Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty Signed by the US and USSR (1991)

Signed five months before the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty was a result of negotiations aimed at reducing the nuclear arsenals of the US and the USSR. In 1991, at the conclusion of two sets of talks, US President George H.W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev agreed to a reduction of the Soviet Union stockpile from 11,000 to 8,000 nuclear weapons and of the US arsenal from 12,000 to 10,000. How many warheads is each country estimated to have today? Discuss

Primo Levi (1919)

Two years after earning a degree in chemistry, Levi, an Italian Jew, was captured by the Nazis and sent to Auschwitz. He later recounted the atrocities he witnessed in autobiographical novels including If This Is a Man, which has been described as one of the most important works of the 20th century. His best known work, The Periodic Table, is a collection of 21 meditations, each named for a chemical element. What entertainer has Levi’s concentration camp number tattooed on his arm? Discuss

The Edo Period

Edo, now named Tokyo, was the seat of power during the reign of the Tokugawa shogunate (1603-1867). This period brought much needed stability to Japan. The shogun’s national authority, combined with the daimyo’s regional authority, permitted the administration of both centralized and decentralized authorities. Literacy spread, farming techniques improved, and interregional trade expanded during this period; nevertheless, the last Tokugawa shogun resigned in 1867 because of what pressures? Discuss

The First Defenestration of Prague (1419)

In 1419, a mob of Czech Hussites stormed the town hall of Prague and killed several members of the town council by throwing them out of a window—an act known as “defenestration.” Spurred by discontent at the inequality between the peasants and the Church and nobility, the First Defenestration of Prague led to the prolonged Hussite Wars, which broke out shortly afterward and continued until 1436. What was the Second Defenestration of Prague? Discuss

Fatima Jinnah (1893)

Commonly known in Pakistan as Khatoon-e-Pakistan and Madar-e-Millat—Urdu for “Lady of Pakistan” and “Mother of the Nation,” respectively—Jinnah was the sister of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, and an active figure in the movement for independence from the British Raj. She remained politically active after her brother’s death and even ran for president in 1965, though she lost by a narrow margin. What was Jinnah’s occupation before she became involved in politics? Discuss


Fenugreek, known also as Methi, is a crop plant grown as a potherb and for the spice made from its seeds. It grows wild from the eastern Mediterranean area to China and is used in a wide variety of foods there. Fenugreek seeds are widely used as a milk producing agent by nursing mothers and recent experiments indicate it may be a useful tool in the fight against cancer and diabetes. In 2009, fenugreek was discovered to be the source of what kind of smell wafting over New York City? Discuss