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Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Serval

The serval is a medium-sized wild cat which is native to the area in Africa south of the Sahara. It is the only species in its genus.

Pixabay

HISTORY

Ancient Egyptians worshiped servals for their grace and power. Some kept them as pets.

The species was first described by German naturalist Johann Christian Daniel von Schreber as Felis serval in 1776.

ANATOMY

The serval's length as an adult is about 32 inches (body) and 16 inches (tail). It is lightly built, and weighs about four pounds.

The serval has the longest legs of all cats, relative to its size, which help it achieve a top speed of 80 kilometers per hour (50 mph).

Not only can the serval run fast, but it is an amazing jumper: it can leap more than 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) above the ground from a standing start.

The serval has large ears with acute hearing. The serval uses its sense of hearing to locate the prey.

Pixabay

BEHAVIOR

The serval is nocturnal, and hunts mostly at night. It is an opportunistic predator whose diet includes small birds, fish, frogs, hares, insects, reptiles and rodents (particularly vlei rats).

Like most cats, the serval is a solitary animal with minimal social interaction. It travels as much as 3 to 4 kilometres (1.9 to 2.5 mi) each night in search of food.

A serval cat at Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. By Bob - Picasa Web Albums,

Servals don’t chase prey but wait for a victim to come close and then it leaps over 2 m (6 ft 7 in) above the ground to land on the prey on its forefeet before giving a fatal bite to the neck or head.

Their tan coats help the serval to blend in while hunting.

FUN SERVAL FACTS

Their 50 per cent kill rate is the best of all cats.


They are rare in the UK but savannah cats – a mix of domestic and serval – are more common.

Source Daily Mail

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Sermon

SERMONS IN CHRISTIANITY

The sermon has been an important part of Christian services since early Christianity and the Bible contains many of these early addresses. These include: Jesus' sermon on the mount in Matthew 5-7, Peter after Pentecost in Acts 2:14-40, Stephen in a long speech to the Sanhedrin , which presents his view of the history of Israel in Acts 7:1b–53.

The Sermon on the Mount by Carl Heinrich Bloch

Despite knowing little of Christian doctrine himself, Constantine The Great was very fond of conversing with bishops about religion and in his later years he personally preached sermons, presenting them in his imperial palace before his court and invited guests.

One priest in a medieval French village church used a certain visual aid for his sermons. It was a wooden crucifix containing a spring connected by an iron rod to a pedal at the base, which the preacher operated with his foot making Christ's head, eyes and tongue move.

Some medieval western European congregations used a sand-clock to time their parson's sermon. They placed an hourglass conspicuously on the pulpit to ensure his sermon didn't go beyond an acceptable time.

On February 24, 1209, Francis of Assisi heard a sermon based on Matthew 10:9 that changed his life forever. The gospel passage recounted Christ telling his followers they should go forth and proclaim that the Kingdom of Heaven was upon them, that they should take no money with them, nor even a walking stick or shoes for the road. Francis was inspired to devote himself to a life of poverty

On December 20, 1576 Edmund Grindal, Archbishop of Canterbury, sent a letter to Queen Elizabeth I of England protesting her order that he tell preachers throughout England to stop speaking so often. She felt three or four sermons per year were sufficient. Grindal's refusal to enforce her wishes earned him house arrest.

Edmund Grindal 

On December 9, 1621, deacon Robert Cushman gave a sermon to settle jealousies and animosities among settlers of the Plymouth Colony. He had come to help straighten out affairs, and he preached out of Corinthians, encouraging true friendship and love among the settlers. It was the first recorded sermon on American soil and the first to be printed there.

The poet and Church of England cleric John Donne (1572- 1631) was recognized as the most brilliant and eloquent preacher around in his day. Listening to a spellbinding preacher was one of the most popular entertainments available to the common people at the time and many flocked to listen to famous preachers such as Donne. Crowds including the King himself came to hear sermons, which often last several hours.

Two months before his death Donne preached his legendary "Death's Duell," his so-called funeral sermon."We celebrate our own funeral with cries, even at our birth," preached the poet, who was seemingly obsessed with the subject for his entire life.

Henry Smith (ca. 1560 – 1591?) was an English clergyman, whose sermons at St. Clement Danes in London drew enormous crowds, and earned him a reputation as "Silver Tongued" Smith. Such was the current popularity of preaching as entertainment in England that at least 128 editions of the sermons of the popular Elizabethan puritan preacher Henry William "Silver Tongued" Smith were published between 1587 and 1637 compared with 90 editions of the works of Shakespeare.

Henry Smith

John Calvin felt the most important part of the church service was the sermon when the congregation would be made to think very seriously about their faith. "I am given to understand that your very full sermons are giving some ground for complaint," he once wrote to his friend William Farel. "I beg you earnestly to restrict yourself, enforcing, if necessary, rather than offer Satan any handle which he will be able to seize."

