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Geography of Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan is located in Central Asia and Eastern Europe at 48°N 68°E / 48. With an area of about 2,724,900 square kilometers, Kazakhstan is more than twice the combined size of the other four Central Asian states and 60% larger than Alaska; the country borders Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan to the south. There is considerable topographical variation within Kazakhstan; the highest point is the top of the mountain Khan Tengri, on the Kyrgyz border in the Tian Shan range, with an elevation of 7,010 m above sea level. Most of the country lies at between 200–300 m above sea level, but Kazakhstan's Caspian shore includes some of the lowest elevations on Earth; the peak Khan Tengri in the Tian Shan Mountains is Kazakhstan highest elevation at 6,995 m. Many of the peaks of the Altay and Tien Shan ranges are covered with snow, year-round, their runoff is the source for most of Kazakhstan's freshwater rivers and lakes. Except for the Tobol and Irtysh rivers, portions of which flow through Kazakhstan, all of Kazakhstan's rivers and streams are part of landlocked systems.

They either flow into isolated bodies of water such as the Caspian Sea or disappear into the steppes and deserts of central and southern Kazakhstan. Many rivers and lakes are seasonal, evaporating in summer; the three largest bodies of water are Lake Balkhash, a fresh saline lake in the east, near Almaty, the Caspian Sea, the Aral Sea, all of which lie within Kazakhstan. Some 9.4 percent of Kazakhstan's land is mixed prairie and forest or treeless prairie in the north or in the basin of the Ural River in the west. More than three-quarters of the country, including the entire west and most of the south, is either semidesert or desert; the terrain in these regions is bare, broken uplands, with sand dunes in the Qizilqum and Moyunqum deserts, which occupy south-central Kazakhstan. The Climate in Kazakhstan is continental. In summer the temperatures average more than 30 °C and in winter average −20 °C; the climatic charts seen below are some noteworthy examples of the country's differing climates, taken from two contrasting cities representing two different parts of the country.

Despite the nation's low precipitation rates and arid geography, spring floods that can be brought on by heavy rainfall and melting snow, are not unusual in the northern and central regions of the country. In April 2017, following a winter which had left snow volumes exceeding the average by 60 percent, heavy rains wrought widespread damage and temporarily displaced thousands of people; the environment of Kazakhstan has been badly damaged by human activity. Most of the water in Kazakhstan is polluted by industrial effluents and fertilizer residue, and, in some places, radioactive elements; the most visible damage has been to the Aral Sea, which as as the 1970s was larger than any of the Great Lakes of North America save Lake Superior. The sea began to shrink when increased irrigation and other demands on the only significant tributaries, the Syr Darya and the Amu Darya, all but eliminated inflow. During the Soviet Era, Kazakhstan received water from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan provided oil and gas for these two nations in return.

However, after the collapse of the USSR this system had collapsed and no plan to replace this system has been put in place. According to research conducted by the International Crisis Group, there is little political will to solve this problem despite Central Asia's need for mutual resource-sharing. By 1993 the Aral Sea had lost an estimated 60 percent of its volume, in the process breaking into three unconnected segments. Increasing salinity and reduced habitat have killed the Aral Sea's fish, hence destroying its once-active fishing industry, the receding shoreline has left the former port of Aral'sk more than seventy kilometers from the water's edge; the depletion of this large body of water has increased temperature variations in the region, which in turn have affected agriculture. A much greater agricultural impact, has come from the salt- and pesticide-laden soil that the wind is known to carry as far away as the Himalaya Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Deposition of this saline soil on nearby fields sterilizes them.

Evidence suggests that salts and residues of chemical fertilizers are adversely affecting human life around the former Aral Sea. By contrast, the water level of the Caspian Sea has been rising since 1978 for reasons that scientists have not been able to explain fully. At the northern end of the sea, more than 10,00

Vânia Fernandes

Vânia Sofia Olim Marote de Ribeiro Fernandes is a Portuguese singer from Funchal, Madeira. Known for her powerful stage presence, as well as her prominent and versatile voice, Fernandes has participated in several singing contests and performed in public in both her home island of Madeira and on the mainland of Portugal since 1997. In 2007, Vânia won Portuguese Operação Triunfo; that same year, she completed her professional music studies and training in singing, including jazz, at Madeira's Conservatory. On 22 May 2008 Fernandes sung "Senhora do mar" during the second semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2008 in Belgrade, Serbia; the song was the winner of the 2008 edition of Portugal's national selection final for Eurovision, the Festival da Canção. She represented Portugal in the Eurovision final on 24 May 2008 and gained 13th place with 69 points. In the semi-final, she was 2nd, with 120 points. Vânia Fernandes' web site Vânia singing "Senhora do Mar" at ESC 2008 Final Vânia Fernandes' biography on the official Eurovision Song Contest - Belgrade 2008 web site Vânia Fernandes' Facebook page

Day out of days (filmmaking)

