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.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

First cub photo gives hope for critically endangered Balkan lynx - Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

First cub photo gives hope for critically endangered Balkan lynx: A rare subspecies of Eurasian lynx numbers less than 50 individuals – but a newborn has just been found in the wild, raising hopes for the species' survival

Massive USAF Bomber Presence in Europe - first time ever

Two US Air Force Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit stealth bombers out of Whiteman Air Force Base,Missouri have been sent to RAF Fairford,England.Arriving on 9 June 2017,they are part of a short-term assurance and deterrence operation.The aircraft joined three B-52H Stratofortress and three B-1B Lancer bombers already in theatre.This marks the first time all three of US Strategic Command's nuclear capable bombers have been deployed to Europe simultaneously.
These deployments enhance the readiness and training necessary to respond to any contingency or challenge across the globe,according to US Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa.*
Colonel Jared Kennish,commander,322nd Air Expeditionary Group,described the operation:
The bomber assurance and deterrence missions these three aircraft are supporting are key to reinforcing our commitment to our Allies in NATO-in a very visible,very tangible way-that we stand shoulder to shoulder with them,no matter what.This short-term deployment demonstrates the flexibile global strike capabilities of the US bomber force,and ensures bomber crews maintain a high state of readiness.The training will provide opportunities to integrate capabilities with regional partners,and is part of the United States' commitment to supporting global security.*
The B-52Hs,B-1Bs and about 800 Airmen are also supporting NATO exercises Saber Strike and BALTOPS in the European theatre;while the B-2s are there solely for the basic assurance and deterrence mission.*
Northrop Grumman (NOC)

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

NASA 2017 Astronaut Candidates - up close - several are military members

World Council of Churches Takes Part in Orthodox Service-plus Patriarch Bartholomew's special inclusive prayer

The World Council of Churches joined the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem for the services of Pentecost,plus a special ecumenical prayer service,in Jerusalem from 4-5 June 2017.WCC General Secretary Rev.Dr.Olav Fyske Tveit was welcomed by His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem and All Palestine.At the Pentecost Divine Liturgy on 4 June,Rev.Dr.Tveit was joined by the concelebrants their Eminences Metropolitan Isychios of Kapitolias;Archbishop Theodosios (Hanna) of Sebastia;Archbishop Demetrios of Lydda;and Metropolitan Joachim of Helenoupolis,as well as other members of the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood (Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre),local parishoners and pilgrims.After the Divine Liturgy,representatives of the WCC joined in the Orthodox kneeling prayers of Pentecost.Archbishop Theodosios (Hanna) of Sebastia is a Palestinian Arab.Educated in Greece,he worked his way up the ranks of the Jerusalem Patriarchate.He has recently been included in several high profile services with His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III.*
On 5 June,the Monday of the Holy Spirit,a special ecumenical prayer service was held at the Dormition Abbey,Jerusalem,and centered on the theme of prayer for worldwide justice and peace.For this service,His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople composed the following inclusive prayer:
A Prayer For Pentecost
Almighty Father,who created all things out of love and fashioned all people in your image,who sent your only Son for the life of the world,to bring light to those dwelling in darkness:look down from the heavens and hear our prayer for unity and peace.
Lord Jesus,Word of God,who spoke through the prophets and judges,who is revealed through the least of your brothers and sisters,who desires that all should be saved and that your disciples should be one:reconcile the scattered parts of your body.
Heavenly King,Comforter,the Spirit of Truth,present everywhere and filling all things,the treasury of goodness and giver of life:come and dwell within us and among us,by cleansing us from the stain of division and healing us from the pain of suffering.
From this Upper Room and Holy Land,we stretch out our hands in prayer and open up our hearts in compassion,so the world may believe you are the living God and that "God is love."

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens Concerned About Exploitation

Speaking in an interview with Greece's ERT television,His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens and All Greece made a number of salient remarks:
I do not see today a Europe of solidarity;but I see more every day a Europe of exploitation.We should go back to the foundations of Europe,the departure point from where we started,with the same thoughts and the same purposes.*
The role of the Church is to speak with all people,and with those responsible for the state;because the Church is not a party,and thus cooperation is needed.As to Church property,without financial support for the Church,there cannot be the intellectual work required by our times.Indeed,the Church has filed a motion for its exploitation for the benefit of the people.The Church must be free and economically independent.*
Terrorism is one of the worst effects of war.However,we need to see the other side.Who are those who lead these people to become terrorists?*
We see refugees as people in need.Their destination has to be their homeland.However,in the future we must ask ourselves,lest the refugees become a part of the exploitation of man.

