Saturday, December 23, 2017

Shop Talk - Christmas Break

Have a blessed Christmas,if you are celebrating it.Thank you for being my readers.Ad astra,to the stars.

Cosmos by Carl Sagan Episode 8 - Journeys in Space and Time

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Patriarch John X Sends Message Born of the East

Once again,Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East has sent out a Christmas encyclical with his customary eloquence and paternal regard for his worldwide flock,who,wherever they may have wandered,are spiritually rooted in the Middle East.Here are some excerpts that speak so powerfully in their language of prayer and sacred memory:
By God's Grace,His Beatitude John X
Patriarch of Antioch and of All the East
It is about time that darkness may be scattered from the East and for the people of the East to live in peace on earth in their birthplace.It is about time for wars to cease in the land where Christ was born and from which heavenly religions were launched.The message of our East is one of freedom,peace,and of open hearts to the entire world.Neither is there any trace of Takfirism and violence,abandonment and terrorism,in our past and present time.We pray that the light of the cave will cast away the darkness of wars to instill in the minds of all people that our region is not an open market to sell arms,and that the destiny of our people should not end dead on the shores of other nations.*
We offer prayers today for the peace in Syria,for the stability of Lebanon,for the safety of Palestine,and for the welfare of the bleeding Iraq;for every spot and all peoples.We offer our prayers for Jerusalem and for its sacred shrines and institutions so Jerusalem may continue to be the city of prayers.We offer our prayers for all those who are captives;especially for the two hierarchs:Metropolitan Paul Yazigy and Archbishop Youhanna Ibrahim.We pray for the kidnapped,homeless,and those who live in travail.*
And we remember the East during these difficult days,we shall never ignore the active Antiochian presence throughout the world.We pray that Christ the Child will bestow His mercies on the entire world and on all our spiritual children of the Antiochian See,in the Middle East and the entire world.*
From the heart of the church of Antioch to the hearts of all people,we extend to you the best greetings in the name of Christ who is born in Bethlehem.We can indeed recall that Christianity was born in the East,and lived together fraternally with the others,and that the Christian Church of Antioch stretches her hands and embraces all her children,and is proud of them,wherever they are,for through them and by their active presence,the Antiochian Church carries the gospel of Christ and its message of the good news to the entire world.
Issued from our Patriarchal Headquarters
December 20,2017

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Alison Krauss & Robert Plant - CBS Films - "Light of Christmas Day" Music Video - Lo...

Sinfonia Antartica (Symphony No. 7) : III. Landscape - Lento

"Mother and Child" - John Tavener - performed by Tenebrae

Major Protestant/OrthodoxTheological Conference Held in Geneva

An International Theological Conference on "The Anthropology of Luther:Protestant and Orthodox Approaches" was held from 7-8 November 2017 in Geneva,Switzerland.It was jointly organised  by the Postgraduate Institute of Orthodox Theology of The Orthodox Center of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Chambesy;the Department of Theology of the University of Geneva;and the Swiss Institute of Systematic Theology and Ethics (IRSE).Distinguished speakers from Theological Schools and Universities in Switzerland;France;Germany;Greece;the UK;the US;and Lebanon attended.Sessions were held at The Orthodox Center of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the University of Geneva.*
Topics addressed in the papers included:
"The Eccesiological Proposal of the Lutherans and the Theological Dialogue;"
"The Freedom of the Christian;"
 "Faith and Vindication;"
 "Sanctification and Theosis;"and,in conclusion,
 "Sola Fide:An Interpretive Approach" by His Eminence Metropolitan John of Pergamon (Ecumenical Patriarchate).
Other thought leaders presenting included His Eminence Archbishop Job of Telmessos and His Eminence Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia (Ecumenical Patriarchate);Ambassador to the Vatican Dr.Tamara Grdzelidze (Republic of Georgia);Christoph Chalamet (University of Geneva);and Dr.Beate Bengard (University of Basle).*
The event closed with a piano recital in honour of the conferees at the Great Hall of the City Conservatory,organised by the Theological School of the University of Geneva.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Foreign Ministerial:Iran,Iraq and Jordan Concern NATO - plus keeping the Alliance's door open

The NATO Foreign Ministerial has just drawn to a close after two days of meetings at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels.NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg summed the conference up for journalists gathered in Belgium:
We have just concluded a very good and productive meeting of the Foreign Ministers of NATO.We discussed NATO's role in projecting stability and fighting terrorism,because instability abroad threatens stability at home.From the Balkans to Afghanistan,NATO has great experience in training local forces and strengthening local institutions.These are the best tools to make our Partners better able to defend themselves and to combat international terrorism.This year,we started training local forces in Iraq in areas such as countering Improvised Explosive Devices;military medicine;equipment maintenance;and reform of the country's security intstitutions.In particular,I welcome the contributions that our Partners such as Serbia and Jordan are making to these efforts.
Today,Allies looked to the future of NATO's training activity in Iraq and expressed their full commitment to it.And a number of Allies announced that they will contribute to the new Crisis Management Centre in Jordan as part of NATO's new capacity-building package for Jordan,and I really welcome this contribution by several Allies.*
As we look ahead to the Brussels Summit in July,we discussed how to engage further with our Partners to the South and the East.We need to devote sufficient resources to these efforts to make the best of the skills and capabilities we have.We also discussed how our role within the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS should evolve as the Coalition moves from combat operations to stabilisation efforts.This is something that both the Coalition and the Iraqi government want.The Coalition has recovered over 95% of the territory claimed by ISIS and liberated seven million people;but we must consolidate these gains.We know that projecting stability and fighting terrorism are generational challenges.There are no quick fixes and no overnight solutions.We have made progress and we are determined to do more.*
Over lunch,we discussed NATO's Open Door Policy.We agreed that this is an historic success,which remains a key contributor to Euro-Atlantic Security.Successive rounds have secured peace and stability in Europe and paved the way for Euro-Atlantic integration.Montenegro's accession to the Alliance this year is the latest example.We also agreed that accession is a decision for aspirant countries and the 29 Allies.Nobody else has the right to veto.In preparation for our Summit next July,we will review the progress of each aspirant country by our next meeting of our Foreign Ministers in April.*
Additionally,Mr.Stoltenberg made a number of interesting comments in response to reporters' questions:
We are,of course,concerned by what we see as an effort by Iran to destabilise countries in the region.This is something many Allies in NATO have raised several times,and,of course,that's just adding arguments for us to continue to support and provide increased support to the Iraqi government.
We have just agreed a new defence capacity-building package with Jordan.Jordan is a highly valued Partner.Jordan is a kind of island of stability in a sea of instability in the region.NATO has been working with Jordan for many,many,many years,and a part of the defence capacity-building package we just agreed is this Crisis Management Centre in Jordan,where several Allies have announced that they are going to provide personnel support to use this Centre as a new tool in helping and supporting Jordan.We also have had different training activities at the King Abdullah Training Centre,and we also do capacity-building with Jordan when it comes to Women,Peace and Security to make sure that we recognise that women have a role to play in the Armed Forces of Jordan.Let me add that Jordan has also helped us in providing support for Iraq:we have also trained some Iraqi officers at the King Abdullah Training Centre.*
We are focused on infrastructure because we want to be able to move more troops more quickly,and that's exactly why we are working with the EU to make sure the infrastructure meets the requirements which are needed to move heavy equipment across Europe.This is about roads,railroads,ports,airports and that kind of infrastructure;but it's also about making sure that we have the means of transportation,that we have the trucks and the rail cars and all the other means of transportation that we need to move.And again,we have that today;but we need to scale up,we need to have more to make sure that we have all the assets available if we need to move heavy equipment very fast across Europe.We have started this process:we have started staff-to-staff talks with the EU to analyse gaps,to have a mapping exercise,and then,based on that,we will move forward together,NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told the journalists in Brussels.

