Biancheri, Franck (b. May 2, 1960), foreign minister of Monaco (2008-11).
Bianco, Enzo (b. Feb. 24, 1951, Aidone, Enna province, Italy), interior minister of Italy (1999-2001). He has also been mayor of Catania (1988-89, 1993-2000, 2013- ).
Biaou, Rogatien (b. May 19, 1952, Niamey, Niger), foreign minister of Benin (2003-06). He was dismissed on Feb. 15, 2006, in connection with an illicit sale of part of the estate of the embassy of Benin in Washington. While Biaou was the secretary-general of the foreign ministry (2000-03), Thomas Guédégbé, a diplomat at the Washington embassy, allegedly sold the land. Biaou was arrested on February 20 but released on February 22.
Biasutti, Adriano (Sante) (b. Oct. 14, 1941, Palazzolo dello Stella [now in Friuli-Venezia Giulia], Italy - d. Jan. 29, 2010, Udine, Italy), president of Friuli-Venezia Giulia (1984-91).
Biazzi, Ricardo (Roberto) (b. March 11, 1950, San Francisco, Córdoba province, Argentina), education minister of Argentina (2001).
Bicakcic, Edhem (b. Jan. 17, 1952, Sarajevo), prime minister of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (1996-2001). He was sacked as chief of the state power firm Elektroprivreda BiH by International High Representative Wolfgang Petritsch in February 2001 because as prime minister he had "abused the powers vested in his office to redirect public revenues through a complex and corrupt system of financial diversions, with large sums of money ending in the coffers of the Party of Democratic Action."
Bicamumpaka, Jérôme(-Clément) (b. 1957, Ruhondo commune, Ruhengeri prefecture, Rwanda), foreign minister of Rwanda (1994). Arrested in Cameroon in 1999, he was charged with genocide and tried by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda but fully acquitted in 2011.
Bicheldey, Kaadyr-ool (Alekseyevich) (b. Jan. 2, 1950), chairman of the Supreme Council of Tuva (1991-92).
Bidault, Georges (Augustin) (b. Oct. 5, 1899, Moulins, Allier, France - d. Jan. 27, 1983, Cambo-les-Bains, Pyrénées-Atlantiques), prime minister of France (1946, 1949-50). In 1941 he joined the National Council of Resistance, of which he became president in 1943 after the death of Jean Moulin. In 1944 he was a founder of the Mouvement Républicain Populaire, a Christian-Democratic party. As foreign minister (1944-46) in Charles de Gaulle's provisional government, Bidault signed the Franco-Soviet alliance in December 1944 and in the following year signed the UN Charter. After heading the provisional government in 1946, he was again foreign minister in 1947-48, prime minister in 1949-50, defense minister in 1951-52, and once more foreign minister in 1953-54. With the return of de Gaulle to power (1958), Bidault broke with his wartime friend over the issue of Algerian independence and founded a new, right-wing Christian-Democratic Party. When de Gaulle put down a coup and negotiated Algerian independence in 1961, Bidault, still a member of the National Assembly, created a national council of resistance that advocated terrorism in France and Algeria to prevent Algerian independence, and went underground, claiming the illegality of de Gaulle's government. Charged with conspiracy and stripped of his parliamentary immunity from arrest, he fled France in 1962, living in neighbouring countries and Brazil (1963-67). In 1968, after an amnesty declared by de Gaulle for all those accused of crimes against the state during the Algerian war, Bidault returned to France and founded the right-wing Mouvement pour la justice et la liberté, but this failed to make a mark in French politics. He became honorary president of the Christian-Democratic Party in 1977.
Biddle, Livingston L(udlow), Jr. (b. 1918, Bryn Mawr, Pa.), chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts (1977-81).
Biden, Joe, byname of Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. (b. Nov. 20, 1942, Scranton, Pa.), U.S. vice president (2009- ). The Democrat from Delaware was first elected to the Senate in 1972. He unsuccessfully ran for the 1988 and 2008 Democratic presidential nominations. In 2008 he became Democratic candidate Barack Obama's running mate. Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, brought years of experience that served to help counter Republican arguments that an Obama administration would be inexperienced on foreign policy. With the success of the ticket, he became vice-president-elect in November. In office, he maintained his reputation of being prone to verbal gaffes.
Bidwell, John (b. Aug. 5, 1819, Chautauqua county, N.Y. - d. April 4, 1900, Chico, Calif.), U.S. politician. Reluctant to join the Bear Flag revolt of Americans in California against Mexico, he nonetheless helped draw up the Bear Flag Republic's resolution of independence in July 1846. He attained the rank of major while participating in the Mexican War; he marched to Monterey (California) with Col. John C. Frémont, served as civil magistrate in Los Angeles, and finally assisted Commodore Robert F. Stockton in the recapture of Los Angeles in 1847. He later served in the California senate in 1849, supervised the census of California in 1850 and again in 1860, and was a delegate to the Democratic Party national convention of 1860. With the advent of the Civil War, Bidwell, a staunch Unionist, became a supporter of Abraham Lincoln. He was appointed brigadier general of the California Militia in 1863 and was a delegate to the Republican national convention of 1864. Elected to the House of Representatives in 1864, he declined renomination in order to run for governor of California on the Republican ticket in 1867; his bid was unsuccessful, as were his two others, one in 1875 on the Anti-Monopoly ticket and another in 1890 as a candidate of the Prohibition Party, which nominated him for president in 1892. He received 2.5% of the vote, the best result ever for a Prohibition Party candidate.
Biedenkopf, Kurt (Hans) (b. Jan. 28, 1930, Ludwigshafen [now in Rheinland-Pfalz], Germany), minister-president of Sachsen (1990-2002).
Bielecki, Jan Krzysztof (b. May 3, 1951, Bydgoszcz, Poland), prime minister of Poland (1991).
Bielka-Karltreu, Erich (b. May 12, 1908, Vienna, Austria - d. Sept. 1, 1992, Vienna), foreign minister of Austria (1974-76). He was also ambassador to Turkey (1952-58), Switzerland (1968-72), and France (1972-74).
Bielsa (Caldera), Rafael (Antonio) (b. Feb. 15, 1953, Rosario, Argentina), foreign minister of Argentina (2003-05).
Bienert, Richard (b. Sept. 5, 1881, Prague, Austria [now in Czech Republic] - d. Feb. 3, 1949, Prague, Czechoslovakia [now in Czech Republic]), interior minister (1942-45) and prime minister (1945) of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. He was Landespräsident of Bohemia in 1939-42.
Bienville, Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, sieur de (baptized Feb. 23, 1680, Montreal, New France [now in Canada] - d. March 7, 1767, Paris, France), governor of Louisiana (1701-12, 1718-24, 1733-43). Entering the French navy at age 12, he served as midshipman in the last expedition of his noted elder brother, Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville, into the Hudson Bay region (1697) during King William's War (War of the Grand Alliance). When the conflict with England ended, he accompanied his brother on a colonizing expedition to the mouth of the Mississippi River. A settlement was founded near the area of modern Biloxi in early 1699, and he was made second in command of the colony when his brother departed in the spring. When the colony's leader, Sauvole, died in 1701, Bienville was commissioned as commandant. He transferred the colony to Mobile Bay in 1702 and founded Mobile in 1710. In 1712 he was replaced by Antoine de Lamothe Cadillac, under whom he served as deputy for three years. In 1718, Bienville regained the governor's post. At that time he founded the settlement of New Orleans on the Mississippi River, and four years later he made that city the new capital of the colony. In 1719 he twice captured Pensacola from the Spanish. Fearing insurrections of black slaves, he instituted a "Code Noir" regulating their conduct (1724). When the Company of the Indies, which had been financing Louisiana, became unable to continue its support, Bienville's enemies succeeded in having him recalled to France. Upon Louisiana's subsequent decline, however, he was asked to return as governor in 1733. His final term was marked by indecisive expeditions against the Natchez and Chickasaw Indians. He voluntarily resigned the governorship in May 1743 and retired to Paris.
Bierut, Boleslaw, original surname Biernacki (b. April 18, 1892, Rury Jezuickie, near Lublin, Poland - d. March 12, 1956, Moscow), leader of the Polish United Workers' Party (1948-56), head of state (1944-52), and premier (1952-54). He joined the Polish Communist Party in 1918 and became an underground organizer in Poland as well as in Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, and Austria. Arrested and imprisoned several times in the 1920s and '30s for his activities in Poland, he went to Russia after his release in 1938 and remained there during most of World War II. He returned to Poland at the end of 1943 and with Wladyslaw Gomulka and others formed the Polish National Council. He became provisional head of the Polish republic in 1944, even before the last Germans were driven from the country, and in 1947 was elected to a seven-year term as president. By that time Bierut and his fellow Communists, with the backing of Stalin and the Soviet Army, had disposed of all effective opposition, and he began his efforts to Sovietize all aspects of Polish life. Always a loyal follower of party directives from Moscow, he was instrumental in the September 1948 deposition as secretary-general of the Polish Workers' Party of Gomulka, who had attempted to bend the Soviet party line to Polish circumstances. Bierut replaced him and reorganized the party to form the Polish United Workers' Party (PZPR) in December 1948, becoming chairman of its Central Committee. In 1952, when the president's duties were taken over by a State Council, he became premier, but he resigned that post also in 1954, when he became secretary-general of the PZPR. After attending the Soviet Communist Party's 20th Congress in Moscow, at which Nikita Khrushchev presented his famous "Crimes of the Stalin Era" report, he fell ill and died.
