Saturday, June 29, 2013

Obama in Africa ~ The Shadow of Mandela

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From NBC News
. . . President Barack Obama met with South African President Jacob Zuma on the grounds of the historic Union Buildings on Saturday. The two held a press conference in an ornate and intimate room that lasted over an hour. It included topics ranging from international trade to restructuring the United Nations to immigration and of course, the health of former President Nelson Mandela.

Zuma said of Mandela’s health that his condition hadn’t changed but that the country hopes that he will be out of the hospital soon. Earlier, the White House announced that while the president and First Lady will meet with members of the Mandela family today but they will not be visiting the ailing former leader. But Obama took a moment to honor Mandela’s legacy, “The struggle here against apartheid for freedom, Madiba’s moral courage, this country’s historic transition to a free and democratic nation has been a personal inspiration to me. It has been an inspiration to the world.”

. . . Obama said that on Saturday he would introduce an international youth initiative, saying, “This afternoon I will be in Soweto to announce a major expansion of our initiatives to invest in young Africans who will shape this country and this continent for decades to come.” The Young African Leadership program will now include a “Washington Fellowship.” The White House says it “will bring 500 young leaders to U.S. universities and colleges each year for academic and leadership training, beginning in 2014, with the goal of increasing to 1000 participants per year within five years.”

On Sunday, the president plans to travel to Cape Town where he will visit the historic Robben Island with his family and he will head to Tanzania on Monday.

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Obamas in Africa ~ First Stop Senegal

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From LA Times
The president and his family visited a small slave house on Goree Island off the coast of Dakar, the nation's capital, where it is said men, women and children were traded, sorted, shackled and weighed before being sent across the Atlantic to the Americas.

The president stared pensively out the "door of no return," described as the exit for those boarding slave ships, while spending about half an hour in the two-story salmon-colored house filled with dark holding cells.

"Obviously, for an African American — and an African American president — to be able to visit this site, I think, gives me even greater motivation in terms of the defense of human rights around the world," Obama said afterward.

"I think more than anything, what it reminds us of is that we have to remain vigilant when it comes to the defense of people's human rights — because I'm a firm believer that humanity is fundamentally good, but it's only good when good people stand up for what's right," he said.

Next they head to South Africa, for a visit with ailing leader Nelson Mandela.

From Reuters
Obama is in the middle of a three-country tour of Africa that the White House hopes will compensate for what some view as years of neglect by the administration of America's first black president.

Before departing Dakar, Obama was scheduled to meet with farmers and local entrepreneurs to discuss new technologies that are helping farmers and their families in West Africa, one of the world's poorest and most drought-prone regions.

But it was Mandela, the 94-year-old former South African president who is clinging to life in a Pretoria hospital, who will dominate the president's day even before he arrives in Johannesburg.

Asked on Thursday whether Obama would be able to pay Mandela a visit, the White House said that was up to the family.

"We are going to completely defer to the wishes of the Mandela family and work with the South African government as relates to our visit," deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters in Senegal.

"Whatever the Mandela family deems appropriate, that's what we're focused on doing in terms of our interaction with them."

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

We Need More Facts About Edward Snowden

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Edward Snowden is the self-proclaimed Whisleblower who fled to Hong Kong in China after revealing data-collection techniques done by the United States Government.

But who is he really? A patriot? A martyr? A stooge? A mole? A traitor?

If you watch the national news or read Twitter, you'll think he's either Benedict Arnold or the best thing to happen to this country since sliced bread. However, something about him just doesn't ring true and each day that goes by brings new revelations about his past and his connections.

If Snowden isn't given asylum by Russia or some other country diametrically opposed to the U.S., the erstwhile Spy will eventually be arrested and brought to trial here in his own country. And then the real 'splainin will begin and maybe we can cut through the crap.

Snark Amendment: Edward Snowden Releases NSA Secrets
Snark Amendment: Edward Snowden Hero or Villain?

