What Alabamians and Iranians Have in Common

A new Gallup poll on the importance of religion in daily life has this to say

Are Americans among the most religious people in the world? The answer depends on which “world” you’re talking about. If you’re referring to the entire planet, the answer is plainly “no.”

(h/t to Coming Anarchy)

from Foreign Policy, a look at Somalia

Foreign Policy: The Most Dangerous Place in the World.

Beyond the airport is one of the world’s most stunning monuments to conflict: block after block, mile after mile, of scorched, gutted-out buildings. Mogadishu’s Italianate architecture, once a gem along the Indian Ocean, has been reduced to a pile of machine-gun-chewed bricks.

Conflict Over, and in the Midst of, Nature’s Assets

From the NYT Dot earth blog

…the United Nations Environment Program, asserts that persistent conflicts within states most often relapse when the root cause is scarce natural resources and environmental issues are not incorporated into efforts to forge peace….The other study, “Warfare in Biodiversity Hotspots,” has been published in the journal Conservation Biology. The authors find that “more than 80 percent of the world’s major armed conflicts from 1950 to 2000 occurred in regions identified as the most biologically diverse and threatened places on Earth.”

The article goes on to discuss the consequences of high fertility rates in Africa, and the possibility of soon having 9 billion people trying to coexist on our planet.

Laid-Off Foreigners Flee as Dubai Spirals Down – NYTimes.com

via Laid-Off Foreigners Flee as Dubai Spirals Down – NYTimes.com.

With Dubai’s economy in free fall, newspapers have reported that more than 3,000 cars sit abandoned in the parking lot at the Dubai Airport, left by fleeing, debt-ridden foreigners.

Landlocked Bolivia Loaded with Lithium

Underneath the salt flats in Uyuni, Bolivia, lie the world’s largest lithium reserves.

In Bolivia, Untapped Bounty Meets Nationalism – NYTimes.com.

UYUNI, Bolivia — In the rush to build the next generation of hybrid or electric cars, a sobering fact confronts both automakers and governments seeking to lower their reliance on foreign oil: almost half of the world’s lithium, the mineral needed to power the vehicles, is found here in Bolivia — a country that may not be willing to surrender it so easily.

From Russia, a Few Kind Words and a Punch in the Nose – NYTimes.com

What’s in it for the Russians, if the Kyrgyz government kicks us out of our air base there?

Published: February 6, 2009
The Obama administration may have a tough time creating an effective policy toward Russia, as Moscow’s messages toward the U.S. veer from cooperative to arm-twisting.

The Water Front by Brad Tyer – The Texas Observer

A new book on Texas water, from the director of the River Systems Institute in the Department of Geography at Texas State.

Sansom starts at the molecular level and expands from there, through descriptions of Texas’ major watersheds to the over-engineered Gulf shores, from the bureaucracy of regional water-planning groups and groundwater districts to a regulatory tangle of local, state and federal agencies, from the drought of record (the 1950s) to proposals for another 15 reservoirs around the state to desalination plant prospects to municipal wastewater reuse.

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