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Reichstag building

The Reichstag is a historic edifice in Berlin, constructed to house the Imperial Diet of the German Empire. It was opened in 1894 and housed the Diet until 1933, when it was damaged after being set on fire. After World War II, the building fell into disuse; the ruined building was made safe against the elements and refurbished in the 1960s, but no attempt at full restoration was made until after German reunification on 3 October 1990, when it underwent a reconstruction led by architect Norman Foster. After its completion in 1999, it once again became the meeting place of the German parliament: the modern Bundestag; the term Reichstag, when used to connote a diet, dates back to the Holy Roman Empire. The building was built for the Diet of the German Empire, succeeded by the Reichstag of the Weimar Republic; the latter would become the Reichstag of Nazi Germany, which left the building after the 1933 fire and never returned, using the Kroll Opera House instead. In today's usage, the word Reichstag refers to the building, while Bundestag refers to the institution.

Construction of the building began well after the unification of Germany in 1871. The parliament had assembled in several other buildings in Leipziger Straße in Berlin but these were considered too small, so in 1872 an architectural contest with 103 participating architects was carried out to erect a new building. After a short survey of possible sites, a parliamentary committee recommended the east side of the Königsplatz, which however was occupied by the palace of a Polish-Prussian aristocrat, Athanasius Raczyński. Work did not start until ten years though, owing to various problems with purchasing the property and arguments between Wilhelm I, Otto von Bismarck, the members of the Reichstag about how the construction should be performed. After lengthy negotiations, the Raczyński Palace was purchased and demolished, making way for the new building. In 1882, another architectural contest was held, with 200 architects participating; this time the winner, the Frankfurt architect Paul Wallot, would see his Neo-Baroque project executed.

The direct model for Wallot's design was Philadelphia's Memorial Hall, the main building of the 1876 Centennial Exhibition. Some of the Reichstag's decorative sculptures and inscriptions were by sculptor Otto Lessing. On 29 June 1884, the foundation stone was laid by Wilhelm I, at the east side of the Königsplatz. Before construction was completed by Philipp Holzmann A. G. in 1894, Wilhelm I died. His eventual successor, Wilhelm II, took a more jaundiced view of parliamentary democracy than his grandfather; the original building was acclaimed for the construction of an original cupola of steel and glass, considered an engineering feat at the time. But its mixture of architectural styles drew widespread criticism. In 1916 the iconic words Dem Deutschen Volke were placed above the main façade of the building, much to the displeasure of Wilhelm II, who had tried to block the adding of the inscription for its democratic significance. After World War I had ended and Wilhelm had abdicated, during the revolutionary days of 1918, Philipp Scheidemann proclaimed the institution of a republic from one of the balconies of the Reichstag building on 9 November.

The building continued to be the seat of the parliament of the Weimar Republic, still called the Reichstag. Up to 42 protesters died during the Reichstag Bloodbath of January 13, 1920, when workers tried to protest a law that would restrict their rights, it was the bloodiest demonstration in German history; the building caught fire on 27 February 1933, under circumstances still not known. This gave a pretext for the Nazis to suspend most rights provided for by the 1919 Weimar Constitution in the Reichstag Fire Decree, allowing them to arrest Communists and increase police action throughout Germany; the burning of Reichstag had created fear in the capitalists of rise of communism in Germany. This furthered their policy of appeasement towards Hitler. During the 12 years of Nazi rule, the Reichstag building was not used for parliamentary sessions. Instead, the few times that the Reichstag convened at all, it did so in the Kroll Opera House, opposite the Reichstag building; this applied to the session of 23 March 1933, in which the Reichstag surrendered its powers to Adolf Hitler in the Enabling Act, another step in the so-called Gleichschaltung.

