Monday, June 29, 2020

Mysterious ‘nuclear’ radiation spike over Europe detected – and experts are blaming Russia

June 29, 2020 (The Sun) Several European authorities have revealed readings of an increase in human-made radionuclide particles in the atmosphere. Fortunately, the levels of radiation are thought to be harmless to humans. However, they're still large enough to be picked up by radiation monitoring sensors across the continent. The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority tweeted: "Very low levels of the radioactive substances cesium-134, cesium-137, cobalt-60, and ruthenium-103 were measured. The levels measured are so low that they pose no danger to people or the environment." Norway and Finland also made similar observations.
Lassina Zerbo, the Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation, then tweeted a map showing where the potential source of the problem is. This showed that the possible reason for the anomaly could be in Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, or Russia. However, the largest part of the selected zone was in Russian territory.
The possible source region in the 72h preceding detection is shown in orange on the map.
 The full article is available at:
https://www.thesun.co.uk/tech/11978579/mysterious-nuclear-radiation-spike-europe/

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Russia kicks off lavish Victory Day parade following coronavirus delay

June 24, 2020 (CNN) An extravagant Victory Day military parade commenced Wednesday in Moscow, as Russian President Vladimir Putin looks to solidify support ahead of a national referendum that could keep him in power until 2036.
The annual parade, which commemorates the end of World War II in Europe, is usually held on May 9. Putin had originally planned a major celebration, inviting world leaders such as French President Emmanuel Macron and Chinese President Xi Jinping to join him. But like many public events around the globe, the event was postponed over coronavirus fears. The Kremlin delayed the event after a letter from veterans' organizations voiced concerns about the health risks such an event might pose. Many foreign leaders chose to stay away from the rescheduled event, but leaders of several former Soviet states were in attendance on Wednesday, including Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who has been a prominent coronavirus skeptic. The audience this year on Red Square has been significantly reduced, with every two to three seats left empty to separate groups of guests. Crowds gathered outside of the square to watch the tanks roll in despite calls from Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin to stay home and watch it on TV. Putin himself is surrounded by veterans who had to be quarantined for 14 days at a health resort outside of Moscow, the Kremlin said. The parade itself has been expanded. All told, more than 14,000 troops are taking part in this year's ceremony in Red Square, according to the official announcer.
 Interesting and maybe unique casus took place during the parade 2020 on Red Square (see foto below). One man was wearing the Cross of Saint George (as a veteran of WWI) and the Gold Star medal (as a veteran of WWII). Journalists have calculated that he must be more than 125 years old.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

79 years ago, Hitler picked a fight that may have cost him World War II

June 23, 2020 (businessinsider.com) Just after 3 a.m. on June 22, 1941, Nazi Germany launched Operation Barbarossa, the largest invasion in the history of warfare. Over 3.5 million Axis troops, along with more than 3,400 tanks and 2,700 aircraft, blitzed across the 1,800-mile border separating the Axis powers from the Soviet Union. Believing the Red Army to be weak because of its failures in Poland and Finland and because Josef Stalin's purges had largely rid it of competent leaders, Adolf Hitler reportedly told his generals, "We only have to kick in the door and the whole rotten structure will come crashing down.
German troops with an infantry support gun crossing the Soviet border during Operation Barbarossa on June 22, 1941. Foto Johannes Hähle

The Germans divided their forces into three Army Groups. The immediate objectives were for Army Group North to drive through the Baltic and take Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), while Army Group South would attack into Ukraine and take Kyiv and the Donets Basin. Army Group Center, the largest of the three, would push through Minsk and Smolensk to take Moscow....
German troops in the Soviet Union in 1941. US National Archives

Ukraine has received over US$60 million in military aid from the United States

June 22, 2020 (UNIAN) Ukraine has received over US$60 million in military aid from the United States, it includes Javelin anti-tank missiles. "U.S. security assistance and cooperation efforts with Ukraine during #COVID19 continue! Yesterday, the U.S. Embassy's Office of Defense Cooperation received more than $60 million of equipment to transfer to our Ukrainian partners, including radios, ammunition, and Javelin anti-tank missiles," the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv said on Facebook on Wednesday, June 17.
"The United States stands strongly with Ukraine in support of its sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russian aggression," the embassy said. In late 2017, Washington for the first time approved a plan to provide the Armed Forces of Ukraine with lethal weapons, including Javelin anti-tank missile systems. In the spring of 2018, the United States delivered these anti-tank missile systems to Ukraine and, in May, they passed their first tests. On June 11, 2020, the U.S. Congress approved a military assistance package worth US$250 million for Ukraine in 2020. On May 15, 2020, the United States provided Ukraine's Armed Forces with materiel assistance totaling US$25 million for better equipment of Ukrainian military units deployed in the Joint Forces Operation zone in the country's east.
Military aid from the United States / Photo from U.S. Embassy Kyiv Ukraine

Saturday, June 20, 2020

An observation deck on the bell tower is being set up in Poltava.

