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Amazing Grace

"Amazing Grace" is a Christian hymn published in 1779, with words written in 1772 by the English poet and Anglican clergyman John Newton. Newton wrote the words from personal experience, he grew up without any particular religious conviction, but his life's path was formed by a variety of twists and coincidences that were put into motion by others' reactions to what they took as his recalcitrant insubordination. He was pressed into service in the Royal Navy. After leaving the service, he became involved in the Atlantic slave trade. In 1748, a violent storm battered his vessel off the coast of County Donegal, Ireland, so that he called out to God for mercy; this moment marked his spiritual conversion but he continued slave trading until 1754 or 1755, when he ended his seafaring altogether. He began studying Christian theology. Ordained in the Church of England in 1764, Newton became curate of Olney, where he began to write hymns with poet William Cowper. "Amazing Grace" was written to illustrate a sermon on New Year's Day of 1773.

It is unknown. It debuted in print in 1779 in Newton and Cowper's Olney Hymns but settled into relative obscurity in England. In the United States, "Amazing Grace" became a popular song used by Baptist and Methodist preachers as part of their evangelizing in the South, during the Second Great Awakening of the early 19th century, it has been associated with more than 20 melodies. In 1835, American composer William Walker set it to the tune known as "New Britain" in a shape-note format; this is the version most sung today. With the message that forgiveness and redemption are possible regardless of sins committed and that the soul can be delivered from despair through the mercy of God, "Amazing Grace" is one of the most recognisable songs in the English-speaking world. Author Gilbert Chase writes that it is "without a doubt the most famous of all the folk hymns." Jonathan Aitken, a Newton biographer, estimates that the song is performed about 10 million times annually. It has had particular influence in folk music, has become an emblematic black spiritual.

Its universal message has been a significant factor in its crossover into secular music. "Amazing Grace" became newly popular during a revival of folk music in the US during the 1960s, it has been recorded thousands of times during and since the 20th century, in versions that have ranked on popular music charts. According to the Dictionary of American Hymnology, "Amazing Grace" is John Newton's spiritual autobiography in verse. In 1725, Newton was born in a district in London near the Thames, his father was a shipping merchant, brought up as a Catholic but had Protestant sympathies, his mother was a devout Independent, unaffiliated with the Anglican Church. She had intended Newton to become a clergyman, but she died of tuberculosis when he was six years old. For the next few years, while his father was at sea Newton was raised by his distant stepmother, he was sent to boarding school, where he was mistreated. At the age of eleven, he joined his father on a ship as an apprentice; as a youth, Newton began a pattern of coming close to death, examining his relationship with God relapsing into bad habits.

As a sailor, he denounced his faith after being influenced by a shipmate who discussed with him Characteristicks of Men, Opinions, Times, a book by the Third Earl of Shaftesbury. In a series of letters Newton wrote, "Like an unwary sailor who quits his port just before a rising storm, I renounced the hopes and comforts of the Gospel at the time when every other comfort was about to fail me." His disobedience caused him to be pressed into the Royal Navy, he took advantage of opportunities to overstay his leave. He deserted the navy to visit a family friend with whom he had fallen in love. After enduring humiliation for deserting, he was traded as crew to a slave ship, he began a career in slave trading. Newton openly mocked the captain by creating obscene poems and songs about him, which became so popular that the crew began to join in, his disagreements with several colleagues resulted in his being starved to death, imprisoned while at sea, chained like the slaves they carried. He was himself enslaved and forced to work on a plantation in the British colony Sierra Leone near the Sherbro River.

After several months he came to think of Sierra Leone as his home, but his father intervened after Newton sent him a letter describing his circumstances, crew from another ship happened to find him. Newton claimed the only reason. While aboard the ship Greyhound, Newton gained notoriety as being one of the most profane men the captain had met. In a culture where sailors habitually swore, Newton was admonished several times for not only using the worst words the captain had heard, but creating new ones to exceed the limits of verbal debauchery. In March 1748, while the Greyhound was in the North Atlantic, a violent storm came upon the ship, so rough it swept overboard a crew member, standing where Newton had been moments before. After hours of the crew emptying water from the ship and expecting to be capsized and another mate tied themselves to the ship's pump to keep from being washed overboard, working for several hours. After proposing the measure to the captain, Newton had turned and said, "If this will not do Lord have mercy upon us!"

