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.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Orbital ATK’s Cygnus Cargo Spacecraft Launches to the ISS - 18 April 2017

Joint Paschal Encyclical Issued by Syriac Orthodox,Greek Orthodox Patriarchs of Antioch

A joint paschal encyclical letter has been issued by two Patriarchs of Antioch,His Holiness Mor Ignatius Aphrem II;and His Beatitude John X,the Syriac Orthodox and Greek Orthodox Patriarchs of Antioch and All the East,respectively.This was done in light of the grave crisis of war and terrorism enveloping the region,the Holy Land of Christ's birth,life,death and resurrection,which therefore has a place in the hearts of all Christians.Here are some memorable excerpts from this extraordinary missive:
Beloved spiritual brethren and children:
Christ is risen,truly He is risen.
Christ is risen and the East is bleeding.Christ is risen and our people of all faiths pay with their own lives the cost exacted by selfish interest.Christ is risen and the destiny of our brothers-archbishops Paul and John-is still unclear.Pascha falls this year close to the day of their abduction,the twenty-second of April.This fourth anniversary is perhaps the most appropriate time for us to raise our voice once more,and to put in the ears of our believers and of all the world the voice of our pain in the Church of Antioch,and the voice of all those who are afflicted in this East.*
We are being crucified in this East,suffering this great ordeal.The world looks at the cross of our agony,and is satisfied merely by expressing grief over us.Nevertheless,the power of this world will not drive us out of our land,because we are the sons of the cross and the resurrection.We have been displaced throughout history,and we are still being displaced to this day;but each of us is called to remember that the land of Christ will not be emptied of His beloved ones;and of those who were named after Him two thousand years ago.*
We are deeply rooted in the womb of this East.We are determined not to leave our land;furthermore,we will defend it with our own blood and lives.*
There is a war,unfortunately,imposed upon us as Syrians;and there are consequences that burden us as Lebanese.And there is a price which we pay as Easterners all over the Middle East stemming from the results of all wars,as though bets are being wagered on our land.Our summons today reflects upon events,as we cry enough!into the face of those who feed our land with terrorism,takfirism and blind extremism.Our summons today is a cry enough!in the face of those who finance the terrorist;but feign blindness to his existence,and later rush to fight him,or to make a claim to fight him.
In this Holy Paschal season,we supplicate the risen Lord to remove the stone from our hearts and to break with His spear the war of this world.In these holy days,we pray again for our abducted archbishops,repeating our call for their release.*
On this occasion,we call on everyone,here and abroad,to work hard toward the liberation of the Archbishops of Aleppo and toward closing of this case,which has been suspended by international amnesia.However,this issue is always present in our souls and in the souls of all our children,Christian and Muslim,as well as all those of good will.*
We are in the days of remembering the resurrection of Christ,even though mingled with a heartache that has not been healed for four years.We pray today to the risen Lord to instill His hope in our hearts,granting to them His Holy Spirit;and bestowing upon us the gift of the release of all the kidnapped,so that we may always cry:
Christ is risen and the angels are exultant.
Jesus is risen and the bars of Hades are destroyed.
Christ is risen and life is renewed;to whom is due all glory and dominion unto ages of ages.Amen.
Christ is risen,truly He is risen.
Damascus,April 14,2017.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Good Friday music from Basilique Notre Dame de Neuchatel,aka Eglise Rouge - Today is hung on wood - Σήμερον Κρεμάται επί ξύλου /Nektaria Karantzi & Choeur Yaroslavl, Concer...

Patriarch Kirill Meets with Italian President,Seeks Catholic-Orthodox Push for European Cohesion

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia met with the President of Italy,Sergio Mattarella,who was visiting Moscow,on 12 April.During the talks at the Danilov Monastery,headquarters of the Russian Orthodox Church,the spiritual leader of more than 100 million souls in Russia,Ukraine,Belarus and the diaspora,remarked that:
The Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church can and should do everything to make the world a more peaceful place;to decrease the level of confrontation between East and West so that we again feel ourselves belonging to one cultural environment,which we call Europe.
I think our shared convictions-Pope Francis' and mine-are that today the religious factor should contribute to reconciliation of people in the European continent and spiritual union among them.*
In the joint declaration signed by Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis following their historic first meeting of a Catholic and Russian Orthodox primate in Havana,Cuba on 12 February 2016,they summoned Catholics and Orthodox to work together fraternally in proclaiming the Good News of salvation and to give shared witness to the Spirit of truth in these difficult times:
We call upon Christians of Eastern and Western Europe to unite in their shared witness to Christ and the Gospel,so that Europe may preserve its soul,shaped by two thousand years of Christian tradition.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Matters of Highest Concern:North Korea,Russia and Afghanistan-SecDef Mattis

