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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 01:08 PM
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Environmental Scientist

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Inside Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World

At the great science fiction writer’s Sri Lankan residence, our correspondent talks to friends and associates who remember a witty, enigmatic—and much-missed—friend.
Arthur C Clarke called this place his “ego chamber.”

And now, in a state of disbelief, here I am, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in the office of a man who was arguably the greatest British science fiction writer of all time.

I sit down at his desk. At Arthur C. Clarke’s desk. An old Mac desktop stands sentinel. The wheelchair that the author of 2001: A Space Odyssey used to get around in from about 1984 onwards—after he was struck with muscle-wasting post-polio syndrome—is parked to my side.

much more


‘Obama Says The War Is Over. So Why Can’t I Leave Gitmo?’

Lawyers for a longtime detainee are trying out a new defense. If it works, he and a bunch of his fellow Gitmo prisoners could go free.

An accused Taliban fighter held for more than 13 years in Guantanamo Bay is demanding his release, saying that since President Obama has declared the war in Afghanistan is over, there are no longer any legal grounds to hold him.

It’s believed to be the first time a Guantanamo detainee has argued that the government’s authority to detain him evaporated with end of military operations against the Taliban, which began in 2001 following the 9/11 attacks. But when U.S. attorneys respond, they could argue that, in fact, hostilities haven’t come to a conclusion, and there are still grounds to hold the man. That could put them the strange position of undercutting the president, and arguing that just because the commander-in-chief says the war is over doesn’t necessarily make it so.

“If they say that, that is the practical effect of what they’d be saying,” Brian Foster, one of the attorneys for the detainee, Mukhtar al Warafi, told The Daily Beast.



Jane Goodall Is Still Wild at Heart

Jane Goodall was already on a London dock in March 1957 when she realized that her passport was missing. In just a few hours, she was due to depart on her first trip to Africa. A school friend had moved to a farm outside Nairobi and, knowing Goodall’s childhood dream was to live among the African wildlife, invited her to stay with the family for a while. Goodall, then 22, saved for two years to pay for her passage to Kenya: waitressing, doing secretarial work, temping at the post office in her hometown, Bournemouth, on England’s southern coast, during the holiday rush. She had spent her last few days in London saying goodbyes and picking up a few things for the trip at Peter Jones, the department store in Chelsea. Now all this was for naught, it seemed. The passport must have fallen out of her purse somewhere.

It’s hard not to wonder how subsequent events in her life — rather consequential as they have turned out to be to conservation, to science, to our sense of ourselves as a species — might have unfolded differently had someone not found her passport, along with an itinerary from Cook’s, the travel agency, folded inside, and delivered it to the Cook’s office. An agency representative, documents in hand, found her on the dock. “Incredible,” Goodall told me last month, recalling that day. “Amazing.”

Excited and apprehensive, she boarded the ship, the Kenya Castle, with her mother and uncle, and together they inspected the vessel, circling its decks, looking out the porthole in the room she would occupy for the better part of a month. Then her family departed, and at 4 in the afternoon, the ship cast off. Twenty-four hours later, as most of the passengers were suffering from seasickness on their traverse across the Bay of Biscay, Jane Goodall was at the prow of the ship — “as far forward as one could get,” she wrote to her family. Her letter also recorded, in a detailed manner that foreshadowed the keen observational skills she would bring to her research as well as the literary bent she would deploy in reaching a broad audience, how the sea changed color as the bow rose and fell with the waves. “The sea is dark inky blue, then it rises up a clear transparent blue green, and then it breaks in white and sky blue foam. But best of all, some of this foam is forced back under the wave from which it broke, and this spreads out under the surface like the palest blue milk, all soft and hazy at the edge.”



Weekend Toon Roundup




Secret Service



US trio who 'vowed to kill President Obama and plant bomb in New York' deny plot to join Isis

A man who allegedly vowed to kill President Barack Obama and plant a bomb in New York for Isis has denied plotting to join the group.

Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, 24, appeared shackled and wearing a blue prison uniform at New York's federal court on Friday alongside Akhror Saidakhmetov, 19, and Abror Habibov, 30. They all pleaded not guilty to terror offences.

A statement from the FBI following their arrests said Juraboev offered to kill the President if ordered to do so by Isis in an internet post in August last year.

More recently, Saidakhmetov expressed his intent to buy a machine gun and shoot police officers and FBI agents if his plan to reach Syria was defeated, the agency said.

Prosecutors claim the trio conspired to support Isis and committed travel document fraud in their thwarted efforts to reach the so-called Islamic State in Syria.


Mine owner could get up to 30 years for West Virginia deaths

CHARLESTON, W. Va. (PAI) - The federal government rewrote its indictment of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship for his role in the fatal Upper Big Branch mine explosion and disaster five years ago. The new indictment, announced Mar. 10, rolls two conspiracy counts into one and still leaves Blankenship facing up to 30 years in jail if convicted on all charges. The court will hold a preliminary hearing on Mar. 24 with trial starting Apr. 6.

But, even more importantly, U.S. District Judge Irene Berger, who is hearing the case, lifted the gag order she imposed last year on everybody involved, including the families of the 29 workers killed in the blast, their attorneys and Blankenship. That will let the survivors start telling prosecutors, and the media, about the explosion and its aftermath.

It will also let the families of the dead miners use their experience to testify before the GOP-run West Virginia legislature in its hearings on corporate-backed legislation to gut the state's mine safety laws and to enact a so-called right-to-work law.

The U.S. attorney for West Virginia indicted Blankenship last November on counts of violating mine safety and health laws, conspiracy to do so, impeding federal mine safety officials, making false statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission about the financial impact on Massey from lawsuits resulting from the UBB blast and securities fraud.



Charles P Pierce- My Man Chuck Todd Had A Bad Moment

My man Chuck Todd was on the liberal MSNBC network this morning, chatting up Jose Diaz-Balart about all of the kabuki being performed around Hillary Clinton's double life online. To his credit, the host seemed to be hinting that my man Chuck and the rest of the kool kidz might be making a big old something out of a little old nothing. My man Chuck burbled a little bit about how this really was a window into how Clinton might run her presidential campaign -- which is a crock. This is nostalgic bear-baiting by an elite political press angered that they don't have a blue dress to call their own this time around, and being played for suckers by the likes of Trey Gowdy.

Anyway, at one point, Chuck brought my head up from my scrambled eggs when he said,

"We're reporters. We're skeptical."
Which, I hate to say it, reminded me of nothing more than this previous spasm (!) of honesty that my man Chuck had.

"We all sit there because we know the first time we bark is the last time we do the show. There's something where all of the sudden nobody will come on your show."

Gee, whatever would we all do then?


Friday TOON Roundup 5 - The Rest








The Issue


Friday TOON Roundup 4 -Police and Race

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