Jimmy Carter Says His Cancer Is Gone

Jimmy Carter is cancer free.

The 91-year-old former president made the announcement at the Sunday school class he was teaching at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia, according to NBC News.

"Went for an MRI this past week and they [doctors] didn't find any cancer at all in the brain," Carter said.

Jill Stuckey, a friend and fellow churchgoer, spoke to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution by phone as Carter was still teaching the class of about 350 people.

“He said he got a scan this week and the cancer was gone,” Stuckey said. “The church, everybody here, just erupted in applause.”

Carter was diagnosed with melanoma earlier this year and has undergone several radiation treatments. Last month, doctors said the former president was responding well to treatment and the cancer was showing no signs of worsening.

Speaking about the cancer in August, Carter seemed resigned about his fate.

"Now it's in the hands of God," he said. "And I'll be prepared for anything that comes."

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Our Endangered Great Ape Cousins, Section I – Gorillas: Animal Planet on the Looney Front, Part 1

As international experts warn that over half the world's primates face extinction and, in their latest report, call for urgent action to protect humankind's closest living relatives, it's time to go apeshit and have another look at the magnificent gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees and bonobos I've encountered on recent trips.

Mountain Gorillas

Among the most threatened are the mountain gorillas living in forests 8,000 to 13,000 feet up in the Virunga volcano range straddling Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda. Apes, you see, couldn't give a monkey's cuss about the political frontiers humans have enforced on Nature.

Great silver back at rest

As human overpopulation has overwhelmed the region, they've been pushed ever further out of their traditional territory, falling victim not only to habitat loss, but to human diseases and poachers, who kill the adults and sell the babies to zoos.

Mountain gorilla habitat in green - from International Gorilla Conservation Programme

But thanks to conservation efforts, often embraced by local communities, the population has increased from an estimated 320 in 1997 to some 880 today.

In Rwanda the gorillas clamber the steep flanks of Karisimbi, Bisoke and Muhabura volcanoes in the northwest of the small country, not far from the town of Ruhengere. Trips to see them cost several hundred dollars and the hike to get to where spotters have located the apes can last anything from an hour to five hours over difficult terrain.

A look towards the mountain gorillas' habitat

You're only allowed one hour once there and must keep three metres away to avoid communicating human diseases.

But the sight is unforgettable. A huge silver back alpha male patiently watches over his group of about a dozen. A mother holds her three-week old baby in the crook of her arm. The juveniles play and wrestle with each other.

Every now and then they stand and beat their little chests, as if on cue for casting in a role as King Kong Junior, then roll over or jump up on branches and bounce up and down till the branches break and they fall to the ground.

A look at mountains gorillas at rest and at play

They totally ignore us except for a youngster who smacks one of our group's legs as he saunters past. They've become habituated to humans by the trackers who speak to them in their own grunts and other noises, so they don't hide in the vegetation as they would normally when humans approach.

Mother and Child

And I fall in the vegetation only once.

Young ones at play

Western Lowland Gorillas

These tend to be slightly smaller than their mountain cousins across the continent, inhabiting Cameroon, Central African Republic (CAR), Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Angola, and DRC. They too are threatened, even if slightly less so, by the same factors endangering mountain gorillas.

Sid, the lowland gorilla

I've never seen them fully in the wild but come face to face with Sid, 100 miles north of Brazzaville, capital of the former French Republic of Congo, at a rehabilitation project in the Lefini Forest Reserve.

Western lowland gorilla range in blue; mountain gorilla and eastern lowland in violet - from Global Forest Watch

A massive 440-pound silver-back, first rescued after poachers killed his mother almost three decades ago, Sid is truly magnificent with a ginger fringe on his high ridged head, residing on a forested river island.

The habitat

Every morning and afternoon he comes to a little wooden jetty on the bank, sitting quietly and waiting for the attendants to approach in a motor boat with extra food - this time bringing Yours Truly in tow. He pretends to look away nonchalantly, but scopes us out of the corner of his eye. He recognises the voices of the others as friends.


But mine is new to him. He immediately jumps down from the jetty, rushes furiously back and forth along the shore (fortunately, they don't go into water), yanks violently at a rope tied to a pole near the boat, and with an all embracing sweep of his massive arm hurls reeds, mud and water in our direction.

I seem to have that effect on most living things. I shut up, and he eventually resumes his pose on the jetty, a massive King Kong, munching on roots and hauling up a crate of fruit in this jungle version of Fresh Direct food delivery.

More views of Sid

A couple of dozen miles to the south, on the far bank of a jungle river, the Iboubikro nursery serves as a kindergarten for infant gorillas rescued after their parents were killed by poachers for bush meat or to kidnap the babies for sale. Attendants act as foster mothers in what, to all intents and purposes, is a pure natural habitat.

The little ones, aged between 2 and 3 ½, grab bottles of milk and thump their pectorals, miniature King Kongs again, doing various victory dances and generally having a grand old time rolling around. At full gorilla adolescence, about eight, they are reintroduced into the wild, miles away in the forest.

The nursery

[Upcoming blog next Sunday: Animal Planet on the Looney Front moves to section II on the Great Apes - Chimpanzees and Bonobos]

By the same author: Bussing The Amazon: On The Road With The Accidental Journalist, available with free excerpts on Kindle and in print version on Amazon.

Swimming With Fidel: The Toils Of An Accidental Journalist, available on Kindle, with free excerpts here, and in print version on Amazon in the U.S here.

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Hillary Clinton Accuses Jerry Falwell Jr. Of Aiding ISIS

When Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. declared Friday that if more Americans could carry concealed guns "we could end those Muslims," he was aiding terrorism, Hillary Clinton alleged Sunday morning.

Falwell, the son of the late religious right leader Jerry Falwell Sr., made the remark at Liberty University's weekly convocation while discussing the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, the deadliest attack in the U.S. in three years which left 14 dead.

"I’ve always thought that if more good people had concealed-carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in and killed them," he said.

Though Falwell later sought to clarify his comment to various news outlets by stating that he meant to refer to terrorists, rather than all Muslims, Clinton jumped on his original statement to accuse him of helping terrorists such as the so-called Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh).

"This is the kind of deplorable, not only hateful, response to a legitimate security issue but it is giving aid and comfort to ISIS and other radical jihadists," the former secretary of state and current Democratic presidential front-runner said on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

Experts reckon that groups such as Daesh could seek to exploit instances of anti-Islam sentiment in the U.S. to drum up further support for their cause and recruit more adherents.

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Obama will give a prime-time address Sunday on terrorism and Islamic State

President Obama will deliver a rare prime-time address to the nation from the Oval Office on Sunday to outline his administration’s plans to combat terrorism and defeat Islamic State.

The speech will also provide an update on the federal investigation into Wednesday's massacre in San Bernardino,...

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