Stories about earth

Electing Sadiq Khan as mayor of London would be the terrorists’ worst nightmare

“The whole universe may be found in a grain of London life,” wrote Peter Ackroyd. Sadiq Khan knows the grainy, multifarious life of the capital intimately. He is a real Londoner, and that is why he is the best choice for mayor. It matters more than his race, religion or class. Khan’s Pakistan-born father was a bus driver, his mother a seamstress. They had eight children, seven of them boys. The parents saved up to buy a home, and sent all their children to university. Khan has lived in public housing, used public transport, known deprivation, and epitomises urban aspiration. Zac Goldsmith was born ...

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Listening to the whispers of merging black holes

A little over a billion years ago, two black holes were orbiting each other somewhere in a galaxy far, far away. At this time, life on Earth had just found a successful way to include more than one cell in a body. Indifferent to the happenings on the Earth, these black holes were locked in a spiral of death. One black hole had mass equivalent to 36 Suns. The other was 29 times as massive as our Sun. Nature had already sealed their fates. With a sudden gasp, the two black holes merged into one. This larger black hole had ...

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If a Pakistani went to Mars…

Reginald Foulds is ready to go on a one-way trip to Mars. His dream may be a step closer as he is amongst the final 100 candidates chosen by Mars One, a private organisation that is planning on sending humans to Mars by 2025. This is indeed impressive. Initial applications for this Mars trip numbered close to 200,000. He is now the only Pakistani left in the pool. A retired helicopter pilot of the Pakistan Air Force, Foulds has a one in four chance of being picked for the ambitious, first human settlement on the red planet. If selected, he will be pushing 70 by ...

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One small step for Sheikh al-Khaibari, one giant leap for mankind

Once upon a time, far away, long ago… These are the words with which I was tempted to begin today, before I was told off by a friend for being overly cynical and unable to look at the bright side, the silver lining, the beautiful butterflies that the caterpillars currently infesting my lemon trees will one day become, etcetera. For her sake, I will take optimism by the hand today and see how far the yellow brick road goes. My quest today is to make sense of the latest in absurdity that the glorious Kingdom Of Saudi Arabia has to offer. For ...

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If I live in Finland, do I have to fast for 23 hours a day?

In the region of the earth above the Arctic Circle called ‘the land of the midnight sun,’ the sun does not rise for several months in winter or set for several months in summer. In Finland, the sun stays above the horizon for seventy days at a stretch. What are Muslims in such regions to do if Ramazan occurs during one of these summer periods? A response to this question on one of the forums online was that “the midnight sun is a myth and that there is no such thing”. The respondent added that the days are very long in these ...

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Welcome to the paradise on earth…

Welcome to the paradise on earth…  Welcome to the valley where rivers run red with the blood of innocent young men, Where a mother waits endlessly for her missing son to come back, Where a father shoulders the coffin of his teenage son. Photo: Haris Khan  Welcome to the paradise on earth… Welcome to the valley where the majestic mountains bow in sorrow, Where entire villages are gang raped by tyrants who crush the dreams of the nation under their boots, Where thousands of children are buried in unmarked graves,   Welcome to the paradise on earth… Welcome to the valley where freedom of speech is for ...

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You and your cursed tongue

“Rashid, nooooo! Stop! For the love of the Almighty, stop!” My incessant pleas fell on deaf ears. By now my voice had transformed from a high-pitched wail to a dry, hoarse moan, stuck deep in my throat. I watched helplessly as he picked up that shovel, desperately trying to free myself of the fetters. I could see his thick-shouldered frame shifting laboriously from the mound of earth to the deep grave-like trench dug in the ground. “I told you, your tongue was cursed!” He grumbled, his voice dripping with frustration. I had to do something, but what? I tried to wrestle my way out ...

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December 21, 2012: The end of the world?

With exactly seven days to go, the air is booming with buzz about an impending doomsday set to fall on December 21, 2012. I’m sure you already know what the fuss is about, but for the uninitiated, here goes. It is predicted by historians, astrologers, astronomers, the Mayans, scientists and even internet wizards that the world is going to end this December. Yes, that’s right this very month, even before Christmas and the New Year holidays! Now, let me share with you a few fascinating historical revelations that, for some, point towards the end of the world as we know it.  1. The Mayan ...

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I drown days in the sea

I drown days in the sea contrary to what you may think, they aren’t spat back on shore. The sea is made up of days.   I lose them, one by one, (watching them go with the sun) perhaps once, I shall see my last, perhaps I’ll be running too fast to see it flash past then.   Running; all I’ve known. I am still now, as I flick stones and bathe and lie in the sand, grateful — I am still. But it doesn’t mean I am not running. I am running still.   I am at the edge. I am a sailor, my mind delves into ancient superstitions. If I go any further I will drop off the face of the earth.   The sea ...

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Is science closer to the truth?

A dangerous notion appears to have invaded our minds; that science is merely a buffet of opinions, and it is entirely up to us accept the information that appeases us, and reject what we find unpalatable. That’s not how it works. When you go to a doctor’s office, you take his prescription and follow it precisely. You don’t argue with him about why he prescribed Bromazepam instead of Lorazepam, or announce that you’re going to take 12 tablets a day as opposed to two that the doctor has advised you. You acknowledge that your doctor, being an expert in medical science, ...

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