Documents Offer Insight Into Soviet View Of JFK Assassination

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American Lee Harvey Oswald and his Russian wife, Marina, pose on a bridge walk in Minsk during their stay in the Soviet Union. This is a 1964 handout photo from the Warren Commission.

AP

Was the Soviet Union involved in the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy?

Given Cold War tensions and the fact that shooter Lee Harvey Oswald had defected to the Soviet Union and lived there in the years leading up to the assassination, it’s a question that has long intrigued even the mildly conspiracy-minded.

Some 2,800 documents released by order of President Trump on Thursday provide some possible insights into how the assassination was viewed inside the Soviet Union.

That reaction appears to have been one of genuine surprise, as well as concern inside the Communist Party that the killing of Kennedy might be part of a larger right-wing coup to take over the U.S. government.

In a memo labeled “Top Secret” and dated Dec. 1, 1966 from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to Marvin Watson, a special assistant to President Lyndon Johnson, cites “[a] source who has furnished reliable information in the past and who was in Russia on the date of the assassination …”

The news, it says “was greeted by great shock and consternation and church bells were tolled in the memory of President Kennedy.”

The memo continues: “According to our source, officials of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union believed there was some well-organized conspiracy on the part of the “ultraright” in the United States to effect a ‘coup.’ They seemed convinced that the assassination was not the deed of one man but that it arose out of a carefully planned campaign in which several people played a part.”

The Soviets were fearful that the assassination would be used to play on “anticommunist sentiments” in the U.S. to “stop negotiations with the Soviet Union, attack Cuba and thereafter spread war.”

Oswald, a former U.S. Marine, went to the Soviet Union in 1959 and married there. Apparently disenchanted with Soviet life, he returned to U.S. soil less than two years later after apparently trying to commit suicide.

The FBI memo, citing the unnamed source, says “Soviet officials claimed that Lee Harvey Oswald had no connection whatsoever with the Soviet Union. They described him as a neurotic maniac who was disloyal to his own country and everything else.”

The same single source reported that the KGB, the Soviet intelligence agency, “issued instructions to all of its agents to immediately obtain all data available concerning” President Johnson. The memo said that in the months after Kennedy’s death, the KGB had come into “possession of data purporting to indicate that President Johnson was responsible for the assassination of the late President John F. Kennedy.”

In a different memo, this one from the CIA Director of Security to CIA Headquarters, originally classified “Secret” and dated March 11, 1964, refers to a George M. Lesnik, a former KGB agent who was in Moscow on the day of the Kennedy assassination.

After hearing the news, he “dashed to his office” to look at Oswald’s file. “When he found the file he reviewed it and found that Oswald had not been used or even approached for use by the Russian intelligence.” Lesnik claimed that he then called others in the KGB who said they were unaware that Oswald had been cultivated in any way before returning to the United States.

[“Source-npr”]

This Is the Gear You Need to View the Upcoming Solar Eclipse

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It’s tempting to stare at the sun during a solar eclipse, but if you try to do so without protection, you could damage your eyes. This image of a partial eclipse in 2012 was taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory satellite. (Courtesy of NASA/SDO and the AIA, EVE, and HMI science teams)

On August 21, North America will experience the first total solar eclipse visible across the continent in nearly a century–and, while it may seem illogical, this period of semi-darkness is an important time to practice sun safety.

That’s because while during an eclipse, you won’t want to tear your eyes away from the show, staring directly at the sun can lead to solar retinopathy, a condition where light floods the eye’s retina. In 1999, 45 patients visited an eye clinic in Leicester, England, after viewing a solar eclipse without proper eyewear. About half of the patients suffered from eye pain; the others reported impaired vision. Although these eclipse watchers were not totally blinded, several incurred long-term damage.

The United States hasn’t experienced a total eclipse since 1979, and that one only passed over a small swath of the Northwest. This year, in contrast more than 500 million people in North America, plus parts of South America and northwestern Europe, will be able to see at least a partial eclipse. Those within a 70-mile wide pathbetween Oregon and South Carolina will witness a total eclipse.

A partial eclipse occurs when the moon blocks part of the sun from view. A total eclipse, in contrast, is when the moon completely blocks the sun. “Totality,” the part of the total eclipse when the sun is completely covered, lasts only around two minutes.

Most people in the continental United States live within a one- to two-day drive of the total eclipse’s path. Madhulika Guhathakurta, the lead program scientist for NASA’s “Living With a Star” initiative, says the breadth of the path makes the eclipse accessible to everyone. She says observing a total eclipse is transformative: “It’s akin to the way astronauts describe their first trip to space. You’re just so in awe of nature.”