One of the king's chaplains, Dr Robert South, was in the middle of preaching before King Charles II when he looked up from his notes to find to his mortification that the monarch and his attendants had fallen asleep. Some of the attendants were snoring so South interrupted his sermon and called to one of the attendants, "Lord Lauderdale, rouse yourself. You snore so loudly that you will wake up the king."

On one occasion, Dean Jonathan Swift was admonished for preaching a charity sermon of such an excessive length that by its conclusion the congregation felt totally uninclined to contribute to the cause concerned. The next time the Dean determined to keep it brief and he proceeded to announce his text from Proverbs 19 v 17. "He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord and he will reward him for what he has done." He repeated this twice more then continued, "You, have heard the terms of the loan. If you like the security, put down your money." Then he sat down and watched the congregation donate in a much more generous manner.

In the 18th and 19th centuries during the Great Awakening on the United States, major evangelistic sermons were preached at revival meetings. These sermons were noted for their "fire-and-brimstone" message, in which preachers preached to their congregations hell fire and damnation without repentance during mass "call and response" services.

These "fire-and-brimstone" messages were typified by Jonathan Edwards' famous 1741 "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" speech. When Jonathan Edwards preached, he would read his sermons word-for-word in a monotonous tone, rarely lifting his head to look at the listeners. Yet still the power of God moved in people's hearts through the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.


For over 50 years John Wesley preached 15 times a week on average a total of close to 40,000 sermons, sometimes to crowds of over 20,000 people. The English evangelist popularized the phrase "cleanliness is next to Godliness in his sermon, On Dress. The term originated in the writings of the ancient rabbi Phinehas Ben Yair.

In 1833 John Keble (1792-1866), a parson's son, and professor of poetry at Oxford preached a sermon on "Natural Apostasy" which sparked off the "Oxford Movement", a revival of Catholic spirituality in the Church of England.

David Livingstone was a poor speaker. During his first sermon for the London Missionary Society, he stood in the pulpit for five minutes in silence. The tongue tied fledgling preacher then admitted he had forgotten all he had to say.

Before becoming a full-time artist, Vincent Van Gogh wished to go into the ministry. When he preached his first sermon at the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Kew, London he began with the words: "I am a stranger on this Earth. Hide not thy commandments from me. It is an odd belief and a good belief that our life is a pilgrim's progress."

Van Gogh worked for a time as co-worker at Turnham Green Congregational church in London, but the young Dutchman  preached long, ambiguous sermons that he read badly.

In 1903, The Reverend Milton Wright, an Evangelical United Brethren Bishop preached a sermon saying, "If God wanted to fly he would have given us wings". Three months after preaching his sermon, his sons, Orville and Wilbur Wright had built and flown the first self propelled airplane at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

Billy Graham got his first opportunity to preach in 1937 when his teacher John Minder unexpectedly assigned him the Easter evening sermon. Graham tried to get out of it, saying he was unprepared, but Minder persisted. Desperately nervous, Graham raced through four memorized sermons, originally 45 minutes each, in eight minutes.

Florida Pastor Zach Zehnder preached the longest sermon in recorded history in 2014 with a speech that lasted 53 hours and 18 minutes. The pastor of the Cross Mount Dora church in Florida set out to break the previous record of 48 hours and 31 minutes in an effort to raise money for a nonprofit that offers free alcohol and drug-addiction treatment services. Zehnder combined around 45 sermons and preached them sequentially which allowed him to surpass the record.


SERMONS IN OTHER RELIGIONS

Prince Gautama Siddhartha (563BC- 483BC) preached a famous sermon at Benares to five fellow ascetics in a park. His sermon "Turning of the Wheel of the Law" gave birth to Buddhism. This sermon is held in similar reverence by Buddhists as the Sermon on the Mount is by Christians.

Turning the Wheel of the Dharma | by Akuppa

In February 632 the prophet Muhammad left Medina, accompanied by all his wives on a farewell pilgrimage to Mecca, After completing the pilgrimage, Muhammad delivered a famous speech, known as the Farewell Sermon, at Mount Arafat east of Mecca.

Sources Christianity Today, Christian Post


Monday, 11 December 2017

Serial killer

A serial killer is typically a person who murders three or more people, with the killings taking place over more than a month and including a cooling off period between them.

While most authorities, set a threshold of three murders when designating serial killers, the FBI  defines serial killing as "a series of two or more murders, committed as separate events, usually, but not always, by one offender acting alone".

French knight Gilles de Rais (c. September 1405 – October 26, 1440) was one of the earliest known serial killers, having engaged in a series of child murders, with victims possibly numbering in the hundreds. In his confession, Gilles mentioned the first assaults on children occurred between spring 1432 and spring 1433. The killings came to an end in 1440, when he was taken into custody upon an accusation brought against him by the Bishop of Nantes. At his trial, Gilles was condemned to death and hanged at Nantes.

