Under the Sea

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Lampedusa Under the Sea

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Lampedusa

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Lampedusa (pronounced [lam.pe.ˈdu.sa]; Sicilian: Lampidusa; Ancient Greek: Λοπαδούσσα Lopadoussa) is the largest island of the Italian Pelagie Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The comune of Lampedusa e Linosa is part of the Sicilian province of Agrigento which also includes the smaller islands of Linosa and Lampione. It is the southernmost part of Italy and Italy’s Southernmost island. Tunisia, which is about 113 kilometres (70 miles) away, is the closest landfall to the islands. Sicily is farther at 176 kilometres (109 miles); Malta is a similar distance to the east.
Lampedusa, which has an area of 20.2 square kilometres (7.8 sq mi), has a population of approximately 4,500 people. Its main industries are fishing, agriculture, and tourism. A ferry service links the island with Porto Empedocle, near Agrigento, Sicily. There are also year-round flights from Lampedusa Airport to Palermo and Catania on the Sicilian mainland. In the summer, there are additional services to Rome and Milan, besides many other seasonal links with the Italian mainland.
Since the early 2000s, the island has become a primary European entry point for migrants, mainly coming from Africa. In 2013, Rabbit Beach, located in the southern part of the island, was voted the world’s best beach by travel site TripAdvisor.
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Etymology
The name Lampedusa derives from the ancient Greek name of the island, Λοπαδούσσα or Λαπαδούσσα (Lopadoússa/Lapadoússa). It has been suggested that the name derives from the word λέπας (lépas), which means ‘rock’, due to the rocky landscape of the island; this word was also used by the Greeks for a kind of oyster and the island may have been called like this due to the abundance of this kind of oyster. Other scholars believe that the name derives from λαμπάς (lampás), which means ‘torch’, because of the lights which were placed on the island for the sailors.

History
Historically, Lampedusa was a landing place and a maritime base for the ancient Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and Arabs. The Romans established a plant for the production of the prized fish sauce known as garum. In 1553 Barbary pirates from North Africa raided Lampedusa, and carried off 1,000 captives into slavery. As a result of pirate attacks, the island became uninhabited.
The first prince of Lampedusa and Linosa was Ferdinand Tommasi, ancestor of the famous writer Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, who received the title from Charles II of Spain in 1667. A century later, the Tomassi family began a program of resettlement.
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Coastline of Lampedusa
In the late 18th century the Prince of Lampedusa leased the island to Salvatore Gatt, a Maltese entrepreneur, who settled on the island with a few Maltese workers. After Malta fell under British protection in 1800, they considered taking over Lampedusa as a naval base instead of Malta, but the idea was dropped as the island did not have deep harbours and was not well developed. Despite this, they still attempted to take over the island as they believed that it could be used to supply Malta with food in case Sicily falls to Napoleon.
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In 1800, the British Civil Commissioner of Malta, Sir Alexander Ball sent a Commissariat to Lampedusa to assess the feasibility of this and the result was that the island could easily be used to supply Malta with food at a relatively low cost as there was grazing ground and an adequate water supply. In 1803, some Maltese farmers settled on Lampedusa with cattle and sheep, and they began to grow barley.
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In 1810, Salvatore Gatt transferred the lease to Alexander Fernandez, the British Commissariat, and the latter attempted to create a Maltese colony on the island. This never materialized as a Royal Commission in 1812 stated that this was just a business venture and Britain refused to help Fernandez. Further problems arose when the plague devastated Malta in 1813-1814, and on 25 September 1814, the new Governor Sir Thomas Maitland withdrew British troops from Lampedusa. Fernandez remained proprietor of the island until 1818, when Gatt returned and remained there with his family up to 1824.
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Aerial view from the west
In the 1840s, the Tomassi family sold the island to the Kingdom of Naples. In 1860, the island became part of the new Kingdom of Italy, but the new Italian government limited its activities there to building a penal colony.