June 20, 2020 In Poltava, an observation deck is being arranged in the bell tower of the Holy Dormition Cathedral located in the heart of the former fortress of Poltava. It will be opened this summer. At a height of almost 40 meters reveals a view of the central part of Poltava. Employees of the City Cathedral have been creating an observation deck for about six months now. "We completely made a metal staircase, handrails, metal safety nets, because they were not foreseen when the belltower was under construction. Some of the stairs were boiled, some stairs were repaired at the bottom. On the top deck our visitors will see the authentic beams and bricks of the late 18th century", says Poltava local architect Artur Aroyan.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

55 years ago The Beatles received their MBE medals from Queen Elizabeth II

June 16, 2020 (ultimateclassicrock.com) The Beatles' accomplishments didn't go unnoticed by the royal family after the better part of two years as Britain's greatest musical ambassadors. On Oct. 26, 1965, all four members went to Buckingham Palace to receive their Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) medals from Queen Elizabeth II.
They had been notified of the award back in June, when their names showed up on the Queen's Birthday Honours list. Given that rock 'n' roll music still had a negative connotation from most of society, the reaction from many previous honorees was predictable: Several returned their decorations in disgust. One man, Col. Frederick Wagg, even sent back 12 medals he had earned fighting in both World Wars, resigned from the Labour Party – Prime Minister Harold Wilson, who represented the Liverpool suburb of Huyton, had lobbied the Queen to honor the group – and canceled a bequest to the party. "Decorating the Beatles," he wrote, "has made a mockery of everything this country stands for. I've heard them sing and play, and I think they're terrible."
But their protests went unheeded and the ceremony, in which 189 people received awards, took place. Beforehand, they were instructed in the protocol for meeting the Queen. "Some equerry to the Queen, a Guards officer, took us to one side and showed us what we had to do," Paul McCartney recalled in Anthology. "'Approach Her Majesty like this and never turn your back on her, and don't talk to her unless she talks to you.' All of those things. For four Liverpool lads it was, 'Wow, hey man!' It was quite funny. But she was sweet. I think she seemed a bit mumsy to us because we were young boys and she was a bit older."
Despite the formality of the proceedings, the Beatles signed autographs for about 50 other recipients, including one man who told McCartney, "I want it for my daughter. I don't know what she sees in you." There was also a brief opportunity for their trademark irreverent humor. "[The Queen] said to me, 'Have you been together long?'" McCartney remembered. "And I said, 'Yes, many years.' And Ringo [Starr] said, '40 years,'" which made the Queen laugh.
John Lennon would later claim that the Beatles were so nervous at the idea of meeting the Queen that they went into the bathroom and smoked marijuana. George Harrison subsequently refuted Lennon's claims, however, saying that it was a regular cigarette. 
Four years later, Lennon sent back his MBE. "Your Majesty," he wrote, "I am returning my MBE as a protest against Britain’s involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam and against ‘Cold Turkey’ slipping down the charts. With love. John Lennon of Bag." The medal was discovered in a vault at St. James Palace in 2009.
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire was created by King George V in 1917 to honor those who served the country in non-combat roles in World War I, but soon separated it into military and civil divisions. There are five classes of appointment, with Member being the lowest.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

NATO Grants Ukraine 'Enhanced Opportunities Partner' Status

June 12, 2020 (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty) NATO has entered a closer partnership with Ukraine, recognizing the former Soviet republic as an enhanced opportunities partner (EOP) after Kyiv demonstrated its "commitment to Euro-Atlantic security." This status is part of a NATO initiative intended to "maintain and deepen cooperation between Allies and partners that have made significant contributions to NATO-led operations and missions," the Western alliance announced on June 12.
"Ukraine has provided troops to Allied operations, including in Afghanistan and Kosovo, as well as to the NATO Response Force and NATO exercises," it said. The statement said Ukraine's new status will enable the country to benefit from "enhanced access to interoperability programs and exercises, and more sharing of information." However, it insisted that the new status "does not prejudge any decisions on NATO membership." Australia, Finland, Georgia, Jordan, and Sweden are also recognized as EOPs.