Herman Webster Mudgett (May 16, 1861 – May 7, 1896), more commonly known as H. H. Holmes, was the first recognized serial killer in United States history. While he confessed to 27 murders, only nine could be plausibly confirmed. Holmes, who sold the skeletons of his victims to medical science, was hanged in Philadelphia in 1896.

H. H. Holmes

Marcel Petiot (January 17, 1897 – May 25, 1946) was a French doctor, who was convicted of multiple murders after the discovery of the remains of 23 people in the basement of his home in Paris during World War II.

After his crimes were discovered, Marcel Petiot grew a beard and joined the police using the alias Captain Valeri. "Valeri" was assigned to find Petiot until someone recognized him, months later. He is suspected of the murder of around 60 victims during his lifetime, although the true number remains unknown.

The crimes of murderer and bodysnatcher Edward Gein August 27, 1906 – July 26, 1984), committed around his hometown of Plainfield, Wisconsin, gathered widespread notoriety after authorities discovered that he had exhumed corpses from local graveyards and fashioned trophies and keepsakes from their bones and skin. The movie characters Norman Bates (Psycho), Leatherface (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre) and Buffalo Bill (The Silence of the Lambs) were all based on Glen.

Ed Gein

Albert DeSalvo, known as the ‘Boston Strangler’, was jailed for life for sexual assault and armed robbery on January 18, 1967. He admitted murdering 13 women between 1962 and 1964, but was not charged due to a lack of evidence. DaSalvo was stabbed to death in prison in 1973. DNA testing later proved "with an unprecedented level of certainty" that he was behind the murder of the final victim, Mary Sullivan.

Ted Bundy (November 24, 1946 – January 24, 1989) was a law student who is believed to have killed at least 36 females, both adults and children, during the 1970s. The year the murders began, Bundy was the assistant director of the Seattle Crime Prevention Advisory Commission and during this period he wrote a pamphlet for women on rape prevention. Convicted in 1979 on several charges, including the murder of a 12-year-old girl, Bundy was sentenced to death. He was executed in Florida in 1989 after a string of unsuccessful appeals.

Ted Bundy
Serial killer Rodney Alcala (b August 23, 1943) is believed to have murdered up to 130 people. In the midst of his three-year killing spree in California between 1977 and 1979, Alcala was featured a contestant on The Dating Game, and was picked by the bachelorette. She never followed up on the date because she found him "creepy".

Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe was sentenced to life imprisonment on May 22, 1981, having been found guilty of 13 counts of murder and seven counts of attempted murder.

Joseph Christopher (July 26, 1955 – March 1, 1993) was an American serial killer who gained infamy for a series of murders in the early 1980s. He is believed to have killed at least twelve individuals and wounded numerous others. Christopher had tried to check himself into a psychiatric center just weeks before he began his murders.

Aileen Wuornos was the first female serial killer in America. In 1992 she was charged with the shooting of five middle-aged men she met on highways by hitch hiking. Wuornos confessed to shooting seven men in self-defence and was eventually executed on October 9, 2002.

Aileen Wuornos

A nurse by profession, Beverly Allitt was convicted in 1993 of the murder of four children in her care and of the attempted murder of three others. Dubbed the UK's first female serial killer, she allegedly suffered from a medical condition termed 'Münchhausen's syndrome by proxy'.

Pakistani serial killer Javed Iqbal (October 8, 1956 – October 8, 2001), was sentenced to death by being strangled in front of his victims' families, dismembered and then burned in a vat of acid, in the same way he killed over 100 teenage boys. He was found dead in his cell before the execution could be carried out.

British doctor Harold Shipman (AKA 'Doctor Death') was proven to have murdered at least 250 of his patients, but may have killed as many as 459 people, making one of the most prolific serial killers in recorded human history. Shipman died on January 13, 2004, one day prior to his 58th birthday, by hanging himself in his cell at Wakefield Prison.

The world's deadliest serial killer, Luis Cubillos, also known as La Bestia ("The Beast") (born January 25, 1957) admitted to the rape, torture and murder of 147 young boys in Colombia in 1999 and was sentenced to 835 years in prison. He is suspected to have murdered many more.

 Luis Cubillos by Government of Colombia

76% of all known serial killers in the 20th century were from the United States.

Less than one percent of murders in any given year are committed by serial killers.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Serbia

HISTORY

The Serbs settled in the Balkans in the 7th century, and accepted Christianity in the 9th.

Višeslav of Serbia, who ruled in c. 780 is the first Serbian ruler known by name. Višeslav was a progenitor of the Serbian ruling family, known in historiography as the Vlastimirović dynasty, who ruled the Serbian Principality from the early 7th century until c. 960.

Between 1166 and 1371 Serbia was ruled by the Nemanjić dynasty.The Serbian Kingdom obtained recognition by Rome and the Byzantine Empire in 1217, reaching its peak under Stefan Dušan (c. 1308 – December 20, 1355), in 1346 as a relatively short-lived Serbian Empire, which covered most of the Balkans.

