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University of Luxembourg: Researchers develop Zcash cryptocurrency – Science Business

Posted: February 9, 2017 at 5:51 am

Scientists at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT) of the University of Luxembourg have developed an important mathematical algorithm called Equihash. Equihash is a core component for the new cryptocurrency Zcash, which offers more privacy and equality than the famous Bitcoin. Zcash came into operation as an experimental technology for a community-driven digital currency in late 2016. Competing cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin is by far the most recognised and widely used digital currency. It was introduced in January 2009 and has garnered much attention since then. But it is not the only one of its kind. Wikipedia lists nearly one hundred cryptocurrencies boasting more than 1 million US dollar market capitalisation.

One of the newest cryptocurrencies is Zcash, which can be seen as an update to the Bitcoin protocols. In Bitcoin, the transfer of coins is recorded in a global ledger, the so-called blockchain. The validity of the latest transfers in the blockchain is verified about every ten minutes. Verifying the transfers and creating new blocks for the blockchain (the so-called mining) requires a lot of computing power, which is provided by distributed computers worldwide. The miners who allocate the processing power are rewarded with new coins.

Zcash is trying to resolve two main shortcomings of Bitcoin: its lack of privacy for transactions and the centralisation of transaction verification into the hands of a mere dozen miners who have invested in large amounts of specialised mining hardware: Bitcoin is prone to such centralisation because the computational load of the bitcoin mining algorithm can be split into many different small tasks, which can be conducted in parallel. The algorithm is easy to implement in dedicated, energy-efficient and cheap microchips, but not suited to standard hardware. Bitcoin mining today is therefore done on special-purpose supercomputers which are located in places with cheap electricity and/or cheap cooling. Such supercomputers are expensive, costing millions of euros, but provide much more mining power than if one were to use standard PC hardware of the same price.

New algorithm for cryptocurrency

Prof. Alex Biryukov, head of the research group Cryptolux and Dr. Dmitry Khovratovich at SnT have developed the algorithm Equihash which can resolve this problem. Equihash is a so called memory-hard problem, which can not be split up into smaller working packages. It can be more efficiently calculated on desktop-class computers with their multiple processing cores and gigabytes of memory than on special hardware chips. If 10.000 miners with a single PC were active, in Zcash the investment to compete with them would be 10.000 times the price of a PC, while with bitcoin, the investment would be significantly smaller, says Khovratovich. This creates a more democratic digital currency by allowing more users to contribute to the mining process. Khovratovich adds: The strength of a cryptocurrency comes from the fact that the ledger is globally distributed. Our Equihash algorithm reverses the situation back to this more ideal world.

Equihash was first presented at the Network and Distributed System Security Symposium last year one of the top-5 IT security events. Prof. Biryukov comments: Since Equihash is based on a fundamental computer science problem, advances in Equihash mining algorithms will benefit computer science in general. Equihash is so far unique among all the mining algorithms: it is memory-hard on the one hand and very easy to verify on the other. In other words, while mining new coins with Zcash/Equihash is comparatively expensive, hence posing a smaller risk of monopolisation because it requires large amounts of computer memory and hard computational work, checking that the new coins are genuine is memoryless, fast and cheap.

Understanding these advantages, the creators of Zcash chose Equihash as the algorithm for mining coins and verifying transfers. Equihash itself is not limited to use in Zcash and can be used in any cryptocurrency, including Bitcoin.

With our contribution to Zcash, the Cryptography and Security lab (CryptoLux) has shown its strength in innovative research that has immediate applications in the financial technology industry, says SnTs director, Prof. Bjrn Ottersten. We invite students to follow us in this promising field, adds Professor Biryukov: There are still lots of challenging research problems to solve.

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DNA Deceit? Genetic Testing and It’s Legitimacy – WLTX.com

Posted: at 5:48 am

Are those DNA tests you take accurate? Do they work?

Chuck Ringwalt, wltx 11:35 PM. EST February 08, 2017

D.N.A. Deceit? Genetic Testing and Its Legitamacy (Photo: Ringwalt, Charles)

Columbia, SC (WLTX) – It’s not unusual to want to learn more about yourself and after a few clicks online, you could be drowning in information. There are dozens of genetic tests offering the latest and greatest ways to answering your questions. You send them some salvia or a swab from your cheek and from that, they’ll analyze your D.N.A., but sometimes the results you get back aren’t definitive.

Richard Moody works at WLTX. He’s adopted and said he doesn’t have a desire to learn about his birth parents, but is interested in learning more about himself.

“Where did I originate? Where did our people, where did my people originate? And anything I could find out having to do for health reasons,” Moody said.

Moody turned to genetic testing. He first used Ancestry D.N.A and about a year later used 23andMe

With some of his saliva packed and shipped, he waited for the results. What he got back provided some answers, but also raised some questions.

“Yeah. It would have been really cool if they were identical. Then I would have gone, ‘Ah-Ha.’ Now I go, ‘Ehh,'” said Moody. Ancestry D.N.A estimated that his ancestry comprised mostly like those from Western Europe at 49 percent.

This included the countries of Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Liechtenstein.

23&Me estimated that Richard is also European, but not primarily Western. These result said Moody was British and Irish at 53.5 percent and only 13.6 percent French and German.

“When you see something and you’re going for information, it makes me a little uneasy just because they say two different things. From a broad perspective they say the same thing, but when you get granular, they go in opposite directions. 23&Me was a lot more granular,” Moody said.

“It’s good. It’s fun information, but you do have to look at it as just that and not necessarily something to hang your hat on,” Whitney Dobek said.

Dobek is a genetic counselor at the University of South Carolina’s School of Medicine.

“These labs will take a sample from an individual, get the DNA information on those regions, see what the patterns are of variation and then they will compare that to their reference and what we know from the research and be able to use algorithms and determine what percentage ancestry you might be and how likely it is that you might have blue eyes,” said Dobek.