Biesheuvel, Barend (Willem) (b. April 5, 1920, Haarlemmerliede, Noord-Holland, Netherlands - d. April 29, 2001, Haarlem, Noord-Holland), prime minister of the Netherlands (1971-73). He was minister of agriculture in 1963-67.
Bieter, David H. (b. Nov. 1, 1959, Boise, Idaho), mayor of Boise (2004- ).
Bigi, Federico (b. March 21, 1920, Reggio Emilia, Italy - d. April 24, 1996, San Marino), member of the Provisional Government (1957) and secretary of state for foreign and political affairs (1957-72) of San Marino.
Bigler, John (b. Jan. 8, 1805, near Carlisle, Pa. - d. Nov. 29, 1871, Sacramento, Calif.), governor of California (1852-56). He was also U.S. minister to Chile (1857-61).
Bignone (Ramayón), Reynaldo (Benito Antonio) (b. Jan. 21, 1928, Morón, Buenos Aires province, Argentina), president of Argentina (1982-83). In April 2010 he was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison for kidnappings, torture, and murders during 1976-78, when he was a commander at the Campo Mayo army base. In April 2011 he was sentenced to life in prison for further crimes against humanity.
Biha, Léopold, byname of Prince Léopold Bihumugani (b. 1919 - buried March 2, 2003), prime minister of Burundi (1965-66).
Bihourd, Paul (Louis Georges) (b. March 22, 1846, Paris, France - d. Aug. 29, 1914, Paris), resident-general of Annam-Tonkin (1887). He was French minister to Portugal (1890-95) and the Netherlands (1895-1900) and ambassador to Switzerland (1900-02) and Germany (1902-07).
Bijedic, Dzemal (b. April 22, 1917, Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina - d. [plane crash] Jan. 18, 1977, near Sarajevo), premier of Yugoslavia (1971-77).
Bijleveld, Ank, byname of Anna Theodora Bernardina Bijleveld-Schouten (b. March 17, 1962, IJsselmuiden, Netherlands), queen's/king's commissioner of Overijssel (2011- ).
Bilandic, Michael A(nthony) (b. Feb. 13, 1923, Chicago - d. Jan. 15, 2002, Chicago), mayor of Chicago (1976-79). He became acting mayor after the death of Richard J. Daley in 1976, was elected in 1977, and defeated in the 1979 Democratic primary. He served on the Illinois Supreme Court from 1990 to 2000; he was chief justice in 1994-96.
Bildt, (Nils Daniel) Carl (b. July 15, 1949, Hallanning, southwestern Sweden), prime minister of Sweden (1991-94); great-great-grandson of Gillis Bildt. He took a precocious interest in politics from an early age. In 1973 he became a political secretary in the Moderate Party and then confidant to its leader, Gösta Bohman. Bildt was elected as a member of the Stockholm city council in 1974, where he served for three years. During the years of non-Socialist rule in Sweden between 1976 and 1982, he played an important role as a policy coordinator behind the scenes. After two years as adviser at the Finance Ministry, he was elected in 1979 to Parliament from Stockholm. He served on various committees including the Defense Committee, before replacing Ulf Adelsohn as Moderate Party leader in August 1986. He owed his rapid advance through the party ranks to a ferocious attack launched on him in 1983 by Prime Minister Olof Palme, who alleged that he was a "security risk." He stood up to Palme's offensive and won the admiration of many conservatives. After the defeat of the Social Democrats in the 1991 election, he became Sweden's youngest prime minister in more than 150 years and the first conservative to lead the country since 1928. Heading a four-party centre-right coalition government, he backed NATO membership for neutral Sweden and was in favour of reforming the nation's rigid labour laws. He was the international community's High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1995 to 1997, charged with overall responsibility for implementing the Dayton peace agreement. In May 1999 he was appointed UN special envoy to the Balkans. He was replaced as leader of the Moderate Party by Bo Lundgren in September 1999. In 2006 he became foreign minister.
Bildt, (Didrik Anders) Gillis (from 1864:) friherre (b. Oct. 16, 1820, Stockholm - d. Oct. 22, 1894, Stockholm), governor of Gotland (1858-62) and Stockholm city (1862-74) and prime minister of Sweden (1888-89).
Bilic, Jure (b. 1922 - d. Jan. 26 or 27, 2006, Zagreb, Croatia), secretary of the Central Committee of the League of Communists of Croatia (1982-83).
Biljanovski, Zlate (b. Jan. 25, 1920, Pusta Reka, near Krusevo, Yugoslavia [now in Macedonia] - d. March 8, 2009, Skopje, Macedonia), acting president of the People's Assembly of Macedonia (1968).
Billardon, André (b. Oct. 22, 1940, Monceaux-le-Comte, Nièvre, France), president of the Regional Council of Bourgogne (1982-83).
Billères, René (Sylvain) (b. Aug. 29, 1910, Ger, Hautes-Pyrénées, France - d. Oct. 2, 2004), French minister of national education, youth and sports (1956-58) and president of the Radical Party (1965-69).
Billinghurst (Angulo), Guillermo E(duardo) (in baptismal record Eduardo Guillermo) (b. July 27, 1851, Arica, Peru [now in Chile] - d. June 28, 1915, Iquique, Chile), first vice president (1895-99) and president (1912-14) of Peru. He was also president of the Senate (1896-97) and mayor of Lima (1909-12).
Billotte, Gaston (Henri Gustave) (b. Feb. 10, 1875, Sommeval, Aube, France - d. [after a car crash and two days in a coma] May 23, 1940), governor of the Alawite Territory (1921-22).
Bilokolos, Dmytro (Zakharovych) (b. Feb. 5, 1912, Yegorovka, Russia [now Yehorivka, Donetsk oblast, Ukraine] - d. Feb. 9, 1993, Kiev, Ukraine), foreign minister of the Ukrainian S.S.R. (1966-70). He was also Soviet ambassador to Zambia and Botswana (1970-76).
Bilokon, Mykola (b. March 22, 1955, Mogilevka village, Vinnitsa oblast, Ukrainian S.S.R. [now Mohilevka, Vinnytsia, Ukraine]), interior minister of Ukraine (2003-05).
Bima, Pascal (b. c. 1930, Mouyondzi, southern Middle Congo [now Congo (Brazzaville)] - d. Jan. 22, 2003), member of the Military Committee of the Congolese Labour Party (1977). He was also minister of urban planning, housing, and environment (1977-79).
Bimazubute, Gilles (b. 1937 - d. [assassinated] Oct. 21, 1993), interior minister (1971-72) and foreign minister (1974-75) of Burundi. He was vice president of the National Assembly in 1993.
Bin Ghanem, Faraj Said (b. 1937 - d. Aug. 5, 2007, Geneva, Switzerland), prime minister of Yemen (1997-98).
Bin Hayal, Ashour (b. 1939, Derna, Libya), foreign minister of Libya (2011-12).
Bin Laden, Osama (bin Muhammad) (b. March 10, 1957, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia - d. May 2, 2011, Abbottabad, Pakistan), Islamic fundamentalist. The son of a Saudi construction magnate, he used his millions to buy bulldozers to gouge guerrilla trails in the heart of Afghanistan and to bring in, by his count, thousands of Egyptians, Lebanese, Turks, and others to join their Afghan Muslim brothers in the struggle against the Soviet Union, which invaded Afghanistan to prop up a communist government in December 1979. After the war, he returned home, but the Saudi government, fearing his brand of militant Islam, expelled him and in April 1994 stripped him of his Saudi citizenship for "irresponsible behaviour." He ventured to Sudan, but because of Western pressure he was forced to leave in mid-1996, returning to Afghanistan, where the Taliban regime gave him shelter. In a series of fatwas (religious edicts) faxed to the outside world from his Afghan hideout, he laid out his case against the U.S.: its soldiers protecting oil in his homeland are desecrating Muslim holy sites with their very presence; its power has emasculated Arab countries, turning them into client states; its friend is Israel. In February 1998, he helped form the World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders, a coalition that brought together two Egyptian militant groups, two Pakistani groups, and a Bangladeshi group. His network, referred to from August 1998 as al-Qaeda ("The Base"), was considered responsible for bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in the latter month and other terrorist acts, and he definitely became the U.S. "public enemy number one" after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks which destroyed the World Trade Center in New York City. The U.S. then overthrew the Taliban in Afghanistan but failed to capture Bin Laden, who escaped to Pakistan where he managed to live in hiding for almost ten years. His compound was finally tracked down by the U.S. and he was shot in a carefully-planned raid by a U.S. military team.
