Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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Restoring the ‘soul of the nation’ means taking in refugees

Adam Serwer writes: One of the Trump administration’s early priorities was engineering a whiter America through immigration restrictions. We know this because it told us so. “U.S. demographics have been changing rapidly—and undesirably in the eyes of top Trump aides, including his chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, and domestic policy advisor Stephen Miller,” the Los Angeles Times reported in February 2017. The travel ban targeting Muslim nations was the first

Immigration is a defining asset of the United States. Here’s how to restore confidence in our system

George W. Bush writes: Next week, I’m proud to publish a new collection of my paintings, entitled “Out of Many, One.” The book may not set the art world stirring — hopefully, the critics won’t call it “One Too Many.” I set out to accomplish two things: to share some portraits of immigrants, each with a remarkable story I try to tell, and to humanize the debate on immigration and

The blood-clot problem is multiplying

Roxanne Khamsi writes: For weeks, Americans looked on as other countries grappled with case reports of rare, sometimes fatal blood abnormalities among those who had received the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19. That vaccine has not yet been authorized by the FDA, so restrictions on its use throughout Europe did not get that much attention in the United States. But Americans experienced a rude awakening this week when public-health officials called

Marjorie Taylor Greene forming caucus to promote racism (aka ‘Anglo-Saxon political traditions’)

Forbes reports: Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) are starting a right-wing caucus in Congress that seeks to “follow in President Trump’s footsteps,” which could prove yet another thorn in the side of Republican leaders already struggling to unite a bitterly divided party. According to a seven-page policy platform published by Punchbowl News, the group wants members to display “a certain intellectual boldness” and be willing to

The GOP is raising money off Tucker Carlson’s racism

David Corn reports: Recent Republican fundraising efforts have been ugly and, worse, have fueled conspiracy theories, hatred, and demagoguery. Sen. Josh Hawley and Donald Trump have raised millions off the Big Lie about the 2020 election. Sen. Ted Cruz this week sent out an email enticing contributions by offering anyone who donates to his campaign war chest a vote on whether “we machine gun [John Boehner’s new memoirs], take a

Capitol riot defendant pleads guilty, will cooperate with government

Politico reports: Jon Schaffer, a heavy metal guitarist and self-described “lifetime member” of the Oath Keepers, on Friday became the first Capitol rioter to plead guilty to charges based on his participation in the attack and has entered into a cooperation agreement with the government. The move from Schaffer came at an unannounced proceeding before U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta on Friday morning. During a lengthy plea dialogue with

Why humans find it so hard to let go of false beliefs

Elitsa Dermendzhiyska writes: There’s a new virus in town and it’s not fooling around. You can catch it through face-to-face contact or digitally – that is, via a human or bot. Few of us possess immunity, some are even willing hosts; and, despite all we’ve learned about it, this virus is proving more cunning and harder to eradicate than anyone could have expected. Misinformation isn’t new, of course. Fake news

Music: Marcos Valle — ‘Parabéns’

 

U.S. Treasury provides missing link: Manafort’s partner gave campaign polling data to Kremlin in 2016

Just Security reports: The U.S. Treasury Department said Thursday that Konstantin Kilimnik, an associate and ex-employee of Paul Manafort, “provided the Russian Intelligence Services with sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy,” during the 2016 election, an apparently definitive statement that neither Special Counsel Robert Mueller nor the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation made in their final reports. “This is new public information that connects the provision of internal Trump campaign

America’s corn belt has lost a third of its topsoil

Becca Dzombak reports: Seth Watkins has been farming his family’s land in southern Iowa for decades, growing pasture for his cows as well as corn and other row crops. His great-grandfather founded the farm in 1848. “He came in with one of John Deere’s steel plows and pierced the prairie,” Watkins recounted. With its rolling hills and neat lines of corn stretching to the horizon, broken by clumps of trees,

Pfizer CEO says third Covid vaccine dose likely needed within 12 months

CNBC reports: Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said people will “likely” need a third dose of a Covid-19 vaccine within 12 months of getting fully vaccinated. His comments were made public Thursday but were taped April 1. Bourla said it’s possible people will need to get vaccinated against the coronavirus annually. “We need to see what would be the sequence, and for how often we need to do that, that remains

‘I never thought China could ever be this dark’

Melissa Chan writes: On a summer afternoon nearly four years ago, Maryam Muhammet thought her family’s long journey to freedom was almost complete. The Uyghur woman had arrived in Istanbul from Egypt weeks prior with her two sons, a toddler and an infant, after fleeing the Chinese region of Xinjiang. Her husband had not yet joined the family in Turkey. The couple had heard from others in their community that

Facebook planned to remove fake accounts in India – until it realized a BJP politician was involved

The Guardian reports: Facebook allowed a network of fake accounts to artificially inflate the popularity of an MP from India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), for months after being alerted to the problem. The company was preparing to remove the fake accounts but paused when it found evidence that the politician was probably directly involved in the network, internal documents seen by the Guardian show. The company’s decision not to

The brain ‘rotates’ memories to shield them from new sensations

Jordana Cepelewicz writes: During every waking moment, we humans and other animals have to balance on the edge of our awareness of past and present. We must absorb new sensory information about the world around us while holding on to short-term memories of earlier observations or events. Our ability to make sense of our surroundings, to learn, to act and to think all depend on constant, nimble interactions between perception

How bipedalism led humans down a strange evolutionary path

Riley Black writes: No other animal moves the way we do. That’s awfully strange. Even among other two-legged species, none amble about with a straight back and a gait that, technically, is just a form of controlled falling. Our bipedalism doesn’t just set us apart, paleoanthropologist Jeremy DeSilva posits; it’s what makes us human. There’s no shortage of books that propose this or that feature — tool use or self-awareness, for example — as

Music: Moonchild — ‘Let You Go’