Dobek admitted she’s also taken 23andMe test andsaid these types of services run digitally. She said there is no one looking through a microscope, but millions of pieces of data being run through hard drives. “The testing itself is very computerized. It’s done with this chip technology. That even our clinical genetic labs use and they’re able to quickly pull down all of your variants out of your D.N.A and upload that into a computer and do the comparisons that way,” she said. “The variation between the different labs has to do with the data that they are pulling from, so every lab has their own reference that they’re looking at and depending on which lab you’re pulling from, you’re going to get slightly different answers because they’re pulling from slightly different data and in addition to that they may be looking at slightly different variations within your D.N.A, so it’s not necessarily that your ancestry isn’t there. It just might be that that part of your D.N.A wasn’t looked at.”

And even though Moody said he has his reservations, he still very interested.

“You know, it’s not one hundred percent correct, but it is it’s absolutely noteworthy. It also says you’re not likely to have cheek dimples. Well I don’t, so it was right about that,” he said.

( 2017 WLTX)

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Britain tells Europe: Pay your fair share into NATO – CNNMoney

Posted: February 6, 2017 at 2:58 pm

May is expected to brief EU leaders on her recent trip to the United States, where she received assurances that President Trump is fully committed to NATO.

The push for more defense spending follows a warning from U.K. Defense Secretary Michael Fallon on the dangers of Russia’s military resurgence: Moscow’s recent aggression couldn’t be treated as “business as usual.”

NATO was designed to counter exactly such a threat. But Trump called the alliance “obsolete” during the presidential campaign and accused other members of not spending their fair share.

“We are spending a tremendous amount in NATO and other people proportionately less,” he said. “No good.”

When it comes to costs, Trump and May have a point. Only five of NATO’s 28 members — the U.S., Greece, Poland, Estonia and the U.K. — meet the alliance’s target of spending at least 2% of GDP on defense.

U.S. ambassador to UN hits Russia hard over Ukraine

The alliance increased overall defense spending for the first time in two decades in 2015, but the U.S. is still doing a lot of the heavy lifting. It spends the highest proportion of its GDP on defense: 3.61%.

The second biggest NATO spender in proportional terms is Greece, at 2.38%, according to NATO. The U.K. is third, at 2.2%. Meanwhile, Germany spent 1.19% last year, while France forked out 1.78%. Canada, Slovenia, Belgium, Spain and Luxembourg all spent less than 1%.

NATO admits it is overly dependent on the U.S. for the provision of essential capabilities, including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, air-to-air refueling, ballistic missile defense and airborne electronic warfare.

According to NATO statistics, the U.S. spent an estimated $664 billion on defense in 2016. That’s more than double the amount all the other 27 NATO countries spent between them, even though their combined GDP tops that of the U.S.

NATO is now pushing hard for the 2% guideline to be taken more seriously.

Back in 2014, all member countries that fall below the threshold committed to ramp up military spending to reach the target within a decade. Most countries are sticking with the promise: 12 increased their spending in 2014, and 16 did so in 2015. Last year, 22 countries spent more as a share of their national economic output.

Trump, China, Europe: Why 2017 is impossible to predict

Fear of Russian aggression is driving some of the splurge. Latvia, which shares a border with Russia, increased its defense spending by 42% in 2016. Its neighbor Lithuania boosted its outlays by 34%. Both, however, are still below the 2% threshold.

NATO is based on the principle of collective defense: an attack against one or more members is considered an attack against all. So far that has only been invoked once — in response to the September 11 attacks.

Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, Trump’s defense secretary, has described NATO as vital to U.S. national interests and security. Former ExxonMobil (XOM) CEO Rex Tillerson, who has been confirmed as secretary of state, has also defended the alliance.

CNNMoney (London) First published February 3, 2017: 6:11 AM ET

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European leaders shocked as Trump slams NATO and E.U …

Posted: January 23, 2017 at 7:55 am

BRUSSELS European leadersgrappled with the jolting reality of President-elect Donald Trumps skepticism of the European Union on Monday, saying they might have to stand without the United States at their side during the Trump presidency.

The possibility of an unprecedented breach in transatlantic relations came after Trump who embraced anti-E.U. insurgents during his campaign and following his victory said in weekend remarks that the 28-nation European Union was bound for a breakup and that he was indifferent to its fate. He also said NATOs current configuration is obsolete, even as he professed commitment to Europes defense.

Trumps attitudes have raised alarm bells across Europe, which is facinga wave of elections this year in which anti-immigrant, Euroskeptic leaders could gain power. Most mainstream leadershave committed to working with Trump after his inauguration Friday, even as they have expressed hope that he will moderate his views once he takes office. His continued hard line has created a painful realization in Europe that they may now haveto live without the full backing of their oldest, strongest partner. The European Union underpins much of the continents post-World War II prosperity, but skeptics have attacked it in recent years as a dysfunctional bloc that undermines finances and security.

We will cooperate with him on all levels, of course, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters in Berlin. But she said Europeans will need to take responsibility for themselves.

We Europeans have our destiny in our own hands, she said.

The full ramifications of apotentialbreakdown in transatlantic ties are so extensive, they are difficult to total. U.S. guarantees form the backbone of European security. The United States and the 500-million-people-strong European Union are each others most important trade partners. For decades, European nations and the United States have worked tightly together on issues of war, peace and wealth.

Trumpappears skeptical that the European Union matters to American security or economic growth.

People want their own identity, so if you ask me, others, I believe others will leave, Trump said of the European Unionina weekend interview with the Times of London and Germanys Bild newspaper. He said he did not care about the E.U.s future. I dont think it matters much for the United States, he said.

You look at the European Union, and its Germany. Basically a vehicle for Germany, Trump said, meaning Germany had used the free-trade bloc to sell its goods to the disadvantage of others. He added that Merkel had made a very catastrophic mistake in opening Europes doors to migrants and refugees.

And he offered no special credit to European nations for being long-standing U.S. allies, saying he will trust Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin alike at the outset of his presidency.

I start off trusting both, he said. But lets see how long that lasts. It may not last long at all.

Trump offered mixed messages about the NATO defense alliance, which is dominated by the United States, calling it obsolete and saying it is very unfair to the United States that most nations are not meeting their voluntary defense spending commitments. With that being said, NATO is very important to me, Trump said.

(Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post)

The Kremlin embraced Trumps comments, with a spokesman agreeing that NATO is obsolete. British leaders also welcomed Trumps willingness to negotiate a trade deal in the wake of their nations departure from the E.U.

But among most U.S. allies, Trumps attitudes caused astonishment and excitement, not just in Brussels, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters Monday in Brussels, where he was meeting with other European foreign ministers at a previously scheduled gathering. Coming directly from a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Steinmeier said NATO had listened to Trumps comments with concern.

The incoming U.S. president is the first American leader since World War II not to support European integration. The European Unionhas long been considered to be in the U.S. interest, since it created a unified market for U.S. businesses, provided a bulwark against communism during the Cold War and helped quell the bloody slaughter that cost U.S. lives, among others, in the first half of the 20th century. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, the European Union expanded eastward into formerly communist nations, a development that leaders there say helped bring rule of law and stability as they modernized their economies.

Steinmeier said Germany is trying to assess what U.S. foreign policy will actually be.For example, James Mattis, the retired Marine general nominated to be Trumps defense secretary, offered straightforward support for NATO and skepticism of Russia at his confirmation hearing last week.

Other leaders said Europes future does not rise or fall based on attitudes in the White House.

What we are looking for is a partnership based on common interests with the United States, E.U. foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told reporters. We always like to be in good company, but we determine our policies by ourselves.

Some analysts noted that after Britains vote last June to leave the European Union, support for the E.U. in other nations increased. They wondered whether Trumps frontal challenge to the bloc might have a similar effect. But one said that if global instability rises as a result of Trumps unpredictable policies, the stress could weigh on the already taxed European Union.

Over the last decades, the United States has played a huge stabilizing role. And when this stabilizing role of the U.S. around the world falls away, because theyre doing transactional deals, that will create lots and lots of messes which will implicate European interests, said Stefan Lehne, a former Austrian diplomat who now works at Carnegie Europe, a Brussels-based think tank.

One prominent U.S. advocate of European unity was concerned about Europes ability to weather the Trump tsunami.

As the European Union battles skeptical forces, U.S. cheerleading and support has been welcomed, outgoing U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Anthony Gardnersaid last week. If there isnt someone like a [Secretary of State John F.] Kerry or an Obama … reminding people of the importance of the European Union, then theres a vacuum.

French leaders, who face tough presidential elections in April, also appeared to be scrambling to handle the fallout. Trump allies have expressed support for the anti-E.U., anti-immigrant National Front party, whose leader, Marine Le Pen, is doing well in opinion polls. Le Pen lunched in the basement of Trump Tower last week in the company of a man who has served as an informal conduit for Trumps contacts with Euroskeptic European leaders, although the Trump transition team denied any formal meeting with the French politician.

The best response is European unity, said French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. As with the case of Brexit, the best way to defend Europe is to remain united. This is a bit of an invitation that we are making to Mr. Trump. To remain a bloc. Not to forget that the force of Europeans is in their unity.

But the most wishful approach to Trumps declarations may have come from Luxembourg, where the nations top diplomat said he hoped Trump was still in campaign mode.

One must hope that the statements of candidate Trump starting Friday will go in a different direction, said Luxembourgs foreign minister, Jean Asselborn. If the risks are summed up, it would be very destabilizing, which is not in the interest of America.

Stephanie Kirchner in Berlin contributed to this report.

Read more:

Trump officials might be expecting E.U. to fall apart this year

Meet the Donald Trumps of Europe

After Brexit and Trump, Europeans are liking the E.U. again

Todays coverage from Post correspondents around the world

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Slovakia (Slovak Republic) Fiscal Freedom | Economic …

