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Male and female sea lion

Pinnipeds, including true seals, walruses, and sea lions and fur seals, are a widely distributed and diverse clade of semiaquatic marine mammals. There are 33 living species, and more than 50 extinct species have been described from fossils. They have streamlined bodies and four limbs that have evolved into flippers. Males typically mate with more than one female, and the females raise the pups, often born in the spring and summer months. Pinnipeds generally prefer colder waters and spend most of their time in the water, but come ashore to mate, give birth, molt or escape from predators such as sharks and killer whales. Humans have hunted seals since at least the Stone Age, and commercial sealing had a devastating effect on some species from the introduction of firearms through the 1960s. Populations have also been reduced or displaced by accidental trapping and marine pollution. All pinniped species are now afforded some protections under international law. (Full article...)

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Preparing for a Fancy Dress Ball

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July 3: Independence Day in Belarus (1944)

Satellite image of Pitcairn Island

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A smiling nearly bald man, wearing glasses, a suit and a red tie while holding up a piece of paper

The Chairman of the National Assembly of Vietnam, formerly the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National Assembly of Vietnam (Chủ tịch Ủy ban Thường vụ Quốc hội Việt Nam) from 1946 to 1981, is the legislative speaker of the Vietnamese parliament, the National Assembly. It is, in the words of the constitution, "the highest representative organ of the people; the highest organ of state power ... , the sole organ that has constitutional and legislative rights". The chairman is elected by the deputies (members) of the National Assembly in the first season of the assembly's tenure. The Standing Committee, which the chairman is a member of, is a permanent body which controls the activities of the National Assembly when it is not in session. The chairman, and the other members of the Standing Committee, have to resign from their post when the National Assembly dissolves itself, which it normally does every fifth year. The powers and prestige of the office of chairman have varied throughout the years. The current chairman is Nguyễn Sinh Hùng (pictured), and he is ranked fourth in the Politburo hierarchy. (Full list...)

Today's featured picture

Portrait of Federico II Gonzaga

The Portrait of Federico II Gonzaga is an oil painting on canvas completed by Titian in c. 1529. It depicts Federico II Gonzaga, the ruler of the Italian city of Mantua, possibly in the lead-up to his wedding. The work is now held at the Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain.

Painting: Titian

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