In June 1943, during the Second World War, as a precursor to the Allied invasion of Sicily, the island was secured without resistance in Operation Corkscrew by the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Lookout and ninety-five men of the 2nd Battalion the Coldstream Guards. (Mussolini had given the garrison his permission to surrender because it lacked any water.) White flags had been sighted in the port, and when Lieutenant Corbett of Lookout approached the port in a motor launch, he was told that the island’s garrison wished to surrender.
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The Governor’s formal surrender was accepted in the island’s underground command-post by a combined Army/Navy delegation sometime after 9:00 am on 13 June 1943. During this process, the governor handed his sword to the Coldstream company commander, Major Bill Harris. A second unofficial claim has also been made regarding the capitulation of the island, when earlier that same day elements of the garrison had also attempted to surrender in unusual circumstances when the pilot of a Royal Air Force Swordfish aircraft landed after suffering problems with his compass.
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The Isola dei Conigli (Island of Rabbits)
The first telephone connection with Sicily was installed only in the 1960s. In the same decade an electric power station was built.
In 1972, part of the western side of the island became a United States Coast Guard LORAN-C transmitter station. In 1979, Lt. Kay Hartzell took command of the Coast Guard base, becoming “the first female commanding officer of an isolated duty station”.

In the 1980s, and especially 1985 -1986 saw an increase in tensions and the area around the island was the scene of multiple attacks. On April 15, 1986, Libya fired two Scuds at the Lampedusa navigation station on the island, in retaliation for the American bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi, and the alleged death of Colonel Gaddafi’s adopted daughter.
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However, the missiles passed over the island, landed in the sea, and caused no damage.
On 4 January 1989, U.S. Navy aircraft from the carrier USS John F. Kennedy shot down two Libyan fighters approximately 200 kilometres (124 miles) from the island. The base commander was advised by U.S. Sixth Fleet Intelligence at La Maddalena that the Libyan president, Muammar al-Gaddafi, had threatened reprisals against the American commanders at Sigonella and Lampedusa. An Italian media frenzy followed that event which put Lampedusa in the spotlight.
The NATO base was decommissioned in 1994 and transferred to Italian military control.
North African immigration

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Migrants arriving on the Island of Lampedusa in August 2007
Since the early 2000s, Lampedusa has become a prime transit point for immigrants from Africa, the Middle East and Asia wanting to enter Europe. In 2004 the Libyan and Italian governments reached a secret agreement that obliged Libya to accept African immigrants deported from Italian territories. This resulted in the mass repatriation of many people from Lampedusa to Libya between 2004 and 2005, a move criticised by the European Parliament.
By 2006, many African immigrants were paying people smugglers in Libya to help get them to Lampedusa by boat. On arrival, most were then transferred by the Italian government to reception centres in mainland Italy. Many were then released because their deportation orders were not enforced.
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In 2009, the overcrowded conditions at the island’s temporary immigrant reception centre came under criticism by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The unit, which was originally built for a maximum capacity of 850 people, was reported to be housing nearly 2,000 boat people. A significant number of people were sleeping outdoors under plastic sheeting. A fire that started during an inmate riot destroyed a large portion of the holding facility on 19 February 2009
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In 2011, many more immigrants moved to Lampedusa during the rebellions in Tunisia and Libya. By May 2011, more than 35,000 immigrants had arrived on the island from Tunisia and Libya. By the end of August, 48,000 had arrived. Most were young males in their 20s and 30s. The situation has caused division within the EU, the French government regarding most of the arrivals as economic migrants rather than refugees in fear of persecution. Italy has repeatedly requested aid from the EU in managing refugees, but has been turned down.

In July 2013, Pope Francis visited the island on his first official visit outside of Rome. He prayed for migrants, living and dead, and denounced their traffickers. In October 2013 a boat carrying over 500 migrants, mostly from Eritrea and Somalia, sank off the coast of Lampedusa with the deaths of at least 300 people. The press referred to the incident as the “Lampedusa boat disaster”.
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Tourism is a major part of the island’s economy.
Geography and climate
Lampedusa is the southernmost point of the Republic Of Italy. It is also Italy’s Southernmost island. Politically and administratively, Lampedusa is part of Italy, but geologically it belongs to Africa since the sea between the two is no deeper than 120 metres. Lampedusa is an arid island, dominated by a garigue landscape, with maquis shrubland in the west.

It has no sources of water other than irregular rainfall. The fauna and flora of Lampedusa are similar to those of North Africa, with a few pelagic endemic species. Overall the island has two slopes, from west to east, and from north to south of the island. The south-western side is dominated by deep gorges, while the southeastern part is dominated by shallow valleys and sandy beaches. The entire northern coast is dominated by cliffs: gently sloping cliffs on the east coast, and vertical sheer cliffs on the west coast.
The Isola dei Conigli (literally “Rabbit Island”), close to the south coast of Lampedusa, is one of the last remaining egg-laying sites in Italy for the Loggerhead Sea Turtle, which is endangered throughout the Mediterranean. The beach and the neighbouring island are part of a nature reserve: here the singer-songwriter Domenico Modugno spent his vacations, and died in 1994. Next to Parise Cape is a small beach accessible only by sea, through a low grotto. Other species living along the island’s coast include mantas and dolphins.

