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Ascension – Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Posted: June 29, 2016 at 6:31 pm

This page is about the Feast of the Ascension. For the event that it celebrates, see Ascension of Jesus.

Ascension is a Christian holiday. The word “ascension” means “going up”. According to the story told in the Bible, Jesus ascended (went up) to heaven with his apostles. The holiday is celebrated forty days after his resurrection. The story tells that Jesus’ body went to heaven, and that in heaven he sits at the right-hand side of God the Father.

Ascension Day is officially celebrated on a Thursday. However, not all countries hold the feast on this day. It is one of the ecumenical feasts. All Christians celebrate this feast, much like Easter and Pentecost. It is a very important feast in the calendar of the Christian Church.

In some countries (at least in Austria, Belgium, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany (since the 1930s), Haiti, Iceland, Indonesia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Namibia, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Vanuatu) it is a public holiday; Germany also holds its Father’s day on the same date.

The Eastern Orthodox Church calculates the date of Easter differently, so the Eastern Orthodox celebration of Ascension will usually be after the western observance (either one week, or four weeks, or five weeks later; but occasionally on the same day). The earliest possible date for the feast is May 13 (of the western calendar), and the latest possible date is June 16. Some of the Oriental Orthodox Churches, however, observe Ascension on the same date as the Western Churches.[1]

The feast is observed with an all-night vigil.

The Epistle to the Romans is a book from the Bible which was written about the year 56 or 57.[2] In it, Paul describes Christ as in heaven and in the abyss.[3] This seems to be the earliest Christian reference to Jesus in heaven.

One of the most important texts about the Ascension is in the Acts of the Apostles 1:1-11. According to the two-source hypothesis it is also the earliest.[4] There Jesus is taken up bodily into heaven forty days after his resurrection. The text says that the apostles saw this happening. Before going into heaven, Jesus gave a speech called the Great Commission, in which he said that he would return. In the Gospel of Luke, the Ascension[5] takes place on Easter Sunday evening.[6] The Gospel of John (c. 90-100)[7] talks about Jesus returning to the Father.[8] In 1 Peter (c. 90-110),[7] Jesus has ascended to heaven and is at God’s right side.[9] Ephesians (c. 90-100)[7] refers to Jesus ascending higher than all the heavens.[10] First Timothy (c. 90-140)[7] describes Jesus as taken up in glory.[11] The traditional ending in the Book of Mark (see Mark 16) includes a short version of what Luke had said about the resurrection. It describes Jesus as being taken up into heaven and sitting at God’s right hand.[12] The way that Christ’s Ascension is described is similar to the general description of his welcome in heaven, a description that comes from Hebrew scripture.[13] The picture of Jesus rising bodily into the heavens fits in with the old traditional idea that heaven was above the earth.[14]

There are texts that are not in the Bible that also speak about ascension, for example Pistis Sophia. In his text Against Heresies, Irenaeus tells about the Gnostic view that the Ascension happened eighteen months after the Resurrection.[15] The apocryphal text known as the Apocryphon of James describes the teachings of Jesus to James and Peter 550 days after the resurrection, but before the ascension. This text suggests an even longer period. The recently discovered Nag Hammadi Gospel of Thomas, like the canonical Gospel of Matthew, does not mention the Ascension.

The feast of the Ascension has been celebrated for many centuries. Although we do not have anything in writing about it before the beginning of the fifth century, St. Augustine says that it is of Apostolic origin, and he speaks of it in a way that shows that all Christians celebrated it long before his time (he lived from 354-430).

Christ’s ascension is mentioned in the original Nicene Creed. This text has been important to Christians ever since it was made in 325. It is included in the Mass. It is also mentioned in the Apostles’ Creed. It is important for Christian belief because it shows that Jesus’ humanity was taken into Heaven.[13]Ascension Day is one of the chief feasts of the Christian year.[13] There is plenty of evidence that shows that the feast dates back at least to the later 300s.[13]

The canonical story of Jesus ascending bodily into the clouds is different from the gnostic tradition, by which Jesus was said to transcend the bodily world and return to his home in the spirit world. It also contrasts with Docetic beliefs, by which matter is basically evil and Jesus was said to have been pure spirit.