Newton rested before returning to the deck to steer for the next eleven hours. During his time at the wheel, he pondered his divine chall

Lycodon capucinus

Lycodon capucinus known as the Oriental wolf snake, is a species of colubrid snake, found in the Indo-Australian Archipelago. Named after their enlarged front teeth, which gives them a muzzled appearance similar to canines, it makes the snout somewhat more squarish than other snakes. A slender-bodied small snake that ranges from three feet to less than one meter. Most wild-caught specimens reach less than these lengths. Coloration is adapted on the forest floor. Shades of jet black, reddish-brown or dark gray with speckles and spots of white or pale yellow scattered over the body are its usual colors. There is a distinct white coloration around its neck, their color patterns vary from one geographic location to another. There are albino-colored ones which are rare among this snake species; the snout is duck-bill-shaped for digging in sandy ground. They have enlarged front teeth. Like many other colubrids, they possess true fangs near the rear of their mouths and they will use these to inject venom into their prey.

However, this species is benign to humans. The common wolf snake is found in, Nepal, Thailand, Singapore, Laos, SE China, Hong Kong, India, West Malaysia, Johor: Pulau Besar, Maldives and The Philippine Islands. Though the wolf snake is non-venomous, it is quite a nervous snake when picked-up or handled and will not hesitate to bite, they may move their tails in a to-and-fro motion much like a rattlesnake when they feel threatened. A fossorial animal, it loves burrowing down the earth but is most found in open ground, on rocks or in low vegetation. Sometimes showing a semi-arboreal behavior. A nocturnal creature, it is most active during the night, but is observed during daybreak. Most captive specimens become tame with proper handling. In the wild, Lycodon capucinus feeds on small lizards such as geckos and they are among the top predators of skinks which makes it common to humans due to the abundance of prey near and in homes, they may devour small frogs, if available. In captivity, they may be trained to feed on slender fishes such as goby or lizard-scented pinkie mice, though the latter proves to be harder.

The IUCN listed this species as of'Least Concern.' Though a common snake, it is seen. Continuous destruction of primary and secondary forests, conversion of fertile lands to agricultural and residential areas as well as indiscriminate human killings can threaten the survival of this animal, it is endangered in numerous parts of peninsular Southeast Asia. Daltry, J. C. & Wüster, W. 2002 A new species of Wolf Snake from the Cardamom Mountains, Southwestern Cambodia. Herpetologica 58: 498-504 Das, I. 1999 Biogeography of the amphibians and reptiles of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India. In: Ota, H. Tropical Island herpetofauna.. Elsevier, pp. 43–77 Daudin, F. M. 1803 Histoire Naturelle Generale et Particuliere des Reptiles. Vol. 6. F. Dufart, Paris. Fritts, T. H. 1993 The Common Wolf Snake, Lycodon aulicus capucinus, a Recent Colonist of Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean Wildlife Res 20: 261-266 Kuch, U. and J. A. McGuire 2004 Range extensions of Lycodon capucinus Boie, 1827 in eastern Indonesia.

Herpetozoa 17: 191-193 Lycodon capucinus at the Reptile Database Common Wolf Snake

Battle of Storsjön

The Battle of Storsjön was fought during 1178 outside Sunne, in Jämtland province, Sweden. The battle was won by the Birkebeiner army of King Sverre of Norway; the battle was conducted near Lake Storsjön, covered with ice. Due to darkness and his troops pulled away while local peasants fought against each other; when dawn came, the Birkebeiner forces won a victory. As a consequences of this defeat, Jämtland was incorporated into Norway until it was ceded to Sweden in 1645. According to the Sverris saga, the Jamts were killed by sword blows in their backs; this is supported by archaeological findings from the 20th century. Ashlund, Nils Jämtlands och Härjedalens historia D. 1, Intill 1537 Helle, Knut Under kirke og kongemakt: 1130-1350 Krag, Claus Sverre: Norges største middelalderkonge Egervärn, Erik Arthur.

Crusade song

A Crusade song is any vernacular lyric poem about the Crusades. Crusade songs were popular in the High Middle Ages: 106 survive in Occitan, forty in Old French, thirty in Middle High German, two in Italian, one in Old Castilian; the study of the Crusade song, which may be considered a genre of its own, was pioneered by Kurt Lewent. He provided a classification of Crusade songs and distinguished between songs which mentioned, in some form, a Crusade from songs which were "Crusade songs"; the Crusade song was not confined to the topic of the Latin East, but could concern the Reconquista in Spain, the Albigensian Crusade in Languedoc, or the political crusades in Italy. The first Crusade to be accompanied by songs, none of which survive, was the Crusade of 1101, of which William IX of Aquitaine wrote, according to Orderic Vitalis. From the Second Crusade survive one French and ten Occitan songs; the Third and Fourth Crusades generated many songs in Occitan and German. Occitan troubadours dealt with the Albigensian campaigns in the early thirteenth century, but their decline thereafter left the Crusades—Fifth, Sixth and Eighth—to be covered by the German Minnesinger and French trouvères.