Climate
Lampedusa has a semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification BSh). It has very mild winters with moderate rainfall and hot, dry summers.
The sea surrounding the island is relatively shallow. Water temperatures stay warm most of the year, with the warmest being in August when the sea typically reaches 27 to 28 °C (81 to 82 °F). The water stays warm until November, when temperatures range from 20 to 23 °C (68 to 73 °F). It is coolest in February and March, when it averages around 16 °C (61 °F).

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Closer to Africa than Italy, Lampedusa is a unique and unforgettable island famed for its crystalline fish-rich seas. It is Italy’s southernmost territory, and the island’s most southerly point also has the honour of being the southernmost point in Europe. Lampedusa boasts a coastline of extraordinary beauty featuring turquoise sea, rocks, cliffs, small bays and pure white beaches.

This long and narrow island is set on a tilted limestone shelf forming tall imposing cliffs on the north side with a jagged coastline in the south sheltering several sandy coves and beaches that alternate with rocky inlets and rugged headland. Albero del Sole is the highest part of the island and offers dramatic views down to the sea.
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The bay of Cala Creta
Lampedusa’s sea bed features a wealth of fish, coral, sea sponges, and oysters in a myriad of and shapes colours. In the east of the island there are wonderful rocky coves like Cala Creta where you can go swimming from the rocks and Mar Morto where you swim through a grotto and where the minerals are good to rub into your skin. In the south of the island there are a series of sandy beaches and coves, like Cala Croce and Cala Madonna. Guitgia beach is one of the largest and is the best equipped in terms of facilities with plenty of bars and cafés nearby.
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The renowned Isola dei Conigli
The most magnificent beach on the island is undoubtedly the Spiaggia dei Conigli facing the Isola dei Conigli in the west of the island, around 8km from the centre of town. A vast area around this beach has been declared a nature reserve encompassing land and sea. There are hardly any buildings and fishermen are not allowed to fish nearby which means the snorkelling is excellent.
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This is a protected area because the beach is one of the last remaining places where the Caretta Caretta sea turtles regularly come to lay their eggs. There is a WWF rescue centre and hospital where the islanders care for the sea turtles, should they get accidentally injured by fishing equipment. When they are recovered and ready to be set free, the WWF leaves cards in various restaurants and bars on the island stating the time and place so that tourists can watch the spectacle of this incredible animal being returned to the sea.
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Dolphins can sometimes be seen and at certain times of year fin whales have been sighted off the coast. Over the centuries though, Lampedusa’s land fauna has gradually disappeared, even the wild rabbits that gave their name to the Isola dei Conigli. All that is left is a rare type of lizard and the islands friendly stray cats and dogs!
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The landscape is for the most part North African with low-lying scrubland and is often barren in parts with dry stony soil. However, over the last century a lot of Lampedusa has suffered from deforestation where previously it was home to all manner of plants and trees. Several measures have been taken to improve the situation and although there is still very little agriculture, some parts of the island (especially people’s gardens) are full of beautiful and exotic plants and flowers such as palms, figs, olives, prickly pear cactuses and yuccas.
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The secluded Spiaggia dei Conigli
Part of the island’s charm is that there really is very little to visit in terms of sightseeing so you can spend guilt-free time on the beach! This is not to say that the island does not have a very interesting history with several colourful anecdotes. Indeed an old Sicilian legend concerning the founding of the island tells that following a shipwreck off the coast of Lampedusa only two women from Palermo survived and they met two hermits on the island. The hermits gave up their lifestyle in order to marry the two women and their offspring was the start of a new population!

Archaeological remains provide ancient evidence of life on Lampedusa, which was used as a naval base for civilisations like the Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans, although it was later abandoned by its population after a series of pirate attacks.

