Monday, June 6, 2011

Parliament buildings around the world

The US Congress meets in Washington at the Capitol building, which features a vast dome and elaborate triangular pediments perched on top of grand columns inspired by the classical architecture of Greek and Roman temples. Construction of the building began in 1793, and it was first occupied in 1800. Since then, numerous additions have been made by a succession of architects, including the replacement of the original dome with the current cast-iron structure.

Classical themes also inspired the design of this portico on the Palais Bourbon, which has been the seat of the French National Assembly or lower legislative chamber of the French government since 1798. The portico was added to the palace in 1806 to honour Napoleon, but the emperor was reportedly unimpressed. "He regretted he was no longer an artillery officer who could target his canons against this ridiculous screen," future minister for fine arts Antonin Proust said in 1891.

South Africa's Parliament, which was completed in 1884, displays similar neoclassical design principles alongside bold terracotta-coloured brickwork. It also takes the principle of separation of powers unusually literally: based in Cape Town, it is over 900 miles (1,450km) away from the government departments it scrutinises, which are based in Pretoria.

The Reichstag, home to Germany's Parliament, boasts a glass dome designed by British architect Norman Foster and added amid significant restoration after the country's reunification. The original building opened in 1894, but was severely damaged by a 1933 fire blamed by Hitler on communist rabble-rousers, a threat that - real or otherwise - helped him to strengthen his grip on power.

Canada's parliamentary buildings, like the UK Houses of Parliament, drew inspiration from the gothic architectural tradition. The main buildings were constructed between 1859 and 1866, and the tower, which bears a striking resemblance to the clocktower in Westminster housing Big Ben, was added in 1927. Inside the building there are other echoes of Westminster: Canadian MPs also face their political adversaries across a House of Commons decked out with green leather seats.

But the neogothic and neoclassical motifs espoused by many western legislatures were eschewed when the Diet National Parliament Building was constructed between January 1920 and November 1936 in Tokyo.

Russia's lower house, the State Duma, has met in an imposingly brutalistic building since 1994, after the previous year's constitutional crisis left the White House, the home of Russia's predecessor legislature, badly damaged by troops loyal to President Yeltsin.

The designers of Australia's Parliament drew inspiration from the shape of boomerangs as they planned an extensive renovation of the dilapidated home of Australian legislators, completed in 1988. Much of the building's office space is concealed underground to provide some respite from Canberra's summer sun.

In Brasilia, as in Canberra, architects and town planners were given the chance to realise radical design ideas. This building hosts Brazil's bicameral legislature.

India's Parliament House meanwhile emphasises continuity with its circular structure, overseen by a statue of Mahatma Gandhi, with features that are designed to evoke ancient Indian monuments. The building was opened in 1927 after a construction project lasting nearly six years. The transfer of power from the UK to its former colony took place on the 15 August 1947 in the Central Hall, a circular, domed building within Parliament House.

world’s first floating ice-cream truck

HMS Flake 99, the world’s first floating ice-cream truck, was seen sailing the river Thames, yesterday, trying to attract attention to the decreasing number of land ice-cream trucks in the UK.

The mobile ice-cream business in England has definitely seen better days, as the number of ice-cream trucks has dropped from 20,000 to around 5,000, in the last 50 years. They have been banned in areas like housing estates, parks and outside schools due to concerns regarding childhood obesity and noise pollution, and the rising prices of ingredients and fuel don’t help much either. The bizarre HMS Flake 99 was created by Fredericks, the company who makes Cadbury’s ice-cream, hoping it will attract attention to the problem of ice-cream trucks in Britain.

The world’s first amphibious ice-cream truck has sailed past the British Parliament, in London, yesterday, and after a tour of Britain’s beaches, it will embark on a voyage across the English Channel and on to the canals of Venince, next year. It has a top speed of just five knots so you’ll have no problem catching up to it in pretty much any motorized boat, and asking for a refreshing treat, wherever you are.

Yahoo office in Japan

Yahoo - a U.S. company, ranked second in popularity in the world of search engines and provides a range of services, joint Internet portal Yahoo! Directory. The portal includes e-mail service Yahoo! Mail, one of the oldest and most popular on the Internet.

This is how it rains... Very funny

Largest genus of water lilies in the World

Victoria amazornica is the world’s largest genus of water lilies. Its leaves reach up to 3m in diameter. It floats in the shallow waters of the Amazon River basin. These water lilies support up to 70 pounds. This giant water lily was called Victoria regia after Queen Victoria of the UK when it was discovered by explorer Robert Schomburgk in 1836.

10 People with Unbelievable Medical Conditions

1. The Woman Who has 200 Orgasms every day

UK's Sarah Carmen, 24, is a 200-a-day orgasm girl who gets good, good, GOOD vibrations from almost anything. She suffers from Permanent Sexual Arousal Syndrome (PSAS), which increases blood flow to the sex organs. "Sometimes I have so much sex to try to calm myself down I get bored of it. And men I sleep with don't seem to make as much effort because I climax so easily."

She believes her condition was brought on by the pills. "Within a few weeks I just began to get more and more aroused more and more of the time and I just kept having endless orgasms. It started off in bed where sex sessions would last for hours and my boyfriend would be stunned at how many times I would orgasm. Then it would happen after sex. I'd be thinking about what we'd done in bed and I'd start feeling a bit flushed, then I'd become aroused and climax. In six months I was having 150 orgasms a day—and it has been as many as 200."

She and her boyfriend split— and new partners struggle to keep up with her sex demands. "Often, I'll want to wear myself out by having as many orgasms as I can so they stop and I can get some peace," she said.