Scholars of the historical Jesus think that New Testament accounts of Jesus’ resurrection were stories that were invented by the apostolic-era Christian community.[6] Some describe the Ascension as a convenient way to disagree with ongoing appearance claims in the Christian community.[6]

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Ascension – Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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NATO – U-S-History.com

Posted: October 28, 2015 at 11:44 am

NATO is based on the North Atlantic Treaty, which provides the organization a framework. The treaty provides that an armed attack against one or more of NATO`s member nations shall be considered an attack against them all.* NATO is headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. The organization was formed in 1949. Many nations joined NATO even Iceland, the only member without a military force.

The organization was originally formed out of the fear that the Soviet Union would ally militarily with Eastern European nations, i.e. the Warsaw Pact, and thus become a threat to Western Europe and the United States. In short, the alliance is an association of free states united in their determination to preserve their security through mutual guarantees and stable relations with other countries.

From 1945 to 1949, Europe faced the crucial need for economic reconstruction. Western European countries and their North American allies viewed with apprehension the expansionist policies and methods of the U.S.S.R. Having fulfilled their own wartime commitments, and desiring to reduce their defense establishments and demobilize forces, Western governments became increasingly alarmed as it became clear that the Soviet leadership intended to maintain its own military forces at full strength.

Furthermore, in view of the Soviet Communist Party`s avowed ideology, it was evident that appeals to the United Nations Charter, and international settlements reached at the end of the war, would not assure democratic states their autonomy. The rise of nondemocratic governments in many central and eastern European countries, and the resultant repression of opposition parties and basic human rights, raised more alarm in the West.

Between 1947 and 1949, a series of extraordinary political events brought matters to a head. They included direct threats to the sovereignty of Norway, Greece, Turkey and other countries, the June 1948 coup in Czechoslovakia, and the illegal blockade of Berlin that began in April of the same year. The signing of the Brussels Treaty in March 1948 marked the commitment of five Western European countries Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom to develop a common defense system and strengthen the ties among them in a manner that would enable them to resist ideological, political and military threats to their security. Later, Denmark, Iceland, Italy, Norway and Portugal were invited by the Brussels Treaty powers to become participants in that process.

Then followed negotiations with the United States and Canada on the creation of a single North Atlantic alliance based on security guarantees and mutual commitments between Europe and North America. The alliance would become the transatlantic link by which the security of North America was permanently tied to the security of Europe.

Negotiations culminated in the signing of the treaty in April 1949, entered into freely by each country following public debate and due parliamentary process. The treaty a legal and contractual basis for the alliance was established within the framework of Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, which reaffirms the inherent right of independent states to individual or collective defense. The treaty requires of each of them not to enter into any other international commitment that might conflict with its provisions. The preamble to the treaty states that the aim of the allies is to promote peaceful and friendly relations in the North Atlantic area.

However, at the time of the treatys signing, the immediate purpose of NATO was to defend its members against a potential threat resulting from the policies and growing military capacity of the Soviet Union. The treaty created a common security system based on a partnership among the 12 countries. Others joined later:

The means by which the alliance carries out its security policies includes the maintenance of a sufficient military capability to prevent war and to provide for effective defense; an overall capability to manage crises affecting the security of its members; and active promotion of dialogue with other nations. The alliance performs the following fundamental security tasks:

A continent evolves

NATO has worked since its inception for the establishment of a just and lasting peaceful order in Europe based on common values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. That central alliance objective has taken on renewed significance since the end of the Cold War because, for the first time in the post- World War II history of Europe, the prospect of its achievement has become a reality as embodied by the European Union.

From time to time, the alliance met at the summit level with heads of state and governments participating. Their direct participation in the process of taking decisions by consensus, raised the public profile of such meetings and bestowed on them increased historical significance.