In 1630 Charles II of Spain gave the island to Giulio Tommasi whom he made prince. One of his descendents, Giuseppe Tommasi di Lampedusa was the author of the famous Sicilian novel, Il Gattopardo (The Leopard). The Tommasi family encouraged resettlement on the island but it was later used by King Ferdinand as a penal colony.
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Another interesting anecdote in the island’s history concerns a Jewish tailor from London’s East End. Sidney Cohen was a pilot during World War Two who had to make a forced landing on Lampedusa in 1943 with his navigator and gunner. The 4,500 Italian garrison surrendered to him believing they had been invaded and because of this Cohen was nicknamed King of Lampedusa by his crew. This story became a legendary Yiddish play which opened in 1943 and ran for an unprecedented 200 performances. Recently an appreciation of the play including a film about the real incident made by Oscar winning filmmaker Arnold Schwartzman OBE was featured at the Royal Festival Hall Southbank Centre.
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The traditional island architecture
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Lampedusa’s old port
The traditional style of architecture on the island is stone-built African-style dammusi but the only town in Lampedusa has fairly modern buildings since a lot was destroyed in bombings during the war. The main road is the Via Roma, which is lined with palm trees and offers cafés, bars, gelaterias and pastry shops full of traditional Sicilian treats as well as souvenir shops selling locally made products and sea sponges caught by the local fisherman.

The old port is a hive of activity for fishermen and there are a few good restaurants to eat out in at night here. This is also where you catch ferries and hydrofoils to Porto Empedocle on the mainland of Sicily and for day excursions to the island of Linosa, an hour’s journey away. Palms trees border the new port where you can hire boats and book boat trips. There are a few bars and restaurants along the port such as Caffé del Porto which is popular both for ice creams in the daytime and pre-dinner drinks in the evenings.
Food
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There are some truly excellent restaurants on this island and even the pizzas are made to perfection. Fish and seafood are the specialities however and even if you are not a big fish fan you cannot fail to be impressed by the exquisite way the Lampedusans cook their fresh catch-of-the-day, often in a sauce of tomatoes, capers, potatoes and olives.
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Lampedusa’s glittering coastline
This is an island for lovers of the sea where you can sunbathe, swim and snorkel to your hearts content. You can also indulge in fishing, diving and boating. On of the best ways to experience the island is by booking a boat trip around it. The locals know all the best places to stop and you get lunch on board.

This way you will get to discover all the secret places such as hidden grottoes and beaches and you will be shown all the best swimming spots. A fun way to explore the island by land is by hiring scooters, a jeep or even bicycles if it’s not too hot and these are all widely available on the island.
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Lampedusa truly is a piece of Africa in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea far away from everywhere, yet with the added benefit of Sicilian hospitality, exquisite Italian cooking and crystal clear waters.
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Egypt’s Marshall Abdul Fattah al-Sisi ‘cult’ sees surge in Merchandise and Songs

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T-shirts bearing the ex-field marshal’s image outnumber Tutankhamun and “I love Egypt” at this Cairo stand

By Ahmed Nour & Adam Robinson

Former Field Marshal Abdul Fattah al-Sisi’s popularity among Egyptians has been taking on some unusual forms, including a wild profusion of merchandise, prompting some to speak of almost cult-like veneration.

Items as diverse as T-shirts, jewellery, perfume, chocolates and even sandwiches proudly sport the image or name of the country’s new national hero, who announced his intention to stand for the presidency on Wednesday.

And by some accounts, many of these Sisi-themed items are selling like hotcakes.

Some – who fret that Mr Sisi will take Egypt back to military authoritarianism – believe the paraphernalia is a worrying sign of a new official personality cult.

But many Egyptians genuinely regard him as a saviour who helped oust the Muslim Brotherhood-backed government of President Mohammed Morsi last year, and promises the hope of ending the turmoil that has beset Egypt since the Tahrir Square revolution. He is widely expected to win the election by a landslide.
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Bahria Galal, an Egyptian owner of a chocolate shop and supporter of Egypt’s ex-Field Marshal Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, displays her products decorated with his portraits at her shop in Cairo on 8 September 2013
Bahria Jalal, who sells chocolates sporting Mr Sisi’s image in her Cairo shop, says she does so out of “love and respect”, and to demonstrate her support for the army.
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Chocolates decorated with portraits of Egypt’s Field Marshal Abdul Fattah al-Sisi are displayed at a shop belonging to Sisi supporter Bahria Galal in Cairo on 27 August 2013
“I like Sisi very much and consider him a national symbol because he saved the country from the danger posed by the former regime of deposed President Muhammad Morsi,” she told the Watan news website.
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Designer Nermin Nazim posing with some of her Abdul Fattah al-Sisi-themed jewellery
At the pricier end of the market, accessories designer Nermin Nazim has created a jewellery line in Mr Sisi’s honour. She told the Aswat Masriya website that she believes Mr Sisi “liberated Egypt and freed it from fascism”.

