Friday, July 31, 2020

NATO: Russia has significantly increased number of frigates and submarines in Black Sea

July 31, 2020 (UKRINFORM) Commodore Jeanette Morang, Commander Surface Forces NATO made this statement on the air of Ukrainian DOM TV channel. According to her, the Black Sea is of great value for international trade and, therefore, freedom of navigation and access to trade routes and coastal infrastructure remains an urgent need of the Black Sea countries and a necessary condition for their economic well-being. "As you probably know, about 80% of all trade operations are carried out by sea, and our goal is to ensure that every nation has a right to free access to the sea," Morang added. 
At the same time, she noted, the Black Sea has its own peculiarities. "First of all, it should be mentioned that the passage of vessels is regulated by the Montreux Convention. Pursuant to the Convention, the countries lacking access to the Black Sea cannot remain in it for more than 21 consecutive days. Another feature is Russia's desire to change existing borders and rapidly build up its military presence in the region. The Russian Federation has lately significantly increased the number of its frigates and newest submarines in the Black Sea. This activity came as no surprise to the Alliance. We are convinced that it is important to strengthen our presence in the region as well," Commander Surface Forces NATO said. She added that the Alliance stood for stability in the region and the economic well-being of the countries bordering the Black Sea. NATO is convinced that all countries of the Black Sea region share these views, Morang stressed.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

From Chornobyl to Mars: Radiation-absorbing fungus tested as space station shield

July 29, 2020 (www.newscientist.com) Cladosporium sphaerospermum, a radiation-absorbing fungus first found thriving within the highly radioactive cooling pools of the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant, has undergone trials onboard the International Space Station (ISS) for use as a radiation-resistant barrier for space exploration. In a recently published paper, researchers hypothesize that this fungus could be used as a biological radiation shield, allowing mankind to establish a permanent presence on the Moon or even Mars. In 1991, researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine found three types of fungi thriving in the cooling water at the Chornobyl power plant. These fungi survived in the coolant, despite the fact that its radiation level was 500 times higher than in the surrounding environment. Now, the fungi could provide a novel solution to one of the greatest challenges of space exploration: hazardous levels of radiation.
The International Space Station
NASA Archive / Alamy
According to the research paper, astronauts studied a sample of radiation-absorbing fungus onboard the ISS over a time frame of 30 days in an environment intended to replicate the radioactive conditions on Mars. The findings suggested that a layer of the fungus 21 centimeters thick would successfully protect against an annual dose of radiation on Mars, whereas just a 9-centimeter layer would be required when mixed with melanin and Martian soil. Weighing less than the heavy alloys that would normally protect from radiation, the fungal shield could help lower the overall weight of cargo blasted into space for settlements on other planets. What makes the fungus great is that you only need a few grams to start out…It self-replicates and self-heals, so even if there’s a solar flare that damages the radiation shield significantly, it will be able to grow back in a few days,” researcher Nills Averesch said in a comment to the New ScientistThe paper is awaiting peer-review, but the initial results of the trials of the fungus have been promising. The paper concludes with an optimistic affirmation: Often nature has already developed blindly obvious yet surprisingly effective solutions to engineering and design problems faced as humankind evolves – C. sphaerospermum and melanin could thus prove to be invaluable in providing adequate protection of explorers on future missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Unique amateur footage of the British evacuation of Dunkirk, hidden in a family archive for over 70 years

July 28, 2020 (BBC) The Battle of Dunkirk was fought in Dunkirk, France, during the Second World War, between the Allies and Nazi Germany. As the Allies were losing the Battle of France on the Western Front, the Battle of Dunkirk was the defense and evacuation to Britain of British and other Allied forces in Europe from 27 May to 4 June 1940. During these nine days 338,226 men escaped, including 139,997 French, Polish, and Belgian troops, together with a small number of Dutch soldiers, aboard 861 vessels (of which 243 were sunk during the operation).
Despite wartime censorship, the Dunkirk evacuation was recorded by a naval Lieutenant with his own personal camera. This film lay hidden in a family archive for over 70 years. 

