EUROPE AND BEYOND
1. Poland, Lithuania and Latvia consider triggering NATO’s
Poland is in talks with Lithuania and Latvia on whether to ask for consultations under NATO’s Article 4 to discuss the crisis at the Polish-Belarusian border, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said in November 2021.
NATO should take “concrete steps” to resolve the migrant crisis on the Belarus border, Morawiecki told Polish Press Agency.
“It is not enough just for us to publicly express our concern – now we need concrete steps and the commitment of the entire alliance,” he added.
[…] Article 4 calls for consultation over military matters when “the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the parties is threatened”.
[…] Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland called an Article 4 meeting in March 2014 in response to the Crimean crisis, but the article was not triggered.
According to NATO sources, the security situation at their borders under the alliance’s Article 4 could be discussed in their next ministerial meeting in early December.
2. Poland’s Kaczynski admits country bought Pegasus but denies spying on opponents
The leader of Poland’s ruling party has admitted that the country bought Pegasus spyware but has denied that it was used to target political opponents.
In an interview, Jaroslaw Kaczynski stated that security services in many countries have used the sofware to combat crime and corruption.
Poland’s government has faced intense pressure this week to investigate claims that Pegasus was illegally used to hack opposition politicians.
3. CO2 emissions in Germany are increasing. In 2021, it amounted to 772 million tons.
It is becoming increasingly difficult for the Federal Republic to meet its greenhouse gas emission target.”Due to the increase in emissions in 2021, to achieve the 2030 target, we will now have to save an average of 37 million tons of CO2 each year from now on,” said Simon Mueller, one of the authors of the study.
Poland’s Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro stated recently that the costs of the project proposed by the EU are radically high, especially when it comes to the Polish economy. “We believe that Poland should abandon the climate and energy policy implemented by the European Union, also in the version that has been forced upon the member states so far,” said Minster Ziobro. He continued, “We stand for rational climate protection. Smart, thoughtful actions that will reconcile the needs of human life, human existence with climate goals. We are not in favor of pursuing a policy that is devastating towards humans, which aims to protect the climate by sacrificing the quality of life and leading to poverty (…), a regression of the Polish economy.”
4. Czech Fighter jets to patrol Lithuania’s airspace from April
5. The world’s first perovskite factory was opened in Wrocław, Poland
The dream of Olga Malinkiewicz, a young scientist from Poland, has come true. The world’s first industrial perovskite factory, a new PV material that can change the world of solar energy, will be built in Wrocław. The ribbon symbolizing the opening of the first industrial line was officially cut in May, 2021. “We are able to produce the entire photovoltaic panel practically independently of Chinese producers,” said Malinkiewicz.
Perovskites are a group of minerals with a crystalline structure. These minerals were named after their discoverer, the Russian scientist Lev Perowski, who made this discovery in the 1830s. Although they were discovered almost 200 years ago, it is only recently that technology has made it possible to use them to produce electricity efficiently.
One of the pioneers of research on the use of perovskites in photovoltaics was a young Polish physicist – Olga Malinkiewicz. This talented graduate of the Faculty of Physics at the University of Warsaw and the Catalan University of Technology in Barcelona has developed a simple and effective method of applying perovskite material to thin, flexible PET films.
The success of the perovskites is now undeniable. However, questions arise as to whether the perovskite module technology will be developed alongside traditional photovoltaics or instead of silicon solutions. Malinkiewicz recalled that perovskite is a material that converts solar energy into electricity in the same way as silicon cells. However, a perovskite is a synthetic crystal that can be produced locally. Other advantages of perovskite cells include flexibility, translucency, fitted housing, thin film and light weight.
As we read on the Saule Technologies website, the initial product efficiency will be around 10 percent. Its total price will depend on the requirements for applying the material to the surface. It could reach € 50 / m2 by 2022. Scientists expect the initial cell’s lifetime to be several years, and it will lengthen over time.
The inkjet printing technique allows the design of perovskite photovoltaic modules of any shape. The areas covered with the perovskite layer can be customized as required. The cells are resistant to damage caused by bending and folding. The flexibility of the final product depends only on the underlying materials.