Her line is called “The Second Victory” because she regards the ouster of President Morsi the Egyptian army’s biggest “success” since the Israeli-Arab War of 1973.

The conflict, in which Israel eventually repelled advancing Egyptian-Syrian forces, is celebrated as a triumph in Egypt. There it is marked as a victory because of the military blow the initial attack dealt to Israel, and of Egypt’s eventual recovery of the Sinai under the Israel-Egypt peace deal which the war paved the way for.

According to the Sada al-Balad news website, Ms Nazim’s range is proving popular, with many brides asking for it as their wedding gift.

Cynics however wonder whether for many, Mr Sisi’s popularity is an opportunity to simply cash in.

There are also suspicions that the proliferation of Sisi memorabilia is part of a concerted effort by the military’s department of morale affairs.
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An Egyptian man displays a souvenir fake ID card depicting Egypt’s ex-Field Marshal Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, on sale in Cairo on 28 January 2014
Enterprising street vendors across Cairo can been selling fake souvenir “Sisi” ID cards for one Egyptian pound (10 US cents) a pop.

Under “profession”, the cards state nothing less than “Saviour of Egypt”, while his address is already given as “The Presidential Office”.
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Souvenir fake 200 Egyptian pound notes printed with pictures of Egyt’s ex-Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at a bazaar in Tahrir Square in central Cairo, on 13 March 2014
Souvenir mock 200-Egyptian pound notes giving Mr Sisi head of state-style prominence can also be bought.
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Poster for Egyptian fast food chain Amo Hosny’s Sisy Mix sandwich
Mr Sisi’s name is even being used to sell sandwiches: Fast food chain Amo Hosny’s latest creation – The Sisy Mix – contains chicken breast and hot dog sausage chunks, slathered in the restaurant’s “special sauce”.

Song for Sisi
Some Egyptians have been moved to express their feelings about Mr Sisi into song.

A music video made by fitness trainer Bosy Moukhtar Bosey and posted on her Facebook page features lines sung in English such as “Sisi the Egyptians love” and “Now the whole world knows you are the Egyptians’ leader”.

Her collaborator in the video, Hassan About Seif, sings in Arabic: “All the people love you, all the people stands behind you.”

For many, all this is getting a bit too much. The hugely popular TV satirist Bassem Youssef – himself a scathing critic of President Morsi – has warned Egyptians not to replace “religious fascism” with “nationalist fascism”.

And one Twitter user summed up his alarm at the levels of adoration with: “Has Sisi become a God? What happened to you people?”

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Asparagus

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Asparagus officinalis is a spring vegetable, a flowering perennial plant species in the genus Asparagus. It was once classified in the lily family, like its Allium cousins, onions and garlic, but the Liliaceae have been split and the onion-like plants are now in the family Amaryllidaceae and asparagus in the Asparagaceae. Asparagus officinalis is native to most of Europe, northern Africa and western Asia, and is widely cultivated as a vegetable crop.

Biology

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Asparagus shoot before becoming woody
Asparagus is a herbaceous, perennial plant growing to 100–150 centimetres (39–59 in) tall, with stout stems with much-branched feathery foliage. The “leaves” are in fact needle-like cladodes (modified stems) in the axils of scale leaves; they are 6–32 mm (0.24–1.26 in) long and 1 mm (0.039 in) broad, and clustered 4–15 together. The root system is adventitious and the root type is fasciculated. The flowers are bell-shaped, greenish-white to yellowish, 4.5–6.5 mm (0.18–0.26 in) long, with six tepals partially fused together at the base; they are produced singly or in clusters of two or three in the junctions of the branchlets. It is usually dioecious, with male and female flowers on separate plants, but sometimes hermaphrodite flowers are found. The fruit is a small red berry 6–10 mm diameter, which is poisonous to humans.
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Wild asparagus sauteed with garlic, naam plaaand soy sauce