Posted: November 19, 2016 at 10:38 am

Indicators Fiscal Freedom for Albania Fiscal Freedom for Algeria Fiscal Freedom for Angola Fiscal Freedom for Argentina Fiscal Freedom for Armenia Fiscal Freedom for Australia Fiscal Freedom for Austria Fiscal Freedom for Azerbaijan Fiscal Freedom for Bahamas Fiscal Freedom for Bahrain Fiscal Freedom for Bangladesh Fiscal Freedom for Barbados Fiscal Freedom for Belarus Fiscal Freedom for Belgium Fiscal Freedom for Belize Fiscal Freedom for Benin Fiscal Freedom for Bhutan Fiscal Freedom for Bolivia Fiscal Freedom for Bosnia and Herzegovina Fiscal Freedom for Botswana Fiscal Freedom for Brazil Fiscal Freedom for Brunei Darussalam Fiscal Freedom for Bulgaria Fiscal Freedom for Burkina Faso Fiscal Freedom for Burundi Fiscal Freedom for Cambodia Fiscal Freedom for Cameroon Fiscal Freedom for Canada Fiscal Freedom for Cape Verde Fiscal Freedom for Central African Republic Fiscal Freedom for Chad Fiscal Freedom for Chile Fiscal Freedom for China Fiscal Freedom for Colombia Fiscal Freedom for 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Freedom for Iceland Fiscal Freedom for India Fiscal Freedom for Indonesia Fiscal Freedom for Iran Fiscal Freedom for Ireland Fiscal Freedom for Israel Fiscal Freedom for Italy Fiscal Freedom for Ivory Coast Fiscal Freedom for Jamaica Fiscal Freedom for Japan Fiscal Freedom for Jordan Fiscal Freedom for Kazakhstan Fiscal Freedom for Kenya Fiscal Freedom for Kiribati Fiscal Freedom for Korea Fiscal Freedom for Kosovo Fiscal Freedom for Kuwait Fiscal Freedom for Kyrgyzstan Fiscal Freedom for Laos Fiscal Freedom for Latvia Fiscal Freedom for Lebanon Fiscal Freedom for Lesotho Fiscal Freedom for Liberia Fiscal Freedom for Lithuania Fiscal Freedom for Luxembourg Fiscal Freedom for Macau Fiscal Freedom for Macedonia Fiscal Freedom for Madagascar Fiscal Freedom for Malawi Fiscal Freedom for Malaysia Fiscal Freedom for Maldives Fiscal Freedom for Mali Fiscal Freedom for Malta Fiscal Freedom for Mauritania Fiscal Freedom for Mauritius Fiscal Freedom for Mexico Fiscal Freedom for Micronesia Fiscal Freedom for Moldova Fiscal Freedom for Mongolia Fiscal Freedom for Montenegro Fiscal Freedom for Morocco Fiscal Freedom for Mozambique Fiscal Freedom for Myanmar Fiscal Freedom for Namibia Fiscal Freedom for Nepal Fiscal Freedom for Netherlands Fiscal Freedom for New Zealand Fiscal Freedom for Nicaragua Fiscal Freedom for Niger Fiscal Freedom for Nigeria Fiscal Freedom for North Korea Fiscal Freedom for Norway Fiscal Freedom for Oman Fiscal Freedom for Pakistan Fiscal Freedom for Panama Fiscal Freedom for Papua New Guinea Fiscal Freedom for Paraguay Fiscal Freedom for Peru Fiscal Freedom for Philippines Fiscal Freedom for Poland Fiscal Freedom for Portugal Fiscal Freedom for Qatar Fiscal Freedom for Romania Fiscal Freedom for Russia Fiscal Freedom for Rwanda Fiscal Freedom for Saint Lucia Fiscal Freedom for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Fiscal Freedom for Samoa Fiscal Freedom for Sao Tome and Principe Fiscal Freedom for Saudi Arabia Fiscal Freedom for Senegal Fiscal Freedom for Serbia Fiscal Freedom for Seychelles Fiscal Freedom for Sierra Leone Fiscal Freedom for Singapore Fiscal Freedom for Slovakia Fiscal Freedom for Slovenia Fiscal Freedom for Solomon Islands Fiscal Freedom for South Africa Fiscal Freedom for Spain Fiscal Freedom for Sri Lanka Fiscal Freedom for Suriname Fiscal Freedom for Swaziland Fiscal Freedom for Sweden Fiscal Freedom for Switzerland Fiscal Freedom for Taiwan Fiscal Freedom for Tajikistan Fiscal Freedom for Tanzania Fiscal Freedom for Thailand Fiscal Freedom for Timor Leste (East Timor) Fiscal Freedom for Togo Fiscal Freedom for Tonga Fiscal Freedom for Trinidad and Tobago Fiscal Freedom for Tunisia Fiscal Freedom for Turkey Fiscal Freedom for Turkmenistan Fiscal Freedom for Uganda Fiscal Freedom for Ukraine Fiscal Freedom for United Arab Emirates Fiscal Freedom for United Kingdom Fiscal Freedom for United States Fiscal Freedom for Uruguay Fiscal Freedom for Uzbekistan Fiscal Freedom for Vanuatu Fiscal Freedom for Venezuela Fiscal Freedom for Vietnam Fiscal Freedom for Zambia Fiscal Freedom for Zimbabwe

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NATO bolsters presence in Europe

Posted: October 27, 2016 at 11:58 am

In the largest buildup of troops in the region since the Cold War, the UK has said it will send Royal Air Force Typhoon jets to Romania for up to four months in 2017.

Defense Secretary Michael Fallon also confirmed that 800 personnel will be moved to Estonia, 150 more than originally planned.

“Backed by a rising defense budget, this deployment of air, land and sea forces shows that we will continue to play a leading role in NATO, supporting the defense and security of our allies from the north to the south of the alliance,” Fallon said.

On Wednesday, Russia withdrew a request for a flotilla of warships, including its flagship aircraft carrier the Admiral Kuznetsov, to refuel in the Spanish port of Ceuta as the ships head toward Syria.

In a statement, Spain’s foreign affairs ministry said Russia withdrew the request after the ministry had asked the Russian Embassy in Madrid to clarify reports the flotilla might participate in military operations against the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo.

The Russian role in the Syrian conflict has exacerbated tensions between Moscow and NATO that have risen since Russia’s annexation of the Crimea region from Ukraine in 2014.

On Wednesday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that recent tactics by Moscow had forced the alliance to respond.

“Russia has tripled defense spending,” Stoltenberg told reporters.

“Russia has invested heavily in a modern military equipment. They are conducting a large-scale, no-notice exercises close to NATO borders, but perhaps most importantly Russia has been willing to use military force against neighbors.

“We have seen that in Georgia and we have seen it in Ukraine with illegal annexation of Crimea and the continued destabilization of eastern Ukraine. So therefore NATO has to respond. ”

NATO defense ministers met Wednesday in Brussels, Belgium, to discuss the situation as well as the fight against ISIS.

The latest troop deployment comes at a time of fear over the security of Baltic states such as Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, which have significant Russian-speaking minorities like Ukraine and concerns that they could suffer a similar fate to Crimea’s.

Poland has already registered unease over Russia’s move to bolster military options in its Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad, including the arrival of the Iskander missile system.

Poland’s paramilitary defense has grown rapidly, with more than 35,000 people signing up and undergoing military training. They range from high school students to lawyers and doctors.

The United States and the UK are both set to send troops to Poland next year in a show of strength and support of their NATO ally.

“NATO does not seek confrontation with Russia,” Stoltenberg said.

“We don’t want a new Cold War, and we don’t want a new arms race and therefore, what NATO does is defensive and it is proportionate.

“At the same time, NATO has to react when we, over a long period of time, have seen a substantial military buildup by Russia and we have seen them modernize their military capabilities and most importantly, we have seen them willing to use military force against neighbors.”

In July, the UK said it would deliver one of four battalions to NATO’s enhanced forward presence in the Baltic states and Poland.

According to the Ministry of Defense, the deployment is likely to include “armored Infantry, equipped with Warrior armored fighting vehicles, tactical UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), and a troop of our Challenger 2 main battle tanks.”

UK troops are expected to begin their deployment in Estonia in May.

NATO has also said that Albania, Italy, Poland and Slovenia will contribute to a Canadian-led battalion in Latvia.

Belgium, Croatia, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Norway will join a German-led battalion in Lithuania, while Denmark and France will contribute to the UK-led battalion in Estonia.