Binaghi, Walter (b. July 13, 1919, Buenos Aires, Argentina - d. July 16, 2006), president of the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (1957-76).
Binaisa, Godfrey L(ukongwa) (b. May 30, 1920, Kampala, Uganda - d. Aug. 5, 2010, Kampala), president of Uganda (1979-80). In October 1959 he founded the Uganda League, one of several parties seeking self-government for the then-British protectorate. His appointment as attorney general followed the April 1962 elections that brought Milton Obote to the premiership and preceded Uganda's independence in October of that year. Binaisa was one of the few prominent Baganda tribal members to oppose the kabaka (king) of Buganda in the latter's resistance to the Obote government, a conflict that ended in the kabaka's defeat in 1966. In 1967 Binaisa broke with Obote over his use of authoritarian tactics and proposals to change the constitution. As a believer in constitutional law Binaisa felt bound to resign from the government. He returned to private legal practice and in 1968 was elected chairman of the Law Development Centre and president of the Uganda Law Society. In 1970 he became a member of the Uganda Judicial Service Commission and two years later was made chairman of the organizing committee of the Commonwealth Lawyers' Conference. Unlike many of Obote's critics, Binaisa was not among those who welcomed Idi Amin's coup in 1971. He was forced into exile and began a law practice in New York City, which he used as a base to campaign against Amin's rule. After the overthrow of General Amin in April 1979, Uganda needed an experienced and impartial leader capable of firmly reestablishing law and order and of binding up the tribal and religious wounds inflicted during years of tyrannical rule. When the first man chosen to take Amin's place as president, Yusufu Lule, proved unequal to this difficult task, he was replaced in June by Binaisa. He returned to Uganda on April 13, 2001, after more than 10 years of self-imposed exile in the United States.
Bindzi (Amougou), Benoît (b. 1924 - d. Jan. 24, 1998), foreign minister of Cameroon (1966-68). He was also minister of information and tourism (1965-66) and ambassador to the United States (1976-81).
Binger, Louis Gustave (b. Oct. 14, 1856, Strasbourg, France - d. Nov. 10, 1936, L'Isle-Adam, Val-d'Oise, France), governor of Ivory Coast (1893-95).
Binner, Hermes (Juan) (b. June 5, 1943, Rafaela, Santa Fe, Argentina), governor of Santa Fe (2007-11). He was also mayor of the important city of Rosario (1995-2003). In 2011 he was a presidential candidate.
Binns, Pat(rick George) (b. Oct. 8, 1948, Weyburn, Sask.), premier of Prince Edward Island (1996-2007).
Binoche, François (b. March 23, 1911, Paris - d. May 18, 1997, Nice, France), French city commandant of Berlin (1964-67).
Bio, Julius Maada (Wonie) (b. May 12, 1964, Tihun, Sogbini chiefdom, Bonthe district, Southern province, Sierra Leone), head of state of Sierra Leone (1996). He was a presidential candidate in 2012.
Bionaz, Cesare (b. June 28, 1912 - d. Sept. 3, 1969), president of Valle d'Aosta (1966-69).
Bird, Lester (Bryant) (b. Feb. 21, 1938, New York City), foreign minister (1981-91, 1991-2004) and prime minister (1994-2004) of Antigua and Barbuda; son of Sir Vere Cornwall Bird.
Bird, Sir Vere Cornwall (b. Dec. 7, 1910, St. John's, Antigua - d. June 28, 1999, St. John's), prime minister (1981-94), finance minister (1982-84, 1991), and foreign minister (1991) of Antigua and Barbuda. He was a founding member of the Antigua Trades and Labour Union and rose rapidly to become its president (1943-69). In 1945 he ran for the Legislative Council and was easily elected. A defining moment in the history of Antigua and Barbuda is a legendary - some say apocryphal - speech by Bird under a tamarind tree near the village of Bethesda in January 1951. Bird threatened a strike if sugarcane workers were not given a raise. When Alexander Moody-Stuart, the powerful head of the Antigua Sugar Estates, scoffed and asked what the striking workers would eat, Bird replied: "We will eat cockles and the widdy widdy bush. We will drink pond water." The widdy widdy bush is a common weed in Antigua that was part of the diet of slaves. Bird's reply became a permanent part of the lexicon of political oratory in Antigua. Bird did organize the strike and there was no sugar harvest that year. Through encouraging union members to run for public office, he formed the basis for what became the Antigua Labour Party. When universal adult suffrage was introduced in 1951, the union won every seat in the legislature, a feat it repeated until 1967. In 1960 he became the island's first chief minister, retaining office, with the title of premier, when the island achieved associated statehood in 1967. A split within labour lost him his seat in elections in 1971. However, in 1976 he was returned to power and he led the final constitutional negotiations in London in 1980 that brought the two-island state to independence (Nov. 1, 1981). The dominant figure in Antiguan politics for more than 50 years, Bird retired in 1994. He was knighted in 1999.
Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Deva (b. Dec. 28, 1945, Kathmandu, Nepal - d. June 1, 2001, Kathmandu), king of Nepal (1972-2001). Son of Crown Prince (from 1955, King) Mahendra and Crown Princess Indra, Birendra was educated at St. Joseph's College in Darjeeling, India, and at Eton College (1959-64), Tokyo University (1967), and Harvard University (1967-68). He traveled extensively around the world before acceding to the throne on his father's death on Jan. 31, 1972; he was crowned on Feb. 24, 1975. Birendra continued the autocratic tradition of his father, who had dissolved the elected parliament in 1960 and banned political parties in the constitution of 1962; indeed, for a time, Birendra was one of the world's few remaining absolute monarchs. He managed to defend Nepal's independence against encroaching influences by India, China, and the Soviet Union. During his reign Nepal was opened up to extensive tourism. In 1990 a popular prodemocracy movement erupted into bloody riots between police and demonstrators. On April 8 Birendra acceded to the opposition's demand to lift the ban on political parties, and on November 9 he promulgated a new constitution that preserved his status as chief of state but confirmed multiparty democracy, a separation of powers, and the protection of human rights. In 1996 Maoist rebels launched an armed insurgency aimed at replacing the monarchy; they succeeded in gaining control over large areas of the countryside. On May 2, 1969, he married Aishwarya (b. Nov. 7, 1949, Lazimpat, Kathmandu). They had two sons, Dipendra (b. June 27, 1971) and Nirajan (b. Nov. 6, 1978), and one daughter, Shruti (b. Oct. 16, 1976). On June 1, 2001, he was fatally shot along with Aishwarya, Nirajan, Shruti, and other relatives, in a massacre in the royal palace committed by Dipendra.
Birindwa, Faustin (b. 1943 - d. April 29, 1999, Italy), finance minister (1991) and prime minister (1993-94) of Zaire.
Birkavs, Valdis (b. July 28, 1942, Riga), prime minister (1993-94) and foreign minister (1994-99) of Latvia. First elected to the Supreme Council (Parliament) of Latvia in 1990 as a member of the Popular Front of Latvia (later he was one of the founders of the Latvia's Way party), he was the deputy chairman of the Legislative Committee and from 1992 to 1993 deputy chairman of the Supreme Council. Elected as deputy of the 5th Saeima (1993) of the Republic of Latvia, Birkavs was prime minister from July 1993 to September 1994, and, as of September 15, foreign minister and deputy prime minister in the government headed by Maris Gailis. Elected as a deputy in elections for the 6th Saeima (1995), Birkavs was again named foreign minister in December 1995 under the government headed by Andris Skele, and he maintained his office in Prime Minister Guntars Krasts' government, confirmed on Aug. 7, 1997. On Oct. 3, 1998, Birkavs was once again elected to the parliament and named foreign minister in November 1998 under the government headed by Vilis Kristopans.
