November 19, 2014

Russia tests 'satellite catcher'

Russia may be testing a satellite capable of chasing down other orbiting spacecraft, observers say.
Such technology could be used for a wide variety of uses, including to repair malfunctioning spacecraft, but also to destroy or disable them.
The Kosmos 2499 satellite separated from the upper stage of its rocket two years ago and then chased it down.

November 18, 2014

Achtung! Germany named world's favorite country

Yes, from being the world's pariah in the decades following Nazism and World War II, Germany is now the world's favorite country, according to the Anholt-Gfk Nations Brand Index, which measures the image of 50 leading nations.
The Teutonic powerhouse knocked the United States from its longtime perch at the top of the ratings, which measure "twenty-three different attributes that make up the six overall dimensions on which national image is based."
"Germany appears to have benefited not only from the sports prowess it displayed … at the FIFA World Cup championship, but also by solidifying its perceived leadership in Europe through a robust economy and steady political stewardship," said Simon Anholt, who created the index in 2005.

Female Indonesian police recruits forced to undergo ‘virginity tests’

Female recruits hoping to join Indonesia’s police force are forced to undergo two-finger “virginity tests”, a rights group has found, a practice that leaves the women traumatised, humiliated and in pain.
The test is listed publicly as a requirement to enter the force and performed as part of the chief of police’s health inspection guidelines for new candidates, which requires women to complete an “obstetrics and gynaecology” exam.
“Entering the virginity test examination room was really upsetting,” one interviewee said. “I feared that after they performed the test I would not be a virgin anymore. They inserted two fingers with gel … it really hurt. My friend even fainted.”

Philae Lander Sends Back Data Before Batteries Shut Down

(had to upload elsewhere because google is screwing around, just click on the picture to see in original resolution)

A pioneering robotic spacecraft shut down on Saturday after radioing results of its first and probably last batch of scientific experiments from the surface of a comet, scientists said.
Batteries aboard the European Space Agency's Philae comet lander drained, shutting down the washing machine-sized probe after an adventurous and largely unscripted 57-hour mission.
Carried aboard the orbiting Rosetta mothership, Philae floated to the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Thursday, but failed to deploy anchoring harpoons.

Song lyrics taken from Peter Schilling - Major Tom (Völlig losgelöst)
English version of the song, also sung by Schilling:

European leaders fear growth of Russian influence abroad

European governments are increasingly alarmed that Vladimir Putin is building on his destabilisation of Ukraine to extend Russian power and influence within the European Union, targeting the former Soviet bloc countries of central Europe and former Yugoslavia, all of which are in or seeking to join the EU.
In a speech in July Orban denounced the west European democratic model as an obsolete failure and held up Putin as a template for a modern successful leader. In January he met Putin in Moscow secretly, secured a €10bn line of credit from the Russians, and awarded contracts to Moscow for the building of two new reactors at Hungary’s sole nuclear power plant. Hungarians found out when the news was posted on the Russian government website.