Unveiling of the NATO Brussels 2018 Summit Logo, Foreign Ministers Meeti...

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Inter-Orthodox Unity:Church of Greece Metropolitans Visit Ecumenical Patriarchate

On 20 November 2017,two metropolitans of the Church of Greece were received by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople at the Patriarchate in Istanbul.His Eminence Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Messinia and His Eminence Metropolitan-elect Theoklitos of Stagoi and Meteora,who were accompanied by the Very Rev. Archimandrite Nifon (Kapsali),Abbot of Meteora Holy Monastery,would also concelebrate the Synodical and Patriarchal Divine Liturgy with Patriarch Bartholomew on 21 November,the feast of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple,at the newly restored Cathedral of Our Lady of Pera (Beyoglu),aka Cathedral of St.George,on the European side of Istanbul.*
His Eminence Theoklitos sought the Patriarch's blessing for his upcoming enthronement on 25 November in Kalambaka,Greece.The Patriarch blessed the Metropolitan-elect and wished him a long and fruitful ministry to the glory of God and the benefit of the faithful of his Province,which is adorned by the famous Meteora Holy Monastery.*
Addressing His Eminence Metropolitan Chrysostomos,Patriarch Bartholomew said he remembered with emotion his visit to Messinia and the warm expressions of faith and love towards the institution of the Ecumenical Patriarchate by the faithful of that Province.He asked that Metropolitan Chrysostomos convey to the people of Messinia his sincere paternal love and wish that the Virgin Mary will protect and empower them all.*
At the Divine Liturgy the next day,Patriarch Bartholomew asked the two metropolitans to convey to His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens and All Greece his brotherly greeting and the readiness of the Church of Constantinople to always cooperate harmoniously with the Holy Church of Greece on the common good and for Pan-Orthodox unity.He particularly recalled the contribution of the Church of Greece to the success of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church on the island of Crete in June 2016.*
Other concelebrating metropolitans included His Eminence Bartholomew of Smyrna (Izmir,Turkey);His Eminence Elpidoforos of Proussos (Bursa,Turkey);and His Eminence Amfilojie of Adrianopolis,Director of the Ecumenical Patriarchate Office in Athens.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Ecumenical Patriarchate/Region of Attica,Greece Co-sponsoring Major Environmental Gathering

From 5-8 June 2018 on the Saronic Islands of Attica,Greece will be held the environmental symposium "A Green Attica for a Sustainable Environment - Preserving the Planet and Protecting Its People."Theologians,scientists,political and business leaders,activists and journalists of the international community will convene to explore pressing environmental problems of the region and its islands,examining the connections between ecology and economy,particularly in the context of pressing social and environmental challenges of our time,according to the official announcement of the symposium signed by His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople,leader of the world's Orthodox Christians.*
The President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopios Pavlopoulos will attend;while the President of the Republic of France Emmanuel Macron has been invited to open the symposium of about 250 governmental,environmental and religious leaders.Both the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Region of Attica have spearheaded the international dialogue on the environmental dilemma and interrelated social problems,including the refugee crisis.The parties aim to affirm a collaborative response to the ecological crisis;while advocating a sustainable planet as a sacred legacy for all people and especially our children,the communique explained.*
The Hellenic Republic Region of Attica,with a population of 3,750,000,consists of the Athens Metropolitan Area,plus several other nearby cities and islands of East Central Greece.Official hosts of the symposium are Patriarch Bartholomew and Irene "Rena" Dourou,Governor of the Region of Attica.Ms.Dourou has a Master's degree in Political Science and has served twice in the Greek Parliament.A member of the ruling Syriza Party,she is also a member of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe.Ms.Dourou has been selected as an Alternate Secretary General of the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy,which promotes the principles of Christianity and democracy among parliamentarians.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Patriarch Bartholomew Visits Prime Minister Tsipras of Greece - the Patriarch's thoughts at a major Middle East conference in Athens

On 31 October 2017,His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople was received at the Maximos Mansion in Athens by Prime Minister of Greece Alexis Tsipras.Their talks lasted over an hour,thoroughly covering several issues of mutual concern.They also held discussions on the sidelines of the Second Athens Conference on Religious and Cultural Pluralism in the Middle East,which was held from 29-31 October.
The Patriarch was accompanied by His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel of France and His Eminence Metropolitan Athenagoras of Cydonia.Also joining the confidential talks was the Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Amanatidis,who covers Church and Cultural Diplomacy.*
The Athens Conference is the initiative of His Excellency Professor Nikos Kotzias,Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs.Besides Patriarch Bartholomew and Prime Minister Tsipras,also attending the Athens Conference were His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens and All Greece;His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem and All Palestine;His Beatitude Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria and All Africa;and His Excellency Sameh Shukrey,Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs.*
Patriarch Bartholomew made a number of incisive observations at the Athens Conference,including:
As is well known,whenever people ignore or discontinue dialogue,taking the place of dialogue are monolithic ideologies,totalitarian regimes,the cruel demagogy,and,ultimately,weapons,destruction,and death.
This is why we recommend a dialogue of truth and love,which promotes mutual trust and empowers participants to assume the necessary initiatives and responsibilities together.Sincere dialogue can change the flow of history.*
Thus,we consider imperative the expansion,elevation and establishment of interreligious dialogue at every level,while bearing in mind past failures,present needs,and future prospects.As unrest increases daily throughout the world,it incites unhealthy feelings of insecurity,depression,and suspicion of new,unpleasant,and dire surprises.
Interreligious dialogue is obligated and able to acquire value,purpose and effectiveness only if we are able to rid people of faith from the fear that pan-religious syncretism is allegedly pursued through such dialogue.*
The tragic suffering of the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern peoples has already caused and continues to cause a great deal of devastation in human relations,as well as in the natural,cultural,and religious environment.This is precisely why the highest level of mobilisation will be required for interreligious cooperation and the handling of ongoing religious crises,the healing of the emotional wounds of people-which are perpetuated by this conflict-but also for the cultivation of a moderate atmosphere for the restoration of a peaceful coexistence among religions and civilisations.*
The First Athens Conference was held in 2015.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Future of Orthodox Christianity in Syria and America - Hudson Institute

