Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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FBI sits on report detailing white-supremacist terror threat

The Daily Beast reports: The FBI has failed to produce a legally required report detailing the scope of white supremacist and other domestic terrorism, despite mounting concerns that the upcoming election could spark far-right violence. According to a key House committee chairman, that leaves the country in the dark about what the FBI concedes is America’s most urgent terrorist threat, as well as the resources the U.S. government is devoting

Republicans closely resemble autocratic parties in Hungary and Turkey, study finds

The Guardian reports: The Republican party has become dramatically more illiberal in the past two decades and now more closely resembles ruling parties in autocratic societies than its former centre-right equivalents in Europe, according to a new international study. In a significant shift since 2000, the GOP has taken to demonising and encouraging violence against its opponents, adopting attitudes and tactics comparable to ruling nationalist parties in Hungary, India, Poland

We were clerks at the Supreme Court. Its legitimacy is now in question

Jamie Crooks and Samir Deger-Sen write: The current court is, despite occasional hand-wringing on the right over a decision or two, the most conservative this nation has had in nearly a century. Yet each time it has delivered significant conservative victories — such as Citizens United, which struck down key campaign finance limits, written by our former boss in 2010 — liberals accepted the outcome as the law of the

Alarm as Arctic sea ice not yet freezing at latest date on record

The Guardian reports: For the first time since records began, the main nursery of Arctic sea ice in Siberia has yet to start freezing in late October. The delayed annual freeze in the Laptev Sea has been caused by freakishly protracted warmth in northern Russia and the intrusion of Atlantic waters, say climate scientists who warn of possible knock-on effects across the polar region. Ocean temperatures in the area recently

An epidemiologist explains the new CDC guidance on 15 minutes of exposure and what it means for you

A girl wearing a mask walks down a street in the Corona neighborhood of Queens on April 14, 2020 in New York City. Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images By Ryan Malosh, University of Michigan The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has new guidance clarifying what exactly “close contact” means when it comes to transmission of SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The previous guidance suggested that a close contact

Israel’s repressive diplomacy

Peter Beinart writes: On October 23rd, Donald Trump announced that Sudan would begin the process of normalizing relations with Israel. The declaration, which was part of a deal to remove Sudan from the US list of state sponsors of terror, follows last month’s pledges by the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to recognize the Jewish state. Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu have claimed that those peace deals—dubbed “The Abraham Accords”—will promote

Apple, Google and a deal that controls the internet

The New York Times reports: When Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai, the chief executives of Apple and Google, were photographed eating dinner together in 2017 at an upscale Vietnamese restaurant called Tamarine, the picture set off a tabloid-worthy frenzy about the relationship between the two most powerful companies in Silicon Valley. As the two men sipped red wine at a window table inside the restaurant in Palo Alto, their companies

Music: Blue Lab Beats — ‘Cuba Libre’

 

Universal mask use could save 130,000 U.S. lives by the end of February, new study estimates

STAT reports: Back in April, President Trump picked out a single computer model of coronavirus spread as his oracle of choice. Unsurprisingly, that simulation initially had rosier estimates than other algorithms, projecting many fewer Covid-19 deaths — and its unconventional calculations and fluctuating estimates drew sharp criticism from epidemiologists. But the statisticians behind it have since changed their methods, and their new numbers, published Friday, bolster what scientists have long

Controlling the pandemic: Trump administration ditches plan for ‘collaboration’ with Santa Claus

The Wall Street Journal reports: A federal health agency halted a public-service coronavirus advertising campaign funded by $250 million in taxpayer money after it offered a special vaccine deal to an unusual set of essential workers: Santa Claus performers. As part of the plan, a top Trump administration official wanted the Santa performers to promote the benefits of a Covid-19 vaccination and, in exchange, offered them early vaccine access ahead

White House superspreaders: ‘We are not going to control the pandemic’

CNN reports: White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Sunday that the US is “not going to control” the coronavirus pandemic, as cases surge across the country and nearly 225,000 Americans have died from the virus. “We are not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas,” Meadows told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the

New round of coronavirus infections won’t hold back White House superspreaders

Politico reports: Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, tested positive for Covid-19 on Saturday, a sign of the virus hitting the inner circle of the White House’s coronavirus task force with just 10 days left in the 2020 election. Pence, who tested negative Saturday, will continue to headline campaign events in the coming days even though the vice president’s office acknowledged he “is considered a close contact”

Why Trump’s America has been a ‘gift’ to Putin

The Washington Post reports: Under President Trump, the United States has abandoned international climate and nuclear arms agreements. It has announced its withdrawal from the World Health Organization, questioned the future of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and antagonized stalwart allies like Germany. America’s past presidents have long promoted democracy, human rights and the rule of law abroad, yet Trump instead has waged an assault on those values at home,

The challenge of reclaiming the commons from capitalism

Dirk Philipsen writes: A basic truth is once again trying to break through the agony of worldwide pandemic and the enduring inhumanity of racist oppression. Healthcare workers risking their lives for others, mutual aid networks empowering neighbourhoods, farmers delivering food to quarantined customers, mothers forming lines to protect youth from police violence: we’re in this life together. We – young and old, citizen and immigrant – do best when we

Reining in Google

The New York Times reports: Months before the Justice Department filed a landmark antitrust suit against Google this week, the internet company’s adversaries hustled behind the scenes to lay the groundwork for a case. Nonprofits critical of corporate power warned lawmakers that Google illegally boxed out rivals. With mounds of documents, economists and antitrust scholars detailed to regulators and state investigators how the company throttled competition. And former Silicon Valley

Music: Blue Lab Beats — ‘Pineapple’ (feat. Moses Boyd, Nérija)