2. The Man Who Can't Get Fat

Mr Perry, 59, can eat whatever he likes - including unlimited pies, burgers and desserts - and never get fat. He cannot put on weight because of a condition called lipodystrophy that makes his body rapidly burn fat.

He used to be a chubby child, but at age 12 the fat dropped off "almost over night". He initially tried to eat more to gain weight, but it had no effect. Mr Perry, of Ilford in Essex, endured a decade of tests before the illness was diagnosed. It finally emerged that his body produces six times the normal level of insulin. Doctors have admitted that the condition would be a "slimmer's dream".

3. The Man Who Doesn't Feel Cold

Dutchman Wim Hof, also known as the Iceman, is the man that swam under ice, and stood in bins filled with ice. He climbed the Mt. Blanc in shorts in the icy cold, harvested world records and always stands for new challenges.

Scientists can't really explain it, but the 48-year-old Dutchman is able to withstand, and even thrive, in temperatures that could be fatal to the average person.

4. The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep: stayed awake 24 hours a day for years

Rhett Lamb is often cranky like any other 3-year-old toddler, but there's one thing that makes him completely different: he has a rare medical condition in which he can't sleep a wink.

Rhett is awake nearly 24 hours a day, and his condition has baffled his parents and doctors for years. They took clock shifts watching his every sleep-deprived mood to determine what ailed the young boy.

After a number of conflicting opinions, Shannon and David Lamb finally learned what was wrong with their child: Doctors diagnosed Rhett with an extremely rare condition called chiari malformation.

"The brain literally is squeezed into the spinal column. What happens is you get compression, squeezing, strangulating of the brain stem, which has all the vital functions that control sleep, speech, our cranial nerves, our circulatory system, even our breathing system," Savard said.

5. The Girl Who is Allergic to Water

Teenager Ashleigh Morris can't go swimming, soak in a hot bath or enjoy a shower after a stressful day's work - she's allergic to water. Even sweating brings the 19-year-old out in a painful rash.

Ashleigh, from Melbourne, Australia, is allergic to water of any temperature, a condition she's lived with since she was 14. She suffers from an extremely rare skin disorder called Aquagenic Urticaria - so unusual that only a handful of cases are documented worldwide.

6. The Woman Who Can't Forget

That's the story of AJ, an extraordinary 40-year-old married woman who remembers everything.

McGaugh and fellow UCI researchers Larry Cahill and Elizabeth Parker have been studying the extraordinary case of a person who has "nonstop, uncontrollable and automatic" memory of her personal history and countless public events. If you randomly pick a date from the past 25 years and ask her about it, she'll usually provide elaborate, verifiable details about what happened to her that day and if there were any significant news events on topics that interested her. She usually also recalls what day of the week it was and what the weather was like.

The 40-year-old woman, who was given the code name AJ to protect her privacy, is so unusual that UCI coined a name for her condition in a recent issue of the journal Neurocase: hyperthymestic syndrome.

7. The Girl Who Eats Only Tic Tacs

Meet Natalie Cooper, a 17-year-old teenager who has a mystery illness that makes her sick every time she eats anything. Well, almost anything. She can eat one thing that doesn't make her sick: Tic tac mint!

For reasons that doctors are unable to explain, Tic tacs are the only thing she can stomach, meaning she has to get the rest of her sustenance from a specially formulated feed through a tube.

8. The Musician Who Can't Stop Hiccupping

Chris Sands, 24, from Lincoln, hiccups as often as every two seconds - and sometimes even when he is asleep. He has tried a variety of cures, including hypnosis and yoga, but nothing has worked. Mr Sands thinks his problem stems from an acid reflux condition caused by a damaged valve in his stomach. "If the acid levels are severe enough they are going to do keyhole surgery and grab part of my stomach and wrap it around the valve to tighten it," he said.

Mr Sands, who is a backing singer in the group Ebullient, said the condition has hampered his career as he has only been able to perform four times. In the next couple of weeks --as of the day of the report--, doctors at Nottingham's Queen's Medical Centre will put a tube into his stomach to monitor acid levels and decide if keyhole surgery is possible.

9. The Girl That Collapses Every Time She Laughs

Kay Underwood, 20, has cataplexy, which means that almost any sort of strong emotion triggers a dramatic weakening of her muscles. Exhilaration, anger, fear, surprise, awe and even embarrassment can also cause sufferers to suddenly collapse on the spot.

Kay, of Barrow-upon-Soar, Leicestershire (UK), who was diagnosed with the condition five years ago, once collapsed more than 40 times in a single day. She said: "People find it very odd when it happens, and it isn't always easy to cope with strangers' reactions. "

Like most cataplexy sufferers, Ms Underwood is also battling narcolepsy - a condition that makes her drop off to sleep without warning. Narcolepsy affects around 30,000 people in the UK and about 70 per cent of them also have cataplexy.

10. The Woman Who is Allergic to Modern Technology

For most people talking on a mobile phone, cooking dinner in the microwave or driving in a car is simply part of modern living in 21st century Britain. But completing any such tasks is impossible for Debbie Bird - because she is allergic to Cell Phones and Microwaves.

The 39-year-old is so sensitive to the electromagnetic field (emf) or 'smog' created by computers, mobile phones, microwave ovens and even some cars, that she develops a painful skin rash and her eyelids swell to three times their size if she goes near them. As a consequence, Mrs Bird, a health spa manager, has transformed her home into an EMF-free zone to try and stay healthy. 'I can no longer do things that I used to take for granted,' Mrs Bird said. "My day-to-day life has been seriously affected by EMF"