Kyrgyzstan celebrated Defenders of the Fatherland day yesterday, February 23rd. The holiday was originally created during the Soviet Union, and though it is dedicated to all those who have fought, its main focus is on those who served during World War II. The focus has changed somewhat, since compulsory military service in the Soviet Union meant that all men served in the army. Today, people use the holiday to celebrate all men.
President Almazbek Atambaev and many local companies have released statements celebrating men, especially those who served. Atambaev said, “Today, we bow before the great feat achieved by the veterans of World War II, and before the brave soldiers who fought in other wars. We honor all those who dedicated their lives to the Fatherland.”
February 23rd was an official holiday, with many getting a day off work in honor of the men and the fighters among us.
A preliminary report detailing the causes of January 16th’s fatal crash was released. The report, released on the site Airdisaster.ru, gives a first glimpse into the morning before a Boeing cargo plane crashed into a village near Bishkek’s airport.
The report details the heavy fog in the region that morning, conditions which made air travel difficult, though not impossible. The main issue seems to be that the pilots missed the point where they needed to start crucial parts of their descent. As they were descending, the thick fog made it impossible to refer to key markers on the ground, which would have helped the pilots correct their course. Instead, the plane landed about 900 meters past the end of the runway, and 60 meters to the right, resulting in 34 deaths, including 4 crew members aboard the plane.
Other official investigations are still underway, and help to survivors and families is still being determined.
Muslim religious leaders in Russia are considering offering some of the quota for the Umrah to Kyrgyz migrants. The Umrah, also known as the lesser pilgrimage, can be completed at any point in the year. Russia is allowed around 20,000 migrants, while Kyrgyzstan is only allowed 4,500. Reserving some of the Russian spots for legal migrants from Kyrgyzstan would make it easier for these migrants to complete the Hajj, as they wouldn’t need to travel back to Kyrgyzstan to apply for the necessary documents.
This custom, already in place for labor migrants in certain parts of Europe, will need to be approved by Saudi Arabia before it can be confirmed.
NASA has released new information about seven new Earth-like exoplanets, one of the largest recent discoveries of this kind. These new planets are located about 40 light years from Earth, rotating around an ultra-cool dwarf star. The system has been named TRAPPIST-1, after the telescope that detected the first three planets. Other telescopes and scientists have determined that there are in fact seven planets in the system, and three of the planets appear to be in the habitable zone. This means that they could be supporting life.
So far, what we know is that the seven planets are quite close together, and that they are quite close to their star. Since the star is much cooler than our own sun, this means that they are not too hot to host life. The planets appear to be rocky, but further research will be needed to determine if they have water or atmospheres.
Azerbaijan’s President, Ilham Aliyev, has appointed the first vice president for the country. A constitutional referendum in September allowed Aliyev to select several vice presidents, as long as they meet requirements set out in the motion. Aliyev’s choice for first vice president – his wife, Mehriban Aliyeva. She was born in Baku to a wealthy and powerful family, and attended medical school and became a practicing eye doctor. She runs the Heydar Aliev Foundation, an organization founded in honor of her father-in-law. In 2005, she was elected to parliament, though observers say she is rarely present and shows a lack of knowledge about political affairs.
She is now next in line for the office of president, should anything happen to her husband.
South Korea is trying to lure the best hockey players for their Olympic team. The 2018 Winter Olympics will be hosted in Pyeongchang, which means that South Korea automatically has a spot in the hockey tournaments. However, hockey is not a popular sport in a country where figure skating reigns on the ice, which means that there is a definite lack of top-tier players for the national team.
To help fill these spots, South Korea is offering all-expenses-paid trips for top college players in North America, and even offering citizenship. Some players have Korean heritage, while others don’t. Some even thought that these offers were a scam or too good to be true.
The journey to the Olympics is a little bit stranger now for the players who have accepted. Some are struggling to get used to their new roles and passports, while others are embracing new teammates and new cultures. South Korea is still the underdog when it comes to the hockey championships, but they’re hoping to become the underdog favorite.