Romania and the UK will join the US-led battalion in Poland.

The initiative will include putting equipment in place in the Baltic states, Poland and Central Europe.

On Monday, Norway announced that US Marines would be deployed in the country, beginning in January.

Norway shares a 196-kilometer (122-mile) border with Russia.

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Member states of NATO – Wikipedia

Posted: October 23, 2016 at 4:22 am

NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) is an international alliance that consists of 28 member states from North America and Europe. It was established at the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty on 4 April 1949. Article Five of the treaty states that if an armed attack occurs against one of the member states, it should be considered an attack against all members, and other members shall assist the attacked member, with armed forces if necessary.[1]

Of the 28 member countries, two are located in North America (Canada and the United States) and 25 are European countries while Turkey is in Eurasia. All members have militaries, except for Iceland which does not have a typical army (but does, however, have a coast guard and a small unit of civilian specialists for NATO operations). Three of NATO’s members are nuclear weapons states: France, the United Kingdom, and the United States. NATO has 12 original founding member nation states, and from 18 February 1952 to 6 May 1955, it added 3 more member nations, and a fourth on 30 May 1982. After the end of the Cold War, NATO added 12 more member nations (10 former Warsaw Pact members and 2 former Yugoslav republics) from 12 March 1999 to 1 April 2009.

NATO has added new members six times since its founding in 1949, and since 2009 NATO has had 28 members. Twelve countries were part of the founding of NATO: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In 1952, Greece and Turkey became members of the Alliance, joined later by West Germany (in 1955) and Spain (in 1982). In 1990, with the reunification of Germany, NATO grew to include the former country of East Germany. Between 1994 and 1997, wider forums for regional cooperation between NATO and its neighbors were set up, including the Partnership for Peace, the Mediterranean Dialogue initiative and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. In 1997, three former Warsaw Pact countries, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland, were invited to join NATO. After this fourth enlargement in 1999, the Vilnius group of The Baltics and seven East European countries formed in May 2000 to cooperate and lobby for further NATO membership. Seven of these countries joined in the fifth enlargement in 2004. Albania and Croatia joined in the sixth enlargement in 2009.

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GRE revised General Test: Find Your Format

Posted: September 11, 2016 at 5:30 pm


– Select – Afghanistan Albania Algeria American Samoa Angola Antigua And Barbuda Argentina Armenia Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia Bosnia & Herzegovina Botswana Brazil Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Cambodia Cameroon Canada Chad Chile China Colombia Comoros Congo – Drc (Formerly Zaire) Congo, (Republic) Costa Rica Cote D’ivoire (Ivory Coast) Croatia Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica, Commonwealth Of Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Fiji Finland France Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Greece Grenada Guam Guatemala Guinea Guyana Haiti Honduras Hong Kong Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran Iraq Ireland Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Korea (Rok) Kosovo Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Latvia Lebanon Liberia Libya Lithuania Luxembourg Macau Macedonia, Fmr Yugoslav Rep Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Marshall Islands Mauritania Mauritius Mexico Micronesia, Federated States Of Moldova Mongolia Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nepal Netherlands New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Northern Mariana Islands Norway Oman Pakistan Palau Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Poland Portugal Puerto Rico Qatar Romania Russia Rwanda Samoa Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Sierra Leone Singapore Slovak Republic Slovenia South Africa Spain Sri Lanka St. Kitts And Nevis St. Lucia Sudan Suriname Sweden Switzerland Syria Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tonga Trinidad/Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Of America Uruguay US Virgin Islands Uzbekistan Venezuela Vietnam West Bank Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe

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GRE revised General Test: Find Your Format

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NATO – Wikipedia, den frie encyklopdi

Posted: July 29, 2016 at 3:08 am

NATO (engelsk: North Atlantic Treaty Organization) eller p fransk: OTAN (Organisation du Trait de l’Atlantique Nord) er en international organisation for politisk og militrt forsvarssamarbejde omkring den nordlige del af Atlanterhavet, som blev etableret i 1949 med de allierede krigspartnere USA, Storbritannien og Frankrig som de drivende krfter.

Landene er forpligtet til at forsvare hinanden i tilflde af, at de skulle blive angrebet. Derudover arrangerer NATO ofte strre, militre velser for medlemslandene. NATO deltager desuden med styrker i krigshrgede lande, fx Afghanistan.

Da man etablerede NATO, var der 12 lande med. Disse lande var Belgien, Canada, Danmark, Frankrig, Holland, Island, Italien, Luxembourg, Norge, Portugal, Storbritannien og USA. Senere er NATO blevet udvidet med flere medlemslande. Den sidste store udvidelse skete i 2004, hvor blandt andet en rkke af de tidligere Warszawapagt-lande blev indlemmet i NATO.

Bruxelles-Traktaten, der blev underskrevet 11. marts 1948 af Belgien, Holland, Luxembourg, Frankrig og Storbritannien, anses for at vre forgngeren til NATO aftalen. Denne traktat etablerede en militr alliance, der kaldtes Vestunionen eller WEU.[1] Men amerikansk deltagelse blev anset for ndvendig, hvis man skulle kunne matche Sovjetunionens militre styrke, og derfor begyndte forberedelsen af en ny, militr alliance hurtigt efter traktatens vedtagelse.[2]

Resultatet blev den Nordatlantiske Traktat, der blev udarbejdet af Lester B. Pearson og underskrevet i Washington D.C. 4. april 1949. Traktaten inkluderede de fem lande, der havde underskrevet Bruxelles-Traktaten, samt USA, Canada, Portugal, Italien, Norge, Danmark og Island.[3] Tre r senere, 18. februar 1952, underskrev ogs Grkenland og Tyrkiet aftalen. P grund af deres geografiske beliggenhed kunne Australien og New Zealand ikke vre med i alliancen, og i stedet blev ANZUS aftalen indget mellem de to lande og USA.[4]

I 1954 foreslog Sovjetunionen, at den skulle indg i NATO-alliancen for at bevare fred i Europa. NATO-landene ngtede dog dette, da de s det som et forsg p at oplse NATO indefra.