Flight Over Dwarf Planet Ceres - NASA JPL

Dawn Spacecraft Gets Second Mission Extension - probing a dwarf planet

NASA's Dawn spacecraft,designed and built by Orbital ATK,has gotten a second mission extension to further explore dwarf planet Ceres.The new orbit will enable its closest approach to the celestial body located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter,to within 120 miles/200 km of the surface.Its previous closest approach had been 240 miles/385 km.The orbit will also become Dawn's permanent home once it runs out of hydrazine fuel,which will probably be in late 2018.The Dawn mission team doesn't want the spacecraft to contaminate Ceres by landing on it or crashing into it.*
In the new orbit,Dawn will study the composition of Ceres' upper layer with its gamma ray and neutron spectrometer.Of particular interest is the amount of ice that may be present on and near the surface.Dawn's camera will also take visible light images of Ceres' surface geology,while its visible and infrared mapping spectrometer will take measurements of Ceres' mineralogy.Another highlight will be Dawn's presence during Ceres' perihelion,or closest approach to the Sun,in April 2018.Ice on and near Ceres' surface may turn to water vapor or even the weak transient atmosphere previous observations by ESA's Herschel Space Observatory have documented.Ground-based observatories will also be tapped for this study of Ceres' perihelion behaviour.The prime cause of the fleeting atmosphere,which lasts about a week per occurrence,is currently suspected to be solar wind protons bombarding Ceres in the course of the solar cycle and interacting with ice on and in its outer layer,irrespective of Ceres' distance from the Sun.*
Managed by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory,Dawn's mission science is headed by UCLA.International partners on the mission include The German Aerospace Center;the Max Planck Institue for Solar System Research;the Italian Space Agency;and the Italian National Astrophysical Institute.*
Orbital ATK Inc (OA)

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Patriarch Bartholomew Visits Orthodox in Ankara,Turkey - welcomed at Russian Embassy

On 6 October 2017,His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew made a pastoral visit to the new Orthodox Community of Ankara,Turkey.In his toast to the community at a banquet in the Divan Hotel,the Patriarch summed up the meaning of his trip:
Today marks our first visit and encounter with the Orthodox Community in Ankara.Our presence here is not an accident;but,rather,it illustrates the bond of spiritual love that unites your community with the Mother Church,and shows that the Ecumenical Patriarchate is proud of and encourages your efforts to organise a new Orthodox Community in the capital of our beautiful country.We are particularly grateful to God for the recent creation of your community,which exemplifies in many ways the vocation and mission of the Ecumenical Patriarchate by serving all the Orthodox Christians of Ankara,regardless of their origins,their ethnic background,or their nationalities.The Ecumenical Patriarchate embraces diversity like your community and is composed of a variety of Orthodox faithful.
We would also like to extend our sincere gratitude to the Catholic Church,whose help has been essential.*
We wholeheartedly welcome once again the Ambassadors representing various countries of both Orthodox and non-Orthodox traditions.Your presence means a great deal to us.You honour the efforts,the progress,and the development of this community at a time of expansion of the pastoral ministry of the Ecumenical Patriarchate,the only Orthodox Church with the canonical authority to minister to the Orthodox faithful in this country.*
Patriarch Bartholomew also greeted the Turkish friends present at the banquet and expressed his encouragement to the community and the Very Reverend Archimandrite Vessarion,who serves the new parish.
In closing,the Patriarch wished to all:
health,strength and divine guidance,so that,in unity and in harmony,we may all contribute to the spiritual dialogue,so that this beautiful Orthodox Community in Ankara may continue to glorify God and be a positive component of the religious landscape of the capital,advocating for peaceful coexistence,in mutual respect of all fellow humans sharing a common destiny.*
Also on 6 October,His All-Holiness visited the Russian Embassy in Ankara.He conducted a trisagion memorial service there at the site of a future memorial to the Hero of Russia Ambassador Andrei Karlov,who was assassinated in Ankara at a photo exhibition on 19 December 2016.Embassy staff attended the trisagion and took part in the Patriarchal Divine Liturgy at St.Therese Church in Ankara,which the Catholic Church provided to the new Orthodox Community.
Embassy press attaché Irina Kasinova said it was the first ever visit by a Patriarch of Constantinople in the history of the Soviet and Russian diplomatic mission in Ankara.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Full Afterburner!! F-15J Eagle Fighter jet aircraft.Night takeoff - Japanese Air Self-Defense Force

SecDef Addresses Army Association on North Korea as US Sends Bombers,Attack Sub to South Korea

A number of developments concerning the Korea crisis have unfolded over the past several days.On 7 October 2017,the Us Navy nuclear-powered attack submarine USS Tucson (SSN 770) arrived at US Fleet Activities Chinhae,Republic of Korea for a visit to bolster ties between the two allies.The Tucson can support a multitude of missions,the Navy said,including anti-submarine warfare;anti-surface ship warfare;strike;surveillance and reconnaissance.The boat has 12 vertical launch tubes for Tomahawk cruise missiles and four torpedo tubes.The Tucson was the twentieth of the improved Los Angeles-class attack submarines to be built.The Navy declined to disclose how long the Tucson would be in Chinhae;nor does it ever reveal whether its vessels are carrying nuclear weapons.*
On 9 October 2017,US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis addressed the Association of the US Army on the status of the crisis on the Korean Peninsula:
It's right now a diplomatically-led,economic sanction-buttressed effort to turn North Korea off this path.And what does the future hold,neither you nor I can say;but there's one thing the US Army can do,and that is we've got to be ready to ensure we have military options that our president can employ if needed.
The international community has spoken (by imposing more sanctions on North Korea);but that means the US Army must stand ready.So if you're ready,that's your duty at this point in time.And I know the Army will always do its duty.*
On the evening of 10 October,the US launched two B-1B Lancer bombers,using Andersen Air Force Base,Guam,as a power projection platform,the US Air Force said.It was a sequenced bilateral mission in the vicinity of the Sea of Japan and East Sea with Republic of Korea  Air Force F-15J Slam Eagle fighter jets and Japanese Air Self-Defense Force Mitsubishi F-15 J Eagles.It enabled the operational units to improve their combined capabilities and tactical skills,while also building bilateral confidence and strong working relationships,according to Major Patrick Applegate of the 613th Air Operations Center at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickham,Hawaii.Such joint night training hones the tactical prowess of each nation's aviators and is a clear demonstration of our ability to conduct seamless operations with all of our allies anytime,anywhere.It was the first time the US has staged joint night drills with both nations on the same night.*
The drills reportedly involved air to ground missile practice over the East Sea by the B-1Bs and the ROKAF F-15Ks,then a firing exercise with the JASDF F-15Js on the other side of the Korean Peninsula,over the Yellow Sea between South Korea and China.*

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk Visits Ecumenical Patriarchate

