The persistence of such severe hunger, even in inhospitable climates, would be almost unthinkable without war.”
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The Syria Catastrophe
Richard Beck | N+1
“Syria initially seemed to have avoided the wave of Arab Spring unrest that swept across much of the Middle East beginning in late 2010, but beneath its surface stability and continuity lay several of the same factors that destabilized Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, and other countries. Political power was concentrated among a tiny elite of technocrats and Assad flunkies. The Mukhabarat, a set of brutal intelligence agencies originally trained by the Stasi, snuffed out the faintest flicker of opposition. The introduction of neoliberal economic policies also unsettled Syrian society—Assad had attempted a halfhearted marketization of the economy that produced the worst of both worlds, destroying the country’s economic safety net without actually producing more jobs. Farmers who had relied on now-diminished government fuel subsidies could no longer afford to keep their machines running. In the cities, millions of educated young people found there was nothing for them to do with their educations.”
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In Thailand, blood sacrifice is out. Strawberry Fanta is in.
Patrick Winn | PRI’s The World
“In Thailand, it’s common to believe in paranormal spirits. This alone is not particularly extraordinary. The same is true of people in Iceland, Taiwan, the United States and many cultures around the world.
But Thailand is unique in its melding of spirituality and cuisine. To appease the spirits in Thailand, skip the somber incantations or spells. These ghosts prefer snacks.
There is a generally agreed-upon menu of ghost-friendly food and drink offerings. Rice and plain water will do in a pinch (or if you’re broke). But Thai spirits would much rather receive bananas or coconuts. Better still, some starchy, eggy desserts.”
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How Russia Hacked Obama’s Legacy
Hayes Brown | Buzzfeed News
“No one from the Obama administration seems to remember when they figured out they were falling victim to one of the greatest intelligence operations in history.
‘This was the kind of realization that came incrementally,’ a former senior State Department official told BuzzFeed News. ‘There wasn’t a moment where you realized that Pearl Harbor had been hit by kamikaze or that the World Trade Center has been hit.’
Now, as two congressional committees and the FBI investigate Russia's role in the election, former Obama officials find themselves grappling with a new legacy, one that formed at the 11th hour of their time in power. As they looked toward a world where pariahs like Iran and Cuba were won over with diplomacy, they fell victim to a sneak attack by an old adversary. And they let it happen, offering up stern warnings and finger-wagging instead of adequately punishing Russia for achieving something that even the Soviet Union at the height of its power couldn’t manage: meddling in the US election and rattling Americans’ trust in their democracy.”