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Parachute Intervention Squadron of the National Gendarmerie

The Parachute Intervention Squadron of the National Gendarmerie was the parachute-trained intervention squadron of the French Gendarmerie. The unit was formed in 1984 with personnel from EPGM, a one-of-a-kind parachute squadron, created within the mobile gendarmerie in 1971 and was disestablished at that date. EPIGN, based in Versailles-Satory with its sister unit GIGN. Besides its primary mission of providing heavy support and reinforcement to GIGN, EPIGN soon developed its own set of missions in the fields of protection and observation, it was absorbed, together with the "old" GIGN, into the newly reorganized GIGN in September 2007. In 1971, the French Gendarmerie established a new mobile gendarmerie squadron in Mont-de-Marsan in southwest France: Escadron 9/11 parachutiste de la Gendarmerie mobile; the squadron had a dual mission as a parachute unit. One of the new unit's missions was to provide parachute-qualified provosts to the army's 11th airborne division; the unit was specialized in "hard" law and order missions.

In 1973 in the wake of the Munich massacre, the Gendarmerie created two tactical teams or "intervention units": one named ECRI was based in Maisons-Alfort near Paris and a second, named GIGN was created within the parachute squadron in Mont-de-Marsan. In 1974, the two units were renamed GIGN 1 and GIGN 4. In 1976, both units merged into a single one, named GIGN and based in Maisons-Alfort. GIGN moved to Satory near Versailles in 1982. EPGM was involved in maintaining order during some of the most violent demonstrations of the 1980s which included protests against the building of new-generation nuclear plants, it was deployed overseas to such places as Chad, the Central African Republic and Lebanon. The unit was deployed to the French Territory of the Afars and the Issas to provide security for the 1977 referendum that led to the independence of Djibouti. Besides being a qualified gendarme and paratrooper, every member of the unit had to have an additional specialty: high altitude jumper, explosive neutralization specialist, close combat specialist, combat medic, driver, etc. the unit's structure remaining however that of a regular mobile gendarmerie squadron under the command of a captain.

Being based near the Atlantic coast, the unit trained combat divers and this specialty was acquired by GIGN4. This know-how was further developed when the two units merged. In 1984, it was decided that EPGM would be disestablished and that its personnel would be transferred to Satory to create a new kind of parachute squadron there; the new unit, named escadron parachutiste d'intervention de la gendarmerie nationale or EPIGN would provide tactical support and reinforcements for GIGN whenever additional personnel or heavy weapons were needed. In 1984, GIGN and EPIGN became part of a larger organization called GSIGN; as time passed, EPIGN, without giving up its primary mission of providing tactical support and reinforcements for GIGN, developed its own set of missions: surveillance and observation of criminals and terrorists, personal protection of VIPs and officials and protection of critical sites such as embassies in war-torn countries. The unit structure evolved as the mission scope evolved and soon, had nothing left in common with that of a regular mobile gendarmerie squadron.

In the end the unit, still under the command of a captain, was composed of: headquarters platoon – including a high altitude jump cell. Despite the squadron's name, the "intervention" mission was transferred to GIGN, members of the parachute squadron being assigned the task to support the intervention group by sanitizing and cordoning off their operating area and by providing heavy weapon support with machine guns and mortars if and when necessary. An additional mission was to reinforce GSPR, the presidential security group during official or state visits abroad. Squadron personnel conducted security audits of embassies and airports and various French or foreign sites; the squadron was involved during special events such as the Pope's visit, the World Football or Rugby World Cups, the D-Day commemoration, etc. EPIGN personnel was trained in: Alpinism Parachuting Diving First aid Marksmanship Explosive neutralization Close security Close combat The unit was never deployed in a large scale parachute jump and a large part of the unit's missions were kept secret but known missions include: Embassy protection in war-torn countries or during crises Technical assistance and training missions in Burundi, Union of the Comoros, Jordan, Republic of the Congo, Chad, etc.