Plants native to the western coasts of Europe (from northern Spain north to Ireland, Great Britain, and northwest Germany) are treated as Asparagus officinalis subsp. prostratus (Dumort.) Corb., distinguished by its low-growing, often prostrate stems growing to only 30–70 cm (12–28 in) high, and shorter cladodes 2–18 mm (0.079–0.709 in) long. It is treated as a distinct species, Asparagus prostratus Dumort, by some authors. A remarkable adaptation is the edible asparagus, while in the Macaronesian Islands several species, (A. umbellatus, A. scoparius, etc.), are preserved the original form, a leafy vine; in the Mediterranean, the asparagus genus has evolved into thorny species.
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Three types of asparagus are on display, with white asparagus at the back and green asparagus in the middle. The plant at the front is Ornithogalum pyrenaicum, commonly called wild asparagus, and sometimes “bath asparagus”
History
Historically, asparagus was commonly eaten in Ancient Egypt, Rome, Greece, Spain and Syria.
Asparagus has been used as a vegetable and medicine, owing to its delicate flavour, diuretic properties, and more. It is pictured as an offering on an Egyptian frieze dating to 3000 BC. In ancient times, it was also known in Syria and in Spain. Greeks and Romans ate it fresh when in season, and dried the vegetable for use in winter; Romans even froze it high in the Alps, for the Feast of Epicurus. Emperor Augustus created the “Asparagus Fleet” for hauling the vegetable, and coined the expression “faster than cooking asparagus” for quick action. A recipe for cooking asparagus is in the oldest surviving book of recipes, Apicius’s third-century AD De re coquinaria, Book III.
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In the Netherlands and Northern Germany, asparagus is often eaten together with ham, boiled egg, potatoes and a melted butter sauce
The ancient Greek physician Galen (prominent among the Romans) mentioned asparagus as a beneficial herb during the second century AD, but after the Roman empire ended, asparagus drew little medieval attention. until al-Nafzawi’s The Perfumed Garden. That piece of writing celebrates its (scientifically unconfirmed) aphrodisiacal power, a supposed virtue that the Indian Ananga Ranga attributes to “specialphosphorus elements” that also counteract fatigue. By 1469, asparagus was cultivated in French monasteries. Asparagus appears to have been hardly noticed in England until 1538, and in Germany until 1542.
The finest texture and the strongest and yet most delicate taste is in the tips. The points d’amour (“love tips”) were served as a delicacy to Madame de Pompadour. Asparagus became available to the New World around 1850, in the United States.

Energy
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German botanical illustration of asparagus
Cultivation
Only young asparagus shoots are commonly eaten: once the buds start to open (“ferning out”), the shoots quickly turn woody.
Water makes up 93% of Asparagus’s composition. Asparagus is low in calories and is very low in sodium. It is a good source of vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium and zinc, and a very good source of dietary fibre, protein, beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, rutin, niacin, folic acid, iron, phosphorus, potassium, copper, manganese and selenium, as well as chromium, a trace mineral that enhances the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells. The amino acid asparagine gets its name from asparagus, as the asparagus plant is relatively rich in this compound.

The shoots are prepared and served in a number of ways around the world, typically as an appetizer[17] or vegetable side dish. In Asian-style cooking, asparagus is oftenstir-fried. Cantonese restaurants in the United States often serve asparagus stir-fried with chicken, shrimp, or beef. Asparagus may also be quickly grilled over charcoal or hardwood embers. It is also used as an ingredient in some stews and soups. In recent years asparagus eaten raw, as a component of a salad, has regained popularity.

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Mature native asparagus with seed pods in Saskatchewan, Canada
Asparagus can also be pickled and stored for several years. Some brands label shoots prepared this way as “marinated”.
Stem thickness indicates the age of the plant, with the thicker stems coming from older plants. Older, thicker stalks can be woody, although peeling the skin at the base removes the tough layer. Peeled asparagus will however poach much faster. The bottom portion of asparagus often contains sand and dirt, so thorough cleaning is generally advised before cooking.
Green asparagus is eaten worldwide, though the availability of imports throughout the year has made it less of a delicacy than it once was. In Europe, however, the “asparagus season is a highlight of the foodie calendar”; in the UK this traditionally begins on 23 April and ends on Midsummer Day. As in continental Europe, due to the short growing season and demand for local produce, asparagus commands a premium price.
White asparagus in continental northwestern Europe