The Day Out of Days is a chart used by filmmakers to tally the number of paid days for each cast member. The chart must be prepared after the shooting schedule. Once it has been completed, work can begin on a budget; the Day Out of Days is arranged as a grid, with columns representing days and rows representing cast members. Letters are used to indicate paid days. W is used to indicate a work day, T indicates a travel day, R a rehearsal day. All three count as paid days; the letters S and F are used to indicate last paid days. For example, a cast member's first paid day appears as SR. Special consideration must be given to idle periods in the Day Out of Days. A cast member can either be dropped during an idle period; the Screen Actors Guild has specific rules addressing when an actor can—or can't—be dropped. In the Day Out of Days chart, hold days are indicated by an H; when a cast member is to be dropped, a D marks the last paid day before the drop, a P indicates the day when the cast member will be picked back up

Blind Faith (Blind Faith album)

Blind Faith is the self-titled and only album by the English supergroup Blind Faith released in 1969 on Polydor Records in the United Kingdom and Europe and on Atlantic Records in the United States. It topped the album charts in the UK, Canada and US, was listed at No. 40 on the US Soul Albums chart. It has been certified platinum by the RIAA; the band contained two-thirds of the popular power trio Cream, in Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton, working in collaboration with British star Steve Winwood of the Spencer Davis Group and Traffic, along with Ric Grech of Family. They began to work out songs early in 1969, in February and March the group was in London at Morgan Studios, preparing for the beginnings of basic tracks for their album, although the first few almost-finished songs didn't show up until they were at Olympic Studios in April and May under the direction of producer Jimmy Miller; the recording of their album was interrupted by a tour of Scandinavia a US tour from 11 July to 24 August, supported by Free and Delaney & Bonnie and Friends.

Although a chart topper, the LP was recorded hurriedly and side two consisted of just two songs, one of them a 15-minute jam entitled "Do What You Like". The band was able to produce two hits, Winwood's "Can't Find My Way Home" and Clapton's "Presence of the Lord"; the cover featured a topless pubescent girl holding what appears to be the hood ornament of a Chevrolet Bel Air, which some perceived as phallic. The American record company issued it with an alternative cover showing a photograph of the band on the front as well as the original cover; the cover art was created by photographer Bob Seidemann, a friend and former flatmate of Clapton's, known for his photos of Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead. In the mid-1990s, in an advertising circular intended to help sell lithographic reprints of the famous album cover, he explained his thinking behind the image. I could not get my hands on the image. To symbolize the achievement of human creativity and its expression through technology a spaceship was the material object.

To carry this new spore into the universe, innocence would be the ideal bearer, a young girl, a girl as young as Shakespeare's Juliet. The spaceship would be the fruit of the tree of knowledge and the girl, the fruit of the tree of life; the spaceship could be made by a jeweller at the Royal College of Art. The girl was another matter. If she were too old it would be cheesecake, too young and it would be nothing; the beginning of the transition from girl to woman, what I was after. That temporal point, that singular flare of radiant innocence. Where is that girl? Seidemann wrote that he approached a girl reported to be 14 years old on the London Underground about modelling for the cover, met with her parents, but that she proved too old for the effect he wanted. Instead, the model he used was her younger sister Mariora Goschen, reported to be 11 years old. Mariora requested a horse as a fee but was instead paid £40; the image, titled "Blind Faith" by Seidemann, became the inspiration for the name of the band itself, unnamed when the artwork was commissioned.

According to Seidemann: "It was Eric who elected to not print the name of the band on the cover. The name was instead printed on the wrapper, when the wrapper came off, so did the type." This had been done for several other albums. In America, Atco Records made a cover based on elements from a flyer for the band's Hyde Park concert of 7 June 1969 in London; the album was released on vinyl in 1969 on Polydor Records in the UK and Europe, on Atco Records in the US. Polydor released a compact disc in 1986, adding two unreleased tracks, "Exchange and Mart" and "Spending All My Days", recorded by Ric Grech for an unfinished solo album, supported by George Harrison, Denny Laine, Trevor Burton. An expanded edition of the album was released on 9 January 2001, with unreleased tracks and'jams' included; the studio electric version of "Sleeping in the Ground" had been released on the four-disc boxed set for Clapton, Crossroads. The bonus disc of jams does not include bassist Grech, who had yet to join the band, but includes a guest percussionist, Guy Warner.

Two live tracks from the 1969 Hyde Park concert not included here, "Sleeping in the Ground" and a cover of "Under My Thumb", are available on Winwood's four-disc retrospective The Finer Things. Commercially, the album charted at number one in both the US and the UK. Critically, Blind Faith was met with a mixed response. Reviewing in August 1969 for The Village Voice, Robert Christgau found none of the songs exceptional and said, "I'm sure that when I'm through writing this I'll put the album away and only play it for guests. Unless I want to hear Clapton — he is at his best here because he is kept in check by the excesses of Winwood, turning into the greatest wasted talent in the music. There. I said it and I'm glad." In Rolling Stone, Ed Leimbacher said of the quality, "not as much as I'd hoped, yet better than I'd expected." His colleagues at the magazine — Lester Bangs and John Morthland — were more impressed Bangs in his appraisal of Clapton: " Blind Faith, Clapton appears to have found his groove at last.