Birney, James Gillespie (b. Feb. 4, 1792, Danville, Ky. - d. Nov. 25, 1857, Eagleswood, Perth Amboy, N.J.), U.S. presidential candidate (1840, 1844). He won election to the Kentucky legislature in 1816, and in 1818 he moved to Alabama, where he was elected to the legislature in the following year. There he helped incorporate into the state constitution provisions that empowered the legislature to emancipate slaves and to prohibit selling slaves brought into the state. He was also repeatedly elected mayor of Huntsville and for several years was the confidential adviser and counsel of the Cherokee nation. At first an advocate of gradual emancipation, in 1834 he publicly endorsed immediate emancipation and freed his six slaves. In 1836 he established an antislavery newspaper, the Philanthropist. In 1837 he was elected executive secretary of the American Anti-Slavery Society, which soon afterward split, one faction advocating the inflammatory approach of such Abolitionists as William Lloyd Garrison and the other, which became the Liberty Party, emphasizing electoral activity. The party nominated Birney twice as its presidential candidate; he received 7,369 votes in 1840 and 62,263 in 1844. In 1840 he was a vice president of the World Anti-Slavery Convention in England. In 1845 he was disabled by partial paralysis, caused by a fall from a horse, and from that time withdrew from active political participation.
Biros, Marc Casimir (b. 1905 - d. Nov. 7, 1995), governor of Dahomey (1955-58) and New Caledonia (1963-65).
Birt, Sir Michael (Cameron St. John) (b. 1948), bailiff of Jersey (2009- ); knighted 2012. He was attorney general (1994-2000) and deputy bailiff (2000-09).
Biryukov, Vladimir (Afanasyevich) (b. Oct. 19, 1933, Astrakhan, Russian S.F.S.R.), head of the administration (1991-96) and governor (1996-2000) of Kamchatka oblast.
Bisers, Ilmars (b. Nov. 1, 1930 - d. May 12, 2011), first deputy prime minister of Latvia (1990-91).
Bishara, Abdullah (Yacoub), Arabic `Abd Allah Ya`qub Bishara (b. Nov. 6, 1936, Kuwait), secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council (1981-93). He was also permanent representative of Kuwait to the United Nations (1971-81).
Bishari, Ibrahim (Muhammad) al- (b. 1942? - d. [car crash] Sept. 13, 1997, Cairo, Egypt), foreign minister of Libya (1990-92).
Bishop, Julie (Isabel) (b. July 17, 1956, Lobethal, S.Aus.), foreign minister of Australia (2013- ). She was also minister for ageing (2003-06) and education, science, and training (2006-07).
Bishop, Maurice (Rupert) (b. May 29, 1944, Aruba - d. Oct. 19, 1983, St. George's, Grenada), prime minister of Grenada (1979-83). On the night of Nov. 18, 1973, he and his companions were severely beaten by members of the Mongoose Gang (the notorious parapolice aids of the regime of Sir Eric Gairy) in full view of the police and held without medical attention in appalling conditions. Two months later his father, Rupert Bishop, was killed. From that point on, he swore to bring down Gairy's administration. This was attempted through a coalition of the Movement for Assemblies of the People and the New Jewel Movement (Jewel being an acronym for Joint Endeavour for Welfare, Education, and Liberation). In 1976 he was elected to parliament, and Gairy's majority was reduced from 13 seats to 3. As a result of suspicions that Gairy had decided to move against New Jewel, a successful coup was mounted early in the morning of March 13, 1979. Bishop emerged as leader and, subsequently, prime minister. Though New Jewel embraced broad Marxist-Leninist beliefs, its policy was much in line with pragmatic Caribbean interpretations. His more moderate stance was felt to have enraged his deputy prime minister Bernard Coard, who toppled Bishop in a power struggle in October 1983, though the army quickly took control and Coard disappeared. Bishop was being held under an army-imposed house arrest when throngs of his supporters pushed past the guards and carried him outdoors, after which they proceeded to Market Square and then to Ft. Rupert, a Grenadian Army compound. Eyewitness reports revealed that army troops opened fire on the crowd and forced Bishop and his cabinet ministers inside the fort where they were executed.
Bislip, Pedro (b. Nov. 1, 1937 - d. June 18, 2007), administrator of Aruba (1983-85).
Bismarck(-Schönhausen), (Nikolaus Heinrich Ferdinand) Herbert Fürst von (b. Dec. 28, 1849, Berlin, Prussia - d. Sept. 18, 1904, Friedrichsruh, Schleswig-Holstein, Prussia, Germany), foreign minister of Germany (1885-90); son of Otto von Bismarck.
H. von Bismarck
Bismarck, Otto (Eduard Leopold) (from March 21, 1871, Fürst) von, (from Sept. 15, 1865) Graf von Bismarck-Schönhausen, (from March 1890) Herzog von Lauenburg (b. April 1, 1815, Schönhausen, Prussia [now in Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany] - d. July 30, 1898, Friedrichsruh, Schleswig-Holstein, Prussia, Germany), chancellor of Germany (1871-90). In 1849 he was elected to the Prussian Chamber of Deputies (the lower chamber of the Prussian Diet). In 1851 he was chosen to represent Prussia in the federal Diet in Frankfurt. In 1859 he was sent to Russia as Prussian ambassador, and not long thereafter (May 1862) he moved to Paris as ambassador to the court of Napoléon III. He became prime minister and foreign minister of Prussia in September 1862. He involved his country in the Franco-German War (1870-71), a conflict that ended with Prussian success and a measure of German unity. In January 1871 the four southern German states joined the North German Confederation to create the German Empire. Having already served as federal chancellor of the North German Confederation from 1867, Bismarck became imperial chancellor under the constitution of April 16, 1871. He also remained prime minister of Prussia until 1890, except for a period in 1873. He actively and skillfully pursued pacific policies in foreign affairs, succeeding in preserving the peace in Europe for about two decades. He banned the Social Democratic Party in 1878. He also introduced social legislation to woo the workers away from political radicalism. But his two-pronged strategy did not succeed. Support for the Social Democrats increased with each election. The 1890 election was a disaster for Bismarck. The parties that he had termed enemies of the empire gained more than half of the seats in the new Reichstag. The new emperor Wilhelm II did not want to begin his reign with a bloodbath or a coup d'état by the state. On March 18, 1890, Bismarck was forced to resign.
O. von Bismarck
Bista, Kirti Nidhi (b. Jan. 15, 1927, Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal), foreign minister (1963-68, 1971-72, 1979) and prime minister (1969-70, 1971-73, 1977-79) of Nepal. He was a vice-chairman of the royal Council of Ministers in 2005-06.
Biswal, Hemananda (b. Dec. 1, 1939), chief minister of Orissa (1989-90, 1999-2000).
Biswas, Abdur Rahman (b. Sept. 1, 1926, Shaistabad village, Barisal district, Bengal, India [now in Bangladesh]), president of Bangladesh (1991-96).
Bitar, Salah al-Din, Arabic in full Salah al-Din Khayr al-Bitar (b. 1912, Damascus, Syria - d. July 21, 1980, Paris), foreign minister (1956-58, 1963, 1966) and prime minister (1963, 1964, 1966) of Syria. Bitar, who founded (with Michel Aflaq) the Ba`th Party, later criticized the policies of both wings of the party as editor in chief of the journal Al Ahaa al-Arabi ("Arab Renaissance"); in 1966 he clashed with younger members of the party who felt he was too conservative. Bitar was forced into exile after being ousted as premier. Earlier he served as minister of state when Egypt and Syria were temporarily merged to form the United Arab Republic. During the last ten years of his life, Bitar lived in exile in Paris where he reportedly associated with other exiles. He was assassinated outside the building where he edited his magazine. The Syrian government denied reports that he was "marked for murder" because of his opposition to Pres. Hafez al-Assad.
Bitat, Rabah, Arabic Rabih Bitat (b. Dec. 19, 1925, Ain Kerma, Algeria - d. April 9, 2000, Paris, France), Algerian politician. He was minister of state (1958-62, 1965-66), deputy premier (1962-63), and minister of transport (1966-77) and as president of the National Popular Assembly (1977-90) became the interim president (1978-79) after the death of Pres. Houari Boumedienne.
Biteo Boricó, Miguel Abia (b. 1961), finance minister (1999-2001) and prime minister (2004-06) of Equatorial Guinea.
Bitsios, Dimitrios (Sotiriou) (b. 1915, Athens, Greece - d. Jan. 9, 1984, Athens), foreign minister of Greece (1974-77). A career diplomat from 1939, Bitsios headed departments of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was a delegate (1956-61) and permanent representative (1961-65 and 1967-72) to the UN. In 1966 he acted as political adviser to King Konstantinos. He became foreign minister in 1974 in the government headed by Konstantinos Karamanlis that followed the fall of the military dictatorship and the restoration of democracy that year. In this position, he negotiated with U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on the establishment of a U.S.-Greek defense agreement, but this was not signed.