Indlemmelsen af Vesttyskland i NATO 9. maj 1955 blev beskrevet som “et afgrende vendepunkt i vort kontinents historie” af Norges davrende udenrigsminister Halvard Lange.[5] Et af de jeblikkelige resultater var da ogs oprettelsen af Warszawapagten, der blev underskrevet 14. maj 1955 af Sovjetunionen og dens satellitstater. Dermed var de to parter i den kolde krig endeligt etableret.

NATO’s sammenhold blev brudt allerede tidligt i alliancens historie med en krise under Charles de Gaulles tid som prsident i Frankrig fra 1958 og frem. De Gaulle protestererede mod det, han mente var USA’s hegemonistiske rolle i organisationen, og det han s som et specielt forhold mellem USA og Storbritannien. I et memorandum, han sendte til USA’s prsident Eisenhower og den britiske premierminister Harold Macmillan 17. september 1958, argumenterede han for en ligestilling af USA, Storbritannien og Frankrig, og for at NATO’s dkning skulle udvides til ogs at omfatte franske geografiske interesseomrder.

Charles de Gaulle ans svaret p sit memorandum som utilfredsstillende og begyndte at arbejde for et uafhngigt, fransk forsvar. Frankrig trak sin middelhavsflde ud af NATO kommandoen 11. marts 1959 og arbejdede henimod et selvstndigt atomvbenprogram.

I juni 1959 forbd de Gaulle al udstationering af udenlandske atomvben p fransk jord, og USA trak 200 militrfly ud af Frankrig. Dermed blev 26th Tactical Reconnaisance Wing, der tidligere var baseret i Tol-Rosires luftbasen, relokeret til Ramstein Air Base i Vesttyskland, og Tol-Rosires blev givet tilbage til Frankrig i 1967. Mellem 1950 og 1967 drev det amerikanske luftvben ti strre baser i Frankrig. 13. februar 1960 afprvede Frankrig sin frste atombombe, Gerboise Bleue.

Selv om Frankrig udviste solidaritet med resten af NATO under Cubakrisen i 1962, fortsatte de Gaulle sine bestrbelser for et selvstndigt fransk forsvar ved ogs at trkke de franske atlanterhavs- og kanalflder ud af den integrerede NATO kommando. I 1966 blev de franske, vbnede styrker ogs trukket ud af NATO’s integrerede kommando, og alle udenlandske tropper blev bedt om at forlade Frankrig. Frankrig fortsatte dog som medlem af den politiske alliance. Frankrigs nej til udenlandske tropper resulterede i, at NATO’s europiske overkommando (SHAPE) blev flyttet fra Paris til Casteau, nord for Mons i Belgien 16. oktober 1967.[6] Frankrig trdte igen ind i NATO’s militre kommando i 1993.

Skabelsen af NATO havde som konsekvens, at der blev brug for en standardisering af militr teknologi. Standardiseringen skete gennem STANAG aftalen, der blandt andet resulterede i en flles kaliber for militre hndvben, flles procedurer for militre lufthavne og en rkke andre standardiseringer. Der blev ogs brug for en flles militr strategi. Den blev sikret gennem flles kommando, kontrol og kommunikationscentre.

Under det meste af den kolde krig optrdte NATO ikke som organisation i bne militre konflikter. 1. juli 1968 blev Traktaten om ikke-spredning af kernevben bnet for underskrifter.

30. maj 1978 definerede NATO landene to yderligere ml for alliancen: At opretholde sikkerheden og arbejde for afspnding. Dette skulle gres ved at tilpasse alliancens militre magt til Warszawapagtens offensive formen uden at starte et vbenkaplb.

12. december 1979 efter at warszawapagtlandene havde get deres atomvbenkapacitet i Europa, blev yderligere amerikanske atomvben deployeret i Europa. De nye vben skulle styrke Vestens forhandlingsposition i forhandlingerne om nedrustning. Beslutningen blev kaldt Dobbeltbeslutningen, fordi den egentlig indeholdt to beslutninger. Man ville tilbyde Sovjetunionen nedrustningsforhandlinger, men samtidig opruste, hvis ikke disse forhandlinger frte til noget. I 1983-1984 blev der i forbindelse med denne beslutning opstillet amerikanske Pershing II raketter i Europa som svar p Warszawapagtlandenes oprustning med SS-20 mellemdistanceraketter i Europa. Pershing II raketterne var i stand til at n Moskva p f minutter. Denne oprustning frte til protester fra fredsbevgelserne i Vesteuropa.

I denne periode var der ikke de store ndringer i NATO’s sammenstning. I 1974 trak Grkenland sine tropper vk fra NATO kommandoen, og 30. maj 1982 blev Spanien indlemmet i alliancen. Efter grsk-tyrkiske spndinger efter striden om Cypern i 1974 blev de grske styrker igen underlagt NATO kommandoen i 1980 i samarbejde med Tyrkiet.

I november 1983 skabte NATO-velsen Able Archer 83 panik i Kreml. velsen simulerede et atomvbenangreb mod Sovjet. Det sovjetiske lederskab blev bekymret for, at den amerikanske prsident Ronald Reagan havde planlagt at starte et rigtigt angreb. Som reaktion blev de sovjetiske atomvbenstyrker i sttyskland og Polen sat i alarmberedskab. Selvom Sovjetunionens reaktion i samtiden blev udlagt som propaganda, mener mange historikere, at den sovjetiske frygt for et angreb var gte.