To view the solar eclipse, you’ll need proper equipment. It may seem odd to don protection in the semi-darkness of a partial eclipse, but staring at the sun can cause retinal injury. The only time it’s safe to look at the sun without protection is during totality. Keep your equipment on hand, and put it back on when the sun starts to reappear.

Opt for gear featuring ISO-approved solar filters, which are about 100,000 times darker than everyday sunglasses. The American Astronomical Society’s website includes a list of manufacturers that have certified their products meet the ISO 12312-2 standard. If you purchase equipment from other outlets, double check that their merchandise meets ISO standards.

Whether you’re a stargazing neophyte or dedicated astronomer, this gear will help you make the most of a spectacular event.

These solar viewers give 2x magnification and protection from the sun during the partial eclipse.
These solar viewers give 2x magnification and protection from the sun during the partial eclipse. (Celestron)

Eclipse glasses and handheld viewers

Eclipse glasses look like hybrids of 3-D movie glasses and sunglasses. As Guhathakurta explains, these glasses have the added protection of a solar filter. Whereas sunglasses only block UV rays, eclipse glasses also cut off visible light.

If you’re a casual observer or part of a large group, you’ll like these glasses’ low prices and bulk packaging. You can buy a pack of five paper glasses from Rainbow Symphony for around $12. If you want a sturdier option, try these plastic glasses from American Paper Optics. And feel free to go for style: TSE17 has a $5.05 stars-and-stripes five-pack, and American Paper Optics features everything from Bill Nye glasses to astronaut-themed frames.

Looking for something between basic glasses and high-tech binoculars? Check out this handheld viewer from Celestron. For $9.95, you’ll receive two viewers with 2x magnification capabilities and a pocket eclipse guide.

Binoculars and telescopes

Binoculars and telescopes are pricier than eclipse glasses and handheld viewers but can be worth the investment. They feature a higher magnification, but higher magnification results in a shakier image––as power increases, the equipment becomes more sensitive to its holder’s small hand movements.

Binoculars are rated with two numbers. The first number is the magnification, the second is the aperture—the diameter of the front lens, measured in millimeters. If you’re buying a pair of binoculars and plan to use them for other astronomy viewing, the bigger the aperture, the better, but bigger lenses also mean heavier equipment.

The following options offer a range of viewing strengths. Celestron’s EclipSmart binoculars feature non-removable solar filters, so you’ll only be able to use them for solar viewing. A 10×25 pair (10x magnification and 25mm aperture) costs around $35, while a 10×42 pair costs just about twice as much. A cheaper option is Lunt’s mini SUNocular. A 6×30 pair costs $29.95.

If you prefer binoculars with removable solar filters, Meade has a $69.99 10×50 pair that works for both solar viewing and nighttime stargazing. Once you remove the solar filters, the binoculars will operate like a normal pair.

Telescopes offer some of the best eclipse views, but you’ll pay more for added detail if you want an advanced model. A basic lightweight option is the Explore Scientific Sun Catcher 70mm telescope. It costs $59.99 and can be used during both the day and night. A more advanced option is the $99.95 Celestron EclipSmart telescope. It offers 18x magnification, 50mm aperture and non-removable solar filters.

Another choice is the Meade EclipseView telescope. The cheapest model is a $79.99 82mm reflecting telescope designed for on-the-go use. A sturdier long-term bet is the 76mm reflecting telescope, which costs $129.99. Both models feature removable solar filters and are suitable for solar and nighttime use.

The Meade EclipseView 82mm telescope is designed to be portable, for eclipse watching anywhere.
The Meade EclipseView 82mm telescope is designed to be portable, for eclipse watching anywhere. (Meade)

Add-on solar filters

Another category of eclipse viewing gear is add-on filters. These can be attached to binoculars, telescopes and cameras not originally designed for solar viewing and are mainly used by experienced observers. Similarly to eclipse-specific gear, add-on filters prevent retinal damage. They also protect your equipment’s optics from the heat of the sun, as the intensity of an eclipse can damage gear designed for nighttime observing.

Filters are typically made of metal on glass (sturdy but most expensive), aluminized polyester film (also known as Mylar) or black polymer (also used in eclipse glasses). Rainbow Symphony sells black polymer and silver Mylar filters starting at $19.95. Thousand Oaks Optical and Orion offer higher-end filters ranging in price from $22 to $150-plus.