On his first visit to the UK as US Secretary of Defense,Jim Mattis gave a press conference alongside his British counterpart,Minister of Defence Sir Michael Fallon,on 31 March 2017 in London.Mr.Mattis responded to reporters' interest in North Korea,Russia and Afghanistan:
In the larger scheme of things,in the global situation,which is dynamic,you've highlighted-I think correctly-the North Korean threat.This is a growing threat.This is a threat of both rhetoric and capability.Right now,North Korea appears to be going in a very reckless manner in what its conduct is portraying for the future-and that has got to be stopped.*
Russia's violations of international law are now a matter of record.From what happened with Crimea to other aspects of their behaviour in mucking around in other people's elections and that sort of thing,so I think that the point I would like to make is that NATO stands united;the trans-Atlantic bond is united.We are going to maintain Article V-an attack on one is an attack on all-as absolute bedrock of the NATO Alliance,and we will,as you see with the European Reassurance Initiative,act accordingly if Russia chooses to be a strategic competitor.On the Intermediate Nuclear Forces issue-as to whether Russia has violated the INF treaty with the US-we are in consultation with our Allies and we are still formulating the way ahead.In fact,it'll be addressed,I think,very,very soon as a matter of highest level concern.
We have seen Russian activity in Afghanistan vis a vis the Taliban.I'm not willing to say at this point if that has been manifested into weapons and that sort of thing;but certainly what they're up to there,in light of their other activities,gives us concern.I would just say that we look forward to engaging with Russia on a political or diplomatic level;but right now,Russia is choosing to be a strategic competitor,and we're finding that we can only have very modest expectations at this point of areas that we can cooperate with Russia,contrary to how we were just ten years ago,five years ago.It's no longer a cooperative engagement with them.Right now,it's gotten to where we're diplomatically going to have to carve out some manoeuvring room here,assuming Russia can change its behaviour and act in accordance with international norms and international law.*
On the question about more forces for Afghanistan,the suggestions and recommendations coming into us from the NATO commander in the field,General John Nicholson,have been received and we are reviewing those right now.Our Chairman of the Joint Chiefs,General Joseph Dunford,is reviewing them.Obviously,in light of our close relations with the UK,we always engage with them on issues like this,simply because we consider them an equal partner.Their advice is always solicited.It doesn't come to the number of troops in the field,so we'll be working with our Allies on that issue.We have not made a recommendation yet.I've not yet put a recommendation forward to our President at this time.
With regard to Daesh being in Afghanistan,you're all aware that Daesh-aka ISIL-has every intention of striking externally from the region,and that immediate threat goes to Europe;and we're going to have to keep Daesh on their back foot,and that's where we're concentrating at this point,US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told journalists in London following his talks with UK Defence Minister Sir Michael Fallon.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy in Song (complete) by St.Faustina of Poland - for your Lenten meditation

Stepping Stones to the Solar System:NASA Shares Details of its Deep Space Gateway Concept

Without fanfare,an article was posted on NASA's website a few days ago that crystallised the Orion Program more than had previously been done.The agency revealed its intentions for exploring cislunar space,the vicinity of the Moon,as a proving ground for missions to the Mars system and other solar system destinations:
1.The first phase of cislunar exploration will use current technologies and allow us to gain experience with extended operations farther from Earth than ever before.Such missions will enable NASA to develop new technologies and apply innovative approaches to solving problems in preparation for longer-duration missions far from Earth.Integral to this phase of the early Orion flights that will occur at a pace of one a year will be the construction of a relatively small orbiting spaceport,the gateway.The spaceport will have a power bus;a small habitat to expand mission length;docking capability;an airlock;and several logisitics modules to facilitate research.It will move among a family of orbits calibrated according to the requirements of various missions,such as close-in orbits for deploying lunar robotics or high orbits for support of long duration missions to other parts of the solar system.The gateway project is made possible by the expansive SLS cargo capacity plus the Orion spacecraft's crewed deep space capability.This spaceport will be developed,serviced and utilised in collaboration with commercial and international partners.*
2.The second phase will confirm that the agency's crewed capabilities can perform long duration missions beyond the Moon.For such missions,NASA plans a new deep space transport spacecraft that is reusable and runs on high power electric/chemical propulsion.This spacecraft will be specifically designed for crewed missions to Mars and other celestial bodies.It will take crews to their destinations and return to the gateway for servicing and eventual reuse.This transport,like the gateway spaceport itself,will take advantage of the large volumes and mass that that the SLS can launch,as well as the advanced exploration technologies now being developed and demonstrated on the ground and on ISS.
This second phase will culminate in the 2020s with a one year crewed mission in cislunar space to validate the readiness of the system to travel beyond the Moon and safely conduct missions independent of Earth.It will enable explorers to identify and pioneer solutions to technical and human challenges discovered or engineered in deep space,NASA explained.The agency states that it will look to partners for potential contributions of spaceflight hardware and the delivery of supplemental resources.The gateway and transport could potentially support multiple missions,representing several countries and agencies with partners from both government and private industry.NASA is open to both technical and programmatic ideas as it develops,matures and implements the Deep Space Gateway plan.*
In charge at NASA today:Robert Lightfoot is Acting Administrator pending President Donald Trump's permanent appointment;Dr.William Gerstenmeier is NASA's Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations;Astronaut Christopher Cassidy is Chief of the Astronaut Office;Julie Robinson is NASA Chief Scientist for the ISS.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Mattis Meets With NATO Secretary General - DOD