Orthodox Christians in Europe more likely to believe than practice their religion

Orthodox Christians in Europe more likely to believe than practice their religion: Religious belief is much more common than religious practice among Orthodox Christians in Central and Eastern Europe.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

This is the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

RED WOLVES - One of the world's rarest wolves

Ecology Today:New Policy Being Developed for Red Wolf Recovery

The US Fish and Wildlife Service,a part of the Department of the Interior,has issued a Proposed Rule and notice of intent to prepare a National Environmental Policy Act document.The agency intends to gather information to develop a Proposed Rule that will revise the existing Non-essential Experimental Population (NEP) designation of Red wolves in North Carolina,and prepare a draft environmental review of the Proposed Rule.*
The Red wolf (Canis rufus) is currently listed as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.Its demise was directly related to human activities,such as drainage of vast wetland areas for agricultural purposes;construction of dam projects that inundated prime habitat;and predator control efforts at the private,State and Federal levels,USFWS explains.The animal's range was from Texas and Louisiana to the Ohio Valley and up the Atlantic Coast to Northern Pennsylvania or even Southern New York-and possibly farther north than that.In 1975,it was decided that all remaining Red wolves in the wild must be captured and put in a captive breeding program to save the species.This was because of:
1.a critically low wild population;
2.poor health due to disease,as well as internal and external parasites;
3.the threat of an expanding coyote population and consequent inbreeding.
Forty adult Red wolves were captured for the captive breeding program.By 1986,it had grown to 80 wolves in seven facilities and public and private zoos nationwide.*
In 1986,Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge,North Carolina,was selected for Red wolf reintroduction.From 1987-92,officials released 42 Red wolves there to establish the NEP.In 1993,the range was expanded with reintroductions in Pocosin Lake NWR,NC.Today,however,the only wild population is in Alligator River NWR.The USFWS conducted an independent review of the NEP in 2014 and the entire Red wolf recovery programme in 2015.From these reviews,it was ascertained that the current direction and management of the NEP is unacceptable to the USFWS and all stakeholders,including private landowners and the North Carolina Resources Committee.Consequently,the USFWS is considering a potential revision of the 1995 NEP final rule,citing:
1.risks of continuing hybridisation;
2.human-related mortality;
3.continued loss of habitat to sea level rise;
4.continued population decline leading to poor prospects for the NEP.
Therefore,the USFWS is considering whether the NEP should be merged with the captive population as one meta-population whereby individuals could be moved,not only from captivity into the wild,but also from the wild into captivity.Doing so will increase the size of the population and introduce the natural selection occurring in the NEP back into the captive population.The USFWS is proposing to change the goal of the current NEP project from solely that of establishing a self-sustaining wild population to a goal of also supporting viability of the captive wolves of the Red wolf breeding programme (proposed action).

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Powerful US B-52 Bomber Escorted by Massive Formation Flight of German,Swedish and Polish aircraft : Eurofigh...

Complex Air Exercise by NATO Nordic Partners,Allies Imminent

Arctic Challenge Exercise 2017 will soon be underway in Finland,Norway and Sweden.From 22 May to 2 June 2017,more than 100 aircraft and thousands of troops will stage the drills,which are held every two years.The core bases for the war games are Bodo,Norway;Lulea,Sweden;and Rovaniemi,Finland.This third iteration of the exercise is a project of the Nordic Defence Cooperation organisation (NORDEFCO).It aims to improve the capability of multinational forces to participate in combined air operations for the purpose of crisis management.ACE 17 will facilitate training for large-scale planning and implementation of air operations in an authentic operating environment,involving a wide range of aircraft and forces of modern air warfighting.*
Besides the three host nations,air forces from NATO Allies the Netherlands;Belgium;UK;Canada;France;Germany;and US will participate,along with Switzerland.They will send the following types of aircraft:multi-role fighters;transport and liaison;aerial refuelling tankers;EW aircraft;AWACS;transport and SAR helicopters,accompanied by ground troops and ground-based air defence units.*
Norway is the only country that is currently both a NATO ally and NORDEFCO member.*
For the first time,US Air Force Global Strike Command B-52H Stratofortress strategic bombers will take part in the drills.They will be part of a single mission at the end of ACE 17 and will not land at the Nordic bases.As well,some of the exercise aircraft will be deployed from their home bases beyond the actual training area.It is also notable that the aircraft types and numbers are subject to change.*
The exercise points up the growing closeness of NATO and NORDEFCO.It also highlights the increasing significance of the Arctic.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Russian Bishop Excoriates the Bolshevik Revolution