According to a communique of the Ecumenical Patriarchate,on 19 September 2017,His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk,Chariman of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department of External Church Relations,visited His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.Also attending the meeting in Istanbul were,from the Ecumenical Patriarchate,His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel of France and His Eminence Metropolitan Bartholomew of Smyrna;as well as,from the Moscow Patriarchate,Protopriest Igor Yakimchuk and Priest Anatoly Churyakov,members of the DECR.*
Metropolitan Hilarion brought an invitation for Patriarch Bartholomew from His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia,to be honoured during the commemoration in the first week of December of great historical events in the life of the Russian Orthodox Church,namely:the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution;the beginning of the persecution of the Church;the convening of the 1917 Synod;and the restoration of the Moscow Patriarchate after 200 years of abolition.*
His All-Holiness thanked Metropolitan Hilarion and explained that his response was being studied,and had been discussed at the last meeting of the Holy and Sacred Synod.The two churchmen went on to hold detailed discussions about the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church that took place on the island of Crete in 2016,as well as other bilateral and inter-Orthodox issues,the Ecumenical Patriarchate said.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Focus Kabul:Major Gathering of Leaders Discuss New Afghanistan Strategy - context and cost

Several important figures met in Kabul,Afghanistan on 27 September to go over the new Afghanistan strategy,which is now seen as part of President Donald Trump's South Asia strategy including Pakistan and India as well as Afghanistan.General John Nicholson,commander of all NATO and US forces in Afghanistan,welcomed NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg;US Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison;and US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to Kabul for the high level discussions with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Dr.Abdullah Abdullah,as well as other Afghan national security officials.
A news conference was held with President Ghani,Mr.Stoltenberg and Mr.Mattis following the talks,which went on despite a rocket attack on Kabul International Airport claimed by both the Taliban and ISIL-K militants.Several civilians were reportedly injured in the attack.*
Mr.Stoltenberg told the reporters that:
About 13,000 troops from 39 different countries serve in our Resolute Support Mission.Around half are US troops,with the rest coming from European Allies and our partner nations.
Much progress has been made,but there is still too much violence,too much instability and still too much corruption.
NATO's presence in Afghanistan has come at a great cost-a human cost.Hundreds of thousands of brave men and women have served under the NATO flag.Thousands have lost their lives,and many more have suffered visible and invisible wounds.
There is also a financial cost.The international community has spent billions sustaining our presence,and in support of the Afghan forces.
So we know the cost of staying in Afghanistan;but the cost of leaving would be even higher.If NATO forces leave too soon,there is a risk that Afghanistan may return to a state of chaos and become once more a safe haven for international terrorism.The last time that happened,it lead to the 9-11 terrorist attacks on the US,in which almost 3,000 people were murdered.We cannot allow that to happen again.
NATO leaving would also risk further instability in the region,including refugees fleeing for the safety of Europe.
NATO doesn't quit when the going gets tough.That is why I much welcome that many nations have pledged further contributions to our mission here in Afghanistan,including more troops from the US.And I welcome President Trump's new conditions-based approach to Afghanistan and the region.
NATO is committed to funding the Afghan security forces until at least 2020,and we will continue to provide almost a billion each year to the Afghan defence and security forces.*
Defense Secretary Mattis has signed orders to deploy about 3,000 more US troops to train,advise and assist Afghan forces.They are either on the way or have at least been notified,he told reporters.That will bring the US total to about 14,000 troops in Afghanistan.*
We will not abandon Afghanistan to a merciless enemy trying to kill its way to power,Mr.Mattis said at the news conference.
This new strategy is conditions-based and not time-based;because war is principally a matter of will,and we've made clear that we have the will to stand together.Through our partnership,we will suffocate any hope that al-Qaida,or ISIS-Daesh,Haqqani or the Taliban have of winning by killing.
This South Asia strategy and this renewed commitment is an opportunity for Pakistan to engage in the counterterror campaign.*
President Ghani noted India's generosity in pledging a billion dollars of aid to Afghanistan.*
Asked about the Russian and Iranian role in supplying weapons to the Taliban,Mr.Mattis said he's not willing to discuss the specifics at this time on those two countries.*
Added Mr.Stoltenberg:
At our defence ministerial meeting in June,we actually decided to increase our NATO troop levels in Afghanistan,and several Allies have already started to step up to their pledges to send more troops.So they are sending more troops to Afghanistan because it is in their interest to have a more stable Afghanistan.*
Reflecting on history,Mr.Mattis recalled that when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in late 1979,it upended the society,disrupting tribal alliances and so forth.It opened the door to Iaslamist extremist groups setting up in the country and is what ultimately led us to where we are at this point.*

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Abduction:Metropolitan Paul of Aleppo,Syria

                      Another year has passed,and still they wait
                      for the missing candle's light,
                      for the shepherd's return,taken in the prime of life
                      and service to the Lord,
                      wandering in grief,
                      awaiting one good word
                      of freedom and of justice
                      for Aleppo's peace.

Metropolitan Paul of Aleppo,Syria - kidnapped 22 April 2013 - المحبّة قوّة- الميتروبوليت بولس يازجي

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Orthodoxy in France:New Russian Orthodox Cathedral Draws Large Crowds

At least 12,000 people visited the new  Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Cathedral and Cultural Centre on Branly Quai in Paris over the weekend.Recommended by leading publications Le Monde and Figaro,legions of Parisians and tourists stood in line for hours for a guided tour by the clergy and staff of the complex,which was built from 2014-16 and opened on 9 October 2016.The Cultural Centre features exhibit space,parish facilities,a Russian/French day school for 150 pupils and a seminary.*
The prevailing opinion of the visitors was positive,seeing the cathedral as being a welcome addition to the cultural resources of the area.The cathedral has an iconostas;but its white interior walls have yet to be written with iconography.The exterior is a tasteful blend of traditional and contemporary styles,topped by the customary golden onion domes.*
The weekend tours were part of the annual Days of National Heritage in Paris.A similar Russian Orthodox church/cultural centre complex has recently opened in Strasbourg,France.The Church of All Saints is the first Eastern Orthodox church in that city,and was topped by a three-bar cross on 2 July 2017.*
The Handbook of the Orthodox Church in France says there are 500,000 Orthodox Christians in France.Many Romanian and Russian emigres and workers have swelled the ranks in recent years.There are 278 parishes,21 monasteries and three seminaries overseen by 10 bishops,and served by 330 priests and deacons.The Romanian Orthodox Church has the most parishes in France (91).

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Martyred Orthodox Queen's Relics to Come Home - Republic of Georgia

Georgia and India have reached an agreement on the return of Queen St.Ketevan of Kakheti's relics to Georgia.The relics will be loaned to Georgia for a period of six months,during which the Georgian people will have several opportunities to venerate them.The Georgian Orthodox Queen of Kakheti in Eastern Georgia died on 13 September,1624 in Persia at the behest of the Muslim Savafid Empire's regent Shah Abbas,who,coveting her family's throne,had her taken hostage and then publicly tortured to death when she refused to convert to Islam.*
Catholic Augustinian friars witnessed the barbaric act and managed to spirit some of her relics off from Istfahan to their complex at Monte Santo in Old Goa,Western India for safekeeping.They were excavated from a stone sarcophagus,after more than a decade of work,by the Archeological Survey of India in 2004 and subsequently identified by DNA analysis in 2013.*
This will be a major event in Georgia,a former Soviet Republic in the Caucasus Mountains,and there will be international conferences there about the saint and her times.She is seen as one who stood up for the Orthodox faith and culture of Georgia.