Every solo is a model of economy, well- thought-out and well-executed with a good deal more subtlety and reeling than we have come to expect from Clapton."Retrospective appraisals have been positive. According to Stereo Review in 1988, "for 20 years this has been a cornerstone in any basic rock library." AllMusic's Bruce Eder rega

Liang Nüying

Liang Nüying, formally Empress Yixian was an empress during Han Dynasty. She was Emperor Huan's first wife, it is not known when Liang Nüying was born, but what is known is that in her young age she was accustomed to an honored position as the daughter of the Grand Marshal Liang Shang and the sister to Empress Liang Na, Emperor Shun's wife, regent to his son Emperor Chong, two successors from collateral lines, Emperors Zhi and Huan. Indeed, it was because she was betrothed to Emperor Huan that her brother, the powerful Liang Ji, insisted on making him emperor in 146 after poisoning Emperor Zhi. After Emperor Huan became emperor, he created her empress; as an empress, Empress Liang was somewhat in the shadow of her sister, the empress dowager, brother, not much is known about her. Traditional history indicates that because of her honored position as the empress dowager's sister Emperor Huan did not dare to have any other favorite consorts, she was described as so luxurious in her living that her expenses far exceeded the empresses of the past.

After her sister died in 150, she began to lose Emperor Huan's favor, but she continued to be jealous. As she was sonless, she did not want any imperial consorts to have sons—so she would have them killed if they became pregnant. With Liang Ji in control of government, Emperor Huan did not dare to respond, but he would have sexual relations with her. Empress Liang was buried with the honors of an empress; that year, Emperor Huan, in conjunction with eunuchs, overthrew Liang Ji in a coup d'etat. The Liang clan was slaughtered. On September 29, Empress Liang's tomb was retitled a tomb of an "Honored Lady" meaning that she was posthumously demoted. On the 28th day of the August of that same year, she was buried in Yiling


Kiswah is the cloth that covers the Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is draped annually on the 9th day of the month of Dhu al-Hijjah, the day pilgrims leave for the plains of Mount Arafat during the Hajj; the term kiswah is Arabic for'pall', the cloth draped over a casket. Every year, the old Kiswa is removed, cut into small pieces, given to certain individuals, visiting foreign Muslim dignitaries and organizations; some of them sell their share as souvenirs of the Hajj. In earlier times, Umar bin al-Khattab would cut it into pieces and distribute them among pilgrims who used them as shelter from the heat of Mecca; the present cost of making the kiswa amounts to SAR 17,000,000. The cover is made of 670 kg of silk; the embroidery contains 15 kg of gold threads. It consists of 47 pieces of cloth and each piece is 14m long and 101 cm wide; the kiswa is fixed to its base with copper rings. The manually designed embroidery of the Quranic verses are being aided by computers, thus increasing the speed of production.

King Tubba Abu Karab As'ad of the Himyarite Kingdom clothed Kaaba for the first time, during the rule of the Jurhum tribe of Mecca. Muhammad and the Muslims in Mecca did not participate in the draping of the Kaaba until the conquest of the city at 630 AD, as the ruling tribe, did not allow them to do so; when Mecca was taken by the Muslims, they decided to leave the Kiswah as it was until a woman lighting incense in the Kaaba accidentally set fire to the Kiswah. Muhammad draped it with a white Yemeni cloth. Many notable Kings have had their share of ruling over the Kiswah. Muawiyah I used to drape the Kaaba twice a year, along with the help of Abd-Allah ibn al-Zubayr, Abd al-Malik, they brought the traditional silk covering into effect. Al-Nasir, the Abbasid King, established the current practise of dressing the Kaaba with only one Kiswah at a time, superseding the former custom of allowing old Kiswah to accumulate one over the other; when Al-Nasir performed Hajj in 160 AH, he saw that the accumulated Kiswah could cause damage to the Kaaba itself, therefore decreed that only one Kiswah should drape the Kaaba at any one time.

The King Al-Ma'mun, draped the Kaaba three times a year, each time with a different colour: red on the eighth of Dhu al-Hijjah, white gabati on the first of Rajab, another red brocade on the twenty-ninth of Ramadan. On, Al-Nasir draped the Kaaba with green. Black Kiswah supported by Tradition of Prophet to Mourning, some associated it with Battle of Karbala however saying of Prophet to wrap Kaaba with black cloth after 100 Years or before when events of Sorrow took start. From the time of the Ayyubids during the reign of as-Salih Ayyub, the Kiswah was manufactured in Egypt, with material sourced locally as well as from Sudan and Iraq; the Amir al-Hajj, directly designated by the sultans of the Mamluk, Ottoman Empires, transported the Kiswah from Egypt to Mecca on an annual basis. The tradition continued until 1927. A historical look at the Kiswah Qiswa