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Typical serving of asparagus withHollandaise sauce and potatoes.
Asparagus is very popular in the Netherlands, Spain, France, Poland, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Switzerland, and is almost exclusively white—else, it is specified by the local language term for “green asparagus”. White asparagus is the result of applying a blanching technique while the asparagus shoots are growing. Compared to green asparagus, the locally cultivated so-called “white gold” or “edible ivory” asparagus, also referred to as “the royal vegetable”, is less bitter and much more tender. Freshness is very important, and the lower ends of white asparagus must be peeled before cooking or raw consumption.
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Asparagus officinaliswith dewdrops
To cultivate white asparagus, the shoots are covered with soil as they grow, i.e. hilling; without exposure to sunlight no photosynthesis starts, so the shoots remain white in colour.
Only seasonally on the menu, asparagus dishes are advertised outside many restaurants, usually from late April to June. For the French style, asparagus is often boiled or steamed and served with hollandaise sauce, melted butter or olive oil, Parmesan cheese or mayonnaise. Tall, narrow asparagus cooking pots allow the shoots to be steamed gently, their tips staying out of the water.
During the German Spargelsaison or Spargelzeit (“asparagus season” or “asparagus time”), the asparagus season that traditionally finishes on 24 June, roadside stands and open-air markets sell about half of the country’s white asparagus consumption.
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Green asparagus for sale in New York City

Since asparagus often originates in maritime habitats, it thrives in soils that are too saline for normal weeds to grow. Thus, a little salt was traditionally used to suppress weeds in beds intended for asparagus; this has the disadvantage that the soil cannot be used for anything else. Some places are better for growing asparagus than others.

The fertility of the soil is a large factor. “Crowns” are planted in winter, and the first shoots appear in spring; the first pickings or “thinnings” are known as sprue asparagus. Sprue has thin stems.
A new breed of “Early Season Asparagus” that can be harvested two months earlier than usual was announced by a UK grower in early 2011.[25] This variety does not need to lie dormant and blooms at 7 °C (45 °F) rather than the usual 9 °C (48 °F).
The blanching of white asparagus is obtained by the labor intensive hilling cultivation method, to distinguish its gastronomical qualities from those of the green plant, which is the same botanical variety.
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Asparagus foliage turns bright yellow in autumn
Purple asparagus differs from its green and white counterparts, having high sugar and low fiber levels. Purple asparagus was originally developed in Italy and commercialized under the variety name “Violetto d’ Albenga”. Since then, breeding work has continued in the United States and New Zealand.
Companion planting
Asparagus is a useful companion plant for tomatoes. The tomato plant repels the asparagus beetle, as do several other common companion plants of tomatoes. Meanwhile, asparagus may repel some harmful root nematodes that affect tomato plants.
Commercial production

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Asparagus output in 2005 shown as a percentage of the top producer (China)
Green 100
Yellow 10
Red 1
The top asparagus importers (2004) were the United States (92,405 tonnes), followed by the European Union (external trade) (18,565 tonnes), and Japan (17,148 tonnes).
China is the world’s largest producer: in 2010 (6,960,357 tonnes), at a large distance followed by Peru(335,209 tonnes), and Germany (92,404 tonnes). U.S. production was concentrated in California,Michigan and Washington. The annual production for white asparagus in Germany is 57,000 tonnes (61% of consumer demand).
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Asparagus for sale.
Celebrations
The green crop is significant enough in California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta region that the city of Stockton holds a festival every year to celebrate it, as does the city of Hart, Michigan, complete with a parade and asparagus queen. The Vale of Evesham in Worcestershire is heralded as the largest producer within Northern Europe, celebrating like Stockton, with a week-long festival every year involving auctions of the best crop and locals dressing up as spears of asparagus as part of the British Asparagus Festival.

Many German cities hold an annual Spargelfest (asparagus festival) celebrating the harvest of white asparagus. Schwetzingen claims to be the “Asparagus Capital of the World” and during its festival an Asparagus Queen is crowned. The Bavarian city of Nuremberg feasts a week long in April, with a competition to find the fastest asparagus peeler in the region. This usually involves generous amounts of the local wines and beer being consumed to aid the spectators’ appreciative support.
Vernacular names and etymology

Asparagus 6FernMilduraVictoriaAustralia
Asparagus in Mildura, Victoria, Australia

Asparagus officinalis is widely known simply as “asparagus”, and may be confused with unrelated plant species also known as “asparagus”, such as Ornithogalum pyrenaicumknown as “Prussian asparagus” for its edible shoots.
The English word “asparagus” derives from classical Latin, but the plant was once known in English as sperage, from the Medieval Latin sparagus. This term itself derives from the Greek aspharagos or asparagos, and the Greek term originates from the Persian asparag, meaning “sprout” or “shoot”.