13 September,St. Ketevan,Queen of Kakheti in Georgia,martyr - icon and life

St. Ketevan, Queen of Kakheti

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Patriarch Bartholomew Receives Russian Diplomats - invitation to Moscow discussed

On 29 August 2017,His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew received the Russian Ambassador to Turkey,His Excellency Alexei Erkhov,and the Russian Consul General in Istanbul,the Honourable Dmitry Evdokimov,according to a press release by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.The cordial talks lasted about an hour.Among the topics discussed were the relations between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Moscow Patriarchate;Ukraine;and His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia's invitation to the Ecumenical Patriarch to visit Moscow in December 2017.*
Another topic covered extensively was the assassination of Mr.Erkhov's predecessor,Andrei Karlov,by Turkish off duty police officer Mevlut Mert Altintas at a photography exhibition in Ankara on 19 December 2016.The killing occurred against the backdrop of a Turkish Islamist protest against Russia's involvement in the Syrian Civil War,particularly in Aleppo.Altintas was himself shot dead by Turkish security forces and his body disowned by his family.A statue of Ambassador Karlov is to be installed outside the Russian Embassy in Ankara.*
Ambassador Erkhov had previously served as Consul General in Istanbul,so has an expert knowledge of matters of concern to the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the other Turkish minorities.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

2017 Italian Grand Prix | Fast Facts

Beethoven Ouvertüre Coriolan Carlos Kleiber Bayerisches Staatsorchester

Encyclical of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for the Indiction and Day of Protection of the Environment (September 1, 2017) - Indiction & Day of Protection of Environment (September 1) - Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Encyclical of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for the Indiction and Day of Protection of the Environment (September 1, 2017) - Indiction & Day of Protection of Environment (September 1) - Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Ontario aims to relieve pressure on threatened Algonquin wolf - photo and maps

Ontario aims to relieve pressure on threatened Algonquin wolf: Ontario’s threatened Algonquin wolf population has received a reprieve of sorts after the province banned the hunting and trapping of all wolves and coyotes in four provincial parks and their surrounding areas.   The ban in and around Algonquin, Kawartha Highlands, Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands and Killarney provincial parks is part of the province’s larger effort to protect the Algonquin wolf, which is similar in appearance to species such as the grey wolf and eastern coyote, neither of which are listed as threatened in the province.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

F-15C Eagle. Pre-flight, Short-notice Takeoff from Iceland

Responding to Russian Exercise Zapad 2017 - concerns and strategy

The US Air Force sent seven F-15C Eagle fighter jets to Siauliai Air Base,Lithuania this week in advance of Russian military exercise Zapad 2017,or West 2017 in English.That's three more than typical for the US rotation in NATO's Baltic Air Policing mission,securing the air space for the Baltic states,which lack significant air power.
Zapad runs from 14-20 September.It is held every four years,so is not in response to specific geopolitical events.Nonetheless,it is jangling nerves in the Baltic states and Poland on NATO's Eastern Flank,who are so close to the drills, which are being held in Belarus,Western Russia,Kaliningrad and the Baltic Sea.
Besides the F-15s,the US is deploying 600 extra airborne troops in the Baltics during the exercise.So it is reacting in a fairly restrained manner to Zapad,signaling concern but not alarm,and not giving Russia any excuse to overreact.*
Russia denies there is anything to worry about;they are just staging defensive exercises with Belarus.Should NATO be concerned at all?Consider the thoughts of US Army Europe commander Lieutenant General Ben Hodges,which he expressed to Reuters:
When Russia went into Crimea,that was against the backdrop of an exercise.When they went into Georgia-that was an exercise.Their history is full of examples where they don't live up to any treaties...They routinely violate those things.
We are all working hard to be at the highest level of readiness during an exercise like this.*
Russia says it and Belarus are only sending 13,000 troops to Zapad,along with 70 aircraft and 700 pieces of equipment,including tanks and artillery.Most interesting in the tank realm is the reconstituted First Guards Tank Army-a force of 500-800 tanks plus rocket artillery that is clearly of an offensive orientation and will be a showpiece of Zapad.It participated in the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968.
NATO believes the real number of troops and civilian participants could exceed 100,000.*
The 2013 iteration of Zapad ended with a simulated nuclear strike on Warsaw,Poland-hardly a reassuring memory.And NATO observers have not been invited to the drills as of yet-another reason for keeping an eye out for an unpleasant surprise left behind when Zapad comes to an end.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Visits Hungary - generous gift received

On 18 August 2017,His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople began an official visit to the Exarchate of Hungary at the invitation of the Hungarian Government.One of the highlights of this four-day sojourn was the Government's presentation of a ceremonial key to a building complex in central Budapest to Patriarch Bartholomew.Hungary is donating the complex for the needs of the Exarchate of Hungary,which is part of the Ecumenical Patriarchate's Holy Metropolis of Austria.*
In 2014,an Agreement of Cooperation between the Government and the Ecumenical Patriarchate was signed.The preamble to the Agreement says that:
Saints Cyril and Methodios brought Eastern Christianity to these lands,which continues to be present as a living religious community.Even before the foundation of the state,the ancient Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople already had relations with Hungarians and sent St.Ierotheos the Bishop to spread Christianity.*
Within the framework of this Agreement,in December 2016 the two parties signed a Memorandum of Cooperation stipulating the transfer of said building complex to the Exarchate of Hungary.The complex will house the Exarchate Offices;Patriarchal Academy;Greek School;Museum of Ecclesiastical Arts;and a Guest House.The Ecumenical Patriarchate and Holy Metropolis of Austria further say they want the complex to be a place to advance dialogue and a cultural centre for all people.*
His Eminence Arsenios is Metropolitan of Austria and Exarch of Hungary and Central Europe.A native of Heraklion,Crete,he was educated in,among other institutions,the Theological School of the University of Athens and completed his doctorate at Strasbourg University.Tonsured a monk at the St.George Holy Monastery in Crete,he was made an archimandrite and served as chancellor of the Holy Metropolis of France until his election as bishop upon the death of his predecessor, Metropolitan Michael of Austria.On 30 November 2011,St.Andrew's Day,he was consecrated to the episcopacy in Constantinople and,on 4 December of that year,enthroned as Metropolitan of Austria in Vienna.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Archbishop of Athens Serves Dormition Divine Liturgy