By 1991, the major transformation of international security at the end of the 1980s was dictating the shape of the new NATO that would emerge over the next few years. The first of a series of four summit meetings that would plot the course of the alliances adaptation to the coming decade took place in Rome in November 1991. It would be followed by another summit meeting in Brussels in January 1994, two further meetings in Madrid in July 1997, and in Washington in April 1999.


The world has seen many changes since the inception of NATO. NATO peacekeeping forces maintain vigilance at hot spots around the world. Kosovo, Afghanistan and Somalia all enjoy a NATO presence. NATO announced on June 9, 2005, that it would help the African Union (AU) expand its peacekeeping mission in Darfur, Sudan, by airlifting additional AU peacekeepers into the region and assisting with training.

The following is from a speech by former NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson on November 12, 2003. The occasion was hosted by the George C. Marshall Foundation, the Center for Transatlantic Relations at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced Internationa Studies and the Royal Norwegian Embassy:

Another excerpt from the same speech:

The following is an illustration of how the world has changed. General Ray Henault of the Canadian Air Force accepted the chairmanship of NATO`s Military Committee on June 16, 2005, from his predecessor, General Harald Kujat of the German Air Force. The Military Committee is the highest military decision-making authority in NATO, assisting and advising the North Atlantic Council. The Chairman of the Military Committee is selected by the Chiefs of Defense and appointed for a three-year term of office.

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North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), 1949 – 19451952 …

Posted: October 23, 2015 at 11:47 pm

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), 1949

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was created in 1949 by the United States, Canada, and several Western European nations to provide collective security against the Soviet Union.

Signing of the NATO Treaty

NATO was the first peacetime military alliance the United States entered into outside of the Western Hemisphere. After the destruction of the Second World War, the nations of Europe struggled to rebuild their economies and ensure their security. The former required a massive influx of aid to help the war-torn landscapes re-establish industries and produce food, and the latter required assurances against a resurgent Germany or incursions from the Soviet Union. The United States viewed an economically strong, rearmed, and integrated Europe as vital to the prevention of communist expansion across the continent. As a result, Secretary of State George Marshall proposed a program of large-scale economic aid to Europe. The resulting European Recovery Program, or Marshall Plan, not only facilitated European economic integration but promoted the idea of shared interests and cooperation between the United States and Europe. Soviet refusal either to participate in the Marshall Plan or to allow its satellite states in Eastern Europe to accept the economic assistance helped to reinforce the growing division between east and west in Europe.

In 19471948, a series of events caused the nations of Western Europe to become concerned about their physical and political security and the United States to become more closely involved with European affairs. The ongoing civil war in Greece, along with tensions in Turkey, led President Harry S. Truman to assert that the United States would provide economic and military aid to both countries, as well as to any other nation struggling against an attempt at subjugation. A Soviet-sponsored coup in Czechoslovakia resulted in a communist government coming to power on the borders of Germany. Attention also focused on elections in Italy as the communist party had made significant gains among Italian voters. Furthermore, events in Germany also caused concern. The occupation and governance of Germany after the war had long been disputed, and in mid-1948, Soviet premier Joseph Stalin chose to test Western resolve by implementing a blockade against West Berlin, which was then under joint U.S., British, and French control but surrounded by Soviet-controlled East Germany. This Berlin Crisis brought the United States and the Soviet Union to the brink of conflict, although a massive airlift to resupply the city for the duration of the blockade helped to prevent an outright confrontation. These events caused U.S. officials to grow increasingly wary of the possibility that the countries of Western Europe might deal with their security concerns by negotiating with the Soviets. To counter this possible turn of events, the Truman Administration considered the possibility of forming a European-American alliance that would commit the United States to bolstering the security of Western Europe.