SecDef Mattis Meets with NATO Secretary General at the Pentagon

US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis met with NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg at the Pentagon on 21 March 2017.In his welcoming remarks,Mr.Mattis said:
We have a very strong trans-Atlantic bond.It's getting stronger.Relationships don't stay the same.They're always changing.In this case,the bond is getting stronger.It's built on a legacy of common commitments and common defence,and we never forget that in this building.*
In his reply,Secretary General Stoltenberg responded by saying:
It's great to be here in Washington and to meet with you.And I also commend you for your strong personal support and leadership when it comes to NATO and the trans-Atlantic bond.I think we really saw that when you met with all the defence Allies during the Defence Ministerial meeting in Brussels.Then you expressed a strong support for the trans-Atlantic unity,the trans-Atlantic bond,and the NATO Alliance.And we are very grateful for that.
I think that in times of turmoil,in times of uncertainty,the need for strong international institutions such as NATO is even greater.So therefore we need to adapt.We need to strengthen NATO in response to the challenges and the unpredictability we see surrounding us today.*
Following their talks,Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis,US Navy,shared a readout of the meeting.The two leaders discussed the key role the Alliance plays in trans-Atlantic security and to review preparations for the upcoming special meeting of NATO heads of state and government,Captain Davis noted.They also discussed ways to encourage Allies to assume a more equitable share of Alliance security and defence responsibilities.Mr.Mattis thanked Mr.Stoltenberg for his leadership on this issue,and applauded those Allies already meeting the benchmark of spending two percent of their countrys' GDP on defence.
The two leaders also discussed NATO's role in fighting terrorism and defeating ISIL,as well as NATO's missions in Afghanistan and Kosovo.Both pledged to consult in the coming months and said they look forward to meeting again at the next NATO Defence Ministerial conference,Captain Davis added.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Ukrainian Prime Minister Praises Patriarch Bartholomew

On 15 March 2017,Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman visited the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople/Istanbul as part of an official visit to Turkey.He was accompanied by a number of other officials,including Deputy Prime Minister Volodymyr Kistion;Minister of Agriculture Taras Kutovoy;Minister of Education Liliya Hrynevych;and Ukrainian Ambassador to Turkey Andrii Sibiha.Mr.Groysman was welcomed in the Patriarchate courtyard by Archimandrite Vissarion,archivist of the Ecumenical Patriarchate,in accordance with protocol.*
The Prime Minister was then received by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew,with whom he had a long and cordial discussion.Also in attendance were His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel of France;His Eminence Metropolitan Bartholomew of Smyrna,Chief Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod;and His Eminence Archbishop Daniel of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA (Ecumenical Patriarchate).*
Prime Minister Groysman praised His All-Holiness for supporting the steps leading to a unified Ukrainian Orthodox Church:
Ukrainians aspire to a single Church,and your role is very important,he told the Patriarch.We have deep respect for Your Holiness and for your support in the efforts leading to the unified Ukrainian Orthodoxy.*
Currently there are three branches of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church;but only one,the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate),is recognised by the other Orthodox Churches.*
For his part,Patriarch Bartholomew thanked the Ukrainian people for their deep faith and fidelity to the Church:
We pray that the Ukrainian people will be united in one Church.Mother Church of Constantinople will help you to receive such a united Church.We can be optimistic about the future.We greet the entire beloved Ukrainian nation from the headquarters of the Ecumenical Patriarchate not as foreigners;but as beloved spiritual children of the Mother Church.Spiritual relations that unite the Mother Church with Ukrainians never disappeared.We are close to you,especially when it is hard.We accompany you with our prayers and blessings,the Ecumenical Patriarch said.*
Hierarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate have made several recent visits to Ukraine to further the quest for Church unity.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