Biya, Paul, original name Paul Barthélemy Biya'a bi Mvondo (b. Feb. 13, 1933, Mvomeka'a village, near Sangmelima, South province, French Cameroons), president of Cameroon (1982- ). In 1962, he became head of the Department of Development Aid for a year before becoming director of the cabinet of the Ministry of National Education, Youth, and Culture. In 1967 he was appointed director of the cabinet of Pres. Ahmadou Ahidjo and the following year was named minister of state and secretary-general of the presidency. When the post of prime minister was created in July 1975, Biya was appointed to it and remained in that office until he became president following Ahidjo's voluntary retirement on Nov. 6, 1982. He was thus one of Ahidjo's closest collaborators during a period of 15 years. On Sept. 14, 1983, Biya also succeeded Ahidjo as chairman of the republic's sole political party, the Cameroonian National Union (CNU). The seemingly smooth transfer of power was disrupted when Ahidjo, while still CNU president, realized that he would not be able to retain effective control as the "power behind the throne," as he had apparently intended. Biya was clearly his own man, with his own ideas on how the country should be run, and his election as CNU president enabled him to plan for a more democratic political system. Considered to be tolerant and moderate in his outlook, Biya nevertheless possessed determination, as was shown during the brief crisis in his relations with his predecessor in the summer of 1983. He also had a reputation for integrity and a capacity for hard work. Most popular in the south of the country, where his roots were, he was nonetheless respected in the north, where support for Ahidjo had been strongest. He was OAU chairman in 1996-97.
Biyoghé Mba, Paul (b. April 18, 1953, Donguila, Gabon), prime minister of Gabon (2009-12). He was also minister of trade, consumption, and the transfer of technology (1989-90), of state control, parastatal reform, and privatization (1992-94), of small and medium-sized enterprises, small and medium-sized industries, and the craft industry (1999-2003), of trade and industrial development (2003-08), and of agriculture, animal husbandry, and rural development (2008-09).
Bizenjo, (Mir) Ghous Bakhsh (b. 1917, Shanak village, Baluchistan, India [now in Pakistan] - d. Aug. 11, 1989), governor of Balochistan (1972-73).
Bizimungu, Casimir (b. March 4, 1951, Nyamugari, Rwanda), foreign minister of Rwanda (1989-92). He was transferred to the UN tribunal in Arusha on Feb. 23, 1999, being accused of genocide.
Bizimungu, Pasteur (b. 1950, Gisenyi prefecture, Rwanda), president of Rwanda (1994-2000). An ethnic Hutu, he became president when the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front took power after the 1994 genocide. He resigned in 2000 after a series of disagreements with
Vice Pres. Paul Kagame, who then succeeded him as president. He was imprisoned from April 19, 2002, for "attacking the safety of the state." This accusation emerged after he announced the formation of a new political party which, according to the government, wanted to preach ethnic division. He was sentenced on June 7, 2004, to 15 years imprisonment for attempting to form a militia group, inciting violence, and embezzlement; he denied the charges. He was released from prison on April 6, 2007, after receiving a pardon from Kagame.
Bjegovic, Djordje (b. Aug. 9, 1941, Sibenik, Italian-occupied Dalmatia [now in Croatia]), prime minister of Krajina (1993-94).
Bjelke-Petersen, Sir Johannes, byname Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen (b. Jan. 13, 1911, Dannevirke, New Zealand - d. April 23, 2005, Kingaroy, Queensland, Australia), premier of Queensland (1968-87). In 1946 he was elected to the Kingaroy Shire Council for the Country Party (later renamed National Party) and three years later entered state parliament. In 1963 he moved into state cabinet as works and housing minister, a post he held until he came from obscurity to become premier in 1968 after the sudden death of Premier Jack Pizzey. Within a few years he made his presence felt. The southern press loved to lampoon him as a bible-thumping, anti-union, right-wing peanut farmer, ready to lend his name to a wide variety of mad schemes. Never one to take any notice of the doctrines of ministerial responsibility or separation of powers, he managed to disarm journalists and critics alike with his homespun mantra of "don't you worry about that." But he was also a Machiavellian politician which his rivals on both sides of politics would underestimate at their own peril. In 1975 he helped topple Gough Whitlam's Labor government by breaking convention to nominate the Whitlam-hating Albert Patrick Field to fill a casual Labor vacancy in the Senate; this gave the opposition the numbers to block supply and led to the eventual election of Malcolm Fraser. After his second state election win, he was ready to face a decade of protests, led by militant unionists and left-wing university students. At one of the largest protests, in October 1977, a total of 662 people were arrested. He was knighted in 1984. After an unsuccessful campaign for prime minister, which ultimately benefited the Labor Party, and escalating claims of official corruption and wrongdoing he resigned in 1987.
Björnsson, Sveinn (b. Feb. 27, 1881, Reykjavík, Iceland - d. Jan. 25, 1952, Reykjavík), president of Iceland (1944-52). He became a member of the Reykjavík town council in 1912, was its president in 1918-20, and was a member of the Althing (parliament) in 1914-16 and 1920. In 1914 he was special envoy to the United States, where he obtained for his country medicines, grain, and other goods that could not be imported from Europe because of the German and British blockades in World War I. A year later, as special envoy to London, he arranged the first British-Icelandic trade agreement. He served as minister to Denmark (1920-24, 1926-41) and attended several international conferences. Although Iceland had been independent since 1918, its foreign affairs were conducted by Denmark until the beginning of World War II. Following the German occupation of Denmark in May 1940, Björnsson was elected to three one-year terms as regent beginning in June 1941, assuming all the prerogatives in Icelandic affairs previously held by the Danish king. In July 1941, U.S. troops entered Iceland on the invitation of Björnsson's government and remained, in reduced numbers, after the war; their continued presence was the leading controversy in the nation's postwar foreign policy. In 1944 the republic was proclaimed and he was chosen by parliament to serve the first term as president. In 1945 and 1949 he was reelected unopposed as no other candidate stood. Björnsson declared Bessastadir the official presidential residence and set the precedent for presidential protocol and tradition which have been broadly continued by his successors, although each new incumbent of the nation's highest office has inevitably added an element of personal style. He died in office.
Blacher, Louis Placide (b. Oct. 5, 1883, Saint-Pierre, Martinique - d. Oct. 26, 1960, Paris), lieutenant governor of Niger (1930-31) and governor of Dahomey (1932), French Somaliland (1932-34), and French Guinea (1936-40).
Black, Eugene R(obert) (b. Jan. 7, 1873, Atlanta, Ga. - d. Dec. 19, 1934, Atlanta), governor of the Federal Reserve System (1933-34).
Black, Eugene R(obert) (b. May 1, 1898, Atlanta, Ga. - d. Feb. 20, 1992, Southampton, N.Y.), president of the World Bank (1949-63); son of Eugene R. Black (1873-1934).
Black, George (b. April 10, 1873, Woodstock, N.B. - d. Aug. 23, 1965, Vancouver, B.C.), commissioner of the Yukon Territory (1912-16). In 1905, he was elected to the Yukon Council. Reelected twice, he served in that position until Feb. 1, 1912, when he was appointed commissioner of the Yukon. In both positions, he fought graft in the public service, greatly extended the road system, and brought in legislation to protect workers, in particular the Miners' and Woodsmen's Lien Ordinances. George and his wife Martha were both extremely popular, and they always remained close to the "common man" - miners were always welcome in their home, and that remained their policy at Government House, despite counsel to the contrary which they often received. In 1916, George resigned as commissioner in order to join the war effort. He enlisted 275 men and formed the Yukon Infantry Company (later the 17th Canadian Machine Gun Company). At the Battle of Amiens, George was severely wounded, but he was able to return to the Yukon at the war's end. In 1921, George was elected as the Member of Parliament for the Yukon. He retained the seat until 1935, when he was forced to resign due to ill health. Martha then ran in his place, and at the age of 69, she became only the second woman ever to be elected to Canada's Parliament (the first had been Agnes McPhail) - the honour was made even more significant by the fact that she had won as a Conservative member in a Liberal landslide. However, Martha was a woman of her times - entries from Martha's diary make it clear that Martha considered George to be a better MP than her, and her duty was to hold the seat until George was physically able to take over again. In 1940 George did regain the seat, remaining until 1949.
Black, Sir Robert (Brown) (b. June 3, 1906 - d. Oct. 29, 1999), British colonial governor. Black served in the administration of Britain's colonies for more than three decades. He spent several years in a Japanese prison camp during World War II. Returning to the colonial service in 1946, he served in North Borneo and Hong Kong before moving on to Singapore as governor (1955-57). Subsequently, he was governor of Hong Kong from 1958 to 1964. He saw the colony prosper during that period, even though hundreds of thousands of refugees were crossing the border from mainland China. Thousands of the refugees settled there illegally, and Black repeatedly appealed to London for help in housing them. Black was chancellor of both the English- and Chinese-speaking universities. He was made K.C.M.G. in 1955 and G.C.M.G. in 1962.
Black, Samuel (baptized May 3, 1780 - d. [assassinated] Feb. 8, 1841, Thompson's River Post, Kamloops, District of Columbia), governor of the District of Columbia (British Columbia) (1838-39).