Guardian UK: Edward Snowden NSA Whistleblower by Glenn Greenwald

Guardian UK: Q & A with Snowden "I Do Not Expect to See Home Again"

WaPo: Code Name Verax - Snowden Knew the Risks

Daily Mail: Lindsay Mills - Ballerina Girlfriend of Snowden left behind in Hawaii

Mother Jones: Community College Says NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden Took No "Cyber-Related Classes"

USA Today: Booz Allen Fires Snowden from $122,000-a-year job (not $200,000)

Bob Cesca: Former NSA Analysts, Lawyers: Snowden Claims Are “Absurd”

Legal Insurrection: Five Clarifications We Can't Ask of Snowden

Huff Post: Russia Considering Asylum for Snowden

CNN: No sign of NSA leaker as U.S. Investigation Builds Steam

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Discovery Channel Plans Tribute to Stormchasers Killed by Tornado in El Reno, Oklahoma

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RIP Tim Samaras, Paul Samaras, and Carl Young ~ Team Twistex

Discovery Channel Storm Chasers Tribute Premieres
Wednesday, June 5, 2013 at 10e|9c

From the Twistex Facebook
Information about the funeral services for Tim, Paul, & Carl -- and where to send sympathy cards:

The service for Tim and Paul will be held Thursday at 1pm at Mission Hills Church, 620 SouthPark Drive in Littleton, CO.

Sympathy cards should be sent to Jim Samaras, 7985 Witney Place, Lone Tree, CO 80124.

Carl's service will be held Saturday at 12 with burial at 3pm at McFarlane Mortuary in South Lake Tahoe, CA.

Sympathy cards should be sent to Bob Young, Box 8604, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96158.

Memorials for Carl should be sent to Ventana Wildlife Society.

From Discovery Channel:
We are deeply saddened by the loss of Tim Samaras, his son Paul and their colleague Carl Young who died Friday, May 31st doing what they love: chasing storms.

Chasing storms had been a part of Tim Samaras's life for over 25 years. Ten years ago, Tim developed his own tornado probes to record meteorological data inside of tornadoes.

Inspired by a two-month adventure chasing storms across the Great Plains, Carl Young left a career in Hollywood to study tornado dynamics and ultimately earn a masters degree in atmospheric science from the University of Nevada, Reno.

While attending a meteorological conference, Carl met Tim, who encouraged him to collect meteorological data from inside tornadoes as the principal focus of his thesis research.

Every spring since 2003, the two headed out together and tracked down over 125 tornadoes. Their mission was to help understand why tornadoes form in order to increase warning times in Tornado Alley.

Tim and Carl's work was the subject of Discovery Channel's Storm Chasers series, which premiered on October 17, 2007 and ran for five seasons.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Tim and Carl's friends and families.

From National Geographic
Tim Samaras, one of the world's best-known storm chasers, died in Friday's El Reno, Oklahoma, tornado, along with his 24-year-old son, a gifted filmmaker, according to a statement from Samaras's brother.

"They all unfortunately passed away but doing what they LOVED," Jim Samaras, Tim's brother, wrote on Facebook, saying that storm chaser Carl Young was also killed. "I look at it that he is in the 'big tornado in the sky.'"

. . . Samaras's interest in tornadoes began when he was six, after he saw the movie The Wizard of Oz. For the past 20 years, he spent May and June traveling through Tornado Alley, an area that has the highest frequency of tornadoes in the world. He worked with his son Paul, who was known for capturing cyclones on camera.

From CNN
Friday's tornado took a sudden turn that surprised many observers, CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said.

"It was a wobbler. And it was big. ... I think the left-hand turn made a big difference on how this thing was chased as well and why people were killed and why people were injured in their vehicles," he said. "A vehicle is not a place to be in any tornado, especially a big one like that, and those men doing their job, those field scientists out there doing their jobs, were killed in the process."

Tim Samaras founded TWISTEX, the Tactical Weather Instrumented Sampling in Tornadoes Experiment, to help learn more about tornadoes and increase lead time for warnings, according to the official website.

. . . Doug Kiesling, a videographer who chases storms and calls himself "The Weather Paparazzi," said the three men were more than storm chasers. "They're researchers," he said.

"This thing is really shaking up everyone in the chasing community," he said. "We knew this day would happen someday, but nobody would imagine that it would happen to Tim. Tim was one of the safest people to go out there. ... He's had close calls, but he's always had an escape route."