Signing of the Brussels Treaty

The Western European countries were willing to consider a collective security solution. In response to increasing tensions and security concerns, representatives of several countries of Western Europe gathered together to create a military alliance. Great Britain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg signed the Brussels Treaty in March, 1948. Their treaty provided collective defense; if any one of these nations was attacked, the others were bound to help defend it. At the same time, the Truman Administration instituted a peacetime draft, increased military spending, and called upon the historically isolationist Republican Congress to consider a military alliance with Europe. In May of 1948, Republican Senator Arthur H. Vandenburg proposed a resolution suggesting that the President seek a security treaty with Western Europe that would adhere to the United Nations charter but exist outside of the Security Council where the Soviet Union held veto power. The Vandenburg Resolution passed, and negotiations began for the North Atlantic Treaty.

In spite of general agreement on the concept behind the treaty, it took several months to work out the exact terms. The U.S. Congress had embraced the pursuit of the international alliance, but it remained concerned about the wording of the treaty. The nations of Western Europe wanted assurances that the United States would intervene automatically in the event of an attack, but under the U.S. Constitution the power to declare war rested with Congress. Negotiations worked toward finding language that would reassure the European states but not obligate the United States to act in a way that violated its own laws. Additionally, European contributions to collective security would require large-scale military assistance from the United States to help rebuild Western Europes defense capabilities. While the European nations argued for individual grants and aid, the United States wanted to make aid conditional on regional coordination. A third issue was the question of scope. The Brussels Treaty signatories preferred that membership in the alliance be restricted to the members of that treaty plus the United States. The U.S. negotiators felt there was more to be gained from enlarging the new treaty to include the countries of the North Atlantic, including Canada, Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Ireland, and Portugal. Together, these countries held territory that formed a bridge between the opposite shores of the Atlantic Ocean, which would facilitate military action if it became necessary.

President Truman inspecting a tank produced under the Mutual Defense Assistance Program

The result of these extensive negotiations was the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty in 1949. In this agreement, the United States, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, and the United Kingdom agreed to consider attack against one an attack against all, along with consultations about threats and defense matters. This collective defense arrangement only formally applied to attacks against the signatories that occurred in Europe or North America; it did not include conflicts in colonial territories. After the treaty was signed, a number of the signatories made requests to the United States for military aid. Later in 1949, President Truman proposed a military assistance program, and the Mutual Defense Assistance Program passed the U.S. Congress in October, appropriating some $1.4 billion dollars for the purpose of building Western European defenses.

Soon after the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the outbreak of the Korean War led the members to move quickly to integrate and coordinate their defense forces through a centralized headquarters. The North Korean attack on South Korea was widely viewed at the time to be an example of communist aggression directed by Moscow, so the United States bolstered its troop commitments to Europe to provide assurances against Soviet aggression on the European continent. In 1952, the members agreed to admit Greece and Turkey to NATO and added the Federal Republic of Germany in 1955. West German entry led the Soviet Union to retaliate with its own regional alliance, which took the form of the Warsaw Treaty Organization and included the Soviet satellite states of Eastern Europe as members.

The collective defense arrangements in NATO served to place the whole of Western Europe under the American nuclear umbrella. In the 1950s, one of the first military doctrines of NATO emerged in the form of massive retaliation, or the idea that if any member was attacked, the United States would respond with a large-scale nuclear attack. The threat of this form of response was meant to serve as a deterrent against Soviet aggression on the continent. Although formed in response to the exigencies of the developing Cold War, NATO has lasted beyond the end of that conflict, with membership even expanding to include some former Soviet states. It remains the largest peacetime military alliance in the world.

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Meet NATOs new rapid-reaction task force, now in initial training

Posted: April 4, 2015 at 4:49 am

As Russian actions across eastern Europe alarmed countries last year, NATO officials at a summit in Wales decided to take a new step: Forming a new military force designed to respond swiftly in the face of threats.

The Very High Readiness Joint Task Force will include about 5,000 troops primarily from France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain, with maritime, special operations and aviation units. Its meant to give the rest of the 30,000 service members in NATOs response force time to mobilize.

The high-readiness force will take a major step this month with part one of Operation Noble Jump. Running from April 1 to April 10, the exercise includes missions in the Czech Republic and the Netherlands, and marks the first time that the forces will practice rapid orders to move, NATO officials said.