24. oktober 1990 afslrede den italienske premierminister, Giulio Andreotti, eksistensen af Gladio, en hemmelig, paramilitr milits, hvis officielle ml var at udkmpe en guerillakrig bag fjendens linjer i tilflde af et angreb fra warszawapagtlandene. Andreotti fortalte det italienske parlament, at NATO lnge i det skjulte havde trnet partisaner til dette forml.[7][8][9]

Gladio programmet var tilsyneladende aktivt i alle europiske NATO-lande og nogle neutrale lande. Emnet er specielt kontroversielt i Italien, hvor en rapport i 2000 konkluderede, at Gladio havde vret involveret i nyfascistisk terrorisme, der skulle mindske kommunistisk, politisk indflydelse i landet.[10][11]

Afslutningen p den kolde krig og oplsningen af Warszawapagten i 1991 fjernede NATO’s primre modstander. Dette gav anledning til en strategisk revaluering af NATO’s forml og opgaver. I praksis medfrte det en gradvis (og stadig igangvrende) ekspansion af NATO i steuropa og en udvidelse af aktiviteter til en rkke omrder, der ikke tidligere havde vret NATO’s arbejdsomrder. Den frste udvidelse af NATO efter den kolde krig skete med genforeningen af Tyskland 3. oktober 1990 efter Berlinmurens fald. Det tidligere sttyskland blev en del af Tyskland og dermed ogs af NATO alliancen. For at sikre en sovjetisk godkendelse af et forenet Tyskland, der fortsat var en del af NATO, blev det aftalt, at udenlandske tropper og atomvben ikke mtte udstationeres i sttyskland, og at NATO aldrig ville blive udvidet lngere stp.[12]

28. februar 1994 deltog NATO for frste gang i ben kamp, da fire serbiske fly blev skudt ned efter at have brudt et flyveforbud over Bosnien-Hercegovina der var beordret af FN. NATO hndhvede flyveforbuddet, der var startet 12. april 1993 og sluttede 20. december 1995. NATO’s luftangreb i 1995 hjalp med til at afslutte krigen p Balkan.

Mellem 1994 og 1997 dannede NATO flere fora for regionalt samarbejde mellem NATO og alliancens naboer, for eksempel Partnerskab for fred og Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. 8. juli 1997 blev tre tidligere kommunistiske lande, Ungarn, Tjekkiet og Polen inviteret til at deltage i NATO alliancen og blev formelt indlemmet i 1999.

24. marts 1999 deltog NATO i den frste strre konflikt i alliancens historie, da NATO styrker gik ind i Kosovokrigen med en 11 uger lang luftkampagne mod dele af det davrende Jugoslavien (nuvrende Serbien). En formel krigserklring fandt aldrig sted. De serbiske jugoslaver kaldte Kosovokrigen for militr aggression og imod FN-charteret.[13]

Konflikten sluttede 11. juni 1999, da Slobodan Miloevi bjede sig for NATO’s krav og accepterede resolution 1244.[14] Nato hjalp derefter med at etablere KFOR, en NATO ledet styrke under FN mandat, der varetager sikkerheden i Kosovo.

NATO’s ekspansion, aktiviteter og geografiske dkning er blevet forget yderligere efter terrorangrebet 11. september 2001. Angrebet frte til, at NATO chartrets artikel 5 blev taget i brug. Artikel 5 siger, at et angreb p en medlemsstat anses for et angreb p alle alliancens medlemmer. 4. oktober 2001 fastslog NATO endeligt, at angrebet var dkket af artikel 5.[15]

Angrebet medfrte de frste militre aktioner begrundet med artikel 5 i NATO’s historie: Operation Eagle Assist og Operation Active Endeavour.

P trods af denne hurtige, solidariske reaktion stod NATO snart over for en krise. 10. februar 2003 nedlagde Frankrig og Belgien veto mod planer om at forsvare Tyrkiet i tilflde af en krig med Irak. Begrundelsen var, at sdanne planer ville sende et signal om, at forhandlingerne med Irak havde slet fejl.[16] Tyskland brugte ikke sin veto-ret, men stttede alligevel Frankrigs og Belgiens veto.

I sprgsmlet om Afghanistan udviste alliancen til gengld strre sammenhold. 16. april 2003 enedes NATO landene om at tage kommandoen over International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) i Afghanistan. Forslaget blev fremsat af Tyskland og Holland, de to lande der ledte ISAF, og alle 19 NATO ambassadrer godkendte beslutningen enstemmigt. ISAF kom under NATO’s kontrol 11. august. Det var frste gang i NATO’s historie, at alliancen styrede en militr operation uden for Europa.[17]

31. juli 2006 overtog en NATO-ledet styrke bestende af tropper fra Canada, Storbritannien, Tyrkiet, Danmark og Holland de militre operationer i det sydlige Afghanistan fra en amerikansk ledet styrke.[18]

Nye NATO strukturer blev skabt, og gamle nedlagt. NATO’s reaktionsstyrke, NATO Response Force (NRF), blev dannet efter NATO topmdet i Prag 21. november 2002.[19]19. juni 2003 startede en strre omstrukturering af de militre NATO kommandoer, da hovedkvarteret for Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic blev nedlagt og en ny kommando, Allied Command Transformation (ACT) blev oprettet i Norfolk i Virginia i USA. Samtidig blev Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) ogs hovedkvarter for Allied Command Operations (ACO). ACT er ansvarlig for at transformere NATO til fremtidige opgaver, mens ACO er ansvarlig for militre operationer.[20]

Udvidelsen med nye medlemslande fortsatte, og syv nye lande blev indlemmet i NATO: Estland, Letland, Litauen, Slovakiet, Slovenien, Bulgarien og Rumnien.[21] Disse lande blev inviteret til forhandlinger om medlemskab ved NATO topmdet i Prag i 2002 og blev optaget i NATO 29. marts 2004. Udvidelsen var den strste i NATO’s historie.[22]

En rkke andre lande har ogs udtrykt nske om at blive optaget i NATO, blandt andet Albanien, Kroatien, Den Tidligere Jugoslaviske Republik Makedonien, Georgien og Montenegro.

Rusland mener, at NATO’s udvidelser mod st siden slutningen p den kolde krig har vret en klar overtrdelse af en aftale mellem den sovjetiske leder Mikhail Gorbatjov og George H.W. Bush, der tillod en fredelig genforening af Tyskland. NATO’s ekspansionspolitik bliver set som en fortsttelse af den kolde krigs forsg p at omringe og isolere Rusland.[23][24][25]

Artikel 10 af den Nordatlantiske Traktat gr det muligt for ikke-medlemslande at blive optaget i NATO:

Artikel 10 stter to generelle begrnsninger for kommende medlemsstater:

I 1999 blev der fastsat en procedure for optagelsen af fremtidige medlemslande, Membership Action Plan (MAP). Et potentielt medlemsland skal rligt rapportere om sine fremskridt inden for fem omrder:[27]

NATO giver feedback og teknisk rdgivning til det enkelte land og evaluerer dets fremskridt.[28]

Det er usandsynligt, at NATO skulle invitere lande som Irland, Sverige, Finland, strig og Schweiz til medlemskab, fordi befolkningen og de valgte regeringer i disse lande ikke sttter et medlemskab i NATO. NATO anerkender officielt disse landes neutralitetspolitik.