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Military exercises Sea Breeze - 2020 continues: firing at coastal, sea and air targets

July 25, 2020 (112.UA) Joint military exercises Sea Breeze - 2020 are continuing in the Black Sea. The military have already practiced repelling attacks from high-speed small boats and shoot at various targets. This was reported by the press center of the State Border Service of Ukraine.
"Tactical maneuvering in formation and orders, exchange of information and target designation between ships, repelling an attack by high-speed small boats, shooting at coastal, sea and air targets, simulating an air attack on ships and air defense of a formation during the transition to the sea - all these elements of the exercises are traditionally are being worked out according to NATO standards, "the message says. The State Border Guard Service said that the ships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet tried to interfere with the exercises, which constantly monitored the maneuvering of NATO ships and closed the areas. The Coast Guard of the Border Service of the FSB of the Russian Federation regularly read to foreign ships the call to "stay away", calling the waters around the occupied peninsula their own. "The vagaries of the weather also became an additional test for the participants in the exercises. Thus, the night lighting production had to be performed in stormy weather, in fact, during a thunderstorm," the press center said.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

The fence around the Glory Monument in Poltava, which was erected in 2009 to protect the monument from vandals, was recently dismantled.

After a petition for dismantling the fence around the Glory Monument was published on the city council's website in May 2020, it quickly garnered the required number of votes. The dismantling began on July 16 and was completed on July 17. The initiator of the petition, journalist and author of the historical project "Old Poltava" Igor Izotov, noted that since 1811 the Glory Monument had no fence for almost 200 years. The fence was installed after the monument was partially damaged by local vandals. According to Igor Izotov, there were several reasons for dismantling the fence:
1. The effectiveness of the "protective" function of the fence should be reviewed. Currently, Poltava has a video surveillance system "Safe City" that should provide its own protection against potential vandalism.
2. The fence needs to be painted and cared for, which costs a lot. Dismantling will help save the city maintenance costs.
3. The fence negatively affects the image of the city. Visitors do not feel safe when they see fences, and barbed wire.
4. The fence spoils the appearance of the monument itself as a sculptural composition, which already has its own fence in the form of granite columns connected with iron chains.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Queen makes 100-year-old WWII veteran a knight

June 17, 2020 (CNN) Queen Elizabeth II knighted 100-year-old World War II veteran Captain Tom Moore, who became a national celebrity by raising millions for the UK's National Health Service (NHS), in an outdoor ceremony in Windsor Castle on Friday.
Moore raised almost £33 million ($40 million) by walking laps of his backyard, and received a knighthood after a special nomination from Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The ceremony marked the Queen's return to her public duties after the coronavirus pandemic forced her to cancel virtually all of her engagements.
She knighted Moore with her father's sword, and praised him for his fundraising efforts, saying: "Thank you so much, an amazing amount of money you raised," according to the PA Media news agency.
Earlier, the veteran had tweeted that he was "ready and raring to go for what is a very special day."
"I could never have imagined this would happen to me. It is such a huge honour and I am very much looking forward to meeting Her Majesty The Queen," he said earlier in the week. "It is going to be the most special of days for me."  Moore was accompanied to the ceremony on Friday by his daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore, son-in-law Colin Ingram, grandson Benji and granddaughter Georgia, according to PA.
"If I kneel down I'll never get up again," he said as he left his home for Windsor Castle earlier Friday.
The video is available at

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

NATO ships preparing for exercises in Black Sea

July 15, 2020 (Ukrinform) Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2), led by the Spanish frigate Alvaro de Bazan (F-101), has set course for the northwestern part of the Black Sea where multinational exercises will soon take place near the ports of Burgas and Odesa, according to ArmyInform.
"The ships will take part in naval maneuvers. Later, they will visit the Ukrainian city of Odesa," the report said. According to Spanish Navy Captain Manuel Aguirre, who heads Standing NATO Maritime Group Two, the exercises will help achieve NATO's naval strategy goals through the naval presence in NATO's areas of responsibility and strengthen the Alliance's positions in deterrence and defense, as well as the readiness to respond immediately to crisis situations.
The Sea Breeze 2020 international exercise, involving ships and aircraft of the Ukrainian Navy, will take part will take place in the Odesa region between July 20-26.