KERCH: Putin to open Crimea-Russia bridge today, Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to unveil today a highly symbolic bridge linking southern Russia to the Crimea, four years after the peninsula was annexed from Ukraine.
The Crimean Bridge, at 19 kilometres (nearly 12 miles) will be Europe’s longest, overtaking Lisbon’s Vasco da Gama Bridge. Built at a cost of 228 billion rubles ($3.7 billion), the new structure, connects the southern Krasnodar region with the Crimean city of Kerch, spanning a strait between the Black and Azov seas.
Ukraine has condemned the project, which was personally championed by Putin, saying construction has damaged the environment and that larger ships will be unable to get through to its ports on the Azov Sea.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s security service raided the offices of Russian state media in Kiev and detained one journalist, moves the chief editor of Russia’s RT television suggested were linked to the bridge opening.
The chief editor of the Kremlin-funded channel, Margarita Simonyan, wrote on Twitter that “Kiev decided to take revenge on us for the Crimean Bridge,” after the raids on the offices of RIA Novosti state news agency, which is part of the same media group as RT.
European Union and US sanctions have targeted those involved in building the bridge, principally Putin’s close ally, businessman Arkady Rotenberg, whose company Stroygazmontazh won the construction contract.
Protests have been growing in recent months over the stench from landfill sites around Moscow, overflowing with millions of tonnes of rubbish. Authorities have now decided on a plan to tackle the problem — generating energy by burning the waste instead. But their course of action has also sparked public fears over pollution. Russia produces almost 70 million tonnes of rubbish per year, according to Greenpeace’s estimates. The sorting of trash only takes place in around 100 of the country’s 4,000 towns and cities, and most of the waste builds up for decades in tips. “Russia seems to be fulfilling the prediction… that mankind will die from choking on its own rubbish,” said Alexei Kiselyov, of Greenpeace Russia. The amount that Russians throw away has grown 30 percent in the last decade, Greenpeace says. Two percent is incinerated, seven percent is recycled and the rest is dumped in landfills. Around Moscow, 24 landfill sites have been closed over the last five years because they were outdated and dangerous, the regional authorities said, while the remaining 15 — enormous mountains of malodorous rubbish open to the elements — are still filling up with unsorted waste.
Facebook users to get good safeguards!
PARIS: Facebook users to get good safeguards, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday that he was rolling out the privacy controls demanded by European regulators to Facebook users worldwide because “everyone cares about privacy”.
Speaking at the VivaTech trade fair in Paris a day before new European data protection rules come into force Zuckerberg said Europe’s history had made its citizens particularly wary when it comes to data collection.
“There are specific points about history in Europe. If you’re a German citizen and you grew up here you’re worried about the Stasi (former East German secret police).
“That’s more recent in your memory than what we have in the US or other folks around the world.” But “everyone cares about privacy.
That’s not only here, that’s a global thing,” Zuckerberg said, confirming he would extend the protections demanded by the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation – including on facial recognition – to Facebook’s two billion users worldwide.
“We’ve been very clear that we’ll roll out the same controls all around the world,” he said, adding that “good regulation” would increase user trust in how tech giants use their data.
Relevant piece published earlier: The dreaded Islamic State militant group has made death threats to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in a new video which shows their photos riddled with digitally added bullet holes, mocking the social media websites’ attempts to block terrorist content from their platforms. In the 25-minute video, the IS claim they are fighting back against efforts by the social media giants to wipe their platforms of accounts promoting terrorism. The video includes a direct threat to the tech entrepreneurs, branding them allies of the American “Crusader government”. Pictures of Zuckerberg and Dorsey can be seen being blasted with a hail of bullets in the amateur footage which emerged. In a separate slide, they also claim to have hacked more than 10,000 Facebook accounts, 150 Facebook groups, and more than 5,000 Twitter accounts.
Twin sports car-sized satellites to chase water changes on Earth
TAMPA: A pair of identical, sportscar-sized satellites are poised to zoom around the Earth and track changes in water and ice, offering new insights into global warming and sea level rise, NASA said Monday.
Groundwater, oceans, lakes, rivers and ice sheets will be monitored by the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO), a joint mission between the US space agency and German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ).
The satellites are scheduled to blast off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Tuesday at 12:47 pm Pacific time (1947 GMT). A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will propel the satellites to an orbit about 310 miles (500 kilometers) above the Earth. The pair will fly 137 miles (220 kilometers) apart, or about the distance from Los Angeles to San Diego.
NASA has spent $430 million on the mission, and Germany has spent about $91 million. The new pair of satellites will pick up where the first GRACE mission left off, having completed its 15-year mission in 2017. The first GRACE mission gave scientists a trove of data about the ever-dwindling ice mass.
China satellite heralds first mission to dark side of Moon
BEIJING: China satellite heralds first mission to dark side of Moon, China launched a relay satellite today that will allow a rover to communicate with the Earth from the far side of the Moon during an unprecedented mission later this year.
The Queqiao (“Magpie Bridge”) satellite was blasted into space from the southwestern Xichang launch center in the pre-dawn hours, according to the China National Space Administration.
The satellite split from its carrier, a Long March-4C rocket, after 25 minutes and unfolded its solar panels and communication antennas, as it headed towards its destination, the CNSA said.
“The launch is a key step for China to realize its goal of being the first country to send a probe to soft-land on and rove the far side of the Moon,” Zhang Lihua, manager of the relay satellite project, was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua news agency.
The satellite will relay communications between controllers on Earth and the far side of the moon, where the Chang’e-4 lunar probe – named after the moon goddess in Chinese mythology – will be sent later this year.
Also known as the “dark side” of the Moon, the far hemisphere is never directly visible from Earth and while it has been photographed, with the first images appearing in 1959, it has never been explored.
The Chang’e-4 rover will be sent to the Aitken Basin in the lunar south pole region, according to Xinhua. It will be the second Chinese probe to land on the Moon, following the Yutu (“Jade Rabbit”) rover mission in 2013.