The Proclamation of Dušan's Law Codex in Skopje Fortress in 1349

Following the death of childless Emperor Uroš the Weak in 1371, the Serbian Empire was left without an heir and the once-powerful state fragmented into duchies, culminating in the 1389 Battle of Kosovo against the rising Ottoman Empire.

The Serbian Despotate, a successor of the Serbian Empire survived for 70 more years, before it was finally conquered by the Ottomans in 1459.

On February 14, 1804 Karađorđe Petrović led the First Serbian Uprising against the Ottoman Empire. This and a second uprising led by Milosh Obrenovich forced the Turks to recognize Serbia as an autonomous principality under Obrenovich on July 26, 1817.

The Uprising at Takovo (1889), by Paja Jovanović

The assassination of Karađorđe Petrović in 1817 on Obrenovich's orders gave rise to a long feud between the two houses.

The Principality of Serbia was ruled by the House of Obrenović throughout the remainder of the 19th century, save for the rule of Prince Aleksandar Karađorđević between 1842 and 1858.

On the assassination of the last Obrenovich in 1903 the Karageorgevich Dynasty descendants of Karađorđe Petrović came to the throne.

The two Balkan Wars of 1912-13 greatly enlarged Serbia's territory at the expense of Turkey and Bulgaria.

Serbia's designs on Bosnia and Herzegovina, backed by Russia, led to friction with Austria-Hungaria. When Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, was assassinated by a Serbian on June 28, 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. The ensuing domino effect resulted in the First World War.

Serbia was completely overrun in 1915- 16, and was occupied until 1918, when it became the nucleus of the new kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, later named Yugoslavia.

Between 1991-92 Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina all broke away from Yugoslavia. The breakup had a variety of causes including nationalism, economic difficulty and ethnic problems. Serbia and Montenegro were the last two republics remaining and in 1992, they formed a new Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Federal Republic of Yugoslavia & territories of Serb breakaway states  Wikipedia

For most of its existence the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was involved in a series of ethnically-based wars and insurgencies. There was much ethnic violence during the Yugoslav Wars including mass genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1995) and ethnic cleansing in Kosovo (1998). In 1999 Serbia was bombed by NATO forces.

The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was led by the controversial statesman Slobodan Milosevic from 1997 until 2000. The fall of Milošević ended Yugoslavia's international isolation.

In 2003, the country dropped the name Yugoslavia in favor of a state union. It was rechristened Serbia and Montenegro.

The National Assembly of Serbia unanimously adopted new state symbols for Serbia in 2004: "Boze Pravde" (English: "God of Justice") became the new national anthem and the coat of arms was adopted for the whole country.

In 2006 The Republic of Montenegro held a referendum proposing independence from the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. The Montenegrin people chose independence with a majority of 55%.

The flag of Serbia is a tricolor consisting of three equal horizontal bands, red on the top, blue in the middle and white on the bottom. The same tricolor, in altering variations, has been used since the 19th century as the flag of the state of Serbia and the Serbian nation. The current form of the flag with a visual redesign of the coat of arms was officially adopted on November 11, 2010.

Serbian flag
FUN SERBIA FACTS

The country's capital Belgrade covers 3.6% of Serbia's territory, and 22.5% of the country's population lives in the city.

Over 31% of Serbia is covered by forest.

National parks take up 10% of Serbia's territory.


On Mother's Day in Serbia, it's the mothers who give presents to their children.

The actor Steven Seagal was given Serbian citizenship after starting a martial arts school in Belgrade and giving Aikido lessons to Serbian Special Forces.

"Serbia" is an anagram of "rabies". No other country is an anagram of a fatal disease.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Sequoia tree

Sequoia is a genus of redwood trees in the Cupressaceae family. It includes the largest trees in the world.

The Redwood Highway, at Jedediah Smith State Park nr Crescent City, Calif. By Acroterion

The generic name commemorates the great Cherokee Indian Sequoyah (or Sequoya) (1760 – 1843), who gave his people an 'alphabet' for their language.

The only living species of the genus is the Sequoia sempervirens. They comprise the Dawn Redwood, Coast Redwood, and Giant Sequoia.

Fossil remains of extinct species Sequoia as old as the Jurassic Period are widely dispersed in the Northern Hemisphere. These include Sequoia affinis, Sequoia chinensis in China, Sequoia langsdorfii, Sequoia dakotensis of South Dakota, and Sequoia magnifica.

The dawn redwood is native to Lichuan county in Hubei province, China. Although the least tall of the redwoods, it grows to at least 200 feet (60 meters) in height.

The coast redwood occupy a narrow strip of land approximately 750 km (470 mi) in length and 5–47 mi (8.0–75.6 km) in width along the Pacific coast of North America in northern California and southern Oregon.

The coast redwood can reach 115 m (377 ft) tall with a trunk diameter of 9 m (30 ft). making it the tallest tree on Earth.