Blackburne, Sir Kenneth (William) (b. Dec. 12, 1907, Bristol, England - d. Nov. 4, 1980, Douglas, Isle of Man), governor-general of Jamaica (1962). He joined the Colonial Service in 1930 and served in Nigeria, Palestine, and The Gambia before his appointment in 1943 as administrative secretary to the comptroller for development and welfare in the West Indies. As director of information services (1947-50) at the Colonial Office in London, he was particularly concerned with improving understanding in Britain of the peoples of the colonial territories. Blackburne was knighted in 1952. He was governor of the Leeward Islands (1950-56) before succeeding Sir Hugh Foot in Jamaica. He was captain general and governor in chief (1957-62) and became governor-general when Jamaica became independent. At a crucial time in Jamaica's history, both because of local political issues and because of the increasing Jamaican immigration to the U.K., Blackburne brought to his task a wide experience of colonial administration and a specialized knowledge of the Caribbean.
Blacker Miller, (Manuel) Augusto (b. Oct. 18, 1945, Lima, Peru), foreign minister of Peru (1991-92). He was declared in contempt of court in October 2005 for failing to appear at a trial of former cabinet members involved in Pres. Alberto Fujimori's 1992 autogolpe (self-coup). He was arrested in Miami, Fla., in November 2009 for allegedly breaking immigration laws.
Blades (y Bellido de Luna), Rubén (Darío) (b. July 16, 1948, Panama City, Panama), Panamanian politician. In the early 1970s, he and his family were sent into exile when his father (a former member of the secret police) ran afoul of Manuel Noriega, then head of military intelligence. He became a salsa singer, composer, and Hollywood actor. In May 1994, Blades returned to Panama to run for the presidency. As the populist candidate of Papa Egoró (Mother Earth), the party that he had formed during a brief return to Panama in 1991, Blades campaigned with songs and guitar, attracting support from those disillusioned with corrupt politicians. His campaign, however, was underfinanced, and although Blades proved a popular candidate, some thought that his extended absence from the country had left him out of touch. In the May 8 elections, he placed third, winning only 17% of the vote.
Blagojevich, Rod (R.1), byname of Milorad Blagojevich (b. Dec. 10, 1956, Chicago, Ill.), governor of Illinois (2003-09). In December 2008 he was arrested on corruption charges. It was alleged, among other things, that he conspired to benefit financially from his role in appointing a U.S. senator to fill the vacancy left by Barack Obama's election as president. In January 2009 the Illinois Senate convicted him on a sprawling article of impeachment that charged him with abusing his power; Blagojevich, who pleaded his innocence, was thus immediately ousted, and the Senate also voted to ban him from ever again holding office in the state.
1 He does not have a middle name, but uses the initial R. as a tribute to his late father, Radisa.
Blah, Moses (Zeh) (b. April 18, 1947, Toweh Town village, Nimba county, northeastern Liberia - d. April 1, 2013, Monrovia, Liberia), vice president (2000-03) and president (2003) of Liberia.
Blaine, James G(illespie) (b. Jan. 31, 1830, West Brownsville, Pa. - d. Jan. 27, 1893, Washington, D.C.), U.S. politician. He was a delegate to the first national convention of the new Republican Party in 1856. In 1858 he was elected to the Maine legislature and in 1862 to the U.S. House of Representatives. A leader in the formation of the Republican Party in Maine, he was state chairman from 1859 to 1881. After the Civil War, he favoured a moderate Reconstruction policy but was a strong advocate of Negro suffrage. In 1869-75 he was speaker of the House, where his eloquence and leadership won him a devoted following. He led the "Half-Breed" faction of the Republicans in a feud with the "Stalwart" faction of Roscoe Conkling, and the opposition of the Stalwarts helped to deny him presidential nominations in 1876 and 1880. In 1876 he failed to reply convincingly to a corruption charge and lost to Rutherford B. Hayes. Immediately after the convention he was appointed to the Senate to fill a vacancy, and he soon won election to a full term. After the election of James A. Garfield in 1880, he resigned his Senate seat to become secretary of state. In this office he was particularly energetic in fostering closer relations with the Latin American nations. Soon after the assassination of Garfield (1881) Blaine resigned. He finally was nominated for the presidency in 1884, only to lose by a narrow margin to the Democratic candidate, Grover Cleveland. In 1888 Blaine unexpectedly declined to run for president, supporting Benjamin Harrison, who, upon becoming president, made him secretary of state again. He assumed the chairmanship of the first Pan-American Conference, but his proposals for a customs union and arbitration system were defeated. He resigned in June 1892.
Blair, Tony, byname of Anthony Charles Lynton Blair (b. May 6, 1953, Edinburgh, Scotland), British prime minister (1997-2007). He entered the House of Commons in 1983 for the safe Labour constituency of Sedgefield in Durham. Pro-European unity and pro-NATO, he was one of the keenest supporters of Neil Kinnock, who, as party leader in 1983-92, sought to modernize Labour. Labour MPs elected him to their shadow cabinet in 1988 at the unusually young age of 35. After Labour's defeat in the April 1992 general election, Blair became the most outspoken of the "modernizers." In July 1992 John Smith was elected Labour leader and appointed Blair as shadow home secretary. Blair's task was to jettison Labour's reputation for being "soft" on criminals. He argued that the right approach was to be "tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime." Smith died in May 1994, and Blair succeeded him as party leader in July. About two months later he told Labour's annual conference that he wished to rewrite the party's constitution and abandon its commitment to "the common ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange." At a special conference in April 1995, he secured agreement to a new set of party objectives that acknowledged the virtues of market competition. He led "New Labour" to a landslide victory in the general election of May 1997 and became the U.K.'s youngest prime minister in 185 years. He started a process of constitutional change, including devolution for Scotland and Wales and reform of the House of Lords to remove the majority of hereditary members. The 2001 election almost repeated the results of 1997. In 2003 he joined the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, which was widely opposed, even within his own party. In 2005 he became the first Labour prime minister to win a third consecutive term, although his majority was reduced. In 2006 discontent in the party forced him to announce that he would resign within a year. On leaving office in 2007, he also resigned from Parliament and became envoy of the Middle East negotiating "Quartet," in which role he was singularly unsuccessful.
Blaize, Herbert A(ugustus) (b. Feb. 26, 1918, Carriacou island, Grenada - d. Dec. 19, 1989, near St. George's, Grenada), chief minister (1960-61, 1962-67) and prime minister (1984-89) of Grenada. In 1953 he founded the Grenada National Party (GNP) as a rival to the Grenada United Labour Party headed by Eric Gairy. He entered the legislature in 1957 and became minister of trade and production. Three years later was appointed chief minister. In 1961 he was defeated by Gairy, but Blaize was returned to office in 1962 after Gairy was removed by the British government following accusations of corruption. During Blaize's five-year tenure, the country achieved internal self-government as an associated state. Gairy regained power in 1967 and oversaw a controversial move to independence in 1974. In 1976 Blaize's GNP joined forces with the New Jewel Movement (NJM) in an unsuccessful effort to unseat Gairy. When the NJM seized power in 1979, Blaize retired to Carriacou. He kept a low profile during the years of revolutionary government until 1984, when he emerged to head a coalition of the GNP and other centre-right parties under the name New National Party, which captured 14 of 15 seats in the legislature. He became prime minister and also held the portfolios of finance, planning, trade, industrial development, home affairs, Carriacou affairs, information, and national security. He followed a policy based on close economic, political, and military ties with the U.S. and aimed at encouraging overseas private investment and containing any revival of left-wing forces. He was sometimes criticized for being uncommunicative and authoritarian. During his last months he vehemently refused to step down, even though disavowed by his own party.
Blake Mora, (José) Francisco (b. May 22, 1966, Tijuana, Mexico - d. [helicopter crash] Nov. 11, 2011, outside Mexico City, Mexico), interior minister of Mexico (2010-11).
Blakeney, Allan (Emrys) (b. Sept. 7, 1925, Bridgewater, N.S. - d. April 16, 2011, Saskatoon, Sask.), premier of Saskatchewan (1971-82).
Blamo, J(ohn) Bernard (b. 1935 - d. December 2001), foreign minister of Liberia (1986-87).
Blanchard, Francis (Camille) (b. July 21, 1916, Paris, France - d. Dec. 9, 2009, Switzerland), director-general of the International Labour Organization (1974-89).
Blanchard, James J(ohnston) (b. Aug. 8, 1942, Detroit, Mich.), governor of Michigan (1983-91). He was also ambassador to Canada (1993-96).
Blanche Espejo, Bartolomé (Guillermo) (b. June 6, 1879, La Serena, Chile - d. June 10, 1970), provisional president of Chile (1932). He was also minister of war (1927-30) and interior (1932) and army commander-in-chief (1930-31).
