Tuesday, July 26, 2005

NASA Space Shuttle Discovery: Return to Flight

The NASA Space Shuttle Discovery rocketed off launchpad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center today to jubilant cheers (and big sighs of relief) from "Space Fans" around the world. At the wheel of Mission STS 114 is Pilot James Kelly and Mission Commander Eileen Collins who will be heading up a team of 5 Mission Specialists. Eileen was the first woman to pilot a Shuttle Orbiter spacecraft on the joint U.S.A. / Russia Shuttle-to-MIR Program of the 1990's and later became the first woman to command a Space Shuttle mission. Eileen has been to Space 3 times and I have not been to Space even once yet! I cannot understand why NASA keeps turning down my applications to become an astronaut with all of my excellent qualifications on various flying machines dating back years!? Go figure that out.

It was exhilirating to finally watch this magnificent spacecraft take off without a hitch and reach the heavens in under 10 minutes with over a 100 cameras and 2 chase planes tracking every second until Discovery was safely out of sight. The live video footage of cameras attached to the outside of Discovery provided breathtaking views of the ship from liftoff until she entered Space with a great parting view of the Big Blue Marble (Earth) in the background.

For the best and most comprehensive coverage of this historical launch I would recommend NASA's very own website Return to Flight. Everything but everything a Space-O-Phile (Space Buff) could ever want and dream of is in there thanks to the web-savvy folks over at NASA.

CNN has good coverage of the launch today as well "Shuttle Returns to Flight" with links to information about the mission and cool science and technology stuff from NASA. And get this, CNN Space Correspondent Miles O'Brian was blogging LIVE from the launchpad today! That's right, Miles has a blog (this could be the beginning of the end for the Blogosphere, you talk about low... ). Maybe next time somebody can convince Miles O'Brian to videoblog LIVE from right underneath the Space Shuttle during liftoff. O.K., maybe that's a bit harsh. How about if Miles stands near enough to the engine exhausts to just singe his bushy eyebrows and quit? Can't CNN do better than this guy? What about Femi Oke, she would be a great Space Correspondent. Oder?

So NASA and the Shuttle Orbiter Program is Back in Business Bigtime today. I hope that kids all over the world, and especially you youngsters in developing nations, are dreaming of becoming an astronaut someday and piloting a cool spaceship like Discovery to the stars very soon. Everything is possible if you reach for the stars. Guaranteed!

In honor to the STS-107crew of the Space Shutlle Columbia.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Introducing El Jorgito! (aka George)

I just wanted to let my readers know that I am still here and apologize for not posting over the past several days. In addition to getting some non-blog related stuff done I have been exploring, reading, listening, and marvelling at the work other blog authors and web publishers are doing out there. Wahnsinn! (Deutsch for WOW!)

After I get all of my little duckies (new posts on Africa) lined up in a row I should be back up-and-running later this week. In the meantime please visit some of the great new sites listed in my Blogroll 'cause that's where much of the real action is at the moment.

My Hat Tip for the Day would be to start with George Conrad of the On Safari with El Jorgito blog and be sure to checkout his work with the Grameen Foundation's Village Phone project down in Rwanda. Here is another posting over at the WorldChanging blog about this successful use of mobile telecommunications combined with a well organized and tested microfinance program to help alleviate absolute poverty in developing communities around the world.

And don't miss George's photostream over at Flickr. George is the Man down in Rwanda! Got questions about having this great program for your own community back home? Ask George!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

London suffers a major terrorist attack!: Updates July 8th

Our hearts and prayers go out from all over the world to the people of London on this day of tragedy and fear. Stand tall and stick together over there in the U.K., all races and nationalities and religions. You have been here before and you have survived by working and sticking together. Don't let terror win in the U.K. or anywhere else on the planet. Don't allow the attackers to divide your great nation. Work together to help bring an end to these attacks on innocent civilians.

BBC News: London rocked by terror attacks
CNN News: London rocked by bombs
Google News: London terrorist attacks
Google News: G8 Summit news updates
G8 Gleneagles 2005 official website
G8 & African leaders July 8th live press statement from Gleneagles

Updates July 8th:
After watching the news yesterday and today about the terrorist attacks on the people of London I saw that the various TV news networks were showing the same video footage over and over and over (pooled video images). I read today at eWeek an article by Libe Goad describing how digital photography fans are using the online photo-sharing service Flickr to pool their images of the aftermath of the London bombings and the worldwide outpouring of human emotion. You can read the article "Flickr Pics Capture London Terror" here and view the more than 630 photographs from the Flickr 7/7 Community Pool here. I'm one of the very fortunate people that has friends in London who have been able to escape death and injury in yesterday's attacks. I am very thankfull that some at least were able to notify me ASAP that they were O.K., excluding their shock and grief.

In addition to the eWeek article update I have also added new links to the official G8 Summit 2005 Gleneagles website and a link to today's (streaming video) press conference by U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair and AU President Olusegun Obasanjo (President of Nigeria). It would seem from P.M. Blair's and President Obasanjo's statements today re: the G8 Summit 2005 Communique that we (who have been raising lot's of heck) have at least some of what we have asked for and demanded re: increased financial assistance and debt relief for Africa. Now it is everybody's job who cares and can contribute something (other than hot air) to make sure that these guys stick to their promises and that we do our part together with the people of Africa to make it work over the next few decades. I know that this isn't the best English grammar I could use to express myself, but I think that you my readers get the idea. Right?

I also found some very good information that may help explain in generally understandable language the complex issues of aid and development and economic justice for Africa. I'm gonna read it over the next few days, attempt to understand it myself, then post about it ASAP together with some other news and views about Africa that's been on my mind.

Lastly, I greet and thank all the new visitors to Jewels in the Jungle and a special Thanks for your great comments and kind encouragement.

Ciao for Now.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Live8 Concerts for Africa: The Big Day is Here

I was going to leave a long comment on a post re: Africans on Live8 over at the Global Voices blog when I realized that it would be better to simply say it here at Jewels in the Jungle. So here goes:

Well, the Big Day is here and the sheer numbers of people involved are without equal for any musical event in human history. This is only another giant step along the Long Walk to Justice for Africa as the Live8 concert organizers have so correctly labelled it.

We who believe in Africa and in ourselves have the floor today and the voices of the sceptics and naysayers shall be silenced by a joyful noise going up from all over the planet. It is the Voices of Humanity crying out that we want the people of Africa to be free from poverty and war and ruthless exploitation, and that we want her beautiful forests and savannahs and river deltas and precious biodiversity and ecosystems protected and preserved from the international, regional, and local criminals who would rob the whole world of Africa's precious gifts.

It is Mama Africa (and not Bob Geldorf or Tony Blair) who sheds the "crocodile tears" today and they are tears of joy as she smiles widely to see that so many of her children (origins of species) here on Earth, black & white & brown & all colors of the human rainbow from (almost) all nations care about her and are so willing and ready to help.

There are many lessons that can be learned from the events that take place today and in the next few days leading up to this most important G8 Summit in Gleneagles, Scotland. As is often the case throughout human history there will only be a comparitive few who really "get it" and will be able to build upon the opportunities in ways that make a real difference. Today you can see the millions and millions of supporters of the Live8 concerts and the Make Poverty History campaigners who so desperately seek real justice for Africa and a bright future for her people.

This is a great day for Africa and all who love her should be very thankful.