The main meeting hall of the building was instead used for propaganda presentations and, during World War II, for military purposes. It was considered for conversion to a flak tower but was found to be structurally unsuitable; the building, never repaired after the fire, was further damaged by air raids. During the Battle of Berlin in 1945, it became one of the central targets for the Red Army to capture, due to its perceived symbolic significance. Today, visitors to the building can still see Soviet graffiti on smoky walls inside as well as on part of the roof

Stefka Evstatieva

Stefka Evstatieva is a Bulgarian operatic soprano. Born in Ruse, she studied voice at the State Academy of Music in Sofia with Elena Kisselova, she began her career with the Ruse Opera where she made her debut as Amelia in Un ballo in maschera and sang there from 1971 to 1979. In 1974 Stefka Evstatieva won the second prize at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow.. In 1978 she won the Grand Prize of Belgian TV Belcanto Competition, she joined the Sofia National Opera in 1978, began to appear internationally two years with debuts at the Vienna State Opera in 1980, the Munich State Opera and the Royal Opera in 1981 and the Arena di Verona and La Scala in 1983. Additional engagements included Paris, Brussels, Buenos Aires, Berlin and Frankfurt, her debut in the United States was singing Lisa in The Queen of Spades with the Philadelphia Opera in 1983 followed performances in San Francisco and Dallas in 1984 and 1986, with additional engagements in New Orleans and Baltimore. Her Metropolitan Opera debut was on April 1984 singing Élisabeth de Valois in Don Carlos.

In addition to performing as a concert singer her major operatic roles included Aida, Donna Elvira, Leonora in Forza del Destino, Maddalena in Andrea Chénier, Élisabeth de Valois in Don Carlos and the Russian roles of Lisa and Tatyana. In 2004, Stefka Evstatieva helped found the Bulgarian Children's Chorus and School Gergana, New York an has been a compensated advisor since 2009.. Henshenson, Roberta, "Tosca' Helps Reveal a Woman's Character", New York Times 15 October 1995 Metropolitan Opera, Performance record: Evstatieva, Stefka on the MetOpera Database O'Connor, Review: "Tchaikovsky's Queen of Spades", New York Times, 9 April 1984 University of Pittsburgh, Stefka Evstatieva, soprano

Slender-legged tree frogs

Osteocephalus is a genus of frogs, the slender-legged tree frogs, in the family Hylidae found in the Guianas, the Amazon Basin, Colombia, southeastern Brazil, north-eastern Argentina. Males are warty. Jungfer, K.-H. Schiesari, L. C.: Description of a central Amazonian and Guianan tree frog, genus Osteocephalus, with oophagous tadpoles. - Alytes, Paris 13, pp. Jungfer, K.-H. Ron, S. Seipp, R. Almendáriz, A.: Two new species of hylid frogs, genus Osteocephalus, from Amazonian Ecuador. - Amphibia-Reptilia 21, pp. Jungfer, K.-H. Hödl, W.: A new species of Osteocephalus from Ecuador and a redescription of O. leprieurii. - Amphibia-Reptilia 23, pp. Jungfer, K.-H. J. Faivovich, J. M. Padial, S. Castroviejo-Fisher, M. Lyra, B. Von Muller Berneck, P. Iglesias, P. J. R. Kok, R. D. MacCulloch, M. T. Rodrigues, V. K. Verdade, C. P. Torres Gastello, J. C. Chaparro, P. H. Valdujo, S. Reichle, J. Moravec, V. Gvoždík, G. Gagliardi-Urrutia, R. Ernst, I. De la Riva, D. B. Means, A. P. Lima, J. C. Señaris, W. C. Wheeler and C. F. B. Haddad..

Systematics of spiny-backed treefrogs an Amazonian puzzle. Zoologica Scripta 42: 351–380. Frost, Darrel R. 2007. Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Version 5.1. Osteocephalus. Electronic Database accessible at http://research.amnh.org/herpetology/amphibia/index.php. American Museum of Natural History, New York, USA.. AmphibiaWeb: Information on amphibian biology and conservation.. 2008. Berkeley, California: Osteocephalus. AmphibiaWeb, available at http://amphibiaweb.org/.. Eol - Encyclopedia of Life taxon Osteocephalus at http://www.eol.org. ITIS - Integrated Taxonomic Information System on-line database Taxon Osteocephalus at https://www.itis.gov/index.html.. GBIF - Global Biodiversity Information Facility Taxon Osteocephalus at http://data.gbif.org/welcome.htm