Coast Redwoods in Redwood National and State Parks

The current tallest tree is the Hyperion tree, measuring 379.3 ft (115.61). The tree was discovered in Redwood National Park on August 25, 2006 by Chris Atkins and Michael Taylor, and is thought to be the world's tallest living organism.

The giant sequoia is the largest of living trees, having enormous bulk, up to some 30 metres/ 100 feet at the base, as well as being almost as tall as the redwood.

Most giant sequoias grow in 77 scattered groves on the westerly slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains from Placer to Tulare counties in California. These groups were formed as a protection from logging.

European-Americans first stumbled upon giant sequoias in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in 1853. It was brought into cultivation in Britain the same year by the horticulturist Patrick Matthew of Perthshire from seeds sent by his botanist son John in California.

Giant sequoia has been grown as an ornamental tree elsewhere in the US, as well as western and southern Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

A giant sequoia avenue at Benmore Botanic Garden, Scotland. Dougie Macdonald

The most famous area with giant sequoia trees is Sequoia National Park, in California which contains five out of the ten largest trees in the world. The park was made as the second national park, after the Yellowstone in 1980.

Several trees in Sequoia National Park have been named, for example General Grant, the Grizzly Giant or General Sherman.

General Sherman is the largest known living single stem tree on Earth boasting a mass of 52,500 cubic feet.

General Sherman Tree, in Sequoia National Park

The giant sequoia is, except for the bristlecone pine, the oldest of living trees, some specimens having been known to have lived more than 3000 years. The oldest living sequoia, The President, located in California's Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, is estimated to be about 3200 years old.

Friday, 8 December 2017

September 11 attacks

The September 11 attacks were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by 19 members of the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda on the United States on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001.

Two hijacked aircraft crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City, while a third smashed into The Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia, and a fourth into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

The north face of World Trade Center immediately after being struck  By Robert 

MOTIVATION

The terrorists believed that they were Holy Warriors. Their absolute revulsion towards America caused them to believe that they were carrying out God's will. Many Americans had previously been unaware of the hatred many Moslems haves towards the decadent Christian Western world.

THE ATTACKS 

American Airlines Flight 11, a Boeing 767, was the first hijacked airplane of the September 11, 2001 attacks. It crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

Flight paths of the four planes used on September 11

The American Airlines airplane was scheduled to fly from Logan International Airport in Boston to Los Angeles International Airport. Fifteen minutes after takeoff, the hijackers forced their way into the cockpit. One of the hijackers was a trained pilot. He took the controls of the aircraft and flew it into the North Tower.

92 people died in the Flight 11 crash—five hijackers, 76 other passengers, and 11 crew members. The time of the crash was 08:46 Eastern Daylight Time.

The crash, and the fire that started right after the crash, made the North Tower collapse. The attack both killed and injured thousands of people.

United Airlines Flight 175 was also scheduled to fly from Boston to Los Angeles. The Boeing 767-200 operating the route was hijacked by five al-Qaeda terrorists and crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center 17 minutes after the American Airlines Flight 11 flew into the North Tower.

American Airlines Flight 77 was hijacked by Islam terrorists and flown into the western side of the Pentagon, killing 189 people.

The attack on the Pentagon took place exactly 60 years after its construction began.

It was the first significant foreign attack on Washington's governmental facilities since the city was burned by the British and Canadians during the War of 1812.

The Pentagon was damaged by fire and partly collapsed

The fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93, was initially steered toward Washington, D.C., but crashed into a field, after its passengers tried to overcome the hijackers.

91,4 % of the 9/11 survivors put off evacuation to go to the bathroom or shut down computers before evacuating.

There was only one airplane allowed to fly in the US on 9/11 after the attacks. It was a flight from California to Florida that was carrying anti-venom for a man that was bitten by a venomous snake. The plane was accompanied by two fighter jets.

When the US Airspace was shutdown following the attacks, Canada took in 255 flights bound for the USA making this known as Operation Yellow Ribbon. There were over 30,000 people on all 200 flights. Many Canadians hosted the passengers at home for several days.

CASUALTIES 

The attacks killed 2,996 people directly. Another three have since died of causes related to smoke inhalation. Eleven unborn babies also died.

6,000 others were injured, and there was at least $10 billion worth of damage in infrastructure and property damage.

An injured victim of the Pentagon attack is evacuated

Works by Pablo Picasso and David Hockney were among the estimated $100 million of art lost in the attacks.

The first recorded casualty was Father Mychal Judge the Franciscan chaplain of the New York City Fire Department who was among the first on the scene at Ground Zero. While helping out and delivering last rites, he was struck on the head by falling debris.

A guide dog, Roselle, led her blind owner and a woman blinded by debris from the World Trade Centre during the attacks of 9/11.

THE AFTERMATH

On the morning of September 12, 2001, the New York Times ran a headline: "America's Emergency Line: 9/11". That was the first use in print of the nine-eleven name by which the attacks became known. 911 is, of course, the emergency phone number in the US as well as the way Americans write the date of September 11.