The following list is only of those songs defined as "Kreuzlied" in Lewent, "Das altprovenzalische Kreuzlied". Other songs may be considered "crusading songs", but there is no definitive list or lengthy, generic treatment of them since Lewent. Lewent, Kurt. "Das altprovenzalische Kreuzlied." Romanische Forschungen, 21:321–448. Paterson, Linda. "Lyric allusions to the crusades and the Holy Land." Colston Symposium. Paterson, Linda M. "Occitan Literature and the Holy Land." The World of Eleanor of Aquitaine: Literature and Society in Southern France between the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries, edd. Marcus Bull and Catherine Léglu. Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2005. ISBN 1-84383-114-7. Paterson, Linda. Singing the Crusades. French and Occitan Responses to the Crusading Movements, 1137–1336. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer. Routledge, Michael. "Songs". The Oxford Illustrated History of the Crusades, ed. Jonathan Riley-Smith. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-285428-3

Self-Certification (New York City Department of Buildings)

Self-Certification known as Professional Certification, is a process by which licensed professionals may bypass a full review of a building project by the New York City Department of Buildings. According to the New York Times, the Department of Buildings has for decades allowed "...licensed professionals self-certify that components of the construction process itself—installation of the girders, the bolts, the concrete, the fireproofing, the wiring and more—are performed according to code. In 1995, under Mayor Giuliani, this program was expanded to include the design itself. With this streamlined approvals process, Registered Architects and Engineers may self-certify that a project complies with all applicable laws and codes, the project can be approved without a full review by plan examiners; some Architects prefer a modified Self Certification process, first submitting a project for a normal review and receiving back a list of objections by the plan examiner self-certifying any revisions made in response to those objections.

48% of new building applications in 2006 were self-certified. The Self Certification program has been cited by some as easy to abuse. A number of Architects have been investigated over the years by the Department of Buildings for self-certifying projects that did not conform to building codes and zoning regulations. In 2002, investigators with the New York City Department of Buildings alleged that Architect Henry Radusky "failed to follow required codes" on 55 building projects". In response, Radusky agreed to voluntarily surrender his Self Certification privileges for one year. In 2006, Architect Robert Scarano was brought before the City's Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings for alleged building code and zoning violations on a number of Self Certified projects; the allegations were mutually settled in August 2006, with Scarano surrendering his Self Certifications privileges. The Department of Buildings announced in February 2008 that, instead of accepting self-certified plans by default, by the end of the year it would require architects and engineers to apply for the privilege.

The usual penalty for abuse is revocation of Self Certification privileges. The Department of Buildings cannot revoke a professional's license to practice Architecture or Engineering, as, controlled by the New York State Office of the Professions. However, since 2007 the State has allowed the DOB to refuse to accept plans filed by individuals who have been found to abuse the Self Certification process; the Department of Buildings used this law for the first time in January 2008, banning engineer Leon St. Clair Nation from filing any work in the City for at least two years. Nation had filed fake plans and doctored photographs. Expediter Hershy Fekete was implicated, but an administrative judge ruled that expediters were not covered by the 2007 law. In February 2007, the Brooklyn AIA announced in their newsletter that the City Council had proposed revising the city's administrative code regarding misconduct related to Self Certification; the revised code would establish a process whereby architects and engineers whose self-certification privileges have been revoked could have these privileges restored after one year.

A six-month probationary period would follow, any further misconduct would result in permanent revocation of privileges. New York City Department of Buildings

Sanggyai Yexe

Sanggyai Yexe or Tian Bao was a Chinese government official. Tian was one of the first ethnic Tibetans to embrace the concept of Communism and join Mao Zedong's army. Mao's army, the People's Republic of China entered Tibet in 1951. Tian Bao was born as Sangye Yeshi in Kham, a traditionally eastern region of Tibet, now part of the Chinese province of Sichuan. Tian first encountered Mao Zedong's army in 1935 as it pushed through western China when he was eighteen years old. Mao was trying to escape Kuomintang government forces at the time. Tian joined Mao's army and became one of the few ethnic Tibetans who participated in the Long March, a retreat by Chinese Communist forces into northern China in 1935. Tian held senior positions in the government and Chinese Communist Party of Tibet and Sichuan following the Communist victory in the Chinese Civil War and the 1951 occupation of Tibet. Tian was appointed the deputy secretary of the Tibetan regional Communist Party after its establishment in 1965.

This was considered to be a high-profile post for an ethnic Tibetan at the time. Tian Bao died on February 2008, at the age of 92 in the city of Chengdu, Sichuan, PR China. Officials said he gave no further details, he was an alternate member of 8th Central Committee of CPC, a full member of 9th to 11th Central Committees. Tian Bao and Tibet