Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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More than 500 law professors say Trump committed ‘impeachable conduct’

The Washington Post reports: More than 500 legal scholars have signed on to an open letter asserting that President Trump committed “impeachable conduct” and that lawmakers would be acting well within their rights if they ultimately voted to remove him from office. The signers are law professors and other academics from universities across the country, including Harvard, Yale, Columbia, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Michigan and

The Russification of the Republican Party

Ronald Brownstein writes: Just how far will Republicans go in following President Donald Trump’s embrace of Russia? An answer may be crystallizing as the GOP mobilizes its defense of the president against impeachment. Both congressional Republicans and conservative commentators are defending Trump from impeachment partly by accusing Ukraine of intervening against him in the 2016 presidential election—despite repeated warnings from national-security and intelligence officials that those claims are not only

Australia burns again, and now its largest city is choking

Damien Cave reports: Flying into Sydney usually brings stunning views of rocky cliffs and crystal waters, but when Anna Funder looked out the window before landing this week, she saw only tragedy. Thick gray smoke blanketed the skyline and the coast, stretching for miles from the fire front at the southwestern edge of the city, where dried-out forests have been burning for weeks. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” said

British diplomat in U.S. resigns, saying she can’t ‘peddle half-truths’ on Brexit

The Guardian reports: The British diplomat in charge of explaining Brexit to the US government, Congress and public, has resigned, saying she was no longer prepared to “peddle half-truths on behalf of a government I do not trust”. Alexandra Hall Hall, the Brexit counsellor at the UK embassy in Washington, had been frustrated with the job for some time, according to friends and colleagues. They said she felt she was

I’m a Conservative. But it is time to vote with your head as well as your heart

John Major, a former British prime minister, writes: At elections, political tribes join together to promote their own policies and criticise those of their opponents. That’s the nature of elections. But there are always individuals who enhance parliament. And there are always policies upon which every party can agree. One is democracy, and the right of every adult to vote. At every election the future of our country is at

Could Iran’s revolution unravel over a four-cent price hike?

Robin Wright writes: In mid-November, in a surprise overnight announcement, the revolutionary regime in Iran hiked the price of gasoline. By standards anywhere else in the world, it is still pitifully cheap. A litre of gas increased from eight cents to twelve cents—or to fifty cents per gallon—for the first fifteen gallons each month. That’s about a tankful for a large car. After that, gas went up to ninety cents

U.S. says Iranian forces may have killed more than 1,000 protesters

The Washington Post reports: A State Department official said Thursday that 1,000 or more protesters may have been killed during weeks of unrest in Iran and that the United States has received video that shows troops firing machine guns mounted on trucks at protesters in one incident. Brian Hook, the special representative for Iran, said the Trump administration will ask Congress to impose harsh sanctions on officials responsible for the

Music: Mark Lettieri — ‘Goonsquad’


Trump’s personal lawyer running the Justice Department

Andrew Rice writes: Shortly before 5 p.m. on November 15, Attorney General William P. Barr arrived at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., his owlish face wearing a heavy expression. He and his entourage rushed by the lobby bar, where a television was tuned to CNN’s coverage of another day of damning impeachment hearings and raging presidential tweets. Inside a gilded ballroom, hundreds of conservative lawyers — many of them,

Democrats are speeding to defeat on impeachment

Charles Sykes writes: As the rough beast of impeachment races forward, Democrats need to pause for a quick reality check. No matter how compelling the evidence against President Trump may be—and it is quite compelling—they will not ultimately succeed in removing Trump from office. So what remains are more modest but nevertheless worthy goals: Winning over a handful of independent-minded House Republicans (an apparently extinct species), persuading at least a

Impeachment coverage: How journalists can reach the undecided

Margaret Sullivan writes: The diplomats have been inspiring, the legal scholars knowledgeable, the politicians predictable. After endless on-air analysis and written reporting, pundit panels and emergency podcasts, not much has changed. If anything, weeks into the House of Representatives’ public impeachment hearings, Americans’ positions seem to have hardened on whether President Trump should be impeached and removed from office. So, is the media coverage pointless? Are journalists merely shouting into

Rudy Giuliani makes a surprise visit to Kyiv and nobody there is happy about it

Christopher Miller reports: Rudy Giuliani has made a surprise visit to Kyiv — but the city isn’t buzzing with his arrival. It’s groaning. Giuliani arriving with his shady band of conspiracy theorists — just as Democrats move to officially file impeachment charges against President Donald Trump — is the last thing Ukrainians who have tried desperately to stay out of the drama unfolding in Washington wanted. Kyiv is trying to

Trump’s invisible, but far-reaching, wall

Rachel Morris writes: In the two years and 308 days that Donald Trump has been president, he has constructed zero miles of wall along the southern border of the United States. He has, to be fair, replaced or reinforced 76 miles of existing fence and signed it with a sharpie. A private group has also built a barrier less than a mile long with some help from Steve Bannon and

Listen to what the people from the forest want


How microbiomes affect fear

Elena Renken writes: Our brains may seem physically far removed from our guts, but in recent years, research has strongly suggested that the vast communities of microbes concentrated in our digestive tract open lines of communication between the two. The intestinal microbiome has been shown to influence cognition and emotion, affecting moods and the state of psychiatric disorders, and even information processing. But how it could do so has been

Music: Shaun Martin — ‘Lotus’