The day after 9-11, Queen Elizabeth II broke a 200 year old tradition and ordered the US National Anthem to be played during the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace.

It took firefighters 100 days to put out all the fires ignited by the 9/11 attacks in New York.

The cost of cleaning up the 1.8 million tons of debris after 9/11 is estimated as $750 million.

The phrase 'Ground zero', used for the site of the World Trade Center, was originally used to refer to the site of the atomic bomb that exploded over Hiroshima in 1945.

A fireman looks up at the remains of the South Tower.

In 2002, a high school student 'inspired by 9/11' flew a stolen Cessna plane into the Bank of America building. He was the only casualty.

September 11 is now remembered as Patriot Day in the US in memory of those killed.

MEDIA

In the 1999 movie The Matrix, Neo's passport expires on September 11, 2001.

Martin Scorsese ends his 2002 film Gangs of New York with a shot of the New York skyline including the World Trade Center Towers even though the shooting of the movie was finished after the buildings were destroyed in the terrorist attacks of September 11. Scorsese chose to end with that shot rather than continue with a skyline without the World Trade Center because the movie is supposed to be about the people who built New York not those who tried to destroy it.

Here are some songs inspired by the September 11 attacks.

Source Daily Express

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Seoul

Seoul is the biggest city of the Republic of Korea (South Korea), and its capital. Its official name is Seoul Special Metropolitan City.

By 서울특별시 소방재난본부(Seoul Metropolitan Fire & Disaster HQ

HISTORY

Seoul was founded in 18 BC by the people of Baekje, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. At that time, the name of the city was Wiryeseong.

In the 11th century the Goryeo kingdom established in 918 by King Taejo, built a summer palace in what is now Seoul, which was referred to as the "Southern Capital". It was only from this period that Seoul became a larger settlement.

Seoul was known as Hanseong after the establishment of Joseon Dynasty in July 1392, and Hanseong became the capital of Joseon Kingdom.

Gyeongbokgung was the main royal palace of the Joseon dynasty. Built in 1395 in Hanseong, it is the largest of the Five Grand Palaces built by the Korean dynastic kingdom. Gyeongbokgung served as the home of Kings of the Joseon dynasty, the Kings' households, as well as the government of Joseon.

Geunjeongjeon, the main throne hall By Blmtduddl at  Wikipedia

During the Joseon dynasty, the gates of Hansong were opened and closed each day, accompanied by the ringing of large bells at the Bosingak belfry.

After the annexation treaty in 1910, the Empire of Japan annexed Korea and renamed the city Gyeongseong. The city was liberated at the end of World War II.

Seoul's current name comes from the Korean word meaning “capital city.” Since South Korea was founded in 1948, Seoul has been the country's capital, except for a short time during the Korean War.

FUN SEOUL FACTS

Seoul is in the northwest of South Korea. The city comprises 605.25 square kilometres (233.69 sq mi) with a radius of approximately 15 kilometres (9 mi), roughly bisected into northern and southern halves by the Han River.

Seoul Special Metropolitan City is the world's 17th largest city, and forms the heart of the Seoul Capital Area, which includes the surrounding Incheon metropolis and Gyeonggi province.

The Seoul Capital Area houses about half of South Korea's population of 51.44 million people.

The Seoul Special Metropolitan City has a population of 10 million which is about one fifth of that of South Korea.

Gangnam District is one of the 25 gu (local government districts) which make up the city of Seoul. Psy's 2012 number one "Gangnam Style" was made to poke fun at people who put on airs and pretend to be classy, like people from the Gangnam district of Seoul.

Gangnam Commercial Area By Joop - Flickr

The Seoul Capital Area contains five UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Changdeok Palace, Namhansanseong, Jongmyo Shrine, Hwaseong Fortress, and the Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty.

Seoul is surrounded by mountains, the tallest being Bukhansan, the world's most visited national park per square foot. Because of its height (836.5 meters or 2,744 ft), and the fact that it borders a considerable portion of the city, Bukhansan is a major landmark visible from most city districts.

Seoul hosted the 1986 Asian Games, the 1988 Olympic Games and was one of the venues for the the 2002 FIFA World Cup. It also hosted the 2007 World Schools Debating Championships.

The most famous associated football team in Seoul is FC Seoul. Their stadium is Sang-am World cup Stadium. It can seat 66,806 people.

Seoul has many stadiums such as the Olympic stadium, Sang-am World Cup Stadium, Jamsil Stadium and Mokdong Stadium. The Olympic Stadium was built in 1988 and was used for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics that year. The World Cup stadium was used for several games in the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

Seoul’s transportation dates back to the Korean empire, when the first streetcar lines were laid and a railroad between Seoul and Incheon was completed.


Seoul is connected to every big Korean city by the Korea Train eXpress high speed train, which travels at more than 300km/h(186mph).

The metro system in Seoul opened in 1974. Its 5.6 million daily riders can visit the city's financial institutions and its many palaces.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Senegal

Senegal is named after the Senegal river, a 1,086 km (675 mi) long river in West Africa that forms the border between Senegal and Mauritania.