NATO released this video Thursday to help explain it:

Another part of Noble Jump will occur from June 9 to June 20 at the Zagan Military Training Area in Poland, officials said. It will be followed by Trident Juncture 2015, a military exercise in Italy, Spain and Portugal from Oct. 21 to Nov. 6.

U.S. troops have trained with the NATO Response Force, established in 2003, for years. In Latvia, for example, U.S. Marines joined troops from Lithuania, Luxembourg, Canada and Germany last month as part of a five-day training assignment. The Marines were part of the Black Sea Rotational Force, which cycles through the Baltic region regularly for training assignments on Russias western flank.

Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, the commander of U.S. European Command and supreme allied commander of NATO operations, has said repeatedly that the whole NATO Response Force needs to be ready. He said at a forum in Brussels last month that NATO isnt just establishing the high-readiness task force, but also working to speed up how the rest of the response force moves.

Breedlove told the House Armed Services Committee in February that Europe will be the primary contributor of land forces for the high-readiness task force, but the United States must contribute some troops to help with cohesiveness.

Dan Lamothe covers national security for The Washington Post and anchors its military blog, Checkpoint.

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Bitcoin Transactions Not Yet Entirely Anonymous

Posted: January 3, 2015 at 6:46 am

A group of researchers in Luxembourg say they have found a way to uncover the identities of Bitcoin users. So how anonymous is the vaunted crypto-currency?

Bitcoin has been having some difficulty persuading consumers to use it for online transactions, but the virtual currency is nevertheless slowly starting to win people over. Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer system, which means there is no centralisation or control, and payments can be made rapidly across the world free of charge. Every users identity is hidden behind an encrypted pseudonym and an address, both of which can be changed on a regular basis to protect confidentiality. Against this background, a team of cryptographic experts working at the University of Luxembourg have been carrying out research in order to find out whether the system really guarantees anonymous transactions. Now the researchers, Alex Biryukov, Dmitri Khovratovich and Ivan Pustogarov, have just published a paper entitled Deanonymisation of clients in Bitcoin P2P network, in which they claim to have discovered a means of identifying users IP addresses.

The three cryptographers describe their method of finding out by whom or at least from which IP address a given transaction was being made. Focusing on the Tor security network used by many Bitcoin aficionados to protect their identity, they managed to disable Tor access to the users client by using deliberately malformed messages and were then able to get the Bitcoin server to reveal the IP address that was connecting to the Bitcoin entry nodes. Using this method, the researchers claim to have managed to de-anonymise up to 60% of all users targeted. They say a hacker could discover the identity of a Bitcoin user by spending just under 1,500 on an attack involving several computers, which means that most ordinary Internet users would not be able to exploit this weak point and only the most experienced and best equipped hackers will be able to get in through the loophole. Nevertheless, the aim of the Luxembourg team is not simply to point out deficiencies in the system but to help rectify the situation, and they are now working with the Bitcoin developers on new software designed to render transactions really secure and anonymous.

It will come as no surprise however to learn that people closely involved with the virtual currency are aware of potential privacy issues. Bitcoin is often perceived as an anonymous payment network. But in reality, Bitcoin is probably the most transparent payment network in the world, points out one of the first sites dedicated to the currency. For this reason a number of tools such as Darkwallet have already been developed with a view to enhancing the confidentiality of Bitcoin financial transactions. The Luxembourg research project is one of the very first efforts to test the limits of the crypto-currency but, given the obvious attractions of having an anonymous cash-like system for worldwide online transfers, it will doubtless not be the last. Meanwhile the revelations might well make people hesitate before embarking on such innovative ideas as preserving their DNA via the Bitcoin network, or even simply making micro-payments over the social networks, where a degree of confidentiality is a major requirement.