ISIL Stages Barbaric Attack in Afghan Capital Kabul

Four militants with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant stormed the biggest military hospital in the Afghan capital Kabul on Wednesday,killing more than 30 people and wounding over 50 others.The Islamist extremists were disguised as doctors for the assault which began when a militant detonated a bomb at a gate of Sardar Daud Hospital,killing himself in the process.The three others ran through the gate and started firing Kalashnikov automatic weapons indiscriminately and armed with hand grenades as well.*
The hospital is located in the Wazir Akbar Khan area of Central Kabul,just blocks from the US Embassy.*
In response,Afghan Special Operations Forces rappelled to the hospital roof from a helicopter.The militants then took up positions on the upper floors and a six-hour firefight ensued which cost the terrorists their lives.At one point,ISIL even fired into an operating room.It was perhaps their most sophisticated attack yet in Afghanistan,showing a higher degree of military training and planning than other efforts.Although the government claims to have cleared ISIL out of several villages,the militants maintain strongholds in the mountains.They claim parts of Eastern Afghanistan and Western Pakistan as their Khorasan Province.*
In February,ISIL claimed the attack on the Supreme Court in Kabul that killed 22.Being on the losing end of several battles in Iraq and Syria lately,ISIL may be trying to compensate for these losses by waging a terror campaign in Afghanistan and Pakistan.Afghan Chief Executive Dr.Abdullah Abdullah pledged to avenge the blood of the Afghan people.
General John Nicholson recently told the US Congress he needs a few more thousand troops to help the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces fend off militants from the Taliban,al-Qaida and ISIL.It doesn't matter to him whether they are American or from other NATO or partner nations.These reinforcements would be on top of the 300 US Marines headed back to Helmand Province,in the Taliban heartland,in the spring to help stabilise the situation there.The US has about 2100 counterterrorism troops in Afghanistan presently,out of its 8400 total commitment to Operation Freedom's Sentinel,with the rest detailed to train,advise and assist.US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is to forward his own recommendation on US involvement in Afghanistan to President Donald Trump shortly.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Of Pressure and Risk:NASA Considers the Trump Proposal to Speed Up the Orion Program

A NASA official,Dr.William Gerstenmaier,Associate Administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate,has spoken to the media via teleconference about the White House request that NASA consider making Exploration Mission-1 of the Orion Program,currently slated to be an unmanned mission in 2018,to be the first crewed mission as well as a test mission for the integrated Orion spacecraft and new Space Launch System rocket,in order to speed the development process up and preserve American leadership in space exploration:
We don't need the full capability of the Exploration Upper Stage to do this revised mission EM-1.What changes do we need to make?We think we can still protect the crew.We didn't do a test of the cargo flights to International Space Station.We might add micrometeorite protection for the high Earth orbit.The mission would be in 2019.We're going to do an altitude abort test to make sure it works.
Does this really advance our ability to get to the Moon?It will be a risks analysis.We can notionally pull the altitude abort test forward to early in 2019,ahead of revised EM-1.
We recognise this is an increased risk,and we have to decide whether it's worth it with astronauts included in the discussion.What do I really gain from putting a crew on board?When you look at STS-1,the first Space Shuttle mission,which also added crew to a test flight,it's not as big a step as what we did with Shuttle technology.*
From my perspective,I don't see this as pressure.It's better if I don't have a preconceived notion.They gave us freedom to delay EM-1 and extra funding.I think it's great if we have a chance to look at this.We make some changes to give us a better system overall,even if we don't add crew to EM-1.It's going to take a significant amount of money-and pretty quickly-to do what we have to do.We will still have a pretty exciting mission without a crew on EM-1;but a very successful Exploration Flight Test-1 helps give us confidence in adding new things to EM-1.We hit 85 of 87 flight tests successfully on EFT-1,except for the crew uprighting at splashdown.We were looking at this on our own to see what we could do.We added crew seats and dummies and radiation testing.To make this faster,the carbon dioxide removal has been tested on ISS.The waste management system will be going to ISS.*
I don't consider this a ton of extra work for us.I've picked team members for this evaluation not directly associated with Orion so the Orion team could stay focused on EM-1/EM-2.We don't have a specific schedule about getting information.If we go beyond 2019,we might as well go fly EM-2 instead.In the next month or so,we hope to have some of our preliminary findings briefed within the agency.We want to have a pretty polished format in about a month,Dr.Bill Gerstenmaier explained to the media.*
Priniciple contractors for the Orion Program include Lockheed Martin (LMT);Boeing (BA);United Launch Alliance (LMT/BA partnership);and Aerojet Rocketdyne (AJRD).