The Senegal River estuary near Saint Louis, Senegal. By Radosław Botev

The name "Senegal" comes from the Wolof "Sunuu Gaal", which means "Our Boat."

HISTORY

Portuguese explorers first arrived in the area which is now Senegal when they came to Gorée Island off the coast of Dakar in the 15th century.

Various European powers—Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Portugal—competed for trade in the area from the 15th century onward. These European countries used Gorée Island as a trading post in slaves from the mainland, controlled by the Muslim Wolof Empires. In 1677, France gained control of the island.

Slave traders in Gorée, 18th century.
In the 1850s the French began to expand onto the Senegalese mainland after they abolished slavery and began promoting an abolitionist doctrine. The French started to conquer the Wolof and by 1854 Senegal had a French governor. In 1902 it became a part of the French colony French West Africa.

In January 1959, Senegal and the French Sudan became one to form the Mali Federation, which became fully independent on June 20, 1960, as a result of the independence and transfer of power agreement signed with France on April 4, 1960.

This did not last long and due to internal political difficulties, the Federation broke up on August 20, when Senegal and French Sudan (renamed the Republic of Mali) each broke apart into separate nations.

The flag of Senegal is a tricolour consisting of three vertical green, yellow and red bands charged with a five-pointed green star at the centre. Adopted in 1960 to replace the flag of the Mali Federation, it has been the flag of the Republic of Senegal since the country gained independence.



Leopold Sedar Senghor (October 9, 1906 – December 20, 2001), leader of the Sengalese Progressive Union, was the country's first president. Senghor was also Prime Minister between 1962 and 70. Pro-African, he advocated a brand of African socialism.

Educated in France, Senghor was a poet and he personally drafted the Senegalese national anthem, "Pincez tous vos koras, frappez les balafons".

The Sengalese Progressive Union was the only legal party from 1966 until in December 1976 it was reconstituted as PS (Socialist Party) and two opposition parties were legally registered.

In 1978 Senghor was decisively re-elected. He retired at the end of 1980 was succeeded by his handpicked successor Abdul Diouf who declared an amnesty for political offenders and permitted more parties to register.

Leopold Sedar Senghor By Bundesarchiv

Between 1982 and 1989 Senegal and The Gambia joined together to make Senegambia.

The African Renaissance Monument built in 2010 in Dakar is the tallest statue in Africa.

Today, Senegal is a republic with a presidency; the president has been elected every five years since 2001.

FUN SENEGAL FACTS

Senegal covers a land area of almost 197,000 square kilometres (76,000 sq mi) and has an estimated population of about 15 million. The population density is 64 people/km2.

Senegal's economic and political capital is Dakar. It is by far the largest city in Senegal, with over two million residents.

Senegal is the westernmost country in the mainland of the Old World, or Afro-Eurasia.

The climate is tropical with two seasons: the dry season and the rainy cold season. The rainy season is between June and October. The average temperature on the coast is about 24° C, and inland about 27° C.

Lake Retba or Lac Rose (meaning Pink Lake) lies north of the Cap Vert peninsula of Senegal, some 30 km (18 miles) north-east of Dakar. It is named for its pink waters caused by Dunaliella salina algae and is known for its high salt content, up to 40% in some areas.

Boats on Lake Retba. By Bernard bill5 

The Senegalese landscape consists mainly of the rolling sandy plains of the western Sahel which rise to foothills in the southeast. The highest peak is Nepen Diakha, which is 581 m above sea level.

Senegal is a secular state. The main religion is Islam, practiced by approximately 94% of the country's population; the Christian community, at 5% of the population, are mostly Roman Catholics.

The motto of the country is “One people, one goal, one faith”.


Hospitality is given such importance in Senegalese culture that it is widely considered to be part of the national identity. The Wolof word for hospitality is "teranga" and it is so identified with the pride of Senegal that the national football team is known as the Lions of Teranga.

Senegal is known across Africa for its musical heritage, due to the popularity of mbalax, which has been popularized by Youssou N'Dour, Omar Pene and others.

In Senegal, xylophones have been used as part of initiation ceremonies, played by young girls and boys. Among other practical uses, it was also used to scare birds, monkeys, and other pests out of the gardens.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Senator

The first ever senate was the Roman Senate. The term "senator" means "elder" in Latin.

The Roman Emperor Caligula raised his favorite horse Incitatus to the rank of senator. When his mount died, it was deprived of its privileges.

In ancient Rome, senators were forbidden to marry the daughter of an actor or actress.

Representation of a sitting of the Roman senate: Cicero attacks Catiline, 

The Roman Senate lasted until 580 (various efforts to revive it were made in Medieval Rome). In the Eastern Roman Empire, the Byzantine Senate continued until the Fourth Crusade, circa 1202–1204.

