elementary education, with an emphasis in curriculum, from the University of South Florida. Gist became a certified public manager, following successful completion of a joint program with the District of Columbia government and the George Washington University. In 2008, she completed a fellowship with the Broad Academy for Superintendents, which prepares talented leaders to take on executive leadership roles in urban education.

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MOUSAVI MIR HOSSEIN – THE IRANIAN REVOLUTIONIST

Mousavi Mir Hossein, born on 2nd March 1942 is an Iranian politician, painter, architect who served as the fifth and last Prime Minister of Iran from 1981 to 1989. He was the last prime minister in Iran before the constitutional changes which removed the post of prime minister. Before that, he was the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He is currently the president of Iranian Academy of Arts. He is also a member of the Expediency Discernment Council and the High Council of Cultural Revolution, but he has not been participating in their meetings for a long time which is interpreted by political analysts and commentators as a sign of his disapproval. Mousavi holds a Masters degree in Architecture from Shahid Beheshti University (melli). In the early years of the revolution, Mousavi was the editor-in-chief of the official newspaper of the Islamic Republic Party, the Jomhouri-e Eslami (Islamic Republic) newspaper.

Mir-Hossein Mousavi is well-remembered, incredibly respected and praised by many Iranians across the political spectrum for his handling of Iran’s economy and protecting the country whilst at war with Iraq during his premiership. His strong commitment to Social Justice and Equality is well-known and is regarded to be at the core of his political ideology, which influenced policy-Making during his premiership. He pioneered the Coupon/vouchers-based economy during his premiership which resulted in a fair distribution of goods among people at the very crucial time of the war with Iraq. The economy was weakening day by day due to international sanctions by western powers who all backed Iraq during the war and demeed Iran as a threat towards regional hegemony.

Mousavi refused to run for president in the 1997 elections, which caused the reformists to turn to his former cabinet minister, then a little-known cleric, Mohammad Khatami, who won in a landslide. One of the memorable tactics of the 1997 Presidential Election Campaign was the posters containing Khatami’s picture alongside Mousavi and his support for Khatami’s bid, which is regarded by commentators to be the cause of the enormous support among working class Iranians that Khatami enjoyed. Mousavi’s wife, Zahra Rahnavard, explained in an interview that the reason for him not running in the 1997 elections was discouraging messages from higher officials, a statement which possibly hints at the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and/or the then President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

During Khatami’s administration, he served as the Senior Adviser to the President. He was considered as the possible leading candidate of the reformist alliance to run in the Iranian presidential election, 2005. But he finally declined the offer of certain parties in the reformist alliance on October 12, 2004, after a meeting with President Mohammad Khatami and the two other major members of the moderate Association of Combatant Clerics, Mehdi Karroubi and Mohammad Mousavi-Khoiniha.

After 20 years of political silence, on March 9, 2009 he announced his bid to run in the 2009 Iranian Presidential Election, which has been since welcomed by many Iranians who still recall his time as Prime Minister. His intention to contest the upcoming Presidential election in June has been immensely welcomed by Trade Unions, Labour associations, grassroot activists on both sides of the political aisle and working class Iranians who feel being neglected for far too long by different administrations. Mousavi is well remembered by many Iranians for managing the country during the 1980-88 war with Iraq, and very effectively steering the country out of an economic meltdown. He has stated that his main goals are to institutionalise social justice, equality and fairness, freedom of expression, rooting out corruption as well as to speed up Iran’s pending process of privatization and thus move Iran away from what he calls “an alms-based economy”. Presidential hopeful Mousavi poses a serious pro-reform challenge to the country’s hard-line establishment and the current ultra-conservative president Ahmadinejad and has often criticized his economic mismanagement, stating that when Iran “was making profits from high oil prices, had he (Ahmadinejad) ever considered a situation when prices would fall?”.

Mousavi’s candidacy as a strong opportunity to unseat the current hard-line President Ahmadinejad, as he has lost popularity even among conservatives because of his handling of the faltering economy, evaporation of civil liberties and the disastrous state of the foreign policy, as some Iranians believe that his tough anti-U.S. and anti-Israeli rhetoric has worsened Iran’s isolation and standing in the world.

POLITICAL POSTS

  • Member of Central Campaign of Islamic Republican Party (1979–1981)
  • Head of Political Office of Islamic Republican Party (1980–1981)
  • Editor-in-Chief of Islamic Republican Newspaper (1981)
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs (1981)
  • President of Council of Cultural Revolution (1981)
  • Prime Minister of Iran (1981–1989)
  • President of Mostazafen Foundation of Islamic Revolution (1981–1989)
  • President of Economy Council (1982–1989)
  • Political adviser of president Hashemi Rafsanjani (1989–1997)
  • Senior adviser of president Mohammad Khatami (1997–2005)
  • Member of Expediency Discernment Council (1989-Present)
  • Member of Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution (1996-Present)
  • President of Iranian Academy of Arts (2000–2009)
  • Leader of Green Movement and The Green Path of Hope (2009-Present)

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BARACK OBAMA – FIRST AFRO PRESIDENT OF AMERICA

Barack Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on August 4, 1961 to a Kenyan father and an American mother. Obama’s parents, Barack Obama Sr. and Ann Dunham met while studying at the University of Hawaii. Obama spent his early years in Honolulu before moving to Indonesia at the age of six. Obama’s parents separated when he was two years old. His mother later married Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian. The family moved to Jakarta in 1967.