Reinforcement of the Presidential security group (GSPR

Oriental Limited

The Oriental Limited was a named passenger train that ran between Chicago and Seattle, Washington. The train was operated by the Great Northern Railway between St. Paul and Seattle, by the Chicago and Quincy Railroad between St. Paul and Chicago; the train's name was intended to be evocative of travel to the Far East, since trans-Pacific Great Northern steamships once connected with the railway's trains in Seattle. The Oriental Limited started in December 1905 as a St. Paul–Seattle train. In summer 1926 it was scheduled Chicago to Seattle in 70 hours, it was the premiere train on its route until 1929. The Oriental Limited name disappeared in 1931, during the Great Depression and beyond the Great Northern operated only one through train between Chicago and the coast; the Oriental Limited name returned in 1946, when the railroad's secondary through train was resumed, but that train became the Western Star in 1951. Dubin, Arthur D; some Classic Trains. Milwaukee: Kalmbach Publishing Co. 1964. ISBN 978-0-89024-011-3.

Hidy, Ralph W. et al. The Great Northern Railway: A History. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2004. ISBN 978-0-8166-4429-2

King Solomon's Ring (short story)

"King Solomon's Ring" is a science fiction novelette by American writer Roger Zelazny which appeared in the magazine Fantastic: Stories of Imagination in 1963. The novelette was republished five years in Great Science Fiction, a reprint companion to Fantastic. Terry Carr included it in his Ace anthology On Our Way to the Future in 1970. After TSR purchased Amazing and Fantastic, it was reprinted in their anthology Fantastic Stories: Tales of the Weird & Wondrous in 1987. Ellen Datlow chose the story for the March 3, 2004 issue of the online Sci Fiction."King Solomon's Ring" was not included in any of Zelazny's story collections during his lifetime, but was published in Threshold, the first volume of The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny, published by NESFA Press in 2009. While some readers have dismissed the story as lesser work, Samuel R. Delany included it in his listing of Zelazny's characteristic works, an "oeuvre tends to mesh into one gorgeous fabric". King Solomon's Ring title listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database

List of largest cities

Determining the world's largest cities depends on which definitions of city are used, as well as the criteria used for size: this article focuses on population. The United Nations uses three definitions for what constitutes a city, as not all cities may be classified using the same criteria. Cities may be defined as the cities proper, the extent of their urban area, or their metropolitan regions. For a view of the largest cities by economic stature and integration within the global economy, see Globalization and World Cities Research Network. A city can be defined by its administrative boundaries. UNICEF defines city proper as "the population living within the administrative boundaries of a city or controlled directly from the city by a single authority." A city proper is a locality defined according to legal or political boundaries and an administratively recognised urban status, characterised by some form of local government. Cities proper and their boundaries and population data may not include suburbs.

The use of city proper as defined by administrative boundaries may not include suburban areas where an important proportion of the population working or studying in the city lives. Because of this definition, the city proper population figure may differ with the urban area population figure, as many cities are amalgamations of smaller municipalities, conversely, many Chinese cities govern territories that extend well beyond the traditional "city proper" into suburban and rural areas. A city can be defined by the inhabitants of its demographic population, as by metropolitan area, labour market area, or similar in a metropolitan area. UNICEF defines metropolitan area as follows: A formal local government area comprising the urban area as a whole and its primary commuter areas formed around a city with a large concentration of people. In addition to the city proper, a metropolitan area includes both the surrounding territory with urban levels of residential density and some additional lower-density areas that are adjacent to and linked to the city.

A city can be defined as a conditionally contiguous urban area, without regard to territorial or other boundaries inside an urban area. UNICEF defines urban area as follows: The definition of "urban" varies from country to country, with periodic reclassification, can vary within one country over time, making direct comparisons difficult. An urban area can be defined by one or more of the following: administrative criteria or political boundaries, a threshold population size, population density, economic function or the presence of urban characteristics. List of largest cities throughout history List of towns and cities with 100,000 or more inhabitants Number of urban areas by country UNSD Demographics Statistics – City population by sex and city type Nordpil World Database of Large Urban Areas, 1950–2050