Asparagus was also corrupted in some places to “sparrow grass”; indeed, the Oxford English Dictionary quotes John Walker as having written in 1791 that “Sparrow-grass is so general that asparagus has an air of stiffness and pedantry”. In Gloucestershire and Worcestershire, it is also known simply as “grass”, and young plants too small to cut are called “pru Another known colloquial variation of the term, most common in parts of Texas, is “aspar grass” or “asper grass In the Midwest United States and Appalachia, “spar grass” is a common colloquialism. Asparagus is commonly known in fruit retail circles as “Sparrows Guts”, etymologically distinct from the old term “sparrow grass”.
The Sanskrit name of Asparagus is shatavari and it has been historically used in India as a part of Ayurvedic medicines. In Kannada, it is known as ashadhi, majjigegadde orsipariberuballi.

In China it is known as lu sun (Cantonese: lo sun) 蘆筍 (simplified 芦笋), in Thailand as no mai farang (Thai: หน่อไม้ฝรั่ง), and in Vietnam as măng tây which literally mean “European bamboo shoots” and “Western bamboo shoots”, respectively. The green asparagus is commonly used in Chinese-American cuisine and Thai cuisine.
In Turkish, asparagus is known as “kuşkonmaz,” literally “bird can’t land,” in reference to the shape of the plant.

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Steamed asparagus prepared with roasted pine nuts

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Socialist My Ass Hamdeen Sabahi La la la la goodbye na na na na حمدين صباحي يا فضيحةلا لا لا لا وداعا كس امك

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فضيحة حمدين وفيديو مسرب_ خيرت الشاطر مناضل عظيم وتحية حارة من القلب له وبجوارة بنت خيرت, شكرا لك يا صباحي لغبائك Sabahi Kiss your Ass bye bye Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye

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“تويتر” فيديو قديما لحمدين صباحى المرشح لرئاسة الجمهورية، يقدم فيه التحية للمهندس خيرت الشاطر، نائب مرشد جماعة الإخوان، خلال كلمة له وبجواره الكاتب الصحفى محمد عبد القدوس، ونجلة الشاطر.

وقال صباحى فى الفيديو، “عاوز أسارع بتقديم تهنئة حارة من القلب إلى خيرت الشاطر، مثمناً موقف خيرت الشاطر فى الدفاع عن قضية عظيمة، قائلاً: “من يفعل مثل هذا لديه دائماً شعور بأنه سيثاب على ما دفعه من ثمن”.

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وقال إن أعظم شىء أن يشعر الشاطر أن الله منحه ابنة مؤمنة تدافع عن قضية أبيها، فهذا ثمن يستعيض به الإنسان عما دفعه من نضال وكفاح، من أجل قضيته، موجها التحية لكل أبناء وزوجات وأسر كل المعتقلين والمغيبين فى السجون.
الآن نحن نعرف من هو ممويل حملته الانتخابية

مين الإخوان
عاشق الإخوان
والشهرة لن تحصل على الكرسي
شكرا لك صباحي لغبائك

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China Doll – 中國娃娃-發財發福中國年

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China Doll 中國娃娃

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Randall Munroe: Comics that ask “what if?”

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One of a small group of professional web cartoonists, math obsessive and chronic explainer Randall Munroe dazzles the online world (and racks up millions of monthly page views) with the meaninglessly-named (and occasionally heartbreaking) webcomic xkcd.

Munroe’s blog What If? specializes in cunning answers to, as the Atlantic put it, “the kinds of of wonderful and fanciful hypotheticals that might arise when the nerdily inclined get together in bars,” like “How fast can you hit a speed bump while driving and live?” or “What would happen if a hair dryer with continuous power was turned on and put in an airtight 1x1x1 meter box?” As he told Math Horizons, I really enjoy solving these kinds of things, and it’s a bonus if I realize that I can put boxes around it and make it a comic.”

Web cartoonist Randall Munroe answers simple what-if questions (“what if you hit a baseball moving at the speed of light?”) using math, physics, logic and deadpan humor.
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In this charming talk, a reader’s question about Google’s data warehouse leads Munroe down a circuitous path to a hilariously over-detailed answer — in which, shhh, you might actually learn something.

Randall Munroe sketches elegant and illuminating explanations of the weird science and math questions that keep geeks awake at night.

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