Good Friday Agreement

The Good Friday Agreement, or Belfast Agreement, is a pair of agreements signed on 10 April 1998 that ended most of the violence of the Troubles, a political conflict in Northern Ireland, ongoing since the 1960s. It served as a major development in the Northern Ireland peace process of the 1990s. Northern Ireland's present devolved system of government is based on the agreement; the agreement created a number of institutions between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom. Issues relating to sovereignty and cultural rights, decommissioning of weapons, demilitarisation and policing were central to the agreement; the agreement was approved by voters across the island of Ireland in two referendums held on 22 May 1998. In Northern Ireland, voters were asked in the 1998 Northern Ireland Good Friday Agreement referendum whether they supported the multi-party agreement. In the Republic of Ireland, voters were asked whether they would allow the state to sign the agreement and allow necessary constitutional changes to facilitate it.

The people of both jurisdictions needed to approve the agreement. The British–Irish Agreement came into force on 2 December 1999; the Democratic Unionist Party was the only major political group in Northern Ireland to oppose the Good Friday Agreement. The agreement is made up of two inter-related documents, both agreed in Belfast on Good Friday, 10 April 1998: a multi-party agreement by most of Northern Ireland's political parties; the agreement set out a complex series of provisions relating to a number of areas including: The status and system of government of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom. The relationship between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland; the relationship between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom. The agreement was made between the British and Irish governments and eight political parties or groupings from Northern Ireland: the Ulster Unionist Party, the Social Democratic and Labour Party, Sinn Féin, the Alliance Party, the Progressive Unionist Party, the Northern Ireland Women's Coalition, the Ulster Democratic Party and Labour.

The US senator George J. Mitchell was sent to chair the talks between the parties and groups by the US president Bill Clinton; the agreement comprises two elements: a treaty between the two states, signed by the leaders of the two governments. The former text has just four articles. Technically, this scheduled agreement can be distinguished as the Multi-Party Agreement, as opposed to the Belfast Agreement itself; the vague wording of some of the provisions, described as "constructive ambiguity", helped ensure acceptance of the agreement and served to postpone debate on some of the more contentious issues. Most notably these included paramilitary decommissioning, police reform and the normalisation of Northern Ireland; the agreement acknowledged: that the majority of the people of Northern Ireland wished to remain a part of the United Kingdom. Both of these views were acknowledged as being legitimate. For the first time, the Irish government accepted in a binding international agreement that Northern Ireland was part of the United Kingdom.

The Irish Constitution was amended to implicitly recognise Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom's sovereign territory, conditional upon the consent for a united Ireland from majorities of the people in both jurisdictions on the island. On the other hand, the language of the agreement reflects a switch in the United Kingdom's statutory emphasis from one for the union to one for a united Ireland; the agreement thus left the issue of future sovereignty over Northern Ireland open-ended. The agreement reached was that Northern Ireland was part of the United Kingdom, would remain so until a majority of the people both of Northern Ireland and of the Republic of Ireland wished otherwise. Should that happen the British and Irish governments are under "a binding obligation" to implement that choice. Irrespective of Northern Ireland's constitutional status within the United Kingdom, or part of a united Ireland, the right of "the people of Northern Ireland" to "identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both" was recognised.

By the words "people of Northern Ireland" the Agreement meant "all persons born in Northern Ireland and having, at the time of their birth, at least one parent, a British citizen, an Irish citizen or is otherwise entitled to reside in Northern Ireland without any restriction on their period of residence."The two governments agreed, irrespective of the position of Northern Ireland: the power of the sovereign government with jurisdiction there shall be exercised with rigorous impartiality on behalf of all the people in the diversity of their identities and traditions and shall be founded on the principles of full respect for, equality of, political, economic and cultural rights, of freedom from discrimination for all citizens, of parity of esteem and of just and equal treatment for the identi

Burlington Tunnel

The Burlington Tunnel is a railroad tunnel located in Burlington, Vermont and is owned and operated by the New England Central Railroad. According to the inscription on its southern entrance, the Burlington Tunnel was constructed beginning on 1 November 1860, completed on 17 May 1861 for a predecessor railroad to the Central Vermont Railway; the tunnel runs in a northeast/southwest curve, while the external approach trackage runs from south to east. The street overpassing the Burlington Tunnel is North Avenue which has an Average Annual Daily Traffic of about 12,000 vehicles; the Burlington Rail Tunnel, located at Milepost 1.15 of the NECR Winooski spur line, is a 340-foot long brick masonry horseshoe shaped tunnel that passes through the sandy ridge supporting North Avenue on a curve of four degrees. North Avenue runs in a north to south direction while the tunnel runs in an east to west direction; the tunnel, constructed in 1860 had an overall height of 17 feet and a width of 14 feet at the base, increasing to 16 feet wide at 9 feet above top of rail.