After staying for four years in Indonesia, Obama returned to Honolulu to study at the Punahou school. He studied at the Occidental College in Los Angeles for two years before moving to the Columbia University in New York City. Obama graduated from the Columbia University in 1983 with a major in Political Science and a specialization in International Relations.

After his graduation, Obama worked at the Business International Corporation and the New York Public Interest Research Group. In 1985, he moved to Chicago to work as a community organizer. Later, in 1988, Obama joined the Harvard Law School. He went on to become the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. He graduated from the law school in 1991.

Barack Obama met Michelle Robinson in 1989, whom he married in 1992. Michelle and Barack have two daughters. Obama played several roles professionally between 1993 and 2004. He worked as a lawyer for the law firm, David, Miner, Barnhill & Galland. He also worked as a part-time lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School from 1993 to 2004; he taught constitutional law at the law school. Obama also served as a board member at the Woods Fund of Chicago, a philanthropic organization.

In 1996, Obama was elected to the Illinois senate. He was elected again in 1998 and 2002. In 2000, he lost a primary for the United States House of Representatives. In 2003, Obama was appointed the chairman of the Illinois Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee. Obama became a United States Senator in late 2004 to become the fifth Afro-American Senator in history. He secured 70% votes.

In 1991, while being in-charge of a voter registration drive in Chicago, Obama began writing a book of memoirs that was later published in 1995 as Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. Obama wrote another book later that was published in 2006. The book, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream went on to become a part of the New York Times Best Seller list.

Once elected into the state Senate of Illinois, Obama took deep interest in reforms and policies, making and changing some consequently. He initiated the requirement of mandatorily videotaping interrogations in cases of homicide. He enthusiastically participated in creating the Earned Income Tax Credit program for state, meant for helping people in the low-income groups. He went on to initiate reforms in the fields of healthcare and childcare. An interesting law that came into being because of him was the law to monitor racial profiling. It became mandatory to note the race of the drivers that are detained by the state police.

Following his election into the United States Senate, Obama showed extreme interest in immigration reforms and border security improvements. He became a co-sponsor of the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act; the act was introduced by John McCain, his Republican rival who ran for the United States Presidential post. A year later, Obama also favored another security bill that later became the Secure Fence Act.

Obama, in association with Tom Coburn, brought the Coburn-Obama Transparency Act into being; the act made the government expenditure transparent via a website called the USAspending.gov. Also, in association with the Republican, Richard Lugar, a Lugar-Obama program went on to make additions to the existing Nunn-Lugar cooperative threat reduction concept. In 2007, Obama, in association with Senator Russ Feingold, brought into being the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act. He later introduced the Iraq War De-Escalation Act of 2007. Last year in February, he declared that he will be running for the post of the President of the United States. He has showed his dislike to negative campaigning. Obama has been advocating an end to the war in Iraq, a universal health care mechanism and increased energy independence as his most important agendas in his manifesto.

Obama has surprised his critics by raising enormous amount of money through his campaigns. In January this year, his campaign raised 36.8 million US dollars, the highest amount raised ever in the Democratic primaries. In the first six months of his campaign last year, 58 million US dollars were raised, breaking earlier records. Following a series of hate mail sent to Obama, the US Secret Service instated special protection for Obama. “Fired up! Ready to go!” is a cry doing the rounds at Obama’s campaigns. Barack Obama has been voted as 44th president of the USA. He won the election battle against John McCain. He is the first afro-american president. Obama has been dubbed as the most liberal Senator in his political life. In his personal life, he plays basketball and claims to be a good poker player.

During his presidential transition, President-elect Obama announced that he would retain the incumbent Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, in his Cabinet. On February 27, 2009, Obama declared that combat operations would end in Iraq within 18 months. His remarks were made to a group of Marines preparing for deployment to Afghanistan. Obama said, “Let me say this as plainly as I can: By August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end.” The drawdown is scheduled to be completed by August 2010, decreasing troops levels from 142,000 while leaving a transitional force of 35,000 to 50,000 in Iraq until the end of 2011. The plan is to transition the mission of the remaining troops from combat operations to counter-terrorism and the training, equipping, and advising of Iraqi security forces.

The 2009 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to U.S. President Barack Obama “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” The Norwegian Nobel Committee announced the award on October 9, 2009, citing Obama’s promotion of nuclear nonproliferation and a “new climate” in international relations fostered by Obama, especially in reaching out to the Muslim world. Obama is the fourth U.S. President to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, after Theodore Roosevelt (1906) and Woodrow Wilson (1919)—both of whom received the award during their terms—and Jimmy Carter (2002), who received the award 21 years after leaving office.

Checkout the ASCII Art of Barack Obama in the below link. Please use Lucida Console font to view the art in Notepad. Before that in Notepad go to Format and Uncheck the Word Warp and then Go to Font and Reduce the Font Size to 3 to 4 pt. Use only Lucida Console Font.

http://www.4shared.com/document/RQPZWts3/Barack_Obama.html