Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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The playbook for poisoning our planet

The Intercept reports: In September 2009, over 3,000 bee enthusiasts from around the world descended on the city of Montpellier in southern France for Apimondia — a festive beekeeper conference filled with scientific lectures, hobbyist demonstrations, and commercial beekeepers hawking honey. But that year, a cloud loomed over the event: bee colonies across the globe were collapsing, and billions of bees were dying. Bee declines have been observed throughout recorded

Lev Parnas describes Trumpworld’s cult-like obsession with George Soros

The Daily Beast reports: George Soros, an American billionaire who has invested heavily in progressive political causes and philanthropies around the world, has long been a bête noire of conservatives and regularly vilified in Russian propaganda—the same kind that Trumpworld is accused of subscribing to in its Ukraine dealings. Giuliani, diGenova, and Toensing were particularly opposed to Soros’ work, Parnas said. “Soros became Enemy Number One, and it was understood

The Sanders-Warren ‘feud’ and Ukraine revelations are nowhere near equal in importance

Margaret Sullivan writes: A sense of proportion — what’s significant and what’s trivial — seems strangely missing. What truly deserves our all-out attention and outrage? What’s the small stuff? Numbed by the barrage of news, dazzled by distraction, many citizens don’t seem to know anymore. And news sources, particularly TV and social media, show little ability or desire to help. (As Pew Research in late 2018 revealed, TV is still

Putin, a criminal and incompetent president, is an enemy of his own people

Simon Tisdall writes: News that Vladimir Putin, Russia’s latter-day tsar, is making plans to cling to power indefinitely comes as no surprise. All the same, it is deeply worrying for Putin’s prey – principally the Russian people and the western democracies. Putin, 67, has run Russia, as president and prime minister, for 21 years, a feat of political longevity surpassed only by Joseph Stalin. Like Stalin, he has made many

National Archives exhibit censors images critical of Trump

The Washington Post reports: The large color photograph that greets visitors to a National Archives exhibit celebrating the centennial of women’s suffrage shows a massive crowd filling Pennsylvania Avenue NW for the Women’s March on Jan. 21, 2017, the day after President Trump’s inauguration. The 49-by-69-inch photograph is a powerful display. Viewed from one perspective, it shows the 2017 march. Viewed from another angle, it shifts to show a 1913

The secretive company that might end privacy as we know it

The New York Times reports: Until recently, Hoan Ton-That’s greatest hits included an obscure iPhone game and an app that let people put Donald Trump’s distinctive yellow hair on their own photos. Then Mr. Ton-That — an Australian techie and onetime model — did something momentous: He invented a tool that could end your ability to walk down the street anonymously, and provided it to hundreds of law enforcement agencies,

Ageing: How our ‘epigenetic clocks’ slow down as we get older

Monkey Business Images By Leonard Schalkwyk, University of Essex and Jonathan Mill, University of Exeter From the tap dancing 90-year-old to the 40-year-old who struggles to run a mile, we all know people who seem surprisingly young or old for their age. Scientists believe that it may be possible to distinguish between two types of age: biological age, a measure of how well the body functions, and chronological age, your

Music: Chet Baker — ‘Alone Together’

 

‘Faithless elector’: Supreme Court will hear case that could change how presidents are chosen

NBC News reports: The Supreme Court agreed Friday to take up an issue that could change a key element of the system America uses to elect its president, with a decision likely in the spring just as the campaign heats up. The answer to the question could be a decisive one: Are the electors who cast the actual Electoral College ballots for president and vice president required to follow the

New reporting restrictions on the Senate impeachment trial suppress freedom of the press

NPR reports: News organizations and journalists’ advocates are battling restrictive new ground rules for reporters assigned to cover the Senate impeachment trial. Correspondents who submit to an official credentialing process are granted broad access throughout the Capitol complex and usually encounter few restrictions in talking with members of Congress or others. But now Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger has imposed new requirements for the impeachment trial, negotiated in part with Republican

William Barr is going after Trump’s enemies one by one

Jonathan Chait writes: In May of 2016, shortly after Donald Trump had wrapped up his party’s nomination, but when the notion he might win the presidency seemed remote at best, Benjamin Wittes wrote one of the very early essays attempting to analyze how an obviously authoritarian president might abuse his powers. “The soft spot, the least tyrant-proof part of the government, is the U.S. Department of Justice,” he argued, laying

The murderous conflict in Syria has been simplified and distorted by both right and left

Ben Ehrenreich writes: It is happening again. Over the last year protest movements – some of them deep and broad enough that we might dare to call them revolutions – have once more been shaking the Middle East and North Africa, ending decades-long dictatorships in Sudan and Algeria, forcing the prime ministers of Lebanon and Iraq to resign. And yet the war brought to Syria by the last wave of

Inside Trump’s stunning tirade against generals in the Pentagon in 2017

In an article adapted from “A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America,” Carol D. Leonnig and Philip Rucker write: Trump by now was in one of his rages. He was so angry that he wasn’t taking many breaths. All morning, he had been coarse and cavalier, but the next several things he bellowed went beyond that description. They stunned nearly everyone in the room, and some vowed

Trump administration proposed rule changes will increase childhood obesity and promote diabetes

The Washington Post reports: The U.S. Department of Agriculture has taken another whack at former first lady Michelle Obama’s signature achievement: Establishing stricter nutritional standards for school breakfasts and lunches. And on her birthday. On Friday, USDA Deputy Under Secretary Brandon Lipps proposed new rules for the Food and Nutrition Service that would allow schools to cut the amount of vegetables and fruits required at lunch and breakfasts while giving

Music: Chet Baker — ‘Serenity’

 

We can’t afford to ignore Lev Parnas’s explosive claims

David A. Graham writes: Irony is thriving in the Trump administration. Consider this: The president spent months, and was ultimately impeached for, badgering the Ukrainian government to announce a probe into the natural-gas company Burisma. Yet all it took was the release of some text messages by Lev Parnas, an accused criminal with a checkered past, for Ukraine to quickly announce it is investigating alleged illegal surveillance of former U.S.