At the Megali Panagia church in Thebes,Greece,His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens and All Greece presided at the Divine Liturgy of the Dormition of the Theotokos on 15 August 2017.Attending the service was President of Greece Prokopis Pavlopoulos.The church,now in its 150th anniversary year,is named for the Virgin Mary.*
In his sermon,Archbishop Ieronymos (Jerome) said that:
This people has existed as and will always be Orthodox.Not only today,but throughout time,they have been inspired to live in the Church,to venerate and seek the help of the Theotokos to overcome the difficulties in their lives.*
Archbishop Ieronymos is marking his fiftieth anniversary in the priesthood.*
Following the liturgy,His Eminence Metropolitan Georgios of Thebes honoured President Pavlopoulos with the highest award of the Metropolis,a cross medallion on a blue ribbon.*
Elsewhere in the Orthodox Christendom,Dormition liturgies and pilgrimages were also held,along with processions of beloved icons of Our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary.
Some of the autocephalous Orthodox Churches will observe the old calendar Dormition on 28 August.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Crew Recovery Drills,SLS Rocket Fabrication Move Orion Program Forward

Among the Orion Program's milestones this summer have been the crew recovery drills and Space Launch System fabrication efforts on the road to Exploration Mission-1.The deep space exploration program's roadmap is similar to that which the Apollo Program followed to the Moon landings,with EM-1 being an uncrewed test,or full dress rehearsal,if you will,for the first crewed Orion mission,EM-2.Based on its decades of space flight experience,NASA feels this stepwise approach is the surest way to succeed in our international quest to reach beyond the Earth and the Moon.*
From 10-14 July 2017,an interagency team of NASA,the US Navy,Coast Guard and Air Force staged a number of crew module  recovery scenarios in the Gulf of Mexico off the Galveston,Texas coast.This was to test egress from the Orion crew module,evaluating  plans and hardware for getting the crew out of Orion as safely and efficiently as possible under all conditions.That means taking into account crew health;weather;and condition of recovery personnel and equipment in the area in real-time.Can the crew get out safely under adverse conditions-say if the capsule lands off course and recovery personnel aren't able to reach them right away,or if water intrudes into the capsule before help arrives?*
The astronauts and engineering test subjects wore modified NASA Advanced Crew Escape suits to keep the drills as close to mission scenarios as possible.The ACE suits,which are worn on launch and re-entry,are still in development.*
Yasmin Ali,Launch and Recovery Systems manager for Orion,noted that:
We're making important headway this summer with all of our landing and recovery systems testing.*
At the same time,the new SLS rocket fabrication and testing has been going on apace at several different NASA and contractor facilities.For instance,the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage is currently in the Space Station Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center,Florida.It will be in the high bay of the facility for cleaning and maintenance until it is moved to the Vehicle Assembly Building for stacking beneath the Orion capsule and integration with other components.
Five-segment powerhouse motors for the Solid Rocket Boosters are in production by subcontractor Orbital-ATK at its Utah facility.The motors will be shipped to KSC,then integrated with forward and aft booster structures,and then the SLS core stage.Welding for the Boeing liquid oxygen tank is also underway at the NASA Michoud Assemby Facility,New Orleans.Indeed,four core stage tanks are being built simultaneously.
On 25 July,a test of the RS-25 rocket engine was successfully conducted at the NASA Stennis Space Center,Mississippi.Four of the modified Space Shuttle engines are used to power the SLS.*
EM-1,which will venture a record 40,000 miles beyond the Moon,is slated for a 2019 launch,with the crewed EM-2 to follow in the 2022-23 time frame.Besides testing the integrated Orion system,EM-1 will be a research mission,deploying 13 CubeSats,small satellites investigating such topics as lunar science and astrobiology.*
Boeing (BA),Orbital ATK Inc (OA)

His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America:Encyclical for the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos (08/15/2017) - Dormition of the Theotokos (August 15) - Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Encyclical for the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos (08/15/2017) - Dormition of the Theotokos (August 15) - Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Ὁ Μέγας Παρακλητικὸς Κανὼν τῆς Παναγίας - The Great Paraklitikos chanted by the nuns of Annunciation to the Theotokos Monastery,Ormylia,Chalkidiki,Greece

August - the Month of the Panagia,the All-Holy One

Orthodox Christians on the new calendar are in the second day of the Dormition Fast,which lasts for two weeks,until the feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos on 15 August.Liturgically,the main feature is the special weekday evening services dedicated to the Virgin Mary,the Small and Great Paraklesis services chanted on an alternating basis.Last night was chanted the Small Paraklesis;tonight will be the Great Paraklesis,and so on.These help us to prepare for the upcoming observance of the Dormition,when at her passing the Theotokos,the Mother of God,was translated body and soul into heaven from the Garden of Gethsemane.*
This event is not in scripture,but is nonetheless the holy tradition of the Church,passed down liturgically through the centuries.Indeed,it is such a core event,it is often referred to as "the Pascha in Summer."Not only is there a two week fast and the feast day itself;there is also an after-feast of several days,so that actually the bulk of August is focused on the Theotokos,with a break on 6 August for the Transfiguration of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.*
Catholics celebrate the same Marian event,calling it the Assumption.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Seasonal Change:Fall Webworm Appears in North America,But Poses Little Risk

The early hours today were cool enough for a jacket,a foretaste of meteorological autumn,which begins on 1 September.Walking by a stand of mature timber this late July morning in Northern Maryland,I also noted one of the earliest indicia of seasonal change:fall webworm on the ends of a few branches.These silky webs are spun by larvae of the fall webworm moth (Hyphantria cunea) to protect themselves while they feed on the leaves of some 90 species of deciduous trees.The trees range from hickory and walnut to cherry and birch.In the event,they only rarely defoliate a tree,and even when they do,it usually isn't fatal.The worst thing about it is that the webs may be seen as unattractive.*
The webs can extend up to three feet at the ends of branches.In my experience,you  normally only see a few webs here and there on a given stand of timber-at least at this latitude.Should you wish to remove the webs,one way is to lop the affected branch tips off and crush the caterpillars.You can also tear a hole in the webs so predators such as birds and wasps can eat the caterpillars,or spray pesticides-but these are always best kept as a last resort.Most people in North America just tolerate them as a sign of approaching autumn.*
When they are full,the larvae pupate in a cocoon under leaf litter or in cracks and crevices in the soil,emerging as white moths-or white with black wing spots-late the following spring.The larvae themselves are greenish or yellowish with white hairs and black dots along their backs.*
Dear readers,at this point in July,we are more than halfway through the year,so please remember to support this blog by clicking on an ad now and again.And thanks so much for being a reader.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

20 July,Mother Maria Skobtsova, New-Martyr of France - Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America - reading

Mother Maria Skobtsova, New-Martyr of France - Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

20 July,The Glorious Prophet Elias (Elijah) - Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America - reading and hymns

The Glorious Prophet Elias (Elijah) - Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

NASA Engineer Profiles Goddard Space Flight Center - large STEM facility manages multiple lines of inquiry