Blanchet, (Antoine) Albert, foreign minister of Haiti (1932-33).
Blanco (Meaño), Andrés Eloy (b. Aug. 6, 1897, Cumaná, Sucre state, Venezuela - d. [car crash] May 21, 1955, Mexico City, Mexico), foreign minister of Venezuela (1948).
Blanco (Estradé), Juan Carlos (b. June 9, 1934, Montevideo, Uruguay), foreign minister of Uruguay (1972-76). He became the first person in the country to be jailed for crimes against humanity after he was convicted on Oct. 18, 2002, in connection with the "disappearance" of Elena Quinteros, a teacher arrested in 1976 while trying to take refuge in the Venezuelan embassy in Montevideo. In May 2003, a court ordered his release, having absolved him of deprivation of liberty charges; in June, the government filed new charges of aggravated homicide against him in connection with Quinteros' death. In May 2005 further charges were filed against him (and former president Juan María Bordaberry) for the murders (also in 1976) of the Chamber of Deputies leader Héctor Gutiérrez Ruiz, Sen. Zelmar Michelini, and two suspected members of the Tupamaro guerrilla group, William Whitelaw and Rosario Barredo.
Blanco, Kathleen (Babineaux), née Babineaux (b. Dec. 15, 1942, New Iberia, La.), governor of Louisiana (2004-08).
Blanco García, Jaime (b. May 1, 1944, Santander, Spain), president of Cantabria (1990-91).
J. Blanco G.
Blandinières, Louis (Justin Ignace) (b. Aug. 1, 1814, Perpignan, France - d. ...), commandant of Sainte-Marie de Madagascar (1868-74).
Blangy, Michel (Daniel) (b. May 5, 1939, Suresnes, Hauts-de-Seine, France), prefect of Réunion (1984-86). He was also prefect of the départements of Hautes-Alpes (1982-84), Val-de-Marne (1989-91), Vienne (1991-93), and Loire-Atlantique (1997-2002).
Blank, Rebecca M(argaret) (b. Sept. 19, 1955, Columbia, Mo.), acting U.S. commerce secretary (2011, 2012-13).
Blanshard, Richard (b. Oct. 19, 1817, London - d. June 5, 1894, London), lieutenant governor of Vancouver Island (1849-51) and British Columbia (1850-58).
Blanton, (Leonard) Ray (b. April 10, 1930, Hardin county, Tenn. - d. Nov. 22, 1996, Jackson, Tenn.), governor of Tennessee (1975-79). He ran unopposed for a seat in the Tennessee House in 1964 and two years later was elected to Congress, unseating Rep. Tom Murray. He left the House in 1972 to run against Republican Sen. Howard H. Baker, Jr. Blanton lost, but built the political organization that carried him to victory as governor in 1974. He won the Democratic nomination with 23% of the vote in a 12-candidate race and defeated Lamar Alexander in the general election. Blanton was the first Tennessee governor to recruit industry from overseas. He decided not to seek a second term in 1978. His stint as governor ended abruptly in the waning days of his term after he pardoned and commuted prison terms for 52 inmates. Outraged fellow Democrats in the Legislature joined with Republicans to move up the inauguration of his GOP successor, Alexander, by three days. Three Blanton aides were charged with accepting money in return for approving paroles for prisoners. Two were eventually convicted and sent to prison; the third was acquitted. Blanton was never charged in the scandal. But the governor continued issuing pardons even after his aides were charged in December 1978, and that prompted his early removal. In 1981, he was convicted of unrelated charges of extortion and conspiracy for selling a liquor license for $23,000 to a friend while in office. Blanton served 22 months in federal prison. He continued to try to clear his name with appeals. In August 1996 Blanton still said he would never stop trying to prove his innocence. "I never took a dishonest dollar in my life. I was the only governor to ever leave office broke. That should tell you something," he said.
Blaylock, Chet, byname of Chester Merle Blaylock (b. Nov. 13, 1924, Joliet, Mont. - d. Oct. 23, 1996, Deer Lodge, Mont.), U.S. politician. The Democrat served in the Montana Senate from 1975 to 1994. In 1996 he ran for governor of Montana, but died of an apparent heart attack less than two weeks before the election.
Blazevic, Jakov (b. March 24, 1912, Buzim village, near Gospic, Croatia - d. 1996), chairman of the Executive Council (1953-62), president of the Assembly (1967-74), and president of the Presidency (1974-82) of Croatia.
Bledisloe of Lydney, Charles Bathurst, (1st) Viscount, (1st) Baron Bledisloe of Lydney (b. Sept. 21, 1867, London, England - d. July 3, 1958, Lydney, Gloucestershire, England), governor-general of New Zealand (1930-35). He was knighted in 1917, created a baron in 1918, and created a viscount on Dec. 24, 1935.
Blénac, Louis de Courbon, comte de (b. 16... - d. July 10, 1722, Rochefort [now in Charente-Maritime département], France), governor (1713-14) and governor-general (1714-17) of Saint-Domingue.
Blevec, (Bertrand) Hercule (b. Nov. 30, 1792, Port-Louis, Île de France [now Mauritius] - d. Aug. 25, 1866, Paris), commandant of Sainte-Marie de Madagascar (1823-26, 1827-29).
Bligh, Anna (Maria) (b. July 14, 1960, Warwick, Queensland), premier of Queensland (2007-12).
Bliss, Ray Charles (b. Dec. 16, 1907, Akron, Ohio - d. Aug. 6, 1981, Akron), U.S. politician. He diligently worked behind the scenes to reinforce the strength of the Republican Party as both Ohio state chairman (1949-65) and national chairman (1965-69) of the party. Bliss effectively demonstrated his organizational skills as state chairman by systematically investigating every complaint; under his leadership the Republicans outscored the Democrats in three of four presidential races and congressional and state elections. In 1965, as head of the Republican National Committee, he helped restructure the fragmented party after the decisive defeat of Barry Goldwater by Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1964 presidential election. Bliss also contributed to the presidential victory of Richard M. Nixon, who later replaced Bliss with Rogers C.B. Morton in 1969. Bliss retired from his seat on the Republican National Committee in 1980.
Blix, Hans (Martin) (b. June 28, 1928, Uppsala, Sweden), foreign minister of Sweden (1978-79) and director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (1981-97). From 1961 to 1981 he was a member of Sweden's delegation to the United Nations General Assembly, and from 1962 to 1978 a member of the Swedish delegation to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. In 2000 he became chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, charged with enforcing Security Council resolutions regarding the accounting for and disposal of all of Iraq's nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. Amid a U.S.-led military buildup in the Gulf, Iraq agreed to new weapons inspections, which began in November 2002. But the work of Blix and his inspectors was cut short in March 2003 when the U.S., claiming that Iraq had fallen short of the full and unconditional cooperation required by Security Council Resolution 1441, insisted on using force to overthrow the Iraqi regime.
Bliznashki, Georgi (b. Oct. 4, 1956, Skravena, Sofia district, Bulgaria), interim prime minister of Bulgaria (2014- ).
Blocher, Christoph (b. Oct. 11, 1940, Schaffhausen, Switzerland), Swiss politician; grandnephew of Eugen Blocher and Hermann Blocher. Representing the canton of Zürich in the Swiss National Council (1979-2003) as a deputy of the conservative Swiss People's Party (SVP), he built his political career by campaigning against Swiss membership of the European Union (and the UN until 2002) and against illegal immigration. He led (1986-2003) a mass organization, the Action for an Independent and Neutral Switzerland, and as such has frequently been compared with figures such as Jean-Marie Le Pen in France and Jörg Haider in Austria. He surprised many observers when his party emerged as the largest party in the lower house of the Swiss parliament in the Oct. 19, 2003, elections. Blocher thus became Switzerland's most influential politician. On December 10 he was elected into the 7-member government (effective Jan. 1, 2004), his party gaining one of the two seats of the centrist Christian Democratic People's Party; it was the first change in the "magic formula" dividing the government posts among the four main parties since 1959. He received the Department of Justice and Police. His populist anti-immigrant positions angered the centre-left members of the government. In the October 2007 elections the SVP received the highest vote ever recorded in Switzerland after a bitter campaign in which it accused immigrants of responsibility for much of the crime in the country. Party posters featuring white sheep kicking a black sheep off a Swiss flag sparked widespread outrage, but still resonated with the party faithful and attracted new voters. In December 2007 he was ousted from the government, when the parliament voted instead for the more moderate SVP member Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf. The SVP then went into opposition.
Blocher, Eugen (b. Dec. 28, 1882, Münchenstein, Basel-Land, Switzerland - d. Dec. 10, 1964, Pully, Vaud, Switzerland), president of the Federal Tribunal of Switzerland (1949-50); brother of Hermann Blocher.
