Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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The coronavirus is evolving before our eyes

James Hamblin writes: In the final, darkest days of the deadliest year in U.S. history, the world received ominous news of a mutation in the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Scientists in the U.K. had identified a form of the virus that was spreading rapidly throughout the nation. Then, on January 4, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a lockdown that began almost immediately and will last until at least the middle of February.

Trump’s Warp Speed leaders waited months to approve vaccine distribution plans

The Wall Street Journal reports: Operation Warp Speed leaders waited more than two months to approve a plan to distribute and administer Covid-19 vaccines proposed by U.S. health officials, administration officials said, leaving states with little time to implement a mass-vaccination campaign amid a coronavirus surge. State and local officials had been clamoring for months for help preparing for the largest vaccination program in U.S. history when the Centers for

Joe Biden’s looming war on white supremacy

Ronald Brownstein writes: For four years, Donald Trump downplayed the risk of white-supremacist violence and denied that racial bias is pervasive in law enforcement. In a single, searing day, the assault on the U.S. Capitol exposed the price of both of those choices—and may have provided Joe Biden new political momentum for reversing direction on each front. At once, the rioters demonstrated how much the threat of white extremism has

Trump supporters had been declaring, at rally after rally, that they would go to violent lengths to keep their leader in power

Luke Mogelson writes: By the end of President Donald Trump’s crusade against American democracy—after a relentless deployment of propaganda, demagoguery, intimidation, and fearmongering aimed at persuading as many Americans as possible to repudiate their country’s foundational principles—a single word sufficed to nudge his most fanatical supporters into open insurrection. Thousands of them had assembled on the Mall, in Washington, D.C., on the morning of January 6th, to hear Trump address

‘He has an obligation to them’: Attorney for ‘QAnon shaman’ asks Trump to pardon rioters

Politico reports: The lawyer for the “QAnon shaman” who was part of the deadly siege of the Capitol last week publicly petitioned President Donald Trump on Thursday to pardon his client. In an interview on CNN, attorney Albert Watkins said his client, Jacob Chansley, “felt like he was answering the call of our president” when he stormed the nation’s seat of government last Wednesday during a riot that resulted in

GOP in bind over Trump as corporate donations freeze

The Hill reports: Republicans are in a bind as they consider how to move on from President Trump, who has passionate support from a large chunk of the party but has become completely toxic in the eyes of more traditional Republicans. Washington Republicans are urging the party to cut ties completely with Trump over his role in the deadly riot that consumed Capitol Hill last week as corporations halt donations.

Trump will try to make his impeachment about free speech

Noah Feldman writes: With the House of Representatives having voted to impeach President Donald Trump for incitement to insurrection, it’s time to start contemplating what Trump’s defense will be in a Senate trial. The answer can be summed up briefly: Trump’s lawyers will argue that Trump did not commit a crime of incitement and that his words were protected by the First Amendment. But wait, you may say, if you

Despite expert warnings, Facebook let the Boogaloo movement grow and become deadly

The Guardian reports: One hundred days before Dave Patrick Underwood was murdered on 29 May, a group of analysts who monitor online extremism concluded that an attack like the one that killed him was coming. An anti-government movement intent on killing law enforcement officers had been growing rapidly on social media, the analysts at the Network Contagion Research Institute warned. Building on the work of other analysts, the researchers had

Air pollution will lead to mass migration, say experts after landmark ruling

The Guardian reports: Air pollution does not respect national boundaries and environmental degradation will lead to mass migration in the future, said a leading barrister in the wake of a landmark migration ruling, as experts warned that government action must be taken as a matter of urgency. Sailesh Mehta, a barrister specialising in environmental cases, said: “The link between migration and environmental degradation is clear. As global warming makes parts

How Facebook incubated the insurrection

Stuart A. Thompson and Charlie Warzel write: Dominick McGee didn’t enter the Capitol during the siege on Jan. 6. He was on the grounds when the mob of Donald Trump supporters broke past police barricades and began smashing windows. But he turned around, heading back to his hotel. Property destruction wasn’t part of his plan. Plus, his phone had died, ending his Facebook Live video midstream. He needed to find

How Trump’s worldview is ingrained in state and local Republicans

The New York Times reports: In Cleveland County, Okla., the chairman of the local Republican Party openly wondered “why violence is unacceptable,” just hours before a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol last week. “What the crap do you think the American revolution was?” he posted on Facebook. “A game of friggin pattycake?” Two days later, the Republican chairman of Nye County in Nevada posted a conspiracy-theory-filled letter on the local

Most House Republicans did what the rioters wanted

Zeynep Tufekci writes: January 6, 2021, will surely live in infamy—the day the United States Capitol was stormed by a mob, forcing legislators to evacuate in a rush and leaving five dead, including a police officer. The most dangerous part of that day for the country as a whole, however, was not what happened when the insurrectionists fought their way into the Capitol in the afternoon, but what happened just

The gutted, ‘unnerving’ state of the agencies supposed to keep the U.S. safe

Garrett M. Graff reports: As the federal government girds against threatened riots in Washington this weekend and possible violence at the inauguration and state capitals across the country, it’s dealing with an unprecedented gap at the top: All of the nation’s top Cabinet departments overseeing the nation’s security are run by acting officials who have been in the job just weeks—or even hours. The acting Defense secretary has been on

Dozens of people on FBI terrorist watch list came to D.C. the day of Capitol riot

The Washington Post reports: Dozens of people on a terrorist watch list were in Washington for pro-Trump events Jan. 6, a day that ended in a chaotic crime rampage when a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, according to people familiar with evidence gathered in the FBI’s investigation. The majority of the watch-listed individuals in Washington that day are suspected white supremacists whose past conduct so alarmed investigators that their

Trump struggles to find lawyers as impeachment trial nears

Bloomberg reports: President Donald Trump, on the eve of facing a historic second impeachment trial for inciting the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last week, is having trouble finding a legal team to defend him. Allies of the outgoing president have been canvassing Washington’s legal landscape looking for representation but so far are coming up short. Lawyers who defended him in the previous impeachment trial, including Jay Sekulow and White

Black cops warned about racist Capitol Police officers for years

ProPublica reports: When Kim Dine took over as the new chief of the U.S. Capitol Police in 2012, he knew he had a serious problem. Since 2001, hundreds of Black officers had sued the department for racial discrimination. They alleged that white officers called Black colleagues slurs like the N-word and that one officer found a hangman’s noose on his locker. White officers were called “huk lovers” or “FOGs” —