His Grace Bishop Nazary of Kronstadt,Russia decried the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 that resulted in the Communist persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church for several decades,including the martyrdom of untold thousands of Christians and the widescale destruction of churches.He had welcomed the relics of two of those new martyrs,Grand Duchess Elisabeth Feodorovna and Nun Barbara,at the airport when they arrived from New York for a visit at the behest of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia,a branch of the Moscow Patriarchate.*
Speaking at the moleben,or prayer service,before the relics at the St.Alexander Nevsky Monastery's Holy Trinity Cathedral in St.Petersburg,Bishop Nazary recalled that:
One hundred years ago in our glorious city the revolution began.Many people still welcome it as an achievement,and this means that atonement has not yet arrived in our society.I'm more inclined to call this event the great disaster that befell not only Russia,but the whole territory of the Russian Empire.This revolution marked the beginning of the division.The only positive outcome of these events is that the patriarchate was restored to Russia.*
New Martyrs Grand Duchess Elisabeth and Nun Barbara were killed by the Bolsheviks on 18 July 1918,along with several other royals.They were thrown down a mine shaft and blown up with hand grenades that were tossed in.Their relics were at St.Alexander Nevsky from 5-9 May,and will be at the cathedral of the Feodorovskaya Icon of the Mother of God in honor of the 300th anniversary of the House of Romanov from 9-11 May.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Head of Anglican church visits Christian refugees in Jordan - His Grace Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

Head of Anglican church visits Christian refugees in Jordan: The head of the Anglican Church met with Iraqi Christian refugees during a visit to Jordan in which he called on the region's embattled Christians to remain in the Middle East, the cradle of their faith

Mosul - Final Push Against IS Militants - VOA

In Warning To Kim Jong-Un: US Test Launch Nuclear Missile Minuteman III

Air Force Launches Minuteman III ICBM from the California Coast - part of a series of strategic forces exercises in Asia-Pacfic

The US Air Force has been conducting a series of strategic nuclear forces exercises in the Asia-Pacific region,which are being seen as a warning to a North Korean regime bent on acquiring more and more nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them on distant targets,especially the United States.At 12:02 am Pacific Daylight Savings Time this morning,the Air Force's Global Strike Command launched the second Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base,California in a week.The first missile was launched last Wednesday from the base northwest of Santa Barbara that is the home of the 30th Space Wing and commonly used for launching Pentagon spy satellites as well as ICBM tests.*
The Minuteman III,a 60 year-old system that has been upgraded for improved targeting and accuracy,is housed in silos at three GSC bases.Today's missile was randomly pulled from a silo at Malmstrom Air Force Base,Montana and reassembled at Vandenberg prior to launch.It was equipped with a single test re-entry vehicle with a telemetry package for operational testing along its course to Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands,about 4200 miles from Vandenberg.The test is intended to demonstrate to the world that the land-based leg of the nuclear triad is a safe,reliable and effective deterrent force for the US and her allies.*
Colonel Chris Moss is commander of the 30th Space Wing at Vandenberg AFB,and as such is the launch decision authority.He noted that:
The tremendous teamwork between the 30th Space Wing and Air Force Global Strike Command is apparent each time we launch a Minuteman III missile.*
The first of the two ICBM tests from Vandenberg,on Wednesday 26 April 2017,was a combined team effort by Global Strike Command Airmen from 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren AFB,Wyoming;341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom AFB,Montana;and 625th Strategic Operations Squadron at Offut AFB,Nebraska.The missile used in that test was launched with a command delivered from the Air Launch Control System on a US Navy E-6 Mercury jet.*
Besides the two missile tests,AF Global Strike Command provided two of its B-1B Lancer strategic nuclear bombers from their forward operating base,Andersen Air Force Base,Guam,for a series of exercises with the air forces of South Korea and Japan.The bombers were escorted by South Korean fighter jets and flew near the Korean peninsula.The Air Force declined to disclose just how close the drills got to North Korea;nor whether the B-1Bs were carrying any weapons.
For its part,North Korea complained that,during the course of the exercises,the US planes conducted a nuclear bomb-dropping drill against major objects.The reckless military provocation is pushing the situation on the Korean peninsula to the brink of nuclear war,the official KCNA news agency added.*
Meanwhile,the US Army's Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system,or THAAD,has reached initial operational capability in South Korea,US officials told Reuters;but it will take several more months to get fully operational.In other Asia-Pacific action,CIA director Mike Pompeo flew to South Korea for detailed security talks with his South Korean colleague,Lee Byung-ho,and a visit to Yeonpyeong Island,which was attacked by North Korea in 2010,even as the USS Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group arrived in the Sea of Japan on Saturday 29 April for exercises with South Korea and Japan.The Navy,as a matter of policy,doesn't disclose whether its ships are carrying nuclear weapons or not,but its F/A-18 fighter jets are capable of carrying the B-61 intermediate yield nuclear weapon.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