Pinhole projectors

If you want to view the eclipse without spending money on special equipment, you’re in luck. Stand with your back to the sun, and use your hands, a hole-punched index card or even a patch of leaves to create a tiny opening. As sunlight flows through the empty space, an image of the sun will project onto a nearby surface. For more detailed instructions, visit the American Astronomical Society’s pinhole projection page.

Guhathakurta’s final words of advice are simple: During the partial eclipse, “do not look at the sun without glasses on, but absolutely look at the total solar eclipse without glasses on. These are two binary events. When you wear glasses and you cannot see anything anymore, that’s totality.”

[“Source-smithsonianmag”]

Google Daydream View VR Headset Launched in India at Rs. 6,499

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HIGHLIGHTS

  • Daydream View VR headset available for Rs. 6,499
  • Apps include YouTube VR, Street View, Play Movies and more
  • Daydream supported phones include Google Pixel, Pixel XL, and Moto ZGoogle’s Daydream View VR headset is now available in India priced at Rs. 6,499. The VR headset has been listed on Flipkart and will include the controller as well. The headset was first made available in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and Germany back in November last year.

    The headset is being offered on Flipkart with 5 percent off for Axis Bank Buzz Credit Cards and Rs. 300 cash back on payment through PhonePe. EMI options are also available and each pair of headset comes with 1 year of warranty. First 30 customers to buy Google Daydream View VR via Flipkart will also receive Google Chromecast for free, while the first 50 customers will receive a Google Play Store Credit worth Rs. 500.

    The Daydream View VR headset functions along the lines of Samsung’s Gear VR and you will need Daydream-supported smartphones for the headset to work. As of now, the list of phones that support Daydream is small with the likes of Google Pixel, Pixel XL, and Moto Z, to name a few and will also come to Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ soon. So, for those considering to buy the headset in India may want to check they have a Daydream-ready smartphone first.

  • google daydream vr google
  • The Daydream View VR headset is made up of a lightweight fabric for a comfortable feel. The controller lets you interact with the virtual world, letting you take various actions with help of motion and gesture sensors and physical buttons. The Daydream app that houses a collection of apps and games for Daydream-ready phones. The YouTube VR app will let you watch 3D or standard 360-degree videos with the Daydream View headset. The Street View app lets you tour over 150 popular real-world places, while Play Movies offers some VR-ready movies. Third-party developers too provide Daydream-ready content via their apps.

    “Daydream View promises users a mesmerising experience. Swim with a pod of dolphins, stand at the edge of a volcano and even visit Pluto with Daydream View. Users can teleport from virtually anywhere to pretty much everywhere. Our aim is to make the VR experience mobile so that customers can easily carry it anywhere with them. We at Google are also working with developers, smartphone companies, and content creators to make VR accessible to all,” said Clay Bavor, Vice President of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality at Google.

[“Source-ndtv”]

Twitter Starts Testing View Counts to Surface the Best Videos

twitter video view count story Twitter Video View CountTwitter Starts Testing View Counts to Surface the Best Videos
HIGHLIGHTS
The view count is visible right next to the usual timer on videos
View count could possibly be used to rank content going ahead
Twitter spokesperson has confirmed that test is being conducted
Twitter has reportedly started showing view count on videos for some users as the social network continues to experiment with video related features on its platform. Much like other social media platforms, Twitter has also been trying to figure out video features that are desired by its users so that it can stay relevant.

The view count on videos, which was first spotted by BuzzFeed’s Dorsey Shaw, is now showing up for some people right next to the usual timer, as pointed out in a report by Mashable.

twitter video view count story Twitter Video View Count

Photo Credit: Twitter/@dorseyshaw

“As video consumption continues to increase on Twitter, we are constantly experimenting with ways to provide a rich video experience,” a Twitter spokesperson told Mashable via email. “View counts provide helpful context on the popularity of a video, and we are exploring this feature to help surface the best content,” the spokesperson said.

With this test, it appears like Twitter will soon be ranking content on the basis of their popularity, possibly for its Explore tab, which was added with the aim to make it easier to find interesting content.

The spokesperson has also clarified that within this test the views will be counted as “[Media Rating Council]”. This essentially means that the view will be counted by industry standard of “2 seconds consecutively in view at 50 percent visibility,” Mashable said citing the spokesperson in its report.

It remains to be seen when this new feature will eventually be rolled out to everyone. Twitter recently started looping all videos posted on its website with duration less than 6.5 seconds after the conversion of Vine into a pared-down camera app.

Tags: Twitter Videos, Twitter Video View Count, Twitter, Social, Apps, Social Media Networking Website

[“Source-Gadgets”]