Since January 2012, Mali has been facing a violent insurgency in the north of the country. But the soldiers on the front line have been growing bitter accusing their commanders of corruption by sending them to fight with little pay and insufficient equipment.
As Russia’s assault on Ukraine intensifies, individual African countries are stating their stance on the crisis. Nations like Ghana and South Africa have condemned the attack and called for peace. Africa has significant relationships with the two warring parties, should the situation continue to escalate, what exactly is at stake for the continent?
This week the Pentagon met with leading U.S. weapons manufacturers as Russia warned the Biden administration to stop arming Ukraine, claiming it was “adding fuel” to the conflict. This comes as a Russian warship sank in the Black Sea hours after Ukraine claimed to have attacked it with cruise missiles, and as Sweden and Finland say they may join NATO, which would require more weapons spending. We speak with William Hartung, national security and foreign policy expert at the Quincy Institute, author of “Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex.”
Understanding interconnections is key – for our health, that of our fellow creatures and our environment. That’s our focus this week. How likely is it animals will pass diseases on to humans? And can our diet affect our risk of getting COVID-19?
Samuel Benjamin Harris (born April 9, 1967) is an American philosopher, neuroscientist, author, and podcast host. His work touches on a wide range of topics, including rationality, religion, ethics, free will, neuroscience, meditation, psychedelics, philosophy of mind, politics, terrorism, and artificial intelligence. Harris came to prominence for his criticism of religion, and Islam in particular, and is known as one of the “Four Horsemen” of New Atheism, along with Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel Dennett.
Harris’s first book, The End of Faith (2004), won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction and remained on The New York Times Best Seller list for 33 weeks. Harris has since written six additional books: Letter to a Christian Nation in 2006, The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values in 2010, the long-form essay Lying in 2011, the short book Free Will in 2012, Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion in 2014, and (with British writer Maajid Nawaz) Islam and the Future of Tolerance: A Dialogue in 2015. Harris’s work has been translated into over 20 languages.
Harris has debated with many prominent figures on the topics of God or religion, including William Lane Craig, Jordan Peterson, Rick Warren, Andrew Sullivan, Reza Aslan, David Wolpe, Deepak Chopra, Ben Shapiro and Jean Houston. Since September 2013, Harris has hosted the Making Sense podcast (originally titled Waking Up), which has a large listenership. In September 2018, Harris released a meditation app, Waking Up with Sam Harris. Harris’s views on free will, race, and Islam have attracted controversy.
In April 2017, Harris stirred controversy by hosting the social scientist Charles Murray on his podcast, discussing topics including the heritability of IQ and race and intelligence. Harris stated the invitation was out of indignation at a violent protest against Murray at Middlebury College the month before and not out of particular interest in the material at hand. The podcast episode garnered significant criticism, most notably from Vox and Slate. Harris and Murray were defended by conservative commentators Andrew Sullivan and Kyle Smith, as well as by neuroscientist Richard Haier, who stated that the points Murray claimed were mainstream actually do receive broad scientific support. Harris and Vox editor-at-large Ezra Klein later discussed the affair in a podcast interview, where Klein criticized Harris for rebuking tribalism in the form of identity politics while failing to recognize his own version of tribalism. Hatewatch staff at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) wrote that members of the “skeptics” movement, of which Harris is “one of the most public faces,” help to “channel people into the alt-right.” Bari Weiss wrote in her opinion column that the SPLC had misrepresented Harris’s views.
Harris was profiled by Weiss in The New York Times as part of the “Intellectual Dark Web” (a term coined semi-ironically by Eric Weinstein). She described the group as “a collection of iconoclastic thinkers, academic renegades and media personalities who are having a rolling conversation – on podcasts, YouTube and Twitter, and in sold-out auditoriums – that sound unlike anything else happening, at least publicly, in the culture right now.” In November 2020, Harris stated that he does not identify as a part of that group.
In 2018, Robert Wright, a visiting professor of science and religion at Union Theological Seminary, published an article in Wired criticizing Harris, whom he described as “annoying” and “deluded”. Wright wrote that Harris, despite claiming to be a champion of rationality, ignored his own cognitive biases and engaged in faulty and inconsistent arguments in his book The End of Faith. He wrote that “the famous proponent of New Atheism is on a crusade against tribalism but seems oblivious to his own version of it.” Wright wrote that these biases are rooted in natural selection and impact everyone, but that they can be mitigated when acknowledged, whereas Harris offered no such acknowledgement.
The UK Business Insider included Harris’s podcast in their list of “8 podcasts that will change how you think about human behavior” in 2017, and PC Magazine included it in their list of “The Best Podcasts of 2018.” In January 2020, Max Sanderson included Harris’s podcast as a “Producer pick” in a “podcasts of the week” section for The Guardian.
Harris’s first book, The End of Faith (2004), won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction.
Welcome to Transition Studies. To prosper for very much longer on the changing Earth humankind will need to move beyond its current fossil-fueled civilization toward one that is sustained on recycled materials and renewable energy. This is not a trivial shift. It will require a major transition in all aspects of our lives.
This weblog explores the transition to a sustainable future on our finite planet. It provides links to current news, key documents from government sources and non-governmental organizations, as well as video documentaries about climate change, environmental ethics and environmental justice concerns.
The links are listed here to be used in whatever manner they may be helpful in public information campaigns, course preparation, teaching, letter-writing, lectures, class presentations, policy discussions, article writing, civic or Congressional hearings and citizen action campaigns, etc. For further information on this blog see: About this weblog. and How to use this weblog.
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