NATO Official Gives Major Update on the Ukraine Crisis - says Russia on a backward course

On 6 April 2017 at Taras Shevchenko National University in Kyiv,Ukraine,NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemueller gave a major address on the situation in Ukraine,Russian foreign policy and NATO's response to it,including Ukraine's special relationship with the Alliance.Here are several excerpts of her speech attended by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and other Ukrainian dignitaries:
Since Russian forces first set foot on sovereign Ukraine in 2014,the NATO Alliance has spoken with one voice.We do not and we will not recognise Russia's illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea and its ongoing destabilisation of the east of Ukraine.
In recent weeks,violence has increased.The latest report from the UN Human Rights Office highlights a dire situation:increased civilian suffering,with tens of thousands of people deprived of even the most basic of necessities.It estimates the death toll from the conflict to be almost 10,000 people,including more than 2,000 civilians.
Last week,Foreign Ministers from across the Alliance met in Brussels to reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine.Ministers were briefed by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Klimkin and then discussed the current security situation in the east of Ukraine and Crimea.NATO Foreign Ministers condemned Russia's ongoing hostility and occupation and confirmed that Crimea-related sanctions must remain in place until Russia returns control of the peninsula to Ukraine.*
For as long as NATO has had partners,not long after the end of the Cold War,Ukraine has had a mission at NATO headquarters-one of the largest of all our partners-and NATO has more than 50 staff here in Kyiv.
The Ukrainian Armed Forces have greatly improved their capabilities in recent years.Ukraine sends more people on NATO courses than any other partner,and NATO commanders enjoy close relationships with their Ukrainian counterparts.Ukraine has committed to reforming its security and defence sector in line with Euro-Atlantic standards and principles,and we have a sizable team of NATO advisors here on the ground to help support these reforms.
Ukraine actively contributes to Euro-Atlantic security in many ways.Indeed,it is the only partner country that has contributed,at one stage or another,to all ongoing NATO-led operations and missions.Right now,Ukraine has a heavy engineering unit in Kosovo and 10 people serving under a NATO flag as part of our Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan.Over the last two years,Ukraine has contributed strategic airlift,naval and medical capabilities to the NATO Response Force.
Beyond these specific missions,NATO is also learning a great deal from Ukraine's ongoing experience of hybrid warfare.Every country in the NATO Alliance,as well as many of our partners,have been affected by Russia's ongoing efforts to destabilise our democracies;cyber attacks;and most controversially,direct interference in our elections.But none has been affected like Ukraine.
Ukraine has been the prime battleground of this new type of warfare.Military operations;cyber attacks;propaganda and 'fake news' are all just points on the continuum of conflict with the aim of advancing Russian political objectives.
This is a decidedly backward approach to foreign policy-a policy of domination over its neighbours-and it is vital that we learn all that we can if we are to effectively combat it in the future.To do this,NATO and Ukraine are establishing a Platform on Countering Hybrid Warfare.Through this platform,we will improve our ability to recognise and attribute hybrid attacks.We will actively identify areas of vulnerability and strengthen resilience.Areas like critical infrastructure,strategic communications and crisis management.*
Russia's aggressive actions against Ukraine these last few years have had a lasting impact both here and far beyond this land.NATO has responded.For the first time in a generation,NATO has had to focus on 'collective defence'.
As I speak,we are deploying multinational forces to countries in the east of our Alliance and have substantial forces available at very short notice to provide reinforcements if they are needed.And for the first time in many years,defence spending across the Alliance is going up.*
At this posting,NATO's exercise Combined Resolve VIII is underway in Germany.Ukraine is one of 10 NATO member-states and partners participating in these extensive warfighting drills.