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt,Maryland is one of America's primary space science centres,involved in the management of  research programmes carried out by a variety of space probes,especially those in Earth orbit or perhaps as far out as the Moon or Mars-the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena,California handles probes to the outer planets and beyond.Larry Mignosa,a Mechanical Engineer at Goddard for 25 years,gave a broad overview of the facility and its lines of inquiry to a small audience of STEM enthusiasts at the C.Burr Artz Library in Frederick,Maryland,which has positioned itself as a STEM education center.He was educated as a civil engineer,but that discipline comes under the mechanical engineering heading at Goddard.Mr.Mignosa has worked on repairing the Hubble Space Telescope,which Goddard manages;as well as the Broad Band X-Ray Telescope,which was a Space Shuttle astronomy mission;the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission and the Global Precipitation Measuring Mission,gathering data for better climate modeling and carried out with JAXA,the Japanese Space Agency;and now ICE Sat-2,which will use lasers to measure the height of ice fields in an effort to understand the future of Earth's climate change.He said he's been making a number of visits to the ICE Sat-2 contractor in Arizona.*
In satellite design today,Mr.Mignosa pointed out,they always use materials so that it will demise on its own;otherwise,you will have to pay for extra fuel to control the re-entry.NASA launches a satellite every three to four months.The launches have a success rate of 95%.*
The repair of Hubble,which is in Earth orbit,involved five corrective mirrors and five corrective optics installed by Space Shuttle astronauts.The successor mission,the JamesWebb Space Telescope,has a mirror comprised of several cells.They can be electronically reconfigured for a correction,a capacity for self-repair.*
Mr.Mignosa likened NASA Goddard to a college campus.It employs about 10,000 people.Goddard has a lot of physics majors to study the physics of the planets;math majors;as well as mechanical,optical,aerospace and electrical engineers.A young student in the audience is interested in telescope design.*
NASA Goddard manages the MAVEN satellite that is probing the Martian atmosphere,some of the instruments on the Curiosity rover,as well as the Solar Dynamics Observatory.Sometimes they build their own satellites,but most often they contract them out.Goddard has extensive equipment to test the satellites for their ability to withstand the harshness of spaceflight,such as a centrifuge and vibration table.*
As for future missions,the James Webb Space Telescope,which Goddard is managing,is set for an October/November 2018 launch.It will be positioned in a solar orbit at point L2,a million miles from Earth to avoid the Earth and Moon's light.WFIRST will boast a field of view 100x greater than Hubble's,with access to a million galaxies;it will be launched in the 2020-2025 time frame.ATLAST will feature an 8-16 meter mirror and is considered  a flagship mission.Only a few people are studying the project now in its concept development phase.It is envisioned for a 2025-2035 launch.*

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Greek Churchman Strongly Defends Great and Holy Council,Ecumenical Patriarchate

A new book by His Eminence Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Messinia,Greece has just been published in Greek," 'Significant' For the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church-the suppression and support in the preparation and the aftermath."His Eminence is a professor in the Theological Faculty of the University of Athens and well-known for his deeply theological and patristic style.For example,he concludes that:
Therefore,we should behave in a way that honours the Conciliar institution,and not contribute to its destruction,which is ultimately the destruction of the Church's own unity;recognising and accepting the work of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church as a project of unity,freedom,society,respect,solidarity,fairness,peace and ministry between peoples and nations.*
Among many other related points covered in his work are these,which may suggest the flavour of his book:
1.The Pan-Orthodox Synod seems to be a requirement of the times,and the course towards it was inexorable,as well as the closer communication of the Orthodox Churches then isolated from each other because of the various socio-political situations.
2.It should be admitted that in Crete (June 2016) an undisputed and essential step was taken to overcome the "autoimmune introspection" of some local Orthodox Churches,which for many centuries afflicted the Churches;while,at the same time,redefining the course towards a new operation of Synodality with timid but decisive steps.
3.Eventually,the case of the Holy and Great Council was critiqued by so-called fundamentalist circles,who do not make a constructive,legitimate critique,but try to break its collegial character by characterising it as a robbery or defeat,thus weakening the unity of the ecclesiastical body and devaluing the Conciliar institution,with the primary aim of challenging the important,coordinating and essential role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate as first in the ministry of unity of the Orthodox Church.All of this leads to the development of a blatant scandal and unwarranted argumentation,while unity is disturbed.
4.The counterpoint to such a divisive tendency cannot be the diametrically opposed "ecclesiastical or religious" construct,but the collaboration of the Orthodox Christian Churches with the other Christian Churches,even with other religions,in order to cultivate a spirit of cohesion,solidarity and unity.
5.It seems that this,which we initially characterised as the "Cold War" of East and West in reference to the Holy and Great Council,is not far from the reality we face today.The political leader with theocratic concepts of a Christian ideal,medieval type,with the collaboration of ecclesiastical leadership and the "flag" of anti-Westernism,creates an ideological and spiritual counterpart to corresponding forms of theocratic leadership,for example,the theocratic Islamist regimes,which are not far from its method,exclusivity,pursuits and redundancies.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Holy Eparchial Synod nominates three candidates for the vacancy of the Metropolis of Chicago - 2017 - Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Holy Eparchial Synod nominates three candidates for the vacancy of the Metropolis of Chicago - 2017 - Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Wabash Cannonball Hank Snow with Lyrics

Hank Snow - I've Been Everywhere lyric

US Pacific Commander Addresses Manifold Threats

Speaking at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Brisbane on 28 June 2017,Admiral Harry B. Harris,Jr.,Commander,US Pacific Command,characterised the North Korean threat as covering the entire APAC Region,since its missiles point in every direction:
North Korea made this clear when they threatened Australia with a nuclear strike just a couple of months ago.*
At the same time,Adm.Harris pointed out,the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant is a growing threat in the region,having named Isnilon Hapilon its emir of Southeast Asia:
These terrorists are using combat tactics that we've seen in the Middle East to kill in the city of Marawi in Mindanao (the Philippines).*
With regard to the ongoing US/Australia/New Zealand Exercise Talisman Sabre 17,the admiral noted:
TS17 is a realistic,high-end and challenging exercise that provides endless opportunities for our nations to innovatively prepare for our shared regional and global security challenges.
Our alliance matters.It matters to our two great nations.It matters to the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region and it matters to the world,because,just as Australia and the US stood together against tyranny and oppression in the twentieth century,the world expects no less in the twenty-first.*
As to China,Adm.Harris told ASPI:
I believe the Chinese are building up combat power and positional advantage to assert de facto sovereignty over disputed maritime features and spaces in the South China Sea,where they are physically altering the physical and political landscape by creating and militarising man-made bases.Fake islands shouldn't be believed by real people.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Pope Francis Welcomes Ecumenical Patriarchate Delegation to the Vatican