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Ministerial Conference: Highlights – Video

Posted: December 14, 2014 at 8:48 pm

Ministerial Conference: Highlights
On 2 December ESA concluded a productive one-day Council Meeting at Ministerial Level in Luxembourg. Ministers from European Space Agency (ESA) Member States have approved the …

By: European Space Agency, ESA

Ministerial Conference: Highlights – Video

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Portugal to integrate two scientific space exploration programs: media

Posted: December 9, 2014 at 5:45 am

Portugal’s Minister of Education and Science Nuno Crato said Wednesday that Portugal will integrate two scientific space exploration programs including the International Space Station, according to Portuguese Lusa News Agency.

“There is a lot of good news or Portugal, which will continue collaborating with the European Space Agency (ESA) … and will now incorporate the program for International Space Station and the program for Lunar Exploration,” Nuno Crato told Lusa, after participating at a meeting at the ESA in Luxembourg.

Ministers of the ESA met Tuesday in Luxembourg, and agreed to develop new launchers, as well as approving investment in the international space station and space exploration programs.

Crato said that Portugal benefited through its participation with ESA “on various levels,” like Portuguese scientists getting involved with the space agency’s work and enabling the country to use more sophisticated technology.

“Being part of the International Space Station is very important for us … The program for lunar exploration is a new program and we will join it from the start. So our software development companies will participate in this effort and will be able to make orders from these programs,” Crato added.

The next ESA meeting will take place in Switzerland in 2016.

Source: Xinhua News Agency

Portugal to integrate two scientific space exploration programs: media

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Bitcoin, virtual money: User's identity can be revealed much easier than thought

Posted: November 26, 2014 at 1:49 pm

Bitcoin is the new money: minted and exchanged on the Internet. Faster and cheaper than a bank, the service is attracting attention from all over the world. But a big question remains: are the transactions really anonymous? Several research groups worldwide have shown that it is possible to find out which transactions belong together, even if the client uses different pseudonyms. However it was not clear if it is also possible to reveal the IP address behind each transaction. This has changed: researchers at the University of Luxembourg have now demonstrated how this is feasible with only a few computers and about 1500.

“It’s hard to predict the future, but some people think that Bitcoin could do to finance what the Internet did to communications,” says Prof. Alex Biryukov, who leads digital currency research at the University. “So I think especially for Luxembourg it is important to watch what happens with Bitcoin.”

The Bitcoin system is not managed by a central authority, but relies on a peer-to-peer network on the Internet. Anyone can join the network as a user or provide computing capacity to process the transactions. In the network, the user’s identity is hidden behind a cryptographic pseudonym, which can be changed as often as is wanted. Transactions are signed with this pseudonym and broadcast to the public network to verify their authenticity and attribute the Bitcoins to the new owner.

In their new study, researchers at the Laboratory of Algorithmics, Cryptology and Security of the University of Luxembourg have shown that Bitcoin does not protect user’s IP address and that it can be linked to the user’s transactions in real-time. To find this out, a hacker would need only a few computers and about 1500 per month for server and traffic costs. Moreover, the popular anonymization network “Tor” can do little to guarantee Bitcoin user’s anonymity, since it can be blocked easily.

The basic idea behind these findings is that Bitcoin entry nodes, to which the user’s computer connects in order to make a transaction, form a unique identifier for the duration of user’s session. This unique pattern can be linked to a user’s IP address. Moreover, transactions made during one session, even those made via unrelated pseudonyms, can be linked together. With this method, hackers can reveal up to 60 percent of the IP addresses behind the transactions made over the Bitcoin network.

“This Bitcoin network analysis combined with previous research on transaction flows shows that the level of anonymity in the Bitcoin network is quite low,” explains Dr. Alex Biryukov. In the paper recently presented at the ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security the team also described how to prevent such an attack on user’s privacy. Software patches written by the researchers are currently under discussion with the Bitcoin core developers.

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Bitcoin, virtual money: User's identity can be revealed much easier than thought

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Lithuania: Iron Sword NATO drills get underway – Video

Posted: November 4, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Lithuania: Iron Sword NATO drills get underway
VideoID: 20141103-014 W/S Soldiers M/S Soldiers taking position W/S Soldiers lined up M/S US soldiers M/S Soldiers holding Lithuanian, German, Hungarian, Luxembourg, US, UK flags M/S Soldiers.