Blocher, Hermann (b. March 11, 1872, Münchenstein, Basel-Land, Switzerland - d. Jan. 1, 1942, Sweden), president of the government of Basel-Stadt (1913-14).
Block, John R(usling) (b. Feb. 15, 1935, Galesburg, Ill.), U.S. secretary of agriculture (1981-86). From 1977 to 1981 he served as the director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture. When he became U.S. secretary of agriculture in 1981, his major goals were to give the nation a healthy farm economy by expanding exports and to get the government out of the farmer's business by cutting the number and size of costly federal farm support programs. But events combined to frustrate most of Block's intentions. After three years in office he was confronted with a sickly farm economy, the continuation of most government support programs, angry farmers, and hostile farm-belt politicians. Recession, drought, foreign competition, crop surpluses, and large equipment loans resulted in an economic disaster for many farmers. While the 1983 growing season produced some bumper crops, drought in the South and Midwest destroyed corn, rice, and soybeans. Farm income declined, and agriculture lagged behind the rest of the country's economic recovery. The power of the farm lobby in Congress thwarted Block's efforts to reduce the estimated $23 billion annual cost of farm support programs, and budget cuts hampered the delivery of disaster relief on the scale demanded by political leaders in regions hit hardest by the drought and depressed agricultural conditions. Democrats and some Republicans criticized Block for tightening the eligibility rules covering the controversial food stamp program. In a highly publicized demonstration, Block and his family lived for a week on a $58 food-stamp allotment to show that with careful shopping it could provide proper nutrition. Congress responded with a resolution against any further cuts in the food-stamp level.
Bloemers, Hugo Willibrord (b. May 2, 1908, Borculo, Gelderland, Netherlands - d. June 24, 2001, Bilthoven, Utrecht, Netherlands), queen's commissioner of Gelderland (1957-73).
Bloomberg, Michael (Rubens) (b. Feb. 14, 1942, Medford, near Boston, Mass.), mayor of New York City (2002-14). He took an entry-level job with Salomon Brothers investment bank and within 15 years had achieved the level of partner and was leading the firm's block trading operations. A political shake-up at Salomon in 1981 left him without a job, but with his $10 million partnership buyout, he created Innovative Market Systems. By 2001 the renamed Bloomberg LP employed more than 7,000 people around the world. Central to the company's success was the Bloomberg computer terminal, a comprehensive financial news and information source that was leased to users at a price of $1,285 per month. The company's other holdings included the Bloomberg Business News wire service, news radio station WBBR in New York City, Bloomberg Television, and specialty magazines. In 2001 he entered the race for mayor of New York City as a Republican. The formal announcement of his candidacy in early June sparked two types of speculation: what effect his election as mayor might have on New York City and what effect his absence as CEO might have on his company. Reportedly worth about $4.5 billion, he funded much of his mayoral campaign himself, spending more than $68 million from his personal fortune. His campaign themes focused on issues of great concern to New Yorkers: improvements in traffic and transit, housing, and education. What helped him most, however, was the endorsement of outgoing mayor Rudolph Giuliani, whose leadership following the September 11 terrorist attacks was universally praised. After trailing badly in the polls just weeks before the November 6 election, he went on to win the mayor's race, defeating Democrat Mark Green by a narrow margin. Reelected in 2005, he dropped his Republican affiliation in 2007 to become an independent.
Blount, Winton M(alcolm), byname Red Blount (b. Feb. 1, 1921, Union Springs, Ala. - d. Oct. 24, 2002, Highlands, N.C.), U.S. postmaster general (1969-72). He ended the patronage filling of postmaster vacancies and presided over the shift (1971) of the U.S. Post Office from a cabinet department to a nonprofit government-owned corporation. He also helped start the modern Republican Party in Alabama, built a 5,000-employee company that sold for $1.35 billion, and created a dazzling cultural park on his Montgomery estate that included the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and an arts pavilion and an Elizabethan village. In 1972 he ran unsuccessfully as the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate from Alabama.
Blum, Léon (André) (b. April 9, 1872, Paris - d. March 30, 1950, Jouy-en-Josas, Yvelines, France), prime minister of France (1936-37, 1938, 1946-47). Brought into politics by the Dreyfus affair which began in 1894, he joined the Socialist Party and in 1919 was first elected to the Chamber of Deputies. After right-wing demonstrations in 1934, Blum was the chief architect of an electoral alliance of the left known as the Popular Front. It won a large majority in the elections of 1936, and he became the first Socialist and the first Jew to become premier of France. His government introduced the 40-hour workweek and secured paid vacations and collective bargaining for many workers and carried other social reforms. His plans to establish effective state controls over private industry and finance aroused bitter hostility among business leaders, and sections of the right wing adopted the ominous slogan, "Better Hitler than Blum." He resigned in June 1937 after the conservative majority in the Senate refused to grant him emergency decree powers. Modified Popular Front governments were formed by Camille Chautemps, in which Blum served as vice-premier, and by Blum again in March-April 1938. After the French collapse in World War II, he was arrested by the Vichy government and indicted on charges of war guilt (October 1940). In February 1942 he was brought to trial at the court of Riom, but his powerful defense led to an indefinite suspension of the hearings, and he was returned to prison. He was freed by U.S. forces from a German concentration camp in May 1945. From December 1946 to January 1947 he headed a caretaker government, pending the election of the first president of the Fourth Republic. He served as vice-premier in August 1948.
Blumenthal, (Werner) Michael (b. Jan. 3, 1926, Oranienburg, Brandenburg province, Prussia [now in Brandenburg state], Germany), U.S. secretary of the treasury (1977-79). He fled the Nazis with his family on April 6, 1939, grew up in Shanghai, China, and in 1947 went to the United States. He served in the State Department, where he negotiated the Kennedy round of tariff reductions, and was appointed as treasury secretary by Pres. Jimmy Carter. He left office during Carter's cabinet shakeup in July 1979. In December 1997, he accepted an invitation from the city of Berlin to become president and chief executive of the Berlin Jewish Museum.
Blumsky, Mark (Herbert) (b. Aug. 29, 1957, Nelson, New Zealand), high commissioner of Niue (2010-13). He was mayor of Wellington in 1995-2001.
Blundell, Sir (Edward) Denis (b. May 29, 1907, Wellington, New Zealand - d. Sept. 24, 1984, Townsville, Queensland, Australia), governor-general of New Zealand (1972-77). He was knighted in 1967. In 1968-72 he was ambassador to Ireland as well as New Zealand's chief representative in London, where he tried to minimize the loss of trade between New Zealand and Britain when the latter finally joined the European Communities in 1973.
Blundell, Edmund Augustus (b. 1804? - d. Oct. 12, 1868, Harrogate, Yorkshire, England), commissioner of Tenasserim (1833-43), resident councillor of Malacca (1847-49) and Penang (1849-55), and governor of the Straits Settlements (1855-59).
Blunkett, David (b. June 6, 1947, Sheffield, England), British politician. Blunkett, who was blind from birth, became at the age of 22 the youngest-ever councillor on Sheffield's city council, and he rose to become the council's leader in 1980. He belonged to the Labour Party's left wing, a position that helped in his election to the party's national executive in 1982. At that time Labour was badly divided. These divisions came to a head when party leader Neil Kinnock sought to expel a group of hard-line left-wingers. Blunkett sided with Kinnock on this and on a wider strategy for modernizing the party. In 1987 he was elected MP for the safe Labour constituency of Sheffield Brightside. In 1994 Labour's new leader, Tony Blair, appointed him the party's shadow minister, or spokesman, on education. It was a key appointment, as Blair announced that on becoming prime minister he would make his three top priorities "education, education, education." When Labour won the 1997 general election, Blunkett became education secretary, with the task of raising school standards to match those of other prosperous countries. He introduced a number of reforms and frequently cited his own disability and impoverished background to argue that all children had the potential to succeed and that no school should be allowed to use the fact that its children came from deprived or broken families as an excuse for bad results. His tough strategy was widely praised, although he was not always popular with teachers unions. Following the 2001 general election, Blair promoted Blunkett to be home secretary, one of the most senior cabinet positions. It was his reward for having been one of the most successful ministers during Blair's first term in office. He resigned in 2004 following weeks of allegations that he abused his office to fast-track a visa for the nanny of a former lover. He returned to the cabinet as work and pensions secretary in May 2005 but resigned in November after breaching conflict-of-interest rules.
Blunt, David (Graeme) (b. January 1953), deputy governor of Gibraltar (2002-05). He was acting governor in May 2003. He later was head of the British office in Pristina (2006-08) and ambassador to Kosovo (2008) and Croatia (2008-12).
Blunt, Grant (b. March 6, 1840 - d. March 26, 1912), governor of Saint Helena (1884-87).