On 27 June 2017,a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate was received in a private audience by His Holiness Pope Francis at the Vatican.They came to Rome bearing greetings for the Pope on the occasion of the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul,the Thronal Feast of the Church of Rome.The delegation consisted of His Eminence Archbishop Job of Telmessos;Very Rev. Ambrosios Chorozidis,Grand Sykellos of the Ecumenical Patriarchate;and Very Rev. Archimandrite Agathangelos Siskos,Librarian of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.Also attending from the Vatican were His Eminence Kurt Cardinal Koch,President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity;His Excellency Bishop Brian Farrell,Secretary of the Pontifical Council;and Monsignor Andrea Palmieri,Undersecretary of the Pontifical Council.*
Archbishop Job carried a letter to the Pope from His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.It read in part:
We were particularly pleased to learn that the fourteenth meeting of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue last September in Chieti (Italy),between our Churches was conducted in an atmosphere of fraternal collaboration and mutual theological exchange,sucessfully producing an important common document on primacy and synodality in the first millennium.Thus,this Commission has proposed new steps on the common path towards unity.Now,the Commission will be entering a new phase of the dialogue.It is our prayer that the Coordinating Committee scheduled for September on the island of Leros (Greece) will be fruitful by producing a common theme and a methodology for the next stage of our discussions.*
Following the audience,the delegation was received for lunch by His Holiness Pope Francis and later had conversations with the members of the Pontifical Council.On 28 June,they will attend the Consistory for the creation of new Cardinals.They will then attend the Solemn Mass for the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul on 29 June at the Vatican.*
According to tradition,the Vatican will reciprocate by sending a delegation to Constantinople/Istanbul on 30 November,the Feast of St.Andrew,which is the Thronal Feast of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

What NASA Astronomers Do - observational specialist graphs his career and the history of the science

Dr.Ted Gull,astronomer emeritus at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt,Maryland,described what it has been like to be an astronomer for the past 50 years-perhaps a harder job than people think-to a handful of astronomy buffs at C.Burr Artz Library in Frederick,Maryland as part of the library's Discover Space initiative this summer.Dr.Gull has been with NASA for 37 of those years,during which he has authored 597 papers.He is still continuing his research beyond his retirement two years ago.As an emeritus at GSFC,he gets a study carrel in an office he shares with 12 other people,and a computer.He has traveled so widely since retirement,he and his wife have only been home eight months over the past two years.He's been working in Sweden,Italy and Chile,among other places.*
Dr.Gull graduated from MIT in 1966,one of a group of twelve physics majors who went on to get degrees in astronomy.In the 1960s,he pointed out,photo diodes were used to measure the light of a star,one star at a time.Images were captured on 14x14 glass plates coated with a photo-sensitive emulsion-at Mt.Palomar,California,for instance,home of the then stupendous 200-inch Hale Telescope.Spectrographs were then,as they are now,one of the major tools that astronomers use.A spectrograph is a device that separates light into its wavelengths and records the data,or spectrum.University of Wisconsin astronomer Blair Savage put it this way:
A picture may be worth a thousand words;but a spectrum is worth a thousand pictures.*
Until the 1980s,Dr.Gull recalled,astronomy was very laborious,carried out in very cold conditions at night.Astronomers often worked 18 hour days preparing observations,calibrating telescopes,making the observations at night,developing and cataloging the photographic plates.It was like this until the advent of the CCD solid state devices,or charged coupled devices,which directly recorded the images,read them electronically,and provided data for processing by computer.We are developing new CCD detectors every day for future missions-and they have many military applications as well.*
The early space telescopes were OAO-1 and OAO-2 (Copernicus).Such astronomy projects took months,years-even decades-to develop.They were computer-controlled,but with primitive computers at first.The iPhone 7 is a thousand times faster than those computers were.Eventually,however,as technology progressed,observatory observations started being made in university offices hundreds or even thousands of miles from the actual telescopes.Yet even today someone still has to be on site at the observatory to operate the telescope,make sure it's working right and make weather observations.You still need clear skies for observing.*
The International Ultraviolet Explorer Telescope lasted for 18 years,from 1978-96,until its funding ran out.It was the first remotely interactive observatory.From its data,thousands of published papers and over 100 PhD theses were generated.Indeed,papers based on its data are still being written to this day.*
Dr.Gull worked directly with the astronauts for two years between the Apollo and Space Shuttle eras,preparing them for Space Shuttle astronomy projects.*
The Astro-1 space telescope was attached to the Space Shuttle.Dr.Gull was chief scientist of the mission.It was the mission from hell,Dr.Gull joked.Initially,it was to be on five different shuttle missions,and two astronomers were to fly on the shuttle as mission specialists.Dr.Gull removed himself from consideration for becoming an astronaut-a decision he doesn't regret.The Space Shuttle Challenger accident led to a hiatus of four and a half years for Astro-1,but it finally got to fly on 2-11 December 1990,and a second time five years later,which went beautifully.Astro-1 was beset by hardware problems,but they were all resolved.In the end,Astro-1 got 50% of the observations they had hoped for,and its data generated 100 papers.*
The Hubble Space Telescope was conceived by Lyman Spitzer in the 1940s as a way to circumvent the murkiness of the Earth's atmosphere,as you cannot see ultraviolet radiation through the atmosphere.Launched in 1990,it is still operational after 26 years in orbit.Its mirror is 2.4 meters in aperture.HST needed periodic upgrades and repairs.The correction of lenses and mirrors were needed;and gyros,computers and solar panels had to be changed over the course of five servicing missions.The last repair mission was in 2009,and HST is still working beautifully.
The HST mirrors were modified so as to fit in with the spy satellites the shuttle had to carry as well,Dr.Gull noted.HST is expected to be in orbit until the 2030s.It has a 96 minute orbit and is traveling at 18,000 mph.During its life,we have gone from reel-to-reel tape to all solid state memory.
Everything that goes up into space still has to be radiation-hardened,Dr.Gull added.It takes up to ten years to devise hardening for something.*
NASA's James Webb Space Telescope will be launched in 2018 from French Guiana on a European Space Agency Ariane V rocket,which demonstrates the international nature of the programme.It is named after James Webb,the first administrator of NASA.Dr.Gull actually met James Webb and feels that he was a visionary.While Dr.Gull has been photographed next to the JWST,he isn't directly involved with it.Its mission is to peer back to the first stars and galaxies in the universe,in the first 300 million years of the universe's existence.Its mirror is 6.5 meters across.*
As for his own research,there is a nebulous,or gaseous,region in the constellation Orion.Dr.Gull noticed that one of the Orion nebula's stars has an arc around it.That means the star has a wind.The star is moving through an ionised region of the nebula,creating a bow wave.Stars have massive winds,and there are over a dozen examples of this.
His favourite celestial object is the Eta Carinae binary star system.It is a Southern Hemisphere object.Eta Carinae is a massive binary that is nearing the end of its life.Eventually,two supernovae will result from it.Why is this binary so important?The first stars that formed in the universe were massive,and most likely binaries,Dr.Gull explained.This binary system is producing huge amounts of Nitrogen.Our own bodies are made of such star stuff,so we are trying to understand ourselves when we learn what the first stars were like,and how they enrich the interstellar medium.
Dr.Gull continues to do his research using the Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory,as well as the Atacama Large Millimeter Array radio telescope in Chile.Such is the life of discovery of a sharp scientific mind engaged in NASA astronomy.