The cells currently developed are printed on a flexible, transparent film. In this way, the perovskites can also be installed on window panes, for example. Saule Technologies argues that it is possible to achieve different levels of translucency. Although efficiency decreases as transparency increases, it is still economically viable due to the technology’s low cost inherently.
The thickness of the solar cell is approximately 1 micron. The total thickness of a module depends on the substrate and encapsulation technology, which is determined by the requirements of the specific application. The weight of the cell is negligible compared to the ground, so the total weight depends on the materials of which these elements are made. The current weight of Saule modules is approx. 500 g / m2.
The technology used by Saule enables the design of the finished product in a wide range of available colors. This feature is particularly desirable in building integrated applications, enabling architects to design, for example, energy-saving ones with a high degree of freedom.
Olga Malinkiewicz and Saule Technologies
During her studies, Olga Malinkiewicz developed a novel perovskite solar cell feature allowing the fabrication of such devices at low temperatures for the first time, while retaining hight efficiency. She has been awarded the Photonics21 Student Innovation award in a competition organized by the European Commission in 2014 for this achievement. She published an article on the subject in Nature Scientific Reports. In 2015 Ms. Malikiewicz received an award in the Innovators Under 35 ranking, organized by MIT Technology Review for “developing a new technology that could spark a “revolution in renewable energies”.
In 2015, Olga Malinkiewicz co-founded Saule Technologies (named after the Baltic sun goddess) along with two Polish businessmen. A partnership was signed in January, 2018 with the Swedish construction company Skanska. In 2021, the company became the world’s first to begin industrial production of solar panels based on perovskite technology and unveiled the first building in the world using this pioneering perovskite technology.
6. What is the CSTO? And what exactly is it doing in Kazakhstan?
When a plane carrying CSTO forces arrived in Kazakhstan late on January 5, it was the first time that the alliance had deployed forces to intervene in a conflict in a member country.
It took little more than a few days of demonstrations against a hike in the price of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev to send a very public appeal for help to the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), a Moscow-led alliance of six former Soviet republics (Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan) first created in 1992.
7. Kazakhstan unrest: Blinken questions Russian troop deployment
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has questioned Kazakhstan’s decision to seek Russian military aid to deal with an ongoing wave of violent unrest.
Dozens of people have been killed in protests triggered by a rise in fuel prices, but Mr Blinken said the US believes that the Kazakh government can deal with the protests itself.
He told reporters that it was unclear why the deployment was happening.
GLOBAL ISSUES – FOOD FOR THOUGHT
8. Pope Francis’s New “Justice” and His Egalitarian “Synodal Church”
Rather than striving with apostolic zeal to attract the pagans, heretics, and schismatics he encounters to the one true Church of Christ—the Catholic Church—he leaves them to their errors and superstitions.
9. TikTok – A Psychological Weapon – A Means To An End
10. The Imbecile King Who Put His Foot On The Gas Pedal
Charles II was only three years old when he became the supreme ruler of the Spanish Empire in 1665. But anyone who took just one look at the child knew they were all doomed.
Charles had come from a long line of prominent European nobles known as the Habsburgs– a family so exclusive that they frequently married one another in order to keep their blood line ‘pure’.
This cycle has been taking place for more than 5,000 years. Empires rise and fall. Economies rise and fall. And no nation holds the top spot forever.
It’s not hard to understand why.
When an economy is on the rise, people are hungry. They work hard. They save money. They’re focused on the future.
Governments run lean budgets and spend responsibly. They maintain a sound currency.
Once an economy has reached its peak, however, priorities change. Hard work and saving are no longer prized social values. People become more focused on consuming in the present, rather than investing in the future.
Debt levels skyrocket. Government spending balloons. Regulations soar. Prices rise.
Little by little, a nation chips away at the very values and institutions that made them powerful to begin with.
If fiscal responsibility has made the nation wealthy, they begin printing record sums of money, engineering inflation, and taking on mountains of debt.
If capitalism has made the economy prosperous, they cheer socialism.
If personal freedom and self-reliance have created a strong society, they embrace totalitarianism, intolerance, and censorship.
Not to mention, there always seems to be some rival, rising power lurking, ready to take advantage of the situation… and some weak leadership like Charles II who hits the gas pedal on the way towards the precipice.
This story is as old as human civilization. And while the exact circumstances today are different, the themes are very similar.