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Interview With BitBays – A Bitcoin Exchange That Tries To Make A Difference

Posted: October 4, 2014 at 2:46 am

Exchange in the context of finance often conjures up images of busy trading floors where traders gesticulate and shout in deafening din. In the world of Bitcoin, things are much quieter. The Bitcoin exchanges, as many of them are, can be little more than a website and a piece of program running behind it. Many of these exchanges, often registered in offshore tax havens such as British Virgin Islands, dont have much of a physical existence.

Given how new Bitcoin is, it may not be surprising that the Bitcoin exchanges at large resemble the banking industry in the early days a little bit They often fail. This year, the industry is stigmatised by the fall of Mt. Gox, the longest lasting and erstwhile largest Bitcoin exchange based in Tokyo, Japan. In the aftermath, there was a wave of criticism of incumbent exchanges, which were referred to as single point of failure. Contrary to the popular demand, however, the single point of failure persisted. On the ruins of the failed Mt. Gox, new exchanges emerge and many prosper. Among them, China-based OKCoin and Huobi impress many with their meteoric rise from obscurity.

Both Huobi and OKCoin, the largest Chinese exchanges, had been questioned over the veracity of their claimed trading volumes. After one of the first accusations being reported by Bitcoin news website CoinDesk last year, despite consistent denials from these exchanges,similar suggestions popped up fairly regularly on the social media. However, skepticism notwithstanding, the China-based exchanges, exemplified by the two aforementioned, are making strides. Both have grown from nothing to be relatively large companies within a period of a year Both Huobi and OKCoin have over 150 employees each. Both appear to be on solid ground financially, at least judging by the way they spend and speed of expansion. In a recent interview, OKCoins CEO Star Xuconfirmed that his company had been profitable.

From left to right: Yan Chuan, Elon Zhao, Mike Gropp

All these lead to a question: Are the Chinese exchanges, despite their shortcomings, possess some special quality that makes them more successful?

Will Chinese Exchanges Dominate The World?

In a high-rise office building in Sanyuanqiao, Chaoyang district in Beijing, I met Elon, Mike, and Yan Chuan, three cofounders of BitBays, a new Bitcoin exchange. I first met Mike and Elon at the Shanghai Bitcoin Expo a week before, where they gave a presentation. Although a secure and globalized Bitcoin exchange sounded to me just vanilla marketing talk, I was curious as to how they implemented the concept. I was also interested to learn what they have to say about the exchange environment as well as other questions that many are concerned with.

I started the interview by asking what are the competitive advantages and disadvantages of the large Chinese exchanges such as Huobi and OKCoin. Acknowledging the success of the two, Elon listed three factors that he believed are behind the growth: The appeal of zero-fee, general lack of speculative assets in China and a highly developed Internet industry.

In spite of these advantages, Elon didnt believe that any of the two, in their current shape, stand much of a chance to be global leaders. First, there is the negative image associated with being Chinese. It is like an American sees an Arabic exchange or a North Korea exchange. Then, Chinese companies generally performed badly in terms of globalisation. Elon cited the example of WeChat: despite its phenomenal success in China, the mobile communication app remains a Chinese phenomenon. It is hard to imagine that a Bitcoin exchanges can do what Tencent, a much larger and deeper-pocketed company, cant.

However, Elon believed BitBays had the advantage as a late-starter. The company had little burden; it would be much harder to switch direction when you are halfway in the journey. Elon compared BitBays that he envisioned with Blockchain.info. Blockchain.info is the worlds largest online Bitcoin wallet service. Headquartered in Luxembourg, the wallet provider has employees distributed in many countries across the globe. According to an email reply from Roger Ver, cofounder of Blockchain.info: People help from Blockchain from all over the world. North and South America, Europe, Asia, and even South America. I dont think we have anyone in Africa yet though.

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Interview With BitBays – A Bitcoin Exchange That Tries To Make A Difference

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