Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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Russia has run a yearslong operation to blame Ukraine for its own 2016 election interference

The New York Times reports: Republicans have sought for weeks amid the impeachment inquiry to shift attention to President Trump’s demands that Ukraine investigate any 2016 election meddling, defending it as a legitimate concern while Democrats accuse Mr. Trump of pursuing fringe theories for his benefit. The Republican defense of Mr. Trump became central to the impeachment proceedings when Fiona Hill, a respected Russia scholar and former senior White House

While everyone in Washington talks about Ukraine, there’s an actual war going on

Christopher Miller reports: When he’s not engaged in gun battles with Russian-led forces on Ukraine’s eastern front line, Stas, a scruffy 26-year-old soldier, likes to cozy up in his bunker and brush up on his English skills by watching Stephen Colbert and Saturday Night Live. He cracks up at Alec Baldwin’s portrayal of President Donald Trump. Watching political satire on American TV — when he’s able to get a strong

Trump ignores intelligence and continues peddling disinformation

Politico reports: [During a nearly hour-long interview] Trump repeated his claims, which had been debunked less than 24 hours earlier by no less than his former top Russia adviser, that Ukraine is harboring the servers of the Democratic National Committee that the FBI determined had been hacked by Russia in the lead-up to the 2016 election. “It is very interesting, it is very interesting, they have the server, right? From

Above the law: The Trump Doctrine

The New York Times reports: President Trump on Thursday reversed a decision by the Navy seeking to oust a Navy SEAL, Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, from the elite commando force. Chief Gallagher has been at the center of a high-profile war crimes case and was granted clemency by the president last Friday. He was notified on Wednesday that the Navy planned to start the process of revoking his status

In Iran, ‘rage is escalating’ as economic stress reaches new level

The Washington Post reports: A sudden move to raise fuel prices in Iran has sparked nationwide protests over the past week and, in turn, drawn a fierce crackdown by security forces, marking some of the worst violence in the country in years. Scores have been reported killed. The protests have flared in many of the same areas that experienced unrest two years ago, when demonstrators protested a similar proposal to

The collapse of the information ecosystem poses profound risks for humanity

Lydia Polgreen writes: For the last few years, scientists have argued that we’re living through a distinctly new geological age. They call it the Anthropocene: a new age characterized by humanity’s profound impact on Earth itself as evidenced by pollution, mass extinction and climate change. We are currently facing a new systemic collapse, one that has built far more swiftly but poses potent risks for all of humanity: the collapse

First Amendment rights prevent bigoted professor being fired, but university says no student need attend his classes

CNN reports: Indiana University has received hundreds of requests calling for a controversial professor to be fired, and a provost has called his views “racist, sexist and homophobic.” But the school says that, while the professor does not represent its values, he is protected by the First Amendment. Eric Rasmusen is a professor of business economics and public policy at Indiana University, where he’s been teaching since 1992. He recently

Music: Kottarashky & The Rain Dogs — ‘Doctore’

 

Fiona Hill shreds the Republicans’ false narrative about Ukraine

  A Washington Post editorial says: A pillar of the Republican defense of President Trump during the impeachment inquiry has been that he had good reason to believe that Ukraine intervened against him during the 2016 presidential election — and that he therefore was justified in demanding that the new Ukrainian government investigate. That made the testimony Thursday of Fiona Hill, who served Mr. Trump as the National Security Council’s

Netanyahu to stand trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust

The Times of Israel reports: In a decision that drastically shakes up Israeli politics amid already ongoing chaos, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced Thursday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be charged with criminal wrongdoing in three separate cases against him, including bribery in the far-reaching Bezeq corruption probe. The decision marks the first time in Israel’s history that a serving prime minister faces criminal charges, casting a heavy shadow

Former Fox News executive divides Americans using Russian tactics

The New York Times reports: At first glance, the websites Conservative Edition News and Liberal Edition News have only one thing in common: Both have been carefully curated to inflame America’s culture wars. Conservative Edition News is a repository of stories guaranteed to infuriate the American right. Its recent headlines include “Austin sex-ed curriculum teaches kids how to obtain an abortion” and “HuffPost writer considers Christianity ‘dangerous.’” On Liberal Edition

Secret Service spent $254,000 at Trump’s properties in first five months of his term

The Washington Post reports: The U.S. Secret Service paid more than $250,000 to President Trump’s private businesses in just the first five months of his presidency — paying Trump’s company an average of nearly $2,000 per day, according to Secret Service records. Those records, obtained by the group Property of the People after an open-records lawsuit, detail some of the revenue that Trump derives from U.S. taxpayers. The president has

The real story behind the Steele dossier

Peter Nicholas writes: For a reporter, it’s a heart-stopping moment. You’re in an interview and suddenly a source offers up something you never expected anyone to unearth: video evidence of the president’s perverse pleasures. “You were going to ask about the pee tape?” Glenn Simpson, the co-founder of the research firm Fusion GPS, which commissioned the infamous Steele dossier, asks me. “We’re going to screen it for you right now.”

San Francisco’s quest to make landfills obsolete

Politico reports: The U.S. produces more than 250 million tons of waste per year—30 percent of the world’s waste, though it makes up only 4 percent of the Earth’s population. Sixty-five percent of that waste ends up in landfills or incinerators. Appalled by floating trash zones like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch off California, the public says it wants to stop plastics from polluting the oceans. People say they don’t

The scammy world of DNA test startups

Futurism reports: In the spring of 2017, a college student named Mary spit into a tube and sent it to the DNA testing company Ancestry, which analyzed it and sent back a breakdown of her family history. But Mary wanted to know more. The human genome contains, in theory, an extraordinary wealth of pre-programmed information about who we are and who we might become: whether she was at risk for

Music: Kottarashky — ‘I Want You To Sleep’