The tunnel provides passage for a single track over ballast. The track grade is level. A major gas line which runs from a building on the southeast quadrant of the existing tunnel structure easterly across the wetlands and under the Burlington Connector highway to the east. There is an extensive aerial power line system which runs along the railroad right-of-way and up over North Avenue; the ridge through which the tunnel was constructed consists of loose sands 75 to 80 feet deep, blown off the east shores of Lake Champlain. The tunnel portals consist of stacked masonry block walls 35 feet high and 19 feet wide at the base. Stepped stone block retaining walls 47 feet long, are located at each side of the track, supporting the embankment. Tunnel construction was accomplished by setting a vertical wooden shield through which holes were bored in a semicircular shape. Poles were driven through the holes to form the arch shape; the sands were excavated from underneath the driven poles, space. As soon as the half-circle heading was completed, the sides were dug.

Nearly 700,000 feet of lumber was needed to construct the wooden framework necessary to brace the excavation. After the heading and sides were dug, a foundation of limestone and concrete was constructed; as soon as there was room, a five-layer brick arch in the form of a horseshoe was built. The walls between the brick masonry and the wood form work were packed solid with cement. Under the best conditions, the workers could construct three feet of tunnel a day. Working day and night, the tunnel was constructed in just over six months; the materials in the tunnel are all of Vermont origin. The portals were constructed of hammer-dressed limestone from the Isle La Motte; the interior brick of the tunnel were obtained from a factory from the north side of Mallets Bay and the mortar was made with lime from Weathersfield, Vermont. Construction appears to be robust as the walls are four feet thick and the arch two feet thick; the bricks are arranged in a running bond pattern. It is noted during the site inspection the lack of bonder or header courses of brick, at least at the surface course of brick.

The limestone foundation is exposed along the base of the tunnel as it protrudes above the track bed elevation eight inches and away from the brick masonry arch by eight inches. The Burlington tunnel is considered to be of national historic significance as it was one of the earliest successful railroad tunnels in the United States. While several smaller tunnels were constructed during the 1830s and 1840s, it was the beginning of construction of the Hoosac Tunnel on the Boston to Albany route, through western Massachusetts that marked the maturity of American tunneling technology; the next two important tunnel projects in New England were the Burlington Rail Tunnel and the Tunnel at Bellows Falls, in Vermont. The Vermont and Canada Railroad, completed between Essex Junction, VT and Rouses Point, NY and headquartered in St. Albans, undertook construction of the tunnel in order to provide a better connection to the Lake Champlain lakefront from its main route, which passed through Essex Junction.

The Vermont & Canada and the Vermont Central merged sometime prior to 1853. The original alignment passed through what is now downtown Burlington, the depot was located two blocks south of the current City Hall; the 8-mile section, part of the original Vermont Central mainline between Windsor, VT and Burlington, VT was completed in 1848. It required three wooden bridges over the Winooski River; these were replaced with steel truss bridges at a date. At the site of the tunnel, the unusual formation of the ridge—accreted sand rather than underlying ledge—posed an enormous challenge to Daniel Chipman Linsley, D. J. Morrison, construction chief, who both worked for the railroad. Daniel Chipman Linsley's hair turned white prematurely resulting from the stress of the project. Linsley and Morrison had a wooden arch built that matched the intended shape of the tunnel advanced the wooden arch close behind the digging to support the ceiling of the newly bored hole; the concrete fill was laid in above the wooden arch, the bricklaying crews

Siege of Smolensk (1654)

The Siege of Smolensk was one of the first great events of the Russo-Polish War. Smolensk, under the rule of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth during 1404–1514 and since 1611, was besieged by a Russian army in June 1654; the Polish garrison of the city hoped to get reinforcements from the army of Janusz Radziwiłł, stationed in Orsha. Its situation worsened when Radziwiłł suffered a defeat from Prince Yakov Cherkassky in the Battle of Shklow. In September, the Polish garrison agreed to leave the city; the garrison left Smolensk and handed over its weapons and ensigns to the Russians before retreating to the Commonwealth-controlled territory. A significant number of landowners, preferred to stay and keep their estates, becoming subjects of the Russian Tsardom