Geoffrey Sherman

Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey Collingwood Sherman was a Royal Marines officer, who as Chief of Staff to Lieutenant-General Boy Browning, organised the ceremony of the Japanese surrender of Singapore on 12 September 1945. He worked in West Africa and with British Aerospace. Sherman joined the Royal Marines on 1 September 1933 when he was commissioned as a probationary second lieutenant, would serve in a variety of roles during his career, both on land and sea, he was promoted to acting lieutenant on 18 June 1936, probationary lieutenant on 1 September 1936, confirmed in that rank on 18 December 1936. He served on HMS Berwick commanding her detachment in an overall force of 746 marines which in May 1940 invaded Iceland during Operation Fork; the force suffered from the conditions and seasickness, however his detachment managed to capture the post office of Reykjavík and secure several key documents. The force remained in the area for a short time before being relieved by 4,000 British Army personnel, by 1941 by an American detachment.

By November 1940, Sherman and Berwick were detached to the Mediterranean, taking part in the battles of Taranto and Cape Spartivento. Sherman was wounded while commanding his marines in one of Berwick's turrets, while seven others were killed. Sherman continued to serve on the Berwick during its battle with a German commerce raider in December, while it escorted convoys to Russia up until 1942, whereupon Sherman left the ship, he was promoted acting major on 13 November 1942. Sherman was sent to the General Bernard Montgomery's Eighth Army in Egypt, taking part in Operation Baytown in September 1943 before being sent to Italy in 1944 to serve under Lieutenant-General Browning and Lord Louis Mountbatten, planning his Operation Zipper. Sherman arrived in Singapore and relieved the inmates of Changi's jails before being charged with setting up the currender ceremony for the local Japanese forces of General Seishirō Itagaki. Supervised by Lady Edwina Mountbatten throughout the ceremony where the Japanese Instrument of Surrender was signed, Sherman retained possession of the Union Flag and Malayan flag used during the surrender ceremony, which had themselves been used at the Tanglin barracks.

After the end of the war, Sherman was posted to the Cabinet Office of the British government. He was promoted acting lieutenant colonel on 1 February 1946, reverting to acting major on 18 November 1946, he regained the acting rank of lieutenant colonel on 1 January 1948, his substantive rank was still captain until 30 June 1948 when, advanced to major. The injuries he sustained aboard HMS Berwick forced his retirement on 12 August 1950. Moving to West Africa, he worked with a trading company in Nigeria, as a superintendent in the Nigerian Special Constabulary, he returned to England, joining British Aerospace in 1970. While there, he worked on the Panavia Tornado. Sherman married Evelyn in 1939, having three children, his son Nicholas's godmother was the secretary to General Browning during the latter part of the Second World War. Sherman was an active sportsman, he played cricket for Nigeria as a bowler and wicketkeeper. He played rugby for Wasps and the Royal Navy, he worked for the Samaritans in Blackpool, worked with rifle associations in Bisley until his death in 2009 at the age of 93.

He died in West Sussex and was survived by his two sons, wife. Lieutenant-Colonel Geoffrey Sherman-Daily Telegraph obituary

The Adoration of the Magi (Geertgen tot Sint Jans)

The Adoration of the Magi is a circa 1480-1485 oil on panel painting of the Adoration of the Magi by the Renaissance artist Geertgen tot Sint Jans in the collection of the Rijksmuseum. The Adoration of the Magi shows the three magi bearing gifts. King Melchior is shown offering his gift of gold coins, his removed crown lies at his feet. Behind him King Caspar, with his crown dangling behind his head, takes his gift of frankincense from an assistant in readiness to present it. On the left King Balthasar, portrayed as a dark-skinned king, still wears his crown and holds an orb of myrrh. In the background the retinue of each of the three magi can be seen above their heads; the magi are thus shown twice, once in the foreground and again in miniature in the background, arriving with their retinue from Africa and Asia. An x-ray examination of the underdrawing shows that the European retinue of Melchior had him riding a horse and this was changed to a dromedary; this is surprising, because early camels in'Three Kings' paintings tend to represent the retinue of Balthasar, said to have come from Ethiopia.

This painting is one of three paintings of the Adoration of the Magi by Geertgen that have been attributed to him based on stylistic similarities. The provenance of this painting only goes back to its purchase in 1904. Together with the other two versions, it is based on work by Hugo van der Goes in Berlin. SK-A-2150 painting record on museum website