Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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The end of life on Earth?

Apocalyptic statements always sound crazy and talking about the end of life on Earth at this juncture in its history will, for many people, seem like an overly pessimistic assessment of the perils we face. Temperatures rise, extreme weather events become more frequent, species dwindle or disappear, forests burn, glaciers melt — no doubt the situation is dire, but surely not so bad that we are witnessing the destruction of

Whistle-blower’s complaint said to involve multiple actions by Trump

The New York Times reports: A potentially explosive complaint by a whistle-blower in the intelligence community said to involve President Trump was related to a series of actions that goes beyond any single discussion with a foreign leader, according to interviews on Thursday. The complaint was related to multiple acts, Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for American spy agencies, told lawmakers during a private briefing, two officials familiar with it

The United States doesn’t want to go to war with Iran to protect its Arab allies

Robert F. Worth writes: Gulf leaders have become uneasy about the mismatch between Mr. Trump’s rhetoric and his actions. In June, he threatened Iran with “obliteration” after it shot down an unmanned American drone, and then backed away from a planned retaliation at the last minute. His decision to fire John Bolton, his hawkish national security adviser, has strengthened a belief that Mr. Trump does not want war. But many

I researched Uighur society in China for 8 years and watched how technology opened new opportunities – then became a trap

Uighurs wait in line at a face scan checkpoint in Turpan, Xinjiang in northwest China on April 11, 2018. Darren Byler, CC BY By Darren Byler, University of Washington The Uighurs, a Muslim minority ethnic group of around 12 million in northwest China, are required by the police to carry their smartphones and IDs listing their ethnicity. As they pass through one of the thousands of newly built digital media

Trump’s Education Dept. threatens academic freedom through witch-hunt against ‘anti-Israel’ bias

The New York Times reports: The Education Department has ordered Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to remake the Middle East studies program run jointly by the two schools after concluding that it was offering students a biased curriculum that, among other complaints, did not present enough “positive” imagery of Judaism and Christianity in the region. In a rare instance of federal intervention in the

Israel’s Arab politicians emerge from election with new political heft

The New York Times reports: The right to speak directly after the prime minister? Meetings with all visiting heads of state? Monthly briefings from the Mossad? For the first time, the perks of being the opposition leader in the Israeli Parliament could go to an Arab lawmaker. That tantalizing prospect stems from an upsurge in voter turnout among the country’s Arab population in this week’s election, which has translated into

Science is deeply imaginative. Why is this treated as a secret?

By Tom McLeish My latest book, The Poetry and Music of Science (2019), starts with my experiences of visiting schools and working with sixth-form pupils in general-studies classes. These students, aged 17-18, would tell me that they just didn’t see in science any room for their own imagination or creativity. Not just on one occasion but repeatedly I heard this from young people bright enough to have succeeded at any

Music: Idris Muhammad — ‘The Saddest Thing’


Greta Thunberg to Congress: ‘We don’t want to be heard. We want the science to be heard’

The Guardian reports: At a meeting of the Senate climate crisis task force on Tuesday, lawmakers praised a group of young activists for their leadership, their gumption and their display of wisdom far beyond their years. They then asked the teens for advice on how Congress might combat one of the most urgent and politically contentious threats confronting world leaders: climate change. Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish activist who has

Trump administration not so interested in states’ rights when it comes to California

Dino Grandoni writes: President Trump likes to cast himself as a champion of states’ rights. But he stops short when it comes to California and other liberal states. The latest example comes from Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency, which is on the cusp of revoking California’s authority to regulate heat-trapping emissions from automobiles inside the state. The decision to spurn California was long expected, and is one in a series of

Only a Green New Deal can douse the fires of eco-fascism

Naomi Klein writes: When intense events happen in close proximity to one another, the human mind often tries to draw connections that are not there, a phenomenon known as apophenia. But in this case, there were connections. In fact, the strike [the March 15 School Strike for Climate] and the massacre [in Christchurch, New Zealand] can be understood as mirror opposite reactions to some of the same historical forces. And

The whole-planet view from inner space

Rosalind Watts, Sam Gandy, and Alex Evans write: In 1966, on a rooftop overlooking San Francisco, the writer Stewart Brand felt that he could perceive the curvature of the Earth, an effect of the psychedelic substance he had consumed. He wondered why no one had photographed the Earth from space yet, and realised how much this might help people feel connected to each other and to their shared home. Later

Did Trump lose the election for Netanyahu?

Gill Hoffman writes: The posters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv awkwardly remain hanging, like January Christmas decorations or a November sukkah. The results of Tuesday’s election appeared to indicate that the slogan “Netanyahu: In Another League” was not as persuasive as the creative minds in Likud envisioned. But maybe it was not the slogan that was ineffective, but the relationship

How Democrats can mitigate the damage done to the judiciary by Trump and McConnell

Jamelle Bouie writes: Should [Democrats] win a federal “trifecta” — the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives — they’ll still have to deal with a Trump-branded judiciary. It’s entirely possible that a future Democratic agenda would be circumscribed and unraveled by a Supreme Court whose slim conservative majority owes itself to minority government and constitutional hardball. So what should Democrats do? They should play hardball back. Congress,

Pentagon has spent nearly $200,000 at Trump’s Scottish resort since 2017

Politico reports: Since Donald Trump took office, the U.S. military has spent nearly $200,000 at the president’s luxury Scotland resort, according to figures and documents the Pentagon provided to the House Oversight Committee. The spending, which has all occurred since August 2017, paid for the equivalent of hundreds of nights of rooms at the Turnberry resort over approximately three dozen separate stays, the committee said. The Air Force confirmed last

Music: Idris Muhammad — ‘Loran’s Dance’