Der er blevet etableret to fora, der skal fremme fremtidigt samarbejde mellem de 28 NATO-lande og 21 skaldte “partnerlande.”

De 21 partnerlande er:

Den Individuelle Partnerskabshandlingsplan (IPAP), der s dagens lys ved NATO topmdet i Prag i 2002, er ben for lande, der har den politiske vilje til at ge deres samarbejde med NATO.[31][32]

IPAP handleplaner er oprettet med disse lande:

Middelhavsdialogen der blev startet i 1994, er et forum for samarbejde mellem NATO og syv lande i Middelhavsomrdet.

I 2004 styrkedes Middelhavsdialogen p et topmde i Istanbul, og blev hvad NATO kalder et “gte partnerskab,” med en rkke nye ml: Styrkelse af den politiske dialog, strre interoperabilitet, en forsvarsreform og terrorbekmpelse.[33]

NATO samarbejder med Rusland i NATO-Rusland Rdet, der blev etableret i maj 2002.[34]

Filippinerne har lnge vret allieret med USA. Filippinerne fik betegnelsen “strre ikke-NATO allieret” 6. oktober 2003, hvilket tillod USA og Filippinerne at samarbejde om militr forskning og udvikling. I april 2005 indgik Australien, der lnge har vret allieret med USA, en sikkerhedsaftale med NATO, der skulle ge efterretningssamarbejdet i krigen mod terrorisme. Australien har ogs en forsvarsattach posteret i NATO’s hovedkvarter.[35] Samarbejde med Japan, El Salvador, Sydkorea og New Zealand er ogs blevet udtrykt som vrende en prioritet.[36] Israel er med i middelhavsdialogen og har sgt at udvide sit samarbejde med NATO. Israel blev for frste gang besgt af en NATO-leder 23. februar 24. februar 2005.[37] Den frste flles fldevelse mellem NATO og Israel fandt sted 27. marts 2005.[38] I juni samme r deltog israelske tropper i NATO velser.

Flere har talt for, at Israel optages i NATO-alliancen, blandt andet Spaniens tidligere premierminister, Jos Mara Aznar og den italienske forsvarsminister Antonio Martino. Men NATO’s generalsekretr Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, afviste i september 2006 at et Israelsk medlemskab kan komme p tale. Israel har heller ikke sgt om en optagelse i NATO.[39]

Som alle alliancer styres NATO i sidste ende af sine 28 medlemslande. Den Nordatlantiske Traktat, og andre aftaler, faststter rammer for hvordan beslutninger tages i NATO. Hver af de 28 medlemslande sender en delegation, eller mission, til NATO’s hovedkvarter i Bruxelles i Belgien. Lederen af hver delegation kaldes “den permanente reprsentant” og er normalt en hjtrangerende embedsmand eller erfaren ambassadr. Den permanente reprsentant har diplomatisk status af ambassadr.

Sammen udgr de permanente reprsentanter det Nordatlantiske Rd (NAC), et organ der mdes mindst en gang om ugen og har den politiske beslutningsmagt inden for NATO. Der er ogs jvnlige mder i rdet med deltagelse af udenrigsministre, forsvarsministre eller regeringsledere, og det er ved disse mder, store beslutninger om NATO’s politik normalt bliver taget. Det skal dog bemrkes, at rdet har samme politiske beslutningsmagt, ligegyldigt hvilket niveau mderne foregr p.

Mderne i det Nordatlantiske Rd ledes af NATO’s generalsekretr, og nr beslutninger skal trffes, trffes beslutningerne enstemmigt. Der stemmes ikke, og der kan ikke tages beslutninger ud fra flertallets nsker.[41]

Et andet medlem af hvert lands NATO-delegation er den militre reprsentant, en hjtrangerende officer fra det enkelte lands militr. Sammen udgr de militre reprsentanter den Militre Komit,[42] et organ, der er ansvarligt for at udarbejde anbefalinger til det politiske organ i militre sprgsml. Til tider holder rdet ogs mder med landenes forsvarschefer.

NATO’s Parlamentariske Forsamling (NPA) udgres af reprsentanter fra medlemslandene og reprsentanter fra 13 partnerlande.[43] Officielt er forsamlingen ikke en del af NATO’s politiske struktur og har som arbejdsomrde at samle NATO lande til diskussioner om sikkerhedspolitik.

NATO’s militre operationer ledes af to strategiske ledere, begge hjtstende officerer fra USA’s militr, assisteret af en stab, der udgres af medlemmer fra hele NATO. De strategiske ledere er underlagt den Militre Komit.

Fr 2003 var de strategiske ledere verste, allierede leder i Europa (SACEUR) og den verste allierede leder for Atlanten (SACLANT). Under den nuvrende ordning er den samlede kommando delt mellem to kommandocentre, Allied Command Transformation (ACT), der er ansvarlig for udvikling og trning af NATO-styrkerne, og Allied Command Operations, der er ansvarlig for NATO’s militre operationer p verdensplan. Lederen af Allied Command Operations har beholdt titlen SACEUR, og hovedkvarteret er stadig SHAPE, der ligger i Belgien. ACT derimod ligger i det tidligere SACLANT hovedkvarter i Norfolk i Virginia, USA.

Stillingen som chef for Allied Command Europe, der siden 2003 har heddet Allied Command Operations, er blevet besat af flgende:[45]

Note: Fra Ridgways tid har SACEUR ogs vret chef for United States European Command


Koordinater: 505234N 42519 / 50.876155555556N 4.4220111111111 / 50.876155555556; 4.4220111111111

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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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