In a modern democracy, a senate is a group of people who pass or change laws for their country, state, or other area. Members of a senate are called senators. Some of these legislatures are Bicameral, meaning they have two separate groups of people called houses.

Modern democratic states with bicameral parliamentary systems are sometimes equipped with a senate, often distinguished from an ordinary parallel lower house, called a House of Representatives, House of Commons, or Assembly by electoral rules. Typically, the senate is referred to as the upper house and has a smaller membership than the lower house. In such legislatures, both houses must pass the same bill to make it a law.

Modern democratic systems having legislatures with senates include the United States of America, Canada, Australia and all US states  with the exception of Nebraska (whose legislature is a unicameral body called the “Legislature” but whose members refer to themselves as “senators”).

The debating chamber of the Senate of the Czech Republic By Krokodyl

In 1879 James Shields, who had previously served Illinois and Minnesota, began a term as a U.S. Senator from Missouri. He was the first Senator to serve three states.

The Unitarian clergyman Edward Everett Hale was appointed Chaplain of the United States Senate in 1903. He was asked in this capacity whether he prays for the senators, whereby he replied, "No I look at the senators and pray for the country."

Charles Curtis of Kansas became the first Native American U.S. Senator on January 29, 1907.

From 1789 until 1913, Senators were appointed by legislatures of the states they represented. Following the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913, they are now popularly elected.

A class photo of the 111th United States Senate
Rebecca Latimer Felton was the first woman US. Senator. The most prominent woman in Georgia in the Progressive Era, she was honored by appointment to the Senate. She was sworn in November 21, 1922, and served just 24 hours. At 87 years, nine months, and 22 days old, Felton was also the oldest freshman senator to enter the Senate.

Margaret Chase Smith of Maine became the first woman elected to the US Senate without completing another senator's term, when she defeated Democratic opponent and was elected United States senator on September 13, 1948. She also was the first woman to serve in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the United States Senate.

Senator Margaret Chase Smith

When Hillary Clinton decided that she wanted to be Senator, she chose New York even though she never lived there. She went on to win the election becoming the first First Lady in US history to seek a political office and win a political office.

US Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina set a filibuster record in the U.S. Senate on August 19, 1957. He spoke for 24 hours and 18 minutes.

Women were not allowed to wear trousers on the US Senate floor until 1993 when two senators defied the ban. Later that year the rule was amended to allow women to wear trousers.

Carol Elizabeth Moseley Braun represented Illinois in the United States Senate from 1993 to 1999.
She was the first female African-American Senator, the first African-American U.S. Senator for the Democratic Party and the first woman to defeat an incumbent U.S. Senator in an election.

Carol Moseley Braun, United States Senator from Illinois

When Tammy Baldwin defeated her Republican opponent, former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson, in the 2012 U.S. Senate election, she became the first openly gay U.S. Senator in history.

At 6 feet 9 inches (2.06 m) tall, Luther Strange (born March 1, 1953) of Alabama is the tallest United States senator in American history.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Selfie

A selfie is a self-portrait photograph, which is typically taken with a hand-held digital camera or camera phone. Selfies are often shared on social networking services such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Some people use a "selfie stick" to hold the camera.

"Selfie" typically refers to casual self-portrait photos taken with the camera held at arm's length, as opposed to those taken by using a self-timer or remote.


Rembrandt van Rijn, the 17th century master of the pre- camera selfie, painted at least 64 self-portraits.

One of the first self-portraits was taken in 1839 by Robert Cornelius, an American photographer. Because the process was slow he was able to uncover the lens, run into the shot for a minute or more, and then replace the lens cap.

Photographic self-portrait by Robert Cornelius, 1839
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The first known use of the word selfie in any paper or electronic medium appeared in an Australian internet forum on September 13, 2002. Australian student Nathan Hope posted a picture of his split lip after a drunken party stating. “Sorry about the focus, it was a selfie,”

The Sony Ericsson Z1010 mobile phone, released in late 2003, introduced the concept of a front-facing camera. The Z1010's front-facing camera had a sensor for selfies and video calls

The term "selfie" was first used officially by photographer Jim Krause in 2005. He wrote in his book Photo Idea Index "A 'selfie' is one of those images that is taken by aiming the camera at yourself. The guesswork that goes into taking selfies often results in serendipitous photographic surprises."

Initially popular with young people, selfies gained wider in the early 2010s. By the end of 2012, Time magazine considered selfie one of the "top 10 buzzwords" of that year.

After the Curiosity rover landed on Mars in 2012, it took its first space selfie, which was posted on its Facebook account the following day.

In 2011, a crested black macaque snatched a wildlife photographer's camera, and took a photo of herself grinning. The selfie established a legal precedent when in 2016, a federal judge ruled that the monkey cannot own the copyright to the images.

Monkey selfie" of a macaque who had picked up a camera.

"Selfie" was officially accepted for use in the word game Scrabble in August 2014.


The most selfies taken in three minutes is 166. The record was achieved by American David Rush at MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, on June 10, 2017.