Marginalia

Odd scraps, bits and pieces, notes from other blogs and other stuff.


Ask me anything  
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Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology. Card-carrying rationalists like Dawkins, who is the nearest thing to a professional atheist we have had since Bertrand Russell, are in one sense the least well-equipped to understand what they castigate, since they don’t believe there is anything there to be understood, or at least anything worth understanding. This is why they invariably come up with vulgar caricatures of religious faith that would make a first-year theology student wince. The more they detest religion, the more ill-informed their criticisms of it tend to be. If they were asked to pass judgment on phenomenology or the geopolitics of South Asia, they would no doubt bone up on the question as assiduously as they could. When it comes to theology, however, any shoddy old travesty will pass muster. These days, theology is the queen of the sciences in a rather less august sense of the word than in its medieval heyday. Terry Eagleton reviews ‘The God Delusion’ by Richard Dawkins · LRB 19 October 2006
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There is little indication that Barak Obama is more aware. In striving to crush ISIL without an alliance with Syria and Iran, and relying on the reluctant Saudis and NATO, he is (1) recruiting thousands more anti-U.S. Sunni jihadis into ISIL ranks and (2) exacerbating a Sunni-Shiite war while marginalizing key Shiite players. ISIS and Washington’s Ignorance About the Sunni-Shia Divide » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names
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Few Americans know of the absurd contradictions of our foreign policy in Iraq and other places over the past few decades, yet I found that many Iraqis and Syrians knew the history well. The United States, through covert support of the Iraqi Ba’ath in the 1960’s and 1970’s, sponsored Saddam’s rise to power as a way to combat perceived communist influence and populist national movements in the Middle East. Throughout that time, the CIA-supported Ba’ath engaged in “cleansing campaigns” which involved door-to-door death squads offing Washington’s enemies based on questionable lists provided through covert liaisons. Iraq, ISIS, and The Myth of Sisyphus - Foreign Policy Journal
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In the seventeen years between 1992 and 2009, the Russian population declined by almost seven million people, or nearly 5 percent—a rate of loss unheard of in Europe since World War II. Moreover, much of this appears to be caused by rising mortality. By the mid-1990s, the average St. Petersburg man lived for seven fewer years than he did at the end of the Communist period; in Moscow, the dip was even greater, with death coming nearly eight years sooner. The Dying Russians by Masha Gessen | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books
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It’s hard not to feel empathy for the Somalians, whose coastline has been laid waste by the West and the East, and whose primary means of earning a living has been thoroughly toxified. I think that, in their shoes, I’d be out pirating ships, too. Aquila ka Hecate | A Shaman Reporting to Hecate. Mostly.
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The Dalai Lama has again been refused entry to South Africa, this time for the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, the Cape Times reported on Thursday. Dalai Lama again refused entry into SA - Sowetan LIVE
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In early August of this year, the BRICS countries—Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Africa—launched a series of initiatives aimed at altering the current structure of international finance. Besides pushing to dethrone the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, the organization created a development bank and a Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA). The former would allow countries to by-pass the IMF and the World Bank, with their tightfisted austerity fixation, and the latter would give countries emergency access to foreign currency. Sanctions & the Dollar » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names
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Reblogged from orthopilgrim