Open Democracy - good writing with no axes to grind.

The Brookings Institute is always putting out thoughtful and well researched ideas.

Heroes and heroines:
I would have dearly loved to learn everything that the late Carl Sagan might have had time to tell me - a wonderful and eloquent scientist, and fellow human being.  If you haven't already done so, read his words about our pale blue dot; I defy you not to be moved by them.   Same goes too for Richard Feynman.  In one clip on the link page he explains, better than I ever could, why it's OK to be just plain uncertain about things.  In another he says, "I have a limited intelligence and I've used it in a particular direction" - omitting to point out, in his modesty, that his ideas and insights changed the world, and continue to do so.   Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris are people that I'll happily invest time and effort in reading and listening to.

Christopher Hitchens died in late 2011. I fear I shall not see his like again. His pugnacious, uncompromising approach to things that he felt important in life were not to everyone's taste, but when it came to force of reason, clarity and pursuit of argument, point of principle and sheer awesome brainpower I would not wish, or need, for anyone else to be batting on my side.

I have many of his most quotable phrases safely stored and easily accessible, such that whenever I feel the need for a bit more backbone, his words are on hand to energise me. Such is the man's true legacy - he taught me how to think, not what to think. And for that I am eternally grateful.

James Randi - whom I admire for telling it like it is...

Bob Carroll - for providing a skeptic's refuge, and a dictionary to accompany it.