Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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New testimony ties Trump more directly to Ukraine pressure campaign

The Washington Post reports: A top diplomat on Wednesday tied President Trump more directly to the effort to pressure Ukraine to probe his political opponents, describing a phone call in which Trump sought information about the status of the investigations he had asked Ukraine to launch one day earlier. William B. Taylor Jr., the acting ambassador to Ukraine, told lawmakers that the phone conversation between the president and U.S. Ambassador

‘I don’t remember’ Trump asking for news conference clearing him of wrongdoing in Ukraine call, Barr says — as though he’d forget

The Washington Post reports: Attorney General William P. Barr said Wednesday that he did not remember President Trump ever asking him to hold a news conference declaring the commander in chief broke no laws in a controversial phone call with the leader of Ukraine, but he acknowledged discussions with the White House on how his department would communicate to the media about the matter. At an event in Memphis about

The Pentagon sees climate change as an existential threat to human society

Michael Klare writes: We have heard from the scientists on climate change, with their meticulous data on ecosystem degradation and species loss. We have heard from the climate deniers, with their desperate attempts to deploy countervailing arguments. Both groups have mobilized substantial blocs of voters in pivotal countries, producing gridlock in global efforts to slow the pace of global warming. It is time, then, to hear from another group of

Trump says U.S. left troops in Syria ‘only for the oil,’ appearing to contradict Pentagon

Politico reports: President Donald Trump declared Wednesday that the U.S. mission in Syria is focused solely on protecting oil fields, which appears to contradict the Pentagon’s contention that fighting ISIS is the priority. “We’re keeping the oil, we have the oil, the oil is secure, we left troops behind only for the oil,” Trump told reporters during a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the White House. Last

The Tories rely on Russian money — that’s why they ignore Russian meddling

Chris Bryant writes: Anyone who really wants to understand the government’s determination to suppress parliament’s intelligence and security committee report on Russia needs to go back to 2009. I was the Europe minister and my opposite number, Mark Francois, made it abundantly clear that a future Tory government intended to “normalise” relations with Vladimir Putin’s Russia. So when David Cameron arrived in Downing Street he wiped the slate clean. Russia

The Hong Kong protesters aren’t driven by hope

Zeynep Tufekci writes: For months now, I’ve been told that Hong Kong’s protests would end soon. They’ll end when school starts, I heard during the summer. School did start, but the protests wore on, only now I saw high-school students in crisp school uniforms joining the protesters’ ranks. Next, the mask ban of early October was supposed to slow protesters down, but the very first day after that ban, I

Nile river formed millions of years earlier than thought, study suggests

Live Science reports: For thousands of years, the Nile River has fertilized valleys along its winding path through northeastern Africa, anchoring ancient civilizations and still serving as an important route of transport and irrigation today. But the age of its venerable waters, which stretch over 4,225 miles (6,800 kilometers), has been debated, with one group of experts claiming the river was born around 6 million years ago when a drainage

Music: Remember Shakti with John McLaughlin — ‘Luki’

 

The climate chain reaction that threatens the heart of the Pacific

The Washington Post reports: Lined up along the side of their boat, the fishermen hauled a huge, heavy net up from swelling waves. At first, a few small jellyfish emerged, then a piece of plastic. Then net, and more net. Finally, all the way at the bottom: a small thrashing mass of silvery salmon. It was just after dawn at the height of the autumn fishing season, but something was

Antarctica’s ice loss is on the rise

Inside Climate News reports: The floating ice shelves along the edges of West Antarctica that slow the flow of its vast glaciers are under assault from all directions, and they’re becoming more vulnerable to collapse, scientists warn. Warmer water has started creeping in under them, eating away at the ice from below. Warmer air—and, in places, more rain—is melting the surface, creating ponds that can drain deep down and then

A big-data approach to history could help save the future

Laura Spinney writes: In its first issue of 2010, the scientific journal Nature looked forward to a dazzling decade of progress. By 2020, experimental devices connected to the internet would deduce our search queries by directly monitoring our brain signals. Crops would exist that doubled their biomass in three hours. Humanity would be well on the way to ending its dependency on fossil fuels. A few weeks later, a letter

The billionaires afraid of Elizabeth Warren

Jamelle Bouie writes: President Trump has been good for America’s billionaires. He slashed corporate taxes, cut the top income tax rate and raised the total exemption for the estate tax, directly benefiting several hundred billionaires and their heirs. He’s placed wealthy supporters in key positions of government like the Commerce Department, rolled back Obama-era financial regulations and privileged the interests of favored industries — like resource extraction and fossil fuel

Leaked emails highlight Stephen Miller’s affinity for white nationalism

The Southern Poverty Law Center reports: In the run-up to the 2016 election, White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller promoted white nationalist literature, pushed racist immigration stories and obsessed over the loss of Confederate symbols after Dylann Roof’s murderous rampage, according to leaked emails reviewed by Hatewatch. The emails, which Miller sent to the conservative website Breitbart News in 2015 and 2016, showcase the extremist, anti-immigrant ideology that undergirds

Stone previewed WikiLeaks bounty to Trump campaign in April 2016

Politico reports: Roger Stone first told one of Donald Trump’s top aides in April 2016 that WikiLeaks had plans to dump information in the heat of the presidential race, kickstarting a scramble inside the campaign to take advantage of the expected releases. And that plotting included at least one summertime call involving Trump himself, according to Rick Gates, the former Trump deputy campaign chairman, who was testifying Tuesday morning at

A mathematician on how to get a stuck mind moving

Dan Rockmore writes: My job is to come up with ideas. Sometimes we mathematicians call the things we think about and work with “objects,” which doesn’t mean triangles, spheres, or other shapes. Mathematical objects are big ideas about algebra, geometry, and logic, about the properties and definitions of numbers. It’s not at all obvious how to go about thinking up some new twist on these things—the transformation from test-taker to

Music: Shakti with John McLaughlin — ‘Bridge Of Sighs’